Paula Joan Caplan

Awardwinning Nonfiction Author & Playwright - Scholar - Advocate/activist - Speaker - Actor





Works

When Johnny and Jane come Marching Home
Traumatized veterans returning from our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are often diagnosed as suffering from a psychological disorder and prescribed a regimen of psychotherapy and psychiatric drugs. But why, asks psychologist Paula J. Caplan in this impassioned book, is it a mental illness to be devastated by war? What is a mentally healthy response to death, destruction, and moral horror? In When Johnny and Jane Come Marching Home, Caplan argues that the standard treatment of therapy and drugs is often actually harmful. It adds to veterans' burdens by making them believe wrongly that they should have "gotten over it"; it isolates them behind the closed doors of the therapist's office; and it makes them rely on often harmful drugs. The numbers of traumatized veterans from past and present wars who continue to suffer demonstrate the ineffectiveness of this approach.

Sending anguished veterans off to talk to therapists, writes Caplan, conveys the message that the rest of us don't want to listen -- or that we don't feel qualified to listen. As a result, the truth about war is kept under wraps. Most of us remain ignorant about what war is really like -- and continue to allow our governments to go to war without much protest. Caplan proposes an alternative: that we welcome veterans back into our communities and listen to their stories, one-on-one. (She provides guidelines for conducting these conversations.) This would begin a long overdue national discussion about the realities of war, and it would start the healing process for our returning veterans.

They Say You're Crazy: How the World's Most Powerful Psychiatrists Decide Who's Normal
The inside story of how the world's most powerful psychiatrists, who write the diagnostic manual that they falsely claim is solidly scientific. Caplan belonged to two groups that helped write the manual and resigned in horror when she saw how little science but a great deal of politics and just plain ignorance determines decisions about: Who is mentally ill? What is a mental illness anyway? Serious harm that has been done to people just because they get a psychiatric label is described. A quick read designed for the general reader, as well as professionals, it's filled with stories about what Caplan saw firsthand, and they are entertaining though deeply troubling.

The Myth of Women's Masochism
Long considered a classic, known for helping women stop blaming themselves and leave an abusive partner. Now available in book form or electronically, both at iUniverse.com.
Suddenly even more relevant, in light of the discussion about domestic abuse/dating violence victim Rihanna, who was assaulted by her boyfriend Chris Brown.
Five stars out of five on Amazon.com.
Reviewer Charlotte Kingsley wrote: "This book will change your life. ... badly needed... important and life-changing. Caplan makes the case with tremendous clarity and compelling stories that women's unhappiness gets blamed on their (actually non-existent) masochism... Over the many years since this classic was published, I have bought the books in quantity and sent them to friends and family. It's remarkable how many of them have contacted me later to tell me that they read the book and then were able to leave an abusive relationship or a horrendous job situation. If people would read this book and learn from it, it would revolutionize the ways women, men, and therapists think about what makes women's lives difficult and what could be done about it. Every word Caplan writes rings true and is vivid and clear."

Don't Blame Mother: Mending the Mother-Daughter Relationship
Too often mothers are blamed for all problems. Paula Caplan shows that we've got it all wrong. In her classic work, Caplan reveals the true causes of anguish between mothers and daughters and their roots in social arrangements and myths about mothers. She shows how they can re-evaluate the barriers between them to gain a new appreciation of each other and their relationship. With compassionate advice and moving personal stories, Caplan shows how we can come to love each other more fully and accept each other and ourselves, become each other's allies, and, at best, find the love we have lost and create new possibilities for caring about each other.

Thinking Critically About Research on Sex and Gender (co-author, Jeremy B. Caplan), Third edition
For anyone who wants to learn the truth about sex-difference research and/or about research methods in an easy-to-read but informative way. This short book unveils a revolutionary approach to understanding sex and gender research — one that puts people in touch with the practical meaning behind research and its vital effects on everyday life. Topics include: research about sex differences in spatial and math abilities, aggression, verbal abilities, and "dependency," as well as hormones.

