Recommended Reading

Books and Journal Articles

Schnarch, David. (2009). Intimacy and Desire: Awaken the Passion in Your Relationship. Beaufort Books.
In his third book written for the public as well as for mental health professionals, Dr. Schnarch continues to refine the concepts he introduced in his earlier publications Passionate Marriage (PM) and Resurrecting Sex (RS). In this book, he moves from explaining the core dynamic of marriage and intimate relationships (PM), from addressing sexual dysfunction (RS), to address the questions of desire and the desire to desire. As in all of his writing, problems of sexual desire similar to problems of relationship conflict, can be viewed as an opportunity for self-transcendence. He explores the reasons why normal people have desire problems, how your childhood and life history may be affecting your sexual desire, and also how the mechanisms of the body and brain can be recruited to work for the benefit of enhancing sexual desire as well as creating better sex. Sound good? Try reading this and keep an open mind. I think you will find something there, if not many things there, for you.
Schnarch, D (2002). Resurrecting Sex: Resolving Sexual Problems and Rejuvenating Your Relationship. Harper Perennial.
Similar to Passionate Marriage, this book offers a radical departure from "Cosmo" type sex suggestions, and applies the ideas of differentiation and passion more specifically to your sexual relationship.
Schnarch, David (1997). Passionate Marriage (or Passionate Couples): Keeping Love & Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships. Henry Holt and Co.
Much of what informs the work I do and the theory behind it is contained in this book. I credit and thank David for the truly revolutionary work on the systems of love and sex. The ideas behind making a radical shift in how you think about what will improve your relationship are outlined here. Dr. Schnarch has worked with LGB couples and Passionate Couples attempts to remove the heterosexual bias in language.
Lewis, T., Amini, F., Lannon, R (2000). A General Theory of Love. Vintage Books.
Three psychiatrists, dissatisfied with the standard accounts of the mind, offer a theory on the "psychobiology of love" trying to explain common experiences such as why, despite conscious attempts to avoid this, we often seem to choose people who end up being just like our mother or our father.
Kegan, Robert & Lahey, Lisa Laskow. (2009). Immunity to Change. How to overcome it and unlock the potential in yourself and your organization. Harvard Business Press.
Many of us know the feeling of having identified an area of change we want to accomplish, setting out with a plan, then finding ourselves firmly rooted in staying the same as we had been. Change not manifested. Kegan, the brilliant author of several professional books and many publications in the area of cognitive development, developmental cognitive progression, mindsets, and mental complexity in adulthood offers this book along with his co-author Lisa Lahey, which is the culmination of two whole professional lives to provide a "road-tested" technique for bringing about significant change that here-to-for elude us for reasons that are hidden to us despite the best of intentions. In this book, Kegan and Lahey present a procedure, distilled over decades of research and testing, by which people can uncover the hidden motivations and beliefs that prevent them from making the very changes they know they should make and very much want to make. Kegan and Lehey have demonstrated in corporate as well as clinical settings the effectiveness of their procedure. A great read.
De Becker, Gavin. (1997). The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us from Violence. Dell Trade Paperback.
This is an unblinking, must read book which is intellectually satisfying, full of useful stories that make the very difficult topic understandable, practical, as well as quite scary. De Becker's stance is that we as a society prefer to not think of everyday violence that occurs often and across all demographics. We prefer not to think about the fact that rape occurs at a rate of about 75 an hour in the U.S., that homicide is the leading cause of death for women in the workplace, and that we are a nation with more firearms than adults. Pointing out that we fail to use our own capacity to make behavioral predictions for our own safety because we have been fed poor facts, we do not want to acknowledge how dangerous our communities are in particular for women and children, and we do not want to face that the murder rate in the U.S. is ten times that of other Western nations, Gavin De Becker seeks to give a clear eyed, emotionally steely account of how to recognize dangerous people and to act so that we may keep ourselves more safe. He is a three time presidential appointee, twice to the U.S. President's Advisory Board to the Justice Department. He has served two terms on the Governor's Advisory Board at the California Department of Mental Health. He founded a 300 member consulting firm on threats and hazards of interpersonal violence, stalking, and homocide that advises government agencies, universities, police departments, and corporations. His consulting firm also has the largest collection of threats and obsessive communication consisting of over 400,000 items. He sees his goal as reminding each of us that we have deeply evolved intuitions that signal on behalf of our survival and safety that are routinely overruled by "judgement" and social norms that urge women in particular to ignore their intuitive selves.
Kahneman, David. (2010). Thinking, Fast and Slow. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
This book by a Nobel Prize winner presenting the results of work done over many years in collaboration with Amos Tversky (whom the author recognizes would have won the Nobel Prize as well had he lived long enough) presents compelling description and explanation of the processes that influence human judgment and choices. Kahneman wonders about the occurrence of systematic biases in thinking and "intuition" and attempts to speak to the biases that are created by a brain process that favors efficiency and thus can be prone to errors. Rather than denigrating intuition or human intelligence, Kahneman is attempting to improve the ability to identify and understand errors of judgment and choice in others and also in ourselves by providing a richer and more precise language with which to evaluate our thinking processes, both intuitive and analytical, so that we may make fewer mistakes. I feel that this has immediate application to those who must make rapid, fairly precise choices (decisions) as in workplace circumstances. But, these ideas would be equally important and useful to any of us in situations of daily life problem solving. The author's aim is to draw on recent developments in cognitive and social psychology on the heuristics of judgment. The use of "intuition" in Kahneman's sense is not the same as is used by DeBecker who urges us to listen to intuitions that warn of danger even though our rational or social selves might want to argue.
Root, M.P.P. (2001). Love's Revolution: Interracial Marriage. Temple University Press.
