Psychology & Health

Table of Contents

Psychology & Health

The Discovery of the Unconscious – Henri Ellenberger

Ellenberger does an incredible job at showing us the philosophical and psychological roots of these various psychoanalytic schools. Particularly enlightening was the influence that Nietzsche had on all of them. He also highlights the shortcomings of psychoanalysis

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Civilization and its Discontents – Sigmund Freud

The price we pay for the advancement of civilization is the heightening sense of guilt that we experience. In Civilization and its Discontents, Freud explains why we feel guilt, where it came from, and what consequences it has had on the individual.

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Totem and Taboo – Sigmund Freud

Totem and Taboo by Sigmund Freud is a book on the causes of neurosis, how it is dealt with, and how this forms the foundation of all societies and cultures.

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The Undiscovered Self – Carl Jung 

Jung opens with a question. “What does the future bring?“The Undiscovered Self is a book that is written in a time of apocalyptic, dystopic visions, the iron curtain and the great division of the East and the West.

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Modern Man’s Search for a Soul – Carl Jung

Jung makes a powerful case against the scientific rationalist. He elegantly dismantles the false certitude behind our modern scientific presuppositions, and asks us to approach deep, difficult problems with an open mind. And most importantly, he asks us to not dismiss ancient or primordial people, for they are not less rational than we are, but only start from different presuppositions.

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Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious  – Carl Jung 

Jung departed from Freud’s theories about the unconscious because he believed that the unconscious contents of the psyche consisted of inherited knowledge of archetypes, in addition to contents that were derived from the individual’s conscious life. In Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Jung explains the reasons for his departure, and gives us a detailed discussion of the shadow, the anima, the animus, and the process of individuation.

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Man and His Symbols – Carl Jung 

Initially, Freud saw the unconscious as the place that holds repressed memories or unwanted desires. Many of the best ideas by artists, philosophers, scientists are sudden manifestations of the unconscious. But Jung sees the psyche as representative of the Self as well.

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Personality: The Individuation Process – C.A Meier 

C.A Meier, the author of Personality – The Individuation Process, was a Jungian psychiatrist – in this book, he writes about Jung’s work into personality types and the process of individuation, including thorough explanations and origins of ideas like the anima, animus, the shadow, and persona.

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Owning Your Own Shadow – Robert A. Johnson 

Robert Johnson starts with Jung’s favorite story. Without effort or limit, the water of life wanted to make itself known on earth, so it appeared through an artesian well. People drank this magic water and were nourished, but eventually, they chose to escape this Edenic state.

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Individuation and Narcissism – Mario Jacoby

In Individuation and Narcissism, Mario Jacoby starts by recalling Ovid’s tale of Narcissus, he then explains the differences between the great psychoanalytic thinkers of our time, including Freud, Jung, Neumann, Kohut – particularly their thoughts on narcissism, why it develops, and the signs that it manifests. In addition, there is a thorough discussion of the process of individuation.

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Understanding Human Nature – Alfred Adler 

Adler was not interested in theories of the unconscious (psychoanalysis) the way Freud and Jung were. Instead, he was concerned with the practical world, particularly the social world. 

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On Becoming a Person – Carl Rogers

The human being is not fully autonomous nor all powerful, but his future is not predetermined. Further, the human being is not merely an object but a subject. Even if you were to grant that people were greatly influenced by their environments, you should remember that much of that environment was constructed by individual decisions. What you decide to do today will affect who you will become tomorrow, perhaps in ways you cannot predict or understand, but you are an active agent in this process.

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A Way of Being – Carl Rogers

The natural urge is to impose one’s own ideas, to display one’s intellectual dominance, to cater to one’s own ego at the expense of progress. And even though we have long known that this is not effective, it is still pervasive.

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The Neurotic Personality of Our Time – Karen Horney 

One needs to compete with others to acquire power or wealth in society. Competition is difficult on each person, but especially on the neurotic.

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain

Many introverts try to deny their true nature. They won’t be noticed as introverts in their workspaces, schools, or neighborhoods. They will lie to themselves about who they are – until a major life event hits them. They get fired from a job they hated or inherit money that allows them to have enough freedom to what they wanted with their time. This leads them to revert back to their true natures, to accept who they always were.

