Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 - The Year in Books (Off the Beaten Path)

This is my annual "best of" list for books in 2013 - accept this year a lot of what I read was not stuff you will see on best-seller lists or on other people's best of lists. I don't have time to write reviews for all of these, so I am including info from the publisher's page about the book, including contents.

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The first book in my collection of 2013 books you likely did not see reviewed anywhere in the mainstream press, if they have been reviewed at all, is also the best of the year, Trauma and the Soul, his follow-up to the well-loved The Inner World of Trauma.

Kalsched offers a rare interdisciplinary approach to psychotherapy, one that integrates psychoanalysis (the postmodern relational version), Jungian analytical psychology, trauma-focused models, somatic therapies, and even some cognitive approaches.

More than the previous book, this one has more of a spiritual depth and relies on the mytho-poetic realm of the imaginal. This adds depth and relevance to his work with trauma survivors.

Trauma and the Soul: A psycho-spiritual approach to human development and its interruption

by Donald Kalsched
Routledge, 2013

About the Book:

In Trauma and the Soul, Donald Kalsched continues the exploration he began in his first book, The Inner World of Trauma (1996)—this time going further into the mystical or spiritual moments that often occur around the intimacies of psychoanalytic work. Through extended clinical vignettes, including therapeutic dialogue and dreams, he shows how depth psychotherapy with trauma’s survivors can open both analytic partners to "another world" of non-ordinary reality in which daimonic powers reside, both light and dark. This mytho-poetic world, he suggests, is not simply a defensive product of our struggle with the harsh realities of living as Freud suggested, but is an everlasting fact of human experience—a mystery that is often at the very center of the healing process, and yet at other times, strangely resists it.

With these "two worlds" in focus, Kalsched explores a variety of themes as he builds, chapter by chapter, an integrated psycho-spiritual approach to trauma and its treatment including:
  • images of the lost soul-child in dreams and how this "child" represents an essential core of aliveness that is both protected and persecuted by the psyche’s defenses;
  • Dante’s guided descent into the Inferno of Hell as a paradigm for the psychotherapy process and its inevitable struggle with self-destructive energies;
  • childhood innocence and its central role in a person’s spiritual life seen through the story of St. Exupéry’s The Little Prince;
  • how clinical attention to implicit processes in the relational field, as well as discoveries in body-based affective neuroscience are making trauma treatment more effective;
  • the life of C.G. Jung as it portrays his early trauma, his soul’s retreat into an inner sanctuary, and his gradual recovery of wholeness through the integration of his divided self.
This is a book that restores the mystery to psychoanalytic work. It tells stories of ordinary patients and ordinary psychotherapists who, through working together, glimpse the reality of the human soul and the depth of the spirit, and are changed by the experience. Trauma and the Soul will be of particular interest to practicing psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, analytical psychologists, and expressive arts therapists, including those with a "spiritual" orientation.


1. Trauma and Life-Saving Encounters with the Numinous.
2. Loss and Recovery of the Soul-Child.
3. Dissociation and the Dark Side of the Defensive System: Dante's Encounter with "Dis" in the Inferno.
4. Trauma, Transformation and Transcendence: The Case of Mike.
5. Wholeness and Anti-Wholeness Defenses.
6. Psychoanalytic Approaches to the Inner World: Applying Theory to the Cases so Far.
7. Innocence, Its Loss and Recovery: Reflections on St. Exuperey's The Little Prince.
8. C. G. Jung Between the Worlds: Was Jung's Divided Self Pathological?
9. Dismemberment and Re-memberment: Reflections on a Case of Embodied Dream Work in Light of Grimm's Fairy Tale The Woman Without Hands.

* * * * *

This next book is new to me and I found it at the Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference. The author has been using Allan Schore's Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self: The Neurobiology of Emotional Development (1994) in her graduate classes and wrote this book to bring that material into the clinical setting more easily.

Some of it feels pretty basic, but then I have read all of Allan Schore's books, so the material is not new to me. Where the book shines is in making the connections between brain science and psychological processes that we deal with in the therapy room.

Neurobiology Essentials for Clinicians: What Every Therapist Needs to Know


A primer on brain functionality as it relates to therapeutic work.

This book presents an overview of the latest theories of affect regulation and focuses on how these theories work in clinical settings and how therapists can be taught to implement them. The notion of teaching and learning will be extended by the theories themselves—the author presents methods of education that enact the theories being taught.

