Book Reviews

Note: all book reviews reflect my own personal opinion as a sufferer of anxiety, OCD, and depression. I am not a medical professional; as a PhD student, I’m naturally inclined to pick up books and read them to learn as much as I can about a given topic. When I realized I wasn’t the only person in the world who struggled with these things, it motivated me to start learning. As a graduate student, writing book reviews becomes sort of second nature, so it seems like a logical step to start posting them here. I’m always open for suggestions for further reading, and will review as many books here as I can.

Bassett, Lucinda. From Panic to Power: Proven Techniques to Calm Your Anxieties, Conquer Your Fears, and Put You in Control of Your Life. New York: Harper Collins, 1995. This was the first book on anxiety disorder I ever read. It was back before I understood that my anxiety and panic disorders, and OCD, and my parents’ hoarding, were all interconnected. I was about to do something *crazy* (for me) and take a two-week long academic trip to Eastern and Central Europe. I started having panic attacks before I even dropped the application envelope into the mail. Desperate to find a way to get through the two weeks intact, I scoured the bookstore for a book on a topic I didn’t fully understand, and came across Bassett. This book is extremely helpful as an introduction to panic disorders, and it’s written by a woman who has suffered through panic attacks and anxiety herself. Bassett provides helpful insights into how she dealt with panic in her daily life, and shares strategies that do help. When I picked up this book, I didn’t understand what was wrong with me – I had moved away from home; I’d always thought that once I did that, the rest of my panic would go away. It didn’t. Bassett’s book was an important introduction to anxiety, and it helped me start to think about taking control over my anxiety, rather than just of the symptoms. I highly recommend this book – it’s readable, full of good information, and Bassett’s writing is highly personal. If nothing else, she lets you know that you’re not alone – she’s been there too.

Brennan, Tricia. Looking Beyond the Mirror: 12 Steps to Overcoming Self Doubt. New York: New Holland Publishers, 2008. I bought this on a whim – who doesn’t need a little help overcoming self doubt? Brennan has made a name for herself as an “intuituve councilor” and consultant for the stars, mainly in the Los Angeles area. She claims to use clairaudient, clairsentient, and clairvoyant abilities to read the underlying imbalances causing self-confidence, self-doubt, and other issues, which she then offers solutions for overcoming. This particular book covers 12 different negative “addictive” behaviors and offers solutions by posing questions to ask yourself at the end of each chapter. …I don’t buy it. I will say that the book is a relatively engaging read, if you want to read about Brennan’s interactions with “a certain, famous Hollywood actress” or a “well-known model,” but it wasn’t as helpful as I would have hoped. I do think some of her suggestions for self-empowerment are well founded, but this format of presentation wasn’t successful for me. There’s definitely no harm in reading it, but there are more helpful books out there.

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