Psychology - Mr. Duez                                                                Extra Credit List

Students may review a book, movie, or documentary that is psychology based. This review can be done once per nine week period. It must be turned in before the final day of the six week's period to be considered. The earlier the better. Relate your review back to the content we have studied in the class!

Movie, Documentary, or Book Review. Use this form: Extra-Credit-Book-Movie-Documentary-Review-Form.

You may choose one of the following (or suggest something to Mr. Duez for approval):


Brain Rules by John Media (link to Amazon)

 (Note: Some synopses provided by Charles G. Morris, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI)

Great list and descriptions - Books on the Psychology of Love from Brain Pickings.

No superlative is an exaggeration of Alain de Botton‘s humble brilliance spanning everything from philosophy to architecture. Essays in Love is precisely the kind of thoughtful, poetic, highly intelligent tome De Botton has grown famous for. Part novel, part philosophical inquiry into the origin and machinery of romantic love, the book follows the story of a love affair, tracing each stage — from the initial dopamine-driven lovesickness to the despair of love’s demise — through a beautiful blend of intellectual analysis and deeply human felt emotion. In De Botton’s classic style of networked knowledge, the narrative is sprinkled with references to and quotes from the major Western philosophers, yet equally reflective of his signature style of absorbing, highly readable narrative.

You might recall biological anthropologist Helen Fisher‘s work from this fascinatingdiscussion of how antidepressants impact the experience of romantic love. That’s just one of a myriad equally fascinating facets of love Fisher dissects in Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love — a journey into the mind’s blend of neurochemistry and storytelling, the hormones and neurotransmitters that make us feel certain emotions, and the stories we choose to tell ourselves about those emotions. Fisher outlines the three key components of love, each involving different but connected brain systems — lust, driven by androgens and estrogens, the craving for sexual gratification; attraction, characterized by high dopamine and norepinephrine levels and low serotonin, euphoria when things are going well and terrible mood swings when they’re not, focused attention, obsessive thinking, and intense craving for the individual; and attachment, commandeered by the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin and associated with the sense of calm, peace, and stability one feels with a long-term partner — and brings a researcher’s lens to fundamental questions about passion and obsession, joy and jealousy, monogamy and divorce.

Sample her work with this fantastic TED talk on the brain in love.

Originally written in 1988, The Psychology of Love is an anthology of 16 academic, though highly readable, papers dissecting various aspects of love. The collection is divided into five parts, each focusing on a specific facet of understanding love, from global theories that explain the phenomenon, to the psychology of relationship maintenance, to a critical overview of the field of love research.

The book is best-read in tandem with The New Psychology of Love, the 2008 follow-up to the original title — a priceless parallel that captures how scientific and technological innovation has improved and, in some cases, shifted our understanding of love’s psychological underbelly, and perhaps more importantly, the curious fact that nearly 25 years later, we still have no succinct and singular definition of “love.”

Have you ever encountered a couple with disproportionately unequal attraction levels, only to find yourself thinking that the less-attractive person “must be really funny” or “is probably some sort of genius” or some other rational explanation of the seemingly mismatched pairing? In Falling in Love: Why We Choose the Lovers We Choose, social psychologist and researcher Ayala Malach Pines tackles this and many other mysteries of the psychology of mate selection through a masterfully woven mesh of social and clinical approaches to understanding romance. The book extracts its key insights from three case studies: An interview-based study of 100 romantic relationships, a cross-cultural, data-driven juxtaposition of American and Israeli accounts of falling in love, and another interview series of 100 couples examining their reasons for falling in love in the context of turmoil later in the relationship.

From whether proximity is the hidden matchmaker of true romance to how conscious choices increase the likelihood of finding “true love,” Falling in Love is deeply fascinating yet warmly written, devoid of the hollow ring of academic pontification without compromising the rigor of the research or the depth of its conclusions.

Besides having a cover the epitome of design’s capacity for communicating powerful concepts with brilliant visual simplicity, A General Theory of Love by psychiatrists Thomas Lewis,Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon is also a first-of-its-kind synthesis of research and poeticism, bringing a social science eye to the natural history of the grandest emotion.

Eloquent and eye-opening, A General Theory of Love illuminates “hard science” findings across brain function and neurochemistry though a humanistic prism that offers a richer, deeper understanding of the heart’s will.

Balter, M., & Katz, R. Nobody's child. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1987.

Marie Balter spent 25 years of her life in mental hospitals, then went on to attend Harvard University and to assume a role as spokesperson for the mentally ill. Dramatic and moving story in the tradition of I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.

