Reason in Therapy

Mary Ann Barnhart

Pessimism to Realistic Hope: A Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment Program for Depression and Self-Esteem, by Tony Picchioni (Baltimore: PublishAmerica, 2008, ISBN 1-60563-894-3) 137 pp. Paper $24.95.


For thirty years, Dr. Tony Picchioni has worked in the field of therapy, conflict resolution, and mediation. He is also chair of the Department of Human Development at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. His book, Pessimism to Realistic Hope, provides a jargon-free program for self-fulfillment by learning to trust the reasoning process. “One of Hollywood’s most persistent disservices,” he writes, “is the portrayal of love and logic as natural enemies.” Throughout, he shows how emotional intelligence and rationality enhance each other.

Avoiding “the selfish gene” and “the virtue of selfishness” cul-de-sac, Picchioni explores the healthy interaction between self-interest and mutual interests. He shows how ethics have developed through natural and social interaction rather than supernatural communiqués.

The chapter “Hopefulness and Reasonableness” throws light on the way the suppression of imagination contributes to depression and emotional entrapment. Day-dreaming and imagination, he argues, play critical roles not only in scientific research but also in helping individuals deal with daily issues. Cool analytic thinking and bold—even playful—imagination work together to increase the range of creative options. “Some of the most powerful ideas and theories have come about in the minds of people who have not lost their child-like love of mental play.”

“The reasoning process . . . is a rhythm combining wild, creative imagination on the one hand and rigorously critical evaluation on the other hand.” By rehearsing the range of options and mentally testing our theories and plans of action, we increase our odds of avoiding reckless ventures, which often contribute to depression and its accompanying loss of self-esteem.

In some respects, this highly readable book might be taken as a refresher course in the joys of sanity and self-esteem. My favorite section is titled “Logic and the Passion of Life.” In my work as a therapist, I have found its wealth of insights of practical use for individuals and groups coming from diverse backgrounds.

Mary Ann Barnhart

Mary Ann Barnhart is a former therapist. She is the coauthor of The New Birth: A Naturalistic View of Religious Conversion and has written papers on aging and articles on marriage. She is currently at work on a psychological novel.


Pessimism to Realistic Hope: A Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment Program for Depression and Self-Esteem, by Tony Picchioni (Baltimore: PublishAmerica, 2008, ISBN 1-60563-894-3) 137 pp. Paper $24.95. For thirty years, Dr. Tony Picchioni has worked in the field of therapy, conflict resolution, and mediation. He is also chair of the Department of Human Development at Southern Methodist University …

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