Everyone knows a narcissist. These individuals are self-centered, have little capacity for empathy, are exploitative and manipulative, and feel they deserve a great deal of admiration. If you work with narcissists, were raised by one (or two!), have them in your family, or are in a relationship with one, there are some wonderful books that I often recommend to my therapy clients to learn how to deal with them.
1. Disarming the Narcissist by Wendy Behary.
This is a wonderful book that anyone involved with a narcissist needs to read. There are proven techniques for dealing more effectively with narcissists, such as ignoring their show-offy grand gestures and instead, reinforcing them for everyday, kind behaviors. Excellent read and practical advice, whether the narcissist you know is at home, at work, or anywhere else.
2. Trapped in the Mirror by Elan Golomb.
This is an in-depth psychological book about the effects of growing up with a narcissist for a parent. This can impact your self-esteem, identity, and ability to form relationships with others. This book is wonderful for those who want to deeply explore the ramifications of growing up with a narcissist for a mother or father.
3. Emotional Vampires by Alan Bernstein.
Although this book is not only about narcissists, they are the main type of “Emotional Vampire” that sucks the energy and joy out of your life. This book is particularly helpful if you want concrete strategies for identifying and interacting with narcissists in a way that will not leave you feeling exhausted, hopeless, and bad about yourself.
4. Emotional Blackmail by Susan Forward.
Again, this is not only about narcissists, but they are a significant percentage of people who engage in emotional blackmail. If you have a relationship in which your needs are never being considered, you always feel like you don’t matter, and when you try and assert yourself, you get quickly shut down, you need to read this book.
5. Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Karyn McBride.
This unique book focuses explicitly on daughters of narcissistic mothers, and discusses how being raised by a narcissistic mother can continue to impact women through adulthood. It is difficult to think of yourself as worthy of love if your mother focused only on herself and her own needs. Women often have difficulty viewing their own needs as equally important to others’ needs, and this is compounded if you were brought up by a narcissistic mother. A must read for women with narcissistic moms.
6. Children of the Self-Absorbed: A Grownup’s Guide to Getting Over Narcissistic Parents by Nina W. Brown.
If I could only recommend one book to adult children of narcissists, this would be it. It takes you through what it’s like as a child to be raised by a narcissist, and how this has a lasting and severe impact on your emotional and psychological wellbeing, as well as your ability to interact with others in healthy ways. This book also helps you think about how to moderate the impact of your upbringing as you move forward as an adult.
7. The Narcissistic Family: A Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment by Stephanie Pressman.
Psychologists often wonder about clients who have the same emotional traumas as people who grew up in alcoholic homes, but whose parents were not alcoholics. This groundbreaking book shows how being raised by a narcissist is emotionally equivalent to being raised by an alcoholic in many ways. If you feel that you could never go against the party line in your home, and there was only one way that you were allowed to view things, then you could benefit from reading this excellent text. It may be life changing.
8. Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life by Susan Forward.
This is a classic book that can help adult children deal with parents who are making them feel stressed, guilty, and pushed to their emotional breaking point. Narcissists are only one of the types of toxic parents described, but the advice is excellent and pragmatic. If your parent is a narcissist, you will have to set some boundaries in order to live your life in a healthy and adaptive way, and this book helps you figure out exactly what to say and do to create these necessary boundaries.
9. Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisted by Sam Vaknin.
This book has a cult following. Sam Vaknin, a self proclaimed narcissist himself, takes us behind the scenes into the mind of a narcissist and gives us an inside glimpse at how a narcissist operates. This book is fascinating and is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn in depth about the narcissist in their life, including the background of how narcissism develops.
10. Why Is It Always About You? The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism by Sandy Hotchkiss.
This book is a great look at the seven “deadly sins” of narcissism, and shows how and why narcissists became how they are. There is helpful advice for extricating yourself from a relationship with a narcissist, and also insight as to why you may have been involved with a narcissist in the first place, related to your own personal background. Easy and quick read.
Featured photo credit: Narcissist via histsociety.blogspot.com