80 books like The Divided Self

By R.D. Laing,

Here are 80 books that The Divided Self fans have personally recommended if you like The Divided Self. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Denial of Death

Mordecai George Sheftall Author Of Blossoms In The Wind: Human Legacies of the Kamikaze

From my list on how culture makes us do self-destructive things.

Who am I?

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I woke up expecting to spend that day – and the rest of my academic career – leisurely studying the interplay of culture and individual temperament in second language acquisition. As the rest of that terrible day unfolded, however, my research up to that point suddenly seemed very small and almost decadently privileged. Recruiting the rudimentary cultural anthropology toolbox I had already amassed, I took a deep breath and plunged into the rabbit hole of studying the role of culture in human conflict. Twenty-two years later, using my Japan base and relevant language skills, my research has focused on the Japanese experience in World War II.

Mordecai's book list on how culture makes us do self-destructive things

Mordecai George Sheftall Why did Mordecai love this book?

Have you ever read a book that literally changed your life? I have, and that book is The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1974.

Becker’s basic thesis is that the institution of “culture” has evolved not so much to facilitate our physical survival (the orthodox viewpoint), but rather, as an elaborate symbolic framework that psychologically protects us from our species’ unique awareness of our own inevitable mortality, both individually and collectively.

Becker basically blew the top of my head off when I first read him during my PhD work in the mid-Oughts, and he remains a major influence on my teaching and research to this day.

By Ernest Becker,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Denial of Death as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Pulitzer prize in 1974 and the culmination of a life's work,The Denial of Death is Ernest Becker's brilliant and impassioned answer to the "why" of human existence. In bold contrast to the predominant Freudian school of thought, Becker tackles the problem of the vital lie -- man's refusal to acknowledge his own mortality. In doing so, he sheds new light on the nature of humanity and issues a call to life and its living that still resonates more than twenty years after its writing.


Book cover of The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature

Elaine Pagels Author Of Why Religion? A Personal Story

From my list on why religion and spirituality are still around.

Who am I?

“And what do you do?” someone asked at a crowded reception at the NY Academy of Science. “Write—comparative religion.” Startled, he backed away, asking suspiciously, “Why religion? Are you religious?” Yes, incorrigibly—although I grew up among people who regarded religion as obsolete as an outgrown bicycle stashed in a back closet. While many of us leave institutions behind, identifying as “spiritual, not religious,” I’ve done both—had faith, lost it; then began exploring recent discoveries from Israel and Egypt—Dead Sea Scrolls, Christian “secret gospels,” Buddhist practices, asking, Why is religion still around in the twenty-first centuryWhat I love is how such stories, art, music, and rituals engage our imagination and illuminate our experience.

Elaine's book list on why religion and spirituality are still around

Elaine Pagels Why did Elaine love this book?

This book is full of stories, using case studies that include the lives of Walt Whitman, Saint Augustine, and Russian writer Leo Tolstoy—that I found fascinating. Here psychologist William James challenges what he—and I—were both taught: namely, that religions are primarily childish fantasies (the view of Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, in The Future of an Illusion). But after James, as a young man, experienced a terrifying depression, he describes his surprise at what felt to him like a spiritual breakthrough that enabled him to recover. James skips questions about dogma and belief, instead identifies a range of different “varieties of religious experience” that, far more than “belief,” can give rise to spiritual insight. 

By William James,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Varieties of Religious Experience as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Standing at the crossroads of psychology and religion, this catalyzing work applied the scientific method to a field abounding in abstract theory. William James believed that individual religious experiences, rather than the precepts of organized religions, were the backbone of the world's religious life. His discussions of conversion, repentance, mysticism and saintliness, and his observations on actual, personal religious experiences - all support this thesis. In his introduction, Martin E. Marty discusses how James's pluralistic view of religion led to his remarkable tolerance of extreme forms of religious behaviour, his challenging, highly original theories, and his welcome lack of pretension…


Book cover of Memories, Dreams, Reflections

Theresa Cheung Author Of The Dream Dictionary from A to Z

From my list on dream decoding.

Who am I?

I was born into a family of psychics and spiritualists, where dream decoding was the order of the day. I did my Bachelor's degree in Theology and English at King's College, Cambridge University, and since graduating have devoted my life to spreading the word about the healing and transformative power of dream work. I share my passion for mainstreaming dream decoding as a potent personal and spiritual growth tool through my numerous dream and spiritual awakening books, podcasts, media appearances, my Sunday Times bestselling author status, and my collaboration with scientists, neuroscientists, and psychologists researching dreams and the science of consciousness; I have earned the title Queen of Dreams.

Theresa's book list on dream decoding

Theresa Cheung Why did Theresa love this book?

