Very interesting book as it explains the Narcisstic traits and highlights your own enabling schemas, once you face your own memories and conditioning, you will release your old memories and adapt new beliefs for yourself, you will realize that you and the N in your life share some schemas like subjugation and self esteem issues, that's one reason why you usually take the abuse and feel hurt...The book gives good techniques to use when facing the Narcisstic's abusive behavior, you mostly need to stay conscious and aware of the N's patterns and conditions (at the same time as yours) and react appropriately instead of reacting defensively (as you used to), you will be able to do that once you have developed compassion towards yourself and towards the N in your life. I get the impression that this is not an impossible mission but it may take long and hard work to get the Narcisstic to take responsibility for their actions and verbal abuse then correct them, you will get no where if you keep reacting defensively and hurt the N back, it is like hurting a child (because that is what they are inside) you need to almost learn to educate them once again using a loving and compassionate language. I am in a relationship with a N and am still in the exploration phase, I used to feel hurt and suffer so much, I am now at a phase where I feel detached from whatever the N says but it is still tough at times (when you don't expect it!), I am trying to learn to develop my communication skills, this is great effort. I find the exercise worthwhile because weither the relationship remains or not, I would have overcome my own issues and learnt how to face abusive behavior.
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I ordered this book at the same time as I ordered four other well known books about BPD and NPD, and for me this one ends up being the worst by a wide margin. The last half of the book I had a hard time forcing myself to continue -- I couldn't find anything in it that wasn't paternalistic, stereotyped and clichéd, and the florid writing, along with the endless repetitions common to the academic style, made me wince.
I admit that this sounds harsh, and perhaps I feel this way because I've done a lot of reading in this area already and was hoping for something unique (which I didn't find); but I've also done my share of professional technical writing. This book was bad on both counts: it seemed to have little unique to contribute, and to be written by someone who was in love with hearing themselves speak. (Though there was at least some grim ironic pleasure in that final thought, given the subject of the book.)
For comparison, the other books I read around the same time were:
"Understanding The Borderline Mother" by Lawson "The Narcissistic Family" by Pressman and Donaldson-Pressman "Reinventing Your Life" by Young and Klosko and "Stop Walking On Eggshells, Second Edition" by Kreger and Mason.
I'd give the first three all 8/10, SWOE 5 or 6/10, and this book 3/10.
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This book was a very insightful, interesting read. It gave me a lot of perspective on the inner world of a narcissist. I did however, have to do research beyond this book in order to better understand my role in the narcissist's life.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
569 of 586 people found the following review helpful
Very worthwhile message for those willing to work hard....March 2 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
One of the few books on the market that actually provides practical insight and techniques for handling encounters with an individual who is narcississtic. Most books focus almost entirely on how awful the narcississt can behave to the point of demonizing what is essentially a archaic defense mechanism learned in childhood. The author spends considerable time on what you, as the non-narcississt, get out of the relationship, how you pick up the other end of the rope, and the importance of understanding your own hot buttons (which Narcississt's are almost supernaturally good at triggering) rather than continuing the status quo by responding with your own defensive patterns that go nowhere but bad. This book is asking a lot of it's readers; that they understand the concept of schemas and that they grow up emotionally and approach their life, and the narcissist's they may love or encounter, from a place of strength, knowledge, maturity, and wisdom. If you want another book that outlines how horrible narcissists are and how you are their unwilling victim, you will not appreciate this book. If you are willing or interested to learn about yourself and looking at your own part of the dance, such that through your own growth and modeling the relationship, even with a narcississt, has a chance to improve, then this book is for you. Bravo.
401 of 426 people found the following review helpful
Dangerous and IrresponsibleDec 14 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
I'm horrified that this book was written by a professional claiming to be an expert in Narcissism! I nearly bought this book for my mother who is trapped in an abusive marriage with a toxic narcissist (my father). This book encourages exactly the kind of enabling, self-immolating behavior that she is currently ruining her life with. Thank god I didn't send her this "expert" endorsement of her destructive, co-dependent fealty to someone who is a true psychological predator and parasite.
Now, I understand this is a pop-psychology self-help book, and thus shouldn't be held to a very high standard. The problem is, it's written about such a dangerous group of people that it becomes flagrantly irresponsible to be so naive, vague, and incomplete when instructing the partners of these serial abusers. Additionally, the author claims to be a professional expert with 20+ years of experience dealing with this specific personality disorder. This to me, crosses the line. I find this book to be literally dangerous reading material for a VERY vulnerable target audience.
