restricted access The Psychology of Deafness: Understanding Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing People by McCay Vernon and Jean Andrews (review)
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REVIEW The Psychology of Deafness: Understanding Deaf &Hard-of-Hearing People, by McCay Vernon &Jean Andrews. New York: Longman. 1990. Anyone who has followed McCay Vernon's career and publications and admired his strong advocacy position in support of the deaf community will be pleased to see this 1990 text, coauthored with Jean F. Andrews, and published by Longman. The book is appropriately dedicated to Edith Vernon. The dedication page reads: "Her life as a deaf person gave knowledge, empathy, and motivation to my work in deafness that could have come from no one else." McCay Vernon is a clinical psychologist who has had a lifelong interest in deafness and deaf people. Jean Andrews trains teachers of deaf children and youth at Lamar University and specializes in reading and literacy. She also writes fiction. Readers not acquainted with Vernon's previous work will be rewarded with a wealth of information in one place and a straightforward presentation that is refreshing in its candor. This is a readable text that covers a number of topics essential to an understanding of deafness and deaf people. Is it a psychology of deafness? This is debatable. The title is certainly anachronistic. There are those who would argue that there is no such thing, and with good reason. In their introduction the authors state their view: "Deafness is a psychological variable which influences the behavior of deaf persons such that their life experience differs in some consistent ways from that of those who are not deaf" (p. xiii). From the contents of the text, one could conclude that the behavior of deaf persons is more a function of society's response to deafness-or of problems with communication -than a function of deafness itself. But this is an issue that is best left to the reader to decide. Undoubtedly some people justify a psychology of adolescence on grounds similar to those of Vernon and Andrews, even though adolescence is clearly a product of Western industrialized society. I would have preferred a title with @by Linstok Press, Inc. See note inside front cover ISSN 0302-1475 Hoemann less surplus meaning, like the subtitle, for example, or just Deafness. The book is divided into five sections of unequal length. Section I introduces the deaf community and describes endogenous and exogenous causes of deafness. Section II "Communication: Languages and Systems" includes chapters on American Sign Language and other forms of communication. Section III is presumably the core of the text; it is entitled "The Psychology of Deafness" and contains four chapters: Psychodynamics Surrounding Diagnosis of Deafness; Behavioral Patterns, Pathologies and Service Deliveries; Deafness and Mental Illness; and Attitudes and Deafness. Case histories and personal diaries enrich the contents of these chapters with perspectives that are rarely found in print. Section IV "Evaluation and Teaching" includes a chapter on psychological evaluation, a topic on which McCay Vernon is a recognized authority; a chapter on bilingual-bicultural education, an issue to which Vernon has also contributed; and a chapter on partial hearing. The final section, Section V, is a rather brief (eight page) survey called "An Experiment of Nature: Research and Theory." It should either have been expanded or left out. The strength of the book is in its clarity of purpose and style. It is apparent that the authors drew on a wealth of collective experience and knowledge as the book was assembled. The book would be a useful addition to any library used by professionals working with deaf persons and well worth reading by any student planning to enter such a professional field. The main weakness of the book is apparent from a cursory inspection of the references. The introduction states (p. xv), "This book was written to provide current, up-to-date information about deafness...." Except for Chapters 4 and 11, as noted below, very few references are to anything published since 1980. Many recent references were either co-authored by Vernon or published in the American Annals of the Deaf,which he edited. All eleven tables in Chapter 3 (Other Causes of Deafness) are from Vernon's 1969 monograph, Multiply HandicappedDeafChildren,published by the SLS 71 Rev. of Vemon &Andrews Council of Exceptional Children. One has to wonder...