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Connie. Support Pal. Celebrating her Birthday.
Non-denominational minister. Spiritual Counselor.
Studying for Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.
Gift From Within members to help trauma survivors with PTSD.
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"Overcoming the Fear of Fear: How to Reduce Anxiety Sensitivity. " by Sherry H. Stewart, and Margo C. Watt. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications. 2008. $11.53.
I was unsure what to expect when I started this book. The introduction quickly captured my attention as the author explained that the fear of fear is anxiety sensitivity, something we who have PTSD are intimately acquainted with. We know how it feels to have our heartbeats speed up, to feel dizzy and helpless, to wonder what is going to happen when our bodies seem out of our control. We fear what happens to our bodies when we relive our past traumas or worry about what might happen in the future.
How do we know if we have anxiety sensitivity? The author helps us find that answer in part one. We are helped to determine the difference between fear and anxiety and to understand how stress and panic are figured in. We learn where anxiety sensitivity comes from, the role of genetics, learning and attachment in its development. Finally we have the opportunity to discover our own tendency for anxiety sensitivity by taking the "Anxiety Sensitivity Index" (ASI).
Part II investigates the importance of anxiety sensitivity in its relationship to the development of other disorders and its risk factor.
Once we understand what anxiety sensitivity is and recognize it in ourselves we automatically wonder what we can do about it. Part III offers an answer to that. One of the most valuable insights I found was how the author discussed and revealed the connection between my body's physical manifestations, my thoughts and feelings and the consequent actions resulting from those. Wonderful examples, exercises and questions are offered to help us understand how all these factors relate, that we are not at their mercy and how we can actively lessen their influence over us. The author discusses some of the inappropriate ways we may have dealt with anxiety sensitivity in the past and how we can change those behaviors and deal with it in more positive and healthy ways.
Finally part IV discusses how we can prevent relapses from occurring and compassionately discusses what to do if we find ourselves falling back into old patterns again.
For most of us PTSD and anxiety sensitivity seem to go hand in hand. Many of us suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder or panic attacks. I would like to suggest this book as a definite help in dealing with those awful feelings that seem so out of our control.
Patti & her assistant, Charlie
GFW support pal member and manager of writer's group.
For a free bookmark send an SASE to Joyce c/o Gift From Within, 16 Cobb Hill Road, Dept. SP Camden ME 04843.
"Natural Relief for Anxiety: Complementary Strategies for Easing Fear, Panic & Worry. " by , Edmund J. Bourne; Arlen Brownstein; and Lorna Garano. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications. 2004. $15.95.
If you struggle with anxiety and you are like me, you might worry about taking various medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter. There is always that temptation to self-medicate as well, or to deal with anxiety by abusing our bodies in so many possible ways, such as over-eating, under-eating or a failure to exercise. I would like to heartily recommend this book because, as I read it, I began to consider it a complete handbook on how to deal naturally and in a healthy way with stress and anxiety.
This book covers the gamut from how to handle intrusive thoughts to Seasonal Affective Disorder and Panic Attacks and unnatural fears. It discusses health issues such as the affect of sugar on our bodies and our emotions. The importance of healthy eating and exercise is covered in depth. I particularly liked the discussion on Adrenal Exhaustion, something I think many people with PTSD struggle with. It was refreshing to see it discussed in this book because the topic is still met with skepticism by many in the medical field. (Also sometimes referred to as Adrenal Fatigue).
The book is 213 pages packed full of helpful information, including a section for "Finding Help From Outside" and resources for more titles on the subject. Included also are "Mindful Exercises" and a section on "Embracing Spirituality", which I greatly appreciated being included.
As with so many books published by New Harbinger, I find myself wishing I could put this jewel in the hands of all our members.
GFW Book Review Editor
"Women Who Worry Too Much: How to Stop Worry & Anxiety from Ruining Relationships, Work & Fun. " by Holly Hazlett-Stevens. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications. 2005. $10.85.
Do women worry more than men? Are women just wired to worry more, or do they learn to be worriers? Does worry differ from anxiety? What causes it and how can we recognize it and deal with it? These are only some of the questions dealt with in this three-part book.
In Part I (chapters 1 & 2) the author deals with what worry is and how to recognize if it poses enough of a problem for the reader to need to deal with it. Part II (chapters 3 - 7) offers suggestions and help for overcoming worry overall. In Part III (chapters 8 - 11) specific worries are addressed.
The author also includes excellent resources and a section on finding an appropriate therapist.
When I am working through a book like this, I like to devote a specific amount of time to it each day. I liked the ease of reading this book. The chapters are small enough that they can be read at one sitting. The author includes some case studies and some very helpful exercises that bring to light worries the reader may not have otherwise recognized. She also suggests helpful exercises in areas that might seem unrelated to treating our worries, such as "mindful eating", "breathing mindfully" and even "making leisure activities mindful". The author reminds us of the importance of bringing ourselves back to the present when our tendencies are to let our minds wander to worrisome preoccupations.
I always thought worry and anxiety were pretty much the same thing. The author helps the reader to recognize the differences by looking at it realistically and rationally, such as whether there are solutions to be found or resolutions that can be made. It's helpful to be able to distinguish between the two. I like her section on how worry can make relationships more difficult and how we can keep that from happening.
Overall I found this book easy to read and quite helpful because it helped me understand what I can do to recognize and manage my worrisome thoughts and tendencies. I do recommend it to those who suffer from worry and from anxious thoughts.
"Art of the Heart: How to Understand and Help People with Alzheimer's and Related Disorders. Book I: Restoration of the Self: A Journey. " by Rita Frank. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: RoseDog Books. 2008. $11.00.
I am not aware of many families who have not been touched by Alzheimer's or Dementia in some form. I know I wish I'd had access to this nugget when my step mom was diagnosed. Do not be alarmed by the rather long title of this book. It is a small book packed with useful information developed by firsthand experience, and written with tremendous compassion.
The author describes in detail exercises to aid the confused victim in regaining some control for the confusion that clouds the mind with the onset of these diseases.
The book is valuable for the caretaker because it explains the progression of the disease and how the loss of so many basic skills affects the patient. The book is not only a therapeutic tool but, in my opinion a validating tool for the caretaker. Frank details her successes and failures with her techniques. In so doing I feel she is attempting to enable and encourage the caretaker to be brave at trying to encourage the patient to interact with the environment, and to do so with humor and insight.
In my search for helpful information I never ran across such a helpful tool as Frank has given us. The book is concise and easy to follow and packed full of helpful suggestions. I truly recommend this book for those who seek to help a victim of Alzheimer's.
Child Abuse & Recovery:
"Riding the Cyclone: Growing Up Feral In the '60s. " by Lauren Ruth Wiener, 2011. $12.99.
This is one of those books that you read with growing fascination. I was moved through a gamut of emotions: anger, sadness, horror, compassion, empathy and hope as I read about a little girl growing into an adult amid terrible dysfunction.
When Lauren was a young child her mother died, leaving her and her brother with a father who couldn't be burdened with them. Interested in socializing and womanizing, her father left them in the care of a woman, known as Aunt Dagny, whom they came to fear because she would brutalize them one day and be sweet the next. One of Lauren's daily goals became attempting to read Aunt Dagny's moods and to try to keep her on an even keel so she wouldn't get beaten. Amazingly no one picked up on the abuse. Years later, when she and her brother told their dad about her abuse, he was strangely unmoved and advised them to stick it out a while longer.
Lauren's life would take her to foreign countries, choice schools and through many relationships that left her feeling lonely and puzzled about her future. No matter where she went she could not escape the legacy of Aunt Dagny and being left as a seeming orphan in the care of this monster. She became her own worst critic and even sought to end her life at times because she held no hope that she would ever be successful in living.
Thankfully she did survive and she has shared her story with us to teach us what I see as valuable lessons. Ladies, once again we see we are not alone in our pain and struggles. Read Lauren's story and you will be inspired that you can make it through life and find healing and live a rewarding life, no matter how bad the pain of the past.
Now in a rewarding relationship, Lauren has researched her symptoms and been diagnosed. She stated to me that it was her own search for answers and finding her husband that led to a deeper understanding about how her upbringing harmed her. She struggled through "lots of complications, years of lost friendships, low self-esteem, aiming far too low, and a little bit of therapy" She happened upon an article in a scientific journal which described her symptoms and it all made sense to her. Then she entered a program of therapy which helped her greatly. She regards herself as a "work in progress" (sound familiar, ladies?). I love how she describes things now: "But even my worst days now are better than my best days used to be."
I recommend this to all of you as a spell-binding story that will inspire you to hang in there and overcome. You will be encouraged when you read how this hurt little girl and teenager had to struggle to survive. You will be validated and encouraged. Read this book!
Read more about Lauren and Riding the Cyclone at www.ridingthecyclone.com
"When the Piano Stops: A Memoir of Healing From Sexual Abuse. " by Catherine McCall, Berkeley, CA: Seal Press. 2009. $11.53.
Catherine shares the heartbreaking story of her life in a way that makes this book difficult to put down. I finished it at 2:00 this morning and felt I was almost a life-time friend of Catherine and her siblings. She does a wonderful job of portraying the personalities of each family member. She describes her struggles so well that the reader finds herself pulling for her and cheering her on through seeming insurmountable odds.
Catherine's childhood home was dysfunctional, with a bi-polar father and alcoholic mother. That would have been enough to cause issues with the children, such as PTSD. Unfortunately her father also sexually abused her, a fact that Catherine only came to terms with when she was older and began having flashbacks. Hypnotherapy confirmed her memories and her younger brother's eyewitness account gave additional validation. As Catherine pieced her past together, the problems she had been having in every area of her life began to make sense. Her childhood sweetheart/husband also struggled to understand Catherine's troubles and went through therapy with her to help her unlock the chains that kept her from living a happy life.
Throughout Catherine's life her faith, courage and strength are awe-inspiring to read about. The fact that she entered the healing profession is proof of her grace and compassion for others. Amazingly when her parents became aged and infirmed she took part in the process of making sure they were cared for.
Catherine's story touched a personal note because of an aunt/uncle in my own family who seem identical to her parents. Having seen the havoc they created in so many lives enabled me to feel much empathy for Catherine and her siblings.
I recommend Catherine's book to all who suffer from any childhood trauma. Those who have suffered sexual abuse may find the book triggering, but I feel that Catherine wrote the accounts of her abuse with finesse and sensitivity. I think any person struggling with childhood abuse would find this book encouraging and touching, a true tribute to the perseverance of the human spirits will to survive and flourish.
Thank you, Catherine, for sharing your story.
"The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Cruel Parenting. " by Alice Miller. $10.85.
Alice Miller, psychologist, lecturer and author is well-known throughout the world for her work on child abuse issues including physical abuse, emotional abuse and child sexual abuse.
