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Publisher's Summary

Who we we think...what we do... Here are insight and inspiration from 50 key books, including works by Sigmund Freud, Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Goleman, Karen Horney, Carl Jung, Alfred Kinsey, R.D. Laing, Jean Piaget, Martin Seligman, Oliver Sacks, Gail Sheehy, and BF Skinner.

Spanning hundreds of ideas developed over the past century, 50 Psychology Classics also explores important contemporary writings, such as Gladwell's Blink and Seligman's Authentic Happiness. Listeners will gain insight into the scientific research of leading contemporary psychologists, psychiatrists, and neurologists. And they'll discover why we think and act the way we do from the landmark best sellers of psychology.

With insightful commentaries on each classic, biographical information on the authors, plus a guide to further key titles, 50 Psychology Classics provides a unique overview of this fascinating subject.

©2007 Tom Butler-Bowdon (P)2007 Gildan Media Corp

Critic Reviews

"Butler-Bowdon writes with infectious enthusiasm.... He is a true scholar of this type of literature." ( USA Today)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • ESK
  • Moscow, Russia
  • 03-18-13

Good as an overview

It is supposed to be "psychology for non-psychologists", which basically means it briefly covers the major writings and biographies of famous authors.
Cutting edge? Definitely not. But it's summarizing and terse. It's a starting point to actually read those works explored. If you want an in-depth study, you read the book by the author, not a summary.
Here's the list of authors and the works:
1 Alfred Adler Understanding Human Nature
2 Gavin de Becker The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect Us from Violence
3 Eric Berne Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships
4 Robert Bolton People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts
5 Edward de Bono Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step
6 Nathaniel Branden The Psychology of Self-Esteem
7 Isabel Briggs Myers Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type
8 Louann Brizendine The Female Brain
9 David D. Burns Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy
10 Robert Cialdini Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
11 Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention
12 Albert Ellis & Robert A. Harper A Guide to Rational Living
13 Milton Erickson My Voice Will Go With You: The Teaching Tales of Milton H. Erickson
14 Erik Erikson Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History
15 Hans Eysenck Dimensions of Personality
16 Susan Forward Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You
17 Viktor Frankl The Will to Meaning: Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy
18 Anna Freud The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence
19 Sigmund Freud The Interpretation of Dreams
20 Howard Gardner Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences
21 Daniel Gilbert Stumbling on Happiness
22 Malcolm Gladwell Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
23 Daniel Goleman Working with Emotional Intelligence
24 John M. Gottman The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work
25 Harry Harlow The Nature of Love
26 Thomas A. Harris I’m OK—You’re OK
27 Eric Hoffer The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements
28 Karen Horney Our Inner Conflicts: A Constructive Theory of Neurosis
29 William James The Principles of Psychology
30 Carl Jung The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious
31 Alfred Kinsey Sexual Behavior in the Human Female
32 Melanie Klein Envy and Gratitude
33 R. D. Laing The Divided Self: A Study of Sanity and Madness
34 Abraham Maslow The Farther Reaches of Human Nature
35 Stanley Milgram Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View
36 Anne Moir & David Jessel Brainsex: The Real Difference Between Men and Women
37 Ivan Pavlov Conditioned Reflexes: An Investigation of the Physiological Activity of the Cerebral Cortex
38 Fritz Perls Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality
39 Jean Piaget The Language and Thought of the Child
40 Steven Pinker The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human
41 V. S. Ramachandran Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind
42 Carl Rogers On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy
43 Oliver Sacks The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: And Other Clinical Tales
44 Barry Schwartz The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
45 Martin Seligman Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfilment
46 Gail Sheehy Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life
47 B. F. Skinner Beyond Freedom and Dignity
48 Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, & Sheila Heen Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
49 William Styron Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness
50 Robert E. Thayer The Origin of Everyday Moods: Managing Energy, Tension, and Stress

55 of 56 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

50 Success Classics

The 50 Success Classics as well as the 50 Self-Help Classics and the 50 Psychology Classics are all worthwhile for the reader who wants a quality overview of the subjects. I personally found that Tom Butler-Bowden included a good balance of personal observations along with the core details and excerpts from the individual books covered without injecting an overt personal bias.

These books have increased my reading list, but with a clarity and focus to read the books that most interest me most. These books are not just a collection of excerpts from others' writings. They include background information on the authors and the times and circumstances surrounding the writings. These books are entertaining and informative by themselves; but I think anyone who truly has an interest in their subject matter will find them to be useful resources as well are shortcuts to a greater understanding of the subjects.

