The Highly Sensitive Person

by Elaine N. Aron Ph.D.

The value of this book, as it pertains to all those struggling with eating disorders, is understanding how much societal framing of our natural predispositions can complicate our ability to be at peace with our natural selves. Many patients with restrictive eating behaviors also struggle with sensory overload common to sensitive people and Aron has very useful advice and techniques to apply to help live in cultures that revere extroverted and low-sensitivity types.

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How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers

by Toni Bernhard and Sylvia Boorstein (foreword)

Another book that I regularly recommend to those trudging through the physical challenge that is recovery from an eating disorder. Don't be at all leery of the "Buddhist-inspired" element (if you happen to follow a different faith or not faith at all). It could just as easily have been titled "A Dialectic-Inspired..." in that the core of the message is about being able to hold both realities at once: being sick and hopeful for health all at once. An excellent book if you are struggling with "wanting recovery to be over, so I can get back to my life."

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The Migraine Brain: Your Breakthrough Fewer Headaches, Better Health

by Carolyn Bernstein M.D. and Elaine McArdle

Sadly many folk with eating disorders also struggle with migraines. Big warning on this book -- when the good doctor veers into the nutrition side, well, suffice to say doctors don't get a whole lot of education and training on nutrition so just be very careful that you keep your eating disorder-thoughts well-barricaded away from those parts of the book. That said, she does not suggest diet remediation has any value for the treatment of migraines across the board. Some individuals find some things (most commonly red wine) will trigger a migraine, but there are as many who can tolerate chocolate and cheese as there are those for whom it will trigger a migraine. And when it comes to migraines, this is *the* definitive book on the topic in my opinion.

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The Way of Transition: Embracing Life's Most Difficult Moments

by William Bridges

William Bridges has made a career out of educating and training others on how to navigate transitions in life, and he did this mostly within the corporate world. This book reflects the point at which he had to face practicing what he had been preaching all those years. It is personal journey through transition that I believe will help many navigate the significant transition that is the path from active eating disorder to remission.

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

by Susan Cain

Alongside The Highly Sensitive Person, Quiet is a good book for those who believe they might have introverted tendencies and want to figure out how to navigate within a world that is skewed towards extroversion as the more appealing trait to have for "getting ahead". While I do not know definitively whether there are a higher number of introverts in the eating disorder population relative to the population at large, even if it matches the population at large, that still nets out at at least 20% of the community who will find this book really helps them.

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A Mind of Its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives

by Cordelia Fine

Cordelia Fine is such a brilliant and humorous writer that it would be easy to overlook that this is a very well-turned out and definitive meta-analysis on all things self-delusional (and healthy) about our brains. When the mildly-depressed are the ones who have an objective take on things, you begin to grasp that mental illness is not illness but perhaps altered brain function that serves an overall purpose for group survival.

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The Face of Emotion: How Botox Affects Our Moods and Relationships

by Eric Finzi

This book is a lot more than just how Botox affects moods. It is a really useful and scientific investigation on how our facial muscles and emotions have two-way communication. And that means that changing our facial expression will change our mood as much as our mood can change our facial expressions. For those who struggle with co-morbid and treatment resistant depression, Botox has some fascinating initial trial data to support its ability to alleviate depressive symptoms where all other treatments have failed.

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Your Medical Mind: How to Decide What Is Right for You

by Jerome Groopman, M.D. and Pamela Hartzband, M.D.

Doctors Groopman and Hartzband explain that each of us has a “medical mind,” a highly individual approach to weighing the risks and benefits of treatments. Are you a minimalist or a maximalist, a believer or a doubter, do you look for natural healing or the latest technology? The authors weave vivid narratives of real patients with insights from recent research to demonstrate the power of the medical mind. After reading this groundbreaking book, you will know how to arrive at choices that serve you best.

One of the best books I've come across for helping you to ascertain the care you will seek out and the kind of professional help you will and will not be willing to work with before you step foot inside a doctor's office.

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Women Who Worry Too Much: How to Stop Worry and Anxiety from Ruining Relationships, Work, and Fun

by Holly Hazlett-Stevens Ph.D. and Michelle G. Craske Ph.D.

A very quick and approachable read. Hazlett-Stevens provides excellent tools and techniques to address anxiety levels that impede quality of life. As the restriction eating disorder spectrum has significant overlap with various anxiety disorders, this books is a really useful tool in conjunction with cognitive behavioral therapy to learn to apply non-restrictive eating behaviors while being able to handle the accompanying increase in anxiety that it will produce.

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Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness

by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Jon Kabat-Zinn is a molecular biologist who has dedicated his professional career to integrating meditative practices within medical environments, in particular in areas where there has been poor medical outcomes for patients. He has undertaken and published numerous clinical trials clearly indicating the evidence-based outcomes of mindfulness practice are measurably beneficial to patients. He has written several books all of which I am sure are good, this however happens to be the one I have read and would recommend. The one proviso to this book is that there is nutritional advice within the later chapters that are not at all applicable to those on the eating disorder spectrum. As Kabat-Zinn works with individuals with pre-existing disease states that are degenerative and usually progressive, his diet advice will likely provide relief for patients only within those contexts. As long as you are prepared to ignore the nutritional advice, the practice of mindfulness as explained in this book is worth a read.

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Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin– How to Recognize and Set Healthy Boundaries

by Anne Katherine M.A.