This book was published in 2006 and I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to read and learn from it. Dr. Miller had encountered various patients in her practice who had been traumatized for long periods of time and had no access to memories of what happened.
My personal traumatic event occurred at such an early age that I had no language or other means of recalling the events other than "body memories," and they are discussed in Dr. Miller's book. The author was the first person as far as I know to write about this phenomenon. It became an important validation for me personally that these memories can be trusted. I felt validated and understood.
To this day I rely on my "body memories" and physical sensations to give me important clues about my psychological state of mind. They have become my trusted friends and advisors.
For example, I have had times while driving when I?ve felt stressed because of traffic and/or weather conditions. And so stressed that my normal feelings of anxiety are not felt by me, but my eyes will 'fog' up and became difficult for me to see. I would try to defog the windshield thinking that is why I cannot see clearly. But I discovered that even when the glass was completely clear, I still had periods of not being able to see that clearly. I believe it was my body's way of letting me know that I was very stressed and anxious --
my body?s way of telling me what was going on emotionally.
I recommend this book to child abuse survivors. Dr. Miller developed her own ideas about child development and psychology and was herself a survivor who experienced painful childhood memories. I am grateful to her. There are also other books by Ms. Miller who passed away in 2010
"Finding Sunshine After the Storm: A Workbook for Children Healing from Sexual Abuse. " by Sharon A. McGee, and Curtis Holmes. Oakland, CA: Instant Help Books. A Division of New Harbinger Publications, Inc. 2008. $11.53.
I love the practicality of this book, which was obviously written by those who understand how the mind of a child works and how trauma can warp healthy thoughts and feelings in a child. It is simplicity coupled with wisdom. Created for children and on their level it is ideal for a counseling tool in therapy or can be used between sessions with an adult assisting the child to work through the exercises. The author's include "A Note to Adults" with helpful tips to guide the child through the exercises.
As I read through the exercises I was especially impressed by how working through such easy assignments has the potential to renew a child's sense of self-worth and help the child to place the blame where it belongs and get it off his/her shoulders. Going far beyond that, the tools will help wounded children discover who their safe helpers are and to see so many good things about themselves, to deal with anger and express other emotions rather than keeping them inside, to understand what healthy touching is, to begin to feel normal again, and so much more.
An example of one exercise is helping the child to understand the difference between his/her size when the abuse happened and the physical size of the adult who touched inappropriately (such as shoe size). By focusing on this one detail the child is assisted in understanding who was the biggest and strongest, who should have known better, who was the one not behaving properly. The exercise is helps the child to deduce that he/she was in no way responsible, in a way that is understandable to the child.
I am sure many of us wish such tools had been available when we were children. Perhaps reading through the exercise will help the child in you to heal as well.
"Survivors' Stories: An Enlightening Journey through the differing lives of Child Abuse Survivors. Volume One: Stories 1-6. " by Morven Fyfe. England: Commandment Publishing, 2007. (Amazon rating 5 stars). $24.95.
Fyfe's book is very reader friendly, a fact quickly seen in the way the Table of Contents is outlined. The paper and print are easy on the eyes, something those of us in middle age can appreciate. He begins his book with a section on how to use his book and describes who the book is for and why. I loved the exhaustive Questionnaire in section 7 which helps the reader to examine and understand childhood traumas and is an excellent tool for helping those of us who journal.
The author presents an enlightening section on barriers that keep adult victims from both examining their past and speaking out about it, reminding us that it is our responsibility to examine our pasts, something we cannot rely on others to do for us. The whole book is a great tool for beginning that examination and healing process.
Next the author presents The Stories of six adults who were abused in childhood. Their stories differ in types of abuse and how their lives remain affected in adulthood. Those of us from dysfunctional childhoods of any type can find validation in reading the heart-rending stories presented here and can also find hope in the way these individuals are coping and surviving.
I like how the author encourages survivors of child abuse to speak out in spite of how society and significant others may discourage that and in spite of how speaking out is sometimes met with discouragement and misunderstanding. Sometimes this speaking out may entail seeking restitution and/or justice for wrongs done.
The whole work is very encouraging and compassionate and this is one book I would wholeheartedly recommend to all of our members and visitors to Gift From Within who have suffered any form of childhood abuse, and for those who seek to understand the needs of children or who work with children.
Note: The "Declaration" on page 254 is wonderfully affirming. Please note: readers may also like to visit the website: http://survivors-stories.co.uk.
"Unfragmented Dreams" by Saji and On, West Conshohocken, PA: Infinity
Publishing Company. 2006. $15.95.
Unfragmented Dreams is a small, easy to read, lovely book. One should not be deceived by its size and simplicity, however, because it carries wisdom about the complexities of life in the wake of childhood trauma. The book is a touching account of a young woman's search to find healing from a past she does not fully remember or understand, but which imposes upon her present life. I like how the book describes alternative therapies that some of us may not have considered. By portraying actual sessions of creative expression to find healing, it assures the reader that these therapies are safe and useful. I found the book enjoyable and helpful. I recommend it to all who are grasping to find meaning and healing from any type of emotional pain. It truly is a lovely little book that one can read rather quickly. I hope to see more books by this writing team.
Patti Brown, Feb 13, 2007
"The Narcissistic Family: Diagnosis and Treatment" by Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman, Robert M. Pressman, (Amazon rating 5 stars). $35.60.
This book is written for therapists but it is quite helpful for the patient as well. The Pressmans attest that victims of the narcissistic family need to be addressed in a unique way in therapy, as their family history creates a unique set of problems that may not exist together under another category. Children of narcissistic family systems fail to understand and meet their own needs and come to believe that they exist to meet the needs of their parents. The parental/child roles are reversed. The children end up becoming the caretakers of those who are supposed to be caring for them. Understandably this creates all sorts of problems for the children who are in the process of having their own identities formed. As adults these children will have difficulties setting boundaries, forming intimate relationships and understanding that they have value. The authors share some actual cases with clients and how their situations were handled in therapy.
I found this book priceless. Although the authors only deal briefly with trauma and PTSD I found that the book offered much insight into my own attitudes and struggles. Because of the book I am concentrating on a couple of areas within myself that I did not realize needed work. Despite feeling overwhelmed with my own symptoms I find that I am more self-compassionate and that I am accepting myself where I am right now because I understand more fully where I came from.
I would like to mention that this is a difficult book to read because the reader will most likely find herself grieving the loss of her childhood once again. She may also have to deal with extreme anger towards her parents. If the reader is unable to communicate with her parents this anger can surface in other ways. I would like to stress, however, that it is definitely worth the emotional upheaval to read this book and that the help one will receive definitely outweighs the difficulty. I highly recommend this book for anyone who was not permitted to have a normal and safe childhood due to parents or caretakers who were unable to fill their roles maturely.
"Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story." Tolson, Lynn C. Bloomington, IN: First Books. 2003.
Over and over, while reading this book, I had the uncanny feeling I was reading my own story. The unhealthy thought processes, self-destructive and self-debasing tendencies, the hopelessness and despair the author describes, were completely familiar. For that reason I found this book incredibly validating. Lynn's book assured me, more than any I've ever read, I am not alone. Her use of actual therapy sessions was creative and beneficial. She kept my attention from the very beginning. Beyond the Tears will have the reader in tears at times, and some of the experiences are difficult to read because they are so real and heartbreaking. But reading this book is an adventure that is well worth the time. For all who have suffered any kind of abuse or have come from dysfunctional families, this book will be a tremendous help.
Beyond the Tears offers hope to all who are seeking healing. Those who suffer from trauma-related struggles will find compassion and courage. I heartily recommend it to all our support pals and all who visit the GFW site. As Lynn's title suggests, she truly is a survivor and her story assures us that we can be as well.
Patti Brown, 2/14/07
"Rising From the Ashes: A Spiritual Healing Through Poetry." by Jolainne BoRienne, (Amazon rating 5 stars). $19.99.
This lovely book is a compilation of poetry written from an author who suffered childhood abuse. She also was a teacher of children for many years and has probably seen numerous other children coming from dysfunction homes with their wounded spirits. Her poetry is beautifully descriptive of the pain, loneliness and struggles that come from an abusive past, yet they are resplendent with hope and courage. This is another bedside book, or good meditational and devotional book. One may read a poem at night before bed, or perhaps upon waking in the morning. I found it particularly helpful on those mornings after a restless night of bad dreams. The poems express very well the struggles of PTSD and I found validation and understanding in Jolainne's words.
I believe all of our support pals will find comfort, validation and inspiration from this book. I constantly found myself feeling familiarity in the author's words and knew that this was someone who understood the struggles of PTSD. I highly recommend Rising From the Ashes for our group and for friends or family who have suffered trauma.
"A Child Called It: One Child's Courage to Survive." by Dave Pelzer. (Amazon rating 4.5 stars). $9.95.
"The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family." by Dave Pelzer. (Amazon rating 5 stars). $10.36.
"A Man Named Dave: A Story of Triumph and Forgiveness." by Dave Pelzer. (Amazon rating 4.5 stars). $9.6.
Dave Pelzer has an amazing tale to tell (don't we all) and has told it. You can follow him through his childhood journey in the first book of his series. "A Child Called It" recaps his childhood living in an extremely abusive home. When his case was found out it was classified for a time as the most extreme case of child abuse during that time period in California!!! The book ends in his escape from the home and leads into the second book "The Lost Boy" which talks of his time in foster care and his continued search for healing from such a horrendous childhood. Leading up to the third book "A Man Named Dave" in which he speaks of his adulthood and the trials he faces as he searches to get past those things his mother did to him. Dave Pelzer doesn't give advice or suggest healing in these books... they are strictly his journey. However, it's interesting to read all three books so that by the end of the third you can read how he does finally arrive at a place of healing and peace. Dave Pelzer currently travels and does public speaking on the horrors he faced and his journey to recovery.
"Kids Helping Kids (Break the Silence of Sexual Abuse)" by Linda Lee Foltz. (Amazon rating 5 stars). $14.93.
This is an excellent book for children to read with a supportive and safe adult. Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul said "an inspiring book of strength, These stories offer comfort, hope and the amazing power of healing." These true life stories will give the reader an insight into the world of child sexual abuse from the child's point of view. The author interviewed hundreds of kids for this book. Parents need to be vigilant when it comes to sexual abuse of their children. It could be the next door neighbor, a friend and a family member. It empower kids to speak out. It teaches adults what signs to look for. The Author, Linda Lee Foltz healed after her childhood sexual abuse and wanted to help other children. She wants them to know they can heal and fight back. Kids like to learn from each other. In the book, kids give practical and comforting advice to other kids going through sexual abuse.
* "Chicken Soup for the Soul" by Jack Canfield. (Amazon rating 4.5 stars). $10.61.
"Compassion Fatigue in the Animal-Care Community" by Charles R. Figley, Ph.D. and Robert G. Roop, Ph.D. (Amazon rating 5 stars). $19.95.
