This list has been put together in order to introduce you to my favorites, all of which I think could help many of you. As you can see, there is a mix of the spiritual, the scientific, the philosophical and the psychological. I intentionally mentioned most authors only once, in order to introduce you to as many as possible. Personally, I´ve read multiple books by many of these authors, and I hope you will too!
At the end of our list is a comments section. Feel free to add some of your favorite books there. And please link them back to an Amazon page for easy access!
Below, I have ranked these books in terms of how much I think they have helped me on my journey, and provided a brief explanation of why. And yes, I put my own, #1! I’m not shy. All titles are linked to Amazon.com.
Yes, I’m pimpin’ my own book, but I think it genuinely brings real life experience to what you need to know if you are planning to try and heal your bipolar disorder. And based on the positive feedback I’ve had so far, my book really delivers! There really is no other book on the market quite like it. Check out the reviews on Amazon.com. I’m sure you’ll love it.
#2 COMING OFF PSYCH MEDS – ICARUS PROJECT (FREE DOWNLOAD)
No, its not spiritual in any way, but it is a nice introductory guide to coming off psychiatric drugs. It also helps separate the truth from the myths of psychiatry. Besides, It’s a FREE PDF download at the Freedom Center. Just click the link and start reading! Personally, I think the book could provide more detail with regards to the withdrawl process, which can be quite difficult. However, until I read a better source, I´ll keep this one posted.
#3 THE STORMY SEARCH FOR SELF, DR. STANISLAV & CHRISTINA GROF
This is the first book I ever read that actually attempted to distinguish between what was a mental illness and what would be considered a Spiritual Emergency. Here, Dr. Stanislav Grof lays out a description of my own ‘spiritual psychosis’ in detail, finally providing me the theoretical knowledge which could validate my experience. I think it is a must-read for anyone who has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia because, as you will see, the apparent symptoms of all three conditions are very similar to each other. Many of my videos are based on the material found in this book.
At his experimental clinic, Diabasis, Dr. John Weir Perry, a Jungian psychologist and psychiatrist, reports healing acute schizophrenia 85% of the time among patients experiencing their first psychosis. From reading this book, the reason for his success is obvious. He simply has a deeper understanding of the spiritual meaning of psychosis than anyone I have ever read. While it can be a tough, sometimes clinical read, this book is essential for anyone who hopes to heal their bipolar disorder. It´s definitely worth the struggle.
Soteria House was a clinic running in San Francisco during the 1970´s and 80´s for 12 years. It´s results in healing schizophrenia were absolutely stunning and provided a serious challenge to mainstream psychiatry, a challenge which holds up until today. This book describes, in detail, how Soteria operated – from the type of staff it hired to how patients were taken through their acute psychoses. Always supportive of the healing potential of the psychotic experience, staff were encouraged to ‘be with’ the person in crisis, rather than attempting to ‘do’ something to them. After reading this book, anyone with bipolar disorder will be convinced that they too at least have the potential to heal their condition.
#6 SPIRITUAL EMERGENCY, EDITED BY DR. STAN AND CHRISTINA GROF
Spiritual Emergency is an edited compilation of some of the world´s leading psycholgists and psychiatrists all of whom see mental disorders as potentially breakthrough experiences. Ram Dass, RD Laing, Perry, Jack Kornfield and others all have something to add to the conversation, and all are highly critical of mainstream psychiatry. What I learned from this book is that there are more than a few thinkers out there making the link between mental disorders and spirituality, and they make their arguments in a very compelling manner.
‘Just Be’ in the Present Moment. That is Eckhart Tolle´s beacon call to those who wish to understand the nature of the current spiritual awakening our planet is just waking up to. Not only does Tolle provide Bipolar folks with a meaningful context in which to understand their disorder, he also goes into detail with regard to the nature of the Ego (False Self), Soul (or Self, as he calls it) as well as how we retain our trauma in the ‘pain-body’. IMO, living in the Now is essential for supporters of people with bipolar disorder, especially when they are in the deep-flow state of psychosis. So, all in all, if you have bipolar disorder and you haven´t read this book, you are missing something special.
