Customer Reviews


47 Reviews
5 star:
 (21)
4 star:
 (10)
3 star:
 (6)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:
 (7)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


227 of 233 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lowen's Narcissism an Eye-Opening Experience
Although another reviewer rated this book as a "1", 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...
Published on January 5, 1998 by paragate@neis.net

versus
123 of 139 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A helpful, but flawed, book
This book provides an good overview of narcissism, along with some very enlightening case studies. The introduction is a terrific overview of the whole landscape of narcissism. The book had a great deal of interesting information in it, along with some insight into how narcissism is passed from one generation to the next. The author wrote with a lot of compassion and...
Published on July 27, 2000 by Marcy L. Thompson


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

227 of 233 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lowen's Narcissism an Eye-Opening Experience, January 5, 1998
This review is from: Narcissism (Mass Market Paperback)
Although another reviewer rated this book as a "1", 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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


97 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Narcissism develops when children are made to feel rejected, humiliated, and powerless, at the same time seduced to feel special, May 8, 2010
By 
Alexander N. (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This book describes the causes of and the processes involved in narcissistic behavior. The author, Alexander Lowen, is the founder of Bioenergentic Analysis (see below for a description) and he uses this perspective, in a framework of psychodynamic psychotherapy, to explain how narcissism develops.

Generally, the book is well written and Lowen appears as an insightful, wise, and experienced therapist. His writing is usually clear and everything follows each other logically. He uses lot of case histories from his therapy sessions with his clients to explain and support his claims. Sometimes he seems to describe certain concepts repeatedly. For example, narcissists are in denial of their feelings. This is the primary assertion of the book and it was repeated in one way or another many times. However, every time that this concept is mentioned, it is in a different context. Because of this, you have to pay close attention to what you're reading. So the book is not light reading unless you are closely familiar with most of the concepts. I was not paying a lot of attention the first time that I read the book, so had to read it a second time.

Some of the case histories did not seem to be qualified as describing a narcissistic person. He seemed to call everyone with a traumatic childhood, a narcissist. However, I still had to give the book five stars as it does not deserve less because of its overall insightfulness of the narcissistic personality. I don't even agree with some of the assumptions of the Bioenergentic Analysis, however, this book is more about narcissism than Bioenergentic Analysis.

Bioenergetic Analysis is a mind-body approach that assumes that people store unprocessed and unexpressed feelings in the form of chronic muscular tension. Such muscular tensions are unconscious and they not only cause the person to be unable to feel their feelings (or even deny their feelings), but also results in loss of true self as one of their guiding forces of life (i.e. feelings) is lost. In order to process feelings that are stored in such muscular tensions, a therapist manipulates the client's body (for example by placing pressure on the muscles that hold the tension) in order to release the tension and restore the body to normal functioning and health. I should emphasize that Lowen does not believe that the feelings and memories of certain experiences are actually stored in the muscle, but that the muscular tension is a way that our body uses to suppress the recall of those feelings and memories from our unconscious. Bioenergetic Analysis was developed as a modification of body-oriented Reichian psychotherapy or "Vegetotherapy". Alexander Lowen was a student of Wilhelm Reich in the 1940s. Wilhelm Reich himself worked with Sigmund Freud in the 1920's. Lowen published Narcissism: The Denial of the True Self in 1985. He died in 2008 at age 97.

As you may know, people with narcissistic personality disorder have certain things in common, for example:
1. They have a grandiose sense of self-importance.
2. They have fantasies of unlimited success and power.
3. They believe that they are special and unique.
4. They require excessive admiration.
5. They feel entitled.
6. They are exploitative and ruthless.
7. They lack empathy.
8. They are envious of others.
9. They are arrogant.
10. They appear unemotional.
11. They have a poor sense of self.
12. They don't respect boundaries.
13. They are preoccupied with themselves.
14. They have magical thinking.
15. They are shameless.
16. They are power-seeker and controlling
17. They expect others to listen to and accept whatever they say.
18. They express disdain for those who they feel to be inferior.
19. They generally have a lot of conflicts in long-term relationships.
20. They have a low self-esteem and an inferiority complex.

Some of the above personality traits may appear contrary to each other. For example, how can narcissists be arrogant and have low self-esteem at the same time. It appears that their arrogance is a compensation for their feelings of inferiority. They disdain those who they feel to be inferior because they are denying the inferior part of themselves.

