Original post 19Jun08; Update Jan2012
Almost four years has elapsed since I first developed this list of helpful books and information for coping with shame -- specifically the type of toxic shame in adulthood that results from deficits in emotional development. If you found the discussion of the characteristics of a child and how immature parenting affects adults, you will benefit greatly from these resources. Explore the whole series about the childhood roots of victimization HERE.
I've broken down the titles into Christian resources and secular ones.
Concerning Emotional Developmental Deficits and Recovery
Audio and Video: “From Shame to Glory”
Presentations by Kathryn Chamberlin, LCSW-C
Kathryn attends the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Maryland, a church that is a member of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church denomination, following the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Heidelberg Catechism.
As you are free to note on her webpage, she holds a nursing degree from University of Virginia, a Master's Degree in Social Work from The Catholic University and certification in Biblical Counseling. She practices Christian counseling with the Bethesda Counseling Group, offering services to those in the Baltimore-DC Metro area.
Kathryn's presentation, “From Shame to Glory” is perhaps the best place to start a journey out of shame and into the liberty that is afforded to all believers in Christ Jesus. She has several other audio resources available, and I would also recommend considering these additional presentations as well:
- Shame versus Worth
- The Approval Addict
- The Performance Trap
- Hurt Trail to Idolatry
- The Door Metaphor
Books for Christians in Recovery (In descending order of importance)
- Love is a Choice. Hemfelt, Minirth and Meier's book examines the problem of persistent shame in the Christian's life. Christ saves us from the shame of sin and restores us, but for those of us who have been raised in families that were lacking the support we desperately needed, we tend to get stuck in patterns of shame that can prevent us from fully embracing the fullness of our forgiveness and liberty in Christ. Their ten step program teaches about how we can get caught up in repetitive patterns of shame and how we can be liberated from shame. ** They also offer a companion workbook (which I have not read).
- Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves. The book that I believe helped me the most during my own recovery has been David Stoop's book, Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves: Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families. The aforementioned book (from the same publisher) presents an overview and an introduction to the topic of the less than ideal emotional development of a child, but Stoop's book takes healing to the next level and explains more specific information about how to heal. I found myself in its pages in a deeper way, amazed at how accurately it described the patterns that I'd lived.
- Boundaries. As mentioned in recent posat and featured in this blog post concerning a child's characteristic of vulnerability, Townsend and Cloud's book explores the issues concerning boundaries from a Christian perspective. In addition to their landmark book, you can also find a host of resources and video clips on important topics at Cloud-Townsend Resources online. The authors also adapted their message about boundaries and authored subsequent books which focused on particular types of relationships, and they are worth considering as well, though I am partial to the first book because it reviews boundaries quite extensively.
- The Lies We Believe and the companion workbook which adds significantly to the material in the book. The author, Dr. Chris Thurman, explores the false ideas that we hold about the world -- ideas which only serve to set us up for heartache. I think of this book as a more structured way of looking at spiritual warfare and bringing every thought captive to the truth, but it is focused on the issues of shame and negative emotion. Through this book, I learned that what healing professions call "Cognitive Behavioral Therapy" or working through negative emotion by exploring unrealistic expectations and false ideas about life was essentially the same thing that the Bible teaches by renewing the mind and bringing thoughts captive to Christ by using the Bible as a standard. David Stoop also has a similar book dealing with the topic called You Are What You Think, presenting the same approach to right and healthy thinking -- renewing the mind with healthy thoughts and ideas.
- Lewis Smedes' many books on the topic of forgiveness. I cannot recommend the writings of Smedes more highly enough on one's journey to better understand forgiveness in a healthy way and from a very Christian perspective. He has a host of titles, and I've found them all equally helpful, even though all of the aforementioned authors and books listed here touch on the subject.
