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My Book List ( - part 2 of 3

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               MY BOOK LIST   (part 2 of 3)


Author:  Rosemary Dinnage
Title:  One to One.  Experiences of psychotherapy.
Publisher:  Viking, 1988
ISBN:  0-670-81985-9
Comments:  This is a compilation of about 20 stories.  Each person tells
what they think at this moment in time about their experience(s) in
therapy.  The book has a decidedly UK feel to it, and also a strong bent
towards serious psychoanalysis/psychoanalysts, as opposed to more short
term therapies such as cognitive therapy/therapists etcetera.  The stories
ended up sounding all kind of similar in a way, even tho some of the people
liked their experience(s) and some didn't.  I suppose it has to do with the
people chosen by the author, and with the author's editing of the stories
that gives them a similar tone.  I liked it, and I suspect it gives a
pretty good feeling of what "serious" psychotherapy is like, but it wasn't
particularly easy to read.

Author:  Nancy Covert Smith
Title:  Journey out of nowhere.
Publisher:  Word Books, 1973
ISBN:  (Library of congress catalog #72-96351)
Comments:  A relatively short narrative of a woman who had a "temporary
mental illness" or in the more common parlance of the times, a "nervous
breakdown".  The book is somewhat dated, but like pornography, some things
don't go out of style.  The author has a fairly strong religious
perspective, but I found it worked well for her and that she was not trying
to suggest that it would work well for me.  If you want to read a book
about someone who was raised in the 50's, was a housewife with kids in the
suburbs, had a "break" and was hospitalized, did ECT, drugs and therapy,
and yet feels they have "grown" from their experience, this might be just
the book for you.  I personally liked it.

Author:  Judith Viorst
Title:  Imperfect Control
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster, 1998
ISBN:  0-684-80139-6
Comments:  Although the subject matter of this one was right up my alley,
and although there were lots of interesting tidbits in it, somehow it never
really jelled into anything for me.  It just droned on and on in a
generally rather tedious way, never really saying anything more than
"everything can be couched in terms of control".  Judith Viorst has written
many books.  I liked Necessary Losses better, and best of all the
"children's book" Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad

Author:  Lauren Slater
Title:  Prozac Diary
Publisher:  Random House, 1998
ISBN:  0-679-45721-6
Comments:  You probably would not know it from reading my comments about it
in this list, but Lauren Slater's first book "Welcome to My Country" is
easily in my top five.  The opening chapter of that book is wonderful.  It
sucks you in like the undertow of a riptide.  I just happen to find out in
the local paper last week that she was going to be in town to discuss her
recent book "Prozac Diary".  I went.  She read a middle chapter.  It was as
good as the opening chapter of her first book.  What can I say, the woman
has a way with words.  She describes how she fell in love with prozac, and
how it betrayed her.  She even uses a term (SSRI "poop-out") that I had
always assumed evolved on ASD.  She talked about how it changed her, or how
she changed around it.  I don't know how to describe it.  One of the few
books that I have not really marked a page for later reference.  It doesn't
read that way for me.  It's a whole painting, not a linear road with
mile-markers, or a ladder with interesting rungs to note for later.  A
narrative tale.

Author:  Mark Epstein, M.D.
Title:  Going to pieces without falling apart.  A Buddhist perspective on
Publisher:  Broadway Books, 1998
ISBN:  0-7679-0234-3
Comments:  I don't know, I liked this book, but I am not sure what to say
about it.  I liked the premise and the presentation of it.  I think it was
perhaps a little "self-promoting" in a pop psychology sort of way, but a
little of that is OK it seems to me.  I don't know, maybe I am just tired
of writing these stupid reviews.

Author:  Paul Watzlawick, Ph.D.
Title:  Pragmatics of human communication.  A study of interactional
patterns, pathologies, and paradoxes.
Publisher:  W. W. Norton and Company, 1967
ISBN:  393-01009-0
Comments:  This was by far the hardest Watzlawick book to read.  If I had
tried to read this one before the others, I probably would not have
bothered with it or the others.  There were some interesting things in here
that were not in his other books, but it was probably not worth the time
and trouble for me.  This was more a book for prospective "students" of
this probably hoped for "new psychology".

