Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Six books about psychology and the study of the mind

Gwen Adshead is one of the UK’s leading forensic psychiatrists and psychotherapists. She has spent thirty years working in Broadmoor, England’s largest secure psychiatric hospital, with groups and individual patients convicted of serious violent offences, as well as with people in prisons and in the community. Adshead has a Master’s degree in medical law and ethics and has published several academic books and over one hundred papers and commissioned articles on forensic psychotherapy, moral reasoning and ethics, and attachment theory. She is a founder member of the International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy and has been a visiting professor at Yale University and Gresham College in the UK.

Adshead is the author (with Eileen Horne) of The Devil You Know: Stories of Human Cruelty and Compassion.

At the Waterstones blog she tagged six books "that she has found invaluable throughout her career," including:
Tinker Tailor Solider Spy by John le Carré

My last book is much more than a spy story, although that is its genre. It begins with a suspicion that the British Secret Service has a double agent, and the appointment of an ex-member of the service to investigate, George Smiley, who is not a conventional hero in any sense. He has no gadgets, amphibious cars or watches that fire rockets; there are no chases or explosions. He uses evidence, memories and reflections on relationships to expose the truth.

I have lost count of how often I have read this book. I like the uncomplicated prose style and I love its observations of human foibles and personalities. In tiny details or almost throw-away comments about his characters, le Carré creates real people who we care about and make us reflect on our own choices. Above all, this is a book about love, and how it survives disappointment and betrayal, battered but persistent.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is on Alan Judd's list of five of the best spy novels, John Mullan's list of ten of the best pairs of glasses in literature and among Jon Stock's top ten John le Carré novels, Jeffrey Archer's top ten romans-fleuves, Robert Baer's five best books on being a spy and Stella Rimington's six favorite secret agent novels; Peter Millar includes it among John le Carré's best books.

"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy has long since entered the canon of modern literature," writes John Birmingham, "probably because it seemed to so accurately capture the reality of the Soviet’s penetration of British intelligence in the 1950s and 60s before we understood just how complete that penetration was."

--Marshal Zeringue