A psychologist’s favorite psychological thriller books
I am a psychological thriller junkie, and have over the years discovered some real gems. To get on my favorite list, the books must satisfy my craving for a surprising and clever plot, with characters who feel real and will be remembered. If I feel confused afterwards before I get an ‘a-ha’ moment, I feel very pleased.
In this post I will share my all-time top 5 psychological thrillers
1: Between you and me by Lisa Hall
I never have to think about which psychological thriller I’d always recommend, because between you and me took my breath away.
The twist was brilliant, and several things from previous chapters made even more sense. Besides the refreshing ending, I loved the two POVs.
It’s not often you find a book describing the abuser and abused simultaneously, going over the same events with totally different ways of looking at them. It’s chilling how someone can be in denial to the extent the abuser was, but I loved that the abuser sometimes thought about its behavior. The description of the abuse was hard to read, and working as a psychologist it really hit home what abused people go through.
Between you and me is a superb psychological thriller with an unforgettable twist.
2. The good sister by Sally Hepworth
This was a fantastic book in every way. I loved the characters, they felt so real and therefore I was emotionally moved by what they were experiencing. The writing style was perfect and the story original and the twists made me gasp. It also was deeply disturbing at times, until you realized you didn’t have the whole truth. Simply incredible and a memorable read. And it has become one of my all-time favorites in the genre.
3: The first day of spring of spring by Nancy Tucker
I felt emotionally drained and gutted after finishing this book. I will probably never be able to forget it, it was just a heart-stopping journey. I felt everything from sadness, disgust, shock and anger. And through it all, the overwhelming pain of a lost childhood. I am thoroughly impressed by Tucker, and will read everything she writes from now on.
4: The perfect twin by Sarah bonner
This book started with a bang until it exploded by the first, second and third twist. I read this whenever I had time, not wanting to miss a single second. The book was clever and original, and I enjoyed every page. Brilliant move to let us see the story unfold from different POVS, right up my alley. If the author publishes more books, I’ll be the first to order them.
5: Behind closed doors by B. A Paris
Behind closed doors was the book who got me into psychological thrillers. For that alone I’m forever grateful, and it still is one of my favorite all-time favorites. Like in between you and me, we are invited into a disturbing relationship with escalating abuse. The book’s suspense was unlike anything, I really sat on the edge of my seat, holding my breath in terror. I have liked some of her other books as well, but this is without doubt her best novel and it deserves to be on the list
We Are Annora: A True Story of Surviving Multiple Personality Disorde
Finding good memoirs describing multiple personalities is rare. This managed to portray accurately how it is to live with dissociative identity disorder, and the therapy that helped.
Annora’s intensifying bouts of amnesia caused her husband to seek marital counseling for them; whereupon, the therapist observed even more abnormal behaviors in Annora. She was subsequently diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), also known as Multiple Personality Disorder. Buried inner conflicts began to morph into external trouble and at first these troubles seemed to lack sense and organization. With the help of her therapist, Annora battled her disorder and the pieces of the puzzle came together to reveal a carefully hidden secret so devastating, that even Annora was not aware of it. We Are Annora will rivet readers as the story unravels clues which climax into a surprise ending.
Marrow’s choice of first-person narrative successfully pulls the reader into this page-turning true story which so richly demonstrates the human will to survive amidst a crippling disorder that is still so misunderstood. Throughout the pages of this book, struggles of fear and hope, love and hate, confusion, and utter clarity give the reader an “insider” perspective of the challenges faced by traumatized people with DID. Hence, the reader acquires a better understanding of the difficulties suffered by multiples and the potential for true healing.
From the Back Cover
Annora grew up in an orphanage and so the preservation of her precious family was her number one commitment. But that commitment was threatened when, during marital counseling, Annora’s therapist began to recognize unusual and abnormal behaviors in her. Annora was subsequently diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, also known as Multiple Personality Disorder. But that wouldn’t stop Annora from declaring her sanity to her husband and begging him to find them a new therapist.
Annora reveals the complex issues of her experience in this easy-to-read story that begins with a car accident and travels through a world of horrifying challenges laced with enough hope and vision to pull her through. It seems that survival is in Annora’s genes and she is anything but a coward, though she accuses herself of just that. “Maybe having alters is just a coward’s way of putting my memories and emotions some place outside of me so that I don’t have to feel their pain.”
Perhaps, in some way, she was right.
Reading the book was hard, but I was so glad I did. I understood better how it must be to live life shattered after trauma, and how the dissociated parts can find their way to healing, understanding they no longer need to be afraid. Annora was truly an inspirational woman, and sharing her story takes courage. It might finally reduce some sigma and explain the condition in a way people can understand.
More about it on goodreads
We become vampires with getting bitten. In other words: we are becoming more empathetic.
The wisdom of psychopaths, Kevin Dutton
Get the whole book here
The book review week
This week I will only post reviews of great books. Before I start, is there sometimes you would be more interested to read about ? Let me know, I have many books related to psychology I can present.
Lost connections by Johann Hari is simply the best book I’ve ever read. It asks all the right questions and it also provides many possible answers. I hope this will be a book that ultimately will change our society and the way we think about mental illness. Working as a psychologist myself, it felt like somebody finally provided solutions that will work in therapy and possibly change.
