The Writer’s Guide to Psychology is on a mission. Its title tells it all. Its goal is to provide writers with guidance toward avoiding making amateur mistakes when writing about psychopaths, serial killers, and any number of mentally ill characters that flourish in a writer’s imagination. This knowledge is not just for the fiction writer, but also for those writing nonfiction.
The Guide delineates psychological disorders and their treatments—both medical and psychotherapeutic in a comprehensive way. It’s succinct and clear, never becoming too esoteric or theoretical for the layperson to understand. The author, Carolyn Kaufman, is not only a psychologist, but a writer as well. Her skill in the writing craft is clear as she entertains as well as informs the reader with her snappy and conversational style.
Kaufman dispels many myths and clichés about such maladies as schizophrenia, multiple personalities, and the profession of psychotherapy in general.
One of the most interesting features is entitled “Don’t let this happen to you.” These are vignettes that showcase scenes from well-known movies and novels that make an inaccurate use of psychology and psychiatry in some manner. The reader will giggle as she reads the mistakes written in Twilight; in James Patterson’s two novels, The 6th Target and Jack and Jill; in addition to those in the movie The Bone Collector, among others.
Perhaps, an unintended bonus is how well The Writer’s Guide to Psychology serves as not only a thorough guide for the novice, but also as a quick refresher for the clinical professional. This book should be in every writer’s professional library and every clinician’s too—whether writers or not!