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Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise – Anders Ericsson

 

Malcolm Gladwell popularized the 10,000-hour rule that states that by practicing for roughly that amount of time on any skill, you will become an expert. The original researcher Gladwell drew his conclusions from is the author of Peak, Anders Ericsson. In it, Ericsson describes what it really takes to become an expert.

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Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi accomplishes two tasks through this brilliant book. The first is that he redefines the concept of happiness, and the second is to show you how to achieve this state of happiness – Flow. No matter who you are whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, the CEO of a company or a manual laborer, an eighteen-year-old male, or a sixty-year-old female – this book provides a more robust, pragmatic path to happiness.

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The Time Paradox – Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd 

The Time Paradox is a book by Phillip Zimbardo and John Boyd that explains how our attitudes towards time shapes the way we live our lives, who we become, and what we value.

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Algorithms to Live By  – Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths 

A book by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths that borrows from psychology, philosophy, mathematics, and computer science to better inform us of how we make decisions, and how we ought to make them if we’d like to be as efficient as the best algorithms we have.

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The Laws of Human Nature – Robert Greene 

In the Laws of Human Nature, we learn about different theories that inform human behavior. Greene cites numerous psychologists to make his arguments. But to appreciate this style, it is better to overlook the fact that some theories are contradictory.

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The 48 Laws of Power – Robert Greene 

Some people are master manipulators, but they are a minority. Most people are amateurs manipulators, and don’t do it pathologically. The problem is that it only takes one encounter with a master manipulator to ruin your life. When you inevitably come across a truly malicious and Machiavellian human being, and you are not educated in the ways of deception, then you are completely defenseless, especially if you are not Machiavellian yourself. 

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The Art of Seduction – Robert Greene

The Art of Seduction is a book that teaches you how to manipulate human psychology to your favor. Ultimately, some of us want to be manipulated and seduced, there is something deeply satisfying when it comes to surrendering. But there is also joy in the pursuit, in understanding how to get your target to fall for your traps, and it is often the case that the more difficult the challenge, the more worthwhile it is.

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Models – Mark Manson

Models by Mark Manson is a book about attracting women. While every topic around the dating experience is covered, the main message of the book is simple…

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Mastery  – Robert Greene

Mastery by Robert Greene is a book that outlines the path to greatness. Greene tells the stories of many different geniuses of the past (Goethe, Da Vinci, Einstein) and distills the most important lessons we ought to remember. After each story, Greene explains the laws the masters were following in the story consciously or not – and how we could use them to help ourselves in the struggle towards mastery of our own passions.

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10 Percent Happier  – Dan Harris 

10% Happier is a book about Dan Harris and his discovery of meditation. He takes us through his personal journey, starting with his addiction to the rush of adrenaline from covering live news events in dangerous locations to his subsequent breakdown on live TV as a news anchor.

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12 Rules for Life  – Jordan Peterson 

Peterson succeeds in creating a deceptively simple summary of what he has learned from life. Through a rich interplay of philosophical, historical, psychological, theological, and personal anecdotes, Peterson succeeds in buttressing his commandments with intelligible explanations that are accessible to anyone.

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The Hero with a Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell 

Myths are a mechanism we can use to find out who we are, and what we value implicitly. It teaches us about the stages of life, and how to pass through them successfully – while avoiding the psychological dangers along the way.

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Games People Play – Eric Berne

The premise of Games People Play by Eric Berne is that human beings as children are imbued with certain rituals, needs, desires, and thoughts by their parents and by their society. As they become adults, they do not fully transition from child to adult. Their relationships with others, characterized by the scripts they are willing to engage in, are not fully autonomous.

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The War of Art – Steven Pressfield 

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is a book about fighting Resistance with a capital R – the most dangerous force that any creative person can encounter. Pressfield spent most of his life doing odd jobs while working on his writing. While life forced him to take several paths that were unrelated to his passion, he never gave up. He waited for decades to be able to make money from his work. Today, he is well-known for writing books for creators (War of Art, Do the Work).

