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Facts and Fictions in Mental Health

ISBN: 978-1-118-31131-8
288 pages
January 2017, Wiley-Blackwell
Facts and Fictions in Mental Health (1118311310) cover image


Written in a lively and entertaining style, Facts and Fictions in Mental Health examines common conceptions and misconceptions surrounding mental health and its treatment. Each chapter focuses on a misconception and is followed by a discussion of related findings from scientific research.

  • A compilation of the authors' "Facts and Fictions" columns written for Scientific American Mind, with the addition of six new columns exclusive to this book
  • Written in a lively and often entertaining style, accessible to both the undergraduate and the interested general reader
  • Each chapter covers a different "fiction" and allows readers to gain a more balanced and accurate view of important topics in mental health
  • The six new columns examine myths and misconceptions of considerable interest and relevance to undergraduates in abnormal psychology courses
  • Introductory material and references are included throughout the book
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Table of Contents

Notes on Authors xi

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xvii

Section 1 Anxiety?–Related Disorders 1

Introduction 1

1 Why Do We Panic? 5

2 Does Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Require Trauma? 9

3 Clutter, Clutter, Everywhere: The Problem of Hoarding 14

4 Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) for Anxiety: Taking a Closer Look 18

5 The Down Sides of Anti?–Anxiety Medication 22

6 Is Mindfulness Good Medicine for Anxiety and Depression? 26

7 Can Herbs Ease Anxiety and Depression? 30

Section 2 Mood Disorders 35

Introduction 35

8 Bipolar Disorders and Creativity: Psychological Truth or Urban Legend? 37

9 Grief Without Tears? 42

10 Is Depression Just Bad Chemistry? 46

11 Four Myths About Suicide 51

12 What Is the Best Treatment for Depression: Drugs, Psychotherapy, or Both? 55

13 Can Antidepressants Cause Suicide? 63

14 The Truth About Shock Therapy 70

Section 3 Child and Adolescent Disorders 75

Introduction 75

15 Are Doctors Diagnosing Too Many Children With ADHD? 79

16 Autism: An Epidemic? 83

17 What Do We Know About Tourette’s Disorder? 88

18 Do Children Get Bipolar Disorder? 93

19 Kid Gloves for Young Offenders? 97

20 Is Divorce Bad for Children? 101

Section 4 Addictions 105

Introduction 105

21 The Truth About Pot 107

22 Does Alcoholics Anonymous Work? 112

23 Self?–Help for Addictions 117

24 How Destructive Is Internet Porn? 121

25 Just Say No? 125

Section 5 Externalizing Problems 129

Introduction 129

26 Road Rage: What Is It and What Can We Do About It? 131

27 Once a Sex Offender, Always a Sex Offender: Maybe Not 135

28 Are Men the More Belligerent Sex? 139

Section 6 Personality Disorders 143

Introduction 143

29 A Dose of Narcissism can be Useful 147

30 The Truth About Borderline Personality 151

31 What “Psychopath” Means 155

Section 7 Shattered Selves: Schizophrenia and Dissociative Identity Disorder 159

Introduction 159

32 Can People Have Multiple Personalities? 161

33 How Violent are People with Mental Illness? 166

34 Can People with Schizophrenia be Helped? 170

Section 8 Popular Myths About the Brain and Behavior 175

Introduction 175

35 Uncovering “Brainscams” 177

36 Is Hypnosis a Distinct Form of Consciousness? 181

37 Memory in Old Age: Not a Lost Cause 185

Section 9 Psychotherapy and Other Approaches to Change 189

Introduction 189

38 Are all Psychotherapies Created Equal? 193

39 Do Self?–Help Books Help? 197

40 The “Just Do It!” Trap: Why Dr. Phil and Dr. Laura Won’t Solve Your Problems 201

41 Can Animals Aid Therapy? 205

42 Psychotherapy in the Public Eye 210

43 Why Don’t People Change? 215

Section 10 Other Myths 219

Introduction 219

44 Do Psychological Disorders Differ Across Cultures? 221

45 Can Positive Thinking Be Negative? 226

46 Does a Full Moon Really Trigger Strange Behavior? 230

47 Do the Eyes Have It? Eyewitness Testimony Is Often Inaccurate 235

48 The Insanity Defense on Trial 239

49 How Much Does the Environment Contribute to Obesity? 243

50 When Eating Becomes an Illness 247

51 Self?–Harm: The Cutting Edge 251

Postscript: A Reader’s Guide to Baloney Detection 256

Index 260

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Author Information

Hal Arkowitz is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Arizona. He has published widely in the areas of anxiety, depression, resistance to change, and psychotherapy. A past editor of the Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, he maintains an active clinical practice as well as teaching courses on abnormal psychology, psychopathology, and psychotherapy at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.


Scott O. Lilienfeld is Professor of Psychology at Emory University in Atlanta. Dr. Lilienfeld has published over 200 articles, book chapters, and books on personality, personality assessment, anxiety disorders, psychiatric classification and diagnosis, pseudoscience in psychology, and evidence-based practices in clinical psychology. In addition, he has appeared on ABC’s 20/20, CNN, the CBS Evening News, and National Public Radio.

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