A Psychology Crash Course for Pharmacists


We all want to learn more about psychology to better communicate with others, but we just don't have the time. Here is a summary of takeaways from the most influential psychologists in the field.

The human mind is something we all seek to understand, yet fall short of truly comprehending.

As a pharmacist interacting with patients with diverse backgrounds and medical needs, effective communication and interaction are essential in order to deliver the best pharmaceutical care and medication counseling.

Having a busy schedule, demanding workload, and priority to stay current on new medication therapy updates, reading every book on psychology or getting another degree are not the most practical options for most of us looking to learn more about the human psyche.

The solution? How about a book that delivers a succinct overview with key takeaways from the 50 most influential works on psychology? Even better, how about the Cliff Notes of the Cliff Notes to save even more time, without sacrificing the main points? Here are key highlights from 50 Psychology Classics: Who We Are, How We Think, What We Do; Insight and Inspiration from 50 Key Books (Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2006) by Tom Butler-Bowden.

  • Understanding Human Nature (Verlag Von S. Hirzel, 1927) by Alfred Adler Takeaway: What we think we lack determines what we will become in life.
  • The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence (Dell, 1999) by Gavin Becker Takeaway: Trust your intuition, rather than technology, to protect you from violence.
  • Games People Play (A Keith Jennison Book, Franklin Watts, 1964) by Eric Berne Takeaway: People play games as a subsitute for real intimacy, and every game, however unpleasant, has a particular payoff for one or both players.
  • People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts (Touchstone Books, 1979) by Robert Bolton Takeaway: Good people skills not only get you what you want, they bring out the best in your relationships.
  • Lateral Thinking: A Textbook of Creativity (Ward Lock Educational Co Ltd, 1970) by Edward de Bono Takeaway: Learning how to think more effectively is not difficult and can dramatically improve our ingenuity in solving problems.
  • The Psychology of Self-Esteem: A New Concept of Man's Psychological Nature (Nash Pub. Corp, 1969) by Nathaniel Branden Takeaway: Self-esteem occurs naturally when we choose to live according to reason and our own principles.
  • Gifts Differing (Davies-black/consulting Psych, 1980) by Isabel Briggs Myers Takeaway: If you know a person's personality type, his or her behavior begins to make sense.
  • The Female Brain (Harmony, 2007) by Louann Brizendine Takeaway: Men and women experience the world differently, thanks to each gender's vastly different exposure to sex hormones.
  • Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy (Nw Amr Library, 1981) by David D. Burns Takeaway: Feelings are not facts; you can change your feelings by changing your thinking.
  • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Harper Business, 2006) by Robert Cialdini Takeaway: Know the techniques of psychological influence to avoid becoming their victim.
  • Creativity (Perennial, 1997) by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Takeaway: Real creativity can only emerge once we have mastered the medium or domain in which we work.
  • A Guide to Rational Living (Wilshire Book Company, 1966) by Albert Ellis & Robert Harper Takeaway: If we know how we generate negative emotions through particular thoughts, especially irrational ones, we have the secret to never being desperately unhappy again.
  • My Voice Will Go with You: The Teaching Tales of Milton H. Erickson (W.W. Norton & Company, 1982) by Milton H. Erickson and Sidney Rosen Takeaway: The unconscious mind is a well of wise solutions and forgotten personal power.
  • Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History (W.W. Norton & Company, 1958) by Eric Erikson Takeaway: Crises of identity, while painful at the time, are necessary to forge a stronger, more commanding self.
  • Dimensions of Personality (Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1947) by Hans Eysenck Takeaway: All personalities can be measured according to 2 or 3 basic biologically determined dimensions.
  • Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You (William Morrow Paperbacks, 1998) by Susan Forward Takeaway: We maintain our integrity only by withstanding other people's controlling behavior.
  • The Will to Meaning (New American Library, 1969) by Viktor Frankl Takeaway: The conscious acceptance of suffering or fate can be transformed into one of our greatest achievements.
  • The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense (International Universities Press, Inc 1946) by Anna Freud Takeaway: We do just about anything to avoid pain and preserve a sense of self, and this compulsion often results in us creating psychological defenses.
  • The Interpretation of Dreams (Basic Books, 1955) by Sigmund Freud and James Strachey Takeaway: Dreams reveal the desires of the unconscious mind, and its great intelligence.
  • Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (Basic Books, 1983) by Howard Gardner Takeaway: Many different forms of intelligence are not measured by IQ testing.
  • Stumbling on Happiness: Think You Know What Makes You Happy? (Alfred A. Knopf, 2006) by Daniel Gilbert Takeaway: Due to the way the brain works, our predictions of how we will feel in the future are not always accurate, and that includes what will make us happy.
  • Blink (Little, Brown & Co, 2005) by Malcolm Gladwell Takeaway: Assessments we make in the blink of an eye can be as good as those we make after much deliberation.
  • Working with Emotional Intelligence (Bantam, 1998) by Daniel Goleman Takeaway: In the vast majority of fields, what makes a star performer is the ability to deploy exceptional emotional intelligence.