Author:  Susan Baur
Title:  The dinosaur man:  Tales of madness and enchantment from the back ward.
Publisher:  Edward Burlingame Books, 1991
ISBN:  0-06-016538-3
Comments:  The book was pretty much what you might expect from the title.
An earnest therapist tries to tell us what it is like to be schizophrenic,
by trying to tell us stories about schizophrenics and others with less
obviously off the "bell curve" problems.  But IMHO she is really trying to
tell us *their* stories.  For me it goes as far perhaps as one really can
in that direction.  Unfortunately, I think it falls just a little short of
telling us *her* story.  It is there, but I think she tries too hard to
keep it from being central.  To me it *is* central.  After all, it is she
who is trying to tell other peoples stories.  All in all a good read tho,
and enough to make me think.

Author:  James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D.
Title:  Opening up:  The healing power of confiding in others.
Publisher:  William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1990
ISBN:  0-688-08870-8
Comments:  This book didn't really WOW me.  Basically, I found it to be
just a lot of some guys opinions.  I was personally not particularly
impressed by the fact that he designed experiments to support his opinions.
I think that is something anyone can do for almost any opinion, and for me
his opinions held less, not more, weight because of it.  Especially if one
sets out to document something so obvious as "confession is good for the
soul".  However, there were some interesting tidbits in this book.  I
especially liked the idea that in the telling and retelling of a story, it
changes ever so subtly.  I think it is those changes that reflect how we
are changing.  I suppose if I had not read as much as I have already, I
might have found much in it that would be new to me.  I wager big bucks
that he is now investigating the wonderful world of "on-line support
groups"!!!   :-)

Author:  Diane Ackerman
Title:  A slender thread.  Rediscovering hope at the heart of crisis.
Publisher:  Random House, 1997
ISBN:  0-679-44877-2
Comments:  The author describes her experiences as a suicide hot line
volunteer.  There is relatively little dialog, and often it is the narrator
talking to us both about things and about other people.  The prose can get
kind of thick on the descriptions, but not as thick as in her book "A
natural history of the senses".  Still, it held a kind of attraction to me
in that it kind of reminded me of ASD in a way.  Makes me actually consider
trying my hand at being some kind of suicide hot line volunteer.

Author:  James Ogilvy
Title:  Living without a goal.
Publisher:  Doubleday, 1995
ISBN:  0-385-41799-3
Comments:  The intro quote sucked me in:  "Just halfway through life's
journey I reawoke to find myself in a dark wood.  Far off course, the right
way lost.  How hard it is to tell what this wild, harsh, forbidding wood
was like.  Whose merest memory brings back my fear.  For only death exceeds
it's bitterness.  But I found goodness there.  I'll deal with that as I
describe the various things I saw."  (Opening lines of Dante's Inferno.)
Then a short time later the author described the basic premise of the book:
"There is no escaping some goal-directed behavior, and it is not my
intention to *extol* Goallessness or recommend it as the *right* way to
live.  For those of us who lack an undeniable calling, Goallessness is our
condition, like it or not.  It is not something you are *supposed* to
learn.  It is not something you *ought to be*.  Least of all can you set
Goallessness as your Goal.  How self-contradictory that would be!  But I do
want to question that nagging suspicion that you *ought* to have a Grand
Goal that defines the purpose of your life."  I liked the basic premise of
the book, and there were some interesting things in it.  But in the end it
was much too focused on a sort of "sociological" perspective for my tastes.
Still, it was worth my time.  And I borrowed it from a friend to boot.

Author:  Paul Watzlawick
Title:  How real is real?  Confusion, disinformation, communication.
Publisher:  Random House, 1976
ISBN:  0-394-49853-4
Comments: This was an odd book that has relatively little to do with
depression per se.  But still it spoke volumes to me personally.  This guy
obviously speaks my language and can talk about things that are of interest
to me.  It gets a little wacky at times with serious discussion about time
travel and communication with animals and extraterrestrials.  But the parts
I liked the best had to do with:  Communication; "To understand himself,
man needs to be understood by another.  To be understood by another, he
needs to understand the other." (quote from Thomas Hora).  Constructs of
reality; "It is the theory which decides what we can observe." (quote from
Albert Einstein).  Paradoxes and the Benefits of Confusion; For instance,
when confronted with a paradox, or some other inherently confusing
situation, the author hypothesizes that  "After the initial shock,
confusion triggers off an immediate search for meaning or order to reduce
the anxiety inherent in any uncertain situation.  The result is an unusual
increase in attention, coupled with a readiness to assume causal
connections even where such connections may appear to be quite nonsensical.
[This search can] lead to fresh and creative ways of conceptualizing

Author:  Paul Watzlawick
Title:  The Language of Change: Elements of Therapeutic Communication.
Publisher:  Basic Books, 1978
ISBN:  0-465-03792-5
Comments:  I liked this as much as his "How real is real".  I had to
suspend his presentation of a literal model of "right brain versus left
brain", but as a philosophical or psychological model I could get into it.
This is really a pretty "one side of the brain" based book, but I still
liked it a lot.  Not at all a "self help" or narrative story type book, nor
necessarily is it about depression per se.  Still, I folded down almost
every other corner as a mark to return to (please don't tell my local
library that I am the jerk who is folding down the corners of the pages).

