Tag Archives: Mental health

Katie’s Bookshelf: The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

brenebrownletgo“The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown is one of her earlier works but such a “go to.”  It’s a book on letting go of our perceptions and “shoulds” of who we are supposed to be and cultivating who we are.  Much of Brown’s work focuses on shame, vulnerability, authenticity, and empathy.  One of her messages about dealing with the shame monster is to “share your shame with someone who has earned the right to hear it.”

The book starts off exploring Courage, Compassion, and Connection.  I think this ties in nicely with her common themes as we need courage to be vulnerable and share our shame, which breeds compassion, and drives connection.  The next section is on Love, Belonging, and Being Enough.  Sit with that for a minute.

“It’s as simple and complicated as this: If we want to fully experience love and belonging, we must believe that we are worthy of love and belonging.”

The remainder of the book is filled with 10 Guideposts of cultivating and letting go.  She has chapters on topics such as self-compassion, resiliency, creativity, and calm and stillness.  I just love the topics that she chooses and how she frames them as what we need to cultivate more of and what we need to let go of.  At the end of each chapter, she has a section called, “Dig Deep” where she provides suggestions on practicing what we are cultivating.

Overall, I loved this book!  It’s such a simple read and can be read at various times not necessarily succinctly.  Brene Brown’s work is so hot right now and she does an incredible job of making the material so relatable and easily digestible.  You cannot go wrong with any of her books!

Read this book if:

  • You are a human.

Buy it here

Brown, B. (2010). The Gifts of Imperfection. Center City, Minnesota: Hazelden.

Katie’s Bookshelf: The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout

IMG_2974“The Sociopath Next Door” by Martha Stout is an eye-opening book not about the people we typically think of with this personality trait.  Upon hearing “sociopath,” we tend to think about serial killers, con-artists, and criminals.  Yes, those types of people are sociopathic, but so are these others that Stout describes in the book.  She claims that 4/100 Americans are actually sociopaths and could be a coworker, neighbor, or significant other.  They are people absent of a conscience, unable to attach emotionally, and only interested in winning or dominating over others.

Stout provides several vignettes of sociopaths of different forms such as a harmful neighbor, high powered executive, and a high school principal.  All fiction of course since she is a Psychotherapist, but descriptive enough to understand the various ways sociopathy can show up.  She explores various ideas of how it is developed, moral development, and cultural issues.  I found it interesting that Eastern cultures that practice Mindfulness tend to have fewer sociopaths as even if some do not have a conscience, they can develop one from a thinking brain.

“Sociopaths are infamous for their refusal to acknowledge responsibility for the decisions they make, or for the outcomes of their decisions.”

Overall, I was interested in her perspective of the more “covert” sociopath as I typically have thought of the more “overt” ones described earlier.  She provided types on identifying as well as the “Thirteen Rules for Dealing with Sociopaths in Everyday Life.”  The statistics she provided, show us that there are more people out there than we have expected and most likely have interacted with many throughout our lives.

Read this book if:

  • You are a Psychotherapist
  • Feel you may have encountered or currently encountering a sociopath
  • Interested in personality traits

Buy it here

Stout, M. (2006). The sociopath next door: The ruthless versus the rest of us. New York: Broadway Books.

Katie’s Bookshelf: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Alchemist“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho is a short and sweet parable of a boy who sets out to find his “Personal Legend.”  He starts off as a sheep herder who is called to find treasure at the pyramids in Egypt.  He sets out on his journey and meets several different types of people along the way who all provide support and guidance for him discovering his Personal Legend.  The boy also runs into various conflicts along the way from thieves to war in the desert.  The boy learns throughout his adventures to listen to his heart, look for signs, trust the Universe, pursue his goals, and discover the treasure within.

“The Soul of the World is nourished by people’s happiness.  And also by unhappiness, envy, and jealousy.  To realize one’s Personal Legend is a person’s only real obligation.  All things are one.  And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

I’ve listened to this book as well as read it.  It’s a great quote-able and inspiring novel.  I liked how simple and profound it was.  It’s also a quick read.  It was originally written in 1988 by a Brazilian author but did not gain much traction.  It took until the late 90s and some celebrities seen with it before it really exploded.  Paulo Coehlo was interviewed on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday Podcast here and here.

Read this book if:

  • You are interested in an inspiring novel on achieving your dreams and finding purpose
  • You are a young adult setting off into the world

Buy it here.

Coelho, P. (2014). The Alchemist. London: HarperCollins.

Katie’s Bookshelf: Living Your Yoga by Judith Hanson Lasater

Living yoga“Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life” by Judith Hanson Lasater is the book for bringing Yoga off the mat with you.  Lasater has such a wealth of knowledge and wisdom on all things yoga.  She breaks each chapter down to principles of Yoga such as courage, fear, suffering, empathy, love, truth, and many more.  While she connects each principle to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, there are other spiritual associations as well.

Each chapter makes understanding the principle accessible, connects it to real life situations, and includes suggestions on how to practice it as well as mantras to accompany the practice.

“Perhaps it means that we are, in every moment, to remember the whole, to remember the gift of life, to remember the preciousness of every second.  When we do this remembering, something shifts inside us.  When we do this remembering, we talk differently, we act differently, and we treat self and others differently.”

What I like about this book, is that you can read it cover to cover, or pick a chapter that resonates with where you are.  Each chapter is something that should be taken in slowly.  I find myself reading the chapters multiple times.  Lasater says that the last chapter on “Worship”(only in 2nd edition) is the best passage she has ever written.

Do yourself a favor and pick up this book, I promise you won’t regret it.

Read this book if:

  • You are a Yogi and interested in how to carry the principles off the mat
  • You are interested in a more spiritual and compassionate life

Buy it Here

Lasater, J. H. (2015). Living your yoga: finding the spiritual in everyday life. Berkeley, CA: Rodmell Press.

Katie’s Bookshelf: A Symphony in the Brain by Jim Robbins


Symphony“A Symphony in the Brain” by Jim Robbins provides a history and background of Neurofeedback training.  He begins with more primitive research and experiments on the brain, to the first training sessions with cats and seizures, to how it looks today.  Robbins explains what Neurofeedback(sometimes referred to as Biofeedback) addresses in our brains, conditions it can help with, and what it actually does to train our brain.  He explores the evolution of the technology as well as the big players in the field.  He explores possible reasons it has not become as mainstream as other medical and mental health interventions and why it has not been adopted by the medical field.

Neurofeedback for those who have not experienced it, can seem “too good to be true” or more Science Fiction related.  Basically, Neurofeedback uses sensors placed on specific locations on the head, to read the electricity in the brain, provide “feedback” to the brain on this activity in the form of a game or movie screen, and then allows the brain to do with it what it wants to.  The brain responds by training itself to return to homeostasis and function the way it was meant to be before biology and life experiences interfered.  Neurofeedback has the ability to address many areas but the major ones are improved sleep, moods, attention, and pain management.  This technology has been featured in Bessel Van Der Kolk’s book “The Body Keeps the Score.

I was required to read this book before I attended training at the Othmer Clinic(EEG Info).  Since I was interested in learning how to provide the service myself as well as had trained my brain, I found this book to be interesting and helpful in understanding the evolution of the technology.  It could be quite dry and boring for those who are not providing Neurofeedback training.

Read this book if:

  • You are a Neurofeedback practioner
  • Interested in the history of Neurofeedback

Buy it Here

Robbins, J., & Recorded Books, Inc. (2014). A Symphony In The Brain: The Evolution Of The New Brain Wave Biofeedback. New York, NY: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.