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The Writer's Guide to Psychology: How to Write Accurately about Psychological Disorders, Clinical Treatment and Human Behavior
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The Writer's Guide to Psychology: How to Write Accurately about Psychological Disorders, Clinical Treatment and Human Behavior

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  226 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
An accurate and accessible survey of modern psychological theory and practice, this reference offers professional writers practical advice for incorporating psychological elements into their work.
Paperback, 232 pages
Published December 1st 2010 by Linden Publishing
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Emma Sea
Jun 09, 2017 Emma Sea marked it as probably-not
this looks really good, but probably not something I need to read right now.
Jane Lebak
Mar 18, 2012 Jane Lebak rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing, friends
I sat down with this last week and went over several sections in order to make sure I'd conveyed a specific condition well in my WIP. It's eminently readable and a good overview for writers. Highly recommended!
Jul 12, 2017 Collin rated it liked it
Shelves: on-writing
Good, briefly presented info, though I'm sure after 7 years some of it - probably about medication, especially - is out of date. It wasn't as much in-depth examination into mental illness as I was hoping; a lot of the book was instead taken up with discussion about therapy/therapists, which I didn't expect (though I probably should have).

It's a good jumping-off point for writers, but I actually think this is a good reference for anyone looking to have a more accurate and nuanced view of people
K.M. Weiland
Jan 21, 2011 K.M. Weiland rated it it was amazing
Because authors tend to write about seriously flawed people, we often delve into the realm of psychology, intentionally or not. Stories in a wide array of genres feature psychologists, psychiatrists, psychopaths, schizophrenics, and any number of other characters that fall within the pale of modern psychology. Unfortunately, however, modern authors are too often guilty of taking their understanding of psychology at face value and running away with common misconceptions without a second thought. ...more
This was an okay read for me, somewhere between 2* and 2.5*.

A warning first, this is a very US-centric book. Quite a few of the statements do not fit countries with national health insurance systems. Contrary to Ms Kaufman's statement it is e.g. very easy to get committed to closed psychiatric wards in such countries, and it is very hard or often even impossible to get out again, especially if you've no family or friends able to act on your behalf.

That said, it is a solid reference book for basi
I think this is a really good, if brief, education about mental illness, personality disorders, therapy and psychiatry for the writer's eyes. The references to the screw-ups in real books and movies were an excellent feature. I would recommend this to any writer who felt they needed to know more about this topic. However, I did think it was repetitive at times, and it also focused only on what COMPETENT therapists would do. I've encountered incompetent clinicians in my time who did exactly the o ...more
Mary Lindsey
Jun 28, 2010 Mary Lindsey rated it it was amazing
If you are a writer, this book is a must! I was thrilled to preview this book and found it useful and relevant to my career as a novelist. Well-written and concise, I recommend it to anyone wanting to accurately portray a character with psychological disorders.
Stina Lindenblatt
Jan 12, 2011 Stina Lindenblatt rated it really liked it
The premise behind The Writer’s Guide to Psychology by Carolyn Kaufman is brilliant. This book is perfect for anyone who’s writing a novel.

In chapter two (Why People Do What They Do), Carolyn discusses the different therapist stereotypes portrayed in films and novels. She then goes into the five different therapy orientations (e.g. psychodynamic therapy) and describes how each would be used to help a client overcome whatever issues he’s dealing with. But she takes it one step further by explain
Kari J.
Sep 30, 2010 Kari J. rated it it was amazing
Sometimes it seems everywhere you turn, the entertainment and book industry throws mentally disturbed characters at us. Dennis Lahane’s “Shutter Island,” both the book and the movie, are good examples of this: the federal agent visits a mental institution in the 1950’s to assist in the search for an escaped patient. Great story–the book AND the movie were definitely done right, entertainment-wise.

But what about factually? As a writer, I want to ensure that my works are as accurate as possible.
Patty Jansen
Feb 20, 2011 Patty Jansen rated it it was amazing
This book is an excellent reference for writers wanting to accurately portray characters who either have a mental condition or come into contact with people who do.

