PTSD reading list

Psychologically heavy reads: These books have a lot of statistics, therapy types, are more academic and can sometimes contain a fair amount of jargon. But I have found that trying to understand the disease/disorder from a clinical point of view can actually help build the language to talk about how PTSD specifically affects and effects me.

  • In an Unspoken Voice by Dr. Peter A. Levine
    • First off- I have not finished this book (as of 2.4.2017) it is definitely an academic heavy book. Medical, physiological, and psychological academic, so lots of jargon. But there’s Lots of fun anatomy diagrams!
    • Explains the obvious and often never considered causes of trauma
    • Speaks to how trauma is a normal response of the body, but has been painted in a bad light and become taboo, so people are often prevented from going through the natural cycle of releasing trauma- which he seems (so far) to imply that this suppression of a natural cycle could be an underlying cause or how PTSD is formed


  • The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.
    • This book is very comprehensive it covers the depths and varied forms of trauma and causes and effects from a neuroscience point of view, societal implications, the obstacles in dealing with the American Psychology Association and accurate diagnoses, as well as a variety of therapy techniques.Including my current favorite the Internal Family Systems model of therapy.
    • van der Kolk is a pioneer in the study of trauma, and was one of the first to take it seriously as it’s own sort of mental disorder
    • This is a positive book that underlines that trauma can be healed, but that it can often be a grueling process, (though not always).
    • Also the audiobook is available and quite good. I’ve listened to it at least four times.
    • Personally this has been one of the most helpful books, and influential books I’ve read in a very long time, and has helped me a great deal.


Workbooks: These books are workbooks that are best to go through with your therapist, but honestly I have yet to finish either of these, because well I seem to have issues with committing to these, and often my therapy still is talk heavy. I think I’m close to being ready to make a commitment to really going through these fuckers. Also I am extremely prone to fixate on (or one might say meditate) on certain ideas/language phrasing and their implications and pick them apart. I think that me getting through workbooks suffer the most from this habit more than any other kind of book.

  • Healing Trauma- A Pioneering Program on Restoring Wisdom to Your Body by Dr. Peter A. Levine
    • Honestly I have read the introduction of this book and I think the first two chapters. That was like….five years ago, and then four and a half years ago, and then two years ago…
    • Why, you might ask?
      • Frankly in the first chapter Levine straight up LISTS the different reasons/circumstances why trauma may occur.
      • I was overwhelmed by how many things on that list I felt I could identify with and still haven’t really been able to decide if I’m overestimating or underestimating the effect each of these things have had on me
      • I have read four chapters of this and I done one of the exercises.
  • Letting Go of Self Destructive Behaviors by Lisa Ferentz
    • I still haven’t fully come to terms that I do self harm, so I basically just don’t want to face this part or parts of myself yet.

Funny Books and Anecdotal Stories:  These are books that aren’t by doctors or philosophers but fellow humans struggling/learning to thrive despite whatever their brain may lie to them about.

  • Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things: by Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess
    • It’s hilarious, I love it. I admit have not been an avid follower of her blog, but this book is great.
    • It’s inspirational- embrace your weird
    • It’s reassuring
    • She reads the audiobook and does a phenomenal job, plus- Bonus Chapter


Unconventional books I’ve found helpful: So, I’m a philosophy nerd. Particularly phenomenology, existentialism, and whatever Deleuze and Guattari are classified as.

  • The Primacy of Perception by Maurice Merleau-Ponty
    • Haven’t gone through the whole collection of essays, but have read Eye and Mind, I’m not sure how many times, I try to read it at least once a year.
      • Eye and Mind has really help me not only as an artist, but also in helping me rethink how to approach and look at my PTSD.
      • This book also helped me embrace the concept of embodiment and I cannot stress how important that has been for me.
  • The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
    • This famous essay has helped me accept the cyclical nature of PTSD
    • You may recognize that the title of my blog is plucked from the conclusion of this essay.
  • Theological-Political Treatise by Baruch Spinoza
    •  For me a huge help and sometimes hinderance in my healing process is unchaining and deprogramming from my Christian upbringing.
    • Spinoza first helped me see that the god I was raised to believe in doesn’t exist, and completely changed my world view, for the better.
    • This might be the densest book on this list, so far.




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