100 books like The Psychology of Shame

By Gershen Kaufman,

Here are 100 books that The Psychology of Shame fans have personally recommended if you like The Psychology of Shame. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

Book cover of The Transforming Power of Affect: A Model for Accelerated Change

Hilary Jacobs Hendel Author Of It's Not Always Depression: Working the Change Triangle to Listen to the Body, Discover Core Emotions, and Connect to Your Authentic Self

From my list on emotional health and wellbeing.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a psychoanalyst, AEDP psychotherapist, emotions educator, author, speaker, and blogger. My passion is sharing what I learned in my psychotherapy training with people interested in improving their emotional health. I became increasingly outraged that everyone did not have access to this crucial information on emotions so I started writing and teaching. After almost 20 years of teaching and using the Change Triangle, I have found it to be the most practical tool to increase emotional health and to reduce and heal anxiety and depression at its roots for lasting change. It is a true game-changer for well-being.

Hilary's book list on emotional health and wellbeing

Hilary Jacobs Hendel Why did Hilary love this book?

Before I learned about emotions, I believed my anxiety and depression had to be managed but could not be healed at the root. Learning that emotions were not under conscious control and that they were physical experiences that had purpose and meaning changed the way I understood myself for the better. It changed my mental health permanently and in the best ways. It gave me permission to be more authentic. I felt less ashamed of my feelings and more confident that I could help myself and be better in relationships.

By Diana Fosha,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Transforming Power of Affect as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first model of accelerated psychodynamic therapy to make the theoretical why as important as the formula for how, Fosha's original technique for catalyzing change mandates explicit empathy and radical engagement by the therapist to elicit and harness the patient's own healing affects. Its wide-open window on contemporary relational and attachment theory ushers in a safe, emotionally intense, experience-based pathway for processing previously unbearable feelings. This is a rich fusion of intellectual rigor, clinical passion, and practical moment-by-moment interventions.


Book cover of Internal Family Systems Therapy

Hilary Jacobs Hendel Author Of It's Not Always Depression: Working the Change Triangle to Listen to the Body, Discover Core Emotions, and Connect to Your Authentic Self

From my list on emotional health and wellbeing.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a psychoanalyst, AEDP psychotherapist, emotions educator, author, speaker, and blogger. My passion is sharing what I learned in my psychotherapy training with people interested in improving their emotional health. I became increasingly outraged that everyone did not have access to this crucial information on emotions so I started writing and teaching. After almost 20 years of teaching and using the Change Triangle, I have found it to be the most practical tool to increase emotional health and to reduce and heal anxiety and depression at its roots for lasting change. It is a true game-changer for well-being.

Hilary's book list on emotional health and wellbeing

Hilary Jacobs Hendel Why did Hilary love this book?

Internal Family Systems Therapy by Richard Schwartz taught me a new way to think about the mind and complemented perfectly what I learned in The Transforming Power of Affect. So much of what causes human suffering has to do with conscious and unconscious conflicts. When we learn that our minds consist of various “parts” that can hold differing realities, memories, emotions, sensations, and more, it is so helpful for self-understanding and self-compassion. For me, I stopped trying to reconcile irreconciled aspects of myself and instead set out to learn about the different parts of myself. This further helped me integrate myself for greater well-being.

By Richard C. Schwartz, Martha Sweezy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Internal Family Systems Therapy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now significantly revised with over 70% new material, this is the authoritative presentation of Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, which is taught and practiced around the world. IFS reveals how the subpersonalities or "parts" of each individual's psyche relate to each other like members of a family, and how--just as in a family--polarization among parts can lead to emotional suffering. IFS originator Richard Schwartz and master clinician Martha Sweezy explain core concepts and provide practical guidelines for implementing IFS with clients who are struggling with trauma, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, and other behavioral problems. They also address strategies for…


Book cover of Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma

Bret Lyon Author Of Embracing Shame: How to Stop Resisting Shame and Turn It into a Powerful Ally

From my list on healing shame and trauma.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent many years deeply angry at my parents and not really understanding why. When I found out about shame, and how it was passed down from generation to generation, I was finally able to crack the code. Their “permissiveness” was actually neglect. Without meaning to, they had put their shame on me and I was still suffering from not really being seen. I made it my mission to help others heal their shame so they can be better people and better parents, and live fuller lives. I am the co-director of the Center for Healing Shame and co-author of Embracing Shame.

Bret's book list on healing shame and trauma

Bret Lyon Why did Bret love this book?

