on November 20, 2008
Reading this book was an incredibly validating experience. I have never written a book review in my life but I believe that this work is essential for daughters of narcissistic mothers. I am 45 years old and have been in counseling for 4 years with a great counselor to address my mom's Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I have had difficulties in the denial and acceptance department; it seems that cognitively I know that my mother doesn't have the capacity to ever be warm, loving, or empathetic. However,I have had many instances where I just thought well maybe I am just the nutty girl and go back into denial. My counselor has spent hours upon hours discussing the harm that comes from being raised by a narcissistic mother. And, yes, I have read many books on narcissism. The difference with this book is that it is written from a first hand experience and includes very specific exchanged between the narcissistic mother and the "still" seeking daughter. In reading this book I must have said oh my God hundreds of times. I made margin notes where I wrote "yep" next to so many scenarios, feelings, yearnings, lowered self esteem, being self critical, the workaholism (I am a practicing trial attorney), and the issues with respect to brothers being treated differently. I am the only daughter and I have 3 brothers who had vastly different experiences with my mother. They are all perfect princes and I am the one that is constantly criticized and judged. For many years I have grappled with my brothers' experience versus mine and it was crazy-making. This book explains that daughters of narcissistic mothers may be subject to projection, jealousy, and envy because you are viewed as her extension (or shadow). It finally made sense. IF YOU ARE A DAUGHTER OF A NARCISSIST MOTHER THIS IS THE MOST HONEST AND FORTHRIGHT BOOK THAT I HAVE COME ACROSS AND IT IS ONE THAT I WILL USE AS A REFERENCE GUIDE FOR GROUNDING AND VALIDATION ON A REGULAR BASIS.
on October 16, 2008
Finally a book about narcissistic mothers that describes the subtle nature of emotional neglect and abuse and kills the myth that all mothers are benevolent! It's hard to heal the narcissitic wound when it is a result of emotional neglect and put downs and there is no physical bruise or easy explanation like "my mother is an alcoholic". I've been in therapy for approx. 18 years and still struggle with a lifetime of never being good enough and still being placed in competition with my mother by her (even though she is 80). I was glad to hear that it's okay to have little or no contact with a narcissitic mother, since I've struggled with the guilt about having a mother like her and feel that her distancing herself from me is my fault and I am responsible for the relationship and for fixing it.
One section in the book that I did not agree with was the author's comments that the daughter should not show any anger or frustration toward the narcissitic mother. One important aspect of my healing was to stand up to my mother and demonstrate my separateness and that I too am accomplished. (I had never rebelled as a teenager, since it was essentially forbidden with the unspoken threat love would be withheld.) Even though this turned out to be a threat to her it was important for me to see that I have my own sense of power apart from her. I've also tried to reach out in ways trying to build bridges that would put as on equal footing. This was to no avail but these steps have been important in my trying to build the communication with her and determine I'd done everything in my power to try and make a relationship work. It's even harder to be the daughter of a narcissistic mother when the theological messages coming from her were that disobedient children are evil and she was picked out as special by God from the time she was 8.
This book offers hope and resonated so much with my experience. Those childhood abandonment fears and post-traumatic stress reactions still happen to me but I know where they are coming from and I continue to fight through them with hope.
on March 30, 2009
I just received this book and I'm almost finished. A lot of it reads true to my own life. Although I don't think my mother was exceptionally cruel she was heavy with the hand and put a great deal of responsibility on me as a child. The criticism never ends. I am an overachiever but can't manage to take a compliment. My self esteem on the outside seems high but in all actuality it's in the toilet. My mother was very jealous of my relationship with my father and has never seemed to be able to be happy about any of my successes. My brother on the other hand was a prince to her and we were treated very differently and still are. I've beaten myself up until reading this book. Finally the validation I needed to deal with the pain of not being able to truly bond with my mother. My ex-boyfriend who is Borderline kept insisting that my mother was Borderline also but the more research I did I realized she was Narcissistic and this book confirmed it. It has helped me to heal, to forgive her, to stop blaming myself and to take a good look at my own behavior towards my children. I can see some of the cycle continuing and I'm working on being less critical and demanding of my own children. This book was an absolute God send and I highly recommend it. There has been an incredible weight lifted knowing that I am not unlovable but had a mother who was incapable of loving. I want to ensure that my children never have to feel that way. It's a lot of work but I catch myself now and I'm able to correct my own behavior.
