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

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  116 ratings  ·  23 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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Jane Lebak
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!
K.M. Weiland
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
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
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.
Kari J.
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....more
Stina Lindenblatt
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...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...more
Michelle Muckley
As a non-professional in the field of mental health, I found this book to be very useful in helping me build my character in a realistic fashion. I do think if you are already a trained mental health professional then this would be too basic for you.

One element that I particularly liked in this book was the use of examples from films and books where mental health was crucial to the story line but there were mistakes in the use of various diagnoses. It was a ereal motivator to get it right!

A good...more
Patty Jansen
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
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
This is a must read for all writers.
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...more
Patricia Puddle
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
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: want-to-own, writing
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
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
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.
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.
Jack Pyke
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.
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
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.
Before I make too many more mistakes with those pesky psychological thriller storylines....JK, but this is good stuff!
Martha Ramirez
Excellent psychology resource for writers!
Michael Barone
Michael Barone marked it as to-read
Jul 27, 2014
Willily94 marked it as to-read
Jul 27, 2014
Amber Martingale
Amber Martingale marked it as to-read
Jul 24, 2014
Ashland Pym
Ashland Pym marked it as to-read
Jul 21, 2014
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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
More about Carolyn Kaufman...

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