Author:  Paul Watzlawick, John Weakland, and Richard Fisch
Title:  Change: Principles of problem formation and problem resolution.
Publisher:  W. W. Norton and Company, 1974
ISBN:  0-393-01104-6
Comments:  I thought this was better than "The language of change", and
maybe even better than "How real is real".  I can't summarize it very well
in a paragraph, but I will try to give some essence.  The book posits that
often "the solution is the problem", and that while trying to solve some
original difficulty with "more of the same first-order type of solution"
one often creates a situation wherein the original difficulty is magnified
by the solution, and thus the solution is really the problem that needs to
be treated.  So what is needed is some kind of "second-order solution" that
addresses BOTH the original difficulty and the "solution problem"
together-as-one-and-the-same in some way.  In other contexts I think this
can have a bit of the "you can only change yourself", "own your own shit",
and "blame the victim" feeling, but I didn't think it came across those
ways at all in this book.  The book also gives many examples of "behavioral
prescriptions" (advice on what to do) that involve "prescribing the
symptom".  This is a paradoxical approach wherein for instance if you feel
that your husband is not attentive enough to you, then you should encourage
him to go out more, and go out more by yourself without him.  It also
explained paradoxes in a way that I really liked, as a "confusion of
logical classes".  That is, paradoxical statements like "I am lying", "I am
only happy when I am miserable", and "how to get altruism to work for you",
are all paradoxes where a statement *about* a class (the statement that I
am a liar) is confused with also being a *member of* that class (I make
that statement)class.

Author:  Paul Watzlawick
Title:  The situation is hopeless, but not serious.  The pursuit of
Publisher:  W. W. Norton and Company, 1983
ISBN:  0-393-01821-0
Comments:  Yes you read that right.  "The pursuit of UNhappiness.  This is
shorter than his other books, and is substantially different in tone and
structure.  It is basically a tongue-in-cheek extended example of his
paradoxical "prescribe the symptom" view of life.  It is presented as an
"almost" serious attempt to show people how they can MORE effectively
pursue UNhappiness.  The goal I assume is actually to take the wind out of
the sails of those who recognize themselves in the examples presented.  Of
course *I* only recognized *other* people I know, never myself!!!    :-)

Author:  Persimmon Blackbridge
Title:  Prozac highway
Publisher:  Press Gang Publishers, 1997
ISBN:  0-88974-078-X
Comments:  This book is about a lesbian performance artist and cleaning
woman in her early 40's who gets involved in depression-related internet
support forums.  Her lover thinks she is a computer wiz, but she says:
"It's easy to get 47 messages overnight when you are on an active Listserv,
and ThisIsCrazy is very active.  Someone from told
me about it.  "I think you'll fit in better there," she said.  I've never
understood exactly what she meant.  It's true that, to the best of my
knowledge, I was the only middle-aged lesbian sex artist posting to, but I seem to be the only one on ThisIsCrazy too.
But she was right.  Crazy is better."  (Note, the Listserv ThisIsCrazy has
mutated into MadNation, and they have a pretty extensive www site where
they host several depression related Listservs and many depression related
"activist" activities.)  The book has a structure that is dear to my heart.
For instance, running in parallel with the main plot is the protagonists
retreat into a computer adventure game - nice metaphor.  Also, there is her
description of how she has "writers block" when it comes to writing a
performance art piece about a cybersex relationship, while she actually
describes one.  Very nifty.  She does a good job I think of giving 3
dimensions to the world of usenet/listservs/irc.  Some day I hope to write
a similar book that is even better!!!  But if you like ASD, this I think
comes as close as there is to a book about it.  You might want to read this
one rather than holding your breath waiting for mine....    :-)

Author:  Jay Neugeboren
Title:  Imagining Robert.  [My brother, madness, and survival.]
Publisher:  William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1997
ISBN:  0-688-14968-5
Comments:  A very well written memoir of a man and his brother, family, and
life.  I suppose it is a narrative tale of one man's 40 some year battle to
stay alive despite his diagnosed mental illness (schizophrenia), as told by
his brother.  To enter into another life, and return to our own.  Could we
ask for more?  Not very complimentary WRT the mental health care system.

