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Subject: My Book List (alt.support.depression) - part 2 of 3

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ MY BOOK LIST (part 2 of 3) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Author: Rosemary Dinnage Title: One to One. Experiences of psychotherapy. Publisher: Viking, 1988 ISBN: 0-670-81985-9 Comments: This is a compilation of about 20 stories. Each person tells what they think at this moment in time about their experience(s) in therapy. The book has a decidedly UK feel to it, and also a strong bent towards serious psychoanalysis/psychoanalysts, as opposed to more short term therapies such as cognitive therapy/therapists etcetera. The stories ended up sounding all kind of similar in a way, even tho some of the people liked their experience(s) and some didn't. I suppose it has to do with the people chosen by the author, and with the author's editing of the stories that gives them a similar tone. I liked it, and I suspect it gives a pretty good feeling of what "serious" psychotherapy is like, but it wasn't particularly easy to read. Author: Nancy Covert Smith Title: Journey out of nowhere. Publisher: Word Books, 1973 ISBN: (Library of congress catalog #72-96351) Comments: A relatively short narrative of a woman who had a "temporary mental illness" or in the more common parlance of the times, a "nervous breakdown". The book is somewhat dated, but like pornography, some things don't go out of style. The author has a fairly strong religious perspective, but I found it worked well for her and that she was not trying to suggest that it would work well for me. If you want to read a book about someone who was raised in the 50's, was a housewife with kids in the suburbs, had a "break" and was hospitalized, did ECT, drugs and therapy, and yet feels they have "grown" from their experience, this might be just the book for you. I personally liked it. Author: Judith Viorst Title: Imperfect Control Publisher: Simon and Schuster, 1998 ISBN: 0-684-80139-6 Comments: Although the subject matter of this one was right up my alley, and although there were lots of interesting tidbits in it, somehow it never really jelled into anything for me. It just droned on and on in a generally rather tedious way, never really saying anything more than "everything can be couched in terms of control". Judith Viorst has written many books. I liked Necessary Losses better, and best of all the "children's book" Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Author: Lauren Slater Title: Prozac Diary Publisher: Random House, 1998 ISBN: 0-679-45721-6 Comments: You probably would not know it from reading my comments about it in this list, but Lauren Slater's first book "Welcome to My Country" is easily in my top five. The opening chapter of that book is wonderful. It sucks you in like the undertow of a riptide. I just happen to find out in the local paper last week that she was going to be in town to discuss her recent book "Prozac Diary". I went. She read a middle chapter. It was as good as the opening chapter of her first book. What can I say, the woman has a way with words. She describes how she fell in love with prozac, and how it betrayed her. She even uses a term (SSRI "poop-out") that I had always assumed evolved on ASD. She talked about how it changed her, or how she changed around it. I don't know how to describe it. One of the few books that I have not really marked a page for later reference. It doesn't read that way for me. It's a whole painting, not a linear road with mile-markers, or a ladder with interesting rungs to note for later. A narrative tale. Author: Mark Epstein, M.D. Title: Going to pieces without falling apart. A Buddhist perspective on wholeness. Publisher: Broadway Books, 1998 ISBN: 0-7679-0234-3 Comments: I don't know, I liked this book, but I am not sure what to say about it. I liked the premise and the presentation of it. I think it was perhaps a little "self-promoting" in a pop psychology sort of way, but a little of that is OK it seems to me. I don't know, maybe I am just tired of writing these stupid reviews. Author: Paul Watzlawick, Ph.D. Title: Pragmatics of human communication. A study of interactional patterns, pathologies, and paradoxes. Publisher: W. W. Norton and Company, 1967 ISBN: 393-01009-0 Comments: This was by far the hardest Watzlawick book to read. If I had tried to read this one before the others, I probably would not have bothered with it or the others. There were some interesting things in here that were not in his other books, but it was probably not worth the time and trouble for me. This was more a book for prospective "students" of this probably hoped for "new psychology". Author: Susan Baur Title: The dinosaur man: Tales of madness and enchantment from the back ward. Publisher: Edward Burlingame Books, 1991 ISBN: 0-06-016538-3 Comments: The book was pretty much what you might expect from the title. An earnest therapist tries to tell us what it is like to be schizophrenic, by