Psychologist logo
BPS updates

A book that shaped me – Dr Alison Rodriguez and others

On Twitter, we asked our followers to share ‘a book that shaped me’.

04 July 2017

First up, Dr Alison Rodriguez (a lecturer in Child and Family Health at the University of Leeds: pictured) expands on her choice, and then we present a selection of others.

Armfuls of Time - Barbara Sourkes

This book has been of great influence on me and my postgraduate career. The focus is the psychological experience of the child with life-threatening illness, through the lens of psychotherapeutic practice. The book is full of practice excerpts, detailing perceptions often linked to time and entwined with the tenets of spirituality. Indeed, these children are reported to manage multiple losses, as they navigate through their illness trajectories.

There are key messages alluding to bearing witness to the child’s experience and to trying as best as one can to understand the child’s gaze. The last chapter of the book deals with death awareness and has stayed with me – children and young people are often left working it out for themselves. Descriptions of existential distress and child withdrawal are hard-hitting. How can we make things better?The text throws up so many practical, theoretical and phenomenological questions for me.

As a slightly younger academic, unsure of what direction to take my PhD studies in, this book assisted my focus. Little is said or explored, even to date, in the peer-reviewed literature with respect to the child or young person’s perspective of life-threatening/limiting illness. My work since has been collaborative, following on from Sourkes’s advice to form alliances with children and parents. Drawing on techniques of creative research engagement (not too dissimilar to those therapeutic styles of inspiration reported by Sourkes) and storying experiences, helps us to identify how we can support children, young people and families more widely and across practice boundaries. Starting out as a health psychology postgraduate, my academic journey has gone from reading Sourkes’s book and allied literature, working in a psychology department, teaching generalist and core subjects, to working in a school of healthcare and being situated in a child nursing team. I conduct child and family health and wellbeing research, and share my related perceptions and psychological viewpoints with the next generations of child-focused health and social care practitioners.

Sarah Ann Walker @SarahAWalker
The Little Prince is a gorgeous book that shaped my thoughts about human connection & the importance of thought, discovery & living.

Craig Harper @CraigHarper19
The Righteous Mind by @JonHaidt. Incredible exposition of deep psychological reasons for increasing political differences.

Michelle Jamieson @themichjam
Even though relatively recent it was @chinatmills Decolonizing Global Mental Health.

Gary Jones @Zerothehero87   
The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan, Lying by Sam Harris and The Believing Brain by Michael Shermer are three!

Excessively Me @ExcessivelyMe25
I read The Bell Jar in college and for the first time I felt like I could be understood and talk about my #mentalillness.

Graham Davey @GrahamCLDavey
Skinner’s Beyond Freedom & Dignity – I got the only copy from the local book shop at the time… the rest of the lab have never forgiven me!

Andrew Perry @coproductiveEqu
Introduction to object relations by Lavinia Gomez 

Austen Psychology @DrSallyAusten
Jennings – I still cry with laughter

Ginny Evans@ginnyevans44
Anything by Roald Dahl. I’m now introducing them to my kids. They gave me pure joy and fun and gobblefunk!

Scott Gladstone@ScottStudies
An Unquiet Mind, Jamison; The Examined Life, Grosz; The Road Less Traveled, Peck

Fraser Smith@FSmithCPsy
Man's search for meaning. The alchemist.

Nihan Su Albayrak@nihanalb
The Tartar Steppe by Dino Buzzati.

Dr Liza Morton@DrLizaMorton
The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat.

Tara @x_TaraS_x
Resurrection after Rape (Matt Atkinson)… completely turned my life around from self-destruct to where I am now.

Nicola kippax @Niccolakippax
Fine balance by Rohinton Mistry

Jo Varela @dr_jovarela
Herb Lovett. Learning to listen.

Eilidh Albert-Recht @EilidhRecht  
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey. Destroyed my copy thumbing through it… set me on a psychology path.

Next month: Psychology undergraduates on the books they would recommend to new students.

If you have an unquenchable thirst for summer reading, see also our recent book extracts, and 100+ recommendations from our ‘One on One’ interviews.
Share your own influential book on #BookThatShapedMe or by emailing the editor on [email protected]