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Beiträge von Todd I. Stark
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Rezensionen verfasst von
Todd I. Stark "Cellular Wetware plus Books" (Philadelphia, Pa USA)

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The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do
The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do
von Judith Rich Harris
  Gebundene Ausgabe

2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Challenges us to think and talk about parenting !, 4. April 2000
This is a very difficult book to review, almost as difficult as it was to read. It is not difficult to read because of technical sophisication, but because both content and style trigger very strong emotions. Make no mistake, this is not an "unscientific" or hastily written defense of bad parenting, as has been claimed in some of the prior reviews here. Agree or not, she does handle the research with competence, discipline, and insight. She does not handle it all objectively, at least in the book. Moreover, it's questionable that the rhetorical purpose of questioning a mainstream dogma could be accomplished by a "balanced" approach to surveying the extant research.
This book challenges us to think of specific ways in which we influence our children's behavior and traits outside the home, other than through heredity. Yes, as many critics claim, we can find some. Aside from the early developmental issues which Harris acknowledges, we teach our children basic problem solving and moral reasoning that they often apply when we are not around. If she had recognized more of that, and written more about that, many of the harsher and more sophisticated criticisms would probably be somewhat assuaged. Her evolutionary argument about children doing what is neccessary to survive childhood is not at all inconsistent with the notion that parents do have some survival and coping skills to provide. Even within group socialization theory, the skills don't have to come from the group, they are selected by interaction with the group.
My bone of contention with most of the critics is that this doesn't really upend the group socialization theory. It largely shows that parental influence is less pervasive and overwhelming than the popular and social science models assume. That message would probably have inspired less virulent criticism, but also less praise from supporters and certainly would have made for less of a controversy.
Harris assuredly makes some very profound points about the foundation of the social science model of parenting. Yet it is hard to avoid the feeling that she goes way overboard in spots. The greatest challenge in reading this book is completing it with an objective enough mindset to appreciate what she is really bringing to the discussion.
Sometimes she does seem, as her many critics contend, to be, by implication, waving away parental responsibility. Yet by struggling through and giving her the benefit of the doubt, I found this criticism overturned by the end of the book. She does not outright say that parenting doesn't matter at all, she says that it matters most to the family relations, and less to traits and qualities as measured in other contexts. In the process, she challenges the reader to think of ways in which we influence our children, and ways they resist that influence.
One of the most interesting points made in the book, and one often glossed over in reviews, is Harris' defense of the concept of social context as a determining factor in behavior. In other words, that we take on different roles in different situations, in much more than a trivial sense. This is a necessary and profound part of her scientific argument, though perhaps it has little impact compared to the conclusion that the effect of parenting is different than we generally assume. I fear that some profound theoretical issues like this will become victims of the more general controversy over what Harris says and implies about parenting, and some of her more extreme conclusions.
In the end, I rated this book so highly not just because it is good science writing, and because it constantly engaged me and made me think hard, but because thinking about these things and talking about them with each other is part of good parenting.


Prisoners Of Hate: The Cognitive Basis of Anger, Hostility, and Violence: The Cognitive Basis of Anger, Hatred and Violence
Prisoners Of Hate: The Cognitive Basis of Anger, Hostility, and Violence: The Cognitive Basis of Anger, Hatred and Violence
von Aaron T. Beck
  Gebundene Ausgabe

5.0 von 5 Sternen The evil that we do: more understandable than ever, 14. Januar 2000
The simple idea that the way we think about something determines how we feel about it, and how we act on it. Widely considered the father of modern cognitive therapy, Dr. Beck didn't invent this idea, nor is he the only one promoting it. Yet his expression of it, especially in this fine book, is elegant and compelling. There are many powerful and immediately recognizable examples from daily life, showing how we turn hurt into anger into hatred. How our beliefs and thinking patterns gradually imprison us in cages of reactivity. This book helps make our capacity for both good and evil more understandable. Readers of this book who want a more complete understanding of the topics would probably also benefit from a number of the books talking about the evolutionary and physiological origins of violence. Yet, for the part of our dark nature that we have some ability to control, this book makes a powerful and promising statement, and is complete unto itself.


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