Author:  Ann Keiffer
Title:  The gift of the dark angel; A woman's journey through depression
toward wholeness.
Publisher:  LuraMedia, 1991
ISBN:  0-931055-85-7
Comments:  This is another "personal narrative of the experience of
depression".  I liked it.  At times I worried that it was going to get too
polarized into a "masculine versus feminine" model of doing/being, but it
really only went there a little bit.  I found it easy to read, large type,
relatively short, paced well.  I don't know what more to say about it.  I
was brought to the verge of tears several times.  I liked it.  Yet another
in a long line of "finding meaning in depression" type books in this list I

Author:  Lynne Sharon Schwartz
Title:  The fatigue artist
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster Inc. (Scribner Paperback), 1995
ISBN:  0-684-82468-X
Comments:  This is not a book about depression per se.  It is, in many ways
it seems to me, not even really about chronic fatigue syndrome.  It is
really something more about a woman who struggles to find meaning in her
life after the sudden random senseless murder of her husband.  She examines
her loves throughout most of the book.  These loves include her husband,
other lovers before, during, and after his death, and of course her love
affair with her bed, as her body sometimes suddenly becomes transformed
into a "sack of sand".  What I liked about this book was that it made me
tired.  As I read it I became her.  I sunk into my bed, became physically
attached to it.  I had to finish the book in order to be released from it's
spell.  Just another metaphor for depression I guess.

Author:  Susan Santag
Title:  Illness as metaphor, and Aids and it's metaphors
Publisher:  Anchor Books, Doubleday, 1989
ISBN:  0-385-26705-3
Comments:  These are two separate short books, that can be found also
bounded together.  They are both somewhat dryly presented in full
historical regalia.  But I think although the illnesses under discussion
are things like cancer, tuberculosis, and AIDs, there is no real difference
with respect to depression.  In the last pages the author says; "The
age-old, seemingly inexorable process whereby diseases acquire meanings (by
coming to stand for the deepest fears) and inflict stigma is always worth
challenging....But the metaphors cannot be distanced just by abstaining
from them.  They have to be exposed, criticized, belabored, used up."  The
author does this and much more.

Author:  Katherine Anne Porter
Title:  Pale horse, pale rider
Publisher:  Harcourt Brace and Company, 1939
ISBN:  ??
Comments:  This is a compilation of 3 short stories.  The title story is
the only one I read.  It is a story of the narrator's illness.  It is also
a story of death, tho not the narrator's death, at least not physically.  I
found it somewhat hard to read and somewhat dated in terms of it's prose,
but no less alive.  I think illness, described in this way, is a wonderful
metaphor for depression.

Author:  Claudia Shear
Title:  Blown sideways through life
Publisher:  The dial press, 1995
ISBN:  0-385-31312-8
Comments:  I am not sure why I am including this book in this list.  It is
not about depression, in any way shape or form.  And yet, I think it is
anyway, in some weird way.  It's a funny book about the author's thoughts
on the many odd job's she has had in her life (writing this book she says
at the end, is job number 66).  But I think she was running from something,
perhaps from her own depression.  I think she was on the outside of life
looking in.  It makes for a wonderful perspective if you can tell it right.
I think she does.  I tried to listen closely.

Author:  Susan Remick Topek
Title:  Ten Good Rules
Publisher:  Kar-Ben Copies, Inc., 1991
ISBN:  0-929371-28-3
Comments:  This is a very short little children's book by a Jewish author
and illustrator.  It presents the 10 commandments in simple language that
young children can understand.  For instance, the original "Thou shalt not
murder" is translated into "Do not hurt anyone", and the original "Thou
shalt not commit adultery" is translated into "Married people should love
each other".  But my favorite is the 10th commandment which is translated
simply as "Be happy with what you have".  It took me a while to figure out
that the 10th commandment is usually presented as "Thou shalt not covet
they neighbor's house...nor anything that is thy neighbor's".  The basic
premise here is that if you are not happy without the thing, you will not
be happy with it.  It's not about the thing, it's about you.  Well, that's
how *I* see it anyway, and that's why I included this book in this list.