Many of those who have walked into their adult lives with eating disorders that remain active but perhaps managed often appear to benefit from addressing all the ways in which restriction is used to avoid addressing numerous boundary infractions that occur both in their personal and professional lives. This is a great book for exploring whether your sense of boundaries between yourself and others is life-enhancing or life-limiting for you. One word of warning: as is common these days, many in the counseling field feel qualified to make pronouncements on eating, nutrition and Anne Katherine is no exception. Please just ignore the false information on emotional eating, food addiction and the like in this book.

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The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Anxiety: A Step-by-Step Program

by Bill Knaus Ed.D.

This book comes highly recommended both by colleagues as well as some members on this site in helping them progress with their recovery from restrictive eating behaviors. If cognitive behavioral therapy with a counselor is not an option for you, then this book is a very good option. As I mention often on the forum, CBT is a clinically proven method for helping you support a very robust and complete remission from restrictive eating behaviors because it is tackling the underlying neurobiological underpinnings of the condition in a way that mere weight restoration cannot achieve.

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DBT Skills Training Manual

by Marsha M. Linehan

From Marsha M. Linehan--the developer of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)--this comprehensive resource provides vital tools for implementing DBT skills training. The reproducible teaching notes, handouts, and worksheets used for over two decades by hundreds of thousands of practitioners have been significantly revised and expanded to reflect important research and clinical advances. The book gives complete instructions for orienting clients to DBT, plus teaching notes for the full range of mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance skills. Handouts and worksheets are not included in the book; purchasers get access to a Web page where they can download and print all the handouts and worksheets discussed, as well as the teaching notes.

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Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself

by Kristin Neff, Ph.D.

I am forever sending visitors to this site over to Dr. Neff's site and this book is worthwhile picking up as well. Again, I have to warn everyone that Dr. Neff is not a nutritionist and so when she heads into that territory, keep your eating-disorder thoughts well in check. She is no exception to many professionals I am referencing in this section who offers up the usual common nonsense that is cultural but not scientific in nature. However, when she writes within her area of expertise (self-compassion) the information, trial data and techniques she offers for building self-compassion into your life are truly invaluable to those undertaking the recovery process from an eating disorder.

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Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, Third Edition

by Robert M. Sapolsky

Sapolsky, a professor of biology and neurology, addresses how prolonged stress causes or exacerbates many physiological and neurological afflictions. A great read, this book is pertinent to all those who are applying restrictive and unbounded eating behaviors because the complex interplay of environmental long-term and unresolved stressors (strained relationships, unpleasant jobs, poverty...) with natural eating behaviors create a difficult trap whereby stress begets harmful eating behaviors begets stress, and so on--and Sapolsky addresses ways to find a way out of the cycle.

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Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error

by Kathryn Schulz

I picked up this book on the basis of her TEDTalk and I was not disappointed. As so many working through recovery from an eating disorder struggle mightily with getting the recovery process "right" and have low tolerance for errors or mistakes of any kind, this book is a brilliant exposition on why being wrong is so great.

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Don't Let Emotions Ruin Your Life: How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Can Put You in Control

by Scott E. Spradin

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a treatment approach that helps those with eating disorders who also find that their emotions seem out-sized and the intensity is unbearable. In fact, restrictive eating behaviors may have been inadvertently reinforced for you precisely because they knock down emotional intensity and so as you begin to re-feed and rest, you might find the surge of emotional content in your mind is raw and extremely painful. This is a hands-on workbook to help you develop DBT techniques. DBT as a treatment approach requires psychotherapeutic guidance and group support, but this workbook will certainly support that process.

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The Gaslight Effect: How to spot and survive the hidden manipulation others use to control your life

by Dr. Robin Stern

A useful and approachable book looking at how to identify and address boundaries with others where their needs and view always take precedence over yours. Dr. Stern coined the term "gaslight effect" in reference to the 1944 movie "Gaslight" where Ingrid Bergman's character marries a man interested in getting his hands on the jewels that were bequeathed to her by her murdered aunt. His plan is to make her think she is losing her mind so that she can be committed to an asylum. He denies the gaslights flicker when she clearly sees they do. She is saved by a constable interested in the cold case of her aunt's murder. The book is filled with practical lists for identifying whether you are dealing with a gaslight effect in your own life and what you can do to stop dancing the gaslight tango.

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Things Might Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong: A Guide to Life Liberated from Anxiety

by Kelly G. Wilson, Troy DuFrene

Things Might Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong will help you climb inside anxiety, sit in that place, and see what it would be like to have anxiety and still make room in your life to breathe and rest and live — really and truly live — in a way that matters to you.

As eating disorders are anxiety disorders at heart, this book has solid applicability for those working on the brain re-training foundation that assures a solid and resilient remission from an eating disorder.

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Rethinking Madness: Towards a Paradigm Shift in Our Understanding and Treatment of Psychosis

by Paris Williams, Ph.D.

While not many with eating disorders experience psychosis (it can happen during severe starvation however), I recommend this book for what it can teach us more broadly on the paradigm of medicalized mental illness and its failure to provide promised outcomes and improvements for patients.

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The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life

by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander

The Art of Possibility combines Benjamin Zander's experience as conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and his talent as a teacher and communicator with psychotherapist Rosamund Stone Zander's genius for designing innovative paradigms for personal and professional fulfillment. The authors' harmoniously interwoven perspectives provide a deep sense of the powerful role that the notion of possibility can play in every aspect of life.

There is an infectiousness to the authors' enthusiasm and passion. A very useful takeaway for those with eating disorders bound by the construct that mistakes are failures, is how to experience and frame mistakes as possibility– an "How interesting!" moment to spur curiosity rather than disappointment or shame.

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