on March 4, 2004
I thoroughly enjoyed reading E. Golombs book being the daughter of a narcissist mother and father. I have read almost every writing and book on Narcissism that amazon and the web have to offer and I was never bored of Golombs insights which were many. I would put this book in my top 2. There were good examples and short stories of concepts and traits typical of children of N's. I related to her experiences whether it was traveling through Asia, or her frightening stay in a hospital against her will. This was the book my therapist recommended. It was real, to the point, and gives constructive helpful information in the last chapter to help those children of N's overcome their destructive parenting. I especially liked chapter 10 "The child of a narcissist becomes a narcissist" "Alan". There were many examples of children of Narcissists with varying personalities and lifestyles. Unfortunately there is no validation from the author if you have chosen to leave your relationship from a destructive abusive parent. If you are looking for this you won't find it in her book.
on November 22, 2007
Elan Golomb's "Trapped in the Mirror" revealed the narcissism in the intrafamily relationships and struggle for self. This book is very important to understand ourselves as individuals. Are we independent or dependent individuals? Do we have our own "self" or a "self" created by our parents? This book brings about those issues and addressed the issue of narcissism in us, as well in others.
Narcissism is self-centered, and a narcissist sees the world as one wanted to see, not as it is. A narcissist has no care for others, but only for the self. Since we are living in a narcissist society, we would have some narcissistic traits in ourselves and it became so without our being aware of them. Some of these traits include shamelessness, wishful thinking, arrogance, envy, entitlement, exploitation, and bad boundaries (there is more on these traits in detail in "Why is it Always About You?" by Sandy Hotchkiss). When we can observe ourselves with the knowledge in this book, we can find these traits in ourselves and choose not to give into or identified with these traits.
The important issue from this book, in my opinion, is the state of "invisible force." An invisible force is the irrational influence one screened with many rationalizations and it is "what holds [one] back and prompts the most peculiar behavior" (p. 48). It is what holds us back from achieving our goals or maintaining our direction in life. It is the one that compels us to quit rather than to see it through. May it be a career, a project, or a relationship. An example of this would be a self-defeating tactic. This is common to which we had experiences with an invisible force in some instances of our lives. By being aware of this invisible force and know that it is not our conscience, we can choose not to give in to this force. The author stated that "giving in has the spirit of surrender in which you please the other by disregarding your self" (p. 236). When we do give in to an invisible force, we would become weaker and lessen our sense of self. But, when we fight the force and take a stand, we solidify our self-identity. Golomb pointed out that "a sense of self develops from interaction with people and from deeds that set you on the road" (p. 219). Our actions do indeed shape who we are.
When we are with other individuals, we tend to see some traits in them that we do not want to see in ourselves. The people whom we most dislike or uncomfortable with are the ones whose traits that we are denying in ourselves. In Golomb's study, "to free herself, [one] needs to know in her guts, not merely in her head, that what she hates in others is the weakness she finds in herself" (p. 109). This will help us to understand that these hateful traits we must confront in order to achieve a lesson and grow. Traits are parts of our personalities. We can choose certain traits to become part of our personalities, but we can also choose not to let certain traits to control us. But, they certainly can influence us. In a sense, we can choose what trait we can act on and what trait we choose not to act on, but we cannot deny any traits of ourselves, which is considered to be hidden aspects of ourselves.
With my humble opinion, Trapped in the Mirror is to be highly recommended, and a great book for those whom seek one's self.
on September 15, 2005
Pathological narcissism is a stealthy, pernicious and all-pervasive form of semipternal and venomous abuse. The narcissist is not necessarily as 'evil' person. He (for 75% of all narcissists are men) is simply oblivious to the long-term outcomes of his actions and inaction. He uses and discards, idealizes and devalues, derives narcissistic supply and then moves on. To be the child of a narcissist is a harrowing, devastating, incomprehensible experience. Golomb does an unparalleled job of mapping the territory of pain and rage that her childhood was - and by implication the childhood of victims of narcissists is. One of 5 books that are a must to anyone who wants to come to grips and demystify this disorder - Sam Vaknin author of "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited".
on December 7, 2007
This book is one that really gets to the heart of the problems and difficulties children of narcissists face. Several examples of the effects of parental narcissism, though painful to read, really illustrate just how the child's identity and self worth are crushed. This in turn can lead to the continuation of these unhealthy patterns from one generation to the next. The author shows how to begin the process of healing and how to break the patterns. As our society seems to be one of rampant narcissism, this book is tremendously helpful for almost anyone , as most people will have experienced some degree of narcissistic parenting. If you are working towards healing yourself, I highly recommend this book.
on November 6, 2007
After reading "The narcissistic family", this book followed on and gave more examples that I found useful. The many case studies and personal examples resonated with me and my own upbringing and provided more insights into the traits of personality adopted by growing up in a narcissistic family.
Well worth reading if you are on the path of self discovery and if you resonate with the descriptions given of the child of a narcissist.
on June 4, 2012
Elan Golomb has put together a book worthy of it's name, as one truly feel's like they are seeing a reflection of many parts of themselves and family dynamics when reading Trapped in the Mirror. Confronting the topic of Narcissism, she not only pieces together the process by which it takes hold in a family and passes down from generation to generation, but also gives us real life examples from her own life as well as many of her patients which will undoubtedly lead many readers to relate to the struggles faced by children of narcissists's.
