Dr. Ronald Miller is a psychologist and professor at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester and a 20-year resident of Shelburne. He and his wife have raised two children here. The American Psychological Association recently released his latest book titled, Not So Abnormal Psychology: A Pragmatic View of Mental Illness. It is a combination of a textbook to be used in classes and an informational book that can be read by anyone with an interest in the subject. Dr. Miller sat down with Shelburne News on July 15 to tell us about it.
Q: Why did you write this book?
Ronald Miller: I have been dissatisfied with many psychology textbooks over the past 20 years because they were losing touch with the real world experience of practitioners and their clients/patients. The art of conducting and writing case studies was being lost, replaced by large-scale treatment studies in which treatments were no longer individualized to the needs of the patients or clients.
Q: How did you go about solving this issue? What is this book about?
RM: I became interested in the in the idea of whether I could write a textbook that students of the subject would actually want to read. It does cover many of the same topics of the typical abnormal psychology (anxiety, depression, ADHD, narcissistic and anti-social personalities, autism, and schizophrenia) but I do so by exploring detailed case studies that illustrate how to think about psychological suffering in a way that helps to reduce and at times ameliorate that suffering.
Q: What differentiates you from the traditional point of view? What makes your voice unique or different?
RM: Well I approach clinical psychological from the perspective of both clinical theories, philosophy and actual practice. I think that the entire world of mental health has been too quick to accept the medical and cognitive-behavioral theories of emotional and behavioral disturbance as matters of fact. Science is always evolving, questioning its theories and supposed facts.
Q: What other options do readers disappointed by the results of these mainstream scientific treatments have?
RM: There are several other widely used approaches to mental health treatment – various psychotherapies – that are as, or even more effective, but that have been devalued by the health care system in its rush to use scientific studies to cut short-term costs, while ignoring the long term outcomes. I am speaking here of humanistic, psychodynamic and family therapies that are practiced by tens of thousands of mental health practitioners, in North and South America, and Europe. This book describes how and why these approaches can be effective for a wide cross-section of the population.
Q: Why would this book make sense for a resident of Shelburne to read?
RM: I think it would be interesting and potentially useful to anyone who is attempting to understand better their own psychological pain, or the pain of those close to them. I do pay particular attention to the struggles of those in the college years, and since I take a developmental perspective on psychological suffering, there is a good deal of discussion of child development and how play and family therapy can be of great benefit in working with children.