Psychology: The Comic Book Introduction
Author: Grady Klein and Danny Oppenheimer, PhD.
Publish Date: December 2017
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Catalog ID: ISBN: 978-0393351958
Where to buy: https://bookshop.org/lists/recently-reviewed-on-graphicmedicine-org
Guest Book Review by Lorraine Chun
If you are looking for a primer or refresher on psychology, this book presents many concepts in a fun and comprehensive format. The authors present the five concepts in psychology with amusing illustrations and explanations.
The book is broken down into three parts. The first is “Making Sense of the World” and covers perception, learning, memory, and thinking. The second is labelled “Making Sense of Ourselves” which covers metacognition, emotion, motivation, and stress and how it effects our health. The last part covers “Making Sense of Each Other” which reviews language, personality, social influence, and stereotypes and groups. Lastly, the book concludes with a section on “When Thing aren’t Working” and describes signs and symptoms of mental illness.
The book layout is nicely formatted within each part by presenting a concept then providing graphics to explain that concept. There is a section on the concept of “Learning” and includes how we learn through “associations” (classical conditioning), through rewards and punishment (operant conditioning), and from others (social learning). The pioneers of these theories are nicely covered showing Ivan Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, and Martin Seligman. The illustrations are very explicit as the authors give examples of Skinner’s boxes and how he experimented with animals such as rats and dogs. It also gives excellent examples of how this applies to humans. Perception is explained with contextual cues such as what a person can see in a dark place versus seeing the same item with some light. Is the dress darker or is it the lighting? Optical illusions are covered too.
Klein and Oppenheimer present a section on emotions and deftly explain the definition of emotions with graphic examples such as physical changes to our bodies while illustrating the James-Lange theory of emotion that “events in the world lead to physical changes in our bodies [page 99].” There is an illustration of physical changes while experiencing emotions (e.g., someone taking the pulse of a person who’s profusely sweating because they are nervous) and there is another picture describing the emotion when there is awareness of these physical changes with the two individuals clutching on to each other. The authors also ask the question if emotions are universal and demonstrate through specific faces expressing varying emotions (e.g., happiness, fear, disgust, etc.).
In the “Stress and Health” section, the authors give great examples of how our minds and bodies interact with stress such as demands on the body when a stressor is introduced or what “fight or flight” response is (showing a person who is nervous or angry). Psychological and social stressors are addressed in illustrations showing a person being belittled with insults and the cumulative effect of how stress impacts the body and/or mind.
The drawings are amusing and reminds me of “Mad” magazine. The book is comprehensive as it really covers a wide gamut of concepts, theories and places in an entertaining manner, examples of experiments (and failed experiments) that led to these theories.
Lorraine Chun is a medical librarian at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. Librarianship is her second career after spending many years in public health administration. New to the field of graphic medicine, she finds that graphic medicine is a vital teaching tool to students of medicine. It’s also fun and very creative!
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