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Bem Allen, professor emeritus of psychology, Western Illinois University (Courtesy photo)
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"How To" Book: Emotional Control, Rational Thinking by WIU Professor Emeritus Bem Allen

October 28, 2011

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MACOMB, IL – What do Jesus, Bob Dylan, Woody Allen, George Washington and Charles Darwin have in common?

"These historic figures, as well as recent work by dozens of psychologists, contribute to the provision of solutions to complicated human problems," said Bem Allen, professor emeritus of psychology from Western Illinois University and author of the new book, "Common Sense Versus Wisdom: A Guide to Emotional Control and Rational Thinking" (Alondra Press, LLC, 2011).

"This book is about avoiding extremes of thought and belief and of emotions and behavior. More specifically, it is about being rational when it comes to finances, health and safety," he added.

In "Common Sense," Allen asks, and answers, a variety of questions and presents topics of interest including:
How common is common sense?
I knew it all along! Well, maybe not.
Which is best, eyes on the past, eyes on the present or eyes on the future?
Why don't people help when someone is obviously in dire need?
Would you obey an order that is obviously illegal, immoral or both?
Why do so many people earn diplomas from the school of hard knocks?
What do medicine's magic numbers have to do with your health?
Is it reasonable to seek certainty regarding important issues in our lives?
Decisions, decisions … are there way to get better at making them?

Allen offers ways to manage anger, love, frustrations, decisions and non-conscious motivations – including prejudices – and ways of preparing to resist social influence forces that can cause people to obey an immoral order or fail to help someone in the throes of a catastrophe. He explains growing wiser as we grow older and learning to manage the memory and cognitive deficits that accompany aging. He also writes that the keys to contentment are optimism and altruism, looking to the future without neglecting the present or ignoring the lessons of the past and always keeping an open mind.

Allen's electronic book has chapters on the following 10 topics: Turning Clouds into Sunshine, Relationships, Thinking Straight, Ointments for Irritants, In Good Conscience, Managing Money, Human Foibles, Get Wiser as You Grow Older, Making the Future Bright for the Children in Your Life and Saving Your Own Life.

"Common Sense" is available at or It can be downloaded for $5 to Kindles or Nooks, or, using free apps provided by the two online stores, it can be downloaded to any smart phone, tablet or computer.

Allen personalized the issue of race in his 2007 book, "Growing Up White in America: Experiences with Race" (iUniverse, Inc., 2007). His textbooks include "Personality Theories: Development, Growth and Diversity" (Pearson, 5th Edition, 2006).

Fascinated with World War II since childhood, Allen wrote "World War II 1939-1948: A Novel About the Aftermath of a Nazi Victory" (iUniverse, 2000), a book about how the Nazis might have won WWII and changed life in the Western world.

"I have become passionate about preventing war. Only if we are forever vigilant can we ensure that catastrophic war and the racist movements that so often enable it will never again threaten our existence," Allen wrote in the preview. "This book is my call for the eternal watchfulness that is our only hope for preventing war."

Allen, who retired from Western in December 2005, following 37 1/2 years of teaching and research, presented "Race and IQ" as the University's 2001 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer. He received eight Faculty Excellence Awards, was named Sigma Xi Researcher of the Year (1976), earned the College of Arts and Sciences Research Award (1990) and the Affirmative Action Office Award for Multicultural Programming (1999).

He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and of the Society for Personality Assessment. Allen served as a referee for the Journal of Personality, the Journal of Research in Personality, American Psychologist, Multivariate Behavior Research and Basic and Applied Social Psychology. He also was a consulting editor for the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

He supervised undergraduate research projects and chaired graduate student theses in addition to his own prolific research and publication schedule, which included publishing more than four dozen journal articles, presenting more than 60 papers, authoring 13 books and contributing to several edited books.

Allen earned his bachelor's (1963), master's (1966) and doctorate (1969) in psychology from the University of Houston.

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