Author:  David Viscott, M.D.
Title:  The language of feelings
Publisher:  Priam Books, Arbor House, 1976
ISBN:  0-87795-130-6
Comments:  An interesting little book.  A lot of good stuff in it, but also
a lot that I flatly cannot agree with.  Hyperbole catch-all statements with
words like never/always/should (like "You can never justify burying your
anger.") raise red flags for me.  It is also interesting to note that the
book only has chapters on "negative" emotions like anger, anxiety, grief,
etcetera.  But I will reiterate that there was also a lot of good stuff in
this book.  Thank God it wasn't longer tho.

Author:  Richard A. Moskovitz, M.D.
Title:  Lost in the mirror; An inside look at borderline personality disorder.
Publisher:  Taylor Publishing Co., 1996
ISBN:  0-87833-936-1
Comments:  This book is NOT really an inside look at BPD, but rather about
as inside as someone on the outside can get.  A therapist who treats lots
of BPD's talks to "you" about what it is like to "be you" if you have BPD.
It's pretty good, and it paints a reasonable picture of BPD that does not
look quite as "bad" as most therapists might paint.  I particularly liked a
sentence about how someone might fall in love with someone with BPD.  "You
were attracted to her, not because of who she was, but because of her
uncanny ability to be whomever you needed her to be.  ...  You fell in love
with the person you were when you were with her."  Isn't that true for
everyone to some extent??  BPD stands in the doorway between "normal" and
"psychotic".  As such it is simply one place to stand on the continuum.
Somewhere to the left of being "codependent" I suppose.  (Come to think of
it, the whole format and title of this book are a good indication of how a
"normal" person (the author) can exhibit "borderline" characteristics.
That is, the author tries to write as if he *is* someone with BPD.  To the
extent that he succeeds, he suffers himself from BPD.  But the extent that
he actually fails to do what he intends to do, is the extent to which he is
an example of perhaps someone who is borderline to BPD.)

Author:  Kat Duff
Title:  The alchemy of illness.
Publisher:  Pantheon books, 1993
ISBN:  0-679-42053-3
Comments:  Describes the authors coming to terms with having chronic
fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS).  A wonderful account of
finding meaning in a healthy life through the contrast drawn by
confrontation with serious and consuming illness.  Since CFIDS and
depression are both seen only from their subjectively reported and observed
signs and symptoms, and since both are totally unseen from any objective
observable clearly primary physical causality, CFIDS is a wonderful
metaphor for depression.  Both would appear to be "challenges" from which
meaning and life can be found.  (Did *I* say that??)  This author tends
towards the "new age, past lives, crystals can heal" perspective, but I can
go part way there.  Enough to get a lot out of this book anyway.  "When I
finally stand up, and brush the dirt off my clothes, I know that nothing
more is asked of me.  -  I hope I do not forget when I get well."

Author:  Donna Williams
Title:  Nobody, nowhere, (1992);  Somebody, somewhere, (1994);  Like color
to the blind,  (1996)
Publisher:  Times books, Random house
ISBN:  0-8129-2042-2 (nobody);  0-8129-2287-5 (somebody);  0-8129-2640-4
Comments:  All three books deal with Donna's growing awareness of what it
means to her to be herself, and to be autistic.  I read the second book,
then the first, and then the third.  They are all wonderfully written, easy
to read, and offer a peek into someone else's head.  A head not so
different from anyone else's, and yet markedly so.  I don't know, read
them.  I really liked them.  I suggest these books rather than books with
titles like "How to find your true self" or "The development of self".  If
how long it takes me to read a book is any gauge of anything, each of these
took me less than two weeks to read.  I think I liked the second one the
best, but that could be just because I read it first.  They are all
"haunting" in a way.  They challenge me to be more self aware.
Particularly in ways and at times that the ghosts of past lives are perhaps
not too comfortable with.

Author:  John Bentley Mays
Title:  In the Jaws of the Black Dogs.  A memoir of depression.
Publisher:  Viking/Penguin, 1995
ISBN:  0-670-86113-8
Comments:  A Canadian journalist writes about his depression.  "I have
written this book in a clearing bounded by thickets roamed by the killing
dogs, sometimes wondering, in the writing, whether I would complete it
before they returned on silent paws to snatch the text and me away.  For
the depressed can never be sure we can finish anything we begin, or indeed
certain of anything, except the black dogs' eventual return, and their
terrible circling at the clearing's edge."  This book chronicles one man's
20 some year battle with depression.  The story is punctuated with old
diary entries that become more and more recent diary entries as the author
brings us closer and closer to the present time.  The book is not written
in retrospect from behind the iron curtain of recovery.  However, the
prose, as perhaps even suggested by the author, sometimes gets thick and in
the way of the REAL heart of the matter.  It sometimes seemed to take me
closer to the core, while at the same time providing me with a protective
shield from which I could not really feel what I was so close to.  I found
this book difficult to read, but was still drawn to learn more about this
person.  (PS, I love my local library.  It took them more than two months,
but they got this to Pittsburgh from a library in Seattle.)

