Docsplainin' -- it's what I do

Docsplainin'--it's what I do.
After all, I'm a doc, aren't I?

Friday, March 19, 2010


Sumerian language cuneiform script clay tablet...Image via Wikipedia
I mean, what is it with Jason Aronson lately? Once the premier publisher of psychodynamic literature, they've gotten embarrassingly sloppy lately. Seems like everything of theirs that I pick up these last few years desperately needs editing: Their books are riddled with errors ranging from the merely distracting ("eliotogical" for "etiological") to the completely obfuscating.

As an example of the latter, I hereby challenge you to tell me just what the heck the the following sentence is supposed to mean:
Vaillant demonstrated that there is a very high correlation between the severity of a person's alcoholism and social deviancy/consequences, and the assessment and identification of these related factors has a much higher reliability than the measurement 'of ephemeral concepts of loss of control or alcoholism p. 17' and subjective reports on consumption levels.
Other than the obvious "p. 17" thingy floating there where it does not belong, I'm not even sure where the error is. Is Vaillant saying alcoholism is an ephemeral concept that can't be reliably measured in the very same sentence in which he is telling us it can be reliably measured? Surely that is not it, because the author is too critical a thinker to let that one pass. Perhaps the very occurrence of the word "alcoholism" in the second clause is itself in error. Or could part of the sentence be missing? I just don't know.

I give up. I've been studying on it for some time now, but I just can't sort it out.

This was at least the fourth error in 19 pages. There is "integratetively" on p. xi, a misattributed--or unattributed, it's difficult to say--quote (p. xii), and "lightening rod" (p. xiii). So far, we're running right at one error per page--and we're not even out of the Foreword yet, which was written by a Harvard professor, for heaven's sake. I think it's a safe bet these are not his errors any more than the Vaillant mish-mash is the author's.

The whole thing reads like it hasn't even been edited: One wonders if the new owner (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.) laid off all the Aronson editors in one fell swoop during the takeover. Regardless of the cause, an error on every page is inexcusable.

(Although I will say, I kind of like "integratetively". That probably ought to be a word, except that it reads a bit like a visual hiccup, and is somewhat difficult to pronounce. So, well, maybe not.)

But to get back to Aronson, the shame of it is that this is a meticulously researched book by one of the greatest thinkers in the field. Aronson ought to hang their heads over how poorly they've served this author.

The last book published by Aronson that I tried to read, a collected work on technique, was so badly edited that I could not understand the first article at all. I am not exaggerating: It really was that badly mangled. It might as well have been written in Cuneiform. I didn't even try to finish that book.

Those of you who know me might, understandably, at this moment be thinking to yourselves, "Aw, that's just her being her usual hypercritical self." Alternatively, some of you may be thinking I'm just not smart enough to understand, say, a book on technique. So let me just mention here that I am also currently reading van der Kolk's latest on trauma therapy, and having no such difficulties with it. That book is no walk in the park, intellectually speaking, but if it is not 100% error free, I haven't found the goof-up yet. And that it is well-edited allows it to be not only understandable, but enjoyable.

By contrast, this current tome will be the last Aronson publication that I will ever spend money on. I had really looked forward to reading it, but it's being very frustrating. I'm not naming it, although technically I suppose I should in order to appropriately credit the source, but I deeply admire the author and am reluctant to slam anything that he's had anything to do with, especially in a manner that would pop up in a Google search on his name. And as I say, it's not just this book, this author; it's everything Aronson has touched lately.

It is my fervent hope that the author will find a new publisher for his next work.

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