The book cuts through cliches, gives examples of wrong and right portrayal of mental health professionals, lists their education, explains the difference between a phychologist and a psychiatrist, between bipolar disorder and depression and schizofrenia, and much, much more.
Deb Salisbury
Dec 30, 2010 Deb Salisbury rated it it was amazing
The Writer's Guide to Psychology explains psychology and the clinical practice of psychology in clear, easy to understand chapters. While it's intended for writers, I think anyone wondering about the basics will find this book helpful. It gives examples of how the subject is treated in film and fiction, and shows how it was done right - or wrong. Highly recommended!
Clarissa Draper
Mar 28, 2011 Clarissa Draper rated it it was amazing
Shelves: textbooks
This is a must read for all writers.
Charles Garard
Because I am a writer, I found this book by Dr. Carolyn Kaufman is be an invaluable addition to one's reference shelf near one's computers. My reference shelves are above my computer work space and near my shoulder on the left wall. Also because I am a writer and spend more time composing text than in reading, it has taken me a long while to complete her book. This, however, is no reflection on her work as she has a smooth and easy style. The only aspect that may bog down the reader, but in a go ...more
Oct 29, 2011 June rated it really liked it
The Writer's Guide to Psychology is on a mission. Its title tells it all. Its goal is to provide writers with guidance to avoid making amateur mistakes when writing about psychopaths, serial killers and any number of mentally ill characters that flourish from a writer's imagination. This knowledge is not just for the fiction writer, but also for those writing nonfiction.

The Guide delineates psychological disorders and their treatments--both medical and psychotherapeutic in a comprehensive way. I
Wesley Fox
Jan 24, 2015 Wesley Fox rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
Very helpful and accessible source for writers. Kaufman is fairly thorough and exposes a lot of popular myths and misconceptions about psychology, as well as pointing out movies that failed to portray the profession or certain disorders accurately.

Kaufman spent a couple chapters describing the profession from a practitioners perspective, which would be useful if you had a character that was a psychotherapist, psychiatrist, etc. This wasn't really what I was interested in and it isn't really conv
Patricia Puddle
May 03, 2012 Patricia Puddle rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recomendations
Once I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down. I had a feeling it was going to be good, but it was much better than I thought. In this book, Carolyn Kaufman wrote about psychological disorders in such an easy way that all readers would easily understand. I liked the way she explained about similar mental illnesses and how to tell the difference. Not only is this book a great resource for writers, but also for families with psychological disorders, and for anyone wanting to understand ...more
Gretchen Turonek
Jan 25, 2017 Gretchen Turonek rated it really liked it
I found this book to be a good resource, provided that you were using it as a starting point for further research. I've taken a college-level intro psych class and the content that was covered in the book with regards to actual conditions felt like an overview or refresher course on what I had covered: the particulars about history, treatments, and job descriptions were new to me and summed up quite well. The book was accessible and easy to read, never getting bogged down with jargon.

Like I said
Sharon Coleman
Oct 22, 2015 Sharon Coleman rated it liked it
Shelves: on-writing
There was a lot, on how to portray those in the psychiatric profession in a believable manner. There was a lot about medications and what would realistically be prescribed to what patient. Clearly the author has read many books that hit her pet peave buttons on these topics. If your characters are in this profession you likely would find this part very useful.

