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Clinician's Digest - Page 4

Another development is that multiculturalism has grown from a whisper to a roar. Charles Morris, whose Psychology: An Introduction was first published in 1973, says that, in 1970, a search of the PsycINFO database using the keywords diversity, gender or cross-cultural yielded 48 articles. In 2008, it resulted in 4,210. "Twenty-five years ago," write Carole Wade and Carol Tavris, whose Psychology is now in its 10th edition, "proposals to make women 'normal' in psychology and to include the study of cultural influences on behavior were . . . ideological goals rather than scientific ones." Now, in his 2010 edition of Psychology, Peter Gray discusses different sociocultural perspectives on disorders such as anorexia, schizophrenia, AD/HD, and taijin kyofusho (a Japanese-specific social anxiety disorder).

More and more textbook writers face the challenge of sifting through mountains of new knowledge and making decisions about what to include. At the same time, they're being pressed to reduce the number of pages by publishers responding to increasing production costs, protests about the price of textbooks, and the more limited timeframe available to digest the material brought on by shorter school semesters. Compromises are inevitable—never a good alternative where knowledge is concerned. For example, Nolen-Hoeksema feels pressured to include more about ESTs and less historical review, but can psychology and other social sciences be fully understood without their history?

Perhaps the greatest intellectual challenge to writers is the growing movement toward integration in science. The trend to link the discrete branches of science has been gathering momentum for some time, and was brought to public attention by such thinkers as sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson in his 1998 book, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge. "Many of the best and brightest researchers today in psychology identify with hyphenated areas, such as social-affective-developmental-neuroscience," says James Kalat, whose Introduction to Psychology has just gone into its ninth edition.

But the growing emphasis on integrative approaches doesn't easily fit into what have become standardized ways to organize textbooks. Basically, says Carol Tavris, coauthor of Psychology, textbook writers are expected to provide a historical introduction and include chapters on research methods, personality, the brain, sensation and perception, thinking, memory, development, social psychology, abnormal psychology, therapy, learning, motivation, and emotion. Thus the desire to create a taxonomy of knowledge may end up fostering an inadequate model of psychological understanding and current research.

On top of all these pressures, textbook authors confront another problem. According to Tavris, counterbalancing all the efforts to transform the paradigm for teaching psychology is a simple fact: many instructors don't like to completely revamp their syllabi.

Resources

Therapeutic Connection: Psychotherapy Research 20, no. 3 (May 2010): 309-20; Psychotherapy Theory, Research, Practice, Training 47, no. 2 (June 2010 ): 260-67. Suicide: Psychological Science 21, no. 4 (April 2010): 511-17. PTSD: American Journal of Psychiatry 167, no. 3 (March 2010): 312-20. Clients' Needs: Counselling Psychology Quarterly 23, no. 1 (March 2010): 91-110. Time: Acta Psychologica 34, no. 2 (June 2010): 130-41. Textbooks: Observer 23, no. 4 (April 2010).

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