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House of Cards : Psychology and Psychotherapy Built on Myth

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  139 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Robin Dawes spares no one in this powerful critique of modern psychotherapeutic practice. As Dawes points out, we have all been swayed by the "pop psych" view of the world--believing, for example, that self-esteem is an essential precursor to being a productive human being, that events in one's childhood affect one's fate as an adult, and that "you have to love yourself be ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 1st 1996 by Free Press (first published October 1st 1993)
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Aug 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
During the 2005-2006 school year, I sat in on a course in epistemology with a friend of mine. The teacher talked extensively about psychological literature and how such literature might inform philosophical thought; for example, there are philosophy articles using statistical techniques (namely ANOVAs) to test philosophical propositions. During that semester, the teacher referred to Robyn Dawes's wonderful book and said "I'm practically sleeping with that book." I leaned over to my friend and sa ...more
Aug 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2007, science, health
How psychologists and psychiatrists really don't know what they are doing. Inexperienced therapists are as effective as MDs. It is inexcusable for psychologists to be giving expert opinion in court. ...more
Sep 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
Dawes clearly has an ax to grind with clinical psychology. Ego and status are what motivate this book. As an academic psychologist Dawes doesn't want to be associated with "those psychologists". Real psychologists do science and those practitioner-psychologists employ pseudo-science. With this as his jumping off point Dawes goes on to a select reading and interpretation of the scientific literature to prove that point. While some of his points are well founded his partisanship flattens out the c ...more
Jul 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Not perfect but somebody needed to write this book. It's funny that it pisses so many people off. But most of it is all true. ...more
Ana Magalhães
All in all, I believe that this is a must-read book for all psychologists (clinical or otherwise), aspiring students and for the public in general, so that all that take interest in this field can critically look at it and not be totally blinded by these persisting myths. It really is an eye-opener to the difference between the profession of psychology and the science of psychology. As a firm believer of the importance of psychotherapy and clinical psychology to the public in general, I found it ...more
Tim Josling
Aug 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A devastating critique of psychology and psychiatry by a professor of psychology.

* How psychologists have no skill in helping people, beyond what an empathetic layperson with minimal training in simple techniques. (Actually an empathetic layperson can be quite helpful. His point is that paying someone with many diplomas on their wall $150/hr is not adding any value.

* Psychologists and psychiatrists do not get better with experience.

* How their predictions consistently fall well short of simple s
Josh Maulucci
Jun 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Psychology is one of my most read genres, and this book provided a great balancing incite to a lot of the ideas prevalent in psychology. It took a very measured, and systematic approach to cautioning the wholehearted reliance in psychology and psychiatry "professionals" without throwing out the "baby with the bath water". It wasn't the easiest or "funnest" read on this topic, but it was informative and thought provoking. If you're already pretty familiar with the subject, dive in and maybe get a ...more
Pavel Komarovskiy
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Насколько полезны психологи для общества? Как понять, действительно ли психотерапевты помогают своим клиентам? Обладают ли в самом деле опытные психологи глубоким пониманием человеческой натуры?

Ответы на эти вопросы не так просты, как может показаться на первый взгляд. Если люди ходят к психологам (и платят, к слову, неплохие деньги за эту возможность) и в целом остаются довольны результатом – то можно ли это считать доказательством пользы психотерапии? Но те же самые люди могут с не менее успеш
Siddhartha Shankar
. the rapid growth and professionalization of my field, psychology, has led it to abandon a commitment it made at the inception of that growth. That commitment was to establish a mental health profession that would be based on research findings, employing insofar as possible well-validated techniques and principles. . . . What was never envisioned was that a body of research and established principles would be available to inform practice, but that the practice would ignore that research and tho ...more
Hannah Glenn
Nov 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Required reading for Deliberate Practice course. The rationale for reading this books was “how can you be an effective psychologist if you don’t understand your field’s greatest critic?”

A lot of Dawes’ points are simply unfair generalizations but I think it moved the field from the time of publication to where we are now, with our emphasis on evidence-based practice and deliberate practice.
May 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Excellent book making excellent points that almost 30 years later are still being ignored. It's not an easy read in places and polemical in style I still think anyone interested in Psychology or Psychotherapy should read it. ...more
Jorge Rodighiero
Feb 20, 2020 rated it liked it
The first part should be read by every clinical psychologist, especially if they care about giving the best treatment to their patients (as they should)
Costin Manda
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
House of Cards - Psychology and Psychotherapy Built on Myth is a very good book that needs more recognition. It describes and really criticizes the lack of scientific method in psychology and debunks the myth of the experienced psychologist as well as many others that are now taken for granted in the field. Unfortunately the book is also very detailed, filled with expositions, repetitions of concepts and statistical information on the studies that prove the author's point, so it is rather diffic ...more
Mar 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this book not long after it first came out, and it validated grave misgivings I had about psychology as practiced.

A person pursuing a career in the scientific fields, such as medicine or engineering, is supposed to correctly identify the problem at hand, and solve the problem utilizing methods and principles that have been developed from scientific research. A physician is not to use some half-baked medical theory that he just came up with. An engineer is not to use Aristotelian physics.
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Being a Clinical Psychologist, this book both shook the foundations of my professional identity, and reminded me of graduate school where my scientific enquiries into everything were looked down on and discouraged by my trainers. Clinical impressions, clinical experience, clinical intuitions, emotions, and the "all powerful" concept of process... This book reminded me that being critical is not a bad thing, except when being critical threatens someones deeply held beliefs. This quickly became ev ...more
Robert Bogue
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What would you do if you worked in a profession that ignored its own best practices? What if your industry claimed to be able to do things that they simply couldn’t do? How could you move a profession forward when you knew that most of your colleagues weren’t in the know? I’m not talking about one of my professions, software development, instead I’m talking about psychology and the spot that Robyn Dawes found himself in. (Most software developers haven’t bothered to pick up a single book on soft ...more
David Tenemaza Kramaley
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent read with good references to literature and a great critical analysis of the state of psychology and psychotherapy, all of which is probably still relevant today. It's even worth a careful second and third read! Anyone who argues the point for labels in behavioural or psycho-pathological problems, needs to consider the points made in this book very carefully so as to form a balanced and informed opinion. ...more
May 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
An excellent book, full of colorful descriptions of obviously wrong and harmful behavior by the clinical psychologists (both as individuals and as a body). I've been reading it immediately after having read "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman, and it complements that book nicely. The only possible fault of this book is perhaps that the author has obviously a chip on his shoulder against the clinical psychologists, and sometimes it shows. ...more
Ivan Taylor
Oct 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is an angry book. It is mostly about abuses of clinical psychology. However, it has some very good chapters on expert witnesses in criminal trials and interrogators in criminal investigations. I particularly liked his discussion of the value of social science and meta-analysis. It gave me new confidence in the field that i have seen bashed by physicists.
Katie Granger
Jul 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Robyn Dawes was a doddering old man when he wrote this, as is obvious by his wandering prose and unfinished thoughts left at the end of the chapter. The book itself was informative insofar as it picked apart the things wrong with the psychological profession, but focuses only on the negative and never really mentions the positive.
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Apr 03, 2020
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Amanda Lear
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Oct 01, 2015
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Remi Gau
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Jul 06, 2013
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Tomasz Witkowski
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May 13, 2014
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This Book Should Get at Least 4 Stars 1 3 Jun 26, 2012 08:33PM  

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