Lifting a Ton of Feathers: A Woman's Guide to Surviving in the Academic World
A classic survival guide, a destroyer of myths about women's career chances in the university, and a revelation of the Catch-22 positions in which women find themselves. Caplan demonstrates that, while women tend to blame themselves for their failures, their fate is more likely sealed by the unwritten rules in academia. The book is entertaining, though the subject is infuriating. Includes many practical techniques and a checklist for a woman-positive university. Many professors give copies of this book to all their graduate students.

Bias in Psychiatric Diagnosis
Surprisingly little science enters into the creation of diagnostic labels, and that leaves a vacuum into which have rushed biases based on gender, race, social class, age, physical disability, and sexual
orientation. Devastating consequences have resulted, including loss of custody of children, loss of employment, skyrocketing health insurance premiums, and loss of the right to make decisions about one's medical and legal affairs. Ways to guard against these consequences are discussed.
(Co-editor with Lisa Cosgrove)

Between Women: Lowering the Barriers
"extremely important...well-formulated....Caplan is sensitive, intelligent and readable," wrote Phyllis Chesler. Four major, pervasive societal myths set girls and women up against each other, pushing them toward being competitors rather than allies. Understanding how these myths operate makes it easier to overcome the barriers between women, including in friendships, mother-daughter relationships, and the workplace. In this book, Caplan examines the female child's development, dispelling many long-accepted theories about women; for instance, instead of "penis envy" being universal, as Freud claimed, Caplan proposes the concept of "penis pity," which she has found in her clinical work. Based on scholarly research and both clinical and personal experience, the book is eminently readable and as true today as when first published.

You're Smarter Than They Make You Feel: How the Experts Intimidate Us and What We Can Do About It
For anyone who has sought help from a doctor, lawyer, teacher, auto mechanic, government official, or other expert and felt stupid or powerless in the process. Drawing on a wealth of anecdotes and psychological research, Caplan shows that we don't have to feel this way. She points out that main techniques experts of all kinds use to intimidate people and discusses why they do that. She explains why we so often blame ourselves rather than seeing where the true sources of our frustration lie. She shows us how this understanding can empower us and shows how we can recognize the techniques, employ helpful counterstrategies, and increase our chances of eliciting the information or action we want.

Sex Differences in Human Cognition
Collection of papers written from a critical thinking perspective, calling into question claims that there are major cognitive sex differences. Includes chapter co-authored with Jeremy B. Caplan.

Co-written with Mary Crawford, Janet Shibley Hyde, and John T.E. Richardson.

Children's Learning and Attention Problems
Still considered a classic, helps parents, teachers, and professionals understand learning disabilities and attentional problems. Filled with accurate, jargon-free descriptions of the wide variety of cognitive and attention problems (both distractibility and its under-recognized opposite, overfocusing) and practical suggestions for help.

Co-author: Marcel Kinsbourne

Selected Books (selected articles on home page; full nonfiction publication list in curriculum vitae)

Relationships, Psychology, Self-Help
"Wise, compassionate, utterly persuasive, completely wonderful, and still timely...a healing work."
--Phyllis Chesler, Ph.D., author of Women and Madness and Letters to a Young Feminist
Brief, Accessible, Challenges Claims About Cognitive & Emotional Sex Differences
Shows how poor is most research that is used to make claims that there are huge, immutable cognitive, interpersonal, and emotional sex differences
Academia, Systemic Analysis, Self-help
"Lucid, devastating, practical. Caplan's genius is to explore difficult, always heartbreaking areas of injustice, then advise us on how to survive."
--Phyllis Chesler, Ph.D., cofounder of Association for Women in Psychology and National Women's Health Network
Psychiatry, Psychology, Mental Health System
"Extraordinarily important ... should be required reading ... excellent illustration of the social construction of what comes to be called science."
--Jean Baker Miller, M.D., Director of Jean Baker Miller Training Institute and author of Toward a New Psychology of Women