Amazon books

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

THE RIGHTEOUS MIND by Jonathan Haidt Book Review








THE RIGHTEOUS MIND:    

WHY GOOD PEOPLE ARE DIVIDED   

BY POLITICS AND RELIGION

By 

   Jonathan Haidt

Reviewed by

   Geoffrey W. Sutton





In The Righteous Mind, Haidt provides readers with a review of moral psychology research, which continues to be helpful in analyzing the culture wars between religious and political groups. I was introduced to the work by an exceptional undergraduate psychology major, Kayla Jordan, who is currently pursuing a doctorate in Social Psychology. Our published academic review is available online. In this review, I provide a summary and some thoughts about the usefulness of Haidt's approach.

Haidt's work is organized around three principles of morality. First, “intuitions come first, strategic reasoning second,” Drawing on the philosophy of Hume and supported by research, Haidt explains how so much of morality is governed by emotion driven, automatic thinking, rather than cool, rational thought. This is a contrast to the common emphasis on moral thinking driven by beliefs that morality is based on considerations of justice (e.g., Fawls) or the weighing of consequences (e.g., Bentham, Mill). 

Haidt's second moral principle is, “There is more to morality than harm and fairness.” In this section, Haidt introduces us to six moral foundations people rely on when providing moral justifications. His research indicates liberals tend to emphasize two concerns about harm and fairness and sometimes liberty. However, conservatives tend to have a broader base that includes an additional three moral foundations: authority, loyalty, and purity. 

It is this second principle along with the six foundations that I found so useful when studying the different Christian cultures that are divided over matters of gender and sexuality (See A House Divided). In my view, the six foundations are not just emphasized by conservative and liberal Christians but these different tribes may emphasize different aspects of the same foundation.

The third principle is that, “Morality binds and blinds.” Haidt suggests that people can switch from their typical individual survival mode to becoming groupish when activated by politics or religion. This group loyalty appears to be evident in American politics where there is a sharp divide between conservatives and liberals. And further, the divide is seen between conservative and progressive Christians.

Haidt recognizes that he has provided a descriptive approach to morality. A prescriptive approach is needed to make moral decisions and here he leans toward consequentialism. Research is ongoing and should shed more light on how well the foundations help organize the justifications people provide for right and wrong. The hope is that as people become better at recognizing different moral perspectives they may engage in more productive dialogue than the present state of talking past each other.

Related Posts

Moral Tribes by Greene

Moral Foundations Questionnaire

Moral Foundations Theory

For a recent study of moral psychology and political identity, see Sutton, Kelly, and Huver (2019).
References

Haidt, J. (2012). The righteous mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion. New 
      York, NY: Pantheon Books

Jordan, K. & Sutton, G. W. (2015). [Review of the book: The righteous mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion by Jonathan Haidt.]. Journal of Christianity and Psychology, 34, 90-91.  Academia Link  Researchgate Link 


Sutton, G. W. (2016). A house divided: Sexuality, morality, and Christian cultures. Eugene, OR: Pickwick.  Amazon Link

Sutton, G. W., Kelly, H. L., & Huver, M. (2019). Political identities, religious identity, and the pattern of moral foundations among conservative Christians. Journal of Psychology and Theology, xx, pp. xx-xx. Accepted 6 September 2019. ResearchGate Link     Academia Link



Connections

   My Page    www.suttong.com
   My Books   AMAZON     GOOGLE PLAY STORE
   FACEBOOK   Geoff W. Sutton
   TWITTER  @Geoff.W.Sutton




Publications (many free downloads)
  Academia   Geoff W Sutton   (PhD)     
  ResearchGate   Geoffrey W Sutton   (PhD)

See also Christian Morality, which contains an application of Moral Foundations Theory to understanding Christian views of same-sex relationships. See on AMAZON.