I discovered this book before almost anyone else in a New Age store that sold jewelry and cards and had a small selection of books. When I picked it up and saw two tigers on the cover, I had to buy it.

As soon as I read it, I thought, “This is the most useful way of thinking about and working with trauma that I have ever seen. When I called to try to join a training program, I was told there was no training program yet. I kept checking, then finally gave up.

It took several years before Peter Levine finally started a training program, and I signed up. Somatic Experiencing has deeply influenced my work.

By Peter A. Levine,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Waking the Tiger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now in 24 languages.

Nature's Lessons in Healing Trauma...

Waking the Tiger offers a new and hopeful vision of trauma. It views the human animal as a unique being, endowed with an instinctual capacity. It asks and answers an intriguing question: why are animals in the wild, though threatened routinely, rarely traumatized? By understanding the dynamics that make wild animals virtually immune to traumatic symptoms, the mystery of human trauma is revealed.

Waking the Tiger normalizes the symptoms of trauma and the steps needed to heal them. People are often traumatized by seemingly ordinary experiences. The reader is taken on…


Book cover of Shame and Pride: Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self

Bret Lyon Author Of Embracing Shame: How to Stop Resisting Shame and Turn It into a Powerful Ally

From my list on healing shame and trauma.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent many years deeply angry at my parents and not really understanding why. When I found out about shame, and how it was passed down from generation to generation, I was finally able to crack the code. Their “permissiveness” was actually neglect. Without meaning to, they had put their shame on me and I was still suffering from not really being seen. I made it my mission to help others heal their shame so they can be better people and better parents, and live fuller lives. I am the co-director of the Center for Healing Shame and co-author of Embracing Shame.

Bret's book list on healing shame and trauma

Bret Lyon Why did Bret love this book?

The original breakthrough in understanding shame was from Sylvan Tomkins, whose book Shame and Its Sisters is well worth reading. Gershen Kaufman and Donald Nathanson were his two main disciples.

This book is a vast volume, beautifully supplementing Kaufman’s book. It covers all the emotions. The section on shame is amazingly powerful and thorough. I am most in love with his section on the reactions to shame: attack self, attack others, deny, and withdraw. I have fleshed out his idea and use it in every workshop I teach and with every client I see.

By Donald L. Nathanson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Shame and Pride as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Drawing on every theme of the modern life sciences, Donald Nathanson shows how nine basic affects-interest-excitement, enjoyment-joy, surprise-startle, fear-terror, distress-anguish, anger-rage, dissmell, disgust, and shame-humiliation-not only determine how we feel but shape our very sense of self.

For too long those who explain emotional discomfort on the basis of lived experience and those who blame chemistry have been at loggerheads. As Dr. Nathanson shows, chemicals and illnesses can affect our mood just as surely as an uncomfortable memory or a stern rebuke. Linking for the first time the affect theory of the pioneering researcher Silvan S. Thomkins with the entire…


Book cover of Shame: the Power of Caring

Bret Lyon Author Of Embracing Shame: How to Stop Resisting Shame and Turn It into a Powerful Ally

From my list on healing shame and trauma.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent many years deeply angry at my parents and not really understanding why. When I found out about shame, and how it was passed down from generation to generation, I was finally able to crack the code. Their “permissiveness” was actually neglect. Without meaning to, they had put their shame on me and I was still suffering from not really being seen. I made it my mission to help others heal their shame so they can be better people and better parents, and live fuller lives. I am the co-director of the Center for Healing Shame and co-author of Embracing Shame.

Bret's book list on healing shame and trauma

Bret Lyon Why did Bret love this book?

Though it was written in the 1980s, I still found this the most personal, most accurate and most interesting book on shame.

Reading this book opened my eyes and launched me into my career as a teacher of how to heal shame. Kaufman is a true expert on shame and has written many other excellent books, including one about kids and one about alternative sexuality. I like this book best because it is his most personal. John Bradshaw based Healing the Shame that Binds You on this book.

By Gershen Kaufman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

All of us embrace a common humanity in which we search for meaning in living, for essential belonging with others, and for valuing of who we are as unique individuals. We need to feel that we are worthwhile in some special way, as well as whole inside. We yearn to feel that our lives are useful, that what we do and who we are, do matter. Yet times come upon us when doubt creeps inside, as if an inner voice whispers despair.

