Book Review – Out of the Shadows by Patrick Carnes

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

I heart reading.  In fact, it’s one of my favorite ways to love myself well.  About three years ago, I started keeping track of the books I was reading.  It’s been super fun to keep track of my reads.  It’s also really helped me stay engaged in my process as I continue to take steps forward in my healing, in my relationships, and in living a life that counts.

To that end, I wanted to start sharing with you guys some of the books that I think are worth reading as well as those that might not be worth it.  For a wife that is barely keeping her head above water, having a bit of direction in this area can be critical.  So be looking for more book reviews in the weeks and months ahead.



















I also think it’s important for wives at any stage of this process to be aware of the fact that books can be triggering.  Some more than others.  Just to be clear, a trigger is anything that reminds us of the past (childhood, disclosure, adulthood, etc.) and causes us to react.  With that in mind, I will rank each book’s trigger level:  low, medium or high; along with my reason why.

Okay, let’s get started!

Name of Book:  Out of the Shadows:  Understanding Sexual Addiction

Trigger level:  High.  Throughout the book, Carnes uses graphic details to describe the sex addict.  This is not a book that I would have been able to digest early on in our recovery.  I do not recommend this book to anyone that is finding themselves having trouble staying grounded or that is in the early stages of their healing process.

What I liked about the book:  This book brought me to a new level of clarity about my past as well as Jason’s past.  For instance, Carnes (2001) states that the abandonment is almost always a part of a sexual addicts childhood.  At the heart of abandonment is the feeling (whether perceived or real) of not being wanted.  Carnes (2001) also talked about negative belief patterns and the domino effect that comes from them.  He lists four negative beliefs for both a sex addict and a co-addict.  Although not every single one of them resonated with me, I did resonate with the third negative belief that basically states, “I don’t need anybody but me.”  This was so true for me pre-disclosure as well as six years into our process when I made a vow that I wouldn’t trust anybody but myself.  I wouldn’t even trust God.  If he had allowed this to happen to me, who knows what else he might allow.  All I needed was me.

What I didn’t like about this book:  I definitely didn’t like the graphic details that Carnes used to describe the sex addict and his/her behaviors.  I could feel myself tensing up reading some of these details.  I was also hesitant to read what Carnes would say about a co-addict.  I’m not a big fan of labels.  I must say, though, that reading his description of a co-addict with an open mind resonated with me and I didn’t feel completely defensive with his description of a co-addict.


Additional Thoughts:  I think this book is very appropriate to read later on in the process once a wife starts to work through some of her wounds from the past.  This book isn’t necessarily a go-to book early on in the healing process, as I think the trigger level is too high for it to do a lot of good.  There are other books that can help educate a wife that aren’t near as triggering.

What about you?  Have you read this book?  Would love to hear your thoughts on if it was a helpful read.  xo-Shelley


One comment on “Book Review – Out of the Shadows by Patrick Carnes

  1. Tracey Small

    August 20, 2016  |  09:55 am

    Appreciate your review. I began reading this book and to be honest, “It scared me to death.” I’m early on in the process and this book has definitely caused stress for me. Look for different material to try to understand what is happening in your marriage, family, with your husband and most importantly, with yourself.


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