Still think psychiatry is the best way to go? Reading this book not only will change your mind, it will turn your stomach. Whitaker´s book is a horrid tale of over 100 years of torture, sadism and corruption all in the name of ‘science’. Perhaps his most relevant chapters for today are those near then end where he documents how Big Pharma systematically covers up medication side-effects, marketing one wonder-drug after another, all along the way. The only book you need to read to get a good understanding of how the general public is systematically misled about psych meds and psychiatry.
Wilber has written something like 25 books and I´ve read about 10 of them, so I figured that this was just about a good a place to start as any. When I first read this book, I felt like a chimp compared to this guy – a true genius. Ken was the one that introduced me to the idea that, as a species, we are still evolving, not only spiritually, but intellectually, economically, culturally, even biologically! And, although it’s not in this book, he also turned me onto the idea that people at different levels of consciousness will interpret non-ordinary (i.e. manic) states of consciousness differently. IMO, anyone remotely interested in the spiritual implications of psychology needs to take a good look at what he has to say.
#10 THE POLITICS OF EXPERIENCE – R.D. LAING
R.D. Laing was the main man back in the ’60′s, taking on mainstream psychiatry by storm as a counter-culture magnate. In this book, Laing points primarily to our family environment as the root source of schizophrenia (what many people with bipolar disorder would be labeled back then), sharply criticizing mainstream psychiatry along the way. I couldn´t agree with him more. FYI, Laing´s other big book, The Divided Self, was where I first read of the notion of the “I Can’t Be Me” Disorder (Video #5), explaining in detail how people with schizophrenia feel the need to hide their real selves from the hostile world.
#11 THE HOLOGRAPHIC UNIVERSE – MICHAEL TALBOT
Experiences of one-ness, timelessness, all-knowingness. A sense that everything is connected to everything else. Sounds like bipolar mania, right? Well, it also sounds a lot like Quantum Physics, and while your Newtonian psychiatrist may think your experiences of being ‘one-with-the-universe’ are delusional, there is a hell of a lot more science behind those experiences than behind what he’s sellin’. Not only was Talbot one of the first to introduce the increasingly accepted idea that the Universe is essentially holographic in nature, he actually discusses on page 65 how people with bipolar disorder tap into this level of reality in a way that normal people can’t!
#12 MYSTICISM – EVELYN UNDERHILL
Almost 100 years old, I think this book could be extremely helpful reading to religious people, especially Christians who are trying to put the spiritual experiences they are having during manic episodes into the religious context of their church. In a nutshell, pretty much ALL of the mystic saints of Christianity: St. Francis of Assisi, St. Theresa D’Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Bernard, St. Augustine and others were having experiences that would be considered signs of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia today, and yet these people we able to grow tremendously, because of their experiences, and go on to be the spiritual revolutionaries of their time.
#13 TAO TE CHING – LAO TSU
Can an ancient chinese scripture, really hold the keys to the secrets of the Universe? Maybe so. Studying religion in university, the Tao Te Ching was the ONLY spiritual text to wake me up. I remember distinctly thinking, ‘This is actually how the world really is.’ Fast-forward 20 years and I find that the messages held within the TTC are more relevant today than they ever were. Rather than being a book from the ancient past, this is a timeless text whose messages will shape our future – our bipolar future.
#14 THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES – JOSEPH CAMPBELL
I have a theory. God created the universe so that he could live through us, as splintered, imperfect versions of himself. Why? Because we, us humans, are capable of doing something that God himself cannot do, and which God, in his heart of hearts, admires very deeply. We can be heroic. In reading Cambell´s text, you will understand how each of us, in our own way, is on a heroic journey from from the depths of our depravity back to the divine perfection that lies latent within all of us. And the bipolar generation? We are on the most harrowing and, therefore, most heroic journey of all.