Author:  Clifford Whittingham Beers
Title:  A mind that found itself.  An autobiography
Publisher:  Doubleday, first edition 1908 (most recent reprinting I found
was 1960)
ISBN:  Did they have ISBN's in 1908??
Comments:  This book is as "fresh" today as when it was written back in
1908.  (No, that is not a typo.  It was first published in 1908.)  It
describes (in an "after the fact" and somewhat removed from the experience
kind of tone that, none-the-less, does not lose it's emotional impact), one
man's apparent psychotic break and the two years he spent living in
institutional "hell holes".  I have actually read other much more vivid
descriptions of mental breakdowns and of institution "horrors".  But to me,
that is not what makes this book interesting, compelling, or able to
withstand the test of time.  It seems very clear to me that the author
suffered from what we would now call bipolar illness.  For him, it
initially presented as excessive anxiety and confusion, a suicide attempt,
severe depression coupled with something close to a psychotic paranoid
schizophrenia, which then equally or even more suddenly turned through
hypomania into mania.  Ultimately, without the use of medications, he was
apparently able to maintain sufficient control over his moods to found
something called the Mental Hygiene Movement.  This book is really a "kick
off" for his campaign to expose and fix the deplorable environment of
"mental institutions" prevalent in the early 1900's.  In 1908 Beers founded
the Connecticut Society for Mental Hygiene, in 1909 the National Committee
for Mental Hygiene (in 1950 it was recognized as the National Association
for Mental Health in the USA) and in 1931 the International Foundation for
Mental Health Hygiene.  A www search of "Mental Hygiene Movement" revealed
that in 1996 a new Clifford Beers Foundation was organized in Europe.  The
work continues??

Author:  Anne Lamott
Title:  Bird by bird;  Some instructions on writing and life.
Publisher:  Pantheon Books, 1994
ISBN:  0-679-43520-4
Comments:  Easy to read, with lots of subtle but not overwhelming humor.
This is the kind of book that makes me want to write a book.  It's the kind
of book that makes me feel like I *could* write a book.  It goes into what,
to my mind, are the *real* reasons why people want to write, and it does so
with personal insight and humor.  It is not really a "how to" manual as the
word "instructions" in the subtitle might lead one to believe.  I suppose
that is why I was able to read it.  The title comes from a story about her
father and brother.  Apparently when her older brother was 10 years old he
had to write a report on birds.  He waited too long, and became immobilized
by the hugeness of the task ahead.  Then her father sat down beside him,
put his arm around her brother's shoulder, and said, "Bird by bird, buddy.
Just take it bird by bird."  The book is full of obvious and not so obvious
good stuff like that on writing and on life.  For instance, later she
relates a priest friend's advice that "You can safely assume you've created
God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people
you do."

Author:  Joanna Field (pseudonym), Marion Milner (real name)
Title:  On not being able to paint
Publisher:J. P. Tarcher Inc., 1957
ISBN:  0-87477-263-X
Comments:  This is a somewhat old book that at times seems to show it's
age.  But it is also apparently a classic on the subject of "creativity
block" for any kind of expression form (ie. it is not just about painting
in any way shape or form).  I thought it started out pretty good, dragged a
lot in the middle, and got really very good in the last 1/4 or so.  It is
very psychoanalytically oriented, and even has an intro by Ann Freud
(Sigmund Freud's daughter).

Author:  Laurie Samsel Olson
Title:  He Was Still My Daddy.  Coming to terms with mental illness.
Publisher:  Ogden House Publishing Co., 1994
ISBN:  0-9640680-0-1
Comments:  Like a breath of fresh air.  After the last three or four books,
I read this one in 2 days flat.  A woman in her early 40's comes to terms
with her father's psychotic depressions and how it affected her life as a
young girl.  Easy to read, somewhat short with large print.  Well written,
but not slick, authoritative, or lyrical in prose.  Just a book by a
daughter whose father suffered.  The main theme was how hard it was for her
to deal with the situation.  In her words, "My daddy's gone and I want him
to come back real bad."  As a total aside, I gotta tell you that I love the
local library system here.  I am in Pittsburgh and they got this book for
me from some library in Boston.

