Academic journal article Journal of Marital and Family Therapy

Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology

Academic journal article Journal of Marital and Family Therapy

Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology

Article excerpt

Lilienfield, S. O., Lynn, S. J., & Lohr, J. M. (Ed.). (2003). Science and pseudoscience in clinical psychology. New York: Guilford Press, 474 pp.

Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology is a stimulating and thought provoking book. The authors contend that this is a book that will likely make some people angry. They predict that some will be angry because it scrutinizes and challenges various popular practices in therapy, while others will be concerned to learn of the proliferation of questionable and invalidated techniques. The text reflects a trend in the field highlighting the schism between psychological science and actual clinical practice and the implications of this schism for the larger culture. The authors contend that their mission is not simply to debunk unproven techniques. They also advocate for the need to keep an open mind to novel practices regardless of how implausible or superficial they appear at first glance. At the same time they argue that, as scientist James Oberg observed, "Keeping an open mind is a virtue but this mind cannot be so open that one's brains fall out" (p. 4).

The book is organized into five sections regarding controversies in (1) assessment and diagnosis, (2) general controversies in psychotherapy, (3) treatment of specific adult disorders, (4) treatment of specific child disorders, and (5) self-help and the media. The editors present an outline for some of the most common features of pseudoscience including overuse of ad hoc hypotheses designed to immunize claims of falsification, absence of self-correction, evasion of peer review, emphasis on confirmation rather than refutation, reversed burden of proof, absence of connectivity, overreliance on testimonial and anecdotal evidence, use of obscurantist language, absence of boundary conditions, and the mantra of holism. …

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