Children of the Self-Absorbed: A Grown-Up's Guide to Getting Over Narcissistic Parents

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Children of the Self-Absorbed: A Grown-Up's Guide to Getting Over Narcissistic Parents [Paperback]

Nina Brown EdD LPC
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (192 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 1, 2008

Being a parent is usually all about giving of yourself to foster your child's growth and development. But what happens when this isn't the case? Some parents dismiss the needs of their children, asserting their own instead, demanding attention and reassurance from even very young children. This may especially be the case when a parent has narcissistic tendencies or narcissistic personality disorder. From the author of Working with the Self-Absorbed and Loving the Self-Absorbed, this major revision of a self-help classic offers a step-by-step approach to resolving conflict and building a meaningful relationship with a narcissistic parent.

Children of the Self-Absorbed offers clear definitions of narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder to help you identify the extent of your parent's problem. You'll learn the different types of destructive narcissism and how to recognize their effects on relationships. With the aid of proven techniques, you'll discover that you're not helpless against your parent's behavior and that you needn't consider giving up on the relationship. Instead, realistic strategies and steps are suggested for learning to set mutually agreed upon behaviors that can help you fulfill your needs and expectations.

Frequently Bought Together

Children of the Self-Absorbed: A Grown-Up's Guide to Getting Over Narcissistic Parents + Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers + Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life
Price for all three: $29.49

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Editorial Reviews


"For those of us who have often suffered the inevitable humiliating regression back to childhood during every holiday with the family…this book offers real help to the reader to develop the self-protective art of indifference, a cloak that can be used at many a holiday gathering…and to understand the subtle yet profound differences between ineffective and effective confrontation, empathy and sympathy, and attaching response and defusing strategy…a completely new cupboard of techniques."
—Joel C. Frost, Ed.D., assistant clinical professor of psychology in the Department of Psychology at Harvard Medical School

"Children of the Self-Absorbed offers practical advice and guidance. The creative techniques and exercises are priceless to both the reader learning how to identify destructive parental behaviors and how to cope with them as well as the reader learning to nurture and protect his or her own developing self."
—Susan Hopper, Ph.D., clinical psychologist in private practice in St. Louis, MO

"Children of narcissistic parents are provided techniques to dig themselves out of impossible relationships with their parents…a thoroughly well thought out, useful manual to help adult children move toward more productive connection to their narcissistic parents, to themselves, and to others."
—Joan Medway, Ph.D., LCSW, psychologist in private practice in Potomac, MD

