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These books were reviewed in our 1994 to 1996 issues.
Click here for reviews in 1997 to 1999 issues, 2000 to 2002 issues, 2003 to 2005 issues, 2006 to 2010 issues, 2011 to 2013 issues.

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The Good News About Panic, Anxiety & Phobias

The Good News About Panic, Anxiety & Phobias by Mark S. Gold M.D. Villard Books, New York 1989.

This is a wonderful book for lifting the spirits if you are somebody who has suffered from an anxiety disorder for many years and have continually been made to feel that the lack of results from all the various treatment programs, to which you have been exposed, is all your own fault! It dispels the idea that has been advocated by the medical profession until recent years that anxiety disorders are a purely psychological problem - the affliction of weak personalities and the consequent inability to cope with everyday life. Dr. Gold tells it straight - it is not the patient who fails the treatment - instead it is the treatment that fails the patient!

The book covers the biological problems that can cause or mimic panic attacks and anxiety and advocates the desirability of ruling out physical causes before prescribing any form of psycho-therapy for the simple reason that if expensive psychotherapy would hardly be expected to cure a broken leg, why should it be expected to cure something that is the result of - for instance -a biochemical abnormality in the brain or a metabolic dysfunction? Biopsychiatric diagnostic procedures are outlined, the range of current medication is discussed and behaviour therapy strategies are described. The result is - in terms of learning about the latest research into anxiety problems - an extremely informative book

The author has received many awards for his pioneering research involving the use of laboratory tests in psychiatric diagnosis and treatment, brain mechanisms that produce fear, anxiety and panic and the use of medications in treatment of patients with anxiety or depression.


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Don’t Panic: Taking Control of Anxiety Attacks

Don’t Panic: Taking Control of Anxiety Attacks by R. Reid Wilson Ph.D. Harper & Row, New York 1986.

A psychologist specializing in anxiety disorders, R. Reid Wilson sets out to assist people suffering from panic attacks - whether they originate from physical illness, a psychological disorder, trauma or the everyday build-up of stress. His aim is to provide specific tools and techniques to use during the moment of panic, at the same time providing insight into the interaction of mind and body.

The book includes a five step strategy for controlling the moment of panic, problem-solving skills and a very useful list of how-to’s:

  • identify and control the muscle tensions that increase anxiety.
  • break the worried, self-critical and hopeless thought patterns that reinforce panic.
  • gain objective perspective.
  • regain immediate control of the body.
  • use breathing exercises, focused thinking and mental imagery.
  • establish goals to increase enjoyment of life.
  • conquer fear and face problems with confidence.

A chapter entitled “The Guide” is a script for relaxation which develops the idea of a Supportive Observer to reinforce the right to be deserving of respect and nurturing - a kind of affirmation therapy.


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Overcoming Panic Attacks: strategies to free yourself from the anxiety trap

Overcoming Panic Attacks: strategies to free yourself from the anxiety trap by Shirley Babior, LCSW, MFCC and Carol Goldman, LICSW. CompCare Publishers, Minneapolis 1990.

Two psychotherapists specializing in anxiety disorders and phobias, Shirley Babior and Carol Goldman designed Overcoming Panic Attacks as a handbook convenient for constant consultation. At the same time, they were committed to including information that was as up-to-date as possible at the time of publication. In addition to being counsellors to victims of panic, both authors are also highly experienced in training health professionals in the treatment of panic sufferers.

The help-oriented book, which includes a section specifically addressed to family members and friends, is packed with information and techniques which will help in the battle to overcome the effect and impact of panic attacks. The use of written goals and anxiety ratings are encouraged and forms and cards, from which copies may be made, are provided in the book.

Babior and Goldman base their treatment on the premise that panic attacks are false alarms of real danger which create the cycle of anticipatory anxiety/panic attack/avoidance that becomes so debilitating for its victims. The problem is addressed at physical, cognitive and behavioural levels and the emphasis is upon exposure to both the situations which cause panic attacks and the physical sensations associated with the panic. Several pages of breathing and relaxation exercises are included, plus scripts which can be recorded and played back when working on relaxation techniques. Rational responses to catastrophic thought processes are provided as well as systemized methods of increasing exposure to anxiety situations.