trying to tell us stories about schizophrenics and others with less obviously off the "bell curve" problems. But IMHO she is really trying to tell us *their* stories. For me it goes as far perhaps as one really can in that direction. Unfortunately, I think it falls just a little short of telling us *her* story. It is there, but I think she tries too hard to keep it from being central. To me it *is* central. After all, it is she who is trying to tell other peoples stories. All in all a good read tho, and enough to make me think. Author: James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D. Title: Opening up: The healing power of confiding in others. Publisher: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1990 ISBN: 0-688-08870-8 Comments: This book didn't really WOW me. Basically, I found it to be just a lot of some guys opinions. I was personally not particularly impressed by the fact that he designed experiments to support his opinions. I think that is something anyone can do for almost any opinion, and for me his opinions held less, not more, weight because of it. Especially if one sets out to document something so obvious as "confession is good for the soul". However, there were some interesting tidbits in this book. I especially liked the idea that in the telling and retelling of a story, it changes ever so subtly. I think it is those changes that reflect how we are changing. I suppose if I had not read as much as I have already, I might have found much in it that would be new to me. I wager big bucks that he is now investigating the wonderful world of "on-line support groups"!!! :-) Author: Diane Ackerman Title: A slender thread. Rediscovering hope at the heart of crisis. Publisher: Random House, 1997 ISBN: 0-679-44877-2 Comments: The author describes her experiences as a suicide hot line volunteer. There is relatively little dialog, and often it is the narrator talking to us both about things and about other people. The prose can get kind of thick on the descriptions, but not as thick as in her book "A natural history of the senses". Still, it held a kind of attraction to me in that it kind of reminded me of ASD in a way. Makes me actually consider trying my hand at being some kind of suicide hot line volunteer. Author: James Ogilvy Title: Living without a goal. Publisher: Doubleday, 1995 ISBN: 0-385-41799-3 Comments: The intro quote sucked me in: "Just halfway through life's journey I reawoke to find myself in a dark wood. Far off course, the right way lost. How hard it is to tell what this wild, harsh, forbidding wood was like. Whose merest memory brings back my fear. For only death exceeds it's bitterness. But I found goodness there. I'll deal with that as I describe the various things I saw." (Opening lines of Dante's Inferno.) Then a short time later the author described the basic premise of the book: "There is no escaping some goal-directed behavior, and it is not my intention to *extol* Goallessness or recommend it as the *right* way to live. For those of us who lack an undeniable calling, Goallessness is our condition, like it or not. It is not something you are *supposed* to learn. It is not something you *ought to be*. Least of all can you set Goallessness as your Goal. How self-contradictory that would be! But I do want to question that nagging suspicion that you *ought* to have a Grand Goal that defines the purpose of your life." I liked the basic premise of the book, and there were some interesting things in it. But in the end it was much too focused on a sort of "sociological" perspective for my tastes. Still, it was worth my time. And I borrowed it from a friend to boot. Author: Paul Watzlawick Title: How real is real? Confusion, disinformation, communication. Publisher: Random House, 1976 ISBN: 0-394-49853-4 Comments: This was an odd book that has relatively little to do with depression per se. But still it spoke volumes to me personally. This guy obviously speaks my language and can talk about things that are of interest to me. It gets a little wacky at times with serious discussion about time travel and communication with animals and extraterrestrials. But the parts I liked the best had to do with: Communication; "To understand himself, man needs to be understood by another. To be understood by another, he needs to understand the other." (quote from Thomas Hora). Constructs of reality; "It is the theory which decides what we can observe." (quote from Albert Einstein). Paradoxes and the Benefits of Confusion; For instance, when confronted with a paradox, or some other inherently confusing situation, the author hypothesizes that "After the initial shock, confusion triggers off an immediate search for meaning or order to reduce the anxiety inherent in any uncertain situation. The result is an unusual increase in attention, coupled with a readiness to assume causal connections even where such connections may appear to be quite nonsensical. [This search can] lead to fresh and creative ways of conceptualizing reality." Author: Paul Watzlawick Title: The Language of Change: Elements of Therapeutic Communication. Publisher: Basic Books, 1978 ISBN: 0-465-03792-5 Comments: I liked this as much as his "How real is real". I had to suspend his presentation of a literal model of "right brain versus left brain", but as a philosophical or psychological model I could get into it. This is really a pretty "one side of the brain" based book, but I still liked it a lot. Not at all a "self help" or narrative story type book, nor necessarily is it about depression per se. Still, I folded down almost every other corner as a mark to return to (please don't tell my local library that I am the jerk who is folding down the corners of the pages). Author: Paul Watzlawick, John Weakland, and Richard Fisch Title: Change: Principles of problem formation and problem resolution. Publisher: W. W. Norton and Company, 1974 ISBN: 0-393-01104-6 Comments: I thought this was better than "The language of change", and maybe even better than "How real is real". I can't summarize it very well in a paragraph, but I will try to give some essence. The book posits that often "the solution is the problem", and that while trying to solve some original difficulty with "more of the same first-order type of solution" one often creates a situation wherein the original difficulty is magnified by the solution, and thus the solution is really the problem that needs to be treated. So what is needed is some kind of "second-order solution" that addresses BOTH the original difficulty and the "solution problem" together-as-one-and-the-same in some way. In other contexts I think this can have a bit of the "you can only change yourself", "own your own shit", and "blame the victim" feeling, but I didn't think it came across those ways at all in this book. The book also gives many examples of "behavioral prescriptions" (advice on what to do) that involve "prescribing the symptom". This is a paradoxical approach wherein for instance if you feel that your husband is not attentive enough to you, then you should encourage him to go out more, and go out more by yourself without him. It also explained paradoxes in a way that I really liked, as a "confusion of logical classes". That is, paradoxical statements like "I am lying", "I am only happy when I am miserable", and "how to get altruism to work for you", are all paradoxes where a statement *about* a class (the statement that I am a liar) is confused with also being a *member of* that class (I make that statement)class. Author: Paul Watzlawick Title: The situation is hopeless, but not serious. The pursuit of unhappiness. Publisher: W. W. Norton and Company, 1983 ISBN: 0-393-01821-0 Comments: Yes you read that right. "The pursuit of UNhappiness. This is shorter than his other books, and is substantially different in tone and structure. It is basically a tongue-in-cheek extended example of his paradoxical "prescribe the symptom" view of life. It is presented as an "almost" serious attempt to show people how they can MORE effectively pursue UNhappiness. The goal I assume is actually to take the wind out of the sails of those who recognize themselves in the examples presented. Of course *I* only recognized *other* people I know, never myself!!! :-) Author: Persimmon Blackbridge Title: Prozac highway Publisher: Press Gang Publishers, 1997 ISBN: 0-88974-078-X Comments: This book is about a lesbian performance artist and cleaning woman in her early 40's who gets involved in depression-related internet support forums. Her lover thinks she is a computer wiz, but she says: "It's easy to get 47 messages overnight when you are on an active Listserv, and ThisIsCrazy is very active. Someone from alt.support.depression told me about it. "I think you'll fit in better there," she said. I've never understood exactly what she meant. It's true that, to the best of my knowledge, I was the only middle-aged lesbian sex artist posting to alt.support.depression, but I seem to be the only one on ThisIsCrazy too. But she was right. Crazy is better." (Note, the Listserv ThisIsCrazy has mutated into MadNation, and they have a pretty extensive www site where they host several depression related Listservs and many depression related "activist" activities.) The book has a structure that is dear to my heart. For instance, running in parallel with the main plot is the protagonists retreat into a computer adventure game - nice metaphor. Also, there is her description of how she has "writers block" when it comes to writing a performance art piece about a cybersex relationship, while she actually describes one. Very nifty. She does a good job I think of giving 3 dimensions to the world of usenet/listservs/irc. Some day I hope to write a similar book that is even better!!! But if you like ASD, this I think comes as close as there is to a book about it. You might want to read this one rather than holding your breath waiting for mine.... :-) Author: Jay Neugeboren Title: Imagining Robert. [My brother, madness, and