Wednesday, 12 January 2011
The good psychologist (Noam Shpancer)
It's been absolutely ages since I wrote properly about a book; I've nearly forgotten how to do it! But here goes...
Written by Noam Shpancer, and originally written in Hebrew and becoming a bestseller in Israel, The Good Psychologist is an intriguing mix of novel and psychological theory and insight. The author, Shpancer, is both a professor of psychology and a clinical psychologist and it is obvious that he has drawn considerably on his experience in these two roles to write the book. I am quite interested in psychology and psychotherapy so was quite excited to read this book.
The book tells the story of a man, the good psychologist, who by day sees clients at the Centre for Anxiety Disorders, and by night teaches an evening class in an introduction to therapy. In both of these "lives", and in his own personal private life, he is facing crossroads and the need to address situations. At the same time, he shares his own psychological learning, with his clients and his students, and tries to apply it to his own life. It's less a gripping novel that you read for the story, and more a book which gives you an insight into the way people think as well as introducing you to some ways of understanding human behaviour and interpretations.
For example, I found this extract from one of the Good Psychologist's sessions particularly enlightening:
My daughter says that she loves her father more than me.
Right. But that was not the reason for your foul mood. The reason for your mood was your interpretation of your daughter's statement, the meaning you decided to attach to it. Let's track your internal monologue. When the girl said what she said, what did you think?
That she doesn't love me, that I'm losing her, that I'm a bad mother.
Ok. Now look at these interpretations. These are thoughts, and thoughts are not facts, they are guesses, hypotheses. And hypotheses must be tested before they are embraced as truth. Perhaps it is possible to interpret what your daughter said differently.
He goes onto suggest that his client should "shop around" when choosing how to interpret things:
Yes. I want you to regard the process of choosing your thoughts like you regard the process of choosing a new pair of shoes. You like shoes, don't you?
Yes. When you enter a shoe store, do you buy the first pair you seen?
Right. What's first is not necessarily what's best. Same thing with you thoughts...So how do you decide which shoes to buy?
I walk around the store and compare.
You compare,based on what?
The brand, the size, the fit, the style, the price.
Correct. You look for evidence, information that helps you decide cosnciously which shoe is the best for you.
You must use the same method to choose your thoughts.
I did very much find that an interesting passage.
I recieved this book to write about from the publisher, Little Brown, and it is released on the 20th January. Thank you very much to them for sending it to me!