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Lunch » Tags » Book » Reviews » Prisoners Of Hate: The Cognitive Basis of Anger, Hostility, and Violence » User review

The evil that we do: more understandable than ever

  • Jan 14, 2000
The simple idea that the way we think about something determines how we feel about it, and how we act on it. Widely considered the father of modern cognitive therapy, Dr. Beck didn't invent this idea, nor is he the only one promoting it. Yet his expression of it, especially in this fine book, is elegant and compelling. There are many powerful and immediately recognizable examples from daily life, showing how we turn hurt into anger into hatred. How our beliefs and thinking patterns gradually imprison us in cages of reactivity. This book helps make our capacity for both good and evil more understandable. Readers of this book who want a more complete understanding of the topics would probably also benefit from a number of the books talking about the evolutionary and physiological origins of violence. Yet, for the part of our dark nature that we have some ability to control, this book makes a powerful and promising statement, and is complete unto itself.

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Noted as the founder of cognitive psychotherapy, Beck (emeritus, Pennsylvania State Univ.) here applies his work to greater social problems, from domestic violence to bigotry, crime, and war. Focusing on involuntary and usually unnoticed thought patterns, Beck's therapy emphasizes relearning. He wants patientsAand, now, everyone from gang members to world leadersAto examine their cognitions rationally with a view to decreasing hostility. Beck's approach is so sweeping that economic, geographic, and racial issues all can be subsumed under it, and he makes a strong case. However, he oversimplifies when he argues that anger, hate, and hostility are the same whether the conflict is between spouses or nations. Unfortunately, he gives short shrift to the constructive aspects of anger and chooses to ignore the psychology of nonviolence, though his approach is consistent with Gandhi's and King's. Still, Beck's broad scope; valuable summaries on prejudice, altruism, and political psychology; and optimistic, humane, and rational treatment of a vital subject recommend this for lay and professional readers.AE. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine, Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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ISBN-10: 0060193778
ISBN-13: 978-0060193775
Author: Aaron T. Beck
Publisher: HarperCollins

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