Book Reviews

How to Breathe Underwater: The 4 Week Plan to Relieve Debt Stress.
Written by Trevor M. Ahrendt

I have to admit the first time I saw the book I thought it was about relieving DEBT, not debt stress, but after reading this easy manual, I understand that How to Breathe Underwater is a plan to relieve debt stress, and debt relief follows somewhat naturally. This excellent manual costs only $12.99—a bargain! After reading part of the first chapter while standing up at the table where it was displayed, I bought one right away.

Let me describe it briefly:

This is a workbook, but even if all one does is to read through the pages and not fill out the forms, side-stepping the homework, one will be changed by the process.  It’s written in a humble, down home manner, as if you were both sitting cross-legged in the author’s living room, comparing stories.  With some breathtaking statistics (read for yourself!). Dr. Ahrendt proves the Radical Psychiatry refrain that personal troubles can be understood as public issues by normalizing debt.  He reframes debt shame into compassion for those both in terrific debt but also those who are rolling in money (there are twists and turns in this book). This is a manual for raising self-esteem, and redefining ourselves: debt or no debt.  Many of the exercises have to do with identifying values, needs, and longings, and then seeking ways to meet those needs and aspirations with practical and immediate action. The whole book could be a college course unto itself!  Thank you, Trevor.


Baffled By Love: Stories of the Lasting Impact of Childhood Trauma Inflicted by Loved Ones.
Written by Laurie Kahn

I felt lucky to obtain an advanced reader copy, and I dug in right away.  In general, I feel disappointed by psychology books, especially about child abuse.  I ran a county-wide child abuse treatment program years ago and I worked in another one for years, led groups for adults molested as children, and feel like there is not much new being written. But I so appreciate Laurie Kahn’s stories, which provide the reader with a submarine tour of the ocean of feelings that are the lasting impacts of childhood abuse, specifically from a person known to and loved by the victim.

Abuse by a stranger is an abuse that is easier to define as not-ok, but abuse by a loved person is extremely complicated.  This book provides page after page of moments in group and individual treatment of persons who experienced and still live the experience of abuse and neglect.  What I appreciate the most is Kahn’s refreshingly honest look at boundaries, as well as definitions and forms of psychotherapy.  To call what she does reparenting or a corrective emotional experience would be an oversimplification.  Her tender patience rubs off on the reader, and I am probably a slightly better listener having read this book, which kind of holds and rocks the reader. The material here is relevant to all of our clients, not just those who are traumatized, or just the ones traumatized by a friendly family member, mental health professional, or teacher. You’re in for a good read.


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