I highly recommend these books in both their printed and audio forms. The audio versions are read by professional narrators with engaging voices that add to the pleasure of the listening experience. I can't recommend these books enough for anyone interested in learning more of the human experience through the insight from some of the greatest minds to ever put pen to paper.

27 of 27 people found this review helpful

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  • Laura
  • Atlanta, GA, USA
  • 04-19-07

Would be better in print

This book is a great reference. I now want to read all fifty classics. If you get this audiobook however, be prepared to carry a pen and paper with you the whole time. I would suggest getting a print copy of this and trying to find audio versions of all the books described within.

25 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great start into the field

i've done the selfhelp, prosperity and now psychology.

this one was not as good as the 50 Prosperity Classics, however this was still a great listen. i'm a psych major so many i had heard about or read, however i took a lot of notes and there's quite a few i'll be looking into more.

this is great to get a broad overview and find books that might interest you more, i gave it 5 stars although i think 4 1/2 would be better fit.

if you are intrested in psychology, this is a great place to start.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • MarkM
  • Chicago, IL United States
  • 01-07-09

Enjoyable and complementary

I found the information enjoyable and interesting. It help me further complement knowledge for my comprehensive exams in clinical psychology doctorate.

I get more out of listening to books then reading them. This book, however, needs more complete online reference as to which great psychology greats were discussed. Audible is weak on providing necessary material that should accompany a book.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Mrs
  • West Pymble, Australia
  • 10-24-12

Great Synopsis and Intro to "Psychology Classics"

Where does 50 Psychology Classics rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I kind of purchased this as a random buy as I do sometimes ... what a surprised I loved it. Not being a psychology person I found it a great introduction to so many elements and people, it was almost a "tease" of information and has got me interested in listening (and reading to a lesser extend) a lot more on the topic.

I recommend it to anyone who want the 50,000ft view of the full field, despite its length I wished it never ended.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

I would not have changed it, each element the perfect length to educate without flooding.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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From an experienced Clinician

What did you love best about 50 Psychology Classics?

Good value for the layperson, student, or experienced clinician. Comprehensive in the scope of the many different systems of psychotherapy (I.e. both pop-psychology, and the more scholarly rigorous psychological therapies), concise yet accurate in describing the core factors of each scholar and practitioner who dedicated themselves to the helping professions. This book also emphasises the commonalities (common factors) of counseling and psychotherapy throughout the chapters.

A good attempt at describing what has been called by clinicians "technically eclectic and transtheorectical" practice.

Easy to understand and a good "sampler" for the student or layperson, and a good reminder for those of us who have been in the industry for many years...

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The synthesis of ideas and theories presented throughout the book.

What does Sean Pratt bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Good speaker, presents himself as passionate and interested in the work himself

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes ! Summed up as "Oh I forgot about that dude !" (good and bad ;-)

Any additional comments?

If you're interested in the scholarly field of psychology (emphasis on the little "p"), want to be a Psychologist (big "P"), Professional Licensed Counselor, Social Worker, Teacher, Nurse, or teacher. I'd start here.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Quickest Psych overview available.

Would you consider the audio edition of 50 Psychology Classics to be better than the print version?

Never read the print and would never but in my car? Wow pointed me to tons of further in depth reading AND let me know what I would find in each title.

Would you recommend 50 Psychology Classics to your friends? Why or why not?

Already have. It's a great conversation starter

Which character – as performed by Sean Pratt – was your favorite?

none, no characters. Just the facts and well done.

If you could give 50 Psychology Classics a new subtitle, what would it be?

Remember all that Psych stuff you sort of remember? Well zip thru 50 Psychology Classics and it All comes back with some you didn't know as added spice.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A little disappointed.

I am studying psychology in college right now and was a little disappointed with this one. It mainly gives the writer's own opinion about the psychologists and a brief overview of their life and their work (what they are best known for). Does not give any research results and findings. A good book I would recommend is "59 Seconds".

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Melissa
  • heilwood, PA, USA
  • 03-07-07

Hard to follow

This book seemed to be hard to follow in the listening format. I can't seem to get past the first of six discs- I keep relistening and losing interest.

14 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • Alan
  • 04-01-11

Psychology in a nutshell

I love this book. The narration is fine, easy to listen to. The content is excellent. On the down side the introduction is really boreing and I almost gave up on the book. This would have been a great pity as, once you get into the 50 classics, it is really interesting.

Of course not all the books covered will interest everyone and some chapters I found dull, but the chapters are short and I found many books I will be seeking out for future listening or reading.

I would recomend this book to anyone who is interested in people but who has no real knowledge in this field. If you are a psychologist it is most likely not for you, but for the rest of us it is an eye opener.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Jeremy
  • 02-23-11

Every one a gem!