In creating a handbook of practical suggestions, help and reassurance, the authors have done exactly what they set out to do. Overcoming Panic Attacks is of great assistance to everybody involved in overcoming panic attacks whether sufferers, family members or health professionals.


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Fear No More

Fear No More by Diane F. Hailparn. St. Martin's Press, New York 1988.

Taking her cue from the well-known Eleanor Roosevelt quotation, "I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things they fear to do, provided they keep doing them until they get a record of successful experiences behind them." Hailparn goes a little farther than the late one-time U.S. First Lady, providing ways to do so. She discusses the traits that fear-prone individuals have in common — high levels of sensitivity and imagination, negative thinking and insecurity, lack of confidence, self-consciousness and frequent embarrassment. She notes the fact that 5% of the population is affected by agoraphobia, the intense level of anxiety that leads to sheer terror and that large numbers of these people are able to function only in the safety of their own home.

The fact that the more extensive study of fears and phobias, during the recent years, has indicated the ineffectiveness of analytic insight is pointed out by Hailparn in discrediting psychoanalysis as the traditional treatment for irrational fear. In many cases, she contends, psychoanalysis actually impedes progress by concentrating upon the past instead of confronting the present fear.

For action-oriented anxiety, fear and panic victims who want to learn how to confront fear, Fear No More is a publication which will provide invaluable assistance — provided they have readily available family members and friends who are prepared to invest the time required to effectively assist them.


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Phobia, The Facts

Phobia, The Facts by Donald W. Goodwin. Oxford University Press 1983.

While this is not a recently published book on the topic, it presents some very useful information for people who suffer with hard-to-control fears.

The writer spends a large amount of time on a topic which is not often covered by writers on the subject of fear, that is the nine months of our lives that we spend in the womb. For instance, the possibility that a major trauma for the pregnant woman can cause the unborn child to develop an aversion. Could the biochemical impact effect the child as well as the mother? Or is there an acquired trait as opposed to a chemical imprint upon the brain? Or is the predisposition that lays the groundwork for the phobia innate rather than genetic? Are fear, timidity, hyperactivity, etc. induced by strong emotion impacting upon the foetus in the uterus?

He goes on to discuss the wide variance in innate susceptibility to anxiety from conditioned response to being phobic-prone to the extent that even people with a perceived very low susceptibility can prove phobic under certain conditions.

On the lighter side, the book gives us the names of various phobias. The fear of railways, for instance, is siderodromophobia and the fear of having thirteen at the table is triskaidekaphobia. And we learn the origin of the words panic and phobia. Panic is derived from the Greek fertility god, Pan, who was scary-looking with his goat horns, ears and legs. Pan was a piper, however, who loved music and looked after the sheep and goats on the hillside — not at all scary really! Phobia comes from the Greek god, Phobos who people could call upon to frighten their enemies — not themselves!

Phobia, The Facts offers a lot of food for thought for everybody whose life is affected by fear.


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Free from Fears

Free from Fears by Ann Seagrove and Faison Covington. Poseidon Press. New York 1987.

The authors of Free from Fears are both recovered agoraphobics. They developed their book as a guide to the process of recovery using their own recovery as a model.

Beginning with the belief that every human being has within himself the power to achieve recovery through personal growth, they have created a process in which participation results in the development of a sense of power to make the changes required to control fear. It is a highly introspective process taking the reader from the point of being motivated to change – through understanding his/her role, incorporating a sense of humour about it, recognizing the normalcy of one's feelings and, importantly, accepting the need to please oneself – to becoming increasingly dependable, sensitive to the needs of others, capable, competent, assertive and excited about growth. The end result is becoming comfortable, mature, confident, able to take risks, non-judgemental, no longer fearful and able to continue the lifelong process of personal growth.

The book explains in detail the self-defeating protective mechanisms the agoraphobic employs and makes suggestions for changing them by comparing agoraphobic attributes with recovery attributes to reinforce the need for changes in attitude. The authors are very up-front about their own use of such protective mechanisms as denial, blaming, rationalizing, castrophizing and worrying and the resulting delay in taking steps toward recovery. They also, obviously, were forced to re-live many painful memories in order to write the book. For this alone they deserve to be read by everybody upon whose life agoraphobia impacts.


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Good Mood – The New Psychology of Overcoming Depression

Good Mood – The New Psychology of Overcoming Depression by Julian L. Simon. Open Court Publishing Company. La Salle, Illinois 1993.

