Psychology; Where to begin.

11:45 AM

I know I have been away for a very long time, but I have had a lot of university work, personal problems and very little motivation to write anything. Recently, however, I was inspired by Jean from BookishThoughts where she made a video on what books to start with if you want to get into Ancient History. I loved this idea, really enjoyed the video (added a few of them to my wishlist) and wanted to create my own version for those who want to dive into the world of Psychology! Some are very general, some are more specific, but these are books which I recommend starting with if you want to get into the topic, or if you just have a general interest in some areas. Note: these are definitely not all the books that I deem to be important in Psychology, just the ones that I think most people would find interesting and a good start into Psychology. Lets begin shall we!

One of those books that only has you reading the title and you're already intrigued. This has come up in several of my lectures and the title is exactly as it sounds. Oliver Sacks discusses a wide variety of neurological disorders in this book, the one in which is the main focus is the man who literally thought his wife was a hat and tried to put her on, it sounds incredibly strange but trust me it is an incredibly interesting read and one which will come up time and time again throughout psychology.

One of the most colourful, fun, captivating books that I have come across that sums up all the main ideas of Psychology. This is one of those books that you can delve into here and there or you can read it cover to cover. It has all the main experiments, psychologists and ideas in here and it is explained so incredibly simply that anyone who has any interest in the topic would be able to pick it up and read it. It has a wide range of topics in this one from social to cognitive psychology as well as explaining the origins and definitions of these terms. Love this one, would definitely be my first recommendation for you newbies out there.

This book is a lot more black and white, has a lot more text to read through and therefore is slightly more advanced in its writing style than the Psychology Book. I really like this book too though, it keeps to the point and makes things really easy to understand. I thought I would give the option of the two books as then it is all about personal preference which you would prefer, they both contain similar content, though I do think the Psychology book may have slightly more areas than this one.

I remember being recommended this book in one of my lectures to read over the holidays, I thought it sounded interesting so I went on a hunt to find it and it is actually in HMV of all places. This book is a really light read, anyone would be able to understand it and its actually really interesting! It talks about a wide range of weird and wonderful experiments that have actually happened, such as the experiments on dead bodies that inspired Mary Shelley's Frankenstein or literally, as the title explains, giving acid (LSD) to elephants. This is a really wonderful book for anyone and everyone who is interested in the area.

Michel Foucault is a very famous name when it comes to psychology, i'm sure that some of you may have heard of him even if you have not studied psychology before. I think this is one of his most famous works and it is an incredibly interesting one. In this book, Foucault discusses what it means to be mad as well as how our attitudes have changed towards madness over the years, one time mentally ill people were considered a threat and locked away and treated so poorly, to now. However, this book was written in 1965 so it isn't as up to date on the views of madness as we are as a society now, so bare that in mind if you decide to read this one, an interesting read none the less.

At the start of my undergraduate degree, this was recommended to be read as a starting point before the course even began. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is going onto, or is in the middle of, an undergraduate degree. You have all the key psychologists in there, with a bit of background on them as well as what they are most known for. This is really useful when you start to come across these figures in your lectures and already you know quite a bit about them. I would say if someone was to ask me for one book to get them started in Psychology, this would be the first that came to mind.

Probably one of the first Psychology books that I ever read, as I remember my college teacher telling us about it after we watched clips from the Stanford Prison Experiment (really interesting experiment, google it, but be warned it is pretty horrific) and I asked for it for Christmas from my mum. This book discusses the idea of how an ordinary, good person can turn evil. If you think about it, why did the soldiers in Nazi Germany kill all those people? This book helps to answer questions like that, though it is quite a scary one as it does make you think that anyone has the capacity to be evil, given the right circumstances.

I realise the name "Sigmund Freud" has a lot of either negative or nonsense ideas surrounding him. Yes, he did believe in some bizarre concepts such as the Oedipus Complex (google it, seriously.) and he did have the idea of dream analysis (he was on a lot of cocaine okay) and us psychology students do get frustrated when everyone who has never done psychology before only ever thinks of him... However, one of his most famous books and one which is still considered to be relevant today is Civilisation and its Discontents. Basically, in this book Freud discusses the impact of civilization and its rules upon an individual, he discusses the ideas of our "primitive" instincts which can't be stopped. Its a very hard read and can be quite difficult, but if you grasp the feeling of the book then its definitely worth it and an interesting one at that.

If someone asked me for recommendations in terms of Forensic Psychology, this would probably be one of the first ones that I would shove in their face. I've not actually read this cover to cover but I have read quite a large chunk of it over the years and I now finally own my own copy! Adrian Raine is one of the leading psychologists in this field, looking at the differences in biology between criminals/non-criminals, psychopaths/non-psychopaths. It may not be the easiest read, but it is definitely a really interesting one.

I hope you enjoyed this post and I hope this has given you some good starting points into the wonderful world of Psychology! If you have any questions, or want recommendations within a certain field then feel free to send me a tweet or message! Thanks for reading.

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  1. I start studying phycology in September, so I definitely want to do some reading up on it throughout the summer! This post is so helpful thank you! I would love it if you could do more phycology posts on your blog in the future!! Xxx

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    1. Aw thank you so much! I've been quite absent on my blog but i'm starting a comeback so I will start more Psychology related posts for sure!