But how do narcissist get to be the way they are? Lowen explains the answer in the following ways:

1. "Psychoanalysts recognize that the problem develops in early childhood" (p. 6)
2. "The basic disturbance in the narcissistic personality is the denial of feeling" (p. 8)
3. "Parents fail to provide sufficient nurturing and support on an emotional level by not recognizing and respecting their children's individuality, but they also seductively try to mold them according to their image of how they should be" (p. 12)
4. "Narcissists do show a lack of concern for others, but they are equally insensitive to their own true needs. Often their behavior is self-destructive. Moreover, when we speak of narcissist's self-love, we need to make a distinction. Narcissism denotes an investment in one's image, not their real self. They have a poor sense of self; they are not self-directed. Instead their activities are directed toward the enhancement of their image, often at the expense of the self" (p. 25)
5. "We have a dual relationship to our bodies. We can experience the body directly through feeling or we can have an image of it. In the first case, we are immediately connected to the self, whereas in the second case, the connection is indirect" (p. 30)
6. "It is the self acceptance that is lacking in narcissistic individuals, who have dissociated their bodies" (p. 31)
7. "By not allowing any strong feelings to reach consciousness, they can treat the body as an object subject to the control of their will" (p. 32)
8. "In a normal person, actions are associated with the feelings that motivated them. In the narcissistic individual, however, the action is dissociated from the feeling or impulse and justified by the image" (p. 48)
9. "The denial of feeling characteristic of all narcissists is most manifest in their behavior toward others. They can be ruthless, exploitative, sadistic, or destructive to another person because they are insensitive to the other's suffering or feeling. This insensitivity derives from an insensitivity to one's own feelings" (p. 49)
10. "In their eyes, others exist only as objects to be used" (p. 50)
11. "He identifies with his image, and this becomes his only reality; he no longer senses that he is distorting or denying the truth. In effect, he denies or ignores the reality of his being, but the denial is no longer deliberate or conscious. The actor has become so identified with his role or pose that it has become real for him" (p. 55)
12. "Although the denial of feeling affects all feelings, two emotions in particular are subject to sever inhibition--sadness and fear. They are singled out because their expression makes the person feel vulnerable" (p. 75)
13. "As children, narcissists suffer what analysts describe as a severe narcissistic injury, a blow to self-esteem that scars and shapes their personalities. This injury entails humiliation, specifically the experience of being powerless while another person enjoys the exercise of power and control over one ...... Such a person could easily vow: "when I grow up, I'll get power, and neither you nor anyone else will be able to do this to me again." Unfortunately, as we shall see, such narcissistic injuries happen to many children in our society because parents often use power to control their children for their own personal ends" (p. 77)
14. "All my narcissistic patients have had the experience of being deeply humiliated in childhood by parents who used power as a means of control" (p. 79)
15. "An emphasis on parental power inevitably leads to rebellion or submission on the part of children. The submission covers an inner rebelliousness and hostility. The child who submits learns that relationships are governed by power, which sets the stage for a striving for power as an adult. Children quickly learn to play the same game as their parents--the power game" (p. 81)
16. "The conflict between parent and child generally stems from the parent's desire to shape the child in accord with some image in the parent's mind and the child's resistance to this effort" (p. 82)
17. "With older children, seduction may be increasingly employed as a mean to keep control. A promise of specialness and intimacy is offered if the child will go along with the parent's wishes" (p. 82) [note: what is meant by seduction is sexual seduction; but this seduction does not necessarily involve physical sexual abuse, although elements of sexuality are always involved; for example, a mother may disrobe in front of his son]
18. "Power is a way to protect oneself against humiliation. It is a means of overcoming a feeling of inferiority" (p.84)
19. "The child who is made to feel special becomes the center of the parental power struggle, and his position becomes particularly critical during the Oedipal period [around 3-5 years of age] (p. 84)
20. "In almost all cases, the seductive parent is also a rejecting parent" (p. 84)
21. "Narcissism grows out of the denial of feeling, the loss of self, and the projection of an image to compensate for that loss" (p. 87)
22. "Once you think in terms of power, there is only the struggle for more power. No one ever has enough power. Power will not overcome one's inferiority, ease an inner feeling of humiliation, or provide orgasmic potency. Power serves only to deny these feelings. By its very nature, then power increases the person's narcissism and reinforces the underlying insecurity" (p.98)
23. "Power, or so the narcissist thinks, allows one to gain human contact without the danger of being used. With power, one can attract others ...... In their own minds, they hold themselves out as superior, believing they don't need anyone. And they often seem superior because human anxieties do not plague them" [since they cannot feel their feelings] (p. 99)
24. "They are afraid of being used, as they were in their families" (p. 99)
25. "Seduction may therefore be defined as the use of a false statement or promise to get another person to do what he or she would not otherwise do" (p. 102)
26. "Seduction occurs only in relationships in which some degree of trust exists ...... Seduction, therefore, is always a betrayal" (p. 102)
27. "The inducement is the offer of a special relationship with parent, carrying a promise of closeness and intimacy. For the child, the promise of closeness is particularly compelling because he was deprived of it in infancy. If his mother had been there for him then, he would not be so ready now to make a deal sacrificing the self for a promise. But having been rejected earlier, the child is anxious for acceptance now" (p. 104)
28. "The idea of being in a special relationship with his mother has many meanings for the boy ......... "Mother loves me more than my brother or my father. Therefore, I am superior to them." The boy also senses from the situation that he is needed by his mother. What a sense of importance that must give a child! How could one not develop a grandiose self-image under these conditions?" (p. 104)
29. "In American culture, most parents want something or seem to need something from their children. For some parents, a child has to be successful in the world, often to compensate for the parent's own sense of failure. For others, the child has to be outstanding, to achieve some recognition that will make the parent feel important. Too often, parents turn to their children for the affection and support they did not receive from their own parents and not getting from their spouses" (p. 106)
30. "Rejection is an intolerable situation for a child ......... The child sees no way out of this impossible position other than to accept the offer of specialness and intimacy. Acceptance amounts to almost total identification with the rejecting parent--an identification that represents the fusion of the self-image with the parental image" (p. 108)
31. This kind of identification with the parent splits the child's identity. Through it, the child incorporates the parent's values wholesale and develops a self-image to reflect them. At the same time, the child must reject the self that the parents found objectionable--namely, bodily feelings and the desire to be independent. In this process, the parent's values become superior to those values associated with the body and its feelings. To be special is therefore to be superior to one's bodily self. The child come to believe that what the parent rejected was only the child's "lower" nature [i.e the body]. This illusion assuages the pain, which is then denied. The child's new self-image acquires status as an expression of his or her "higher" nature [i.e. the mind]" (p. 108)
32. "To be superior is to be above it--meaning above the body and its "lower" nature. The person or the self is in the head, energetically speaking, rather than in the body. Energy or libido is invested in the ego and focused on the image the person is projecting. "Feeling" special and superior, thinking oneself above the body, and disclaiming or denying feeling compose the characterological attitude of the narcissist" (p. 109)
33. "Unfortunately, it is very difficult for a child who has been made to feel special at home to accept being average or common in the world" (p. 187)
34. "The main effect of too little nurturing on a child is the suppression of the feeling of longing, specifically, longing for contact with the mother's body, which represents love, warmth, and security. The feeling is suppressed because it is too painful to want desperately something one cannot have. But without this feeling it is difficult to become close and intimate physically with another human being on a feeling level. All narcissists have this problem, and it cannot be resolved until the feeling of longing is reactivated" (p. 190)