survival.] Publisher: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1997 ISBN: 0-688-14968-5 Comments: A very well written memoir of a man and his brother, family, and life. I suppose it is a narrative tale of one man's 40 some year battle to stay alive despite his diagnosed mental illness (schizophrenia), as told by his brother. To enter into another life, and return to our own. Could we ask for more? Not very complimentary WRT the mental health care system. Author: Ann Keiffer Title: The gift of the dark angel; A woman's journey through depression toward wholeness. Publisher: LuraMedia, 1991 ISBN: 0-931055-85-7 Comments: This is another "personal narrative of the experience of depression". I liked it. At times I worried that it was going to get too polarized into a "masculine versus feminine" model of doing/being, but it really only went there a little bit. I found it easy to read, large type, relatively short, paced well. I don't know what more to say about it. I was brought to the verge of tears several times. I liked it. Yet another in a long line of "finding meaning in depression" type books in this list I guess. Author: Lynne Sharon Schwartz Title: The fatigue artist Publisher: Simon and Schuster Inc. (Scribner Paperback), 1995 ISBN: 0-684-82468-X Comments: This is not a book about depression per se. It is, in many ways it seems to me, not even really about chronic fatigue syndrome. It is really something more about a woman who struggles to find meaning in her life after the sudden random senseless murder of her husband. She examines her loves throughout most of the book. These loves include her husband, other lovers before, during, and after his death, and of course her love affair with her bed, as her body sometimes suddenly becomes transformed into a "sack of sand". What I liked about this book was that it made me tired. As I read it I became her. I sunk into my bed, became physically attached to it. I had to finish the book in order to be released from it's spell. Just another metaphor for depression I guess. Author: Susan Santag Title: Illness as metaphor, and Aids and it's metaphors Publisher: Anchor Books, Doubleday, 1989 ISBN: 0-385-26705-3 Comments: These are two separate short books, that can be found also bounded together. They are both somewhat dryly presented in full historical regalia. But I think although the illnesses under discussion are things like cancer, tuberculosis, and AIDs, there is no real difference with respect to depression. In the last pages the author says; "The age-old, seemingly inexorable process whereby diseases acquire meanings (by coming to stand for the deepest fears) and inflict stigma is always worth challenging....But the metaphors cannot be distanced just by abstaining from them. They have to be exposed, criticized, belabored, used up." The author does this and much more. Author: Katherine Anne Porter Title: Pale horse, pale rider Publisher: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1939 ISBN: ?? Comments: This is a compilation of 3 short stories. The title story is the only one I read. It is a story of the narrator's illness. It is also a story of death, tho not the narrator's death, at least not physically. I found it somewhat hard to read and somewhat dated in terms of it's prose, but no less alive. I think illness, described in this way, is a wonderful metaphor for depression. Author: Claudia Shear Title: Blown sideways through life Publisher: The dial press, 1995 ISBN: 0-385-31312-8 Comments: I am not sure why I am including this book in this list. It is not about depression, in any way shape or form. And yet, I think it is anyway, in some weird way. It's a funny book about the author's thoughts on the many odd job's she has had in her life (writing this book she says at the end, is job number 66). But I think she was running from something, perhaps from her own depression. I think she was on the outside of life looking in. It makes for a wonderful perspective if you can tell it right. I think she does. I tried to listen closely. Author: Susan Remick Topek Title: Ten Good Rules Publisher: Kar-Ben Copies, Inc., 1991 ISBN: 0-929371-28-3 Comments: This is a very short little children's book by a Jewish author and illustrator. It presents the 10 commandments in simple language that young children can understand. For instance, the original "Thou shalt not murder" is translated into "Do not hurt anyone", and the original "Thou shalt not commit adultery" is translated into "Married people should love each other". But my favorite is the 10th commandment which is translated simply as "Be happy with what you have". It took me a while to figure out that the 10th commandment is usually presented as "Thou shalt not covet they neighbor's house...nor anything that is thy neighbor's". The basic premise here is that if you are not happy without the thing, you will not be happy with it. It's not about the thing, it's about you. Well, that's how *I* see it anyway, and that's why I included this book in this list. Author: David