The occurrence of interracial marriage in the United States is increasing steadily. This book is an excellent resource that explores the strengths, political implications, history and experiences of interracial marriage in the U.S.
Gottman, J. (1994). Why Marriages Succeed or Fail. Simon and Schuster.
This is a landmark book based on impressive research by the well renown Seattle psychologist, researcher, and university professor. It explains in simple language some powerful patterns in marriage and their implication.
Goddard, Jamie & Brungardt, Kurt. (2000). Lesbian Sex Secrets for Men. Nexus.
Yup. It's here because sometimes we all need new ideas, encouragement, confidence, or just some technique. If you got through some of my earlier suggestions and you get that it is not about technique but of the evolution of yourself, you may be ready for this book. I think this book combines juicy ideas for pleasuring women, and never forgets the reality that the ultimate turn on is to be an attentive caring lover who is genuinely interested in the woman and her pleasure. So, here's a guide to stepping up to the plate.
Anderson, Dan & Berman, Maggie. (1997). Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay man. Harper.
Yup, again. Ditto what I said above. By the way, if you saw Hope Springs, the 2012 movie with Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones about a middle aged couple who seek sex and marital therapy with Steve Carrell, this book appeared there. I found this book much more "technique-y" than I might like, but maybe that's because I'm a straight woman. Worth a look with an open mind.
Cozolino, L. (2002). The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy. W.W. Norton: New York: N.Y.
Cozolino presents a compelling, very readable exploration and explication of psychotherapy and brain functions. Proposing a reconciliation between neuroscience and psychotherapy, he shows that despite the fact that many forms of psychotherapy were developed without the benefit of the current data about the brain, the effects of these psychotherapies are now supported by neuroscientific findings. This book argues that the brain is an organ of adaptation, built by interpersonal experiences and capable of change during one's life. Written for anyone interested in the relationship between brain and behavior, it encourages us to consider the brain when attempting to understand others and ourselves.
Losowick, L. (1995). The Alchemy of Love and Sex. Hohm Press.
Have you ever wondered about tantric sex and the spirituality with which it is associated? Losowick writes: "The Divine is not discovered by becoming more and more 'far out'. The Divine is discovered by becoming optimally normal". Here is a good read on the topic.
Mukherjee, Siddhartha. (2010). The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. Scribner.
Why is a book on cancer part of my reading list? The answer lies in the experience of this book which is beautifully written, rich with stories of those who comprise the story of cancer in human history, and cited with a scholar's concern for access to the sources that inform the story. In reading this book, which caught my eye as I stood waiting to board an airplane, held by a serious looking young man who could have been a graduate student or a medical student, I thought to myself, "this is one of the most compelling stories of our times: cancer." It is easy to not want to read it, because after all, it is about cancer. But, do read it. Because within the story of cancer across human history also lies the story of politics, of hermit scientists on the edge of the university or biotech corporation petri dish driven by a passion or an inexplicable call, of luck and perseverance. In this biography, the multiple forces that shape what we know or think we know about any public health matter are described and put into full view. It is inspiring and frustrating, simultaneously, although ultimately, it is a story of triumph. I can fully imagine that the story or biography of mental illness, its treatment, evolving notions of mental wellness, and awaiting the final dissolution of the mind/body divide is every bit as enthralling, compelling, complicated, and important for us all to know. This book gave me an appreciation for the complex forces that form public and professional opinion.
Barash, D. & Lipton, J. (1997). Making Sense of Sex: How Genes and Gender Influence our Relationships. Island Press.
People are fond of saying that monogamy is "unnatural". This animal behavior psychologist and psychiatrist take on the notion and explain when and why monogamy occurs in the animal kingdom.
Root, M.P.P. (1992). Racially Mixed People in America. Sage Publications.
This groundbreaking book offers explanations, insights, and historical accounts for the complexity of racial tensions and realities in the U.S. today. This author was influential in the alterations made in the 2000 census, and is a pioneer in multiracial identity issues.
Root, M.P.P. (1996). The Multicultural Experience. Sage Publications.
Dr. Maria Root's follow up book to her groundbreaking 1992 publication further explores the strengths, challenges, and realities facing individuals, couples, and families who are mixed racially & ethnically. This is a more complex treatment of the subject.
Maddock, J. & Larson, N. (1995). Incestuous Families: An Ecological Approach to Understanding and Treatment. Norton & Co.
This is one of the best books I know of for describing the systemic/ecological approach I employ. Although it is a text for professionals and deals with very difficult families, the description of power struggles is useful for anyone. These are two people to whom I owe a deep debt of gratitude and from whom I learned so of my best stuff.
Gladwell, M. (2002). Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. Little, Brown, and Co.
This wildly popular book makes liberal use of psychological principles and findings and applies them to understand some of the common phenomena that we see in U.S. culture today.
Wilbur, K. (2007). Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Post Modern World. Shambala.
A noted Buddhist, philosopher, and prolific writer comments on the nature of change and the evolution of religion and spirituality. This book offers a heady but well written integration of why your emotional and psychological evolution is a spiritual act.
Seligman, M: The Effectiveness of Psychotherapy: The Consumer Reports Study. American Psychologist, December 1995, Copyright 1995 by the American Psychological Association, Inc., 0003-066X/95/Vol. 50, No. 12, 965?974.
In conjunction with the nation's best known product researchers, this psychologist surveyed the readers of Consumer Reports and on the basis of responses from over 7000 respondents, Seligman concludes that psychotherapy patients benefited substantially, that longer term therapy did better than short term, and that psychotherapy alone did not differ in effectiveness from medication plus psychotherapy treatments. Of course, these are aggregated results and individual considerations must be made to determiner the best approach for you.

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