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Books

Mom Psych's Book Shelf

Louis Cozolino: The Social Neuroscience of Education

Richard J. Davidson and Sharon Begley: The Emotional Life of Your Brain

Daniel Kahneman: Thinking, Fast and Slow

Michael S. Gazzaniga: Who's In Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain

Daniel J. Siegel: Mindsight

Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson: The Whole-Brain Child: Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind

Aaron Ben-Ze'ev and Ruhama Goussinsky: In the Name of Love: Romantic Ideology and Its Victims

Daniel Goleman: Social Intelligence

 

 

autism overdiagnosis

 

 

Book Review: Mild Autism? Or Something Else?

Back to Normal: Why Ordinary Childhood Behavior Is Mistaken for ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, and Autism Spectrum Disorder
Enrico Gnaulati, PhD. 2013. Beacon Press, Boston. 239 pages.


March 9, 2014—If you have a child with serious forms of autism, with ADHD, or with bipolar disorder, you know what a struggle it can be to secure his or her wellbeing in a society that doesn’t go out of its way for those who are atypical. You know how real your child’s diagnosis is; and how meaningless it could become if it became “watered down,” so to speak, by being mistakenly assigned to children who may, in fact, have very different challenges.

In the same vein, if you have a child who has been diagnosed with one of these disorders in error, would you want to spend thousands of dollars and a large portion of your family’s time and effort pursuing interventions that are hurting more than helping?

Unfortunately, when faced with a potential diagnosis—whether a formal diagnosis offered by a qualified professional or an armchair diagnosis offered by another adult in your child’s life—it can be very difficult for us as parents to judge its potential validity. Is our child one of those who really fit the criteria for the diagnosis? Or is the assessment missing something? And does it really matter if we get the diagnosis right, as long as we find an intervention or medication that seems to make a difference?
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Book Review: DIY Brain Makeover

Make Your Brain Smarter: Increase Your Brain’s Creativity, Energy, and Focus
Sandra Bond Chapman. 2013. Simon & Schuster, Free Press, New York. 304 pages.

Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes
Maria Konnikova. 2013. Penguin Group, Viking Press, New York. 288 pages.

Words Can Change Your Brain: 12 Conversation Strategies to Build Trust, Resolve Conflict, and Increase Intimacy
Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman. 2012. Penguin Group, Hudson Street Press, New York. 272 pages.

March 15, 2013—As early as the 18th century, renegade scientists occasionally challenged the prevailing belief that the human brain was unchangeable after childhood. But it wasn’t until the invention of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in the 1990s that neuroscientists at last had the tools they needed to convince the mainstream that changeability, or plasticity, is an enduring characteristic of the brain. Even then, many scientists preferred to approach the subject with caution, reluctant to stray beyond the findings of research to wonder just how malleable the human brain might be and what that might imply. As the research has accumulated, however, more scientists have begun to join the ranks of those who hope to help people transform themselves by transforming their minds.

In the past year alone, several notable books offered up the latest findings in the form of do-it-yourself instructions for building the best brain ever. If the 1990s could be called the Decade of the Brain, the 2010s may be the Decade of the Brain Makeover.
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Hello, Emotional Style!

The Emotional Life of Your Brain
Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D. with Sharon Begley. 2012.
Hudson Street Press, New York. 279 pages.

December 4, 2012—In our endless quest to know ourselves, we love taking personality tests. The human brain loves a good label: a shortcut to classifying the self in relation to others so each can be assigned to a tidy file drawer. And we like to keep the number of drawers limited if we can. Otherwise, what’s the use of a label, right? If we only have four temperaments or five personality traits to keep track of, we can assess people quickly and lock them away neatly.

But how can we be sure our sorting system makes sense? Sure, we get a rewarding “Aha!” moment when the test seems to identify something we “feel” to be true about ourselves. But can we really trust that feeling, especially taking into account the brain’s tendency to seek out confirmation for what it already believes to be true? Is there a scientifically supportable way to understand our individual characteristics and traits?
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True Love Comes with In-Laws

Don’t Roll Your Eyes: Making In-Laws Into Family
Ruth Nemzoff. 2012. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. 256 pages.