From the Publisher

A second edition of a self-help classic, Children of the Self-Absorbed offers the adult children of narcissistic parents the means to understand and cope with the behaviors and attitudes of their mothers and/or fathers while still meeting their own needs.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: New Harbinger Publications; Second Edition, Revised edition (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1572245611
  • ISBN-13: 978-1572245617
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (192 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
345 of 346 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars worth a read if you're affected... June 12, 2004
By A Customer
Given the talent that narcissists have for making you feel that (1) it's all your fault or (2) it's your imagination, this is a very nice read that will make you feel that you aren't crazy. It also will help you realize that your needs are legitimate.
The book fleshes out the dimensions of a narcissistic personality, not in a coldly clinical way but in a matter-of-fact way that uses ordinary language. As for the typos that another reviewer commented on, I didn't notice them. I'm a journalist, and I thought the author succeeded in using concise and easily understood words. She also succeeded in giving some very useful tips for dealing with a narcissist. Most of us have been taught that it's best to be truthful, to say so if we've been hurt by someone else; we've learned that this is the healthy and responsible way to behave. Not so, if you're around a narcissist, as this book will explain; it's better if you DON'T let on that the narcissist has affected you, because you'll likely be criticized for being too sensitive. If you KNOW a narcissist, you ALREADY know that it's best not to let your feelings show, and you already know that the standard advice that well-meaning friends might give, won't work. This book will give you some advice that DOES work, and it will also validate your perceptions of what it's like to be around a narcissist. At 180 pages, this book is not the be-all and end-all, but it's quite helpful, and I wouldn't miss it. If your parent is a narcissist, you might also benefit by looking at the book "Stop Walking on Eggshells," a book that deals with those who have borderline personality disorder. Not all narcissists have the disorder, but a good number do, and it's worth checking out if you're in a relationship that's "all about them," and where you are discounted.
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607 of 627 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't let your perfectionism keep you from reading it! November 18, 2002
By A Customer
Some of the other reviewers have pointed out that this book has grammatical errors. While this is true, please don't let the perfectionism that is an inherant part of growing up with a narcissistic parent prevent you from reading and benfitting from this book.
This book goes through a relatively quick but thorough diagnostic process to help you determine whether your parent was a narcissist, and then makes its single most important point:
THEY ARE NOT GOING TO CHANGE. Nothing you can do, or could have done, would make a difference.
The remaining 2/3rds of the book is about coping, protecting yourself, and recovering from narcissistic abuse. This is what you CAN DO to make the rest of your life happier and healthier. Get the book, silence the critic inside your head, and get going on getting better!
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501 of 517 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique Ways of Dealing with the Its-All-About-Me Parent December 18, 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have found this book to be useful in my ministry for adult children of abusive or controlling parents, Luke 17:3 Ministries. It begins by describing Destructive Narcissistic Parents (DNPs),teaches how being raised by them affected you, and gives very unique techniques for diffusing their ability to hurt you. It subscribes to the theory that confrontation will not work because a narcissist will never change and does not believe he is doing anything wrong, but rather thinks that everyone else exists for his use and benefit; therefore other techniques for dealing with him are suggested, including avoidance, humor, or body language designed to subconsciously confuse the narcissist.
Does your parent have attention needs, admiration needs, the need to be considered unique and special, lack of empathy, feel others are extensions of herself, grandiosity, shallow emotions, a sense of entitlement, emotionally abusive traits, or does she exploit others? These characteristics identify a DNP, and specific examples of each trait are given.
As an adult, you can have two possible responses to being raised by a DNP. You may have a Siege Response- some traits of which include becoming defiant when given orders or demands, rebelling against restrictions or rules, being wary or fearful of intimacy, feeling anxious or panicky when others want to be nurtured, guilty feelings, personalizing others' behavior, being easily offended, etc. You may also exhibit the Compliant Response, including needing to be liked or approved of, feeling responsible for others' well-being, feeling that others are taking advantage of you, sacrificing personal needs for others, being overemotional, being overly critical of yourself and others, etc.
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149 of 154 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-written with a lot of good information May 11, 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is very well-written and does a very good job of addressing the special needs and concerns of adult children of narcissists. I recognized my family and myself in this book, and feel confident that by applying the strategies in this book, I can break the chain of narcissism before damaging my own child. This is NOT a blame-the-parents book. It helps the reader to understand why the parents behaved the way that they did, and that they will not understand that they did anything wrong. The Destructive Narcissist Parent did the best he or she could, and now it is time for the adult child to break free of the destructive pattern.
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156 of 162 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just about self-absorbed parents February 28, 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book for those of us that have had significant people in our lives who could not be "reasoned" with because the person was so self-interested. Try as we may to please these people, we ended frustrated, angry, depressed, and perhaps most of all, confused. It felt like a different Reality from the rest of the world, a Reality which we did not understand, and from which we didn't seem to be able to escape. Not unlike the mythical Sisyphus, we cyclically rolled the rock of parental or spousal approval up the hill only to have it return endlessly..and like Sisyphus, with nothing whatever to show for our efforts. Ms. Brown is the first person in my 50-some years of life who was able to grab me by the collar and firmly convince me emotionally (I had long been convinced intellectually) that it was time to let go and not exhaust myself further. I saw the personality she describes in my parents, an ex-wife, and a troubling boss. Things became very clear that were once murky, at best. The author is also very explicit as how to handle situations with these discomforting people in order not to be injured further. The best recommendation that I can give this book is that it is NOT just for understanding your self-absorbed parents, it is for understanding all the character disordered folks in your life; I plan to buy several copies for friends try to understand their divorces, their parents, and their sometimes dysfunctional friendships.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book. Very insightful
Great book. Very insightful.
Published 6 days ago by pendrag
5.0 out of 5 stars Real solutions and an absolute must-read if you think this describes...
I have read a lot of literature out there about parents who have mental disorders, however, this book has been the most helpful resource that I have ever come across. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Emily
5.0 out of 5 stars recommended to me and now by me
Good read, validating
Published 18 days ago by AF
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Thank you!
Published 22 days ago by Tammy L Shoemaker
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommend. Taught me a lot
VERY VERY HELPFUL! Highly recommend. Taught me a lot.
Published 24 days ago by Thomas A. Walsh
3.0 out of 5 stars I am so glad to be done with this book
I am so glad to be done with this book. Some of the exercises were pretty good but mostly it just felt like busy work.
Published 1 month ago by April D
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Good information but difficult to get through. Worth the effort to read all the way to the end.
Published 1 month ago by Sharon Craig
5.0 out of 5 stars Off all the books I have read on this topic ...
Off all the books I have read on this topic, Children of the Self-Absorbed provided the most balanced and comprehensive explanation of who I am, how I got there, and how I can move... Read more
Published 1 month ago by J.K. B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Helpful insight into family dysfunction
This is a great and potentially life altering book. I reverse-engineered my original family with its help. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Decatur Sinclair
1.0 out of 5 stars Fellow 1-star reviews may be more helpful to you if ...
Fellow 1-star reviews may be more helpful to you if you are dealing with the horrors of a full-on malignant narcissistic parent or related PD. This was my experience. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Lila Klu
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More About the Author

Nina W. Brown, EdD, LPC, is professor and eminent scholar in the Educational Leadership and Counseling Department at Old Dominion University. An expert on narcissism's effects on relationships, she is the author of ten books, including Children of the Self-Absorbed, Working with the Self-Absorbed and Whose Life is it Anyway?

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Topic From this Discussion
Do you have a narcisstic parent?
Responding to the N. Williford post: This might be the author's own mother---and the response is CLASSIC narcissism! The author's whole point is made! This post should be kept in the discussion as a viable example (and proof!) of our subject.
Jan 6, 2008 by Carmen Cornils |  See all 95 posts
What about the opposite - when your daughter is narcissistic - Anyone...
My heart goes out to you, Nini. I can relate somewhat, as I have a daughter who is narcissistic, though perhaps not as bad as your daughter. She has blamed me for her upbringing and I cried and asked her forgiveness and she doesn't bring it up anymore; she has learned both at home and at church... Read More
Nov 18, 2012 by Carmen Cornils |  See all 4 posts
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