The book is divided into eight chapters, each one highlighting a particular structure or related structures of the brain. Suggestions for learning how to clinically apply the neurobiological/neuroanatomical information are offered. What is so unique about this book is that the bulk of the chapters are clinical dialogue, accompanied by neurobiological commentary. Thus, readers can see for themselves, during the course of parts of sessions, just how a “neurobiological outlook” can inform therapeutic understandings of what clients are doing and saying. The result is a very user-friendly learning experience for readers, as they are taken along a journey of understanding various brain systems and how they relate to psychotherapeutic principles.

Elegantly bridging the gap between the academic and clinical domains, this book is essential for anyone interested in the application of neurobiological principles to psychotherapy and wishes to learn about neurobiology without feeling overwhelmed or intimidated.


Part I. Neurobiological Underpinnings of Selected Clinical Experiences
1. Affect Regulation and the Autonomic Nervous System
2. Defense Mechanisms and the Limbic System
3. Threat Management and the Amygdala
4. Therapeutic Engagement Issues and the Vagal System
5. Personality Disorders as Affect Management Strategies

Part II : Special Populations
6. Neurobiological Considerations in Working with Adolescents
7. Working with Groups: How Selected Principles of Regulation Theory can be Applied to Group Work
8. Integrating Selected Neurobiological Concepts into the Supervisory Process

* * * * *

You might be seeing a theme here - many of the books I read this year (the majority of them being much older and not included here) are therapy related, as is this one.

Self and Emotional Life: Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, and Neuroscience
by Adrian Johnston and Catherine Malabou
Columbia University Press, 2013

About the Book:

Adrian Johnston and Catherine Malabou defy theoretical humanities’ deeply-entrenched resistance to engagements with the life sciences. Rather than treat biology and its branches as hopelessly reductive and politically suspect, they view recent advances in neurobiology and its adjacent scientific fields as providing crucial catalysts to a radical rethinking of subjectivity.

Merging three distinct disciplines—European philosophy from Descartes to the present, Freudian-Lacanian psychoanalysis, and affective neuroscience—Johnston and Malabou triangulate the emotional life of affective subjects as conceptualized in philosophy and psychoanalysis with neuroscience. Their experiments yield different outcomes. Johnston finds psychoanalysis and neurobiology have the potential to enrich each other, though affective neuroscience demands a reconsideration of whether affects can be unconscious. Investigating this vexed issue has profound implications for theoretical and practical analysis, as well as philosophical understandings of the emotions.

Malabou believes scientific explorations of the brain seriously problematize established notions of affective subjectivity in Continental philosophy and Freudian-Lacanian analysis. She confronts philosophy and psychoanalysis with something neither field has seriously considered: the concept of wonder and the cold, disturbing visage of those who have been affected by disease or injury, such that they are no longer affected emotionally. At stake in this exchange are some of philosophy’s most important claims concerning the relationship between the subjective mind and the objective body, the structures and dynamics of the unconscious dimensions of mental life, the role emotion plays in making us human, and the functional differences between philosophy and science.

Preface: From Nonfeeling to Misfeeling—Affects Between Trauma and the Unconscious

Part I. Go Wonder: Subjectivity and Affects in Neurobiological Times (Catherine Malabou)

Introduction: From the Passionate Soul to the Emotional Brain
1. What Does “of” Mean in Descartes’s Expression “The Passions of the Soul”?
2. A “Self-Touching You”: Derrida and Descartes
3. The Neural Self: Damasio Meets Descartes
4. Affects Are Always Affects of Essence: Book 3 of Spinoza’s Ethics
5. The Face and the Close-Up: Deleuze’s Spinozist Approach to Descartes
6. Damasio as a Reader of Spinoza
7. On Neural Plasticity, Trauma, and the Loss of Affects: The Two Meanings of Plasticity

Part II. Misfelt Feelings: Unconscious Affect Between Psychoanalysis, Neuroscience, and Philosophy (Adrian Johnston)

8. Guilt and the Feel of Feeling: Toward a New Conception of Affects
9. Feeling Without Feeling: Freud and the Unresolved Problem of Unconscious Guilt
10. Affects, Emotions, and Feelings: Freud's Metapsychologies of Affective Life
11. From Signifiers to Jouis-sens: Lacan’s Senti-ments and Affectuations
12. Emotional Life After Lacan: From Psychoanalysis to the Neurosciences
13. Affects Are Signifiers: The Infinite Judgment of a Lacanian Affective Neuroscience
Postface: The Paradoxes of the Principle of Constancy

* * * * *

This is one has only been out for the last month or two, and it's dated 2014, but I have a pdf review copy of it. It's a good overview of the ethical issues surrounding biotechnology.