This is a mind, heart, and eye-opening biography of one of the most influential psychiatrists and dream workers of his time, Carl Gustav Jung. In this book, he shares his lectures, conversations, and his own writings.  

Jung's psychological approach to dreams and the workings of the inner world are truly seminal and a must-read for any serious student of their own dreams. Jung not only changed the study of dreams, setting up the Jungian school of thought and Jungian dream analysis, but he forever changed the way dreams are studied and perceived.  

By C.G. Jung, Aniela Jaffe (editor), Clara Winston (translator) , Richard Winston (translator)

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Memories, Dreams, Reflections as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I can understand myself only in the light of inner happenings. It is these that make up the singularity of my life, and with these my autobiography deals' Carl Jung

An eye-opening biography of one of the most influential psychiatrists of the modern age, drawing from his lectures, conversations, and own writings.

In the spring of 1957, when he was eighty-one years old, Carl Gustav Jung undertook the telling of his life story. Memories, Dreams, Reflections is that book, composed of conversations with his colleague and friend Aniela Jaffe, as well as chapters written in his own hand, and other…


Book cover of Woman on the Edge of Time

Karin Schönpflug Author Of Feminism, Economics and Utopia: Time Travelling through Paradigms

From my list on utopian visions of feminist economics.

Who am I?

I studied economics and found it incredibly boring, exclusive, and confusing at the same time. Eventually, I discovered feminist economics and realized that economics is loaded with crazy mathematical jargon aiming to hide exploitation processes such as unpaid work in the household, precarious production especially in former colonies of the “Global South”, as well as environmental destruction. I found that utopian and sci-fi novels are not only fun to read but may also carry antidotes to reshape traditional economic thinking. Check out my TEDx talk where I can tell you more about all this.

Karin's book list on utopian visions of feminist economics

Karin Schönpflug Why did Karin love this book?

This is an amazing book to really get sucked into.

Written in 1976, it is a fantasy to go hide in from today’s dystopia of post-COVID and early climate change. You can join 1960s Consuela Ramos in her escape from a forced hospitalization in a mental institution to a utopian world that she visits with Luciente, a time-traveler.

That future is full of amazing people who do not celebrate hierarchies of race and gender but live in anarchist poly-amorous villages where hard labor is performed by machines and babies are produced in breeders with biological components of three parents.

The book is rich in blueprints for liberated education, conflict resolution, socio-economic innovation, and relationships. The beautiful world is threatened by a wicked parallel future world that Consuela must help to prevent.

By Marge Piercy,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Woman on the Edge of Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'One of those rare novels that leave us different people at the end than we were at the beginning.' GLORIA STEINEM

'She is a serious writer who deserves the sort of considered attention which, too often, she does not get...' MARGARET ATWOOD
_______________________________________

Often compared to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and Naomi Alderman's The Power - Woman on the Edge of Time has been hailed as a classic of speculative science fiction. Disturbing and forward thinking, Marge Piercy's remarkable novel will speak to a new generation of readers.

Connie Ramos has been unjustly incarcerated in a mental institution with…


Book cover of Soteria

Will Hall Author Of Outside Mental Health: Voices and Visions of Madness

From my list on psychosis from someone who has schizophrenia.

Who am I?

I was an imaginative and sensitive kid – growing up in the confusing oppressions of the US south and raised by parents who are themselves trauma survivors. When I started to go into altered states, hear voices, withdraw in frightened isolation and drift towards strange beliefs, I was forcibly locked up at Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital in San Francisco. I was drugged, put in restraints and solitary confinement, and told I was schizophrenic and would never live a normal life. Today I don’t take medication, work as a therapist teacher, and advocate, and have joined the international patients’ movement working to change an abusive and misguided mental health system. I am not anti-medication, but I see psychiatric meds for what they are – tranquilizers, not treatments, tools not solutions. We need compassionate approaches and caring communities for individuals suffering from a psychotic crisis like I was. I am also the author of the Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs.

Will's book list on psychosis from someone who has schizophrenia

Will Hall Why did Will love this book?

What would happen if instead of throwing people into jail-like mental wards and hammering them with tranquilizing drugs, we instead welcomed them into home-like settings and spent time listening and caring, patiently giving them time and space to explore the emotional roots of their crisis? Psychiatrist Loren Mosher did just that in the Soteria House research project in the 1970s and 80s, and the results were clear: people do better without medications and with listening and caring in a safe environment instead.

Mosher was the first chief of the Center for Studies of Schizophrenia of the National Institutes of Mental Health but you’ve probably never heard of him – his innovative project proved that psychosis can be healed more effectively without medication and outside of  hospitals, but came at a time when biological and pharmaceutical solutions – and the profits they generate – came to dominate psychiatry, so he was…

By Loren R. Mosher, Voyce Hendrix Fort,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Soteria as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the story of a special time, space, and place where young people diagnosed as


Book cover of Muses, Madmen, and Prophets: Hearing Voices and the Borders of Sanity

Will Hall Author Of Outside Mental Health: Voices and Visions of Madness

From my list on psychosis from someone who has schizophrenia.