While this book is primarily concerned with the newer methods of cognitive behavioural therapy for depression, it is important to sufferers of anxiety disorders for several reasons. People who suffer from anxiety disorders become clinically depressed very easily and people with depressive disease often suffer from anxiety so that the cognitive therapy advocated is valuable to both. More importantly, breaking free of negative thought patterns is the true basis for recovery from both conditions and Simon's book provides information on how to do so.

Good Mood teaches a new form of cognitive therapy called Self-Comparisons Analysis which, intergrating various tested techniques for changing thought patterns, focuses upon controlling, reducing and eliminating negative self-comparisons. The reader is taught to observe his/her thoughts closely and analyze the negative self-comparisons by writing feelings and perceptions down in table form. This forces the negative self-comparisons out into the open so that their logic and/or factual support can be investigated – usually to the extent of proving that there is none!

Part of the program is called Values Therapy. This is the expression of a person's negative self-comparisons as shortfalls between the actual circumstances and his/her fundamental beliefs and values about what he/she should be or should do. In so doing, the fact that these beliefs and values call for getting on with life for the sake of God, oneself, one's loved ones, etc. becomes the impetus for action.

Whether of not depression is a major component of your anxiety, fear or panic, you'll find Good Mood extremely helpful in correcting and monitoring your negative thought patterns.


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Beyond Fear

Beyond Fear by Robert Handly with Pauline Neff. Rawson Associates. New York 1987

Robert Handly wrote Beyond Fear after his first book Anxiety and Panic Attacks: Their Cause and Cure resulted in an appearance on the Phil Donahue show and thousands of calls and letters from readers and viewers.

The first book explained Handly's method of conquering his own agoraphobia through a method he calls the Five Basic Principles, a combination of visualization, affirmation, positive thinking and goal-setting. Beyond Fear goes a step further than just plain recovery – it moves on to attaining serenity, confidence and happiness or what Handly calls “Life Plus”. This is a fourteen day program developed around five FEAR-Smasher keys with a Daily Monitor and a Two-Month Checkup. These five keys teach acceptance of responsibility for progress and commitment to overcoming fear, developing self confidence, relaxation, taking risks and sharing the recovery experience with others.

Handly takes us step by step through the five keys that have helped him to successfully overcome shyness and fear of public speaking – in fact, all the stress that resulted from his becoming a best-selling author when his objective had been simply to help other panic sufferers through his own experiences during recovery. Handly's approach is a holistic one, using body, mind and spirit to move beyond fear.

The book emphasizes the role of both the support person and support groups in helping panic sufferers to conquer fear and has lots of useful advise for them. A very interesting difference in this book, as compared to other books on anxiety, fear and phobia help, is the suggestion that the skills learned in overcoming fear, and in assisting a loved one to do so, should be put to use in helping others. The author, himself, continues to do this not only with his books, but also through his tape cassette programs, speeches and seminars.


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Coping Successfully with Panic Attacks

Coping Successfully with Panic Attacks by Shirley Trickett. Sheldon Press. London 1992.

As indicated by the title, this is a book for practical people who are determined to help themselves. Shirley Trickett's coping strategy evolves out of being totally aware of every situation that has the potential to trigger a panic attack. These can be:

  • emotional – anxiety, depression, despair, preoccupation with death.
  • emotional/physical - exhausted nerves triggering muscle spasm or hyperventilation.
  • purely physical – tight clothes, restriction around the chest, other breathing difficulties, inner ear disorder causing dizziness and vertigo, low blood pressure depriving the brain of oxygen and creating dizziness.
  • digestive/metabolic – unstable blood sugar, food allergies, local anaesthetics containing adrenaline, drug, alcohol and nicotine withdrawal, reaction to medication.

Based on this awareness the ability may be developed to avoid the potential panic attack. The book goes on to provide details on recognizing and dealing with trigger situations.


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Triumph Over Fear - A Book of Help and Hope for People with Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Phobias

Triumph Over Fear - A Book of Help and Hope for People with Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Phobias by Jerilyn Ross. Bantam Books. 1994.

