Psychology book club

A great way to get students into wider reading is to start a book club. There are loads of non-fiction and fiction books which can be used to engage students in Psychology and support their learning in the A Level course. Compile a list of titles, get your LRC (library) to get a few copies of each book or ask students to buy them – those who have a real passion for the subject will probably prefer their own copy – then invite students to tutorial style sessions where the themes of the book are up for discussion. This is likely to be done outside of lessons and is a great way to engage gifted and talented students and those who have a particular interest in the subject.

My first suggestion for a book club reading list is My Lobotomy: A memoir by Howard Dully and Charles Fleming (2007; Vermillion, London). This is the autobiography of Howard Dully who received a transorbital lobotomy at the age of 12 by Walter Freeman, the inventor of the “ice pick” lobotomy. Howard didn’t find out what was done to him until he was an adult. The book tells the tale of his journey of discovery about what happened to him and is a fascinating insight into the psychiatric and medical methods of the past, the effects of labelling and issues relating to classification and diagnosis. This ties in nicely with teaching the AQA A Psychopathology (abnormality) topic in Unit 2 of the AS course (it helps students gain insight into the history of biological treatments even though Psychosurgery is not formally named in the AQA A spec) but becomes relevant again in A2 when considering broad issues of classification, diagnosis and treatments for disorders in Unit 4. I have found myself referring to the book in my lessons on more than one occasion so would thoroughly recommend it to teachers. This is also a good book for engaging non-readers as the grizzly nature of the treatment makes the book the Psychology equivalent of the Horrible Histories series, with enough of the “gross factor” to spark a healthy measure of disgusted intrigue.

More suggested titles to follow…

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