Mind Matters: The Gift of Books

In this
gift-giving season, allow me to suggest some books to buy for family and
friends (and yourself for that matter).

How to Be an Adult: A Handbook for Psychological and Spiritual
by David Richo, Ph.D. (Paulist
Press). This book I’ve surely mentioned before, but is such a nugget of wisdom
that it seems appropriate to highlight it again. The author describes his
little text as a handbook on how to become an adult. Adulthood is not a
chronological affair. We can be overwhelmed by childhood and old family of
origin themes even at the age of eighty-five if we do not take the time for
self-examination. This little book is meant to be savored and meditated upon,
little by little.

The Dance of Fear: Rising Above Anxiety, Fear, and Shame to Be
Your Best and Bravest Self
by Harriet Lerner, Ph.D. (New York:
Harper). Lerner has written numerous books, starting with her widely read Dance of Anger. All are filled with
personal stories, humor and wisdom about how to navigate the world of self in
relationships. Dance of Fear grapples
with anxiety, fear, and shame, inviting us to discover our brave selves.

Relationships: A New Way of Thinking About Human Interactions
, by Roberta Gilbert, M.D.. (New York: Wiley). Here is another
book about self in relationships. Like, Lerner, Gilbert bases her understanding
of relationships on the work of pioneer family therapist, Murray Bowen. And so,
here the reader learns how to handle relationships without being overwhelmed by
them or by going to the other extremes, being cut off from them. Perhaps if we
learn how to stay in relationships and manage conflict at home and in our
community, the circle can widen to effect the same skills in the community of

Stitches, by David Small. (Toronto:
McClelland & Stewart). This is a “cartoon” memoir gifted to me by some dear
Canadian friends. David Small takes us into the darkness of his confusing
childhood in which truth is unspoken and feelings are unacknowledged. He draws
us into his childhood trauma of throat surgery which leaves him a “a virtual
mute” due to one of his vocal chords having been removed. Ultimately, in the
facing of his past, Small reclaims his voice in his art and writing.

The Grace of Silence, by Michele
Norris. (New York: Pantheon Books). Another memoir, this one is by Michele
Norris, NPR co-host of All Things
. Norris explores her African-American roots, unearthing family
secrets, discovering how her father was shot by a Birmingham police officer
just weeks after his discharge from the Navy at the end of World War II. There
is ambiguity here about when a family truth is to be told.

The Greatest Story Oversold, by
Stan G Duncan. (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books). Duncan is both an economist and a
pastor and so takes on globalization with a moral critique that is faith-based.
Not a fun read, but a wakeup call to see the dots and how they connect in our
global environmental and financial crises.

So for
yourself or for someone who might like to be enlightened (hopefully, not
en-darkened by the heavy topics), how about a book this Christmas? Just to
note, the first three books above (How To
Be an Adult
, Dance of Fear, and Extraordinary Relationships) would be
helpful reads for handling the family stressors of the holidays.

* Kayta Curzie
Gajdos holds a doctorate in counseling psychology and is in private practice in
Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. She welcomes comments at
MindMatters@DrGajdos.com or (610)388-2888. Past columns are posted towww.drgajdos.com.

About Kayta Gajdos

Dr. Kathleen Curzie Gajdos ("Kayta") is a licensed psychologist (Pennsylvania and Delaware) who has worked with individuals, couples, and families with a spectrum of problems. She has experience and training in the fields of alcohol and drug addictions, hypnosis, family therapy, Jungian theory, Gestalt therapy, EMDR, and bereavement. Dr. Gajdos developed a private practice in the Pittsburgh area, and was affiliated with the Family Therapy Institute of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, having written numerous articles for the Family Therapy Newsletter there. She has published in the American Psychological Association Bulletin, the Family Psychologist, and in the Swedenborgian publications, Chrysalis and The Messenger. Dr. Gajdos has taught at the college level, most recently for West Chester University and Wilmington College, and has served as field faculty for Vermont College of Norwich University the Union Institute's Center for Distance Learning, Cincinnati, Ohio. She has also served as consulting psychologist to the Irene Stacy Community MH/MR Center in Western Pennsylvania where she supervised psychologists in training. Currently active in disaster relief, Dr. Gajdos serves with the American Red Cross and participated in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts as a member of teams from the Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.Now living in Chadds Ford, in the Brandywine Valley of eastern Pennsylvania, Dr. Gajdos combines her private practice working with individuals, couples and families, with leading workshops on such topics as grief and healing, the impact of multigenerational grief and trauma shame, the shadow and self, Women Who Run with the Wolves, motherless daughters, and mediation and relaxation. Each year at Temenos Retreat Center in West Chester, PA she leads a griefs of birthing ritual for those who have suffered losses of procreation (abortions, miscarriages, infertility, etc.); she also holds yearly A Day of Re-Collection at Temenos.Dr. Gajdos holds Master's degrees in both philosophy and clinical psychology and received her Ph.D. in counseling at the University of Pittsburgh. Among her professional affiliations, she includes having been a founding member and board member of the C.G. Jung Educational Center of Pittsburgh, as well as being listed in Who's Who of American Women. Currently, she is a member of the American Psychological Association, The Pennsylvania Psychological Association, the Delaware Psychological Association, the American Family Therapy Academy, The Association for Death Education and Counseling, and the Delaware County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Board. Woven into her professional career are Dr. Gajdos' pursuits of dancing, singing, and writing poetry.

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