When Oxford published Emotion and Adaptation, the landmark 1991 book on the psychology of emotion by internationally acclaimed stress and coping expert Richard Lazarus, Contemporary Psychology welcomed it as "a brightly shining star in the galaxy of such volumes." Psychiatrists, psychologists and researchers hailed it as a masterpiece, a major breakthrough in our understanding of the emotional process and its central role in our adaptation as individuals and as a species. What was still needed, however, was a book for general readers and health care practitioners that would dispel the myths still surrounding cultural beliefs about emotion and systematically explain the relevance of the new research to the emotional dramas of our everyday lives.
Now, in Passion and Reason, Lazarus draws on his four decades of pioneering research to bring readers the first book to move beyond both clinical jargon and "feel-good" popular psychology to really explain, in plain, accessible language, how emotions are aroused, how they are managed, and how they critically shape our views of ourselves and the world around us. With his co-author writer Bernice Lazarus, Dr. Lazarus explores the latest findings on the short and long-term causes and effects of various emotions, including the often conflicting research on stress management and links between negative emotions and heart disease, cancer, and other aspects of physical and psychological health. Lazarus makes a strong case that contrary to common assumption, emotions are not irrationalour emotions and our analytical thought processes are inextricably linked.
While not a "how-to" book, Passion and Reason does describe how readers can interpret what lies behind their own emotions and those of their families, friends, and co-workers, and how to manage them more effectively. Exploring fifteen emotions in depth, from love to jealousy, the authors show how the personal meaning we give to the events and conditions of our lives trigger such emotions as anger, anxiety, guilt, and pride. They provide fascinating vignettes to frame a "biography" of each emotion. Some are composite case histories drawn from Dr. Lazarus's long career, but most are stories of people the Lazaruses have known over the yearspeople whose emotional fears, conflicts, and desires mirror readers' own. The Lazaruses also offer a special chapter on the diverse strategies of coping people use in managing their emotions, and another, "When Coping Fails," on psychotherapy and its approaches to emotional stress and dysfunction, from traditional Freudian psychoanalysis to continuing research into relaxation techniques, meditation, hypnosis, and biofeedback.
Packed with insight and compellingly readable, Passion and Reason will enrich all readers fascinated by our emotional lives.
This title, which is essentially a reworking of Richard Lazarus's scholarly Emotion and Adaptation (Oxford Univ. Pr., 1991), is organized around two themes: first, emotions are the result of personal meaning; and, second, emotions each have a distinctive dramatic plot. From this two-part thesis, the authors develop discussions of such topics as the types of psychotherapies used to treat emotional distress and the health effects of stress. Indeed, Richard Lazarus (emeritus, psychology, Univ. of California, Berkeley) is an expert on emotion, stress, and coping, and the chapters on stress and health are probably the best in the book. While none of this is very new, the book would be a useful addition to small public libraries where it would serve as a good and solid counterpoint to the many overblown and untested self-help books.-Mary Ann Hughes, Neill P.L., Pullman, Wash.