Barron, J., & Barron, S. There's a boy in here. New York: Avon Books, 1992.

Fascinating autobiographical account of a mother and her autistic son written alternately from the viewpoint of the mother and then the son.

Bloom, F. E., Lazerson, A., & Hofstadter, L. Brain, mind, and behavior (2nd ed.). New York: Freeman, 1988.

Beautifully illustrated and highly readable account of advances in understanding the relationship between the brain and behavior.

Calvin, W. H., & Ojemann, G. A. Conversations with Neil's brain. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1994.

Intriguing story of a person with epilepsy who undergoes temporal lobe surgery. Describes the pre-surgery exploration and mapping of his brain.

Colapinto, John. As nature made him. Harper Perennial, 2001.

A mesmerizing story of a medical tragedy and its traumatic results. Following a botched circumcision, a family is convinced to raise their infant son, Bruce, as a girl. They rename the child Brenda and spend the next 14 years trying to transform him into a her. Brenda's childhood reads as one filled with anxiety and loneliness, and her fear and confusion are present on nearly every page concerning her early childhood. Provides a comprehensive look at the nature/nurture debate.

Frankl, Victor E. Man's search for meaning. New York: Pocket Books, 1959, 1962, 1984.

Classic existential book that examines the role of meaning in human lives as well as the philosophy behind logotherapy. Written by a psychiatrist, creator of logotherapy and survivor of Auschwitz.

Gardner, H. Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books, 1983, 1993.

Seminal book arguing against the notion that intelligence is one general capacity and for the notion that intelligence is in fact a range of relatively independent competences. Discusses those various competences and draws implications in particular for education.

Greenberg, J. I never promised you a rose garden. New York: Penguin Books, 1964.

Classic autobiographical book by Hannah Green about her descent into psychosis when she was 16 years old, her three years in mental institutions, and her subsequent recovery.

Handler, L. Twitch and shout: A Touretter’s tale. New York: Dutton, 1998.

The author has suffered from Tourette’s his entire life. In this moving tale, he describes how it has affected him and how almost all Touretters isolate themselves from the mainstream of society in order to avoid embarrassment or rejection.

Haddon, Mark. The curious incident of the dog in the night-time. New York: Vintage Books, 2003.

“Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow. This improbable story of Christopher’s quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years.”

Hornbacker, Marya. Wasted: A memoir of anorexia and bulimia. New York: Harper Perennial, 1999.

“Marya Hornbacher sustains both anorexia and bulimia through five lengthy hospitalizations, endless therapy, and the loss of family, friends, jobs, and ultimately, any sense of what it means to be "normal." By the time she is in college, Hornbacher is in the grip of a bout with anorexia so horrifying that it will forever put to rest the romance of wasting away. In this vivid, emotionally wrenching memoir, she re-created the experience and illuminated that tangle of personal, family, and cultural causes underlying eating disorders. Wasted is the story of one woman's

travels to the darker side of reality, and her decision to find her way back--on her own terms.”

Greenfield, J. A child called Noah: A family journey. San Diego: Harvest Books, 1972, 1970.

Award-winning, moving story of a family's day-to-day life living with and loving a brain-damaged child.

Jamison, Kay Redfield. An unquiet mind. New York: Knopf, 1995.

A beautifully written account of manic depression written by a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins who is not only a victim of the disorder but a world-renowned expert on it. A central theme is her reluctance to take the drug lithium even though she realizes that it will be beneficial to her because, like many New York creative people, she is afraid to lose the energy that comes with the manic phase of the disorder.

Kaufman, B. N. Son-rise: The miracle continues. Tiburon, CA: H. J. Kramer, 1994.

A compendium of cases starting with a recap of their own son's recovery from autism along with accounts of five other cases treated at The Option Instate in which the children responded similarly.

Pinskey, Drew, MD, Cracked: Putting broken lives together again. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2003.

“Dr. Drew Pinsky is best known as cohost of the long-running advice program Loveline. But he is also the medical director of an addiction rehab clinic in Southern California, treating the severest cases of drug dependency and psychiatric breakdown. Now, in this emotionally arresting narrative, Pinsky takes readers into the hospital with him, sharing the stories behind his struggle to help the patients he calls "the disconnected" regain control of their lives.”

Pipher, M. Reviving Ophelia: Saving the selves of adolescent girls. New York: Ballantine, 1996.

A deeply troubling account of the extent to which depression, eating disorders, self-mutilation, addictions, and suicide attempts among young women may be the consequences of being brought up in a "girl-poisoning culture" that differs greatly from the culture in which previous generations were raised.

