Adventures in Human Understanding

Stories for Exploring the Self

By: John G Watkins


Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 234mm x 154mm
Pages : 248
ISBN : 9781899836758
Format: Paperback
Published: June 2001

In Adventures in Human Understanding the story is revealed as a therapeutic tool. It is the medium by which lessons may be learned and persist in the memory; providing metaphors for life, and meaning from our experiences.

Leading psychologist John G. Watkins PhD has embodied his extensive knowledge of the mind in the adventures gathered in this book. Each story is followed by a psychological analysis, ensuring that this book will be an effective instrument for facilitating therapy, and an enjoyable source of stories for everyone. With a preface by Woltemade Hartman PhD.

Picture for author John G Watkins

John G Watkins

John G Watkins PhD was Professor Emeritus of the University of Montana, and world renowned as a pioneering psychologist, particularly in the areas of hypnosis, dissociation and multiple personality. He was a founder and past president of ISCEH, an international society in hypnosis. He was the president of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis (SCEH), of the American Board of Psychological Hypnosis and of Division 30 (Hypnosis) of the American Psychological Association. Dr Watkins also served as clinical editor of the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. He lectured all over the world and authored many ground breaking books and articles on hypnosis and psychotherapy, making him one of the leading theorists in the field.


  1. 'Adventures in Human Understanding' rivets the reader's attention until the last page is turned. These fictional short stories for exploring the self are rich in human drama and deeply resonate with our own understanding of how we humans strive throughout our lives to grow and become whole. Dr. Watkins writes with joy, humor, insight, and wisdom about the struggles of people of all ages from startintime to quittintime. He invites us all to share with him this dance of life.
  2. Adventures in Human Understanding is a collection of vignettes, short stories, poems, and essays with the common thread of advancing the understanding of human nature. Jack Watkins explains that these events are true, partially true, and fictional. The stories were based on events from his own experiences or were observed or told to him by high school, college and graduate students, friends, colleagues, and patients. He stated that his aim was, " stress a sense of values, one that upholds the essential dignity of mankind" (p. viii). Each entry is followed by a section entitled "Thoughts of a Therapist: Analysis and Content." These sections provide evaluation of the characters, their situations and both conscious and unconscious motivations. Jack Watkins gives considerable acknowledgement to the assistance and skills of his wife, Helen Watkins, a highly esteemed therapist, who died not long after the book was published.

    The book is divided into three sections representing adolescence, adulthood, and old age, aptly entitled the springtime, summer, and autumn of life. As such, the book focuses on the developmental tasks of each of these transitional areas of maturation describing the kinds of problems encountered and solutions attempted. Not all of the stories have happy endings. The reader can be moved to tears by a tragic episode that feels familiar and is often encountered during our own journeys through life. The reader senses the author's values and respect for all human experiences as individuals strive to develop their identities and potentials while struggling with their relationships and inescapable environmental constraints. The author sees life as continual exploration and adventure from "Startin Time" to "Quitten Time" (sic).

    The characters in the stories and ballads tend to be ordinary people, many in small towns, who especially in adolescence and adulthood are yearning for love and acceptance. For most of these "heroes" and "heroines", life spans the earlier years of the twentieth century so that the stories evoke nostalgia for a bygone era when life was simpler and more innocent.

    For this reviewer, the most compelling chapters were those in Part III, the Autumn of Life. "Andrew and his Old Sheep Dog" was touching and memorable. "Buddies" was heartwarming with an interesting twist. "Dao-Tsai and the White Marble Image" was suspenseful, charming and well-written.

    It's possible that this book could be used in college classes in developmental psychology as well as in graduate school in clinical psychology classes. The "Thoughts of a Therapist" at the end of each story, poem, or essay could be valuable in helping students and beginning therapists learn to evaluate and analyze individuals and their psychodynamics. For more experienced clinicians, the book is a nostalgic read and provides a good review of the developmental tasks of maturation.

    Shirley A. McNeal, Ph.D., San Francisco, CA, American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis

Write your own review