What Is Narcissism? Top Three Book Picks
There Are Ways to Escape Narcissism
If you were raised by a parent with Narcissistic Personality Disorder - NPD, then you might find the following reviews useful. NPD is horrible destructive to families, especially children. Adult children of parents with NPD usually need some extra support.
Therapy and support groups are expensive and/or time consuming. Therapy has its place and has helped a lot of people, but it’s not for everyone. Some people prefer to learn and reflect independently of therapy. Reading and learning about Narcissistic Personality Disorder gives victims of this terrible disorder some much needed insight and peace.
There are dozens of books that have published to help the public understand NPD, but there are three books on the topic that stand out above the rest. Each book offers a straightforward, easy to digest approach on the topic of pathological narcissism and the psychology of those of us who are drawn to them and can’t seem to escape.
You Won't Win a Fight
Can You Identify The Narcissist in Your Life?
For those of us who’ve fallen in love with a narcissist or have grown up with narcissists, it can take years, or even a lifetime, to untangle the emotional damage. It’s not always easy to tell if someone you love is just a little self-absorbed, or if they are truly a pathological narcissist.
Much of the literature and articles online are vague, confusing and don’t offer much in the way of detailed information on narcissism. If you’re lucky you might stumble upon some top five article that offers a generic checklist of narcissistic traits that probably apply to 90% of the general population.
There is a difference between a true narcissist who exhibits all the symptoms of NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), and someone who may have a mix of emotional problems that include narcissistic tendencies. A person afflicted with the true personality disorder will make every effort to destroy anyone close to them who does not comply with their wish to be the center of attention.
True Stories, Real Life
Narcissistic Lovers: How To Recover, Cope and Move On by Cynthia Zahn and M.S. Kevin Dibble, Copyright © 2007
If you are in a destructive, abusive relationship and you are just beginning to suspect that you may be dealing with a narcissist, but are not well versed with the disorder, this is the perfect book to start with.
The authors have deliberately written an easy primer for the average person who may know nothing about the toxic, long-term effects of pathological narcissism, more commonly known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
Some readers may have some trouble with the author’s simplistic writing style - it can come across as condescending to those who are more knowledgeable about narcissism, but those readers are missing the point of the book. This book aims to provide an introduction to Narcissistic Personality Disorder and help readers identify why they attract this type of personality.
The strength of this book really lies in the real- life stories and situations that portray the different faces of a complex disorder. This particular book focuses on romantic relationships gone haywire. The stories in this book are more detailed and in depth than the stories in the other books, which makes for a fascinating read.
For those recovering from a difficult break-up with a narcissist and who are in a lot of pain, the authors offer comfort and a sense that the reader is not alone. If your most recent breakup left you feeling like you’re losing your mind, and you can’t make sense of what happened or why – Narcissistic Lovers is the perfect book to start with.
How To Break The Spell
Are You Dealing With a Malignant Narcissist?
The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping With The One Way Relationship in Work, Love and Family, by Eleanor Payson: Julian Day Publications, 3rd Edition (2002)
This book tackles the myriad issues of narcissism and of the people who are close to narcissists. Eleanor Payson has a real grasp of the interpersonal dynamics that make relationships with narcissists so difficult and painful.
Her extensive clinical experience and insight breaks down the mystery of the narcissistic personality. She gives the reader the benefit of her many years experience working with narcissists – her book empowers readers to decide for themselves if they are dealing with a true narcissist.
Payson’s insightful descriptions offer the reader a chance to reflect on their own issues and empower themselves with the knowledge that improving one’s self esteem and developing strong boundaries are critical in successfully navigating interactions with the narcissists in our lives.
Payson also makes an excellent case for labeling severe codependence as a form of narcissism - known as inverted narcissism. While some readers may be uncomfortable with challenging their own co-dependent tendencies and find it hard to believe that it’s labeled as a form of narcissism – the concept is expertly handled with compassion in this book:
“The opposite and yet equally difficult set of grandiose defenses can occur in the form of your own codependent false self-the role or persona of the caretaker. Again, depending on the severity of narcissistic traits, your codependent defenses can also manifest the full-blown narcissistic personality disorder in the form of the "closet" or covert narcissist.”
She makes a valid claim that the dynamic between the Narcissist and the co-dependent partner are the responsibility of both parties. Since both partners experienced narcissistic wounding as children, the tendencies to exhibit full-blown NPD or full-blown codependence are equally destructive and require awareness and intervention.