A cornucopia pick-and-mix of popular Psychology classics, each book title lasting between 10-20 minutes (12.5 hours total). Gestalt therapy, Behaviourism, Lateral Thinking, 'The Female Brain' and 'Games People Play' to the classics of Freud, Jung and Adler are all covered. It is read in an easy american voice & style, which feels appropriate.

Butler-Bowdon divides each 'Classic' up into:
quotes; synopsis; 'books in a similar vein'; chapter themes with commentary; final comments and biographic details.

If you are interested in psychology and the mind, and want a 'Cooks Tour' of the amazing breadth of ideas out there, I would really recommend this audiobook. It is a great jumping off point for further reading.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Peter
  • 01-10-11


The strength of this book is that it provides a very broad and informative introduction to a wealth of topics contained within what is a fascinating subject. Within each of the 50 chapters, it suggests further reading for the particular topic, allowing you to select your areas of interest and moving on to other, cited books to read in further detail.

As such I would recommend this book to people who want to know more about psychology but who may be overwhelmed by the wealth and breadth of literature out there. This book is a very good starting point to make inroads. It is written at a light, discussional level and is well narrated.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Louise
  • 08-19-12

Eloquently condensed overview of Psychology

This book takes you on a journey where you will meet 50 influential people within Psychology and helps you to understand in a condensed overview their main contribution and key publications. It goes further by giving comparisons and listing the books that are in the same vain.

Each individual that the book explores also has a bio helping you to understand the life journey and origins of the individual themselves not just the work that they delivered to the Psychophysical field of study.

This journey is an alphabetical one, not taken across the timeline of psychological development over the course of the last 100 years, but giving a very structured review of each chosen individual and one of their great publications. The advantage of this is that it allows you to absorb each chapter and individual in their own right and you will start to make links between similar themes and publications with the inclusion of the "books in a similar vain".

If you would like to understand the key individuals within Psychology and furnish your studies or general knowledge with a deeper understanding of who these people were then this is a very helpful book. It will direct you towards books that you want to read in more detail and help to cut through the masses of books and information that is currently available so that you can select wisely according to your line of interest or studies.

I highly recommend this book. I brought the audio book and flew through it as I just couldn't switch it off. I have moved onto other readings now but will certainly return to this book again for another listen after I have given myself time to reflect on some of the information.

In short it is highly informative, gives condensed overviews to aid decisions for further reading and links a number of books to help draw common themes together. This, combined with the short review of the individuals life make for a highly interesting read (or in my case listen!)

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • J. Potter
  • 01-26-14

Great format needs a printed reference

Where does 50 Psychology Classics rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is a great introduction to some of the greatest minds in Psychology and inevitably philosophy, of the last century. It covers a wide range of topics and writing and will give you a long list of wider reading to pursue, which is why I came to this.

What about Sean Pratt’s performance did you like?

Sean Pratt's reading is excellent. It's conversational but authoritative. A good balance.

Any additional comments?

The only downside is that this is entirely audible, so you will listen and mentally check-off the additional reading you want to cover, but with the scope of names and books covered, you will quickly forget. As there is no printed index or guide to authors and books in this audible book (that I could find), it is painful skipping through all fifty chapters to discover the names and book titles you want. In the end I downloaded the Kindle sample of this book for its index. You would think there would be a downloadable PDF or something to accompany the book for this purpose.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Christopher
  • 04-15-13

A Good Overview - Lots to take in for a beginner

Good Introduction to the many classics. However, for the information to stick you would need to take notes or review the text in 'hard copy' format, as you will probably want to go back and refresh your learning since the author covers the basics at a fast pace. If you are looking to refresh existing knowledge then this is for you - if you want to learn more detail or new to this field - consider buying the actual book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Mrs D Bowker
  • 08-14-17

Useful introduction or reminder!

Useful and interesting introduction to, or reminder of, the many psychological theorists and their thinking.

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  • Abdullah
  • 07-26-16

Just perfect

I like everything in this book, the valuable content as well as the excellent narrator. This is my first book on this application.

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  • Ms
  • 06-29-13


An interesting look at practically the whole history of Psychology. A great read with hours of entertainment. Isn't everyone interested in psychology ?

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-08-18

Easy to listen to- listened to in less than a week

Great way to be introduced to the literature and ideas of psychology. It is only a shame that it hasn't been updated to include some newer titles.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-01-17

fantastic book with some great human insights

I always love listening to these top 50 books It is fantastic for summarising some of the best knowledge available. I often find myself applying what I've listened to in real life with great success