To Summarize:
1. As we have seen, too much stimulation or too many demands on a child, coupled with too little nurturing and support, increase the risk of sever narcissistic disorder" (p. 194)
2. The sequence of events follows a definite order. First comes the humiliating experience of powerlessness. Then comes a process of seduction, by which the child is made to see him- or herself as special. An additional element, usually accompanying humiliation, is rejection. After being rejected and humiliated, a child is more easily seduced into serving the parent" (p. 101)
3. [Conclusion: The narcissistic person has many unmet needs. He does not develop a good sense of who he is since a false image is imposed on him. Because of the way that he has been rejected and humiliated by his parents, he has a low self-esteem and an inferiority complex. He is also in denial of his feelings and thinks that he is special and superior to others. The result is that he cannot sympathize with other people and acts in selfish, arrogant, and exploitative ways. Instead of finding love and nurturing with another person to fulfill his needs, he chooses to gain power over others to get his needs met that way. This way he does not feel vulnerable, however, never becomes emotionally fulfilled and remains unhappy.]
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


84 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Narcissism, December 3, 1999
I am a wide reader in psychological literature--reading Freud, Reich, Jung etc. I noticed that one of the reviews suggested that Lowen's book is dated because modern psychiatry does not take the Oedipal/Electra complexes seriously. This is news to me. I found Lowen's book to be the best direct, no-nonsense description of the narcissistic personality I've read. He is not dated--and I hope this book goes into reprint someday.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I found my self, August 30, 2002
This review is from: Narcissism (Mass Market Paperback)
I found this book to be excellent because it answered many questions about myself and my past behavior. I have a narcissistic personality and have often wondered why I acted out in such self-destructive ways. He explains how someone's behavior can reveal their true self. This is right on the mark. Everyone has a personality, which is revealed in their speech and their behavior. When someone's speech is different from their behavior, you know they are projecting a false image of their self. People who project false images of their self are naricisstic. Much of Dr. Alexander Lowan's research can be validated by the work done by the FBI's Behavior Science Unit, which was the basis for the popular movie "Silence of the Lambs." Once you've read Dr. Lowan's book, an excellent follow up book would be Journey Into Darkness by John Douglas, the FBI agent who started the FBI's Behaviorial Science Unit. I can truly say, Dr. Lowan's book saved my life and helped me change my behavior and find happiness with my self. This book is a must read for anyone who is in denial of their true self.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