"Compassion Fatigue in the Animal-Care Community" is a supportive book for those in the animal care industry, particularly those who work in shelters and see a lot of abused and sick and lonely animals.
Animal Care workers are vulnerable to Compassion Fatigue, a form of PTSD., physical, mental and emotional exhaustion because of their unique job stresses. Job stresses include very ill animals, euthenasia, not enough time, lack of team work, and at times difficult pet owners.
This book explains what Compassion Fatigue is, how it is different than Burnout, and how to measure that against Compassion Satisfaction. What are the stressors that can lead to compassion fatigue? What can you do about it if you see it in yourself and others? This book by psychologists, Figley & Roop present self help resources, exercises, suggestions and tips to help yourself and your co-workers.
The book is sensitively written and extremely respectful to those who entered the field in the first place because they love animals. They don't always feel that their work is valued and this book encourages the self-care they deserve. This book would be useful for those entering veterinary schools, animal care managers, shelter employees and volunteers. P.S. This would be a wonderful book for people in the helping profession not just the animal community.
"Parallel Justice for Victims of Crime, " by Susan Herman. (Amazon rating 5 stars). $12.24.
Parallel Justice provides a vision of what it means to provide justice to victims of crime whether or not an offender has been prosecuted or convicted.
Having worked desk-to-desk with a Victim Advocate at a major police department I've often seen the injustice that victims of crime suffer again when, having already been victimized, they are not given the same degree of assistance that their perpetrator received. The author suggests a novel idea, that of giving the victim the same degree of respect, access, safety and financial support that those who commit crimes receive.
I have often passed along phone calls from victims seeking financial assistance for burying a family member who was murdered, and seen the frustration from the victim advocate because her allotted funds had been depleted. I have then watched her struggle and beg to come up with the money to assist the family already shattered by their loss and trauma.
Ms. Herman goes beyond a simple suggestion and offers a well-thought-out and researched plan for how victims of crime can receive the same degree of justice as the criminal, something they deserve and have been denied far too long.
I have often thought it strange that so much compassion is shown to a criminal, though warranted in many cases, but victims are often seen as being partially responsible for what happened to them, or else their needs are overlooked and passed on for others to handle. Having worked for a large police department for fifteen years I saw that this was the norm rather than the exception. I therefore devoured Ms. Herman's book, made numerous marks in the margins and found myself so happy that someone had addressed this injustice.
Some of our group have dealt with the justice system and experienced this injustice firsthand. Even those who have seen their perpetrator dealt with have perhaps had their own needs dismissed, passed over and overlooked. Perhaps they have become exasperated having to beg for information and assistance. Those having experienced such heartache will be pleasantly surprised by this book. You will feel a sense of relief that someone has finally addressed the problem in our system. If you've known someone who has gone through this you will also enjoy reading this plan for how our society can make right what has so long been wrong. Even those of us who have only suffered mild interactions with the system, and felt we were treated badly or ignored, can benefit from this work of hope. I therefore highly recommend it to anyone wishing to see our society behave more compassionately to those who suffer.
For more information visit www.ncvc.org or www.paralleljustice.org
Culture, Ethnicity and Healing:
"Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting," by Terrie M. Williams. (Amazon rating 4.5 stars). $16.50.
This remarkable book written by Terrie M Williams is a sanctuary for Black people who want to understand the importance of being diagnosed correctly for depression. And if you are depressed please take the time to read the stories, information and resources Terrie provides. Hope and help are available. You are not alone, many other women and men feel emotional pain and have been keeping it a guarded secret. You don't have to anymore.
Terrie is a clinical social worker who reveals her own deep and personal struggle and long painful recovery from depression. I think Terrie is a role model. Terrie figured out how to help herself and that support network included friends, family and Church. You might like to consider starting with your pastor if you need help and hopefully your pastor will recommend additional outside resources. Terrie also reminds us that if your Church is not embracing the concept of counseling and therapy then you need to take control of your mental health. This book will help you in that endeavor.
The book is filled with poignant and inspirational stories that include people you wouldn't think would be depressed (celebrities)and regular folks who talk of their struggles with some coming close to suicide. The book is also gloriously sprinkled with references, short stories, and information from mental health practitioners and pastoral counselors. Terrie knows that prayer and faith are very important in your healing and recovery from depression but you also need to find a good therapist or support group. She shares wonderful metaphors to help explain why we need to be mindful of our mental health. For example, if a loved one has a physical illness you would recommend they see a doctor or a specialist. If you are depressed it makes sense to consult with a therapist or counselor. Like physical illnesses, mental disorders can be treated.
I highly recommend this book for those who are battling depression. Supporters will also learn a great deal of how to be an effective caregiver. It's friendly, respectful, informational and timely.
"The Estrogen-Depression Connection: The Hidden Link Between Hormones & Women's Depression." by Karen J. Miller and Steven A. Rogers. (Amazon rating 4 stars). $12.71.
This is a valuable book for all women and one that I found extremely informative and reassuring. PTSD often leaves us so engrossed in our emotions that the dividing lines between their causes is difficult to differentiate. We tend to group all our emotions into one category and make PTSD the receptive brunt of all our problems. While it's true that having PTSD is difficult enough, we also have to deal with our hormones that are always changing in levels and effecting us in body and mind. The same hormones that define our gender can cause tremendous upheaval.
Regardless of our age this book speaks to us where we are at any of our life stages from puberty on. The authors first discuss how estrogen effects the female brain from the time it develops. They also discuss the effects of estrogen on the whole body and they include a section about estrogen and men.
Then, chapter by chapter, the phases of our gender are discussed, beginning with puberty. The book's emphasis is on how estrogen effects depression in all these stages, including PMS and post-partum and on into menopause.
In the last four chapters the authors spend much effort discussing various treatment options and hormone replacement therapy. They include ways we can take part in assisting ourselves through the changes in life caused by hormones. The stigma that is often associated with women and depression is looked at compassionately.
I would encourage all of you to include this book in your library as I know it will help you be more self-accepting and self-compassionate. If you are looking menopause in the face, like me, you'll understand some of new "events" that are occurring in your bodies and your minds. I found that very reassuring.
"How You Can Survive When They're Depressed: Living and Coping With Depression Fallout" by Anne Sheffield. (Amazon rating 4.5 stars). $10.61.
This book is perfect for the family and loved ones of depressives and those who are manic depressives. There are so many family members who have to endure the abuse and the chaos brought about by the illness of a family member. A lot of time, the families are treated like caretakers rather than people with feelings and their own lives. If the relationship between the loved one and the depressive or manic depressive is abusive, the loved one may lose their own self esteem. If the depressive is constantly fighting and putting you down with insults and remarks that can be extremely demoralizing. The family member is vulnerable to depression. This book is excellent for explaining and giving examples of self care. How you can protect yourself from "it," it being the illness. It also talks about how to start a support group if none exists in your area. It goes over issues like how to find a good therapist, boundaries, medicine, treatment options. But most of all it is about self care so you can go on taking care of the ill person in your life and still have a life.
"Sorrow's Web: Hope, Help and Understanding For Depressed Mothers and Their Children" by Anne Sheffield. (Amazon rating 5 stars). $13.00.
This is the second book of Ann Sheffield's that I've read. She is a master of putting into layperson's terms the enormous amount of research on the reactions of children to mothers who are depressed. She uses her only life as an example including what her mother's depression and how that was passed onto her daughter, Pandora. It is touching and educational and makes again think about what you can do and even the simple things you can do to help yourself or another mother or child being raised by a depressed woman. Ms. Sheffield gives many examples of the negative effects that depression can have on sons and daughters and gives a lot of wonderful advice that may not be easy to follow but is certainly worthwhile. What I really like about what she says it the implication that it is never too late to get help and to reengage with your children. And to also help them since many times the depression gets passed onto them.
"Color Me Butterfly: A True Story of Courage, Hope, Transformation" by L.Y. Marlow. Bowie, Maryland: e'L publishing: 2007. (Amazon rating 5 stars). $10.17.
This touching book tells the heartbreaking story of four generations of African American women who faced domestic abuse. The book, which spans 60 years, is disturbing and deeply moving. It portrays in a graphic and sobering way how domestic abuse affects not only the women being battered but also makes victims of the children who are involved, even if they are not physically battered as well. We all know that not only can a person who is a victim of violence develop PTSD, but also those who are forced to observe the act or acts of violence. The fear, the helplessness, the shock and confusion of the women as well as the children in Marlow's book will stay with you long after you have read the last page of her story.
Marlow's story is complimented by many photographs of those about whom she writes, as well as poetry that will grip your soul. I want to make it clear that this book, although sad, is not a story of defeat and not a book that will leave the reader depressed. In spite of the darkness of the theme of the book, I must say that it is a book that erupts with faith, hope, courage and love. I found myself looking at the characters involved in this story as definite heroes. I know that you will all enjoy this book and I highly recommend it to our support family and all who visit our website. I know it will inspire you and also encourage those who read to continue the fight for justice and help for those ensnared in the web of family violence.
Because of the author's purpose of raising awareness about domestic abuse, I feel she would want me to mention her wonderful website for those in this difficult situation and those who want to help someone who is being abused:
Latus, Janine. "If I Am Missing or Dead: A Sister's Story of Love, Murder, and Liberation." New York: Simon & Schuster. 2007. $5.99.
This true story chronicles the story of Janine's sister's (Amy's) dysfunctional relationship and ultimate murder by an abusive partner, while also describing the harsh reality of her own struggle with an abusive husband. Having lived the nightmare of domestic abuse, I found myself feeling that I was reading my own story. Janine has a great talent for describing not only the acts of abuse but the dynamics and emotions behind the abuse and the brutal effects on her, her sister, and all women who suffer behind closed doors. More importantly, she portrays so clearly why women end up in such relationships and why they find it difficult to leave, clearly describing the ties between a dysfunctional upbringing and the later relationships a woman finds herself woven into.
I highly recommend this book for all support pals, because it deals with relationships. Even those who are not victims of domestic abuse will find it helpful because it can bring to light how others in their lives may be controlling and abusive. For those who are currently in abusive domestic relationships, or know someone else who is, I would definitely say this book would be extremely helpful. The author's insight is priceless and her compassionate way of portraying all those involved in this tragedy is touching and real. I often see books given stars when they are reviewed for Amazon.com. I would definitely give this book the full allotment of stars available.
Fowler, Connie May. "Before Women Had Wings." New York: Ballantine Books,
Fowler, Connie May. "When Katie Wakes: A Memoir." New York: Doubleday,
Those of you who have not become acquainted with the writings of Connie May Fowler are missing a treat. "Before Women Had Wings" deals with domestic violence and child abuse. Told from a child's perspective the story is very realistic and touching, perhaps because Fowler delves into her own past for some of the experiences she shares. The book graphically displays how domestic abuse can flourish into child abuse due to the mother's withholding of affection and rage directed at her children. In her latest book, "When Katie Wakes," Fowler continues to portray the legacy. This book is her memoir of her own experience of the abused child in adulthood and how her crushed self-esteem results in her lack of ability to leave an extremely abusive relationship.
