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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

You won't win arguments with a narcissist and you'll drive yourself mad trying.
You won't win arguments with a narcissist and you'll drive yourself mad trying. | Source

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.

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.

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

You can break your unhealthy connections to narcissists.
You can break your unhealthy connections to narcissists. | Source

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

Comments 22 comments

Shadow Jackson profile image

Shadow Jackson 3 years ago from Washington, DC

What if you are a narcissit? How do you stop?

Great hub by the way!


macteacher 3 years ago

Hi Shadow,

If you are wondering if you are a narcissist...then you probably aren't. People with classic NPD are unaware they have a problem, which is why it is rarely treatable. They think everyone else has the problem. :-)

If you think you might have narcissistic tendencies, those can be worked on through journaling, therapy and some honest self reflection. Thanks for stopping by. :-)


advisor4qb profile image

advisor4qb 3 years ago from On New Footing

It took a great deal of courage for me to leave my n. I tried several times, but he kept sucking me back in. Looking back, I can't believe I stayed so long with someone who treated me like that.


macteacher profile image

macteacher 3 years ago from New York Author

To advisor4qb:

Leaving an N is probably the hardest type of breakup. There are psychological factors that keep us chained to them long after it is safe or sane to be around them.

The fact that you were able to do it is amazing, so pat yourself on the back. I am living proof that once the healing has begun - life gets so much better. Good luck! :-)


sparkster profile image

sparkster 3 years ago from United Kingdom

Just wanted to point out that I have also written a ebook on this topic, it's called Know Your Enemy: Reflections Of NPD. I had the unfortunate experience of having to deal with a narcissist for many years.


macteacher profile image

macteacher 3 years ago from New York Author

Sparkster - How do I find your ebook? I'd like to read it. Thanks for stopping by.


sparkster profile image

sparkster 3 years ago from United Kingdom

I didn't want to spam your comments section in my original comment so I didn't provide a link, but you can find the ebook here:

UK:

http://www.lulu.com/gb/en/shop/sparkster-hubs/know...

US:

http://www.lulu.com/us/en/shop/sparkster-hubs/know...

Thanks for your interest in reading it... and keep up the good work. This is one topic that people (in general) need to be more aware of.


macteacher profile image

macteacher 3 years ago from New York Author

Hi Sparkster,

I don't mind a relevant link here and there. Your ebook looks fascinating. I'm trying to figure out if I can download to my Nook. Reading a PDF off of the computer is too hard on my eyes. :-) Yes, many people have been abused by narcs - and need information on how to get their lives back.

Even therapy won't help a narc, so understanding the disorder and learning how to set safe boundaries or, in most cases, walk away is the best path to emotional freedom.


Johanna Bergstrom profile image

Johanna Bergstrom 3 years ago from Fuengirola, Malaga, Spain

Great article. I tried to change the narcissist in my life for years, until I realised it was pointless. After I let go, I've been happy ever since!

Thanks for bringing this topic to light.


macteacher profile image

macteacher 3 years ago from New York Author

Hi Johanna,

Yes, once we realize that trying to change the narcissist is an impossible task - we're finally happy to regain our self worth. Thanks for stopping by. :-)


sparkster profile image

sparkster 3 years ago from United Kingdom

According to Lulu (where the ebook is available) the PDF is compatible with Nook.


Learn Things Web profile image

Learn Things Web 3 years ago from California

I know someone who has "a mix of emotional problems that include narcissistic tendencies." I avoid them as much as I can and get a bit stressed on the rare times I have to be around them. They have been refusing to seek any kind of help sadly. But it does seem like these books can be helpful to people who for whatever reason are dealing with someone like this on a regular basis.


macteacher profile image

macteacher 3 years ago from New York Author

Hey LTW,

Thanks for stopping by. The books have really helped me deal with the narcissists in my family. They have also provided me with the knowledge to prevent getting involved with narcissists in the future. :-)


Gail Meyers profile image

Gail Meyers 3 years ago from United States

This is a very useful and informative review of these three books on narcissism. Thanks for the helpful information. I love People of the Lie by Dr. M. Scott Peck, but I also enjoy reading books about narcissistic personality disorder by other authors. Of course, the more books you read on the topic the more approaches and the deeper the understanding from various perspectives. So I am always open to other resources. Voted up and useful!


macteacher profile image

macteacher 3 years ago from New York Author

Hi Gail,

Thank you for stopping by and the positive feedback. :-) All three of these books really helped me in my darkest hour. They've also helped me spot a narcissist and avoid further exposure to them. I'm also going to check out your suggestion. It sounds like a great book. :-)


onceuponatime66 profile image

onceuponatime66 2 years ago from USA IL

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. This is so true. I know so many today that have this personality trait. I made a new goal, not to associate with them any longer or save them. They won't change! Thanks great hub.


macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author

onceuponatime66,

Thanks for stopping by. You are correct. They won't change and no one can save them. Knowing that gives the victims the power to make better choices. I'm glad you're weeding out the narcissists. Not allowing them in my life anymore is such a relief. :-)


helen 2 years ago

Thanks, on day 2 of splitting from my narcissitic boyfriend of 5years. Hell ! Trying to read all that i can on this so coming across these book suggestions is a great help.....


macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author

helen,

They really did help me, and I am fully recovered from my ex-narcissist. I think they will really help you. Knowing it's a real personality disorder, and knowing that you're not crazy - should bring some relief. I'm sending you positive, healing energy. Thanks for stopping by. :-)


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

Hi, macteacher,

This hub was fantastic. It caught my attention tonight as I was hub-surfing. Great read. Glad I found you on HubPages. Voted up and all the way. Thanks too, for following me.

Sincerely,

Kenneth


macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author

Thanks Kenneth,

I'm glad you found me too. :-) Unfortunately, I know a lot about narcissism. I'm surrounded by them. :-\ Thanks for reading my hubs.


calculus-geometry profile image

calculus-geometry 10 months ago from Germany

Fortunately I don't many of these people around me, but your article is so detailed and informative I might read one of these books just out of curiosity. Thanks for this excellent review.

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