|About the Book|
“Psychology” is a weasel word, i.e. it is not easy to define but most people use it as if they knew precisely what it means. It is almost like the definition of art, about which someone once said, “I can’t put it into words, but I know it when I seeMore“Psychology” is a weasel word, i.e. it is not easy to define but most people use it as if they knew precisely what it means. It is almost like the definition of art, about which someone once said, “I can’t put it into words, but I know it when I see it. And that isn’t it!”This book displays, explains, and provides examples of the general principles and practices of psychology. Part of it reads like a textbook, as you might have expected. However, much of it is in the form of essays that are used to go more deeply into certain matters that the textbook format would not allow. Together, it is hoped that the textbook format and the essay format will serve as an easy introduction to the key aspects of psychology as well as providing a fundamental, easy-to-use reference work.Please bear in mind that the purpose of this book is not to teach you psychology, but to help you better understand it, and what it can and cannot do.At this point, let me make an audacious declaration. I am not a professional psychologist, or even an advanced amateur. Nevertheless, based on the observations and experiences of 70 years of life, I am strongly persuaded that no one does anything without a good reason. No matter how bizarre — or even self-destructive — an action may seem to someone else, the person taking it perceives some kind of benefit. The problem is, much of the time the true benefit is hidden, even to the person himself.The objective of psychology is to develop methods for understanding these sub rosa motivations so that actions taken based on these hidden motivations can be of genuine benefit to the person taking them — and in a larger context, to society as a whole.True, the insights and techniques of psychology can be used to manipulate people. Con artists and swindlers do this all the time. However, psychological manipulation does not ipso facto equate to the detriment of the person or persons being manipulated.For example, in labor-management disputes such manipulation could result in a negotiated settlement without going through the pain and disruption of an unnecessary work stoppage. Likewise, in marital disputes such manipulation could result in reconciliation rather than the pain and disruption of divorce.The major sections of the book are:• The Basis of the BasicsHierarchy of Human NeedsEssentials of the Brain and Central Nervous System• Psychology of Irrationality• Psychology of Advertising• Psychology of Communication• Psychology of Language Learning• Myths about Psychology• Biographies of Noted Psychologists• Essays on Psychology• Quotations about Psychology• Glossary of Psychological Terms• Psychological Fallacies in ThinkingSo as not to take things too seriously, there is also a section of “Jokes about Psychology.” The purpose of this section is to look at the ideas of the previous sections through the distorting, but often illuminating, lens of humor. They were selected.The jokes were selected to meet two criteria.1. What they say seems to be much more profound than a superficial reading might suggest.2. They are funny, sometimes very funny.Of the two criteria, the second one is by far the more important.My personal favorites are very short, and therefore very telling.After 12 years of therapy, yesterday my psychoanalyst said something that brought tears to my eyes. He said, No hablo ingles.Im not satisfied with the result of my therapy.