The book is also pretty poorly written. Most of the advice is so vague it's nearly useless (general visualizations, basic communication skills like mirroring, advice on finding your authentic voice with no tools to actually get there) and the descriptions of narcissism are far too generalized for a one-topic book. The whole section on "schemas" (presented as ground-breaking and utterly brilliant) is simplistic and in no way specific to narcissistic relationships. I'll summarize for you everything you need to know about schemas - 1) You have buttons, created in your sad childhood. 2) Sometimes people push your buttons, which makes you feel flustered. Wow. Mind blown. That's 40+ pages of a 150-page book.
What's worse, she goes off on these flights of inept descriptive language, and includes a truly self-indulgent introduction about how she always dreamed of writing a book and displayed such an early talent for language, but "never actually intended to become a writer." A bit ironic to include this in a book about narcissism.
Some choice quotes to give you a taste of how naive and ridiculous this book is:
"The philosophy of the Jedi knights suggests that a sentient, interplanetary energy lies within us all, binding us together and giving us the power to withstand opposition and create light in moments of darkness." "You extend a loving imaginary arm to wrap around the pained heart of little you." "With awareness and flexibility, you enlist the possibility of seeing with abundant clarity the depth, color, and movement of, for example, the ocean." "Your distress now slides away like a fluffy omelet departs a well-prepared pan."
This might all be forgivable, if she didn't go on to present so many ideas that are downright dangerous: "You model an apology [to the narcissist] that is based in a compassionate understanding of how and why certain messages hurt him." "You work very hard at protecting his inner child from experiences that would trigger these haunting feelings of fear and humiliation." "You don't want him to experience you as uncaring and demeaning."
This mindset plays into the fundamental destructive dynamic of narcissists - that it's all about their needs, that everyone else has to compromise to keep them comfortable, that the world should walk on eggshells in fear of their temper and their disapproval. Partners of these people are already well-trained in how to accommodate their fragile egos. What they need is instruction in how to hold these people accountable, and let them know their sadistic tactics are transparent and unacceptable. This book pays brief lip-service to the idea of accountability, and spends most of the page count instructing people on how to coddle the delicate sensibilities of the poor, damaged narcissist.
Worst of all, it takes the author until page 114 to make the following one-paragraph disclaimer: "This approach is inappropriate with anyone who makes you feel unsafe or abused. [...] If the narcissist in your life is violent, abusive, or threatens your safety in any way, please seek assistance immediately." She then refers to the Domestic Violence hotline, and then promptly returns to descriptions of how to "empathize with" and "re-parent" your poor narcissist. The problem is, this disclaimer implies that physical abuse is the only unacceptable form of abuse. People with true NPD are often flagrant psychological and verbal abusers, but too strategic to resort to physical abuse. In fact, many of the example scenarios later detailed in the book involve or reference verbal abuse. Yet the author says almost nothing about protecting oneself from this kind of abuse, or how to identify what might qualify as abusive behavior. People who are in romantic relationships with full-blown narcissists often don't have an accurate sense of where healthy relationship boundaries should be set. They don't understand what is acceptable or not acceptable treatment in a relationship. Yet the author never defines what might be accepted within a reasonable relationship, and what should not be tolerated.
This book was woefully short on the concept of personal boundaries - that everyone has a right to set personal boundaries, or how to set a boundary with someone who habitually violates them. When the subject is addressed, it's done in such a limp-wristed, ineffectual way that it's truly laughable to imagine saying some of the suggested monologues to an actual narcissist. It's also woefully short on ego-strengthening techniques for partners of narcissists, or tools to build a psychological foundation/identity apart from the destructive influence of their narcissist.
In case it wasn't already obvious, this book made me completely furious for being so irresponsibly and poorly written on such a sensitive topic. If it were up to me, I would have this woman professionally reprimanded and her license reviewed.
One smaller note: As other reviewers have noted, this book is directed almost exclusively at romantic partners of narcissists. There are a few token mentions of narcissistic co-workers. But there's virtually nothing about parent-child relationships, siblings, authority figures, or other relationship dynamics.
