Narcissistic Personality Disorder Books

Reviews by Sam Vaknin Ph. D.

Because this book comes from overseas, it is easier to acquire through Barnes and Nobles in the U.S. However you may download a copy below.

Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited by Sam Vaknin Ph.D. If you want to understand Narcissistic Personality Disorder from the best, don't look any further. I cannot recommend this book enough to those of you who have this disorder, to families and friends who are trying to understand. Dr. Vaknin has this disorder himself and examines this disorder closely.

Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited
This is the book. Paperback, 478pp.

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Borderline Conditions and Pathological Narcissism (Master Work Series) by Otto F. Kernberg. An in-depth perusal of pathological narcissism and borderline personality disorders. Narcissism is an important phase in one's personal development. It is the foundation of a sense of self worth and self-confidence. It is self-love in its benign form. But then, having fulfilled its role, it is replaced by love directed at others (object love). It is here that pathologies occur when the individual is unable to successfully accomplish this transition. Pathological narcissism is a lot more than a fixation on an early developmental phase, though. This is the first weak point of this otherwise seminal work. It is, well, fixated, on a psychodynamic-object relations scenario. additionally, the distinctions between borderline conditions and pathological narcissism - both states of low organization of the personality - are blurred. Otherwise, it is a masterpiece of hands-on clinical work well worth perusing.

Essential Papers on Narcissism (Essential Papers in Psychoanalysis) by Andrew P. Morrison (Editor). The definitive compilation of writings by the elders of psychoanalysis on the subject of narcissism. No one seems to agree what is pathological narcissism. Some theoreticians regard it as a culture-dependent theoretical construct. Others fail to sufficiently differentiate it from the Borderline or Anti-social personality disorder. Some trace its genesis to the first year or years (the formative years) of life. Yet others believe that it can form as late as early adolescence or even, as a reactive formation, in adulthood. There are those who believe that some forms of narcissism are transient and all variants of narcissism can be successfully treated. Others regard it as mental ("malignant") cancer - the side effects can be ameliorated with medication - but nothing more. You will find them all here, in this great tome of introductions to pathological narcissism by the masters.

Narcissism: Denial of the True Self by Alexander Lowen. Basic introduction to pathological narcissism, its dynamics and treatment. "I wonder whether we read the same book. We are, at least, very different readers. Perhaps for an academic, Lowen's discussion of narcissism might seem narrow. However, for the general reader, and especially for anyone who is fascinated (or tortured) by the paradox of self-destructive behavior, Lowen's analysis is revelatory. One does not have to accept BioEnergetic theory in general to conclude that Lowen has achieved some critical insights into the affliction known as "narcissism." Rather than the state of haughty self-absorption it is often made out to be, narcissism is in fact a form of slavery to a false image of the self. The theory that narcissism is actually a symptom of self-alienation, that can be relieved by bringing the sufferer back into contact with those portions of the self that he or she has banished, is most liberating. Lowen makes his points using understated, elegant prose that is more evocative of a collegial conversation than an argument. Highly recommended to anyone who has ever been baffled by behavior, whether of themselves or of a family member, reflecting a combination of gross insensitivity to others, intolerance of personal shortcomings, and a bewilderment at the seeming aridity of life itself. Lowen has gone a long way toward making sense of this suffering.

Culture of Narcissism : American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations by Christopher Lasch. The outlines, dynamics and faults of our narcissistic civilization. 'The Culture of Narcissism - American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations' was published in the first year of the unhappy presidency of Jimmy Carter (1979). The latter endorsed the book publicly (in his famous 'national malaise' speech). The main thesis of the book is that the Americans have created a self-absorbed (though not self aware), greedy and frivolous society which depended on consumerism, demographic studies, opinion polls and Government to know and to define itself. What is the solution? Lasch proposed a 'return to basics': self-reliance, the family, nature, the community, and the Protestant work ethic. To those who adhere, he promised an elimination of their feelings of alienation and despair. There is no single Lasch. This chronicler of culture, did so mainly by chronicling his inner turmoil, conflicting ideas and ideologies, emotional upheavals, and intellectual vicissitudes. In this sense, of (courageous) self-documentation, Mr. Lasch epitomized Narcissism, was the quintessential Narcissist, the better positioned to criticize the phenomenon. Some 'scientific' disciplines (e.g., the history of culture and History in general) are closer to art than to the rigorous (a.k.a. 'exact' or 'natural' or 'physical' sciences). Lasch borrowed heavily from other, more established branches of knowledge without paying tribute to the original, strict meaning of concepts and terms. Such was the use that he made of 'Narcissism'. Lasch's greatest error was that he did not acknowledge that there is an abyss between narcissism and self love, being interested in oneself and being obsessively preoccupied with oneself. Lasch confuses the two. The price of progress is growing self-awareness and with it growing pains and the pains of growing up. It is not a loss of meaning and hope - it is just that pain has a tendency to push everything to the background. Those are constructive pains, signs of adjustment and adaptation, of evolution. America has no inflated, megalomaniac, grandiose ego. It never built an overseas empire, it is made of dozens of ethnic immigrant groups, it strives to learn, to emulate. Americans do not lack empathy - they are the foremost nation of volunteers and also professes the biggest number of (tax deductible) donation makers. Americans are not exploitative - they are hard workers, fair players, Adam Smith-ian egoists. They believe in Live and Let Live. They are individualists and they believe that the individual is the source of all authority and the universal yardstick and benchmark. This is a positive philosophy. Granted, it led to inequalities in the distribution of income and wealth. But then other ideologies had much worse outcomes. Luckily, they were defeated by the human spirit, the best manifestation of which is still democratic capitalism.


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