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Narcissism: Denial of the True Self Paperback – March 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

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Los Angeles Times Thoughtful and provocative.

About the Author

Alexander Lowen, M.D., is a world-renowned psychiatrist and leading practitioner of Bioenergetic Analysis -- the revolutionary therapy that uses the language of the body to heal the problems of the mind. A former student of Wilhelm Reich, he developed Bioenergetic Analysis and founded the International Institute for Bioenergetic Analysis. Dr. Lowen is the author of many publications, including Love and Orgasm, The Betrayal of the Body, Fear of Life, Joy, and The Way to Vibrant Health. Now in his tenth decade, Dr. Lowen currently practices psychiatry in New Canaan, Connecticut.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (March 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743255437
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743255431
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #233,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

242 of 249 people found the following review helpful By "paragate@neis.net" on January 5, 1998
Format: 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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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85 of 92 people found the following review helpful By III Santi Tafarella on December 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
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.
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Carmen Matthews on May 28, 2002
Format: 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.
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126 of 144 people found the following review helpful By Marcy L. Thompson VINE VOICE on July 27, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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