Human Nature in an Age of Biotechnology: The Case for Mediated Posthumanism

by Tamar Sharon
Springer, 2014
Content Level: Research

About the Book:
  • Presents a comparison of models via an exploration of key issues, from human enhancement, to eugenics, and new configurations of biopower
  • Offers a new perspective on human-technology relations that evades the dichotomy of “protecting” ourselves from technology vs. embracing technology as progress
  • Includes a special chapter on molecular biomedicine and evolutionary biology links STS and philosophy of technology to current trends in biology
New biotechnologies have propelled the question of what it means to be human – or posthuman – to the forefront of societal and scientific consideration. This volume provides an accessible, critical overview of the main approaches in the debate on posthumanism, and argues that they do not adequately address the question of what it means to be human in an age of biotechnology. Not because they belong to rival political camps, but because they are grounded in a humanist ontology that presupposes a radical separation between human subjects and technological objects.

The volume offers a comprehensive mapping of posthumanist discourse divided into four broad approaches—two humanist-based approaches: dystopic and liberal posthumanism, and two non-humanist approaches: radical and methodological posthumanism. The author compares and contrasts these models via an exploration of key issues, from human enhancement, to eugenics, to new configurations of biopower, questioning what role technology plays in defining the boundaries of the human, the subject and nature for each.

Building on the contributions and limitations of radical and methodological posthumanism, the author develops a novel perspective, mediated posthumanism, that brings together insights in the philosophy of technology, the sociology of biomedicine, and Michel Foucault’s work on ethical subject constitution. In this framework, technology is neither a neutral tool nor a force that alienates humanity from itself, but something that is always already part of the experience of being human, and subjectivity is viewed as an emergent property that is constantly being shaped and transformed by its engagements with biotechnologies. Mediated posthumanism becomes a tool for identifying novel ethical modes of human experience that are richer and more multifaceted than current posthumanist perspectives allow for.

The book will be essential reading for students and scholars working on ethics and technology, philosophy of technology, poststructuralism, technology and the body, and medical ethics.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction.
Chapter 2. A Cartography of the Posthuman.
Chapter 3. The Human Enhancement Debate: For, Against and from Human Nature.
Chapter 4. Towards a Non-Humanist Posthumanism: The Originary Prostheticity of Radical and Methodological Posthumanism.
Chapter 5. From Molar to Molecular Bodies: Posthumanist Frameworks in Contemporary Biology.
Chapter 6. Posthuman Subjectivity: Beyond Modern Metaphysics.
Chapter 7. Technologically Produced Nature: Nature Beyond Schizophrenia and Paranoia.
Chapter 8. New Modes of Ethical Selfhood: Geneticization and Genetically Responsible Subjectivity.
Chapter 9. Conclusion.

 * * * * *

Yes, a book by a Catholic contemplative is one of the best things I have read this year. I began reading his books to vet them for my clients who are Christian and who have never been introduced to nondual thinking or the Perennial Philosophy.

Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self

by Richard Rohr
Jossey-Bass, 2013

About the Book:

Dissolve the distractions of ego to find our authentic selves in God

In his bestselling book Falling Upward, Richard Rohr talked about ego (or the False Self) and how it gets in the way of spiritual maturity. But if there's a False Self, is there also a True Self? What is it? How is it found? Why does it matter? And what does it have to do with the spiritual journey? This book likens True Self to a diamond, buried deep within us, formed under the intense pressure of our lives, that must be searched for, uncovered, separated from all the debris of ego that surrounds it. In a sense True Self must, like Jesus, be resurrected, and that process is not resuscitation but transformation.

  • Shows how to navigate spiritually difficult terrain with clear vision and tools to uncover our True Selves
  • Written by Father Richard Rohr, the bestselling author of Falling Upward
  • Examines the fundamental issues of who we are and helps us on our path of spiritual maturity
Immortal Diamond (whose title is taken from a line in a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem) explores the deepest questions of identity, spirituality, and meaning in Richard Rohr's inimitable style.


