Here are some books I found helpful. None of them are flawless, and none of them embrace a full rounded approach toward faith and spiritual praxis. With those caveats, I still recommend these books to the discerning reader who is struggling with depression, addiction, intimacy, or dysfunctional family dynamics.
I Don’t Want to Talk About It
An excellent book on depression geared toward men. Uses the myth of Narcissus to shape a fascinating narrative. Does a great job emphasizing the narrative, social, familial, and generational nature of this struggle. Challenges the problem of constructing an exaggerated image of maleness, but does go too far in suggesting a fluidity of gender and sexuality. This can be a very emotionally challenging book to read as it has some dark stories.
This series beginning with boundaries is geared toward thinking of ownership and relationality. How do we take responsibility for what is ours and how do we give freedom to others. Cloud and Townsend go a long way in clarifying confusions about emotional, physical, relational boundaries which are often blurred. They address issues of control, attachment, detachment, relationality, over and under-responsibility. This is a great book for any reader and I wish everyone in the church would read it.
In this series are other books which focus on: Marriage; Kids; and Dating.
Changes that Heal is good at clarifying the dynamic between love (grace/mercy) and truth (justice). I found this book to be an excellent complement to the boundaries series. This text does a great job showing the nature of attachment, anxiety, and depression.
Safe People is a guide to recognizing and finding a recovery/healing community
12 “Christian” Beliefs that Can Drive you Crazy helps debunk or clarify certain common notions which need to be put in perspective, nuanced or corrected.
The Gift of Forgiveness
I have to admit that Charles Stanley is not my favorite preacher or writer, but I think that this is a good basic introduction to the importance of forgiveness. I might place a slightly different emphasis on the connection between divine and human forgiveness as linked in the Lord’s Prayer.
Another good book on forgiveness with a more extreme approach
Adult Children of Abusive Parents
Whether the title describes you or not, many of the suggestions and exercises in this book can be used and adapted to those of us seeking emotional, spiritual, social growth. I found this book helpful and challenging and the exercise of sitting down and feeling one’s feelings extremely important.
This book is perhaps one of the most important spiritual manuals ever written. Its program of recovery designed to put one in new relationship with God is quite excellent. It is the most radical understanding of forgiveness and the most freeing. From this text comes the popularization of acceptance, detachment with love, and many other axioms. Great stories, great program, but one that cannot be done in isolation…just as is the case with all true spirituality. One would need fellowship and a mentor/Sponsor. There is also Al-Anon which deals with codependence:
New Light on Depression
This book goes a long way to dispelling certain myths about depression, such as that it is not always anger turned inward or that if one is holy enough it should not be a problem. Also includes great stories and resources.
An excellent book on probably the biggest phenomena of addiction today other than media & over-eating. Does a great job connecting anger and spiritual dysfunction to lust. Most importantly, it treats the problem as lust and recognizes pornography and compulsive sexual behavior as the symptoms.