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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck – Mark Manson 

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson is not about giving no fucks about anything, it’s about choosing the few things to give a fuck about. A funny book with sharp insights worth remembering.

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Brain Rules – John Medina 

Brain Rules by John Medina is a book that combines the most important research findings about the human brain with advice that can help you make the most out of it. It is written for the layman, it is easy to read and is full of insights.

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The Psychology of Revolution – Gustave La Bon 

The revolution is the work of believers. It is hated by some and praised by others, and is a dogma that is either accepted or rejected as a whole, without the use of logic.

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The Denial of Death – Ernest Becker 

The Denial of Death is about man’s primal repression. Freud believed that man’s basic repression is sexual, but Becker argued that it is the denial of finitude, creatureliness, and mortality. Becker makes this argument based on the work of Otto Rank, Norman Brown, Soren Kierkegaard and Sigmund Freud.

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Masochism in Modern Man – Theodor Reik 

Theodor Reik, a psychologist, says that masochism is not what it appears to be. To Freud, the masochist is a weak, submissive person, who finds pleasure in pain and humiliation, either to repress guilt feelings or other socially unacceptable desires. He exists because the human being has two fundamental drives: Eros (life) and Thanatos (destruction). The sadomasochist is an example of Thanatos, the death drive.

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The Glass Cage – Nicholas Carr 

Carr warns about a near future that is dominated by artificial intelligence – he argues that the problems that come with advanced artificial intelligence go beyond the loss of jobs for some people the way technology always had. He thinks that at some point, because of the ease with which we will be able to live our lives, human beings will lose the most essential part of being human.

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Human Nature and The Principle of Least Effort – George Zipf 

In simple terms, the Principle of Least Effort means, for example, that a person in solving his immediate problems will view these against the background of his future problems, as estimated by himself. 

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The Myth of Mental Illness – Thomas Szasz

Thomas Szasz was a physician who became a psychologist. The Myth of Mental Illness changed the way people viewed psychotherapy, and debates continue about this topic exist till this day.

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Madness and Civilization – Michel Foucault 

The perception of mental illness has changed across time. And this change has more to do with social and economic needs, than any humanitarian feelings towards the mentally ill.

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Thoughts Without a Thinker – Mark Epstein

Mark Epstein makes the case that what is missing from psychoanalysis is Buddhism, that the two are complementary. Psychoanalysis is a reversion to the past, but a study of the past, while necessary, can be infinite and ineffective.

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The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation – William Hart 

 

The Art of Living is based on the teachings of S. N. Goenka’s, who’s teaching emphasized that the Buddha’s path to liberation is universal and scientific. He was an influential teacher and played a key role in establishing non-commercial Vipassana meditation centers globally.

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How Not to Die – Michael Greger

How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger is about the health benefits of eating your fruits, vegetables, nuts, and spices and the dangers of eating too much meat, or any meat at all.

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Bigger, Leaner, Stronger – Michael Matthews

If you are a gym newbie, or you’ve been doing it for a while, but feel that you have reached a plateau, this book is at the very least a good starting point to learn about how proper form, so that you avoid injuries, and at the same time, gives you a time tested philosophy to build muscle. You will also learn how to match your training with proper nutrition.

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King, Warrior, Magician, Lover

King, Warrior, Magician, Lover is a book about masculine archetypes. A problem that Jung identified many years ago, was that absent an appropriate rite of passage from boyhood to manhood, many men will stay stuck with their boy psychology. 

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Deadliest Enemy – Michael Olstaker, Mark Olshaker

Michael Osterholm and Mark Olshaker wrote Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs. Joe Rogan interviewed Michael Osterholm, who answered questions about the COVID-19 epidemic.

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The Story of the Human Body – Daniel E. Lierberman

The Story of the Human Body by Daniel E. Lieberman is about how our bodies have evolved across time, how the environment and culture affected our development, and what, if any kind of behavior or lifestyle, is considered optimal for human beings.

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Why is Sex Fun? – Jared Diamond

Why is Sex Fun? by Jared Diamond tries to explain a seemingly obvious question contained in the title. To most people, the answer is obvious and needs no further explanation. People have sex all the time, because sex is fun, there’s nothing else to explain. But to a scientist like Diamond, this answer is not satisfying.