This synopsis is copied from goodreads:
From the New York Times bestselling author of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, a startling challenge to our thinking about depression and anxiety.
Award-winning journalist Johann Hari suffered from depression since he was a child and started taking antidepressants when he was a teenager. He was told—like his entire generation—that his problem was caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain. As an adult, trained in the social sciences, he began to investigate this question—and he learned that almost everything we have been told about depression and anxiety is wrong.Across the world, Hari discovered social scientists who were uncovering the real causes—and they are mostly not in our brains, but in the way we live today. Hari’s journey took him from the people living in the tunnels beneath Las Vegas, to an Amish community in Indiana, to an uprising in Berlin—all showing in vivid and dramatic detail these new insights. They lead to solutions radically different from the ones we have been offered up until now.
Just as Chasing the Scream transformed the global debate about addiction, with over twenty million views for his TED talk and the animation based on it, Lost Connections will lead us to a very different debate about depression and anxiety—one that shows how, together, we can change
Some stories bury themselves deep into your soul, leaving marks and holes. When the marks are gone, scars appear to remind you not to forget. This story did that to me. From now on, I will not forget. I will not forget that there is always hope, no matter how terrible your life was. Because this book is about extreme abuse. This post might be triggering, so refrain from reading further if you can be triggered.
I have just read Scared Selfless by Michelle Stevens. It is hard to describe how important this book was to me. Working as a psychologist myself, this was like finding the famous needle in the haystack. When I stumbled upon it on audible, i knew it was about trauma, but I had no idea that it also was about multiple personality disorder and that the author (a psychotherapist) was the one sharing her story. When I first listened to it, my boyfriend heard the first chapter too. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stomach the horrible abuse Stevens has experienced as he started to think about his own daughters. For me, it was impossible to stop listening. It was such an emotional journey, taking me from despair to horror and then hope. There has been such a long time since a book managed to evoke these feelings in me, and I realized one thing: Humans must keep searching for stories like these, that reminds us there’s always hope; That we truly are survivors, no matter what we’ve experienced. I will take this book with me in all conversations with my lovely clients from now on. And if I ever feel hopelessness, or that I can’t offer anything more, I shall remember that is just not true. By loving what you do and remembering why you do it, we can all change lives. Ourselves and others.
“A riveting memoir that takes readers on a roller coaster ride from the depths of hell to triumphant success.”—Dave Pelzer, author of A Child Called “It”
Michelle Stevens has a photo of the exact moment her childhood was stolen from her: She’s only eight years old, posing for her mother’s boyfriend, Gary Lundquist—an elementary school teacher, neighborhood stalwart, and brutal pedophile. Later that night, Gary locks Michelle in a cage, tortures her repeatedly, and uses her to quench his voracious and deviant sexual whims. Little does she know that this will become her new reality for the next six years.
Michelle can also pinpoint the moment she reconstituted the splintered pieces of her life: She’s in cap and gown, receiving her PhD in psychology—and the university’s award for best dissertation.
The distance between these two points is the improbable journey from torture, loss, and mental illness to healing, recovery, and triumph that is Michelle’s powerful memoir, Scared Selfless.
Michelle suffered from post‐traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression, and made multiple suicide attempts. She also developed multiple personalities. There was “Chelsey,” the rebellious teenager; “Viscous,” a tween with homicidal rage; and “Sarah,” a sweet little girl who brought her teddy bear on a first date.
In this harrowing tale, Michelle, who was inspired to help others heal by becoming a psychotherapist, sheds light on the all-too-real threat of child sexual abuse, its subsequent psychological effects, and the best methods for victims to overcome their ordeals and, ultimately, thrive. Scared Selfless is both an examination of the extraordinary feats of the mind that are possible in the face of horrific trauma as well as Michelle’s courageous testament to their power.
Thank you Stevens, for sharing your story.
If you are a survivor of abuse yourself this homepage might be of help. Finding a good therapist can help too. Don’t be afraid of trying to find help, it can help you to heal.
The age of generosity
Some weeks ago, I read a wondeful book by Kathrine Aspaas. I dived into her book, and absolutely loved it. When we read the news, it`s easy to feel overwhelmed. There is so much pain, tragedy and suffering. But there is also hope. So many possibilities. She describes how our vulnerabilities are what makes us strong. If you have ever felt ashamed or like you have to hide, this book will lift your spirits. It might even free you.
I am including a ted-talk where she talks about the age of generosity. Maybe she will inspire you too?
Do you have any book recommendations for me?
This year I’ve read over 90 books. Some in paper form, some as audiobooks. I use every opportunity I have: In my car, in between meetings and in the comfort of my bed. Some books have moved me deeply, some have taken me new places and some entertained me. Surely, some are already forgotten, and then I think: why did I waste my time on that book? Now I have a week to read a lot, and I don’t want to make the mistake of reading books that doesn’t give me anything. So my question to you is: Can you recommend a book to me? If you want to see books I’ve already read, feel free to check out my Goodreads account.
Thanks in advance!
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