Viscott, M.D. Title: The language of feelings Publisher: Priam Books, Arbor House, 1976 ISBN: 0-87795-130-6 Comments: An interesting little book. A lot of good stuff in it, but also a lot that I flatly cannot agree with. Hyperbole catch-all statements with words like never/always/should (like "You can never justify burying your anger.") raise red flags for me. It is also interesting to note that the book only has chapters on "negative" emotions like anger, anxiety, grief, etcetera. But I will reiterate that there was also a lot of good stuff in this book. Thank God it wasn't longer tho. Author: Richard A. Moskovitz, M.D. Title: Lost in the mirror; An inside look at borderline personality disorder. Publisher: Taylor Publishing Co., 1996 ISBN: 0-87833-936-1 Comments: This book is NOT really an inside look at BPD, but rather about as inside as someone on the outside can get. A therapist who treats lots of BPD's talks to "you" about what it is like to "be you" if you have BPD. It's pretty good, and it paints a reasonable picture of BPD that does not look quite as "bad" as most therapists might paint. I particularly liked a sentence about how someone might fall in love with someone with BPD. "You were attracted to her, not because of who she was, but because of her uncanny ability to be whomever you needed her to be. ... You fell in love with the person you were when you were with her." Isn't that true for everyone to some extent?? BPD stands in the doorway between "normal" and "psychotic". As such it is simply one place to stand on the continuum. Somewhere to the left of being "codependent" I suppose. (Come to think of it, the whole format and title of this book are a good indication of how a "normal" person (the author) can exhibit "borderline" characteristics. That is, the author tries to write as if he *is* someone with BPD. To the extent that he succeeds, he suffers himself from BPD. But the extent that he actually fails to do what he intends to do, is the extent to which he is an example of perhaps someone who is borderline to BPD.) Author: Kat Duff Title: The alchemy of illness. Publisher: Pantheon books, 1993 ISBN: 0-679-42053-3 Comments: Describes the authors coming to terms with having chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS). A wonderful account of finding meaning in a healthy life through the contrast drawn by confrontation with serious and consuming illness. Since CFIDS and depression are both seen only from their subjectively reported and observed signs and symptoms, and since both are totally unseen from any objective observable clearly primary physical causality, CFIDS is a wonderful metaphor for depression. Both would appear to be "challenges" from which meaning and life can be found. (Did *I* say that??) This author tends towards the "new age, past lives, crystals can heal" perspective, but I can go part way there. Enough to get a lot out of this book anyway. "When I finally stand up, and brush the dirt off my clothes, I know that nothing more is asked of me. - I hope I do not forget when I get well." Author: Donna Williams Title: Nobody, nowhere, (1992); Somebody, somewhere, (1994); Like color to the blind, (1996) Publisher: Times books, Random house ISBN: 0-8129-2042-2 (nobody); 0-8129-2287-5 (somebody); 0-8129-2640-4 (color) Comments: All three books deal with Donna's growing awareness of what it means to her to be herself, and to be autistic. I read the second book, then the first, and then the third. They are all wonderfully written, easy to read, and offer a peek into someone else's head. A head not so different from anyone else's, and yet markedly so. I don't know, read them. I really liked them. I suggest these books rather than books with titles like "How to find your true self" or "The development of self". If how long it takes me to read a book is any gauge of anything, each of these took me less than two weeks to read. I think I liked the second one the best, but that could be just because I read it first. They are all "haunting" in a way. They challenge me to be more self aware. Particularly in ways and at times that the ghosts of past lives are perhaps not too comfortable with. Author: John Bentley Mays Title: In the Jaws of the Black Dogs. A memoir of depression. Publisher: Viking/Penguin, 1995 ISBN: 0-670-86113-8 Comments: A Canadian journalist writes about his depression. "I have written this book in a clearing bounded by thickets roamed by the killing dogs, sometimes wondering, in the writing, whether I would complete it before they returned on silent paws to snatch the text and me away. For the depressed can never be sure we can finish anything we begin, or indeed certain of anything, except the black dogs' eventual return, and their terrible circling at the clearing's edge." This book chronicles one man's 20 some year battle with depression. The story is punctuated with old diary entries that become more and more recent diary entries as the author brings us closer and closer to the present time. The book is not written