5 of the Best Psychology Books Ever Written

Five Psychology Books Everyone Should Read

  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud
  • The Neurotic Personality of Our Time by Karen Horney
  • Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung
  • Behind the Shock Machine: The Untold Story of the Notorious Milgram Psychology Experiments by Gina Perry

Psychology books are of interest to people from all backgrounds, not just those who have chosen the field as a profession. While it’s possible to learn a lot about psychology just by looking up things on the internet, here are five books that everyone who is interested in the field should read.

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1. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman is an American-Israeli psychologist who is best known for receiving the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize for his work in economics; his specialty is behavioral economics. In 2011, he published Thinking, Fast and Slow and is considered a masterpiece in the field of psychology of judgment. The book focuses on thinking systems, which can be divided into two systems: fast and slow. These systems, as Kahneman points out, control how we think and make decisions. This is a great read for students just learning about psychology and provides actionable advice that can be put into practice immediately after reading.

2. The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud

No list on this subject would be complete without mentioning a book by Sigmund Freud, the father of psychology. His seminal work, The Interpretation of Dreams, was published in 1900 and is still used as a reference guide for psychologists in the field. Freud mixes the development of his psychology philosophy, rooted in dream symbology, with anecdotes about his own dreams and the dreams of others, ensuring that all readers, regardless if they are psychology professionals or not, will be able to understand his work and gain a new perspective on psychology.

3. The Neurotic Personality of Our Time by Karen Horney

First published in 1937, Karen Horney’s book The Neurotic Personality of Our Time will at first glance seem to point to a historical perspective on personality. In reality, the book is evergreen and provides individuals with a deep understanding of how neurotic personalities can develop. Horney’s premise is that societal and internal dynamics may force people to build false personalities in order to hide deep-seated insecurities, fears, and anxiety. This false self can lead to people believing the mask they wear is real and will lead them to lose perspective on their true self. Horney ends the book by showcasing how the false self-construct can lead to self-destructive behaviors and reveals how an individual can reconcile both selves in order to lead a happier and more productive life.

4. Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung

Jung is one of the most famous psychologists in the world, so it should be no surprise that one of his seminal works, Man and His Symbols, makes an appearance on this list. The book outlines what Jung referred to as human “archetypes” that became the basis of MBTI, or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, test. The importance of the book, however, is not limited to the theory that led to this test; the book actually focuses on symbols and humanity’s relationship to symbols, which continues to be an influence on human culture through entertainment and marketing processes.

5. Behind the Shock Machine: The Untold Story of the Notorious Milgram Psychology Experiments by Gina Perry

Gina Perry is a psychologist who has been an important voice in the realm of nonfiction writing, particularly on the subject of psychology. Her book Behind the Shock Machine, chronicles the untold story of the famous Stanley Milgram experiments; the study was about the obedience of people and was carried out in the 1960s. Perry’s examination of not only the study itself, but of Milgram and the consequences of the trial, painted a picture of psychological research in the 1960s that has changed the way that most psychologists currently approach their work. The book is accompanied by a documentary of the same name that aired in 2009.

Psychology permeates daily life and it’s important to understand the subject in order to live well. While many think that there aren’t reasons for why humans do things, studies have shown that the opposite is actually true. People who read these five psychology books will have a better understanding of human behavior and will be better off in both their personal professional lives, making it an easy choice to read at least one of the titles listed above.

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