Author: Wendy Treynor, Ph.D.            
Publishers: Euphoria Press
ISBN: 978-0-9823-0287-3

Dr. Treynor, author of Towards a General Theory of Social Psychology-Understanding Human Cruelt, Human Misery, and Perhaps, a Remedy, is a recent graduate (2004) of the University of Michigan’s School of Social Psychology and a cancer survivor. Kudos on both Doc! It is through the lens of her personal hardships and educational endeavors that she hopes to help all people reach their potential. She is available to share her thoughts on these topics via seminars, workshops, personal consultations, or other speaking engagements. (Back cover and p.125, 2009)

Dr. Treynor’s research background as a student/graduate of social psychology [Towards a General Theory…, 2009] introduces theories/assumptions that invite us [the readers] to consider the mechanisms/dynamics of group formation and rejection and how those social constructs tie in to morality, goodness, acceptance, obedience, conformity, conflict, unethical actions, self-worth, emotions, attitudes/behaviors, peer pressure, culture, depression, and more. 

A common thread in this research and it’s findings correlate to, and try to support, how good people can do bad things.  In order that it is universally understood Dr. Treynor defines ethics (2009, p.23) as “socially agreed upon standards of conduct.” She then postulates that “different groups have different ethics.” If this supposition proves correct it follows these differing groups with these differing codes of conduct/ethical standards may take them to the extreme. Sometimes these group standards may be so extreme such that some [codes of conduct within certain groups] praises/rewards bad or “evil” deeds/acts/actions.

In these group situations where acceptance or rejection means belonging or ostracism people want to be accepted and belong. Therefore, sometimes they may go to great lengths in order to win this acceptance or admittance in said groups. (2009, p.30-1)Sometimes “hanging” with the group of choice means dealing with ethical dilemmas. Ethical dilemmas pose group members with inner conflict. Dr. Treynor (p.39) divides conflict into either, external or internal/intrapersonal. Conflicts bring about emotions. (p.59) Emotions can lead to actions with negative or positive outcomes depending on the conflict. 

Dr. Treynor breaks groups down into our social or reference types and defines how those two differ from one another and how members interact and solicit membership, and/or set codes for conduct. Adhesion to groups forms our sense of self. She introduces how feelings of shame and guilt, acceptance [not always in a positive sense] or rejection, and peer pressure can in turn cause depression.  By introducing such research and finding she hopes that one day we may be able to get at the root of depression and defeat the causes raising our awareness toward prevention.

In this work Dr. Treynor does not explicitly describe her methods for obtaining her research.  Instead she offers intricate formulas for if/then statements/hypothesis. The only experiment she [Dr. Treynor] makes reference to [in this book] happens to be far too simplistic to derive the postulated results or arrive at any absolute conclusions based on her stated hypothesis. In my esteem this may be her only shortfall as the remainder of her subject matter makes for a compelling argument about group dynamics/formation/ethics.