Jerilyn Ross is a leading authority on anxiety disorders. After overcoming her own phobia at the Roosevelt Hospital Phobia Clinic in New York, she obtained her master's degree in psychology and began working with phobia patients, using the exposure therapy approach developed at the Roosevelt Hospital. This was the fore-runner of what is known as cognitive-behavioural therapy today. Ross went on to become one of the founders of The Phobia Society of America (now re-named The Anxiety Disorders Association of America) of which she is President.

Triumph Over Fear begins by explaining the five distinct, but overlapping conditions which comprise anxiety disorders as defined by the 1994 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association - panic disorder, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. She, then, goes on to illustrate both symptoms and treatment through various case histories.

The impact, on the family, of one member's anxiety disorder is discussed - from the initial resentment to the restricted lifestyle, manipulation, avoidance behaviour, family dysfunction and the disappointments, shame and embarrassment, especially when parental obligations to children are involved. And, later, the changes imposed by recovery - the no longer being needed as a support person - and the new roles it imposes. Details of Ross's twelve week group therapy program are provided and practical strategies for:

  • goal-setting.
  • keeping daily task sheets.
  • a six point program for managing fear, fearful thoughts and impulses.
  • practising the confrontation of anxiety.
  • relaxation and exercise.

An excellent chapter on explaining the anxiety disorder to other people is included. This extends to learning to ask for help, explaining how friends and family members can help and explaining the problem to children (be honest, don't hide it!). There are also some very useful appendices on medication, research updates and the effects of various foods, drugs and stimulants.


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Dying of Embarrassment

Dying of Embarrassment by Barbara Markway, Ph.D., Cheryl Carmin, Ph.D., C. Alec Pollard, Ph.D., Teresa Flynn, Ph.D. New Harbinger Publications Oakland, California.

Beginning with a basic definition of social phobia, the authors of Dying with Embarrassment go onto compare common social phobias, such as public speaking, entertaining an audience, taking tests, eating in restaurants, writing in public, using public restrooms and dating, with the more widespread social fears of disabling generalized social phobia.

Demographics and characteristics of social phobia, the causes are discussed and the contributions of biochemical disorders, genetic predisposition, and the evolution of biologically-based sensitivities and maladaptive thinking patterns. A recovery plan includes defining realistic and specific goals and objectives and developing it to progress to learning the skills to handle the fear of disapproval and acquiring the skills to cope with the physical and mental reactions to the fear. There are questionnaires to assist in analyzing symptoms and planning a personalized program.

This is, possibly, the first book on social phobia to address consumers. Until now there is been even less information available than for other anxiety disorders. With more research being done, today, and social phobia becoming recognized as being a major problem by health professionals, there will, hopefully, be many more to come.


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The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook

The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne Ph.D. New Harbinger Publications, Oakland, California.

A holistic approach incorporating desensitization, diet and exercise, relaxation, visualization, self-esteem and being assertive is taken in this comprehensive self-help publication.

This book has been universally accepted as the best self-help book in outlining self-help recovery plans for anxiety disorders and it is recommended to anxiety and phobic patients by the health professionals treating them. Individual anxiety disorders are explained and the tools needed to control them are provided. Each chapter focuses on a different set of coping skills – from better nutrition to improved self-esteem. The techniques presented are those comprising cognitive-behavioural therapy programs, i.e. changing negative thought patterns through self-talk, self-esteem and assertiveness and changing the behaviours which contribute to panic/anxiety problems. Instructions and suggestions are easy to follow and encourage consistently working on keeping anxiety disorders under control.


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Magnificent Addiction

Magnificent Addiction by Philip Kavanaugh, M.D. Aslan Publishing, California.

“What we concentrate on becomes our reality. If we concentrate on fear we become ill and if we concentrate on illness, we become crippled. On the other hand if we concentrate on the limitless we can become that as well.” This quotation is the basis for the Introduction to Magnificent Addiction, a fascinating story of growth and recovery during the author's journey of inner discovery. He sees addiction as neither positive nor negative but, instead, as energy and what we do with this energy determines how addiction affects our lives.

Dr. Kavanough believes that recovery is based on changing the beliefs that cause addictions by being unable to sustain us in our search for peace. This is the basis of cognitive therapy which is an important part of recovery for people with anxiety disorders.

He applies his addiction philosophy to depression, panic and anxiety, illustrating his point with patients’ stories. He believes in the use of medication but does not believe it to be the solution – instead, mastering one's addictions is the effective solution.