- This is Your Brain on Joy. If you've followed this series and found a great deal of benefit through the focus on brain as an organ of the body that deserves special care and consideration, I highly recommend reading Earl Henslin's Christian book which presents not only a plan to help balance mood and restore brain health, but also focuses on spiritual growth. His balanced, Christian approach makes the topic very understandable and practical, taking into consideration the concerns that many Christians have, promoting good stewardship of both mind and body.
- Quivering Daughters (for women). Though Hillary McFarland's book focuses on the plight of young women who grew up in the radical end of the homeschooling movement, I believe that any young woman who grew up under shame-based and enmeshed parenting as an Evangelical Christian will benefit tremendously from this book. I am an example of those who can identify with the patterns of enmeshment, though my parents were neither radical conservatives nor was I homeschooled. The patterns of enmeshment do convey, and I believe that any woman from a background of religious condemnation and shame can glean a great deal from the book.
- Make Anger Your Ally. Neil Clark Warren's book (published by Focus on the Family) explains anger from a Christian perspective, focusing on the benefits of anger as a protective mechanism and how to deal with the triggers of anger in a healthy way that we might all observe the Apostle Paul's admonishment to "be angry and sin not." There is also a title on anger in the Minirth Meier/New Life series of books, though I have not read it. Some might find this helpful, as understanding anger presents a significant challenge for many who were raised in evangelicalism that perceived wrongly that anger itself is sinful.
- The Overcoming Botkin Syndrome blog! Read many excerpts from these titles on this site's sister blog, Overcoming Botkin Syndrome, which deals directly with the topic of shame-based parenting and enmeshment as it relates to the patriarchy movement.
Online Recovery Resources (some of which are free!):
- Check the National National Association for Christian Recovery website site for searchable archives, their blog, and list of constantly growing resources
- NACR online video workshops
- Free library of articles from back issues of STEPS magazine
- NACR audio workshops (for a nominal fee)
- Meier Clinics' list of online articles discussing a variety of topics
- The (aforementioned) Cloud Townsend Resources site with topical videos
- Rooted in God's Love (NACR, available as a book and as a free daily email)
- Meditations for Christians who Try To Be Perfect (hosted on NACR by Joan Webb (available as a book)
- Northstar Devotional Blog (online resource)
- 12 Step Life Recovery Devotional (Arteburn and Stoop)
- Christian Recovery International Forums (Both NACR forum and a spiritual abuse forum)
Depending on how the first two resources minister to you, and depending on the nature of the areas that God begins to heal in your life, I would recommend choosing between a Christian and a secular resource.
Overview, Introduction, and Healing
If you find yourself very compelled by this series and are at ease exploring secular writings, I would consider reading some secular material concerning shame and recovery. Though any book on the subject of shame or codependency as it was once popularly called would be appropriate, I find that these titles have been very good. These have all been time honored and standards in the area of overcoming shame.
- Codependent No More, Beyond Codependency and Codependent's Guide to the Twelve Steps (Melody Beattie)
- Facing Codependence and the companion workbook Breaking Free (Pia Melody)
- Compelled to Control (Miller)
If while reading this series of posts, you identified with the subject and experience of enmeshment and the information on the Overcoming Botkin Syndrome blog, there are titles that specifically deal with that subject.
- The Emotional Incest Syndrome: What To Do When A Parent's Love Rules Your Life (Patricia Love)
- Facing Love Addiction: Giving Yourself the Power to Change the Way You Love (Melody)
- Toxic Parents (Forward)
- Silently Seduced. . .Understanding Covert Incest (Adams)
- When He's Married to Mom: How to Help Mother-Enmeshed Men... (Adams)
There are also a host of titles that concern intimacy and specifically delve into issues of parenting. I cannot begin to list them all, and my personal journey is unique, but I found these secular titles particularly helpful to me in my own journey of recovery. **Highly recommended**
- **Trapped in the Mirror: Adult Children of Narcissists and their Struggle for Self (Golomb)
- **Who's Pulling Your Strings (Braiker)
- The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self (Miller)
- The Gifted Adult (Jacobsen)