Just an update. Since purchasing this book, in addition to therapy, co-dependency recovery work and reading other books on the topic, I've had more insight into my own dynamics. There are more than one type of narcissist and one in particular that went under the radar for me is the covert narcissist. My mother is an overt narcissist, the kind that is portrayed in this book however I discovered my father is a covert narcissist, along with my brothers girlfriend who has made my life a living hell. I also realized that although I was my mothers scape goat and my brother was her golden child, I was my fathers golden child and my brother was his scape goat. Once I started to focus on the strange behavior my father had over the years such as love bombing and baiting and hovering I called him out on his narcissistic tendencies while going through grief counseling I experienced his wrath and was instantly made his scape goat and my brothers girlfriend assumed my old role of golden child. My father told me that if I didn't apologize for something that I didn't do, it would have to basically write me off, stop speaking to me. This was so traumatic for me, I couldn't understand what was happening but now that I do, it is so much easier to weather the storm of all the drama and just disconnect. Up until then, I just assumed my mother was controlling him but she isn't he is just as narcissistic as he is, I just never saw it because I never went against his authority and he adored me. They are not capable of empathy of unconditional love.
I also want to say that my mother saw this book sitting on my nightstand and lost her mind, told me I was a terrible daughter, that she was not narcissistic, she was very angry with me. My boyfriend died and I was going through grief counseling and she and my father (who is usually subjected to her opinions) insisted that I stop seeing the therapist. Honestly I wouldn't have made it through the grief without therapy, but they didn't like therapy because it was unearthing the family dynamics.
She also told me that my problem was I was too smart and if I ever wanted to meet someone and settle down I would need to get rid of my books and stop reading. Keep in mind my mother dropped out of school at the age of 15. So just a recap, this book allows me to take these comments for what they are - her own low self esteem. Before reading this book, I would actually believe the things she was saying and internalize them, not anymore.
on September 27, 2008
Rather than an esoteric view of maternal narcissism, this author has kept it simple, concise, and very easy to read. The point-by-point outline, stringers and explanations were to put it simply, brilliant. She interjected explanations to the descriptions of what a narcissist is, and thereby gave it a more feeling touch.
I was to discover ah-ha's on each and every page, to see how the behavior of my parent impacted on my life in more ways than I would have believed possible. The pain of never feeling good enough, to beginnings of understanding that I am more than good enough has been an incredible journey. Though often fraught with potholes, backtracking and questioning my own sanity, the good doctor has brought it all around full circle via her book. Suddenly and joyously, someone finally understood! I felt validated and no longer alone on this journey.
To my mind, the chapters on healing were rich with ideas that have ripened into workable solutions that I have been applying successfully to my life; I am looking forward to the future through very different eyes.
While not a full out answer to many of the problems associated with this devastating blow to the ego of a small child, it surpasses my expectations and excites me with the possibilities. This is a book well worth reading for layman and therapists alike. For me, this was a deeply satisfying read.
on January 28, 2010
My sister is a psychologist and recommended this book to me. Despite its title, believe me, this book is for any child raised by a narcissistic mother. I have read other books about narcissistic personality disorder and because of my sister am very familiar with the DSM and in particular Axis II, cluster B personality disorders - but the beauty of this book is that it really centers on the legacy effect of the disorder rather than being just another descriptive analysis of the disorder. It explains and demonstrates through actual patient testimonials the negative effects of being raised by a narcissistic mother, then goes on to a recovery process.
