Students of psychology will have reading lists of their own to work through, and amateur enthusiasts may have seen some of these titles before, but below are five of the most essential reading materials for those with a serious interest in psychology.
The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud: This classic text is a must for anyone with serious designs on entering the field of psychology. This is one of the most influential books of all time and can lay claim to having started the therapy revolution. It is here that Freud introduced his ideas on the unconscious and the outlined the structure of the id, ego, and superego. That it is fashionable for some people to reject Freud due to his controversial views on sex and aggression cannot in any way belittle the importance of this immense work. This is a text that kick-started the enquiry into the knowledge of psychology and human nature. Sigmund Freud is a must; the father of modern psychology.
Pioneers of Psychology by Raymond E. Fancher: This is the perfect book for those who long to understand the context in which all opposing models and ideas were established. Fancher delves into the history of psychology from its philosophical beginnings right up to the modern day. This is an excellent book for the reader new to psychology as it is never dull or dry. The greatest facet of this book is that it not only explains complex theories in interesting detail but also humanises the great thinkers that have so influenced psychology, including Descartes, Locke, Darwin, Freud and Skinner.
Man’s Search for Meaning (1946) by Victor E. Frankl: This is a classic example of how the true greats are able to stand the test of time. First published shortly after the end of the Second World War, the first half of the book describes Dr. Frankl’s first-hand account of life in a Nazi Germany concentration camp. The second part goes on to outline the theory behind his ‘Logotherapy’ (an existential approach to therapy). This fascinating book gives the reader an alternative way to look at some difficult situations. His insights are highly impressive and you may very well find yourself quoting from and thinking of Frankl in your own life experiences.
The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty by Simon Baron-Cohen: A challenging, more modern book that looks at borderline personality disorder, autism, narcissism, psychosis, and Asperger’s. The author looks how all of these syndromes have one thing in common-lack of empathy. In some cases, this absence can be dangerous, but in others it simply means a different way of perceiving the world. Baron-Cohen looks at the social and environmental factors that erode empathy, including neglect and abuse. The Science of Evil is a highly interesting work that will alter the way the reader understands and treats human cruelty.
This Book Has Issues: Adventures In Popular Psychology by Christian Jarrett, Joannah Ginsburg: This is another great read for those looking to get an intensive introduction to all of the key areas of psychology. This Book Has Issues pulls together a wide variety of intriguing psychological issues – instructive errors, interesting mistakes, and revealing vulnerabilities – in an attempt to show the reader how our failings are something it is possible to learn so much from. Over eight sections this book explores the major components of common experience and how they can often go wrong. This is not, however, a book full of doom and gloom as each chapter ends on a positive note, with tips, help, and exercises to promote healthy functioning in each domain.