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Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step – Edward de Bono


De Bono wrote in the 1960’s when creativity was considered rare. He thought that lateral thinking could be an “insight tool” for solving problems. The concept of lateral thinking emerged out of his study of how brains work.

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The Female Brain – Louann Brizendine

The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine is about how female brains differ from male brains. Studies around the world showed that women are more likely to be depressed than men are by a ratio of 2:1. As a medical student, Brizendine thought this was because of the patriarchal oppression of women, but then she noticed that up until puberty, the rates of depression between boys and girls are the same.

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Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart – Gordon Livingston

Dr. Gordon Livingston, a psychiatrist, imparts 30 pearls of wisdom in this short book. He has had his share of suffering in life. Within a year, one of his sons committed suicide and another died in an accident. He was also run over by a snowmobile while standing in a lift line. While this book contains many clichés, they are still worth revisiting.

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Ikigai – Hector Garcia Puigcerver

Ikigai is a Japanese philosophy for how to live life. This book sheds light on what the Japanese have long known were the secrets to a happy, healthy, and long life.

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I Contain Multitudes – Ed Young


Ed Young is a contributor for the Atlantic. I Contain Multitudes is his fascinating book about the story of microbes, their origins and functions, our relationship with them so far, and how this relationship will develop in the future.

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The Lucifer Principle – Howard Bloom

In The Lucifer Principle, Howard Bloom sets on an ambitious undertaking, to find a single explanation for why there is evil in the world.

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Masochism and the Self – Roy Baumeister

In Masochism and the Self, Roy Baumeister focuses on a more precise definition of masochism that only includes the sexual, because far too many behaviors would be considered masochistic without such a restriction. This is unlike Reik’s perspective on this subject in Masochism in Modern Man, or Becker’s views on Sadomasochism in The Denial of Death.

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Behave – Robert Sapolsky

Behave is a book by Robert Sapolsky about the biological underpinnings of human behavior.

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The Master and his Emissary – Iain McGilchrist

In The Master and His Emissary, Ian McGilchrist explains our reality through the perspective of brain lateralization. He includes in his study neurology, mythology, art, science, literature, and psychology – to explain how the hemispheres of the brain are different, and how this explains why experience contradictions in our own thinking, such as the mismatch between what we will and what we desire.

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The Art of Living – S.N. Goenka 

Vipassana is about gaining intellectual insight about yourself. In recognizing the ephemeral nature of your thoughts, and in learning equanimity, you can free yourself from unnecessary suffering.

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Why We Sleep – Mathew Walker

Why We Sleep by Mathew Walker is about the science of sleep. What happens when we sleep, how are our minds are shaped by the quality of our sleep? What are the repercussions to not sleeping well?

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The Omnivore’s Dilemma – Michael Pollen

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen is about the fundamental crisis that each human faces, and is unique to our species: Since we can eat both plants and animals, we don’t know what we should eat. Plants or animals or both? And how should we eat them?

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The Red Queen – Matt Ridley


The Red Queen is about how humans behave, and what led them to behave this way. Ridley compares the human mammal to other animals, and finds patterns that we have in common

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The Complete Guide to Fasting – Jason Fung


The Complete Guide to Fasting is a good introduction to fasting, with its benefits, variants, and dangers.

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The Longevity Diet – Valter Longo

In The Longevity Diet, Longo recommends we use multiple sources of information when going on a diet, rather than to trust the latest fads.

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The Circadian Code – Satchin Panda

The Circadian Code is a short book that sheds light on the importance of the circadian clock. By explaining how the body works as a coordinated system, not only by itself, but alongside the natural rhythm of the day (sunrise and sunset), it becomes impossible to think of the body in isolation.

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Body By Science – Doug McGuff and John Little

Body By Science by Doug McGuff is a book that contradicts most of the advice that you will find online about strength training. From the perspective of a physician, McGuff explains how building muscle is a biological process that requires sufficient rest as well as intense stimulation, and that more frequent training can impede rather than help your muscle growth process. 

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"A gilded No is more satisfactory than a dry yes" - Gracian

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