Above all else, shame reveals the self inside the person, thereby exposing it to view. To feel shame…


Book cover of Emotional Worlds: Beyond an Anthropology of Emotion

Maria Heim Author Of Words for the Heart: A Treasury of Emotions from Classical India

From my list on helping you identify emotions you didn’t know you had.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love words, their sound, and their power. When I was a little girl, I would adopt one and make it my own. My parents long recalled my love affair with “nonsense,” which I would wield like a wand when hearing anything silly or irrational. I think words are interwoven with what we feel in a deep and inextricable way. I am also fascinated with how Indian thought offers millennia of wide and deep explorations of human experience in ways that trouble the basic assumptions of the modern West. 

Maria's book list on helping you identify emotions you didn’t know you had

Maria Heim Why did Maria love this book?

Though I am not an anthropologist, I devour ethnographies with a gusto that can only be attributed to disciplinary envy. There are several fascinating ethnographies of emotions and how they differ across cultures. Beatty’s book stands out among them for its rich ethnographic description as well as the sophistication with which he treats the relationship of emotion and culture.

He spots the limitations that lab experiments impose on studying emotions and suggests instead that we have to pay attention to the narratives in which emotions are situated, made, and deemed meaningful. And I rather like how he punctures “affect theory.”

By Andrew Beatty,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Are emotions human universals? Is the concept of emotion an invention of Western tradition? If people in other cultures live radically different emotional lives how can we ever understand them? Using vivid, often dramatic, examples from around the world, and in dialogue with current work in psychology and philosophy, Andrew Beatty develops an anthropological perspective on the affective life, showing how emotions colour experience and transform situations; how, in turn, they are shaped by culture and history. In stark contrast with accounts that depend on lab simulations, interviews, and documentary reconstruction, he takes the reader into unfamiliar cultural worlds through…


Book cover of The Sexual Relationship: An Object Relations View of Sex and the Family

Brett Kahr Author Of Who's Been Sleeping in Your Head: The Secret World of Sexual Fantasies

From my list on the secret underbelly of sexual psychology.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have worked in the mental health profession for over forty years. Currently, I serve as Senior Fellow at the Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology in London, and as Visiting Professor of Psychoanalysis and Mental Health at Regent’s University London, as well as Honorary Director of Research at the Freud Museum London. I also hold posts as Chair of the Scholars Committee of the British Psychoanalytic Council and as Honorary Fellow of the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy, and I have authored eighteen books and have served as series editor for some eighty-five further titles.  

Brett's book list on the secret underbelly of sexual psychology

Brett Kahr Why did Brett love this book?

I regard myself as a big fan of Dr. David Scharff, founder of the International Psychotherapy Institute, based in Bethesda, Maryland, who has become one of the planet’s most esteemed psychoanalysts.

Scharff, along with his spouse, Dr. Jill Scharff, has pioneered the field of couple psychotherapy in the United States of America. Based on his clinical insights, he has produced a lucid, groundbreaking book about the childhood and adolescent origins of the sexual complications of adulthood, which has provided me with much wisdom about the ways in which marital sexual difficulties can be traced back to earlier experiences from the prepubertal and pubertal periods of life. Although intended predominantly for fellow mental health clinicians, Scharff’s book will appeal to a very wide readership indeed. 

By David E. Scharff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Dr. David Scharff explores the role of sexuality in human relationships by combining his extensive experience in individual, marital, family, and sex therapy with theoretical contributions from object relations theory and child development.


Book cover of You Are Not Your Mother: Releasing Generational Trauma and Shame

Khara Croswaite Brindle Author Of Understanding Ruptured Mother-Daughter Relationships: Guiding the Adult Daughter's Healing Journey through the Estrangement Energy Cycle

From my list on helping adult daughters heal from attachment trauma.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a mental health therapist, I’m passionate about helping daughters heal. Daughters who have experienced repeated abuse, hurt, trauma, or neglect from their mothers will often grapple with the decision to stay connected to their mothers or estrange in adulthood. Many of these women come to therapy for additional support on their self-discovery journeys and have felt validated and seen when books were written for their experiences and perspectives. I’ve seen how these books have helped my clients heal their attachment trauma over the years, and I’m confident they can help even more women from here!

Khara's book list on helping adult daughters heal from attachment trauma

Khara Croswaite Brindle Why did Khara love this book?

Karen has written about mother-daughter dynamics for decades. Her willingness to share stories from her own life, as well as the women she’s helped over the years, adds a lot of heart to the content of this book.

My favorite element of this book was Karen’s visual exercise of letting go and healing generational trauma and shame. Similar to what I’d explore with a client in therapy, these visualizations are empowering and bring hope to adult daughters wanting to heal themselves with or without their mom being a part of their life.