Ramachandran, V.S., MD, PhD., and Blakeslee, Sandra. Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of Human Mind. New York: William Morrow, 1998.

“A brilliant ‘Sherlock Holmes’ of neuroscience reveals the strangest cases he has solved—and the insights they yield about human nature and the mind. Using such low-tech tools as cotton swabs and mirrors, and working with patients whose neurological symptoms range from hallucinating cartoon characters to thinking their parents are imposters, Dr. V.S. Ramachandran uncovers answers to deep and quirky questions of human nature that few scientists have dared to address, including why we laugh or become depressed; how we make decisions, deceive ourselves, and dream; and more.”

Rapoport, J. L. The boy who couldn't stop washing. New York: Penguin Books, 1989.

Fascinating and useful case studies of obsessive compulsive disorder including diagnosis and treatment.

Sacks, Oliver. An anthropologist on Mars: Seven paradoxical tales. New York: Knopf, 1995.

Sacks' sixth book on the theme of adaptation in the face of challenge or what he calls "the paradox of disease" in which neurological disorders call forth latent adaptive powers in human beings. In this book, Sacks describes the lives of seven people who appear paradoxical -- for example, Jonathan I. (a color blind painter), Carl Bennett (a surgeon wracked by uncontrollable tics except when he is operating), and Stephen Wiltshire (an autistic artist).

Sacks, Oliver. The man who mistook his wife for a hat and other clinical tales. New York: Touchstone Books, 1985.

“Sacks recounts the case histories of patients lost in the bizarre, apparently inescapable world of neurological disorders. He tells the stories of individuals afflicted with fantastic perceptual and intellectual aberrations: patients who have lost their memories and with them the greater part of their pasts; who are no longer able to recognize people and common objects; who are stricken with violent tics and grimaces or who shout involuntary obscenities; whose limbs have become alien; who have been dismissed as retarded yet are gifted with uncanny artistic or mathematical talents.”

Schaller, S. A man without words. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1991.

Moving account of a 27-year-old man who is otherwise normal except that he has no idea of language much less the ability to speak or write. Sheds light on the role of language in thinking.

West, Cameron. First person plural: My life as a multiple. New York: Hyperion Press, 1999.

“West tells of ‘my guys,’ and his struggle facing Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder. As the people who haunt his mind insist on telling their story, West desperately hangs on to the slender thread that connects him to his wife and son and some semblance of normal life.”


Check out this fantastic & free website that lists hundreds of great Psychology documentaries:

Top Documentary Films

 But, please email Mr. Duez and check to see if it is a decent one worth doing. Most of them are fantastic.


(Note: Short synopsis Created by Brooke J. Cannon, PH.D. See Her great Psychology Movie Site here:


As Good As It Gets

Genre:  Drama/Comedy    Year:  1997    Rating:  PG-13

Actors:  Jack Nicholson, Greg Kinnear, Helen Hunt

Topics:  Psychopathology, OCD, Personality Disorder, Social

Academy Award winner for Best Actor and Best Actress. Jack Nicholson with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, as well as plenty of Axis II. Also addresses bias (homophobia) and attitude change. Really great movie.



Genre:  Drama    Year:  1990    Rating:  PG-13

Actors:  Robin Williams, Robert DeNiro, Julie KavnerTopics:  Psychopathology, Neuropsychology, Treatment

Wonderful movie. Based on Oliver Sacks' clinical cases. L-dopa's effects on encephalitis lethargica.  Interesting glimpse inside a mental hospital in the 1960s. Why do you think paranoia/psychosis developed after prolonged L-dopa treatment? Neuronal supersensitivity? And what about Dr. Sacks' interpersonal anxieties - social phobia? Asperger's?


Benny & Joon

Genre:  Drama/Comedy    Year:  1993    Rating:  PG-13

Actors:  Johnny Depp, Mary Stuart Masterson, Aidan Quinn

Topics:  Psychopathology, Schizophrenia, Personality Disorder, Marital/Family Dynamics, Stress and Coping

Early movie with Johnny Depp who develops a relationship with young woman who is schizophrenic. Diagnostic considerations for Depp's character? Good portrayal of stresses on family, as Joon's brother devotes himself to her care.  Depp performs a great impression of Charlie Chaplin's famous "rolls on forks" routine. Cute movie.



Genre:  Drama    Year:  2006    Rating:  PG-13Actors:  Joe Pantoliano, Marcia Gay HardinTopics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics, Treatment, Stress and Coping

Seen through the eyes of a young boy, this film demonstrates the impact of schizophrenia on the family. As such, I imagine it would be useful in working with families dealing with mental illness in a loved one.  Great music and photography.