All the traits common to people with anxiety disorders – compulsive neatness, the struggle with aloneness, control and fear, which to Dr. Kavanaugh is part of the life-cycle – are seen as addictions. Fear, he suggests, should be addressed this way:

“My friend, you are here! I remember you well. You have come to tell me some part of myself needs looking at, needs explaining. I am going to sit with you, my friend, fear, until you disclose your secret to me.” This is an interesting and exciting book for anyone wanting to overcome negative thought patterns. It is written in a comfortable and easy to understand manner which maintains the reader's interest and encourages re-reading just for the pleasure of the wonderful way the author has of looking at both problems and solutions.


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Panic Buster: Learn to Conquer Panic Attacks and Agoraphobia

Panic Buster: Learn to Conquer Panic Attacks and Agoraphobia by Bonnie Crandall. Hatch Creek Publishing, Jamestown, New York.

In 1974, after a sixteen year struggle with panic attacks and agoraphobia, Bonnie Crandall came to a turning point. She found Jesus Christ. It was another ten years, however, before she finally learned about the disorder from a television program and sought medical help. She was diagnosed as suffering from panic disorder. She continued her recovery without medication or professional help and, today, is generally independent.

The book discusses recovery from a spiritual viewpoint and reflects the author's genuine desire to assist others in their recovery. Her fundamentalist Christianity may not appeal to everybody, but the book is packed with solid advice and has lots of appeal to people who are disillusioned with the medical profession. Her own credo, taken from the Bible – And I will restore to you the years the locust hath eaten – will appeal to all panic sufferers regardless of their religion.


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Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Agoraphobia

Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Agoraphobia by Kenneth V. Strong. Oakminster Publishing. Victoria B.C.

Subtitled Information for Support People, Family and Friends, this book is written primarily for friends and family members of people with anxiety disorders. The author is a onetime victim of panic attacks and agoraphobia and a highly experienced support person. He currently maintains the caregiver section of the highly acclaimed Noodles Panic-Anxiety Page on the World Wide Web. While providing information to support persons, the book is also an excellent vehicle for panic sufferers themselves to use when attempting to explain their condition to employers, teachers and others upon whom it impacts.

The book begins by explaining how the body controls stress levels and the effects caused by the inability to release the energy created by stressful situations – whether of a rational or irrational nature. The author then goes on to describe the anxiety disorders, which develop when the body creates this energy for no rational reason, and the clinical depression which so often results from the restricted lifestyles caused by anxiety disorders.

The causes – from genetic predisposition to the effects of abusive relationships – are discussed as well as the medication currently in use. For the benefit of support persons, Strong draws a parallel to a panic attack as the fear experienced by being trapped in a tunnel in the path of an oncoming train magnified by a thousand times. He, then, goes on to guide the support person in the role which has been thrust upon him/her. This includes dealing with resentment and anger and how to turn the situation around so that both people involved can continue to grow. Several pages are devoted to the management of outings – from those of a major therapeutic program to a simple visit to the doctor or dentist.

The final chapter of the book is comprised of frequently asked questions and answers which are extremely useful for both the newly exposed and longtime sufferers of anxiety disorders in addition to support persons. The very fact that this book has been published is something of a relief to support persons who so often must overcome the feelings of inadequacy and helplessness, as well as anger and resentment, at what appears to be the need to be a saint or superhero.


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Life with the Panic Monster

Life with the Panic Monster by Evelyn Barkley Stewart. Thom Rutledge Publishing. Nashville, Tennessee.

Evelyn Barkley Stewart had completed training as a clinical social worker and was working in a state mental institute when she had her first panic attack. She found it ironic that she was able to expertly assess other people's problems while being completely baffled by her own.

Like everybody else confronting the condition in the late seventies, Barkley Stewart spent many years trying to find a physical reason for what was happening to her and was prescribed Valium. It took eleven years and a breakdown before a nurse at the hospice, where she was working as a social worker, inadvertently brought up the subject of panic attacks and she finally found out what was wrong with her.

From this point of her story, the author traces the erratic course she took – through medications, psychotherapy, support groups and the tools she created herself – to control the Panic Monster. Some of the best available advice for panic sufferers is contained here, fulfilling the promise of her subtitle – a guide for the terrified.


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