By Karen C.L. Anderson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You Are Not Your Mother as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Release the Generational Trauma of Shame

"Karen is the wise voice you want whispering in your ear when shame knocks on your door, reminding you that you are so much more than your relationship with your mother." -Maggie Reyes, master certified marriage coach & bestselling author of The Questions for Couples Journal

#1 New Release in Adult Children of Alcoholics and Parent & Adult Child Relationships

What is your relationship to shame? How can you overcome it and live an intentional life of vulnerability? You Are Not Your Mother guides readers on how to see shame, and live separately from…


Book cover of Healing the Shame That Binds You

Pouline Middleton Author Of One Woman Three Men: A Novel about Modern Love and Sex

From my list on how to get a deep and fulfilling love life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was living one of the darkest periods of my life when a friend took me to a Louise Bourgeois show. I wandered among her pieces feeling numb. Then I entered a large room filled with Passage Dangereux from 1997. A most depressing art piece that put me into contact with the restrictions in a family, the limitations we set for each other, and the unhappiness everywhere. When I left the room, I felt a lift in my spirits. I’m a writer to try to put more precise words to what goes on inside ourselves when we are alone and when we fall in love and enter into a relationship with another person. 

Pouline's book list on how to get a deep and fulfilling love life

Pouline Middleton Why did Pouline love this book?

This is a very dear book to me since I came across it in a book review 15 years ago. It is an amazing book if you struggle with toxic shame, which I did and do, since such a thing never leaves completely. It can be put into you at a very young age and if that is taking place it becomes invisible. This book made it visible for me. It also gave me the tools to deal with it. But the book mainly gave me what felt like the full insight into a force that was governing my life without me knowing anything but a mere fraction of it. Thank you, John Bradshaw!

By John Bradshaw,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Healing the Shame That Binds You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I used to drink," writes John Bradshaw, "to solve the problems caused by drinking. The more I drank to relieve my shame-based loneliness and hurt, the more I felt ashamed."

Shame is the motivator behind our toxic behaviors: the compulsion, co-dependency, addiction and drive to superachieve that breaks down the family and destroys personal lives. This book has helped millions identify their personal shame, understand the underlying reasons for it, address these root causes and release themselves from the shame that binds them to their past failures.

Key Features
This is not just a recovery book. Among other things, it…


Book cover of Moral Origins: The Evolution of Virtue, Altruism, and Shame

Russell K. Schutt Author Of Social Neuroscience: Brain, Mind, and Society

From my list on social evolution, social neuroscience, and social connection.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young sociologist, I shunned explanations of human behavior informed by psychology and biology, but over the years my research showed me that individual predispositions and capacities influence social structure, as well as the other way around.  Books like those I recommend helped me recognize how evolutionary dynamics gave rise to our intensely social nature and so explain many social processes.  And as I began this intellectual journey, events in my own life ripped off the psychological seal I had constructed over my childhood experiences of maternal abandonment and paternal suicide and finally enabled me to make sense of them. We can improve our individual and societal health by increasing our understanding of our fundamental social needs.   

Russell's book list on social evolution, social neuroscience, and social connection

Russell K. Schutt Why did Russell love this book?

For almost four centuries, many philosophers, politicians, and social scientists have considered Thomas Hobbes as having provided great insight into human nature with his “thought experiment” imagining the state of nature as a state of war.  After more than one century, Darwin’s contrary insight in The Descent of Man (1877:125) is finally being given the attention it deserves: the “social instinct” is a more powerful influence on human behavior than “the base principal of selfishness.”  In Moral Origins, one of the best books in this genre, cultural anthropologist Christopher Boehm argues that higher levels of group support increased the survival of hunter gatherer bands and so favored evolution of more altruistic individuals.  Group culture that included gossip, expulsion and other forms of collective social control became ubiquitous as means to suppress free riders and egoistic bullies in human societies.

By Christopher Boehm,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the age of Darwin to the present day, biologists have been grappling with the origins of our moral sense. Why, if the human instinct to survive and reproduce is"selfish," do people engage in self-sacrifice, and even develop ideas like virtue and shame to justify that altruism? Many theories have been put forth, some emphasizing the role of nepotism, others emphasizing the advantages of reciprocation or group selection effects. But evolutionary anthropologist Christopher Boehm finds existing explanations lacking, and in Moral Origins, he offers an elegant new theory. Tracing the development of altruism and group social control over 6 million…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in shame, anxiety, and mental health?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about shame, anxiety, and mental health.

Shame Explore 15 books about shame
Anxiety Explore 197 books about anxiety
Mental Health Explore 186 books about mental health