She asserts that in order to rein in narcissists, those closest to them have to recognize narcissism before it becomes malignant and causes more harm. She makes an interesting case for the out of control malignant narcissism of Adolph Hitler and Osama Bin Laden – narcissists who were abused as children and raised with a rigid, black and white view of the world.
This book takes a more intellectual approach to NPD, and covers a broad spectrum of topics related to the disorder. The only downside to this book is its occasional overbearing tendency to promote therapy in almost every chapter. It would have been more helpful for the author to give some concrete tips and advice within the scope of the book. Instead she keeps admonishing the reader to seek individual therapy and couples therapy – which is frequently not affordable, and the reason why readers are looking for advice on the subject in a book. Nevertheless, this book is an excellent guide towards understanding and detaching from loved ones with NPD.
Real World Tools to Contain Narcissism
And The Top Pick is...
The ObJect of My Affection Is In My Reflection: Coping With Narcissists by Rokelle Lerner, 1st Edition October 2008
This is the best of the three books reviewed in this article. As an experienced therapist who has worked with many narcissists, and with clients who have suffered in relation to a narcissist, it seems that Rokelle Lerner is clearly on a mission to help those of us who have been mesmerized and abused by the narcissists in our lives.
She is able to offer healing to those of us who have been emotionally and spiritually harmed by a relationship with a narcissist. Anyone who has had involvement with a narcissist, whether it be a romantic partner, relative or co-worker can get a lot from the true life stories and how-to tips in this book.
She approaches the topic from the perspective of helping her audience understand that narcissism is a mental disorder that is so ingrained into the personality – it’s nearly impossible to fix. She clarifies that there is a big difference between people who exhibit narcissistic traits and those that truly suffer from pathological narcissism (NPD).
Unlike other books on the topic, Lerner categorizes the different personas and styles that narcissists adopt through vivid descriptions of each type: The Extraordinary Lover, The Dictator, The Raging Bull, The Con Artist, The Illusion Seeker, The Sufferer and The Rescuer. The reader will probably recognize someone they know personally or professionally.
She also explains through exercises, examples and worksheets that those of us who relate to these wounded people have the power to change the way we think about our relationships and what we are willing to accept. This shift enables us to change our behavior, set boundaries and restore some needed sanity to our lives instead of allowing the narcissist bully and control us.
Lerner points out how dangerous dealing with a narcissist can be: “Like a gigantic balloon that needs a constant supply of air to keep it afloat, narcissists are desperate people who have no qualms about obliterating anyone who stands in the way of their supply. The price one pays for being in a personal or professional relationship with one so cunning is devastating.”
Lerner emphasizes the importance of healing ourselves first and guides us to an understanding of what self-care actually means because those of us that are forced to deal with narcissists frequently lose ourselves emotionally. Anyone in a relationship with a narcissist gives away pieces of themselves because all of their energy is devoted to pacifying the narcissist. The book includes concrete strategies for handling an out of control narcissist.
The step-by-step instructions for coping with narcissistic rages from an NPD partner are clear and easy to apply right away. Tips, such as how to gracefully remove yourself from an attack until you feel able to handle the narcissist, will help with real life conflict management techniques.
The book also includes an explanation of how the brain processes and handles fear and decision-making. How fear can interrupt our ability to think clearly which is why dealing with a critical, verbally abusive narcissist catches us off guard. Our brains literally flood with fear and our coping mechanisms shut down.
Those of us attracted to relationships with narcissists have our own issues with poor boundaries and low self-esteem. Lerner asserts that the partners of narcissists need to work on these areas since true narcissists don’t understand or respect personal boundaries.
From the explicit explanations, true stories from her clients, and detailed instructions on how to defuse conflict with narcissists – The Object of My Affection is in My Reflection offers readers a chance to reclaim their lives, their sanity and their self-esteem for just a few dollars, as opposed to thousands in therapy. This is one of the best self-help books for those of us whose lives and mental health have been significantly compromised by narcissism.
Freedom From Narcissism is Just Around the Corner
The Path to Healing
If you want to be restored to some semblance of sanity after dealing with a narcissistic partner, parent, friend or co-worker, any of these books will help you gain some objectivity, clarity and a healthier perspective.
Armed with a thorough knowledge of narcissism and it’s symptoms, the person who’s been victimized can find some relief from the psychological torment of long-term involvements with narcissists.
All three of these books can help you decide what you need to do- whether you need to end a relationship with a narcissist, seek a qualified therapist, or set better boundaries. No matter, what you decide – these books offer insight, hope and healing.
© by Macteacher 2013
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.