Invitation: The Immortal Diamond of the True Self

1 What Is ‘‘The True Self’’? 
2 What Is ‘‘The False Self’’?
3 What Dies and Who Lives?
4 The Knife Edge of Experience
5 Thou Art That
6 If It Is True, It Is True Everywhere
7 Enlightenment at Gunpoint
8 Intimate with Everything
9 Love Is Stronger Than Death

Appendix A The True Self and the False Self
Appendix B A Mosaic of Metaphors
Appendix C Watching at the Tomb: Attitudes for Prayer
Appendix D Head into Heart: ‘‘The Sacred Heart’’
Appendix E Adam’s Breathing: Praying from the Clay
Appendix F Twelve Ways to Practice Resurrection Now

* * * * *

Science has a shadow as well as being the gift that has made our lives much easier - this book, originally published in Italy in 2010, takes a meta-perspective on this topic.

The Tree of Knowledge: The Bright and the Dark Sides of Science

by Claudio Ronchi
Springer, 2014 (original Italian publication was 2010)
Content Level: Popular/general

About the Book:
  • A fascinating long view of science by an author with extensive "insider" knowledge
  • Warns against the assumption that science equates with salvation
  • Paints plausible pictures of different futures, showing how they relate to our use and abuse of science
Whether considered a divine gift or a Promethean conquest, science has indisputably and indelibly marked the course of human history. A product of the intellectual elite, but always nourished by the many fruits of its applications, science appears today to be a perfect system, whose laws and discoveries guide all human activities. Yet the foundations of its authority remain an open question, entailing disquieting aspects that are also to be identified in modern science. Furthermore it is seen to be exerting an increasing power over mankind. Readers are invited to follow an itinerary through the history of science, a voyage which, in the end, enables them to catch a glimpse of two divergent futures: One in which science accelerates the downfall of Homo sapiens, and another in which it helps our species to engage in a new and positive adventure, whose outcome nobody can know.

Table of Contents:

1. Time of Growth
2. Birth and Floruit of Science in the Occident
3. Scientific Research as a Global Enterprise
4. The Crisis of Growth
5. Orthodoxy Versus Heresy
6. The Dissemination of Knowledge
7. Beyond Mankind
8. Artificial Intelligence and Post-Humanity
9. The Beginning and the ‘‘End’’
Appendix A: Glossary
* * * * *

This one is fun, and who doesn't love a superhero? But it's also a bit lame in places - however, it is worth the read.

Edited by Robin S. Rosenberg, PhD
Oxford University Press, 2013

About the Book:
  • Explores why children and adults are captivated by superheroes
  • Brief essays raise fascinating questions about human nature
Superhero fans are everywhere, from the teeming halls of Comic Con to suburban movie theaters, from young children captivated by their first comic books to the die-hard collectors of vintage memorabilia. Why are so many people fascinated by superheroes?

In this thoughtful, engaging, and at times eye-opening volume, Robin Rosenberg--a writer and well-known authority on the psychology of superheroes--offers readers a wealth of insight into superheroes, drawing on the contributions of a top group of psychologists and other scholars. The book ranges widely and tackles many intriguing questions. How do comic characters and stories reflect human nature? Do super powers alone make a hero super? Are superhero stories good for us? Most contributors answer that final question in the affirmative. Psychologist Robert J. Sternberg, for instance, argues that we all can learn a lot from superheroes-and what we can learn most of all is the value of wisdom and an ethical stance toward life. On the other hand, restorative justice scholar Mikhail Lyubansky decries the fact that justice in the comic-book world is almost entirely punitive, noting extreme examples such as "Rorschach" in The Watchmen and the aptly named "The Punisher, who embrace a strict eye-for-an-eye sense of justice, delivered instantly and without mercy.

In the end, the appeal of Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and legions of others is simple and elemental. Superheroes provide drama, excitement, suspense, and romance and their stories showcase moral dilemmas, villains we love to hate, and protagonists who inspire us. Perhaps as important, their stories allow us to recapture periods of our childhood when our imaginations were cranked up to the maximum--when we really believed we could fly, or knock down the bad guy, or save the city from disaster.

