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Opening Skinner's Box
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* From the author of PROZAC DIARY and WELCOME TO MY COUNTRY* The first ever book to decipher the twentieth century through the history of psychological experiment

About the Author

Lauren Slater is the author of WELCOME TO MY COUNTRY, PROZAC DIARY, and has written articles and contributed pieces to THE NEW YORK TIMES, HARPER'S, ELLE and NERVE. Her essays are widely anthologized and she is a frequent guest on US radio shows, including 'This American Life and 'The People's Pharmacy' on NPR. Bloomsbury will also publish Slater's LOVE WORKS LIKE THIS in January 2003.

Reviews

Slater (Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir) uses nine key experiments to tell the story of psychology in the 20th century. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Psychologist Slater's account of 10 of the most influential-and controversial-experimental forays into the mind's inner workings is neither clinical nor dispassionate. Slater (Lying, a Metaphorical Memoir) is a relentlessly inquisitive eccentric somewhat in the mold of Janet Malcolm, and her examinations of such (in)famous experiments as Stanley Milgram's "electric shock" obedience studies and Harry Harlow's "wire monkey" attachment researches are defiantly personal, even intimate. Slater takes the often bleak news about the predictability and malleability of human behavior revealed by such theorists as B.F. Skinner deeply to heart, and her book is as much urgent reassessment as historical re-creation. The brilliant chapter on David Rosenhan's experiment, in which volunteers presented vague symptoms at psychiatric facilities and were immediately admitted, proving that the diagnosis of "mental illness" is a largely contextual affair, is the most flamboyant and revealing example of Slater's method. She is not only frank about her own experiences as a patient in psychiatric institutions but-as she does elsewhere-she reproduces the experiment personally. That Slater-after an average office visit of less than a quarter-hour-is prescribed a variety of drugs rather than being locked up does show a change in clinical methodology, but confirms Rosenhan's thesis. This combination of expert scientific and historical context, tough-minded reporting and daringly subjective re-creation serves to illuminate and humanize a sometimes arcane subject. If this leads to occasionally florid prose, and a chapter on "repressed memory" scourge Elizabeth Loftus in which Slater's ambivalence shades toward outright hostility, this is still one of the most informative and readable recent books on psychology. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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