in retrospect from behind the iron curtain of recovery. However, the prose, as perhaps even suggested by the author, sometimes gets thick and in the way of the REAL heart of the matter. It sometimes seemed to take me closer to the core, while at the same time providing me with a protective shield from which I could not really feel what I was so close to. I found this book difficult to read, but was still drawn to learn more about this person. (PS, I love my local library. It took them more than two months, but they got this to Pittsburgh from a library in Seattle.) Author: Clifford Whittingham Beers Title: A mind that found itself. An autobiography Publisher: Doubleday, first edition 1908 (most recent reprinting I found was 1960) ISBN: Did they have ISBN's in 1908?? Comments: This book is as "fresh" today as when it was written back in 1908. (No, that is not a typo. It was first published in 1908.) It describes (in an "after the fact" and somewhat removed from the experience kind of tone that, none-the-less, does not lose it's emotional impact), one man's apparent psychotic break and the two years he spent living in institutional "hell holes". I have actually read other much more vivid descriptions of mental breakdowns and of institution "horrors". But to me, that is not what makes this book interesting, compelling, or able to withstand the test of time. It seems very clear to me that the author suffered from what we would now call bipolar illness. For him, it initially presented as excessive anxiety and confusion, a suicide attempt, severe depression coupled with something close to a psychotic paranoid schizophrenia, which then equally or even more suddenly turned through hypomania into mania. Ultimately, without the use of medications, he was apparently able to maintain sufficient control over his moods to found something called the Mental Hygiene Movement. This book is really a "kick off" for his campaign to expose and fix the deplorable environment of "mental institutions" prevalent in the early 1900's. In 1908 Beers founded the Connecticut Society for Mental Hygiene, in 1909 the National Committee for Mental Hygiene (in 1950 it was recognized as the National Association for Mental Health in the USA) and in 1931 the International Foundation for Mental Health Hygiene. A www search of "Mental Hygiene Movement" revealed that in 1996 a new Clifford Beers Foundation was organized in Europe. The work continues?? Author: Anne Lamott Title: Bird by bird; Some instructions on writing and life. Publisher: Pantheon Books, 1994 ISBN: 0-679-43520-4 Comments: Easy to read, with lots of subtle but not overwhelming humor. This is the kind of book that makes me want to write a book. It's the kind of book that makes me feel like I *could* write a book. It goes into what, to my mind, are the *real* reasons why people want to write, and it does so with personal insight and humor. It is not really a "how to" manual as the word "instructions" in the subtitle might lead one to believe. I suppose that is why I was able to read it. The title comes from a story about her father and brother. Apparently when her older brother was 10 years old he had to write a report on birds. He waited too long, and became immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then her father sat down beside him, put his arm around her brother's shoulder, and said, "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird." The book is full of obvious and not so obvious good stuff like that on writing and on life. For instance, later she relates a priest friend's advice that "You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do." Author: Joanna Field (pseudonym), Marion Milner (real name) Title: On not being able to paint Publisher:J. P. Tarcher Inc., 1957 ISBN: 0-87477-263-X Comments: This is a somewhat old book that at times seems to show it's age. But it is also apparently a classic on the subject of "creativity block" for any kind of expression form (ie. it is not just about painting in any way shape or form). I thought it started out pretty good, dragged a lot in the middle, and got really very good in the last 1/4 or so. It is very psychoanalytically oriented, and even has an intro by Ann Freud (Sigmund Freud's daughter). Author: Laurie Samsel Olson Title: He Was Still My Daddy. Coming to terms with mental illness. Publisher: Ogden House Publishing Co., 1994 ISBN: 0-9640680-0-1 Comments: Like a breath of fresh air. After the last three or four books, I read this one in 2 days flat. A woman in her early 40's comes to terms with her father's psychotic depressions and how it affected her life as a young girl. Easy to read, somewhat short with large print. Well written, but not slick, authoritative, or lyrical in prose. Just a book by a daughter whose father suffered. The main theme was how hard it was for her to deal with the situation. In her words, "My daddy's gone and I want him to come back real bad." As a total aside, I gotta tell you that I love the local library system here. I am