It would be difficult for me to place a value on this book. Since it so clearly mirrors my own life I cried for two hours after finishing it. It is a difficult book to read for those living in an abusive relationship. However it offers compassion and hope in the way that only a fellow-sufferer can share. For those who have left such a relationship, it will trigger bad memories while also fanning the flames of determination to help others. For those still entrapped, it offers a priceless empathy that is more comforting than I can say.
"Controlling People: How to Recognize, Understand, and Deal with People Who Try to Control You" by Patricia Evans. (Amazon rating 5 stars). $10.17.
When reviewing this book for Amazon Books I said that "after the Bible, this book is paramount in importance when compared to any other book ever written." That may seem a bold statement when one considers the vast volumes of treasured books written throughout history. Coming from the standpoint of a person in an abusive marriage for 23 years, who has been through counseling, read self-help books and sought help everywhere, I hope that my words carry some weight. This book was very helpful. Along with Evans' two other books on Verbal Abuse I can understand the dynamics behind my husband's behavior. What is so important about "Controlling People," however, is its value to all readers. Whether you think you've been controlled or not, this book is for you. "Controlling People" explains how people try to control you, even when you don't realize it. This is a must read for any audience.
"Stop Walking on Eggshells" By Paul T. Mason, M.S. & Randi Kreger.
Stop Walking on Egg Shells or SWOE as some persons call it, is a book about borderline personality disorder (BPD) in a loved family member or a significant other. It gives checklists on behavior traits, explains the world according to the BPD, how to make changes within yourself to be able to "deal" with their illness, re-learning how to speak to BPDs to avoid conflict and resolving issues.
There are four personalities in BPD using a fairy-tale model*. They are: the Queen, the Waif, the Hermit and the Witch.
Some of the checklists behavior traits include: the feeling of abandonment at the slightest provocation. (this is due to lack of object constancy. When a person is far away from us, just because we do not see that person, we know that they are "there" for us. BPDs have trouble with this. Not seeing a person, is not having a person). Feel they can never get enough love or attention. Have rage periods. Tend to use projection often and blame can turn into verbal abuse. No sense of boundaries, whatsoever. Seeing everything in black or white (all good or all evil).
The DSM-IV has several criteria for BPD:
1. frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
2. a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
3. identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self. (this is also #7).
4. impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g. spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).
5. recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures or threats.
6. affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g. intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).
8. inappropriate intense anger or difficulty controlling anger.
9. transient stress related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.
I found this book to be imperative for anyone suffering with a BPD relative or significant other. This book is a very informative coupled with the following book:
*Surviving a Borderline Parent, how to heal your childhood wounds & build trust, boundaries and self-esteem by
Kimberly Roth and Freda B. Friedman, PH.D., LCSW
"Multiple Personality Disorder From The Inside Out" edited by: Barry M. Cohen, Esther Giller, and Lynn W. (Amazon rating 5 stars). $17.90.
I have found a book everyone with DID/MPD should have! I have given copies away to close friends to help them understand DID more effectively. It is a book written by DID's! Short essays (a paragraph to a couple pages and some poetry of the things they wish people would understand about them and DID. The Chapters include:" Diagnosis, Pain, Skeptics, Therapy Sessions, Therapy Disappointments, Hope, Unification, Families and friends, Other's Voices."
The doctors that put the book together sent out questionnaires to DIDs
asking 3 questions:
1. "What do you wish you had known about DID/ MPD when you were first
2. "What would you like therapists to know about the experience of DID/MPD?"
3. (my favorite and most handy) "What do you think spouses, friends,and/or supportive family members should know about DID/MPD?"
4. Significant Others were asked..."What would you like to share with other friends and supportive family members of individuals with DID/MPD?"
They had responses from over 150 people!
The Chief of the unit on DID at the National Institute of Mental Health
sums it up on the back of the book: "A helpful and hopeful look at another way of being, this book dispels the misleading stereotypes of MPD and illuminates the underlying human experience of this tragically misunderstood condition. A must for anyone whose life has been touched by this complex disorder."
"Life After MPD" by: Debra, Ph.D. Lighthart, Debra Lighthart. (Amazon rating 4.5 stars). $19.95.
Life After MPD is an intimate look inside the illness known as Multiple Personality Disorder or Dissociative Identity Disorder. The author, Debra Lighthart, is able to portray the everyday struggle for normalcy associated with this illness because she is a survivor of it as well as a licensed clinical counselor who now assists other victims of trauma and personality disorders. Dr. Lighthart's look inside this illness is priceless because of this dual role, but there are other aspects of her story that make this book unique and beneficial for all of us who suffer from PTSD.
Reading this book gave me an appreciation for the courage and fortitude it takes for a client to find healing for MPD. It also once again impressed me with the toll trauma can take on a child. We all know what it is like to struggle everyday with our symptoms. Rather than looking at MPD as a weakness, the reader sees those who suffer its symptoms as true survivors and understands that their "alters" were created as a coping mechanism that enabled them to survive impossible trauma.
One of the highlights of Lighthart's book is the spiritual aspect of her healing. According to her, those who treat victims of MPD find that clients who have found a spiritual dimension in the midst of their chaos benefit most from therapy. I found my own faith renewed as I read the scripts from Dr. Lighthart's sessions in which the "Holy Spirit" guided her and her therapist. It seemed that the Spirit was the one factor that brought everyone together, the therapist and each alter, until finally integration could be achieved. This occurred even though her therapist did not share her beliefs.
I would like to stress the value of this book for our support group. First of all it gives an intimate portrayal of what it is like to live with MPD, a consequence of the trauma we all can feel compassion for. Secondly it is beneficial in that it can renew a faith that would be an asset to our healing. Thirdly, it stresses the necessity of finding a therapist who accepts our reality, a task we have all discovered is not that easy. And, finally, it offers hope because we can see how a fellow-sufferer found healing and now leads a successful life and is using her experience to helps others. I was struck anew with not only the devastation that trauma can cause in someone's life, but the extreme courage that Lighthart and all of us possess.
"Beyond These Walls: The True Story of a Lost Child's Journey to a Whole Life." by: Gunner, Rachel and Gabriele, Hanna. (Amazon rating 5 stars). $16.95.
A fascinating book of courage and overcoming insurmountable obstacles, this book tells the story of Hanna Gabriele's struggle with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) which resulted in 26 separate personalities in her mind. Most of us are intimately aware of the 24/7 struggle with PTSD, but not many of us know how it is to struggle with over 20 different voices inside who can manifest themselves at any time, according to our needs. Hanna had come to the point of feeling suicidal when she finally reached out to the person who became the "right" therapist for her, Rachel. Together, once she found wholeness and a desire for life, she and her therapist penned the story for all of us to read. It is truly inspirational and Hanna is one of the most courageous ladies whose story I have ever read.
Behind this incredible story is another one: it can change our life if we find the right therapist. In Hanna's closing words she praises her therapist because she not only had to contend with her DID but also had to undo the damage done by previous therapists. I think we can all identify with that. Hanna's story teaches us that we can find a life in spite of our symptoms and that we can find the right therapist and must never give up searching. Many of us found the right one. For those of you still looking, I am sure Hanna would say don't stop looking until you find your own "Rachel" to help you put your life back together.
This is a wonderful true story which I highly recommend to our group and those who visit GFW's site.
Grief & Loss:
"Staring At The Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death" by Dr. Irvin D. Yalom. (Amazon rating 4 stars). $10.17.
According to author Dr. Irvin Yalom staring into the sun is like staring at death. Both are not something you want to do. But Dr. Irving Yalom, a psychotherapist, writer and Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine, says that overcoming the terror of death just might help you live a more loving, just , and rewarding, life. I found his latest book about overcoming the terror of death both interesting and instructional. From time to time I think about my mortality but I have not always consciously connected it to the here and now. It is worth doing. Who doesn't want to feel that life is wonderful, spectacular, rewarding and meaningful? How do you not let the fear and for some the absolute terror of death interfere with that?
It is also interesting to note that Dr. Yalom started one of the first support groups for those living with cancer many decades ago. In fact his support group welcomed the opportunity to explore their intimate and personal feelings in front of new therapists to help them become compassionate and informed clinicians.
Dr. Yalom believes that most people are terrified of death and that is the main reason many of us visit therapists in the first place, although we may not be aware of this. Unfortunately, according to Dr. Yalom many therapists are not trained to explore this important issue for a number or reasons. ( i.e. their own unexplored anxiety surrounding death, standards of medical education, in addition to conflicting therapeutic philosophies).
Dr. Yalom who is in his late 70's shares some personal and familial stories that are both touching, painfully familiar but also loving and humorous. And the stories of his wonderful patients help the reader explore death anxiety in a non-frightening manner. Some people came to therapy for help with various issues like divorce, accidents, abusive childhoods, and aging issues. Particularly for those of us in "middle plus age" these are sources of reflection. Some patients are filled with angst and despair that their lives are too demanding, perhaps meaningless and/or joyless. Dr. Yalom successfully helped these motivated clients come to terms with death imagery and he does not judge your religious or spiritual beliefs. He works with them.
It appears that many of Dr. Yalom's patient's end therapy feeling empowered to make lifestyle or personal changes that enhances their lives. They learn to how to manage and diminish their terror of death. They learn how to lead more productive and happier lives. Dr. Yalom also shares his own philosophy of using existential therapy in conjunction with other therapeutic beliefs and models. He also uses many of the ideas of the classical Greek philosophers like Epicurus in his work. Epicurus believed that "the omnipresent fear of death," was the root cause of most misery. The goal of a great therapist is to diminish your misery. Much wisdom is gleaned by hearing about these ancient philosophers. The reader will find this book satisfying, productive and richly rewarding.
"Mourning Sarah: A Case for Testing Group B Strep." by Theresa Huttlinger Vigour. (Amazon rating 5 stars). $29.95.
Most of us have faced losing someone close to us. Not many have faced losing a baby on the very day of the child's birth. Vigour documents the heartbreaking trauma of her experience of losing her newborn, Sarah, to group B streptococcus on May 3, 1981.
The shock and grief Vigour faced is sad and brings the reader to tears many times. What adds to the readers dismay is how the author was treated not only by friends and relatives but by medical professionals in the very hour after the death of Sarah.
The author did research later on and determined that her daughter could have been saved with antibiotics if she had been tested for B strep when she began having problems shortly after her birth. Her main purpose in writing is to spare others the horror of losing a baby to strep B when it could so easily be treated.