Who am I?

I was an imaginative and sensitive kid – growing up in the confusing oppressions of the US south and raised by parents who are themselves trauma survivors. When I started to go into altered states, hear voices, withdraw in frightened isolation and drift towards strange beliefs, I was forcibly locked up at Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital in San Francisco. I was drugged, put in restraints and solitary confinement, and told I was schizophrenic and would never live a normal life. Today I don’t take medication, work as a therapist teacher, and advocate, and have joined the international patients’ movement working to change an abusive and misguided mental health system. I am not anti-medication, but I see psychiatric meds for what they are – tranquilizers, not treatments, tools not solutions. We need compassionate approaches and caring communities for individuals suffering from a psychotic crisis like I was. I am also the author of the Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs.

Will's book list on psychosis from someone who has schizophrenia

Will Hall Why did Will love this book?

Hearing voices is considered a symptom of schizophrenia and can quickly lead to hospital lockup, medication, and being shunned by society as “mentally ill.” In this fascinating account, Smith reveals the truth about this experience we call “madness” – hearing voices is actually a normal human experience across history and culture. Poets, religious visionaries, people spending time alone or grieving – even Freud, Gandhi, actor Anthony Hopkins, singer Lady Gaga -- all heard voices, and anyone under the right kind of stress can hear voices. The problem only arises when people hear distressing voices and have nowhere to go for help other than being treated as ill by a doctor.


Psychiatry made the catastrophic mistake of calling homosexuality a mental disease, and for many decades LGBT people were abducted, confined in hospitals, drugged, tortured, and killed for the mental crime of being different. Today people who hear voices are also…

By Daniel B. Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Muses, Madmen, and Prophets as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An inquiry into hearing voices-one of humanity's most profound phenomena

Auditory hallucination is one of the most awe-inspiring, terrifying, and ill- understood tricks of which the human psyche is capable. In the age of modern medical science, we have relegated this experience to nothing more than a biological glitch. Yet as Daniel B. Smith puts forth in Muses, Madmen, and Prophets, some of the greatest thinkers, leaders, and prophets in history heard, listened to, and had dialogues with voices inside their heads. In a fascinating quest for understanding, Smith examines the history of this powerful phenomenon, and delivers a ringing…


Book cover of The Courage to Be

Kirk J. Schneider Author Of The Spirituality of Awe: Challenges to the Robotic Revolution

From my list on meaning and purpose of life.

Who am I?

Because of some early life-challenges, I have long been fascinated with human behavior and experience (my own and others). In this light questions about meaning and purpose in life, the big questions, have long been a passion of mine. I want to do everything I can to promote these inquiries, and the books I recommend are integral to that calling.

Kirk's book list on meaning and purpose of life

Kirk J. Schneider Why did Kirk love this book?

Tillich’s work is foundational for any “mystery-based” religiosity, or to put it another way, “awe-based” spirituality, and The Courage to Be is one of his most accessible and popular works. The Courage to Be, which influenced generations of humanistic and existential-oriented thinkers and therapists is about the willingness to face the anxieties of existence in the service of maximal participation in the life-space we are granted. It is all about boldness and risk-taking, with full awareness of limitation and fragility, to meet the demands of creative participation in love and work. 

By Paul Tillich,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Courage to Be as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Selected as one of the Books of the Century by the New York Public Library

"The Courage to Be changed my life. It also profoundly impacted the lives of many others from my generation. Now Harvey Cox's fresh introduction helps to open up this powerful reading experience to the current generation."-Robert N. Bellah, University of California, Berkeley

Originally published more than fifty years ago, The Courage to Be has become a classic of twentieth-century religious and philosophical thought. The great Christian existentialist thinker Paul Tillich describes the dilemma of modern man and points a way to the conquest of the…


Book cover of The Great Gatsby

David Nicholson Author Of The Garretts of Columbia: A Black South Carolina Family from Slavery to the Dawn of Integration

From my list on race in America.

Who am I?

Though I was born in the U.S., I didn’t wind up living here full-time till I was almost 10. The result? I have always been curious about what it means to be an American. In one way or another, the books on my list explore that question. More than that, all (well, nearly all) insist that black history is inextricably intertwined with American history and that American culture is a mulatto culture, a fusion of black and white. After years of making my living as a journalist, editor, and book reviewer, I left newspapers to write fiction and non-fiction, exploring these and other questions.

David's book list on race in America

David Nicholson Why did David love this book?

Was the hero of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s American classic African-American?