Table of Contents
Part I: Our Relationship with Superheroes
Introduction: Robin Rosenberg
Chapter 1. our fascination with superheroes: Robin Rosenberg
Chapter 2. Superhero comics as Moral Pornography: David Pizarro and Roy Baumeister
Chapter 3. Are Superhero Stories Good for Us?: Reflections from Clinical Practice: Lawrence Rubin
Chapter 4. Emotions in Comics: Why the Silver Age of comics made a difference: Peter Jordan
Chapter 5. The Effects of Superhero Sagas on Our Gendered Selves: Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz and Hillary Pennell

Part II: The Humanity of Superheroes
Chapter 6. Our Superheroes, Our Supervillains: Are They All That Different? Travis Langley
Chapter 7. Are Superheroes Just Supergifted? Robin Rosenberg and Ellen Winner
Chapter 8. The Very Real Work Lives of Superheroes: Illustrations of Work Psychology: Gary Burns
Chapter 9. How super are superheroes? Robert Sternberg
Chapter 10. Superhero Justice: Mikhail Lyubansky

* * * * *

This one is also new (out since October, but listed as 2014). ACT is a cognitive based therapy model developed by Steven C. Hayes (University of Nevada), who strangely does not have a chapter in this book. It adds a mindfulness component (as everything does these days), and this discusses how to use this model with the symptoms of psychosis.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Mindfulness for Psychosis

Editors: Eric M. J. Morris, Louise C. Johns, Joseph E. Oliver
Wiley-Blackwell, 2013

About the Book:

Emerging from cognitive behavioural traditions, mindfulness and acceptance-based therapies hold promise as new evidence-based approaches for helping people distressed by the symptoms of psychosis. These therapies emphasise changing the relationship with unusual and troublesome experiences through cultivating experiential openness, awareness, and engagement in actions based on personal values. In this volume, leading international researchers and clinicians describe the major treatment models and research background of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Person-Based Cognitive Therapy (PBCT), as well as the use of mindfulness, in individual and group therapeutic contexts. The book contains discrete chapters on developing experiential interventions for voices and paranoia, conducting assessment and case formulation, and a discussion of ways to work with spirituality from a metacognitive standpoint. Further chapters provide details of how clients view their experiences of ACT and PBCT, as well as offering clear protocols based on clinical practice. This practical and informative book will be of use to clinicians and researchers interested in understanding and implementing ACT and mindfulness interventions for people with psychosis. 

Table of Contents

Foreword: Acceptance, Mindfulness and Psychotic Disorders: Creating a New Place to Begin
1. Introduction to Mindfulness and Acceptance-based Therapies for Psychosis: Joseph E. Oliver, Candice Joseph, Majella Byrne, Louise C. Johns and Eric M. J. Morris
2. Theory on Voices: Fran Shawyer, Neil Thomas, Eric M. J. Morris and John Farhall
3. Emotional Processing and Metacognitive Awareness for Persecutory Delusions: Claire Hepworth, Helen Startup and Daniel Freeman
4. Clinical Assessment and Assessment Measures: John Farhall, Fran Shawyer, Neil Thomas and Eric M. J. Morris
5. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Case Formulation: Patty Bach
6. Engaging People with Psychosis in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Mindfulness: Brandon A. Gaudiano and Andrew M. Busch
7. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Voices: Neil Thomas, Eric M. J. Morris, Fran Shawyer and John Farhall
8. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Delusions: José Manuel García Montes, Marino Pérez Álvarez and Salvador Perona Garcelán
9. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Emotional Dysfunction following Psychosis: Ross White
10. Person-based Cognitive Therapy for Distressing Psychosis: Lyn Ellett
11. Spirituality: A New Way into Understanding Psychosis: Isabel Clarke
12. The Service User Experience of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Person-based Cognitive Therapy: Joseph E. Oliver, Mark Hayward, Helena B. McGuiness and Clara Strauss
13. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for First-episode Psychosis: Joseph E. Oliver and Eric M. J. Morris
14. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Psychosis in Acute Psychiatric Admission Settings
Gordon Mitchell and Amy McArthur
15. Developing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Psychosis as a Group-based Intervention: Amy McArthur, Gordon Mitchell and Louise C. Johns
16. Group Person-based Cognitive Therapy for Distressing Psychosis: Clara Strauss and Mark Hayward

Appendix A: Chessboard Metaphor
Appendix B: Leaves-on-the-Stream Metaphor 
Appendix C: Passengers-on-the-Bus Metaphor
Appendix D: Person-in-the-Hole Metaphor 
Appendix E: Polygraph Metaphor 
Appendix F: See the Wood for the Trees (And Other Helpful Advice for Living Life)
Appendix G: Skiing Metaphor
Appendix H: Tug-of-War-with-the-Monster Metaphor

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