Also she operates under an assumption that "If you're reading this book, chances are you've chosen to stay connected to the narcissist in your life." Thus, there's not a lot of material for managing relationships in which one is obligated to stay, despite a desire and justification for leaving.
284 of 308 people found the following review helpful
Highly effective and beautifully writtenApril 9 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
I have over 25 years of full time practice as a therapist and have had extensive training in psychoanalysis, cognitive therapy and schema therapy (the approach upon which this book is based). This book does justice to the full depth and complexity of Narcissism. It does not offer simplistic advice or a quick solution that, like chewing gum, seems great at the start but quickly fades. With warmth, a delightful sense of humor and compassion, this author takes you by the hand and introduces you to the key strategies we have found effective in dealing with, and overcoming, narcissism. This book is clear, practical, and enjoyable to read. It will take time, effort and repeated study to fully grasp all that is offered but I can assure that your effort will be well rewarded since this author has obviously "done her homework" and truly knows. Upon first read, some of the strategies may seem difficult to execute. This is because they are built upon a blending and layering of skills and knowledge involving the heart and the mind. This is what it takes to be effective with narcissism. There is not a quick and easy way. I can assure you that if you are not just going through the motions, they work. Similar to learning to play a musical instrument or a new sport like golf or tennis, what can seem daunting at the start will eventually be in your grasp if you break it into the steps you need and gradually put it all together. Some of us will be a quick study and some of us will benefit from additional "coaching". The author provides useful links for the latter.
I, as a seasoned therapist, have learned a great deal from this book and find it making a significant difference in my work. I will be returning to it repeatedly myself.
283 of 310 people found the following review helpful
Fell short of what is promisedMarch 6 2008
Karen E. Fauls-traynor
- Published on Amazon.com
Overall, I found this book to be disappointing. It was helpful in terms of learning about narcissists and why they behave the way they do. The information about schemas and the reasons why we let narcissists push our buttons was also interesting. What I was looking for--as promised in the book--was strategies for dealing with people with this disorder, and I thought that those listed were very unrealistic. The examples of helpful dialogue that the author gives are just not practical. A narcissist would be have tuned out after the first sentence of most of those monologues. The tips for dealing with a narcissist coworker were few and far between. Basically, I was left with the impression that there is not much you can do about a narcissist in your life except change your own behavior or get them out of your life.
77 of 81 people found the following review helpful
A blame the victim type of bookMarch 3 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
I really wanted help dealing with my abusive narcissistic spouse but this is completely unhelpful. The reason is because, although we all have schemas that affect our interactions, we do not all operate based on them and we can control our schemas. I have the abandonment/self sacrifice schemas, and I recognize that this makes it uncomfortable to be assertive and stand up for myself. However, I have stood up for myself numerous times when dealing with my narcissistic spouse. Unfortunately, compassionate standing up for your needs does not seem to get through to a narcissist. You can speak up in the way that the book suggests but this will likely be ineffective. Dr. Behary seems to suggest that people are unaware of their own schemas and that they operate behind the scenes ( I think these are her exact words) but this is not always the case. When I feel discomfort I know it's because I fear abandonment and I stand up for myself anyways. But the narcissist has always raged against me for trying to convey my dissatisfaction with his behaviors. Also, I am quite sure my spouse also knows his schemas because he is well aware of his damaging childhood memories yet he chooses to act out on it in narcissistic and abusive ways. The thing about narcissists is that they choose to belittle, lie etc.. And know they are doing it..but they will justify it and blame everyone else. Others have been abused and do not end up narcissistic. This book focuses too much on changing how you interact with your abuser in ways that blames you for putting up with the abuse. No one asks or allows themselves to be abused. Everyone makes their own decisions and abusers are the ones who choose to abuse. And no matter what their childhoods were like, they have to decide how to behave. The victims are not responsible because they have their own schemas. My schemas do not cause me to be abusive, though I could be and use my childhood to justify it. In the end, this book says that because of their childhoods, abusers have schemas and can't help their abusiveness so it is up to the abused to be compassionate and stand their ground. Sorry but my spouse was not compassionate when he told me how worthless I am. Please, if you are a victim reading this book, remember that just because you have been afraid does not mean that you have asked for or allowed yourself to be abused. In the end, wouldn't it just be better to be with someone who chooses to love and not abuse, despite whatever schemas he/she might have? Don't we all deserve that kind of love?