The best books about the connection between unfelt emotion and illness

Who am I?

I am an emotional intuitive with a background in psychology, five decades of hands-on experience, and a love and fascination for language. You could call me a Body-mind Translator or a Body Whisperer. I started systematically “listening” to bodies when I was seven, and have worked with thousands of bodies since then. In my books and in sessions, I have the words to translate the body’s messages so people understand what their body is communicating through tension and symptoms and make lasting improvement. My purpose and greatest joy are to catalyze deep healing where physical and emotional interconnect – directly in the body.  

I wrote...

Issues in Your Tissues: Heal Body and Emotion from the Inside Out

By Denise LaBarre,

Book cover of Issues in Your Tissues: Heal Body and Emotion from the Inside Out

What is my book about?

What happened to the energy of the tears you had to suck down as a kid? Or the anger you weren’t allowed to express? It accumulates in your body with like-energy to become pain, illness, and disease. 

Issues in Your Tissues is a practical, easy-to-read guide to exploring the unexpressed emotions you carry. My book offers the insights and tools you need to go into your own body, allow the energy to release, and get the healing answers you've been looking for. Its stories, cartoons, quiz, and exercises show you how you can reconnect to your internal communication system, shed your energetic “armor,” and heal the roots of even chronic illness. The health and aliveness you were born with are yours to reclaim with understanding and love.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Denise LaBarre Why did I love this book?

This widely popular book is paving the way for a revolution in awareness of how emotional energy manifests in the physical body. Finally, a medical doctor with traditional authority presents research that analytically substantiates this connection that we all have personal experience with.  I am grateful that this message is reaching so many people and helping them ask questions about how they can make connections in their own bodies to get their own healing answers. The next step is to do the work directly. ;-)

By Bessel Van Der Kolk,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked The Body Keeps the Score as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times bestseller

"Essential reading for anyone interested in understanding and treating traumatic stress and the scope of its impact on society." -Alexander McFarlane, Director of the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies

A pioneering researcher transforms our understanding of trauma and offers a bold new paradigm for healing in this New York Times bestseller

Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der…

Book cover of When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress

Denise LaBarre Why did I love this book?

From his years as a palliative and family physician, Dr. Maté recognizes that the physical and emotional shut-down and illness resulting from trauma or chronic stress is a natural response to overwhelming experiences. He sees beyond the standard medical model to treat his patients as whole people, not disconnected body parts or diagnoses. In this book, he shows that what medicine considers psychosomatic or imaginary is in fact a biological survival mechanism; and advocates for a compassionate and holistic approach to healing over the mechanistic medical norm. Case histories and personal insights show that unresolved trauma patterns get transferred from parent to child, down the generations to create their own patterns of illness and disease. Also, check out the film The Wisdom of Trauma about his work on addiction. 

By Gabor Maté,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked When the Body Says No as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Can a person literally die of loneliness? Is there a connection between the ability to express emotions and Alzheimer's disease? Is there such a thing as a 'cancer personality'?

Drawing on deep scientific research and Dr Gabor Mate's acclaimed clinical work, When the Body Says No provides the answers to critical questions about the mind-body link - and the role that stress and our emotional makeup play in an array of common diseases.

When the Body Says No:

- Explores the role of the mind-body link in conditions and diseases such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome…

Book cover of When I Loved Myself Enough

Denise LaBarre Why did I love this book?

Deep down, most of us have issues with our own worthiness – we’re socialized with it and this deceptively powerful little book is a distilled journal of one woman’s insights as she realizes self-love. Her simple, beautiful words guide you down the path to loving yourself. The story behind the book is as compelling as McMillen’s quiet meditations. I have kept a copy handy for years and often read a page or two when I need a reminder to love myself. It is also a book I often give as a gift and loan to clients. 

By Kim McMillen, Alison McMillen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When I Loved Myself Enough as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When I Loved Myself Enough began as one woman's gift to the world, hand-made by Kim McMillen. Book by book, reader by reader, When I Loved Myself Enough was passed along from friend to friend, shared by parents with their children, and given as a gift at special occasions. As word spread, it's heartfelt honesty and universal truths won it a growing following. It brings to life simple, profound, and undeniable truths: our time on earth is limited, we are never alone, and loving others always begins with loving ourselves.

