International Paruresis Association





International Paruresis Association

PO Box 65111
Baltimore, MD 21209

410-367-1253 (phone)
410-367-1254 (fax)

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Q: What books do you recommend for learning about paruresis and recovery?

A: Below is a partial list of books that people have found helpful in recovering from paruresis. As for any kind of book, reading is a form of self-help and this kind of work should be undertaken with consultation from other sources such as your doctor or a treatment professional because each person’s case may be different. Some of these materials can be purchased directly from IPA online at the IPA Store page. Your local library may have them available as well. Steve Soifer’s book is the only book that specifically covers paruresis. The other books deal with possible underlying mechanisms that may contribute to paruresis. Not every person will find relevant help in every book. Because of the current state of understanding about paruresis, those seeking treatment through self-help reading will need to do personal research and find avenues that work for your individual situation. Mark Twain made a funny quote that applies: "Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint." What this illustrates is that we all need to use our common sense about advice from books. Everyone's recovery process is different, while similarities are also involved. No one who writes a book is right all the time, or for all people.

Soifer, Steven M.S.W. Ph.D., George D. Zgourides, Psy.D., Joseph Himle, M.S.W., Ph.D., Nancy L. Pickering. Shy Bladder Syndrome. Oakland, California: New Harbinger Publications, 2001. ISBN: 1572242272. This is the groundbreaking book that first brought paruresis and its treatment to the public. 

Olmert, Carol. Bathrooms Make Me Nervous: A Guidebook for Women with Urination Anxiety (Shy Bladder). Walnut Creek, California: CJOB Publications, 2008. ISBN: 9780615240244
This book is the first to explore shy bladder syndrome from a woman's point of view. Written by a recovered shy bladder sufferer, it offers strategies for coping as well as detailed concrete exercises for full recovery.

Dr. Howard Liebgold maintains a site for his "Phobease" materials at: or from the IPA Store.
His materials cost $75-125 and you get a book along with cassettes or videotapes. His materials take a humorous and startlingly clear look at the psychology and physiology of fear and explain complicated ideas in simple, powerful ways. Many people have reported excellent results from Dr. Liebgold’s course.

Markway, Barbara G., Alec Pollard, Cheryl N. Carmin, Teresa Flynn, and C. Alec Pollard. Dying of Embarrassment.   Oakland, California: New Harbinger Publications, 1992. ISBN: 1879237237.  Recommended by Dr. Liebgold in his “Phobease” course, this book covers social phobia and ways to recover.

Beattie, Melody. Codependent No More. New York: HarperCollins, 1987. ISBN: 0-06-255446-8. 

Beattie, Melody. Beyond Codependency. New York: HarperCollins, 1989. ISBN: 0894865838. Both of Beattie’s books have very useful information on the recovery movement’s perspective of personal growth and change. There are some excellent chapters on dealing with relapse, understanding the contributions of family history and upbringing to our situation, identifying unhealthy thinking and replacing it with healthy thinking, and breaking through resistance.

Ratey, John J. and Catherine Johnson. Shadow Syndromes: The Mild Forms of Major Mental Disorders That Sabotage Us. New York:  Bantam Books, 1998. ISBN: 0553379593. This book takes the view that many problems such as depression, anger, anxiety, inability to complete tasks, and others are mild forms of more serious mental disorders that can affect the very course of our lives. The authors describe methods for recognizing and learning to deal with each individual’s unique biological makeup.

Twerski, Abraham M.D. Addictive Thinking. Center City, Minnesota: Hazelden Publishing, 1997. ISBN:  1-56838-138-7. This is a short book that is very easy to understand and is packed with good information. It can help with learning to think rationally, understand the tricks that anxiety can play, how to recognize the tricks, and cope with them in healthy ways. While paruresis is different from a chemical dependency, it has some similarities to addictive behavior that make this book a useful reference.

Nakken, Craig M.S.W., L.I.C.S.W., L.M.F.T.  Addictive Personality: Understanding the Addictive Process and Compulsive Behavior.  Center City, Minnesota: Hazelden Publishing, 1996.  ISBN:  1568381298.  This book explains many personality characteristics that contribute to addictive forms of behavior.  Packed with valuable insights that can help the reader apply successful techniques from the recovery movement to paruresis recovery.  

Bemis, Judith and Amr Barrada. Embracing the Fear. Center City, Minnesota: Hazelden Publishing, 1994. ISBN: 0-89486-971-X.  This book is highly consistent with Twerski and others who view reducing anxiety through avoidant behavior as a form of dependency.

Weekes, Claire M.B., D.Sc., M.R.A.C.P. Peace from Nervous Suffering. New York: Penguin Books, 1972. ISBN: 0801558026.

Weekes, Claire M.B., D.Sc., M.R.A.C.P. Hope and Help for Your Nerves. New York: Signet, 1990. ISBN: 0-451-16722-8.  Weekes’ books deal with the trauma of anxiety and how it affects our daily living. They are not paruresis recovery books. However, if your paruresis has contributed to depression, panic attacks, chronic pain, and/or impacted other parts of your life to the point where your mood is not what you want it to be, these can be helpful references.

Schwartz, Jeffrey M. M.D. Brain Lock. New York: ReganBooks, 1996. ISBN: 0060987111. This book covers Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and can be helpful in breaking down some of the thinking patterns we focus on that distract us from recovery work.

McCullough, Christopher Ph.D. Free 2 P: A Self-Help Guide for Men with Paruresis. Self-published work, 2000. Dr. Christopher McCullough is an IPA Advisory Board member. His book is available at the IPA Store.   While much of the book is written for men, his concept of primary and secondary paruresis does apply equally to women. Primary paruresis is the inability to urinate around others, secondary paruresis is the importance and meaning we assign to our primary paruresis.

Aron, Elaine Ph.D. The Highly Sensitive Person. New York: Random House, 1997. ISBN 0-553 06218-2. This book identifies and defines a new personality type, the highly sensitive person -- and gives readers many tips on how to overcome its limitations and maximize its strengths.

Ellis, Albert Ph.D. A Guide To Rational Living. North Hollywood, California: Wilshire Book Company, 1976. ISBN: 0879800429.  It’s the original self-help instruction book in cognitive behavior therapy technique. Other books from the same author are also recommended.

Ellis, Albert Ph.D. Overcoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and Behaviors: New Directions for Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 2001. ISBN: 1573928798

Bourne, Edmund J. Ph.D. Beyond Anxiety and Phobia: A Step-By-Step Guide to Lifetime Recovery. Oakland, California: New Harbinger Publications, 2001. ISBN: 1572242299. Takes the position that true recovery from anxiety requires more than a short-term intervention. Explores the meaning of anxiety symptoms and long-term healing through alternative modalities.  Discusses how certain personality issues such as perfectionism can sabotage the healing process. Other books from the same author are also recommended.


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WARNING AND DISCLAIMER: This website is NOT a substitute for medical or legal advice and does not constitute the practice of law, medicine, psychiatry, clinical psychology, clinical social work, or any other mental health profession.  If you are having trouble urinating, you should always contact a physician since difficulty with voiding can be a symptom of a serious medical condition. We are a group of professional people and people who have suffered with paruresis. We have assembled a board and a board of advisors to help people cope with urinary dysfunction that has a psychological or social origin. On this website, we are NOT practicing medicine, psychiatry, clinical psychology, clinical social work or any other mental health profession. You should have your doctor evaluate your condition before diagnosing yourself, and seek the appropriate necessary mental health counseling if warranted. IPA, Inc. disclaims any and all legal liability whatsoever.