Anyone anticipating the birth of a child should be encouraged to read Vigour's book, not as a scare tactic but as preparation for what can occur. I could add that her book is also an excellent example of what not to do and say to someone who has just lost a baby, or anyone, to death. Additionally I feel her book has much to offer those in the heath care profession or to anyone who is interested in how to offer comfort at such a trying time.
Vigour does a magnificent job of describing her feelings during the whole process and of relaying how unique the loss of a baby is because it differs from the death of any other family member. Vigour describes graphically the lack of validation in Sarah's death as opposed to the validation she received during the death of other family members.
This is one of the most touching and well-written books I have read. It is very easy to follow the author's line of thought. Indeed her descriptive writing gives the reader the unique experience of almost living the process with her, she does such a wonderful job of allowing the reader to see and feel through her words.
I highly recommend this book.
"Sibling Grief: Healing After the Death of a Sister or Brother" by White, P. Gill. (Amazon rating 5 stars). $13.95.
Dr. White, Director of The Sibling Connection (www.siblingconnection.net) writes a book that is small and easy to read, yet completely stuffed with nuggets of wisdom and comfort. She deals with sibling loss at all ages and how one is affected based on: the age at which one loses a sibling; how one is dealt with after a sibling dies; and how one is affected years later by the loss. It took me awhile to get through the book simply because it touched me so deeply. I had to stop and ponder what I had read so many times, and cried a bushel as I read. I cannot stress enough how helpful this book is if you have lost a sibling. It goes beyond sibling loss, however, in my opinion, and is helpful if you have suffered the loss of any loved one.
White's book answered so many questions for me and helped me understand what I was feeling and what I did not even realize I was feeling. I gained insight about why I sometimes felt angry, lost, and alone and why I became depressed at certain times and couldn't put my finger on why (anniversaries of deaths or other significant events), why I felt confused at times and even suffered memory loss and wondered if I was losing my mind. I lost my brother two years after my sister died and they were my only siblings. My situation is perhaps a bit unique. Even for those who have numerous siblings and may have only lost one, this book is a necessary read. I recommend it wholeheartedly and know that whoever reads it will come away stronger, find healing in its pages and have much more self-understanding and self-compassion.
Patti Brown 2/6/07
"A Rumor of Angels: Quotations for Living, Dying & Letting Go." by Gail, Perry Johnston (Editor), Jill, Perry Rabideau (Editor). (Amazon rating 5 stars). $11.25.
This is a precious little book. When I say "little" I am referring to size, not to content. Written in three sections: Living, Dying and Letting Go, the book is full of quotations that are nuggets of gold and make it perfect as a meditational work to aid in healing. I kept this book next to my bed and read several pages a night before sleeping. Having lost my father and both of my siblings within the last five years I found this work particularly helpful and uplifting. This is not the type book you read and then put on your bookcase to be forgotten, or pass on to someone else. It is a book that can be read over and over to find comfort and help in dealing with the deaths of loved ones. It would make a wonderful gift for someone who has suffered a loss.
This book goes beyond offering help for dealing with dying. It also gives wise words for living to those of us who still exist in this realm. It causes the reader to focus on what is truly important in this life and the importance of showing our love while we can.
This is an uplifting and comforting book and I recommend it to all of our support pals.
1. "Bereavement Magazine"
I subscribed to this magazine after losing my father at 19 which was a very devastating loss for me. I lost my Dad in 1997. >From 1997-1999, I lost my Father, both grandmothers, my Uncle David who was sonly 38, and Justin who was the brother of my boyfriend Jon, of three years (I was close to his family as well). Justin, my boyfriend, Jon and I did things together such as going to concerts, movies, cookouts and became very close. I had so many losses and was really grieving. I look back at that time and do not know how I got through it, but I did! I realized that you don't "Move on without your loved one", but you move on with your loved one in your heart. I also believe they watch over you and are there for you when you need them through prayer. That inspiration was really helpful to me. Bereavement Magazine was very helpful as well as all of these other books on my list. Each one is on my living room bookshelf looking very worn from those years when I needed them the most. I open them now to see sections I underlined with a pen and notes beside certain paragraphs in certain chapters. I see places where I turned the page in and remember sections I read over and over with tears streaming. But the tears were so cleansing. (I am currently working on Dissociation and issues related to that with trauma that occurred in 2003 and trying to get my full range of feelings back. I wish I could have tears like I did then, but maybe not hurt quite that badly! don't know, I'll endure whatever ain I need to in order to heal and function well again, I know those of you who have experienced numbing with trauma know exactly what I am talking about, it is so hard and VERY frustrating!!) Anyway, I remember how much reading about loss and what other people had experienced with loss made me feel better and normalized my feelings and experience so that I did not feel like I was going crazy. I really hope these books and other books on any type of trauma will bring the safe relief for all other GFW sisters and pals!
With Bereavement magazine, you can send a picture of your lost loved one and a poem or anything you want to write about them and/or share or a letter you want to write to your loved one and they will put the picture of your loved one in their magazine. This magazine has articles on grief and loss and the grieving process and stages. Also contributions by those who are bereaved. Their website www.bereavementmag.com also has numerous articles on topics on any type of loss whether it be the loss of a parent, child, sibling, spouse, friend, co-worker, by any cause, accident, suicide, homicide or disease. Other article topics include Grief in the Workplace which has helped some of my friend after a death of someone close when they returned to work, as unfortunately the grief process is intense and lasts a long time despite what life demands of you such as functioning at work, etc. The director and founder of Bereavement Magazine is someone that I really admire. Her name is Andrea Gambill and she founded the magazine after losing her daughter. She has helped so many people around the world through their heart wrenching grief and loss. She offers an ear to listen to anyone's story.
2. "Angel Catcher" By Kathy and Amy Eldon
This is a very special book and one of my favorites as it is written by a mother and a sister who lost a son/brother who was on a journalism assignment in a Third World Country and was brutally killed. This book has soothing information for painful feelings associated with loss and special beautifully decorated pages where you can write about your loved one and even special messages to your loved one in a written prayer or any way you would like to write it. This book also talks about Kathy and Amy Eldon's story. I wrote on the appropriate sections and pages in the book and dedicated it to my Dad. I was so moved by this book that I did something unusual! You won' believe it! I wrote the authors and told them how much their book had helped me and how cleansing it was. I addressed it with the authors names and sent it to their publishing company. One month later, on a hot July day, I remember sweat pouring down me as I walked outside to the mailbox to get my mail, "Bills" I thought. I touched the burning hot metal mailbox on that sweltering afternoon and there was a card with handwriting I didn't recognize. I opened it as I walked up the steps inside and it was from Kathy and Amy Eldon! A beautiful card that they each signed! Kathy wrote the note that she was so happy to hear from me and how much the book had touched my life and how heartwarming it was to know she had made a difference with her book. She said she really missed her son Dan who was a talented and loving person and journalist whose life was taken away from them with such cruelty. Dan and his memory inspired her to write the book. I was shocked! I was so thankful to receive this kind card from them. This made my summer! Later, when Jon, my boyfriend at the time, when the unthinkable happened and his brother Justin was killed in a horrible accident, I knew the first thing to get for Jon and his parents. Whenever I meet someone who lost a loved one and is grieving, I tell them about this book as well as others on this list.
3. "Hope for Bereaved: Understanding, Coping and Growing Through Grief" Therese S. Schoeneck
This is my favorite book on bereavement of all time. This was my grief bible essentially as it is so well written and it hits the nail on the head of what the grief process is like. It was tremendously helpful for me. I bought this one for Jon's parents as well and for a friend of mine whose sister was murdered as well as others who have lost loved ones. Everyone reported back that this was one of the best books on bereavement they had ever read. This book had many chapters on just about every aspect of the death process as a loved one you can think of and is written by those bereaved, for example there is a section on losing a sister written by someone who lost their sister, a section on losing a child written by a bereaved parent, etc. Hope For Bereaved was founded by Therese Schoeneck who lost her teenage daughter. She reminds me very much of Andea Gambill from Bereavement Magazine. (They both know each other, too, actually!) They are both part of the team of extraordinary people who have organizations to help the bereaved in this country and around the world. Hope For Bereaved , Syracuse, NY and they have numerous grief support groups. Their website has numerous other books on grief, anything from helping children with grief, books and posters for teachers when a child has lost a parent, grief materials for the elderly, you name it, they have something to help everyone. They also have a grief HOPE LINE that is staffed by volunteers who have lost a loved one. You can call for free to (315) 475-HOPE or (315) 475-4673 or (315) 475-9675, 8:30 AM-4:00 PM M-F. Through my numerous losses that I experienced at the young ages of 19-my early twenties, I called several times through out those 3 years and it was tremendously helpful. I'm not one to normally call a "help line", but I called and they were great. They somehow seemed to say what I needed to hear at that moment and they helped me a great deal with whatever I was feeling troubled about at that moment. They are very caring. Grief can be such an isolating experience, well meaning friends don't always understand the surreal nature of what you are going through, so my grief support group and calling this HOPE LINE really helped in addition to doing fun things with friends. www.hopeforbereaved.com
Healing & Recovery:
"Your Destiny Switch. " by Peggy McColl. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc. 2007. $14.95.
My best description of this book is that it helps you change your thinking. The author offers practical help for changing your very emotions instantly, when faced with a situation that causes emotions you do not wish to possess. She teaches how to "switch" your emotions, thereby creating positive change in your life, changing yourself, accomplishing your dreams. As she indicates in the beginning of the book, she has done this herself and wishes to share her paradigm with us. She refers to her former self as being in prison. The first step is to realize you are in prison, a slave to your emotions. If you want to break free and change how you think, then you can.
My favorite part of the book is Chapter Six, "Changing Your Emotions" because it is so practical. The steps the author shares can be used any time, and anywhere. I copied them down to carry in my purse to remind me what to do when negative emotions and negative thinking invades my mind. As a victim of PTSD invasive negative thoughts are something I deal with every day. I know that I can use some of the steps she author shares to aid me in this dilemma. I have already put them into practice and found them helpful.
If you find yourself giving in to negative thinking you will find this book helpful. If you suffer from intrusive thoughts due to trauma, you may also find some relief in the steps offered in this book. I recommend this to anyone wishing to change their thinking.
Book Review Editor,
Gift From Within
"Burned, A Memoir. " by Louise Nayer. New York, NY: Atlas and Company, 2009. $10.64.
Imagine you're an innocent, happy child on vacation at the beach with your family. Your parents are young and successful, your mother exceptionally beautiful. You awaken in the night to the sights and sounds of emergency rescue personnel and police officer outside your vacation cottage. You're whisked away to a neighbor's house amid whispers of an explosion and a horrible fire, and you don't see your parents again for a long time. When you do, they are not the same. Your mother, standing closest to the explosion, bears the worst of the damage, her face and hands being horribly deformed.