  • The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert (Harmony, 1999) by John M. Gottman Takeaway: What makes a marriage or partnership strong is not such a mystery; psychological research provides answers if we care to look.
  • The Nature of Love (University of Wisconsin, 1958) by Harry Harlow Takeaway: Warm physical bonds in infancy are vital to our becoming healthy adults.
  • I'm OK, You're OK: A Practical Guide to Transactional Analysis (Harper & Row, 1963) by Thomas A. Harris Takeaway: If we become more conscious of our integrated reactions and behavior patterns, our life can begin to be genuinely free.
  • The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (Harper & Brothers, 1951) by Eric Hoffer Takeaway: People allow themselves to be swept up in larger causes to be freed of responsibility for their lives and to escape the banality or misery of the present.
  • Our Inner Conflicts: A Constructive Theory of Neurosis (WW Norton & Co, 1945) by Karen Horney Takeaway: The neurotic tendencies we may have acquired in childhood are no longer necessary; if we leave them behind we can fulfill our potential.
  • Principles of Psychology (Dover Publications Inc, 1950) by William James Takeaway: Psychology is the science of mental life, which means the science of the self.
  • The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (Important Books, 2013) by Carl Jung Takeaway: Our minds are connected to a deeper layer of consciousness that speaks in terms of imagery and myth.
  • Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (W. B. Saunders Company,1953) by Alfred Kinsey Takeaway: There is a gap between the variety and extent of our sexual lives and what society or religion permits.
  • Envy and Gratitude: A Study of Unconscious Sources (Basic Books, 1975) by Melanie Klein Takeaway: How we cope with pain and pleasure as an infant can shape the basic life outlook we carry into adulthood.
  • The Divided Self: A Study of Sanity and Madness (Penguin Books, 1960) by R.D. Laing Takeaway: We take a strong self of self for granted, but if we don't have this, life can be torture.
  • The Farther Reaches of Human Nature (Viking, 1970) by Abraham Haro Maslow Takeaway: Our view of human nature must expand to incorporate the features of the most advanced and fulfilled people among us.
  • Obedience to Authority (Harper & Row, 1974) by Stanley Milgram Takeaway: Awareness of our natural tendency to obey authority may lessen the chance of blindly following orders that go against our conscience.
  • Brain Sex: The Real Difference Between Men and Women (Delta, 1992) by Anne Moir & David Jessel Takeaway: By the time we emerge from the womb, most of the differences between males and females are already formed.
  • Conditioned Reflexes and Psychiatry (International Publishers, 1941) by Ivan Pavlov Takeaway: In the way our minds are conditioned, we are less autonomous than we think.
  • Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality (Delta, 1950) by Frederick S. Perls, Ralph Hefferline, and Paul Goodman Takeaway: Be alive every minute in your physical world; listen to your body; don't believe in abstractions.
  • The Language and Thought of the Child (Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd, 1950) by Jean Piaget Takeaway: Children are not simply little adults, thinking less efficiently; they think differently.
  • The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (Viking, 2002) by Steven Pinker Takeaway; Genetic science and evolutionary psychology show that human nature is not simply a result of socialization by our environment.
  • Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind (William Morrow and Company, Inc, 1998) by V.S. Ramachandran Takeaway; Unraveling the weirder cases in neurology can provide insights into how we perceive ourselves.
  • On Becoming a Person: A Therapist's View of Psychotherapy (Houghton Mifflin, 1961) by Carl R. Rogers Takeaway; A genuine relationship or interaction is one in which you are comfortable to be yourself, and in which the other person clearly sees your potential.
  • The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: And Other Clinical Tales (Touchstone, 1998) by Oliver Sacks Takeaway: The genius of the human brain is its continual creation of a sense of self, which persists even in the face of terrible neurological disease.
  • The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less (Harper Perennial, 2013) by Barry Schwartz Takeaway: Paradoxically, happiness may lie in limiting our choices, rather than increasing them.
  • Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment (Free Press, 2001) by Martin Seligman Takeaway; Happiness has little to do with pleasure and much to do with developing personal strengths and character.
  • Passage: Predictable Crises of Adult Life (E P Dutton, 1976) by Gail Sheehy Takeaway: What seem like very personal changes are often simply transitions from one season of life to another.
  • Beyond Freedom & Dignity (Knopf, 1953) by B.F. Skinner Takeaway: Like all animals, humans are creatures shaped by their environment, but we also have the ability to adjust or create new environments.
  • Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most (Penguin Books, 2000) by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen Takeaway: Difficult conversations carry the chance to transform a relationship but only if you shift your stance from delivering a message to discovering why the other person is acting as they are.
  • Darkness Visible (Vintage, 1990) by William Styron Takeaway: Depression can afflict anyone, and its causes are sometimes mysterious.
  • The Origin of Everyday Moods: Managing Energy, Tension, and Stress (Oxford University Press, 1996) by Robert E Thayer Takeaway: Given their effect on our quality of life, it is vital that we discover what may cause our moods.

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