#15 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYING – SOGYAL RINPOCHE
Early on in my studies on bipolar disorder, I began to wonder about the role that FEAR played in our experiences of mania; if the difference between the person experiencing one-ness, love and connection was simply less fearful than the person experiencing paranoia and devilish hallucinations. Sogyal Rinpoche´s book showed me how, according to Tibetan Buddhism, fear as well as one´s spiritual consciousness plays a HUGE role in what happens to us after death. Simply put, the fear we carry with us into death, leads to a more fearful experience OF death, and a more difficult afterlife. Could the same be said of Bipolar Disorder? Could be….
#16 ANATOMY OF THE SPIRIT – CAROLINE MYSS, PH.D.
When you are in a manic state, you have a high energy level. It’s obvious. When you are depressed, you can barely get out of bed, your energy is so low. And what does our medical model offer in terms of this understanding of energy? Nothing. Myss’s book was the first one for me that made the link between how our thoughts and feelings influence our energy and our biology – and how the energy we put into relationships can either energize us, or suck the life out of us.
#17 YOUR PSYCHIC POTENTIAL – M.J. ABADIE
As developing spiritual beings, one of the things we have to develop is a trust in our intuition and the messages that come to us in the form of visions. I found the thinking and techniques offered in this book helped me develop that ‘mystic’ side of life in a way that few other books have. Of course, the fact that Abadie used to work in advertising, my old profession, didn’t hurt either!
#18 SPIRAL DYNAMICS – DON BECK
While Ken Wilber uses the Spiral Dynamics format of consciousness evolution in many of his books, I found that going to a book by one of Carl Graves disciples, Don Beck, helped give me a deeper understanding of how each level of consciousness differs from the rest. As you will read in SD, not only do the levels differ spiritually, but also with regard to how they approach work and relationships, how they create culture and how they run businesses. After reading this book, it was much clearer to me how the different levels of consciousness approach non-ordinary states differently, and how only from the highest levels can BD be healed.
#19 THE RED BOOK and MEMORIES, DREAMS, REFLECTIONS – CARL JUNG
I haven’t read a ton of Carl Jung because I’ve found Grof, Perry, Laing, Wilber and Mosher so accurate in reflecting my own experiences with psychosis and those of the people that write me. However, there is no doubt that Jung was the pioneer in the field of understanding mental illness from a spiritual perspective. With the recently published THE RED BOOK, the profound depths and suffering of Jung´s psyche are revealed in this very personal, extremely artistic, therapeutic diary. A difficult, perplexing read at times, the book will stand the test of time as a symbol of the human capacity for healing the mind, once we engage the spiritual dimension of our being. Jung began this diary because he was on the verge of a ‘schizophrenic crack-up’. His passionate interaction with his inner spiritual world is what healed him.
I first read his memoir, MEMORIES DREAMS AND REFLECTIONS over 15 years ago, at the age of 29. I found this memoir to be extremely interesting. Not only was Jung a great psychologist, but a true mystic with his own ‘bipolar’ experiences in his own right. Read 2 years before my psychosis, the big thing I took away from this book was the relevance of our dream-world and the importance of giving them our proper attention and interpretations, as a source of knowledge from which to live by.
20. RELIGIOUS AND SPIRITUAL ISSUES IN PSYCHIATRIC DIAGNOSIS – A RESEARCH AGENDA FOR DSM-V – edited by John Peteet, M.D., Francis Lu, M.D. and William E. Narrow, M.D., M.P.H.
In case you haven’t guessed by now, the reading here is a little heavier. Inspired by the efforts of Dr. David Lukoff and Dr. Francis Lu to get spiritual and religious problems recognized in the DSM IV-R, a group of 39 more doctors have come forward, compiling their research on the relationship between spiritual experiences and mental disorders into one big book. The intention here is to pressure the creators of the upcoming DSM V into an increasing acceptance of spiritual/religious issues within their diagnostic criteria. For anyone used to the typical chemical imbalance mantra of so many psychiatrists, this book will come as a shock – these aren´t your typical psychiatrists. Thank God for that!