Author:  Peter D. Kramer
Title:  Should you leave?  A psychiatrist explores intimacy and autonomy -
and the nature of advice.
Publisher:  Scribners, 1997
ISBN:  0-684-81343-2
Comments:  The third book I have read by the author of "Listening to
Prozac".  This book had me hooked from the first chapter.  This guy seems
to be some kind of thought clone of mine.  For instance, as the subtitle
suggests, the book is also very much about "the nature of advice".  As an
example, the author tells a short story about being asked by a newly
bereaved husband if his kids should attend their mother's funeral.  While
most of the important stuff is in the context that I leave out here, the
cut-to-the-chase response was; "Either will be wrong.  It is not good or
bad for the kids to go to the funeral.  It is bad to have your mother die
when you are young."  There are also good little one-liners as well, like;
"we consistently underestimate the otherness of others".  The title of the
book is daunting and scary to me.  The subtitle is perhaps a more accurate
description of what the book is all about.  Be forewarned tho, I think his
style of writing is generally somewhat verbose and obtuse, and this book
has a very odd way of trying to talk directly to YOU.  I think his style
here is really an acquired taste, probably not a good book for someone who
is currently depressed and finds it difficult to concentrate.

Author:  David Karp
Title:  Speaking of Sadness
Publisher:  Oxford University Press, 1996
ISBN:  0-19-509486-7
Comments:  The author is a Sociology professor, writing about his own
depression and depression in general from a sociological perspective.  It
is a bit "academic", and kind of heavy reading.  Written as a sort of
exploration of clinical case studies, but perhaps more for fellow
Sociologists and the "nondepressed" then for others with depression.  Just
too dense for me.   <->   This book used to be in the "Books I have seen up
close and personal but have not read" list.  I inadvertently took it out
from the library a second time thinking that I had never seen it.  When I
started to read it, however, it seemed *very* familiar.  (I may be slow,
but I am not a total idiot.)  This time I read the whole book.  (Obviously
the book has not changed.  Apparently *I* have.)  I understand why I wrote
my initial thoughts on this book.  Those feelings are still there, but this
time I liked it a little more.  It seems to me very much like the book
"Waking Up, Alive", by Richard A. Heckler.  I think the author provides
some interesting insights, but he still losses my interest when he gets on
his "sociologist" soapbox.  The author writes of his motives for writing
the book: "I am not primarily interested in explaining what causes
depression nor how to cure it .... I am interested in how depressed
individuals make sense of an inherently ambiguous life situation."

Author:  Augustus Y. Napier
Title:  The fragile bond:  In search of an equal, intimate, and enduring
Publisher:  Harper & Row, 1988
ISBN:  0-06-015984-7
Comments:  I took this book out from the library several weeks ago, and I
am now on my second "late notice".  I like this book a lot, but it is a
pretty long book and it is not completely easy reading.  It is not a novel,
but I think it is well written and reasonably readable.  It is not a "how
to" book with advice on how to communicate better with your spouse or
whatever.  Gawd, you'd think I might find more to say about it.  If you are
interested in reflecting in multiple perspectives about yourself and your
relationships with others, then this might be a good book to at least look
at.  How's that??

Author:  Peter D. Kramer, M.D.
Title:  Moments of engagement;  Intimate psychotherapy in a technological age
Publisher:  W. W. Norton and Company, 1989
ISBN:  0-393-70075-5
Comments:  Peter Kramer is the author of the much more popular "Listening
to Prozac".  But this book is much less of a general
philosophical/sociological/political statement.  This book is more an
exploration of what the author thinks it is like, or should be like, to
practice psychotherapy.  I agree with him in that I think this is one of
those books that all psychotherapists should read.  I think it is sometimes
kind of obtuse, dense, or needlessly meandering in its prose, but it is
also packed with a lot of good stuff.  I mean, where the Hell does he get
this stuff??  He just keeps coming at you with it.  He can't say one thing
without reflecting about it's multiple potential meanings, and then of
course, his choice of those meanings as opposed to others also has meaning,
and back and back we go into this house of mirrors.  But I love that "fun
house" ride.