Such was the experience of the author in 1954 when a gas explosion in the basement of their cottage left her parents disfigured and fighting for their lives. Her whole family lost so much that night. And it took many years to regain any sense of normalcy. As an adult the author and her sister struggled with symptoms of post-traumatic stress, the author seeking help from a therapist and hypnotherapist.
This is a sad and difficult story to read, and yet so timely in our dangerous world where so many children face traumatic events that leave them struggling for healing and understanding. This seems to be the purpose for the Louise Nayer writing her story. Her dedication in the front of the book says it all:
..."and for all the children of the world whose lives have
been irrevocably changed in one night."
Thankfully the author and her sister had loving family to take them in until they could return home to their parents. However their lives were wrought with so many changes in a short amount of time, and the effects of the tragedy lingered on for many years.
This story is dear to my heart, knowing first-hand the life-long difficulties that can linger on from childhood trauma. I know that many of our GFW family will also be able to identify with this story.
The story is heart-breaking in its honesty and raw emotion, in the childhood innocence and naivety that is displayed. It is also hopeful because of the courage of the characters involved, especially the author's mother, who rather than giving in to self-pity insists on making the lives of her children as normal as possible, in spite of her own overwhelming loss and pain.
Those who come from difficult and dysfunction childhood situations will find this story validating and inspiring. Although sad and difficult at times to read, I recommend this to anyone wanting to read a true story of human courage and inspiration, and the journey of one lady as she struggles with the symptoms of PTSD.
"Overcoming Adrenal Fatigue. How to Restore Hormonal Balance and Feel Renewed, Energized, and Stress Free. " by Kathryn R. Simpson. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications. 2011. $14.93.
Hi Ladies. If only we could be, as the title says, "stress free." As we know, PTSD is not something that can be remedied by dealing with Adrenal Fatigue. However, I always wondered if PTSD could cause adrenal fatigue and what adrenal fatigue did to our bodies. At the time I became interested in this possibility, there was little research and a lot of criticism and skepticism about the subject. Thankfully it is gaining respect, as this recently-published book attests.
In trying to diagnose myself, because doctors and therapists didn't seem able to, I understood that I was under almost a constant state of hypervigilence and I knew my body had to be releasing cortisol and adrenaline too often. I knew I didn't feel well and upon reading Simpson's book I found I had most of the symptoms she lists for adrenal fatigue.
As Simpson explains, the stress response in our bodies has the function of helping us deal with short-term stressful situations. However, in modern life, there are often constant stressors. This especially applies to those of us with PTSD. And if we have complex PTSD our bodies have been on over-drive for many years. The constant release of these hormones can cause problems in many areas, including: "digestion, energy, immunity, cognition, emotions, and metabolism" (p. 6). The author presents graphs that explain the normal function of the adrenals and how the ranges differ for those under constant stress. She explains the diseases that sometimes result from an overactive stress response, and designates these diseases in the "too late" (p. 50) category because, once the disease shows itself, the diagnosis of adrenal fatigue is too late to prevent them. All one can do then is treat the disease and the adrenal fatigue. Some of these diseases include lupus, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia as this book was enroute to me, and it makes sense to me why I developed the disease now.
The author describes how testing is done for adrenal function, some that can actually be done in the home. She also presents exercises to help the reader determine if she has adrenal fatigue. Finally she includes helpful information on what to do once adrenal fatigue is diagnosed, such as proper diet for the condition and how to better manage stress.
The author came to write this book from her own experience of seeking a solution to the many ills that plagued her body. As she attests in the Introduction, "Your adrenal gland can save your life" and then she adds that hers did save her life. She suffered from MS which included symptoms of lesions on her brain and spinal column, eyesight problems, bladder and bowel problems, extreme fatigue, back pain and Bell's palsy. Of course not everyone suffering from adrenal fatigue has those particular illnesses, but some symptoms can include extreme fatigue and loss of stamina; feeling run down and taking a long time to recover after exercise; feeling overwhelmed; craving sweet and salty food; not sleeping well and waking up tired no matter how much sleep one has had; brain fog and environmental allergies (pp. 2-3).
This is an easy-to-read text, even though it contains technical information about hormone levels and various medical tests. It's written in layman's terms and is full of helpful information. I recommend it to all those who suffer from PTSD because we all know how our stress has affected our physical health. If you suspect at all you may suffer from adrenal fatigue, I feel this book would be a great investment.
"Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving & Thriving with the Self-Absorbed. " by Wendy T. Behary. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications. 2008. $11.53.
This is a survival guide for those who live with, or deal with, a narcissistic personality. Those of us who have been in that situation know how frustrating it can be. In fact it can be crazy-making trying to communicate with someone who is incapable of seeing another person's needs or point of view. I like how the author portrays the narcissist in a compassionate way, while also offering insight and valuable help to those trapped in the web of the narcissist.
I found Chapter 2 especially helpful: "Understanding the Anatomy of Personality: Schemas and the Brain." I would recommend the book to anyone seeking more self-awareness, even if there is no narcissist in their frame of reference. As the author notes, we all have one or two schemas, at least, resulting from our pasts. I found more understanding of myself by reviewing the 18 schemas covered.
The author also deals with the possible beginnings of the narcissist. This is helpful because, if a person chooses to maintain the relationship with the narcissist, it helps to understand what made him/her that way. Once a reader understands herself more, as well as the narcissist, she can formulate a plan for bringing about change in the relationship.
If I had read this book many years ago, it would have saved me a lot of suffering in my first marriage. This relatively small reference helped me to understand my fear of owning, and standing up for, my own needs in my marriage to a narcissist, under-standing that I had a right to demand change, and how to go about getting that change.
If you are married to a self-absorbed person or have such a person in your family, I highly recommend this book. If you seek to understand your own developmental schemas, I also recommend it. The book is easy to read, written in a non-technical way for the audience the author hopes can benefit from it. Exercises for the reader are included, and an excellent resource section is provided which includes additional recommended reading.
"Prisoners of Belief: Exposing & Changing Beliefs That Control Your Life. " by Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications. 1991. $10.85.
I am not sure quite what I thought I was getting when I ordered this book for review. But when I first began to read I had to chuckle. To my delight I found it addresses that annoying little voice in our heads that can tell unhealthy things about ourselves. You know what I mean, right? The voices that are actually what others have told us to believe in the past and we continue to hear them even though they make us unhappy. The authors assist the reader in letting go of the long-held beliefs of others that we somehow made our own because of how we were dealt with in our pasts. Before we can deal with our core beliefs, however, we have to know what they are. It may sound strange, but we probably know little about our core beliefs compared to how important they are. I learned that we follow our core beliefs, somewhat blindly, because they are so much a part of who we are. We can change those that we want to, however.
The first part of this book helps us to recognize our core beliefs by helping us to paint a picture, so to speak, of ourselves. We are shown that core beliefs influence us by giving us rules to survive and that they establish that inner voice by which we view the world and judge ourselves. The author warns that examining core beliefs means looking vividly at the past and that victims of child abuse should proceed with caution. Those with addictions are encouraged to work with a professional before proceeding. Lastly, the reader must realize that examining core beliefs takes commitment and lots of work. Having said that, I feel the work was worth it. While reading I learned a lot about what has made me who I am, and I?m beginning to feel it is easier to let go of unhealthy beliefs I?ve held all my life, especially beliefs about myself.
The book is full of exercises that help the reader learn about core beliefs and how those beliefs have impacted self-image and relationships with others. It involves going back to our earliest years to really understand ourselves and how we evolved.
I feel this book would be a healthy contribution to any person striving to let go of an unhealthy self-image and to become a stronger and happier individual. If you want to truly belong to yourself, the work involved really pays off and gets you started in the right direction.
"Daily Meditations for Calming Your Anxious Mind. " byJeffrey Brantley and Wendy Millstine. Oakland, CA: 2008. $10.17.
I love this book! This is another rather small book and it's compactness enables it to be carried easily with you to be used any time, any where. The meditations are short yet definitely impactful. There are fifty of them, and you can peruse the contents and pick out the meditation that you need at any given time because you can tell, by how they are listed, what each one deals with.
The meditations are in three sections. The first sixteen are for relaxing and feeling safe. The second group of sixteen help us to embrace our joys and fears. And the last group of seventeen aid in accepting or "befriending" our anxious minds and bodies.
Before you even get to the meditations there is a mountain of good information and wisdom in the first 34 pages that make up the introduction and "the foundation". You will understand, by reading "the foundation" the helpful role that meditation can play in your life and how it can positively effect not only you but those around you by helping your whole attitude to change, and your emotions to lighten. When we become happier it has to effect those around us.
I not only recommend this to our members and visitors, but also as a gift for friends, relatives and acquaintances. We all deal with anxiety and, at some point, with grief and loss. Every aspect of life experience is touched by this little book and that's why it would make such a thoughtful gift.
I think our country is becoming more aware of the benefit of meditation. If you would like to explore the benefits this book would be a great start.
"The Daily Relaxer, " by Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications. 2006. $10.17.
The Daily Relaxer is a delightful little book small enough to carry in your purse. The authors call it a "simple book" but don't let that make you underestimate its potential!
This little book is big on information. It is presented in five parts.
Part one is entitled "relax your body". You will learn to listen to what your body is telling you and what you can do to help your body feel more relaxed by addressing your breathing, your environment, visualization and more.
Part two, "calm your mind" will help you deal with anxiety and worries with, to name a few, rituals, shifting your focus and investigating colors.
Part three is "refresh your spirit" and touches on meditation, inner guides and exploring nature (again, to name only a few).
Part four will help you learn to "relieve your worry." The author discusses ways to control panic, change your thoughts and how to cope and to let go.
Finally, part five will help you learn how to "improve your mood." I don't know about you, but I certainly need help in this area. So often I find my PTSD sends me spiraling to a dark and lonely place and my withdrawal hurts those I love.
What I love about this book is its usefulness. It is small enough to carry anywhere. I can refer to it while waiting to see the dentist (uggg...), to ward off those imposing thoughts of danger, while waiting for a job interview or while just relaxing next to the river. The chapters are small but meaningful. I find that I can turn to a chapter and shift my focus in moments. I can actually feel my mind letting go of darkness and embracing happiness, my body letting go of that tension.
I know all who deal with PTSD and anxiety would love this little book.
"Writing to Heal: A Guided Journal for Recovering from Trauma & Emotional Upheaval. " by James W. Pennebaker. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications. 2004. $19.46.
I expected this to be a "how to" book about journaling but it is much more. This book is actually a guided journal with topics listed and space provided for writing assignments. Those of us who understand how healing journaling can be will find this book a valuable asset on our healing journey. Even if you've been journaling for years, you will find new ideas for writing and so many helpful suggestions such as finding the right time of the day to journal, techniques for writing and "experimenting with context." If you are just beginning to journal, I would also highly recommend this as an aid to help you get started on your adventure.