in Pittsburgh and they got this book for me from some library in Boston. Author: Peter D. Kramer Title: Should you leave? A psychiatrist explores intimacy and autonomy - and the nature of advice. Publisher: Scribners, 1997 ISBN: 0-684-81343-2 Comments: The third book I have read by the author of "Listening to Prozac". This book had me hooked from the first chapter. This guy seems to be some kind of thought clone of mine. For instance, as the subtitle suggests, the book is also very much about "the nature of advice". As an example, the author tells a short story about being asked by a newly bereaved husband if his kids should attend their mother's funeral. While most of the important stuff is in the context that I leave out here, the cut-to-the-chase response was; "Either will be wrong. It is not good or bad for the kids to go to the funeral. It is bad to have your mother die when you are young." There are also good little one-liners as well, like; "we consistently underestimate the otherness of others". The title of the book is daunting and scary to me. The subtitle is perhaps a more accurate description of what the book is all about. Be forewarned tho, I think his style of writing is generally somewhat verbose and obtuse, and this book has a very odd way of trying to talk directly to YOU. I think his style here is really an acquired taste, probably not a good book for someone who is currently depressed and finds it difficult to concentrate. Author: David Karp Title: Speaking of Sadness Publisher: Oxford University Press, 1996 ISBN: 0-19-509486-7 Comments: The author is a Sociology professor, writing about his own depression and depression in general from a sociological perspective. It is a bit "academic", and kind of heavy reading. Written as a sort of exploration of clinical case studies, but perhaps more for fellow Sociologists and the "nondepressed" then for others with depression. Just too dense for me. <-> This book used to be in the "Books I have seen up close and personal but have not read" list. I inadvertently took it out from the library a second time thinking that I had never seen it. When I started to read it, however, it seemed *very* familiar. (I may be slow, but I am not a total idiot.) This time I read the whole book. (Obviously the book has not changed. Apparently *I* have.) I understand why I wrote my initial thoughts on this book. Those feelings are still there, but this time I liked it a little more. It seems to me very much like the book "Waking Up, Alive", by Richard A. Heckler. I think the author provides some interesting insights, but he still losses my interest when he gets on his "sociologist" soapbox. The author writes of his motives for writing the book: "I am not primarily interested in explaining what causes depression nor how to cure it .... I am interested in how depressed individuals make sense of an inherently ambiguous life situation." Author: Augustus Y. Napier Title: The fragile bond: In search of an equal, intimate, and enduring marriage. Publisher: Harper & Row, 1988 ISBN: 0-06-015984-7 Comments: I took this book out from the library several weeks ago, and I am now on my second "late notice". I like this book a lot, but it is a pretty long book and it is not completely easy reading. It is not a novel, but I think it is well written and reasonably readable. It is not a "how to" book with advice on how to communicate better with your spouse or whatever. Gawd, you'd think I might find more to say about it. If you are interested in reflecting in multiple perspectives about yourself and your relationships with others, then this might be a good book to at least look at. How's that?? Author: Peter D. Kramer, M.D. Title: Moments of engagement; Intimate psychotherapy in a technological age Publisher: W. W. Norton and Company, 1989 ISBN: 0-393-70075-5 Comments: Peter Kramer is the author of the much more popular "Listening to Prozac". But this book is much less of a general philosophical/sociological/political statement. This book is more an exploration of what the author thinks it is like, or should be like, to practice psychotherapy. I agree with him in that I think this is one of those books that all psychotherapists should read. I think it is sometimes kind of obtuse, dense, or needlessly meandering in its prose, but it is also packed with a lot of good stuff. I mean, where the Hell does he get this stuff?? He just keeps coming at you with it. He can't say one thing without reflecting about it's multiple potential meanings, and then of course, his choice of those meanings as opposed to others also has meaning, and back and back we go into this house of mirrors. But I love that "fun house" ride. Title: Waking Up, Alive: The Descent, the Suicide Attempt, and the Return to Life Author: Richard A. Heckler, Ph.D. Publisher: Grosset/Putnam, 1994 ISBN: 0-399-13945-1 Comments: The jacket cover says; "In this extraordinary book, psychologist Richard A. Heckler tells the whole story of the descent, the attempt, and ... finally and