A couple of academics have advanced that theory. I’m not sure I buy it. The notion (and supporting “evidence”) seems little more than a literary parlor game, not to mention the fact that nothing in Fitzgerald’s work or his letters shows a particular engagement with, or sympathy for, black Americans.

Still, it’s an interesting metaphor and the reason this seminal American novel appears in a list of what’s otherwise non-fiction. Gatsby’s yearning for his lost love could be an African-American yearning for a beloved country that does not always love them in return.

I first read this book in high school. It wasn’t until my second, third, and fourth re-reading that I began to appreciate Fitzgerald’s gift for story-telling and his evocative, poignant language. And to identify with Gatsby, the outsider craving to become an insider.

By F. Scott Fitzgerald,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked The Great Gatsby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As the summer unfolds, Nick is drawn into Gatsby's world of luxury cars, speedboats and extravagant parties. But the more he hears about Gatsby - even from what Gatsby himself tells him - the less he seems to believe. Did he really go to Oxford University? Was Gatsby a hero in the war? Did he once kill a man? Nick recalls how he comes to know Gatsby and how he also enters the world of his cousin Daisy and her wealthy husband Tom. Does their money make them any happier? Do the stories all connect? Shall we come to know…


Book cover of An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales

Claudia Kalb Author Of Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder: Inside the Minds of History's Great Personalities

From my list on how our chaotic, imperfect minds crackle with genius.

Who am I?

As a kid, I read the New Yorker—first, just the cartoons; later, the articles—and dreamed about becoming a writer. Sentences danced in my head as I fell asleep. I’ve always been especially interested in human behavior and the match-up between our insides and outsides. How do the roadmaps in our brains inform the way we act around others? Over the years, I’ve read hundreds of studies and interviewed countless experts to inform my writing about well-known figures like Leonardo da Vinci, Abraham Lincoln, Marilyn Monroe, and Maya Angelou. But I’m just as captivated by everyone outside the spotlight. We all have stories to tell.

Claudia's book list on how our chaotic, imperfect minds crackle with genius

Claudia Kalb Why did Claudia love this book?

Oliver Sacks merges science and storytelling with elegance and grace in every one of his books about human behavior.

He’s honest, compassionate, and curious—all characteristics that consistently draw me to his writing and make me what to learn more. In An Anthropologist on Mars, Sacks profiles seven neurological patients and the conditions that affect them, including a painter with colorblindness and the scientist Temple Grandin, who has autism.

I love that Sacks uses first person as he guides his readers. He invites us in—we unravel facts and clues just as Sacks does, making each profile fresh and dynamic. 

By Oliver Sacks,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked An Anthropologist on Mars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As with his previous bestseller, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, in An Anthropologist on Mars Oliver Sacks uses case studies to illustrate the myriad ways in which neurological conditions can affect our sense of self, our experience of the world, and how we relate to those around us.

Writing with his trademark blend of scientific rigour and human compassion, he describes patients such as the colour-blind painter or the surgeon with compulsive tics that disappear in the operating theatre; patients for whom disorientation and alienation - but also adaptation - are inescapable facts of life.

'An…


Book cover of Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

Howard M. Guttman Author Of When Goliaths Clash: Managing Executive Conflict to Build a More Dynamic Organization

From my list on managing those "keep you up at night" organizational issues.

Who am I?

I am the principal of Guttman Development Strategies (GDS), an organization development firm that works with senior executives and their teams in major corporations globally to build horizontal, high-performance teams, provide leadership coaching, and develop leadership skills. I am a speaker and author of three acclaimed management books and dozens of articles in business publications.

Howard's book list on managing those "keep you up at night" organizational issues

Howard M. Guttman Why did Howard love this book?

The insights in this groundbreaking book apply across the board, from social and family life to interacting and managing others in organizational life.

What factors are at play when people of high IQ flounder while those who are more modestly endowed succeed? Goleman argues that the difference is Emotional Intelligence, which, as he explains, comprises empathy, effective social skills/communication, self-awareness, self-regulation, and motivation.

I’ve watched too many of the allegedly best and brightest, tough-minded executives flame out because they failed to rein in emotional impulse, read others’ feelings, or handle interpersonal relationships. The skills are learnable, and in today’s asymmetric, hybrid, matrixed organizations, they are essential for success.

By Daniel Goleman,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Emotional Intelligence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The groundbreaking bestseller that redefines intelligence and success Does IQ define our destiny? Daniel Goleman argues that our view of human intelligence is far too narrow, and that our emotions play major role in thought, decision making and individual success. Self-awareness, impulse control, persistence, motivation, empathy and social deftness are all qualities that mark people who excel: whose relationships flourish, who are stars in the workplace. With new insights into the brain architecture underlying emotion and rationality, Goleman shows precisely how emotional intelligence can be nurtured and strengthened in all of us.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in schizophrenia, psychosis, and mental disorders?

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