I like the easy-to-follow format and even the appearance and user-friendly design of the book. The hard cover book looks like a journal. The print is not too small and the color of the pages is easy on the eyes. The author begins by presenting the benefits of journaling and its positive effects physically, psychologically and behaviorally. My two favorite chapters dealt with semiautomatic writing (chapter 5) and creative writing (chapter 10). Like some of you, I am in the process of writing my story and I am finding myself utilizing the author's helpful ideas in that writing as well. I also appreciate how the author draws in and includes all victims of trauma and upheaval. His book is geared for those suffering from recent traumas as well as traumas from long ago and would apply to any victims of PTSD and complex PTSD.
The author presents his material with great compassion and understanding for trauma victims. I appreciated his insight about how the world can seem so dangerous and dark to some of us, and how we can use journaling to help us find some positive and safe attributes in our world. He also deals with the sometimes touchy subject of forgiveness, whether we are in need of it ourselves or we are the victim finding it difficult to forgive.
I hope I've made it clear that this book covers a wide range of emotions and struggles for those who suffer from PTSD. I know you will all find it a helpful tool, as I did.
"Gifts From The Child Within. " by Barbara Sinor. Second Edition published by Loving Healing Press 2008, $16.34.
Join me on a marvelous journey...
The writer, herself a therapist, uses "Recreation Therapy" which, simply put, helps the reader to re-create, or transform, traumas into experiences that would have happened the way the reader wanted them to. The reader will find herself going back into the past and changing traumatic experiences. This is done with the help of exercises, affirmations, journaling and the use of autohypnosis, all offered in each chapter to guide the reader through the transformation of her own life experiences that she wants to change.
I spent more time with this book than I have any other so far. I can attest this is a valuable tool for all our members and visitors. If you are unable to locate a therapist nearby, this book will help you and guide you in an uplifting and compassionate manner. The author will lead you as you follow "exercises, suggestions, and guidance" that will offer astounding insights about why you are who you are and how to become more like you want to be.
Why is it so important to recreate our experiences of the past that hurt us? The author shows us that we learned "illusional reality" in our childhoods and based our life experiences on those false realities. Many of us, as we well know, have lived our whole lives enslaved by the pain of our past. In order to live fuller lives we need to deprogram our inner reality. This goes contrary to what many of our therapists have told us. Many of us are instructed that it is not important to remember what happened to us in the past, just to change our present behavior and experiences. If you are like me, you have harbored an inner conviction that you cannot overcome what happened without visiting that occurrence and dealing with it. The author takes us a step further. Not only do we go into the past and seemingly relive some experiences, we take control and change those very traumatic memories into something better. One might think this would be frightening and leave us feeling drained, however I found myself, after the auto-hypnotic exercises, feeling empowered and free. That feeling stayed with me, assuring me that change was really taking place.
I believe this book is especially helpful for those who have complex PTSD as a result of childhood traumas, and who have been unsuccessful responding to traditional therapies and treatments for PTSD. Another plus is that you are able to do these exercises yourself in a safe and comfortable environment. Rather than dreading these private therapy sessions, or feeling anxious about them, I found myself looking forward to my time each evening, as if I was preparing to leave on the greatest adventure of all.
And so I would like to invite you on a marvelous journey in which you will get to know a very important person...yourself. Grab a copy of this book, sit down in a comfortable chair, make sure your journal is nearby and a good-writing pen. Prepare to get to know yourself better than you do now, and expect healing to come as you learn to find the "gifts from the child within."
"Becoming Safely Embodied Skills Manual " by Deirdre Fay. Somerville, MA: Heart Full Life Publishing. 2007. $29.95.
I know that many of our members have expressed an interest in meditation as healing. This book could definitely be classified as a meditation aid and I would recommend it to all who have suffered trauma as a helpful tool for our libraries.
Many books are written about how trauma has affected our psyche. This book also addresses its affect on our bodies and how we can use meditation to help diminish the harmful things stress does to us physically. This manual can be used by individuals and groups, by patients and therapists. It is wonderfully compassionate and, having utilized it myself, I can attest to its usefulness and helpfulness.
Not only does the author present meditations that can be used in our private times, but also ways to recognize how our thoughts are affecting us throughout the day and what we can do to minimize the destructive affects of negative thoughts and memories at the time they occur. She offers skills that encompass our whole bodies and minds so that they can work together to help us rather than continuing to wound us.
I have had the opportunity to review so many books that I know would be useful to our members and those who visit GFW looking for relief, and I have recommended so many. I have to add this manual to the list of those I highly recommend. Even those who have not considered meditation should read this book. It helped me to understand that meditation is something that I can make a practice of using to help control the chaos within that creates havoc on my body. Fay's book is an exceptionally useful healing tool.
"I Will Not Be Broken: 5 Steps to Overcoming a Life Crisis " by Jerry White. New York: St. Martin's Press. 2008. (Amazon rating 5 stars). $13.36.
My first thought when I opened this book was, "what will this mean for those of us who have probably faced our greatest crisis already and feel that it is too late for a help manual on facing trauma?" In fact I normally shy away from self-help books. After reading White's book I found many of his suggestions helpful even in retrospect. White writes from his own experience with a life-changing crisis that was emotionally and physically traumatic, leaving inner and bodily scars. It is touching to read how he faced his ordeal with courage and determination.
I recommend this work for those who have experience adult trauma and crisis especially, because it is like a workbook that will help walk you through steps you can take to feel in control of your life and keep the ordeal from freezing you at that point in your life. Even those of us who experienced complex PTSD from childhood trauma can find some tidbits of wisdom in this book and find validation and encouragement, such as reminders to reach out for help and support and helping ourselves by reaching out to others.
I had a thought about this book that it would make a good graduation gift for a high school or college student. While it may seem a morbid gift, I think the author makes a valid point that we are all going to face some form of tragedy in our lives, such as the death of a close friend or family member. The author offers advice about how to build up resilience ahead of time to be better prepared when tragedy strikes. In our time even national tragedy strikes at all of us and can break us down in despair if we do not take steps to prepare ourselves for that part of life. In that respect I feel the book is a realistic look at life. I feel the author did a great job of presenting a difficult subject in a positive and affirming way. Though it may be depressing to know that we will face tragedies in our lives, the author deals with the subject in a way that leaves the reader feeling empowered rather than filled with dread.
"The Loneliness Workbook: A Guide to Developing and Maintaining Lasting Connections. " by Mary Ellen Copeland. (Amazon rating 3.5 stars). $9.45.
I wish I could somehow get this book into the hands of all our support pals, because PTSD does make us all lonely. We feel set apart and misunderstood, even by those closest to us. If you are like me, you also feel lonely from yourself because your own symptoms puzzle you. This wonderful workbook deals with all types of loneliness. If the thought of being by yourself frightens you, you will find helpful exercises to deal with spending time alone. You will also learn how to better communicate with people, how to reach out to others and what type of behavior turns others away. The author also deals with why some of our relationships fail, how to recognize which are healthy and how to set boundaries.
I found this book valuable because it gave me insight into inner conflicts about past and present relationships and about myself. I have a greater grasp on why I have always feared being alone and how to successfully deal with those fears. Since I have retired I've found myself more and more isolated, and also found it's more difficult to even carry on conversations with people, even though I want to. Mary Ellen's book has given me ideas for reaching out and I am finding that people respond warmly to me and that I have much to offer in relationships. I feel it is important to mention this because many some of the support pals I correspond with has also mentioned they are lonely.
This book is well written, easy to understand and has numerous helpful exercises to aid us with loneliness in its many forms. I highly recommend it to our group and our website visitors.
Note: You may visit the author's website for more information:
"Woman Thou Art Loosed: Healing the Wounds of the Past." by T.D. Jakes. (Amazon rating 5 stars). $10.78.
"Woman Thou Art Loosed Workbook." by T. D. Jakes. (Amazon rating 5 stars). $9.59.
This book is amazing in that it helps to heal the hurts of the past. T.D. Jakes covers every aspect that a woman could possibly need to heal from. And he walks you through different healing steps, from prayer to forgiveness. He speaks to the child that was hurt and goes to the other end of the spectrum and speaks to the elderly. He refers to conflicts in marriage, divorce, and singleness, child abuse, sexual abuse, alcholism. I found his book resourceful and helpful. I no longer felt lost in oblivion in the healing process, but there was hope and a way through my pain.
The author doesn't just tell the women to "get over her hurts" as many in the religious community try to do. But he speaks specifically to the hurts and pains and walks you through steps to get through them. It's definitely one everyone should read.
"The Courage to Be Yourself. A Woman's Guide to Emotional Strength and Self-Esteem." by Sue Patton Thoele, 2001, Conari Press, Berkeley, California. (Amazon rating 5 stars). $10.17.
In this book Sue Paton Thoele takes the perspective that women need to learn to
be their own best friends. This might seem a cliched and hackneyed theme but
not in her hands. It becomes a fundamental strategy to develop emotional
strength and to maintain self -esteem.
The author seeks to give women the basic information and tools they need to
access and work with their inner lives so that the dragons of fear, depression,
guilt and addiction can be rooted out and worked with in a way that leads to
transformation. In this way it can be used as a guide and adjunct to therapy
for women who may be dealing with more intractable problems like PTSD.
The emphasis on fear is a useful one because it locates the problem that lies
behind many of the difficulties that a woman may experience in becoming her
authentic self. I also like the way that the author identifies her own
struggles in this area and so creates a climate of empathy and connection with
the reader who is also travelling a similar road to healing and wholeness. The
kind of connection and empathy modelled by the author in this approach models
the type of relationships that we need to develop to overcome our fears.
There are also many useful strategies and methods suggested and illustrated to
identify problems and issues and foster growth. One of the simplest is to
develop seed sentences that foster positive and self-affirming beliefs. "Seed
sentences are clusters of ideas, words, or scripts that we create in order to
keep us congruent with our underlying assumptions and hidden beliefs" (p.
118). We can create new seed sentences that challenge underlying assumptions
and beliefs that are negative and self-destructive. This is a simple form of
cognitive therapy that may make us more aware of the unconscious patterns that
hold us back.
The strength of this book lies in the author's ability to identify the issues
that face most women and to establish a way forward that models and identifies
the means needed for women to authentically re-connect with themselves and each
"Constructive Living" by David Reynolds. (Amazon rating 5 stars). $9.95.
Back in 1987, a friend and I took a course called Constructive Living. Before I took the course I read this introductory book by Reynolds. I was fascinated by this psychotherapy or practice of dealing with one's problems. It comes from Japanese sources that were influenced by Buddhism. I'm not a Buddhist but these simple principles work for me and have been useful for me when dealing with issues and/or problems that arise in every day life...from the office to the personal.
The three principles are accept your feelings, know your purpose and do what needs to be done. Sounds easy but it takes time for a person to learn to accept feelings and just see how they flow and change according to time and attention. You can give attention to purpose even while having a variety of feelings, some that seem contradictory. What is it that you want to achieve or accomplish? I have used these principles for many years.
