Human Behavior and Social Environments: A Biopsychosocial Approach

Human Behavior and Social Environments: A Biopsychosocial Approach

Human Behavior and Social Environments: A Biopsychosocial Approach

Human Behavior and Social Environments: A Biopsychosocial Approach

Synopsis

Human behavior is a subject so vast that it would seem to defy one's ability to comfortably and confidently grasp its varieties, nuances, shapes, and dynamics. But in this wide-ranging and comprehensive survey of the contexts of human behavior, Dennis Saleebey examines the different social science approaches to understanding the way humans react to and are affected by their environment. Using a biopsychosocial perspective, this book demonstrates that there are many paths of knowledge, many methods of inquiry, and many perspectives that can guide one's understanding of human behavior. Resilience (how we cope with trauma) and meaning-making (how we see and make sense of the world around us) provide the conceptual framework of the book. Saleebey examines a number of specific theories relevant to the biopsychosocial approach: part/whole analysis, psychodynamic theory, ecological theory, cognitive theory, and radical/critical theory. Human development is presented as a continuing interaction between individual, family, community, social institutions, and culture. Pedagogical devices to aid the student include chapter overviews, case studies, and meaning-making dialogues at the end of each chapter that pose questions for further thought.

Excerpt

To write a book on a subject so wide and diverse, so full of uncertainties and intrigues takes more than a little hubris—a condition not smiled upon by the gods—and not a little humility as well. The book as I planned it in my head, as I thought about it for many years as I taught human behavior and the social environment to students, came to have something of a life of its own and evolved in ways that I could not have imagined. I hope, however, that it remains loyal to some presuppositions and assumptions I have about both the course and the subject matter. Let me share a few of these with you. Then, you can be the judge of whether or not I have stayed the course.

I hope the book reflects the excitement and wonder, the terror and puzzlement of human nature and the human condition. Good and evil, creativity and destruction, falls from grace and redemption, the struggle for freedom and the reality of oppression, the promise of the newborn and the wisdom of the elders, the ravages of disease and the miracle of regeneration, the potential of technology and the enlightenment of indigenous peoples, the corrosive effects of racism and the hope of plurality and inclusion—all these demand our fullest understanding and insight.

The book must relate to practice and experience, both personal and professional. The leap from theory to practice is fraught with peril, a kind of existential bungee jump. Eventually, though, what we think we know about humans, individually and collectively, must inform our practice and our policy. This kind of knowing has many sources—some, perhaps more reliable than others. The knowledge we use ranges from that which is a part of cultural lore, to the observations and experiences of various groups, to the knowledge wrested from the methods of science, to stories and narratives that have relevance and impact in people's lives, to hypotheses and theories yet unproven but plausible. All knowledge, no matter how apparently true or produced through the unself-conscious and distanced observations of science and scientists, requires human judgment, interpretation, and decisions and is played out against the backdrop of the limitations of our senses, our tools, and our presumptions about the world. We are obliged to understand this and to use whatever knowledge is available to us, and even though it seems to reek with pertinence, we must approach its use with care and . . .

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