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Prescribed Reading: 5 Essential Books on Psychology Everyone Should Read

These transformative books will give you a great introduction to the human mind and mental health.

Researched, written by Amber & The Team
Updated on January 9, 2024

Young Person Reads Psychology Books And Drinks Coffee

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Information has always been the backbone of any development in society.

Until the mid-1500s, literacy was reserved only for those who could read Hebrew or Latin, namely the Clergy, and that exclusivity of education would remain in the hands of the institution until Martin Luther and others forced the Reformation.

After this, the Bible was translated into the communal vernacular and distributed among the populace.

Literacy boomed.

Education formed.

Ideas thrived.

The Renaissance happened.

Nowadays, most sovereign states have 24/7 access to any information we could want, and with the conversation around mental health having become vastly more open and accepting, people find themselves seeking more and more information on the wonders of psychology.

The ordinary person no longer needs to chase a graduate diploma in Psychology to understand their mental conditions.

They can research and explore as they desire.

In celebration of this spirit of self-education, we have compiled this short list of five essential psychology books we believe everyone should read.

Disclaimer: These books are NOT meant to be used as a diagnostic tool, merely as a means of research and education.

If, in reading any of the following, you believe you have any form of mental illness, seek an appointment with your GP or Psychiatrist for a diagnosis.


“The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma”


For years, trauma and dealing with it was the realm of psychologists and psychiatrists.

Going to either meant that you were “crazy.” God forbid that your mental health produced visible symptoms, such as panic attacks, that then established you firmly as an outcast.

Information was there, but nobody paid attention to it.

It was uncomfortable, and unless you suffered from it, you didn’t understand what it was like to have a mental illness characterized by trauma reactions.

Enter 2014, the year Dutch psychiatrist Bessen van der Kolk published his book The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.

Since its publication, the book has been consistently successful and a frequent contender in New York Times bestsellers lists.

Its sales peaked in 2021, supposedly due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing people to face their psychological demons while in isolation.

The book is noted for its accessibility and the author’s unique and compelling method of explaining neuroscience and the effects of trauma.

The book also promotes a positive view of healing and implores the scientific community to carry out more gender-equitable studies on mental illness and its presentation of trauma’s “somatic” (bodily) symptoms and effects.


“Scattered Minds: The Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder”


TikTok is responsible for a lot, but the sheer rapidness of receiving information through the app has been integral in many people unknowingly suffering from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) realizing that they have the condition and getting the appropriate support.

However, in the 90s and early 2000s, there were many misconceptions about ADHD (then more often called “ADD”).

Much of this misinformation was dispelled when, in the year 2000, Doctor Gabor Maté released his book Scattered Minds: The Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder.

The book dispels common myths, such as that ADHD was spread via genetics.

Instead, Maté uses his own experience as a person with ADD and his expertise as a doctor to craft an incredibly intimate, encouraging, and humanistic book.

Replete with artful dialogue, meaningful science, and relevant anecdotes, Scattered Minds remains one of the most critical pieces of ADHD literature for people living with the condition and those who love them.


“50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions About Human Behavior”


Mental illness sufferers are regularly othered by social stigmas surrounding their illnesses.

In 2009, a group of psychiatric experts seemingly decided to tackle this glut of misinformation single-handedly.

The book they published that year, 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions About Human Behavior, actually provides over 200 case studies of material.

The book examines several well-established myths about human psychology and psychological conditions, using scientific data to publish the truth.

The text is informative and interesting and serves as a beautiful household guide to psychological concepts.

It is also notable for its inclusion of resources that teach critical thinking skills and a “myth-busting kit,” fostering an analytical readership capable of filtering out any future misinformation.


“Bad Science”


In 2008, physician Ben Goldacre published his book Bad Science – an examination of the nature of misinformation and the media’s role in spreading inaccurate or sensationalist information and statistics that ultimately lead to harmful, regressive movements.

The book exposes how the media manipulates data, how bias affects scientific studies, and inspires audiences to think critically, analyze the information, and engage in sound scientific practices and knowledge.

Though it doesn’t deal exclusively with psychological science, the book is undoubtedly important to read, and the practices therein can be applied to psychological science.


“The Laws Of Human Nature”


We are animals, we evolved according to the evolutionary whims of the natural world, and over time have developed our own significant “nature.” However, the human condition is both perplexing and wondrous, and understanding it is an effort to understand the psychology of humanity.

The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene seeks to dispel several elements of human nature.

It examines positive and negative interactions and examples of these laws in societies and offers insights into happiness according to them.

Greene seeks to decode the value of human sociality and put it into a universally understandable context.

The book is a must-read for anyone interested in the psychology of the human condition.




The journey through these five essential psychology books illuminates the ever-evolving landscape of human understanding and mental health.

From unraveling the mysteries of trauma and ADHD to debunking popular myths and examining the impact of media on science, these works collectively offer a rich tapestry of insights.

They deepen our grasp of psychological concepts and empower us to approach mental wellness with more empathy and knowledge.

Whether you are a curious learner or someone seeking a deeper understanding of the human psyche, these books can guide you toward a more informed and compassionate society.

Remember, while these books provide valuable perspectives, they complement, not replace, professional medical advice for mental health conditions.

Happy reading, and may your journey through the pages of these books bring enlightenment and a renewed appreciation for the complexity and resilience of the human mind!

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