If you're reading this you probably know a little bit about this disorder. People with the disorder are extremely self-centered and lack what is perhaps the most important quality of a parent - the ability to be empathic. As a child of a mother who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder you are constantly being given the message that your value is what you do, not who you are. Your only value is your accomplishments that reflect well on the narcissistic parent. Ultimately this message becomes hard-wired in your formative years; a message that you will never be good enough. The book identifies the two most common responses of children - either they become tireless over-achievers who frequently forget to take care of themselves mentally or they give up completely in a "what's the point" fashion. In either route the child caries with them deep dysfunctional scars (narcissistic injury) into adulthood that impair them in many ways.
For many it will reveal the whys behind so many familiar feelings and behaviors. When I read books of this type I underline as I go. I intend to keep this book nearby as a sort of reference book and "gut check" as recovery from this kind of injury and the inevitability of involuntary adaptation of some of the narcissistic traits of your mother is of course a life-long process. This book, however, will get you well along the right road - and if you are a parent it will show you how to stop the legacy. The final few chapters of the book are nothing short of inspiring.
Thirteen years ago I spent more than a year and a half in therapy twice a week for two hours each session struggling with the issues attendant to being the child of a narcissistic mother (mine had the added bonus of being an abusive alcoholic). It is not hyperbole to say that for about 1/10th the cost of one session with a psychologist this book could have taken six months off of that time. Don't get me wrong there is no substitute for a good therapist - but this book will literally jump start you into recovery.
on July 9, 2013
This book did a good job of identifying a mother's narcissistic traits and the damage they cause, however I found this book was a bit simplistic, and longer than it needed to be due to many examples that sometimes detracted from the point rather than enhancing it. It also gave poentially dangerous advice.This includes:
1. The author recommends empathising with mother and focusing on "gifts she has given " . This is unhelpful to people who have spent years seeing everything through their mother's filter and are attempting to forge their own personality. As one whose most enduring "gift" was the implicit and explicit statement that I was unworthy of any happiness, I find this insulting.
2. It was stated that if one had not received support and nurturing from their mother as a child that they should not seek this from others as an adult; rather they should "self-mother" . I found this really illogical, as one can not practice what one has never experienced; additionally, many reading the book would see the word "mother" as having negative connotations. Other authors encourage one to find support and positive relationships with others as a way to recovery.
3. She is reluctant to advise going no-contact until "all recovery work is completed." As others have stated, going no contact is often integral to recovery.
Others have noted that the book reads as though written by one who has not yet come to a resolution herself and I would have to agree with them . It was good at identifying problem areas, but not for resolving them.
Since I've known for many years that my mother has NPD, I have read most of the books on the subject and was glad to find one aimed specifically at daughters. Like many books of its kind this one is useful for someone who is unaware or just becoming aware that their mother has NPD. Of the fourteen chapters in the book, most deal with anecdotal information about, how the mothers act, what the daughters feel, and how this affects their choices in relationships and the workplace. Two major classes of daughters, the self-sabotaging and over-achieving are each covered in their own chapters. She also devotes a chapter to the passive father model that is often present in these family systems and talks about how the family achieves the "appearance" of normality at the expense of the children.
Starting with chapter ten she begins to offer therapeutic advice, however there is nothing in those chapters that I hadn't heard before. She brings up a lot of relevant topics like seeking to rediscover who you are and what your values are, describing what it will feel like to be at the point of health. The number of anecdotes she includes in this portion of the book drops off significantly. Where are the success stories??
I think this book is worth having. You will find that the stories ring true and you will probably agree with her approach to working on the issue. The one big draw back is the lack of major attention to the effects of lack of nurturing in infancy. Oddly enough a book called "Why Can't I Be Good Enough: Escaping the limits of childhood roles" was published back in 2003, by Joan Rubin-Deutsch. There are many types of childhood experiences related to NPD, but most of the people I've met describe trauma, poor memory of childhood events and some degree of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I attribute my own poor memory of childhood not to direct abuse, but to a childhood completely lacking in emotional texture.
