Book recommendations in the field of psychology?
June 23, 2013 11:08 AM   Subscribe

Not looking for pop psychology, but for fundamental texts that are unmissable. Work covering specific topics/subtopics (e.g., "this is the best book about borderline personality disorder") is fine too. I'm not going to be able to pursue another graduate degree for a while, so I'd like to start background and introductory reading for pleasure now (but I'd eventually like to work in the field). I have university library privileges! I've seen this ask, but it's a few years old and answers were rather thin. Go!
posted by sevensnowflakes to Education (13 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

Here are a few classics:

Freud - A lot of stuff, but certainly Studies on Hysteria, The Interpretation of Dreams, and Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality

Carl Rogers - On Becoming a Person

Henry Murray - Explorations in Personality

William James - Principles of Psychology

George Vaillant - Adaptation to Life
posted by shivohum at 11:24 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I also found some of the pieces in Psychological Treatment of Bipolar Disorder (Johnson and Leahy) useful, but the Goodwin/Jamison book was way more of a "THE BOOK" thing than Johnson/Leahy. OTOH, if you're just looking at therapy type stuff (excluding all the "this is the nature of the disease" and "these are some pharmaceutical treatments that work better than others" stuff) then Johnson/Leahy is the better bet in my not-a-therapist-or-anything-like-that opinion.
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 11:25 AM on June 23, 2013

Anxiety and Its Disorders (Barlow) is very detailed and comprehensive. Covers some general information regarding neuroticism, and also has information related to each specific anxiety disorder.

Cognitive Therapy: Basics and Beyond (Judith Beck) is a great introduction to CT. (Not sure if you're into treatment stuff)

There are several good books that cover emotion regulation (off the top of my head, I think I'd recommend Gross' Handbook of Emotion Regulation or else maybe Kring and Sloan's Emotion Regulation and Psychopathology).
posted by Bebo at 11:33 AM on June 23, 2013

Psychology is a massive field with many specialties. When I was teaching, I used the folowing introductory textbooks:

Social Psychology

Cognitive Psychology


Perception (psychophysics)

Perception (specifically hearing)

Comparative psychology (animal learning)


Statistics in psychology

IQ and intelligence


Some of these texts are quite advanced, but they are all easy to read and are (in my opinion) the best introductions to the fields. I would pick and choose areas you are interested in.

I mainly taught cognitive neuropsychology but actually I can't think of a any single text for that! I guess it's the problem of being too specialised. If you're interested in this area, I would start with the wonderful Phantoms in the Brain and anything by Oliver Sacks. They're pop psychology but they are good.

Good luck! It's the most wonderful area to study.
posted by kadia_a at 12:38 PM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]

Scott Plous, The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making. It's a twenty-year-old text book that has never been revised (thus a cheap used copy is fine), but you still see it on syllabuses occasionally today. It's very readable, and it's one of the extremely few books I think almost anyone would benefit from reading.

Along the same lines but deeper and less readable: Jonathan Baron, Thinking and Deciding, 4th ed.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 1:08 PM on June 23, 2013

kadia_a's suggestions are excellent if you're thinking experimental/cognitive psychology, as opposed to clinical (which the answers above that are focused on). (Though my boss has rubbed off on me enough for me to be partial to Murdock over Baddeley.) What side of the field are you interested in?

If experimental, you could definitely do worse than reading abstracts in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, finding a topic that sounds interesting, and then doing enough background reading (by tracking down its references) to understand it. That's what a lot of graduate study is like. JEP:G is good because a big part of the editorial criteria is being interesting and applicable to a diverse group of experimental psychologists.
posted by supercres at 1:34 PM on June 23, 2013

@supercres - I'd love to read about both, as I'm still on the bottom part of the learning curve!

Everyone's answers have been excellent so far - thanks, and please keep them coming.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 2:01 PM on June 23, 2013

Do you have any psychology background so far? My suggestion is not a textbook but introductory & well-regarded: Paul Bloom's Introduction to Psychology course from Yale. (Allegedly also on iTunes.) You could also watch MIT's Intro Psych course on YouTube.
posted by knile at 2:07 PM on June 23, 2013

@knile - I took a handful of introductory psych and social psych courses in college, so I'm looking for resources a stone's throw beyond 100 levels. But I may check out the Paul Bloom course - thanks!
posted by sevensnowflakes at 2:55 PM on June 23, 2013

Joel Paris' book on the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder is great.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:13 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Freud And Beyond: A History of Psychoanalytic Thought, by Stephen Mitchell
posted by DMelanogaster at 5:04 PM on June 23, 2013

I'm almost finished with my PhD in Cognitive Psychology; here are a few that I thought were particularly good

Principles of Neural Science
Cognitive Neuroscience
How Children Develop
posted by therumsgone at 5:03 PM on June 30, 2013

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