This book has consistently influenced me for many years. It highlights the importance of our need for control, real and perceived, over our environment. I first read it in connection with my work, but have found the theory of great personal benefit also. It may appear daunting if you are used to self-help books of a lighter tone, but deserves to be better known in the UK. I think this quote might explain its purpose. ” Learned helplessness refers to three things: First, an environment in which some important outcome is beyond control, second, the response of giving up, and third, the expectation that no voluntary action can control the outcome“. The book gives many of the famous studies of behavioral psychologists who worked with animals, with analysis of how they may shed light on human behaviour. Below, I quote from pages 174 to 183.
In the beginning the dashing, non-conformist Mr. Fox (George Clooney) and his wife Felicity (Meryl Streep) raid a squab (pidgeon) farm. After they get ensnared by a trap, Felicity makes her husband promise he’ll give up thievery if they make it out alive. After this alarming wake-up call, he takes up a steady job as a newspaper columnist, but he can’t suppress his wild leanings for long. Against the advice of his lawyer friend Badger (“You’re borrowing at nine-and-half per-cent, no fixed rate, and it’s in a neighbourhood totally unsuited to your species”), he moves the family into a large tree on a hill with a view overlooking Boggis, Bunce, and Bean’s farms, and soon sets about stealing and antagonizing them. This sets off a full-scale war that drives Mr. Fox, his family, and all the other neighbourhood animals deep underground.
“Some people take, and some people get took. Only they know they’re getting took and (they think) there’s nothing they can do about it..” Fran (Shirley Maclaine) to CC Baxter (Jack Lemmon) in Billy Wilder’s ‘The Apartment’ (1960).
“In the ancient world individuals were often enslaved without choice, but some sold themselves as slaves in order to eat…and so in society.” C S Lewis (1958)
This is a contemporary account of the attack on the loss of liberty suffered by ordinary working people. Since the 18th Century, demands imposed by landowners, the industrial revolution and employers, in both the public and private sectors, have grown in intensity.
Set amidst the treacherous, shifting sands of Elizabethan England, Anonymous brings to life an issue that for 400 years has intrigued academics, actors and theatre lovers… Who was the author of the plays credited to William Shakespeare? Anonymous poses one possible answer, focusing on a time when political intrigue, illicit romances in the Royal Court, and the schemes of powerful nobles were fearlessly exposed in the powder-keg that was the London stage.
I like brand new, shiny books as much as anyone. But every now and again an old, scruffy paperback a minute away from the rubbish bin proves to be a real gem. Such was ‘The Set of the Sails’, the 1949 autobiography of Alan Villiers (1903- 1982).
The Set of the Sails (Pan paperback-condition as found)
Alan Villiers was the second son of Australian poet and union leader Leon Villiers. The young Villiers grew up on the docks watching the merchant ships come in and out of the Port of Melbourne and longed for the day on which he too could sail out to sea. Continue reading The Set of the Sails (1949)
Råstam had one question for Sweden’s most abominable serial killer. And the answer turned out to be far more terrifying than the man himself . . .
Walter Mitty Syndrome is a phrase occasionally used by psychiatrists and others in describing a person who prefers a fantasy world to reality, particularly if others consider him a failure, but when the potential for real harm results from his behaviour, it becomes a whole lot more sinister than the fictional stories.
“The desire to want to be somebody important without expending any effort, or making up stories to get attention is actually fairly common,” says Dr Colin Gill, a psychologist and expert on the nature of identity. “Of course, we only hear of high-profile cases such as these, when people get caught out. I suspect there may well be thousands of people telling these kinds of lies or leading double lives.”
There are two accounts of the Gowrie Conspiracy, the events of the fifth of August 1600 that resulted in the deaths of the third Earl Gowrie, John Ruthven, and his brother, Alexander Ruthven. The ‘orthodox’ version, essentially as presented here first of all, is written by Robert Chambers (1802-1871), and based primarily on the testimony of King James VI of Scotland, whose life was allegedly threatened, and the alternative, here summarized by Rev. Alexander Duff of Tibbermore, in Memorabilia of the City of Perth (1802) , and presented in Samuel Cowan’s book, along with three other papers, believed by many, especially in Perth, that the king himself conceived the circumstances of the plot for his own ends. To hold such a view at the time was to invite an accusation of treason, punishable by death, hence all the more remarkable that the alternative accounts persisted from the start. Compare these accounts for yourself..
Black Beauty The Autobiography of a Horse (1877)by Anna Sewell
“We call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but they do not suffer less because they have no words”.
We have all heard of this classic novel, but how familiar are you with the book’s impact on animal welfare?
A century after first publication, in 1977, it was rated the favourite book read by ten year olds. Although its popularity is waning, its classic status remains unshaken. The strength of the novel lies in the sincerity and passion with which Anna wrote it, with its good hearted, hard-working hero who makes it against all odds, and incidentally, is a horse..
Atlanta born Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel, Gone With The Wind, occupies an important place in American literature. After breaking publishing records with one million copies sold within six months, the novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, has been translated into over forty languages, and remains one of the best-selling novels of all time…