Title:  Waking Up, Alive: The Descent, the Suicide Attempt, and the Return
to Life
Author:  Richard A. Heckler, Ph.D.
Publisher:  Grosset/Putnam, 1994
ISBN:  0-399-13945-1
Comments:  The jacket cover says; "In this extraordinary book, psychologist
Richard A. Heckler tells the whole story of the descent, the attempt, and
... finally and gloriously we read of the return to life."  That alone
almost made me want to puke.  But I am glad I got beyond it and into the
book.  The author juxtaposes bits and pieces of people's stories, as told
in their own words.  Of course he has an agenda and he abstracts general
concepts from these juxtaposed snippets.  But he did not totally swamp me
with some kind of "life is, in the end, always worth living" moral fable.
The book starts out with a quote from the Ba'al Shem Tov (a Jewish
religious leader): "When the bond between heaven and earth is broken, even
prayer is not enough....only a story can mend it."  This book is really a
secondary abstraction of a personal story.  It is more a story of a story,
told not fully in the original story tellers words.  But it is also not a
statistical/academic study.  It is, to me, better than a sort of tertiary
story of a story of a story.  It worked for me.  The only problem I had
with it was that it never really dwelled for long in that purgatory place
of multiple suicide attempts.  Many of the people described multiple
attempts, but the focus of the book was always on movement towards the
*last* and final attempt.  The turning point where these people began to
move back towards life.  But hey, the book can't do everything.

Author:  Lori Shiller and Amanda Bennett
Title:  The Quiet Room:  A journey out of the torment of madness.
Publisher:  Warner Books Inc., 1994
ISBN:  0-446-51777-1
Comments:  This is a really good book.  I suppose that one way to rate
books is by how long it takes me to read them.  I read this one in about 3
days.  The author Lori Shiller suffers from schizo-affective disorder.  She
has symptoms of schizophrenia and manic depression.  In this book, she
describes her 20 year battle with her emotions and the voices inside her
head.  Several chapters are written by her family, friends, or therapists.
These chapters are all the more poignant, because Lori could not (then nor
now) describe much of her own experience.  It was, in her words, "beyond
all imagining, beyond all human hope".  A long hard road for her is a
wholly inadequate understatement, but I personally feel all the richer for
her description of it.

Author:  Bruno Bettelheim and Alvin A. Rosenfeld
Title:  The art of the obvious:  Developing insight for psychotherapy and
everyday life.
Publisher:  Alfred A. Knopf, 1993
ISBN:  0-679-40029-X
Comments:  This is a really good book.  It is very hard for me to write
these little summaries when the book was really good.  I think this was
written mainly for "therapists-to-be", but I found it easy to read and I
wish that every therapist (esp. those who work with children) would read
it.  In a way, it is all about assuming that people's actions have
important meanings, no matter how childish, odd, or "illogical" the actions
appear to be.  The goal of therapy is for the therapist, and thus the
patient, to take a patient seriously enough such that both are interested
in working together to try and find the meanings.  It can get a little
"Freudian" at times, because Bruno Bettelheim was a self-described "third
generation" Freudian psychoanalyst.  But he was much less "ridged" than
Freud himself appears to have been or to have been made out to be.  Perhaps
because Bettelheim did not have a new theory to promote.  Here is a quote:
"Self-discovery is tremendously valuable to the person who discovers
himself.  To be discovered by somebody else has never done any good to

Author:  Bruno Bettelheim
Title:  Dialogues with mothers.
Publisher:  The Free Press of Glencoe, Crowell-Collier, 1962
ISBN:  (Library of Congress #62-10583)
Comments:  This is a pretty "dated" book.  Bruno Bettelheim conducted a
discussion group with mothers of young children (most under 5) who were
living on the University of Chicago campus in the late 40's after World War
II.  The book is a sort of transcribed dialog of this group.  I think his
approach to this discussion group was really great.  It's focus is on
asking the right questions, not on giving the right answers.  But the
dialog style of the presentation got hard to read after a while, and the
"potty training" issues kind of wore thin for me.  Still, this book is
probably a thousand times better than 99% of the "how to raise a child"
books that you might find in the average library.

Author:  Dr. Susan Forward
Title:  Toxic Parents:  Overcoming their hurtful legacy and reclaiming your
Publisher:  Bantam Books, 1989
ISBN:  0-553-05700-6
Comments:  The title of this book is a little strong, but it fits the book
pretty well.  This is probably a better book if you had a more overtly
abusive childhood than mine.  However, anyone who ever felt or feels at
times overwhelmed by their parents might do well to read it.  It is a
little too "blaming" for me, tho it tries not to blame but rather to place
responsibility where it should have been, and where it should be.  I think
for me, I liked the book Emotional Incest by Patricia Love better, but they
are somewhat similar.  If you liked one, you might want to read the other.

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