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Counselor Morgan Randall's blog, bookstore and more. A place to explore the paradigm shift to systems thinking that views body and mind as one

Morgan Recommends Reading

Bibliotherapy has been and still is an effective tool in my personal search for mental health. It has provided access to the knowledge of hundreds of wise authors and therapists. But most importantly, the quiet act of reading and learning to be with myself exponentially increases moments of contentment. 

The below list is alphabetically arranged by author last name. These books are ones I recommend to patients in their pursuit of a happier, healthier life.

There are two wonderful used bookstores in Skagit County that may have these on their shelves. Easten’s Books is a few steps from my office on the corner of S 1st and Pine streets, (360) 336-2066. You’ll find sunny Pelican Bay Books with its yummy coffee bar on the corner of 6th and Commercial in Anacortes, (360) 293-1852.

Scott C. Anderson

The Psychobiotic Revolution: Mood, Food and the New Science of the Gut-Brain Connection

Anderson, a journalist, wrote this book with probiotic researchers John F. Cryan, PhD and Ted Dinan MD. These docs began their research into the gut/brain connection the same year I began personally experimenting with probiotics and changing my diet to support the aerobic microbial life in my intestines. I’m thrilled to read that the medical world is finally catching onto a healing paradigm that I have been sharing with people since 2004. (Read my free document here.) The reason I obtained a masters in psychology in 2006 was so I could share what I had discovered about mental health being linked to intestinal health and be accepted as an expert. The most effective psychological treatment I found in my 20-year search for good mental health was a probiotic protocol. Who knew?!? Depression and panic disappeared and anxiety reduced in severity and frequency by a large percentage. Now patients don’t have to just believe the singular experience of little old me. Anderson, Cryan and Dinan have done some top notch research and written a simple to read explanation of the principles at work.

Byron Brown

Soul Without Shame: A Guide to Liberating Yourself from the Judge Within

Brown teaches readers how to wriggle free of the judgmental voice in our heads, so emotional and psychological growth can occur as we learn to choose for ourselves. This superego sounds like your voice, but it’s actually the internalized voice of your caregivers—a psychological structure that was put there by nature to help you survive if you wandered out of sight of the family. Super helpful if you are eight, not so much if you are 38. Sooner or later, we must grow up if we wish to live a fulfilling personal life.

S.H. Buhner

The Lost Language of Plants

Besides learning amazing facts about life on earth by reading this book, I learned that resistance to antibiotics does not reside in my body. It resides in bacterial populations that have evolved to resist antibiotics. In my lifetime, a quarter million generations of any given bacteria may have passed, so a whole lot of evolution will have taken place. More amazing, bacteria “talk” to each other “teaching” each other how to resist various kinds of antibiotics and then pass this knowledge on to their offspring! One more good reason to not rely on pharmaceuticals to heal us after we’re sick, but to prevent disease before it happens through good health habits. Another point important to mental health I learned is that a struggling immune system manifests in ones consciousness as a struggling emotional system!

Betty Carter and Joan Peters

Love, Honor and Negotiate: Building Partnerships that Last a Lifetime

Marriage and family therapist Carter helps people see the effect of the Golden Rule on their marriages, i.e. “whoever has the gold makes the rules.” Her insights and practices help couples create a more balanced process of family decision making. She guides readers through freeing themselves from the patterns they each learned in their original family, so they stop trying to recreate it in their marriage. In this way, readers learn how to negotiate honestly and fairly to resolve disagreements and help both parties get their needs met. This dissolves resentments allowing love and happiness to flourish.

Pema Chödrön

When Things Fall Apart

Chödrön is an American Buddhist nun who has written dozens of simply-beautiful, straight-forward books not only about how to cope with life in this difficult world, but how to set ones soul ablaze with joy.

Joy Davidson

Fearless Sex: A Babe’s Guide to Overcoming Romantic Obsessions

An exploration of successful relationship strategies in the first half of the book shifts rather abruptly, but appropriately, into how to feel good about yourself in the second. Highly recommended to babes of any gender!

Roberta Gilbert

Extraordinary Relationships: A New Way of Thinking About Human Relationship

A human being’s reality is made up of physical brain inputs, mental inputs (thoughts) and relational ones. Our brains affect our minds and our relationships. Our minds affect our brains and relationships. And our relationships affect our brains and our minds. Understanding the effect of relationships on your mind is the purpose of this book. Dr. Murray Bowen, the father of family therapy, was the first to say that the family, not the individual, is the primary emotional unit. Understanding this point of view can change the way you see your life. Author Gilbert was one of Bowen’s students and explains this critical point very well.

Daniel Goleman

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

How to live more functionally and effectively in daily life. You can’t behave as if you’re as smart as you are if your thoughts are chronically hijacked by your emotions no matter how high your IQ may be.

Jonathan Haidt

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

A brilliant analysis of the why the subjects of politics and religion are so divisive and how we can work to heal the breach.

Sheila Heen, Bruce Patton and Douglas Stone

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss what Matters Most

A step-by-step approach for how to have tough conversations with less stress and more success at home or at work.

Harville Hendrix

Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples

The first half this book  explains why we keep falling in love with the same type of person over and over again. The face changes, but the relational problems do not. This is an old book (it assumes a couple is heterosexual), but its truths are perennial and its recommendations highly useful. The second half can be skipped if you are not trying to repair a relationship in the moment. Tired of the same old dysfunctions yet?