123 of 139 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A helpful, but flawed, book, July 27, 2000
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Narcissism (Mass Market Paperback)
This book provides an good overview of narcissism, along with some very enlightening case studies. The introduction is a terrific overview of the whole landscape of narcissism. The book had a great deal of interesting information in it, along with some insight into how narcissism is passed from one generation to the next. The author wrote with a lot of compassion and insight into the narcissist's inner world.
However, I felt that the book was limited in several ways. First, it posits a continuum of narcissistic patterns which strikes me as too simplistic to account for the various ways in which narcissism recreates itself in the children of narcissists. Second, there was a great deal of attention paid to a particular clinical approach which was insufficiently explicated (that is, having to stop and figure out what he must mean when he described various bio-energetic therapy activities distracted me from the main point of what I was reading). Finally, the writing was somewhat wooden and often drew my attention away from the subject at hand.
On the whole, this was a valuable book. It just seemed that the author *almost* wrote a better book, and it's that better book that I really wanted to read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally Awesome, January 28, 2000
This review is from: Narcissism (Mass Market Paperback)
I just got divorced from living with a nacissist for 28 years-I finally feel like myself-I totally wore out this book...from reading-what an excellent insight into this personality disorder-he always seemed to turn it around to be me..Please read!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Look At Yourself!, May 28, 2002
This review is from: Narcissism (Mass Market Paperback)
When I first bought this book, I was excited, because I knew that reading it would help me to solve some of my biggest problems, in dealing with people, or more accurately, myself.
But, it took 3 years for me to pick this book up from underneath an end table, where I had hid it, because I was in denial of my true self. To face my true self, on the level that I had anticipated that I would be facing myself, meant in essence, dying an endless death.
And at some point, I had decided, "Well, I have died that death a million times over. So, I might as well read it.
Then, I read it 4 times, as I endlessly wrote in the margins, and accepted so much that I had anticipated was too scary to see, that wow! Seven years later, as I look at this book, bolding sitting amongst my read books, I see how far I have gone, because I accepted my greatest pains. I faced my flaws. I said "so what," to many of my past disempowering habits. And I just decided to turn my greatest pains into what drives me to be passionate.
I recommend this book to anyone who is ready to endlessly grow.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and useful information., August 2, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Narcissism (Mass Market Paperback)
I found this book to be truly helpful in understanding the dynamics of the narcissist's inner world. Beyond that it offers insight into ways that narcissism can be treated. Modern Psychiatry holds that it cannot be treated, only controlled. Dr. Lowen offers hope to those diagnosed with the condition; through body memory release work. This book is a must for those who have a family member diagnosed with narcissism.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book has changed my life absolutely!, January 5, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Narcissism (Mass Market Paperback)
Lowen's insights into the machinery of the self are enlightening, simple (but not obvious) and effective for creating personal change. His ability to sense and communicate the unions of the body and mind, and the emotional past and physical present is nothing short of genius. He talks about orgasm, so people think he is "too sexy" and he writes with out academic technical pretense so people think he's "common". And he is common. Common as air and water and as rare and refreshing as truly fresh air and clean water. I give this book to people that I care about and those that are ready to hear its wisdom, thank me.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Narcissistic Case Studies, September 9, 2001
By 
chris (new orleans, LA) - See all my reviews
In reading this book, I found especially interesting the case studies Lowen choses to use to make his 'case' for narcissism. Having been involved in a maddening relationship with a narcissist, I marveled at the similarities in behavior he shared with especially one of the cases described. Also, I felt more secure about my understanding of this bizarre disorder after reading Lowen's description of the spectrum of personality disorders beginning with the least harmful or destructive, phallic narcissistic disorder, to the most harrowing and life threatening, schizophrenia. Although the DSM IV criteria has changed since this book was published, so that some of his observations may be refutable, I still think this short book is a valuable and interesting read for anyone dealing with or interested in this phsychological disorder. If nothing else, it helps 'victims' of narcissists feel less 'crazy' and more educated about what they are (or hopefully WERE) dealing with inside the narcissistic relationship.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Narcissism
Narcissism by Alexander Lowen (Mass Market Paperback - July 1, 1997)
Used & New from: $0.01
Add to wishlist See buying options
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.