Don Juan DeMarco

Genre:  Drama/Comedy    Year:  1995    Rating:  PG-13Actors:  Johnny Depp, Marlon Brando, Faye Dunaway

Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Treatment, Marital/Family DynamicsJohnny Depp (one of my favorites) believes that he is the great lover, Don Juan. He is treated by therapist, Marlon Brando, who, as often happens in the movies, is really treated by his patient. Cute flick.


I Am Sam

Genre:  Drama          Year:  2001      Rating: PG-13

Actors:  Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dakota Fanning

Topics:  Psychopathology, Neuropsychology, Forensic, Marital/Family Dynamics, Social

Sean Penn portrays a man with mental retardation fighting for custody of his 7-year-old child. Sam's group of friends are entertaining - two are truly developmentally disabled - his close neighbor is agoraphobic. His lawyer is the stereotypical overworked yuppie professional woman, estranged from her family. The film is a classic tearjerker. Despite significant research for the film (watch the supplemental documentary), how realistic were the events? Did he take her to a pediatrician? Did the pediatrician have any concerns about his care? Was that a realistic portrayal of cross-examination of an expert witness? Could Sam really have afforded the apartment at the end in Los Angeles, making somewhere around $8/hour? What really was in the best interest of the child? Was the opposing attorney all that wrong? Many things to consider.



Genre: Drama         Year:  2010     Rating:  PG-13

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer: Christopher Nolan

Actors:  Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page

Topics:  Dreams, Consciousness, Cognition, Life Development

A skilled extractor is offered a chance to regain his old life as payment for a task considered to be impossible.


Genre:  Comedy/Drama         Year:  2007     Rating:  PG-13

Actors:  Ellen Page, Michael Cera

Topics:  Developmental, Marital/Family Dynamics

Highly enjoyable film chronically  a pregnant teen girl's quest to find a couple to adopt her child. The dialogue is clever and quirky, earning it an Academy Award for original screenplay. Allows for exploration of various reactions to teen pregnancy.



Genre:  Drama         Year:  2001     Rating:  PG-13

Actors:  Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, Mary McCormack

Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Treatment

An enjoyable movie about a man admitted to a psychiatric facility who claims that he is an alien. Great portrayal of the relationships among patients and a dedicated psychiatrist. Too dedicated? At what point are boundaries crossed? What is your interpretation of the ending? If it was not an alien, what would the proper diagnosis be? How does this support the diathesis-stress model?


Lars and the Real Girl

Genre:  Comedy/Drama      Year:  2007      Rating:  PG-13

Actors:  Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Kelli Garner

Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Treatment, Marital/Family Dynamics, Social

I thoroughly LOVE this movie. Lars is an office worker in a small time. He's an odd, reclusive guy, but nice and harmless. Exposed to the concept of a "mail order doll" (anatomically correct) by a co-worker, he orders a doll, not for sexual reasons, but as part of a delusional system. Lars introduces her as his foreign girlfriend, who is in a wheelchair. The resulting responses from his family and community, as well as the very empathetic physician, make this a "feel good" movie. One can only hope that this sort of film could destigmatize mental illness and model supportive family and community response. It "takes a village" to treat mental illness.


Matchstick Men

Genre:  Drama/Comedy         Year:  2003      Rating:  PG-13

Actors:  Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell, Alison Lohman

Topics:  Psychopathology, Anxiety Disorders, Personality Disorders, Treatment Nicholas Cage as the con man with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Very entertaining film. Consider the accuracy of portrayal (was it "real" OCD or a conversion disorder, for example). What about the ethics of the treatment he experienced?


Sixth Sense, The 

Genre:  Drama         Year:  1999     Rating:  PG-13

Actors:  Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette

Topics:  Psychopathology, Treatment

Bruce Willis as a child psychologist whose 6-year-old patient claims to see the spirits of dead people around him. Good film; nice plot twist. Also interesting brief portrayal of Munchausen's by Proxy.  Willis is a much more ethical psychologist in this film than in the horrible Color of Night.


What About Bob

Genre:  Comedy         Year:  1991     Rating:  PG-13

Actors:  Richard Dreyfuss, Bill Murray, Julie Hagerty

Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Treatment, Marital/Family Dynamics

Cute movie with Richard Dreyfuss as the competent (or burned out?) psychotherapist and Bill Murray as the patient (who seems to have more insight...). Note the difference in perception of Bob between the therapist and his family. Has its flaws, but is a fun film.