She explains, quite succinctly, what narcissism truly is, and how pervasive it is in our family and cultural life. She brings home the main point of how we not only objectify ourselves in the hopes of pleasing our parents and the negative introject (the inner critic which develops due to the affects of a narcissistic household). She also explains how this process causes us to lose touch with our true, inner core early on in childhood. This has an incredible effect on the choices we make, and people we become later on life.
Not only do we objectify ourselves, we objectify our family and children, and start to see them not as they are, but as we want them to be, discarding their essential selves in exchange for a cardboard cut-out of what we want them to be.
An insightful book, full of depth, Elan Golomb provides an excellent resource into the inner-working of our childhood and provides way's of combating the imprinting that has occurred due to the often traumatizing effects of growing up in a narcissistic environment.
on May 29, 2004
I think Elan could have used some more examples of less obvious narcissistic behaviors - as most of her examples were borderline sociopaths! I am earning my doctoral in human behavior and my focus is in narcissistic behaviors. In my studies, a number of things have been unmasked to me. One of which is the purportedly massive number of cases of bad parenting in the United States. Sad, but so true and this is because of a number of societal problems (i.e. the disappearance of the middle class, divorce, teen pregnancy, drug/alcohol/tobacco abuse, egoist-parents). A frightening number of parents demand respect from their children long before their children are capable of delegating that of their own accord. If respect is forced, it's not respect - it's subjugated appeasement. Parents, DON'T CONFUSE THE TWO!!!!!
I won't tear into Elan's book too badly; I think she did okay. And I am certainly interested to know why people who posted criticisms were so abashed that someone would say such "negative" things about their parents. That's a little odd to me.
Did they read this book for the fun of it?
Are they seeking validation for their own bad parents?
Or are they themselves bad parents, and someone suggested the book to them?
To me, it's a red flag that they have something to hide.
on December 26, 2002
While several of Dr. Golomb's stories illuminate a great deal about the narcissistic condition and about being the child of a narcissist, the book's biggest weakness is that it fails to present examples of healing. We are treated to portrait after portrait of the suffering of narcissists' children and their general inability to get any kind of a constructive grip on themselves, but we do not see any evidence that they will ever be better, nor is there much evidence that psychotherapy (or anything else) will really help anyone in this situation. The book also suffers throughout from being badly written. Dr. Golomb's phrasing is clumsy and her word choice frequently poor. Her use of profanity, while rare, is never appropriate to the situation for which she employs it. Finally, I should note that Dr. Golomb's own narcissism is too frequently, if perhaps bravely, on display in these pages. While she explicitly states that she is aware of the legacy left her by her father, it nonetheless might have been better to try and weed it out of the book---I was left with the sense that every person portrayed in the book (and not just the victim children) was being subjected to a sort of unkind, hypercritical scrutiny. It left me feeling faintly ill, actually.
on December 24, 2002
This book starts off well with a very good description of the mindset of the narcissist and the devasting effects this personality disorder has on children of narcissists. But the author, herself, has not healed from her own childhood wounds and the reader is left with the rambling rantings of a hurt child. One of the hallmarks of all personality disorders is anger, shame and the inability to "let it go". By that definition, the author is still afflicted with her own personality disorder and if you read this book you will feel her pain. I empathize with her pain, but I am left confused as to how this painful semi-autobiographical account will help adult children of narcissists recover from their own childhood wounds, heal and themselves learn how to let go of the anger and shame and loss of identity they felt as they were growing up. My fear is that people will read this book and take on the role of victim, much like the author, which only serves to increase the pain. This is not a book to read if you are truly interested in recovery.
on December 8, 2002
Whether you know that one or both parents are narcissists, or you are just looking for some explanation of why you're in emotional pain, this is a very worthwhile read. Much of what is in this book would be helpful to anyone in a painful relationship, not just the children of known narcissists. And if you think that you have "dealt" with your childhood, and you are just fine, read it anyway, you may be surprised to see how much you still carry with you.
Much of what I had read about narcissism in the past focuses on the more extreme manifestations of these traits. In many other descriptions, lists, and books about narcissism, the information is presented in such a way that the reader can easily reject the information as not applicable to them or the people they are trying to figure out. They may come away from that material thinking that their parent(s), or someone they know and/or love isn't a narcissist, because they don't have ALL the traits. But "Trapped In The Mirror" isn't written that way. It points out that there are many degrees and manifestations of narcissism. It does this with a great deal of compassion, wit, and honesty.
Elan Golomb touches the heart of those of us who are suffering and can't figure out why. With great understanding of how this subject has affected her own life, she shows us what narcissism is, and that we can extricate ourselves from the clutches of the ever-disappointed parent. Whether your parent(s) are still alive, or still in your life, does not matter. They live on in the way you think about yourself. Ms. Golomb shows us that there is a way to find our true selves, and to learn to quiet the nagging critical voice in our heads. I guarantee that you will understand what years of therapy may not have helped you understand.
If you were either not "allowed" to be yourself, express your true feelings, show any faults, or you felt/feel that you can never quite please your parents, you owe it to yourself to read this book. If you were pressured into being something your parents wanted you to be; if you have ever felt that if you could just figure out what they wanted and do it, your parents would love and accept you; if you feel that despite outer evidence of success, you are miserable, or feel like a fake; if you find that the partners you choose keep morphing into someone who treats you the way a parent did; or you find you are unable to tolerate relationship(s), commitment, or emotional intimacy at all; then you owe it to yourself to read this book.