When we choose to hitch our star to the wagon of our dreams, we aren't always prepared for all the cargo in the back. In fact, sometimes it's hard to tell exactly how much cargo the wagon actually carries. How close is your new partner to his or her family members? How close will you be expected to be? Will the two of you interact mostly with his nuclear family, or will you be expected to spend significant time and effort on relationships with in-law aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents too? The answers to these questions will vary considerably depending on the situation, but for all of us, the potential exists for unwelcome surprises. Ruth Nemzoff to the rescue! In her latest book, Don't Roll Your Eyes: Making In-Laws into Family, this resident scholar from Brandeis University shows us how to navigate these unique relationships and smooth the way to making in-laws a gift rather than a curse. 
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Digging for Truth in Father-Daughter Relationships

September 10, 2012—"Truth is the only safe ground to stand on," asserted the 19th-century women's rights activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Few of us, including Wake Forest University professor Linda Nielsen, would disagree with that sentiment. Unfortunately, she says, the truth isn’t always easy to get at. The expectations we have for one another are often based on stereotypes, inaccurate information, and even cognitive biases—those subtle little tricks of the brain that affect our interpretation of events. This is certainly the truth in family relationships. Perhaps especially, suggests Nielsen, when it comes to the emotional barriers that have been erected in the one between fathers and daughters.
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Kill Me With Kindness: Pathological Altruism

Pathological Altruism
Barbara Oakley, Ariel Knafo, Guruprasad Madhavan and David Sloan Wilson (editors). 2012. Oxford University Press, New York. 496 pages.

March 25, 2012—A cartoon published in the British magazine Punch in 1909 depicts a young member of the fledgling Boy Scout movement lending his arm to an elderly lady (portraying England). The image, although eventually stripped of its intended satire, quickly caught the public’s imagination and has persisted in Western pop culture ever since: an enduring symbol of the best that human nature has to offer. But the icon did not remain unspotted. An old joke asks, “Why did it take three large Boy Scouts to help the old lady across the street?” The answer, of course, is “Because she didn’t want to go.” Is it just possible that we, like those Boy Scouts, might sometimes deceive ourselves into thinking we are helping when our actions are in fact hindering? This phenomenon, among other forms of killing kindness, is the focus of an intriguing collection of essays titled Pathological Altruism.
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Daniel Kahneman: Unveling the Two-Faced Brain

Thinking, Fast and Slow
Daniel Kahneman. 2011. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York. 512 pages.

March 20, 2012—How many of us are really open to the possibility of shattering our cherished biases and illusions, especially those that support the trust we maintain toward our own mind? Well, don't read Daniel Kahneman's latest book unless that is precisely what you are prepared to do. In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman reveals what he has learned as a result of his Nobel Prize–winning research in judgment and decision making: human beings (and that includes you and me) are not the rational agents economists and decision theorists have traditionally assumed.
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Green With Compassion

The Compassionate Life: Walking the Path of Kindness
Marc Barasch. 2009. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco. 288. pages.

April 21, 2009—It can hardly be disputed that—barring natural disasters or other forces beyond our control—when human relationships are good, life is good, and perhaps the most important relationship when it comes to ensuring that life is good, or that it’s even possible at all, is the crucial interaction that occurs between people and the land they inhabit. When this relationship suffers, the sustainability of all life on earth is affected. On the other hand, when we have a good relationship with the earth, life has its best chance of thriving.

Unfortunately humanity’s track record with regard to its other relationships does not bode well for the planet. One has only to read the world’s newspapers, sit in its courthouses, or walk its battlefields to understand how our equally essential physical relationship with the earth could be so lightly esteemed. Why do we seem to have so much trouble with relationships, and what would it take to reverse that trend? Award-winning author Marc Ian Barasch explores this question in his 2009 release, The Compassionate Life: Walking the Path of Kindness.
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Single but Not Solitary: Shattering the Myths of Singlehood

Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored,
and Still Live Happily Ever After

Bella DePaulo. 2007. St. Martin's Griffin, New York. 336 pages.

January 15, 2007—“Tell new acquaintances that you are single and often they think they already know quite a lot about you,” says social psychologist Bella DePaulo. “They understand your emotions: You are miserable and lonely and envious of couples. They know what motivates you: More than anything else in the world, you want to become coupled. If you are a single person of a certain age, they also know why you are not coupled: You are commitment-phobic, or too picky, or have baggage. . . . From knowing nothing more about you than your status as a single person, other people sometimes think they already know all about your family: You don’t have one. They also know about the important person or persons in your life: You don’t have anyone. In fact, they know all about your life: You don’t have a life.”

Published in 2006, DePaulo’s book, Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After, uses humor and often very well-aimed satire to explain (to singles as well as couples) that singles can be just as happy as their married friends.
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