Nazi Doctors Medical Killing Psychology of Genocide- Book Review





THE NAZI DOCTORS

Medical Killing and the

Psychology of Genocide


  By  Robert Jay Lifton


Reviewed by

  Geoffrey W. Sutton




Lifton peers into the lives of physicians who killed millions. He examines the beliefs and practices of Nazi culture, which provided a biomedical context for ridding Germany of disease by exterminating those targeted as responsible for such disease. In an evil irony, healers frame killing in an expanding narrative that ultimately reaches the level of genocide. In addition to records, Lifton included interviews with surviving Nazi physicians and some prisoner doctors who served as their underlings in Auschwitz.

Lifton discloses his perspective, which is that of a an American psychiatrist, a Jew, with a psychoanalytic perspective informed in part by the ideas of Otto Rank. In the Introduction, Lifton informs us of key elements of his psychological model. People seek to deal with mortality by seeking immortality in various life projects. Many also seek to deal with limitations via transcendence. He refers to Rank's notion of "immortality systems" to help gain a sense of the meaning of the Nazi's "Thousand Year Reich" in which ordinary Germans and professionals could be bound together in an uplifting and eternal endeavor.

Lifton also shows us that in the mass killings of Jews and others, especially as seen in the death camps, the Nazis crossed a significant barrier beyond that kind of episodic violence, which targets hated people here and there to reach a systematized elimination of certain human lives based on the logical extension of a distorted biomedical theory that harnessed physicians to a gross expansion of euthanasia to the selection of multitudes of Jews for lethal "cleansing."

In Part I, Lifton explains the early Nazi medical killing program of euthanasia presented as "life unworthy of life." There were several components beginning with required sterilization then the killing of "impaired" children and adults in hospitals-- mostly mental hospitals. The practices of injection and carbon monoxide poisoning were eventually expanded to inmates at concentration and extermination camps and then to mass killings.

Part II focuses on Auschwitz. The SS doctors performed the initial selection of arriving prisoners either for the gas chambers or temporary survival. Additional selections followed as doctors "examined" prisoners' fitness when overcrowding or health conditions commanded their attention. The "unfit" were of course selected to die in this bizarre application of triage. Lifton closes this section with three chapters each devoted to a close look at three physicians. One he considers a "human being" in an SS uniform, the other, Josef Mengele, identified as "Dr. Auschwitz," and the third, Eduard Wirths a representative of the "healing-killing conflict."

The final Part III examined the psychology of genocide. Lifton explains his view of the concept "doubling." Nazi doctors form two selves to cope with death. The previous physician self is the healer, which emerges from time to time. The Auschwitz self takes on the numbing routine necessary to psychologically survive the initially shocking assignment to carry out selections of people for immediate death. Lifton addresses some additional themes related to genocide and mentions some similarities of the Nazi killings to the earlier Armenian genocide.

Overall, I found Lifton's work informative and worthy of consideration given the in-depth interviews with Nazi and other physicians who survived the almost indescribable horrors. His analysis of "doubling" is interesting because he provides numerous examples of how this construct may help approach an understanding. Unfortunately, like many mental constructs there is a circularity that fails to satisfy my desire for a closer look at causation. Lifton does mention the cultural milieu and even provides historical perspectives that no doubt bolstered the German biological view of a healthy and superior race in contrast to those people viewed as a subspecies who were unworthy or even dangerous to life. It is this milieu, and an understanding of social psychology, that I think would offer a more useful explanation as we continue to confront extreme outgroup hatred.

Another perspective I would like to have seen is a more careful analysis of moral psychological perspectives. In fairness, much of moral psychology research has taken place in the last couple of decades and would thus be unavailable to Lifton. Nevertheless, contemporary readers would do well to consider the work of Jonathan Haidt (The Righteous Mind, 2012) and others to examine the scheme of justifications employed by the Nazi's in their killing narrative.

Finally, Lifton appears to have ignored the work of Zimbardo and the well-known 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, which offers empirically supported ideas for considering the rapid shift from fellow citizen to the split roles of guardian-inmate. A quote from Zimbardo is relevant.

