on June 27, 2004
Since discovering the roots of narcissism in my world one year ago, I have read a great deal on the subject. This is, hands down, the most helpful book I have read to date. Most books on the market focus on identification of narcissism, or validation of those individuals left in their wake (both important concepts). But after that, we need real help! This book offers the most realistic and cogent look at what can actually be done after the damage is done. As the child and ex-spouse of narcissists, I appreciated the author gently leading me to examine my own culpability and enabling behaviors, the fallout in my life, and most importantly, how to begin undoing the damage and move on.
on October 24, 2003
As a 48 year old guy who has been working his way out of narcissistic codependence for about 15 years, this book clarified several issues I wasn't even aware of. Specifically, Ms. Payson deals squarely with the lack of self-esteem that a narcissist will imbue in a codependent's life. (The narcissist says, "I'm OK, you've got a long way to go and you'll never get there anyway.) Another thing is the insidious, clandestine way in which NPD's work their sordid magic. An NPD is someone with narcissistic personality disorder. The author goes through a 9 item list of the pitfalls and traps that keep a codependent codependent. Ms. Payson also explains in depth how being in a relationship with an NPD can happen in your love life, your work life, and your family life. Often these adult situations are a reliving of the same type of relationship from one's childhood. So much is clearer now and I feel much steadfast in my resolve to overcome this disorder. I have reassessed many of my friendships and old situations only to realize that I was unwittingly reliving my past.
Mrs. Payson's language is clear, warm-hearted, and exact. She uses examples based on experiences of clients from her practice. All in all, I highly recommend this book to those who suffer from narcissistic co-dependence and those who know someone who does.
on December 2, 2007
I dated someone who is described in this book, and while together I didn't know what the heck was wrong with her thinking at times...that is until I read this book. A happy relationship most of the time, it then became crazy other times, getting worse and worse as time went on. Eleanor Payson hits it right on the nose and explains the child-like behaviors that would occasionally surface from an otherwise truly brilliant and highly successful woman. Here are some of the behaviors described:
1. They are never EVER wrong.
2. They never admit to anything.
3. Nothing is ever a great idea unless it comes from them.
4. You will never get any credit for what you do. Ever.
5. They don't seem to know or care how what they say might impact you.
6. You get hopelessly entangled in their arguments, and it never leads to a resolution.
7. Emotion = Weakness.
And on and on it goes. The closer you get to them, the worse it becomes. Every chapter sent me reeling as all these behaviors are discussed. Probably half the book is highlighted in yellow and I read it twice. It was like this book was written about her. It also helped me confront my part in the whole thing as well.
READ THIS BOOK if you suspect a significant other or parent has these tendencies listed above. If so, this book will blow you away. I wish I had this knowledge DURING the relationship and not after I ended it. Understanding the dynamic has brought me some closure and the wisdom of avoiding anything like it again. The sad (and most painful) part is that the only healthy thing you can do is leave. You cannot help them. You cannot heal them. You will not change them.
on December 25, 2007
Eleanor Payson deftly exposes the manipulative behavior and pathology of a narcissist.
She reveals why these "charming" creatures suck you in.....project their behaviors on to you, exploit you, demoralize you, then leave. Reading this book will restore your sanity.
--They are extrordinarily inteligent,charming, manipulative, and "successful."
--Believe they are superior and above reproach.
--Are totally incapable of intimacy,but come across as attentive and sensual.
--Are self-absorbed and completely incapable of empathy.
--Have grandiose ideas and an unquenchable need for recognition and admiration.
--Cannot apologize or be accountable because to admit mistakes would suggest that they are imperfect.
--Have secret lives: addictions, affairs, perversions, and fetishes.
--Have at least two distinctly different personalities and corresponding mood disorders.
--Play mind games,and call you crazy when you react.
--They are emotionally and financially exploitve; when your money is gone, they are gone.
--Once they break you down, they detest you.
--Have a strong need to associate with others whom they perceive to be powerful, wealthy, prominent, or otherwise "special."
--Will replace you before they leave you. Cannot be alone.
--Will circle you like a vulture, find your weak spot, and attack.
If understanding is affirmation, Payson opens the door to healing and the subsequent recapture of the energy and vitaity that defined you before he/she entered your life.