I'm glad that I can go back to these tools because that is what they are. Using C.L. clears the air, it's grounding. The chapter on mislabeling is also fascinating. This is the first in a number of books by Reynolds. Other recommended books are Even in Summer the Ice doesn't Melt and Playing Ball on Running Water. Any one of his books will give you a good idea of this practice and how you can use it to overcome problems. Naikan is another aspect of Constructive Living. It provides a method of looking inward that helps you to nurture your feelings of gratitude.
"Naikan: Gratitude, Grace and the Japanese Art of Self-Reflection" by Gregg Krech. Published by Stone Bridge Press. (Amazon rating 5 stars). $10.91.
Naikan (nye-kan) is a Japanese word that means, "looking inside." It is a lifeway that asks us to reconsider the nature of our relationships using three questions: (1) what I have received from (a particular person); (2) what have I given (a particular person) and (3) what troubles and difficulties have I caused (to a particular person)?
Reflecting and reporting on these three questions will reveal to you some previously hidden truths about yourself, and that is large part of what Naikan is about -- looking at yourself and the world truthfully and realistically. Nakain is a unique way through which we can change our self-centered approach to life. Naikan helps us to look at the world and ourselves not only through our own eyes, but through the eyes of others as well. This process, according to Gregg Krech, will give you a more satisfying and fulfilling life. He asks us, how accurately do we see ourselves? How accurately do we view others? How much time do we spending finding fault and blame? How often do we find it easy to see what is wrong or missing, and how often do we fail to notice what is supporting us or going well? And how much responsibility do we take for what happens to us?
This book helps us to reflect on these questions and others, and it suggests some daily practices to help us find these answers. Even if you can't figure it all out, at least you will become more mindful. You will notice more of nature, your surroundings, your friends' needs, and the needs and deeds of others who are not necessarily part of your inner circle.
There is some anecdotal evidence that Naikan has been used effectively in treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction; marriage and family therapy; conflict resolution in work situations; and treatment for people struggling with depression. But mostly Gregg is asking you to check out your own experience after practicing these exercises.
Naikan also involves appreciating animals, objects, and strangers who make our lives easier. Ishin Yoshimoto, a Buddhist, developed it in Japan in the 1940s, to help people gain insight through the practice of sincere self-reflection. For more information please contact the Todo Institute at www.todoinstiute.org
"Feeling Good, The New Mood Therapy." by David D. Burns, M.D. (Amazon rating 4.5 stars). $7.99.
The back jacket of this book claims, "Feeling Good Feels Wonderful. Recognize what causes your mood swings, nip negative feelings in the bud, deal with guilt, handle hostility and criticism, overcome addiction to love and approval, build self-esteem, beat 'do-nothingism', avoid the painful downward spiral of depression."
Everything this book promises to do...it does. There is a depression checklist that you can fill out before you begin the book and then the author suggests you take it again after reading and DOING what he suggests.
In the book, the author breaks down and gives definitions for 10 of the most common Cognitive Distortions to our thinking patterns. The following chapters outline Practical Applications for changing those distortions. Next, he writes chapters on Prevention and Personal Growth which is about not sitting back and assuming we will be on auto-pilot to spot these distortions after we begin to feel better. He cites several differences between feeling better and getting better. "Feeling better simply indicates that the painful symptoms have temporarily disappeared. Getting better implies: 1. Understanding why you got depressed.
2. Knowing why and how you got better. This involves a mastery of the particular self-help techniques that worked specifically for you so that you can reapply them and make them work again whenever you choose.
3. Acquiring self-confidence and self-esteem. Self-confidence is based on the knowledge that you have a good chance of being reasonable successful in personal relationships and in your career. Self-esteem is the capacity to experience maximal self-love and joy whether or not you are successful at any point in your life.
4. Locating the deeper causes of your depression."
The remainder of the book holds the answers...or the how-to of continuing the cure. He also has several chapters about different medications and how they work in the brain.
This book helped to change my outlook on life. It helped me master situations that I had really mishandled in the past. I suggest this book to all who suffer and can tell you first hand, the suggestions contained within, really DO WORK.
"Healing from Trauma: A Survivor's Guide to Understanding Your Symptoms and Reclaiming Your Life." by Jasmin Lee Cori. (Amazon rating 5 stars). $10.17.
You may think, "Oh great, another book about trauma, another self-help book!"
Let me start this review by stating emphatically that this is, by far, the best book I have ever read about trauma and one of the best help aids I have come across in the many years since I came to understand I was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
What makes this book different? Many things. The book is written by a victim of trauma who writes with an understanding that will hit the reader in the gut with the definite knowledge that "here is someone who understands intimately what I face every day of my life." The author is also a licensed psychotherapist who writes not only with great compassion but a depth of knowledge, training and wisdom in the field of trauma.
The content pages are a wonderful outline of the book, easy to follow, like a well planned map of what the book contains. Just perusing the content pages will give the reader a sense of excitement and anticipation and, most of all, hope. I love the title of the first chapter: "Shit Happens." I can assure our readers that from the first page your attention will be captured and you will be filled with hope that here is a took that will definitely give you some guidance in this journey (long, difficult journey) called PTSD.
One of the greatest assets of this book are the many exercises the author has prepared to help us understand and deal with the intense battle we wage as we try to heal from our traumas. I plan on going back to the book and re-reading the many parts that were so helpful, and perhaps even re-doing some of the exercises that I found particularly helpful. At the end of the book the author lists some bodywork therapies, a glossary of terms and a helpful list of resources.
Just a few of the many topics the author covers are: some of the disorders related to trauma; finding appropriate help; selecting interventions: and tools for dealing with trauma. I find myself referring to this book as my PTSD Bible (no irreverence intended) or "PTSD for Dummies" or perhaps "PTSD 101." I believe when you read it you will understand why I consider it such a great research tool.
I have to end this but let me just state that I really believe this book will help you.
"Black Swan: The Twelve Lessons of Abandonment Recovery." by Susan Anderson. (Amazon rating 5 stars). $12.06.
Black Swan: The Twelve Lessons of Abandonment Recovery by Susan Anderson (Huntington, New York: Rock Foundations Press. 1999) is an allegory that offers insight on recovering from abandonment trauma. The author, a psychotherapist, who had for years counseled clients on dealing with grief and abandonment, wrote this book while trying to recover from her own shock of being abandoned by her mate. The book not only deals with losing a lover, however, but any type of abandonment, including those suffered in childhood. After introducing the victim, Amanda, a child who is abandoned in the woods by her father, the setting changes to an orphanage near a lake. On the lake lives a Black Swan who is recovering from abandonment and offers wisdom to Amanda on how to survive.
I found this book tremendously helpful once I realized that abandonment trauma was an issue for me. The book is small, able to be read in nearly one sitting. It contains helpful exercises to be done to help the victim when the overwhelming pain from abandonment hits. The main gist of the book I found especially helpful: trying to live in the present using your senses to become more aware of your present environment. The reason this is helpful is because trauma tends to carry us into either the past (IF ONLY) or the future (WHAT IF) causing us to lose our power to live in the present. When the pain is most intense it is helpful to find your center, push out the bad thoughts and focus on what you can see, feel, hear, touch and taste right now. This is explained more fully in the book. I highly recommend it to all of you because, as the author makes clear, abandonment touches us all in one form or another. The message of this book would be helpful, therefore, to any audience.
"Courageous Healing: How to Fully and Quickly Recover from Traumatic Experiences or Feelings of Anger and Resentment." by Fred Craver, Ph.D. (Amazon rating 4.5 stars). $16.95.
Craver's purpose for writing this book appears to be a desire to share the healing techniques that worked for him. The book covers much of his life, especially the situations that caused trauma, disappointment and heartache, as well as many victories and lessons learned. His openness and vulnerable sharing are very touching. By disclosing the dysfunction of his family dynamics he clarifies the result of PTSD caused by parents who are emotionally distant. This touches a familiar note in many of us who have come to understand that being emotionally abandoned as children leaves us with scars that take many years and hard work to deal with.
Although normally being suspicious of "how to" books, I found Craver's life accounts touchingly familiar, his courage and perseverance inspirational and his advice somewhat useful. The book fluctuates through many stages and areas of his life and at times the chronology may be a bit confusing. I am sure that many pen pals would find it helpful because it could be the story of so many of us. It is always helpful to read the story of someone who has persevered and found healing after a traumatic childhood, debilitating physical problems added to loneliness and lack of support. Craver's courage in the face of so many monumental obstacles is inspiring!
"My Journey to Peace with PTSD." by Lady Cerelli. (Amazon rating 5 stars). $14.00.
This is one of the most delightful books I have read about a woman's true story of facing the debilitating effects of PTSD and finding a successful life. Lady realizes, as an adult, that she has symptoms surfacing which she does not understand at first. She traces her puzzling struggles to her childhood and takes us on that journey with her. I found myself underlining many of her wise and insightful remarks throughout her story. Many things she said were helpful and validating, such as her tendency to recognize "red flags" and her recognition that they usually indicated she was running from something she needed to deal with. I found her so courageous and inspirational, with a truly loving spirit that matched the loving spirit she found outside herself to guide her through the rest of her life. Her willingness to share that spiritual part of her journey makes her book unique and refreshing. Her story also documents her attempt to help her husband understand her, and how her PTSD symptoms affected him.
I found it remarkable that Lady took in foster children and sought to help them find healing while she was struggling to find healing herself. One of the simple yet profound things she said was that there may be no cure for PTSD but that we can learn to live with it. Not only has she learned to live with it, she has found peace and reminds us that we can as well. Truly a delightful book written by a special and delightful person, I know our readers would find this book enjoyable and helpful.
"Dark Water: Stress After Trauma." by Opal Rose. (Amazon rating 5 stars). $11.25.
This book is another of those that is not large in size, but huge in spirit. This is an ideal book for someone who is trying to come to terms with the knowledge that they have PTSD and exactly what that means. It is written in simple terms and is geared for an audience of those with PTSD or those who know someone with PTSD. For those who are newly diagnosed, I would say this would be a marvelous first reference. For those of us who have been struggling awhile, it offers refreshing reminders of how we must not lose hope, and gives wonderful validation.
I like how the author has arranged the material into short, easy-to-handle chapters and the supportive, caring way the material is presented. There is a wonderful section on the fact that we are spiritual beings that is often missing from texts about PTSD. The biological aspects of this disorder are handled quite adequately as well. Much information is combined in this relatively small book, and it is all offered in what I would describe as a "hopeful manner" that is very uplifting and refreshing. I love the poem at the end which is so descriptive of our journey: "Breathing". And I also love the "Helpful Resources" the author includes which has many wonderful suggestions for further reading and research.
This is another book I would highly recommend and believe that all our members would find valuable.
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