"How we went about testing these questions and what we found may astound you. Our planned two-week investigation into the psychology of prison life had to be ended after only six days because of what the situation was doing to the college students who participated. In only a few days, our guards became sadistic and our prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress. Please read the story of what happened and what it tells us about the nature of human nature."

What we can glean from Lifton's research is the perspective of a psychiatric physician who offers us a face-to-face encounter with some of history's most malevolent and scariest beings-- healers turned killers.

Related Post

Psychopaths and Leadership

Read more about Auschwitz-Birkenau at auschwitz.org


Reference

Lifton, R.J. (1985). The Nazi doctors: Medical killing and the psychology of genocide. New York: Basic Books.  (Paperback, 561 pages)


Connections

   My Page    www.suttong.com
   My Books   AMAZON     GOOGLE PLAY STORE
   FACEBOOK   Geoff W. Sutton
   TWITTER  @Geoff.W.Sutton

Publications (many free downloads)
  Academia   Geoff W Sutton   (PhD)     
  ResearchGate   Geoffrey W Sutton   (PhD)






Thursday, May 11, 2017

Spiritually Oriented Psychotherapy for Trauma- A Book Review


SPIRITUALLY ORIENTED         

PSYCHOTHERAPY   
FOR TRAUMA

Edited by

Donald F. Walker, 
Christine A. Courtois, 
Jamie D. Aten

Reviewed by

   Geoffrey W. Sutton

Publisher: American Psychological Association

This book is an excellent resource for clinicians considering the spiritual concerns of people who have experienced trauma. The treatment of trauma has a long history. As clinicians who have treated people with trauma, we have learned many techniques and become acquainted with other options such as medication and therapeutic animals. However, the spiritual dimension has been somewhat neglected until recently. This book helps fill in the gap.

The twelve chapters cover multiple topics beginning with an overview of spirituality and ethical considerations in psychotherapy for trauma. Other chapters offer insights into aspects of trauma where religion or spirituality may be a major concern such as spiritual struggles, the problem of evil, and changes in God-image linked to sexual abuse.

Clinicians will also find helpful forms and checklists.

See more information in my published review, which can be downloaded.

Reference

Sutton, G. W. (2017). [Review of the book Spiritually oriented psychotherapy for trauma by D.F. Walker, C.A. Courtois, & J.D. Aten (Eds.)]. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 36, 90-91.  Academia Link    ResearchGate Link  

Related articles

Sutton, G. W. (2008). Christianity, Psychotherapy, and Psychology: An analysis of an Integrative Psychotherapy Model. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 36, 139-141.  Academia Link    Research Gate Link

Sutton, G. W. (2011). [Review of the book Counseling and psychotherapy: A Christian perspective by Siang-Yang Tan]. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 30, 87-88.  Academia Link    Research Gate Link  

Sutton, G. W. (2014). [Review of the book Evidence-based practices for Christian counseling and psychotherapy by E.L. Worthington Jr., E.L. Johnson, J.N. Hook, and J.D. Aten]. Encounter. Accepted for publication May 2014.  Academia Link    Research Gate Link

Sutton, G. W. (2019). [Review of the book Lay Counseling: Equipping Christians for a helping ministry: Revised & Updated by S. Tan & E. Scalise]. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 38, 57-59.  Academia Link    Research Gate Link  

Sutton, G. W., Arnzen, C., & Kelly, H. (2016). Christian counseling and psychotherapy: Components of clinician spirituality that predict type of Christian intervention. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 35, 204-214. Academia Link    ResearchGate Link


Connections

   My Page    www.suttong.com
   My Books   AMAZON     GOOGLE PLAY STORE
   FACEBOOK   Geoff W. Sutton
   TWITTER  @Geoff.W.Sutton

Publications (many free downloads)
  Academia   Geoff W Sutton   (PhD)     
  ResearchGate   Geoffrey W Sutton   (PhD)