on October 16, 2007
I'm a 51 year old female who needed to read this book when I was 11 and then promptly be moved to another family! Both of my parents are Narcissists, but I didn't know what it was until I read this book. The book describes exactly how I was treated by both of my parents and why I never had a sense of self. I was never asked my thoughts, I was told how I was going to think and what I was going to do. Everything this book details is real. 15 years ago I severed ties with my father because he was the more physical abuser. I just recently I severed ties with my mother. Both of them are very abusive. I didn't realize what a lacky I was to my mother but always felt she didn't like me, or was jealous of me, or always but always disappointed her. She has tried to take over my life, my husband - almost telling me how to have sex with him or someone else will do it for me and my house by walking in rearranging my furniture, putting things on the wall and telling me that she's "helping me" and how everything would look so much better her way and has divided my 2 brothers and I to where we don't speak to one another anymore and she has blamed me for it. The control, mental abuse and meanness is behind closed doors and out in the open other people always wondered why I was so sensitive around my mother because she always was so delightful to be around. I moved away from my family when I was 24,and have back around my mother for 10 years. I'm absolutely drained of emotion. I understand now why I had depression and still have it and why I feel I need to please everyone and be a non entity. From reading this book, I am working on being my own person with my own actual thoughts and views and hold my head up high. The book does give you examples on how to get along with this type of person, only if you want to get along with them. For those who do, its a good guideline. For those who don't, read this book and beat your demons! What you thought was happening to you - it was and this validates those thoughts - the narcissist isn't ever going to validate you as a person. Break Free! This book has helped me tremendously to understand "it wasn't me" and I just might be worthy of someone loving me. 51 years to find that out.... what a waste of a life.
on September 19, 2005
(Please also see update below)
I've been in a committed relationship with someone who can double-talk circles about absolutely anything and around absolutely anyone. He rarely tells the truth about anything -- no matter how small the situation. Nothing is ever his fault. The most benign statement to him throws him into immediate defensive or striking-out-at-anyone mode. He doesn't give the slightest care about the effect his words or behavior has on anyone else's feelings or life. I thought I wasn't understanding enough, kind enough, or patient enough. This book helped rescue me from sure insanity! If you have a feeling you're in a relationship of confusion, lies, and emotional abuse -- you're probably living with someone in the throes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). This is a must read handbook to help you sort through all the smoke & mirrors your "special someone" has been using to distract you from who he (or she) really is!
UPDATE 7 YEARS LATER:
Still 5 Stars! "The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists.." has proved extremely helpful over the years as I re-read it or referred to any specific topic about dealing with the occasional difficult/impossible relationships. It also gives excellent, helpful insights into areas where one could adjust personal belief systems and approaches to relationships in each area of life -- not just love and family life. Applying what I learned has helped me grow and heal.
on November 29, 2002
This reviewer is delighted to offer appreciation for a most comprehensive coverage of the interpersonal impact of narcissim on relationships. Ms. Payson directed her book toward the lay person, who has struggled in relationship with the narcissist. Yet as a therapist, I believe it should be mandatory reading for my professional colleagues. The book is well organized and cleverly structured with the Wizard of Oz theme.It covers the subject in depth, yet it is easy to understand.The author offers the reader perspective on a variety of relationships(spouse, adult child, employee, friend) and clearly describes how this prevalent character disorder can have an injurious impact. She leaves the reader with hope, providing concrete suggestions for protection of the self and for minimizing the wounding that can arise from the narcissitic relationship. Everyone I know who has read this book has sung its praises.
on May 1, 2006
This book changed my life. If you have a relationship with someone and they are like Jekyll and Hyde, you're confused, you are depressed--Buy this book. You will understand more after you read it. It has helped me to end 10 yrs. of pain, being told that it was all my fault when I knew I was emotionally sucker-punched on an almost daily basis-just didn't know why. This is the first time that I really believe it has nothing to do with me. He is sick. I have tried everything I knew to do to make things better-it never worked. Now I know it can't.
I also know it will never stop, so I got out. I'm glad I know now that it has a name. BPD -Also, I know now why he always slips around and tells his friends that I am doing things in reality that he is doing. i.e. jealousy, etc. It is called projection.This book clarifies all this in easy to read format.
on September 27, 2005
Wow. After quite a few years with therapists and plenty of self-help books, this book is probably the most comprehensive, most helpful, and most accurate in its description of the narcissistic personality and those of us who are drawn into their orbit. The initial relief comes in realizing that someone recognizes that the damage that parents with this disorder can do to their children is real, and that those of us who grew up in this kind of environment really aren't crazy, as they have tried to have us believe. The next breath of relief comes in Ms. Payson's recognition of the relationships that exist, and the difficulties therein, between narcissists and non-narcissists in various settings...not simply parent/child, but also in romantic relationships, friendships, and in the work environment. Of course, recognizing that these relationships exist, and that they can be extremely difficult, is the first step toward healing. Unfortunately, there isn't a whole lot that can be done to create healthy relationships out of these dysfunctional pairings, but Ms. Payson does provide some valid suggestions as to how those of us who suffer at the narcissists' whims can learn to sidestep their vortex, remain calm and disengaged, and gain the strength needed to feel healthy within. Anyone who has felt the damage done by such a person can gain incredible insight and wisdom from this book.
on November 3, 2006
I have read several books on narcissim, but have never seen one that explained the co-dependent side so well! I have recommended this book to several others struggling with this issue and they love it, too! I was so impressed with her understanding of the subject, I called her and made an appointment. She has helped me with how to implement setting the boundaries...very difficult as it is a family member that I am not willing to leave. This is a must read for all co-dependents!