It wasn't until I started reading the work of Bruce Perry (The Boy Raised as a Dog) that I began to really understand what was missing from most therapeutic approaches. Lack of emotional stimulation in infancy can be at the core of many of the behaviors she describes in daughters and accessing feeling is not just about finding them and letting them flow. When the mother is incapable of responding with empathy to a child's cries, the brain itself can fail to develop certain responses, leaving the child feeling alone and hopelessly different from others. It used to be assumed that nothing could change these patterns but today more is known about these issues, The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge) and Dr. Bruce Perry's work are at the forefront. I especially recommend Perry's book as an adjunct to this one. You may also wish to read Alice Miller's "The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Affect of Cruel Parenting."
Update...Narcissism is often co-morbid with other things. If your relationship had violent or extremely manipulative aspects I also recommend Understanding the
Borderline Mother: Helping Her Children Transcend the Intense, Unpredictable, and Volatile Relationship.
on September 26, 2011
I would second much of the positive praise for this book, which read like a template for my life. It enlightened so much of the mystery/misery of my childhood and young adulthood. It just made so much sense, and reduced my feeling of being a freak and alone in my experience.
In my case I had a sister, and we experienced the bad sister/good sister dynamic described in the book. I had never understood it before, but simply felt rejected. Even though I was just as good a student, and didn't get into trouble, and went to a good college, in my mother's eyes I could never be as good as my older sister. The book also showed me how my sister suffered too from being the 'good' daughter, and how it has negatively impacted her life. Furthermore, Will I Ever Be Good Enough? helped me understand why fathers seem so distant (and unhelpful) in this dynamic.
Although the book is excellent as is, there is one piece of constructive criticism I would offer the author to include in a subsequent edition. One chapter categorizes different types of narcissistic mothers, but I was surprised that it did not include the 'martyr' narcissistic mother. The 'no one suffers like I do' and 'I'll just sit in this little corner and not have any food so I won't be a BOTHER' type, and yet persists all the same in needing to be the focus of constant attention and admiration, of which she can never have enough. I'm curious why this type was omitted, when it it seems to me a more common type than the others described.
All the same, a very powerful, healing book for any daughter of a narcissistic mother. I keep this book by my bedside as a reminder of my experiences, so if I should slip down into dark thoughts, I can begin to reasonably piece together why I feel that way, and start to climb back up into the light again.
on February 21, 2010
After I went to a therapy session of "energy work" to find a reason for my depression and anxiety, I was suddenly in touch with many feelings of anger, frustration and disappointment from my childhood. I found this book at the library and read it in one afternoon. My therapy session with energy work was the take off point, but this book struck me to the inner core. I had no idea that my anger, anxiety and depression were a result of a narcissistic mother and I could not put this book down because it spoke directly to me about MY childhood and current life experience. Suddenly I was validated for feelings I have felt literally my entire life. I am the prime example of an over-achiever, still waiting for my mother to take me in her arms, hug me, and tell me she is proud of me. This book helped me realize that I am my own person, that I can have dreams, be respected, have valid feelings and how to now accept my mother for who she is - and not continue to be disappointed by her behavior, nor keep waiting for her approval. This book also made me recognize the behavior in myself, and how to stop it immediately from passing it on to my daughters. Thank heavens I discovered this early in my life as a mother. I was about ready to start taking prescription drugs for my anxiety and depression, but reading this book and releasing these feelings and going through the healing exercises, along with energy work therapy, has completely changed me as a person, a daughter, and a mother. I feel like a new person. Thank God, I found this!
on December 28, 2008
After years of therapy followed by twenty years of no-contact with my disturbingly problematic mother, all of the broken pieces of understanding finally came together when I read this book. Historical and philosophical analysis of narcissistic personalities has its place, but rarely does the associated jargon help the victim come out from their denial, let alone give them a clue about how to live differently. This book does that. Not only did the truth of my mother's issues finally sink in, but I discovered for the first time the dynamics between my siblings. More importantly, I found a compassion that I never thought could exist. I finally feel free. If there was anything missing from this book, it might be a better understanding of why all of the children of these personalities are not equally targeted by the Narcissistic mother. Despite that, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Thank you, Ms. McBride for your dedication on this subject.