I would have liked more on a wider range of human behavior from normal to extreme pathology, and how to realistically portray the more sub
Very informative, it gives applications of different things to help enrich writing and make it realistic, including how to write therapist characters, and also showcases when things have gone wrong in popular media (such as in books or movies) to avoid stereotype and debunk popular myths. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to add psychology in their writing and do it correctly. There is also a list of references for further reading for anyone who wishes to research things ...more
Dec 29, 2011 Jen rated it liked it
A decent reference to have on your desk, though a decent Google might reveal similar info for the lay-person. If you've had any interaction with the world of mental health either as a client or the caretaker of a patient/client, about half the book is redundant. If you've, say, been to therapy a few times and never seen a psychiatrist, it will clear up alot of assumptions and myths. If you want to write about the really disturbed (true villans, etc) I think the book is helpful. If you want to wr ...more
Feb 18, 2013 Rachel marked it as to-read
Shelves: writing, want-to-own
An accurate and accessible survey of modern psychological theory and practice, this reference offers professional writers practical advice for incorporating psychological elements into their work. With easy-to-understand explanations and definitions, this book is an invaluable resource for any writer wishing to add realistic details to scenes that depict psychologists, mental illnesses and disorders, and psychotherapeutic treatments. Designed around the needs of professional fiction and nonficti ...more
Kelly V
Mar 08, 2015 Kelly V rated it it was amazing
What a great book. It's not an in-depth guide to psychology for sure, but it's a highly-readable overview for writers (or even other people who are just curious). It's the perfect starting point if you want to represent anything related to psychology in your work as it gives you the language you need to portray things realistically. The book probably provides enough information for you to have secondary characters with various psychologically-interesting conditions, but you would likely need to ...more
Mar 23, 2013 Sue rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful resource for writers and for anyone else interested in psychology, particularly in the various disorders and treatments. Chapters tell how therapists are trained and how they work, describe the various problems people have and how they are treated and open the doors to what happens in a psych ward. Kaufman writes clearly and smoothly and addresses the needs of writers. She also includes numerous examples of books and movies where they got the psych details wrong and shows how ...more
Nov 04, 2013 Ashley rated it liked it
Shelves: 2000-2020
Good book with a lot of information, but it seemed extremely based on mental illness and therapy--not on general psychological concepts useful to writers. Of course, the title of the book should have suggested this to me, but it still wasn't exactly what I had been expecting--especially because I was interested in historical information, and the book provides very little information other than what's current.

So all in all--a good and useful book, but not what I was looking for.
Apr 25, 2012 Michael rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book. It's an excellent reference if you want to get the psychological issues in your story accurate. I personally feel the author is a little too pro-drug and pro-electroshock therapy for my tastes, but I acknowledge that a) sometimes they are necessary, and b) this is perhaps a personal taste thing. That issue aside, I recommend it for any writer who wants to delve into the demented, or just give their characters more flavor.
Jun 23, 2016 Shannon rated it it was amazing
This is an approachable and thorough guide to writing accurate character depictions in psychology. The book is enjoyable to read and the "Don't let this happen to you" sections were particularly helpful to illustrate inaccurate psychology cliches. This is a great guide for any writer in any genre! Five stars!
Jack Pyke
Jan 01, 2013 Jack Pyke rated it it was amazing
I've got to add a disclaimer to this one and say I've spoken to Dr. Kaufman with regard to some of my characters.

But... this is an excellent addition to speaking to her. You've got everything in here to help you work out your character complexity when it comes to disorders etc.

Highly, highly recommended. And then some.
Another fascinating read in regards to psychology. I found it to be fascinating, and I was happy that it dispelled the general layperson's first thoughts about therapy: lying on a couch talking to an older bespectacled shrink writing notes and asking "how does that make you feel?"
Apr 26, 2011 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2013
A great resource for writers who are dealing with mental illness.

Most of the data was known to me already, but it's useful to have all in one place for easy reference. It's also kind of startling how many examples are given of published writers getting the psychology all wrong.
Christine Bloom
Oct 29, 2011 Christine Bloom rated it really liked it
Great little book to help writer's understand psychological disorders and accurately portray those characteristics in our writing. Give ideas for how to use the descriptions of disorders and how to apply those to character development.
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Carolyn Kaufman had a doctorate in clinical psychology, and by day she taught psychology to college students.

Dr. Kaufman blogged for Psychology Today and the QueryTracker Blog. She also ran Archetype Writing: Psychology for Fiction Writers. She was often quoted by the media as an expert resource and has appeared in magazines such as Marie Claire and Seventeen, newspapers like The Boston Globe and
More about Carolyn Kaufman...

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