gloriously we read of the return to life." That alone almost made me want to puke. But I am glad I got beyond it and into the book. The author juxtaposes bits and pieces of people's stories, as told in their own words. Of course he has an agenda and he abstracts general concepts from these juxtaposed snippets. But he did not totally swamp me with some kind of "life is, in the end, always worth living" moral fable. The book starts out with a quote from the Ba'al Shem Tov (a Jewish religious leader): "When the bond between heaven and earth is broken, even prayer is not enough....only a story can mend it." This book is really a secondary abstraction of a personal story. It is more a story of a story, told not fully in the original story tellers words. But it is also not a statistical/academic study. It is, to me, better than a sort of tertiary story of a story of a story. It worked for me. The only problem I had with it was that it never really dwelled for long in that purgatory place of multiple suicide attempts. Many of the people described multiple attempts, but the focus of the book was always on movement towards the *last* and final attempt. The turning point where these people began to move back towards life. But hey, the book can't do everything. Author: Lori Shiller and Amanda Bennett Title: The Quiet Room: A journey out of the torment of madness. Publisher: Warner Books Inc., 1994 ISBN: 0-446-51777-1 Comments: This is a really good book. I suppose that one way to rate books is by how long it takes me to read them. I read this one in about 3 days. The author Lori Shiller suffers from schizo-affective disorder. She has symptoms of schizophrenia and manic depression. In this book, she describes her 20 year battle with her emotions and the voices inside her head. Several chapters are written by her family, friends, or therapists. These chapters are all the more poignant, because Lori could not (then nor now) describe much of her own experience. It was, in her words, "beyond all imagining, beyond all human hope". A long hard road for her is a wholly inadequate understatement, but I personally feel all the richer for her description of it. Author: Bruno Bettelheim and Alvin A. Rosenfeld Title: The art of the obvious: Developing insight for psychotherapy and everyday life. Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993 ISBN: 0-679-40029-X Comments: This is a really good book. It is very hard for me to write these little summaries when the book was really good. I think this was written mainly for "therapists-to-be", but I found it easy to read and I wish that every therapist (esp. those who work with children) would read it. In a way, it is all about assuming that people's actions have important meanings, no matter how childish, odd, or "illogical" the actions appear to be. The goal of therapy is for the therapist, and thus the patient, to take a patient seriously enough such that both are interested in working together to try and find the meanings. It can get a little "Freudian" at times, because Bruno Bettelheim was a self-described "third generation" Freudian psychoanalyst. But he was much less "ridged" than Freud himself appears to have been or to have been made out to be. Perhaps because Bettelheim did not have a new theory to promote. Here is a quote: "Self-discovery is tremendously valuable to the person who discovers himself. To be discovered by somebody else has never done any good to anybody." Author: Bruno Bettelheim Title: Dialogues with mothers. Publisher: The Free Press of Glencoe, Crowell-Collier, 1962 ISBN: (Library of Congress #62-10583) Comments: This is a pretty "dated" book. Bruno Bettelheim conducted a discussion group with mothers of young children (most under 5) who were living on the University of Chicago campus in the late 40's after World War II. The book is a sort of transcribed dialog of this group. I think his approach to this discussion group was really great. It's focus is on asking the right questions, not on giving the right answers. But the dialog style of the presentation got hard to read after a while, and the "potty training" issues kind of wore thin for me. Still, this book is probably a thousand times better than 99% of the "how to raise a child" books that you might find in the average library. Author: Dr. Susan Forward Title: Toxic Parents: Overcoming their hurtful legacy and reclaiming your life. Publisher: Bantam Books, 1989 ISBN: 0-553-05700-6 Comments: The title of this book is a little strong, but it fits the book pretty well. This is probably a better book if you had a more overtly abusive childhood than mine. However, anyone who ever felt or feels at times overwhelmed by their parents might do well to read it. It is a little too "blaming" for me, tho it tries not to blame but rather to place responsibility where it should have been, and where it should be. I think for me, I liked the book Emotional Incest by Patricia Love better, but they are somewhat similar. If you liked one, you might want to read the other.