Jon Kabat-Zinn MD

Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness

Dr. Kabat-Zinn explains the power of paying attention, how to do it and why. The whys include healing from a myriad of mental and physical illnesses and the reduction of anxiety and pain. This classic bodymind bible is as relevant today as when it appeared 30 years ago.

Jack Kornfield PhD

A Path with Heart: A Guide through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life

Dr. Kornfield is not only a professor of Buddhist psychology, but an American psychologist who has helped many thousands of people reduce their existential suffering with training in meditation. Any of his titles are recommended but the above is a particularly sweet and useful read.

Dr. Iain McGilchrist

The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World 

In evolutionary and cultural terms, this important book explains how we have come to our post modern view of reality and why we will never be content until we expose the way we think as responsible for the emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual poverty this perspective creates.

Pia Melody

Facing Codependence: What It Is, Where It Comes From, How it Sabotages Our Lives

Oddly given the title, this book will NOT tell you what codependence is, but no big deal. Why I recommend you read Facing Codependence is I’ve never found a better explanation of what constitutes child abuse and how it affects a personality. While the 12-Step system’s viewpoint from which this book was written is not the paradigm through which I focus my practice, there is no doubt its programs have helped more people than any other and that its practitioners’ discoveries about the nature of mind can be useful to folks outside “the program.” Melody outlines what child-rearing practices–socially acceptable and not–nurture the growth of psyches capable of loving relations and appropriate behavior and which ones are destructive. If you are wondering “why am I so unhappy,” find a therapist who can help you sidestep less-than-functional behaviors that get in your way.

Michael Moss

Salt, Sugar, Fat

The phrase “we are what we eat” means our bodyminds are created by what goes in our stomachs. Many Americans are suffering from lack of joy and vitality, but don’t understand why. We literally think and feel what we eat. Drug pushers come in many guises, including the corporations who stock your local grocery store with addictive substances that lack real nutrition. Real food is available, but it’s up to you to “just say no,” kick your addictions and chose the life you want to live.

Mary Oliver

Rules for the Dance: A Handbook for Writing and Reading Metrical Verse

Poetry writing supports emotional processing, inner knowledge, self-expression, spiritual and psychological growth and healthful relaxation. The wonderful poet, Ms. Oliver, presents a concise and engaging introduction to sound, rhyme, meter, scansion and why they matter. “True ease in writing comes from art, not chance/As those move easiest who have learned to dance,” wrote Alexander Pope. Includes an anthology of 50 poems representing the best metrical poetry in English.

David Perlmutter MD

Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs and Sugar

A Harvard neurologist and nutritionist explains a primary cause of both obesity and brain disease–his father died from Alzheimer’s. He exposes the bias exerted by the pharmaceutical and the food-like commodities industry to spread myths and specious research about their causes. Presents a compelling case for upping unprocessed fats and protein and reducing processed carbs. Highly recommended!

Karen Pryor

Don’t Shoot the Dog: The New Art of Teaching and Training

Here is the knowledge of how to change the behaviors of yourself and others without yelling, threats, force, punishment, guilt trips or shooting a teenager.

Don Richard Riso

Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery

The Enneagram is a universal psychological behavioral system, a description of consciousness. Although its development goes back thousands of years, it is remarkably consistent with modern psychological theory. The nine personality types of the Enneagram provide a starting place for personal inquiry into the behavioral patterns each of us are born with. One of my favorite Enneagram authors, Don Riso provides insightful descriptions of each personality type as they manifest at different levels of consciousness. Most Enneagram books focus on dysfunctions, but Riso exalts the human spirit.

Shambhala on Audible

Shambhala Publications publishes books on mindfulness, meditation and Buddhist psychology. The Buddha, a prince named Siddhartha, was NOT trying to start a religion, he was trying to help people not suffer so much. He developed psychotherapy techniques and ways of thinking about life to do that. Over 2500 years ago, no one knew about the subconscious and how to train it to be calm and happy so when he came up with a way, he became a great teacher. People followed him around in droves. When asked, “what about god?” he would reply, “this has nothing to do with god” thereby causing the confusion that Buddha didn’t believe in god. We really don’t know. After his death, a religion formed around his teachings and spread around the world. I’ve always wanted a statue of the Buddha slapping his forehead at the irony. This link will take you to Audible, where you can find Shambhala Books on CD, a relaxing way to learn from the first psychotherapist.

Daniel Siegel MD

Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation

Explains the science of the brain in a clear, concise and ultimately useful way. Once you realize how your brain works you’ll see that recovery from mental illnesses or dysfunctional behaviors is truly possible. Then, he goes on to tell you how. A prolific writer, any book written by Dr. Siegel is straight forward and helpful. My hero…

Ronald Siegel

The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems

An excellent starter book to learn about mindfulness. Read it slowly, a few pages a day, and do each little exercise. If you take it to heart, you may not need a therapist at all.

Gary Taubes

Why We Get Fat And What to Do About It

While I believe that there is more to the title than can be presented in this book, Taubes does do a good job in explaining why fresh clean protein is something missing from even the organic American diet. We are biologically omnivores, not vegetarians. By ignoring this fact, we risk brain and other organ damage. As a psychotherapist, this concerns me, to say the least.

Click here for my personal reading list on goodreads.com.

 

December 12th, 2019 | Permalink

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