Most helpful positive review
61 of 63 people found the following review helpful
Yes, you NEED this book!
on June 12, 2001
I completely agree with the earlier review of this book. Yes, it could have been better written. But, it still deserves a solid five stars. This book has a lot to offer you.
It might be helpful to understand just what "narcissism" means in the psychiatric/psychologial realm. Actually, there are two views on narcissism---one as defined by Kernberg, and another by Kohut. Kernberg's narcissist is what you probably normally think of when you hear the term. This is the oblivious individual who would say (if they had the insight, which they don't): "What, there are *other* people in the world???" Kohut, on the other hand, described a very different kind of narcissist. This person is intensely aware of the others around them, and devotes *all* of their psychological energy toward getting those people to idolize them. Now, take the Kohut narcissist, and come back into the spectrum of what's generally considered normal. Here is the child who grew up in a family where nothing they ever did was "good enough." As a result, this child tends to develop what Winnicott called "the false self"---a persona designed explicitly to try to please their unpleasable parents. But, it's all a pretense, and the child (now an adult) knows it. As a result, the "real self" remains undeveloped, and every time the narcissistic bubble gets pricked, these individuals have nowhere to go except a deep depression, despair and anxiety. This is the narcissistic style.
Johnson's thesis is that this character pattern is pervasive in Western society. In my experience, these individuals have a kind of neurotic radar that leads them to establish relationships with new "unpleasable" authority figures. This might be a spouse...a boss at work...or most anyone else in their life. They are trapped by their need to please other people. Johnson's book examines this phenomenon, and (unlike most other books like this) actually offers a solution that works! In any event, it's definitely going to cost you less than the many hours of therapy that still haven't taught you what this book has to offer. And...hey...I'm a therapist writing this!