Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Book Review

As a grad student, I do a lot of reading. Some of it I enjoy. Some of it... not so much. Some of my reading is assigned for my classes; some of it is purely to help with my assignments. And, every now and then, I get to engage in that most rare of reading activities: reading for my own pleasure.

Don't get me wrong here. I love psychology. I even have a T-shirt that says so (with the elaboration, "It's a conditioned response"). It's just that ABA isn't my main area of interest... and many of the articles are simply appalling. Overall, it's fun, mind, and some of the articles are very interesting, but I find that I have to remind myself why I love psychology from time to time. If I didn't, it'd become a "mere" perseverative interest, and I don't want that.

Not that I don't love my perseverations. I do. It's just that perseverations shift. Psychology is something that I never want to get bored with.

Sunday, through a series of coincidences, I found a book that helped me to remember why I chose this field.

The book, entitled The Psychology of Harry Potter, is a gleeful romp through J. K. Rowlings's fictitious world. Each chapter, written by various experts in a wide variety of fields of psychological science, applies a different aspect of psychology to various parts of Harry's world, including:

  • Why wizards lack ability with logic and common sense (Chapter One; you can blame it on Hogwarts)
  • The ways the House system encourages conflict and divison (Chapter Three)
  • The woeful inadequacies of Hogwarts's career councilling services (Chapter Four)
  • The romantic attachment styles of the main trio of the book, as interpreted under the lens of attachment theory (Chapter Six)
  • The ways in which Harry's various losses have helped him grow as a person(and why he's not an utter wreck after growing up with the Dursleys; Chapters Seven amd Eight)

And, of course, many others. There are, in fact, a total of twenty-two articles in the volume.

In addition to simply being fun, however, the book serves as an introduction to many basic psychological principles and research. I can think of few texts that illustrate the application and real-world relevance of psychology in such an entertaining manner.

This isn't to say, however, that the book's a substitute for formal instruction. It isn't. But, for anyone who wishes to learn about the discipline, I find it difficult to think of a more entertaining way to get acquainted.

This is, oddly enough, especially true for autistic individuals. I do not (for obvious reasons) have figures on how many of us have perseverated on Harry Potter or related phenomena.

It's my firm belief that the discipline of psychology could use more autistic psychologists. Books like this are a great way to develop a love of the discipline. They are also a fun way to come to understand some of the things about NT behavior that have confused us throughout our lives.

That's not to say that this book is perfect. Some of the chapters (e.g. Chapter Two) are worse than others. As educational entertainment, though, The Psychology of Harry Potter is top-notch.

And if anyone wants to debate any of the points made in any of the articles... I'm game.

No comments:

Post a Comment