Hope is both an old and a new topic. There is no human life without hope - as it is true that hope is the last thing that dies. Nevertheless it seemed in the last hundert years in the the history of scientific psychology that there exist no hope even when empirically working psychologists lived by hope that their work is good for something. In the last fifteen years Sometning changed. Clinical a humanistic psychology praxis urged those devoted to the help and deeper understanding of the human nature to pay attention as well to hope. Several different concepts appered. One of them became a leading one thanks to the good theoretical basis and the work of a group of empirically and experimentally working psychologists.
The appearance of the book called The Psychology of Hope. You can get there from here (Free Press, New York, 1994) marked a starting point for really hopeful study of the psychology of hope. Coming from the studies of reality negotiations and handling the excuses, Snyder came to a positive topic: hope. Discussing this topic with both students and friends (Fritz Heider, Karl Menninger etc.) he came to formulate the theoretical concept of hope as a base for experimental research..
The concept of hope as seen in Snyder¶ theory of hope is based in the humanistic psychology concerns. The purposeful and teleological (goal directed) activity of the human being was fenomenologically studied. Aiming - the target oriented activity - is seen as a basic model of hopeful thinking and living. In this model the goal and goal oriented activity are the main facts. The motivation to attain the goal is characterized as a first class energizing factor and called agency. Finding the way to the goal is the third importang factor called pathway thoughts. Enormous attention is paid to the solution of the situations where the way to the goal is blocked. The ability and creative activity to find substitute ways and goals in such situations is systematicylly studied.
The book reviewed (containing 440 pages) is a review of the results of hundreds of studies done with the use of the above mentioned theory of hope. This theory is reviewed by the author just in the first chapter of this book. There are three other theoretical chapters in this book as well but the main part of the handbook of hope is a review of te theory based applications. Altogether 17 other chapters are Application-specific topics. This shows as well the aim of the editor - to stimulate psychologists in different fields of psychology to see this aspect of hope in their domain and to pay to it a little more attention. The really very clear explanation of the basic theoretical concepts and the chapter devoted to the methods enabling the measurement of diffeent aspects of hope in clients of different ages enables the work within these lines.
The application-specific topics show how it could be done. Some of these chapters are really excellent - e.g. the chapter called Hope Conquers Fear: Overcoming Anxiety and Panic Attacks or the chapter alled Hope and Depression: Light throught the Shadows. Other chapters show the fruitfulness of the application of this theory of hope to the whole field of psychology - e.g. Hope Takes the Field: Mind Matters in Athletic Performances or Starving for Hope: Goals, Agency, and Pathways in the Development and Treatment of Easting Disorders. There are chapters showing the hope aspect of different phases of the human development - Children: Raising Future Hopes or Grey Power: Hope for the Ages. Several chapters are really very specific - targeting on the aspects of hope and the application of the hope theory in the studies of cancer, AIDS, acquired disability or surviving trauma.
Two of the introducing chapters enable the reader to understand better how hope is born and comes into the human life and how hope can dissappear - Geneses: The Birth and Growth of Hope and The Demise of Hope: On LosingPositive Thinking.
Hope and psychotherapy. A large part of the book is dedicated to the problems of hope in psychotherapy. There is an introduction chapter to these problems called Hope as a Common Factor across Psychotheapy Approaches: A Lesson from the Dodo¶ Verdict and four other chapters devoted to the aspects of hope in the cognitive-behavioral therapy, in the problem-solving therapy and solution-focused therapy. Special attention is given to empowering hope in the feminist therapy. There is quite clearly expressed in the book reviewed that goals abound in all types of psychoterapy (p.92). As it was shown that despite different explanations and targeting disparate symptoms various psychological approaches for producing change appear to be equally effenctive (p.89), hope is seen not only as an aspect of other psychotherapies, but conceptualized as the core of general psychotherapy.
Hope could be taken for the problem of the individual human being. In the last chapter of the book the authors show the social and community dimesion of hope - the role of the family and school for the early development of hope and the role of the community and politics for creating suitable conditions for the existence of hope.
As for us - Europeans the appearance of this book seems to be really important. Hope was a topic which had its good place both in European philosophy and culture. The Christian religion took these last two thounsand years hope for one of the three main virtues (faith, hope and love). The founder of the empirical psychology Wilhelm Wund took at the end of the nineteenth century hope for one of the indispensable fact in his review of the psychology of different cultures not to speak about hi endeavour to understand the will. Purposive thinking was one of the hopeful trait and topic of the German psychology before the second world war. There was nevertheless a drawback in the lack of a clear conceptual model of hope and a lack of measuring methods. The book reviewed brings both these badly needed things and supports them with a relatively large spectrum of apllied researches. Thanks for it.