The best way to experience the peace and quiet joy…

Book cover of In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness

Denise LaBarre Why did I love this book?

Peter Levine’s earlier works examined animal studies on nervous systems under stress. His latest book In an Unspoken Voice serves as the bridge between the scientific research and the practical realm of medical clinicians and alternative healers who work with PTSD and other trauma-induced illnesses. It looks in detail at the freeze response (think: fight/flight/freeze) and the biological rewiring that happens in the human body as the result of trauma and chronic stress. If you like dense, intellectual discussion of biomechanical details, you’ll enjoy the read. If not, skim to the parts about his program of exercises and simple movements that can restore body awareness and reset neurological malfunction.

By Peter A. Levine,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked In an Unspoken Voice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Unraveling trauma in the body, brain and mind—a revolution in treatment. Now in 17 languages.

In this culmination of his life’s work, Peter A. Levine draws on his broad experience as a clinician, a student of comparative brain research, a stress scientist and a keen observer of the naturalistic animal world to explain the nature and transformation of trauma in the body, brain and psyche. In an Unspoken Voice is based on the idea that trauma is neither a disease nor a disorder, but rather an injury caused by fright, helplessness and loss that can be healed by engaging our…

Book cover of Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

Denise LaBarre Why did I love this book?

Death is the exam we all have to take. And yet not only are we afraid of it, we are afraid to talk about it. Atul Gawande is a second-generation MD, gerontologist, and surprisingly graceful writer who takes us on a compassionate journey through all topics of aging, end-of-life care, and how we deny our own mortality. We often inappropriately extend the suffering of our loved ones with excessive medical intervention because we haven’t examined our own fears. I love this book and reread it when my own mortality or a close death gives me pause. It opens our hearts and helps us become more comfortable with the inevitable. 

By Atul Gawande,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Being Mortal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?




For most of human history, death was a common, ever-present possibility. It didn't matter whether you were five or fifty - every day was a roll of the dice. But now, as medical advances push the boundaries of survival further each year, we have become increasingly detached from the reality of being mortal. So here is a book about the modern experience of mortality - about what it's…

You might also like...

Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

By Antonieta Contreras,

Book cover of Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

Antonieta Contreras Author Of Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

New book alert!

Who am I?

As a trauma therapist and dedicated researcher, I love uncovering valuable insights within lesser-known books. There are hidden gems, free from the pressure of commercial success, crafted by authors deeply committed to research, understanding, and the art of writing itself. Their dedication resonates with me, as I believe in the profound value of information and the power of critical thinking. Through my own book, Traumatization and Its Aftermath, I aim to emphasize that psychological concepts often lose their depth in translation and my mission is spreading awareness and fostering a deeper understanding of trauma and its intricate facets. With that idea in mind, I chose these five titles. 

Antonieta's book list on uncovering the human experience and exploring the depths of trauma

What is my book about?

A fresh take on the difference between trauma and hardship in order to help accurately spot the difference and avoid over-generalizations.

The book integrates the latest findings in brain science, child development, psycho-social context, theory, and clinical experiences to make the case that trauma is much more than a cluster of symptoms to be tamed, but instead best understood as development gone off course, away from growth and towards (only) survival.

This book prompts a profound shift in perception, inviting to view trauma as an intricate and diverse experience, a point of view that ultimately leads to sharper treatment and, hopefully, more healing. It encourages a transition from asking, "What happened to you?" to the deeper question, "What is your relationship with what happened to you?"

Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

By Antonieta Contreras,

What is this book about?

The book is comprehensive, bold, and practical-a much-needed resource for the assessment and treatment of trauma. Instead of the traditional focus on the overall importance of healing, Traumatization and its Aftermath decodes why some people don't heal as easily as others, analyzes the various failures of diagnosis, and explains how to make therapeutic interventions truly effective.

This book offers a systemic deep dive into traumatization that clarifies myths and misinformation about the entire spectrum of trauma and provides both clinicians and non-clinicians with the right level of validation, preventive measures, conceptualization methodology, assessment tools, and healing facts that have not…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in PTSD, psychological trauma, and life satisfaction?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about PTSD, psychological trauma, and life satisfaction.

PTSD Explore 90 books about PTSD
Psychological Trauma Explore 36 books about psychological trauma
Life Satisfaction Explore 199 books about life satisfaction