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Why Is It Always About You?: The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism Hardcover – May 6, 2002
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"A practical and accessible book about one of the most prevalent personality disorders of our time." -- Drew Pinksy, M.D.
"People who experience narcissism in themselves or in others now have a guide to help them steer through the storm." -- Jerold J. Kreisman, M.D., co-author of I Hate You--Don't Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality
Allan N. Schore University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine Remarkable...a thought-provoking and wide-ranging essay on narcissism, this extremely informative book is based on a solid foundation of very recent advances in our knowledge of early emotional development, personality theory, and neuroscience. Hotchkiss sheds light on an all-too-familiar personality organization that currently characterizes individuals, relationships, and indeed, much of American culture. -- Review
About the Author
Sandy Hotchkiss, LCSW teaches in the Master's Program at the University of Southern California School of Social Work and has a private practice in psychotherapy. A fellow of the California Society for Clinical Social Work, she lives in the Los Angeles area.
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A small critique of an otherwise wonderful book is the use of the term ' the narcissist' throughout, as if it is a black and white definition. I think this encourages the reader to label somebody as 'a narcissist' and risk overlooking the other complexities that make up their personality. Most people are a mix of personality traits and few are purely narcissistic, ( or histrionic/psychopathic/obsessive compulsive etc). However, the beauty of this books lies in its simplicity and perhaps getting into complexities such as these would risk adding confusion rather than clarity.
I highly recommend this book to everybody whose partner, friend, parent, colleague has troubling narcissistic tendencies.
I have known three 'narci' managers who could not be influenced or changed--so the best of us pulled the rip chord.
This is a national and world crisis--a flaw in the human species.
Sad, because they are rupturing the workplace--far more dangerous than many realize.
Hotchkiss lists and goes into detail of the seven deadly sins of Narcissism:
Shamelessness: In the Narcissist, shame is so intolerable they have developed means not to experience it at all. What looks like the absence of conscience, hiding behind a barrier of denial, coldness, blame of rage is shame. Since there are no healthy internal mechanism to process shame, it is directed outward. It can never be “my fault”.
Magical Thinking: They come to depend on their inner fantasies to insulate from an inner emptiness. This most toxic magical thinking is projection which Hotchkiss has smartly renamed as shame-dumping. They transfer what evokes shameful feeling in themselves to someone else.
Arrogance: Value is relative, not absolute; if someone else’s go up, theirs automatically goes down. If they are feeling deflated, they can reinflate themselves by diminishing, debasing, or degrading someone else.
Envy: Like so much else that goes on within the Narcissist, it is unconscious or denied, which makes it even more dangerous. These individuals only feel self-righteous contempt, which Hotchkiss writes is just another word for hate-Ouch!
Entitlement: “My feeling and needs are all that matter, and whatever I want I should get.” Hell hath no fury like a Narcissist denied.
Exploitation: The ability to empathize requires us to step outside of ourselves and tune in to someone else. Driven by shame and prone to rage, the Narcissist never develops the capacity to identify or even recognize the feelings and needs of others.
Bad Boundaries: Since they never developed a deep sense of Self, they are unable to recognize that others are not extensions of themselves. Others exist to meet their needs or may as well not exist.
Hotchkiss goes into the making of the Narcissistic personality. Narcissistic behaviors are normal for the first two to three years of life. We are meant to outgrow this stage, but we need the help of parents who can tolerate us and love us while we get to the other side. When this doesn’t happen, we can get stuck in, failing to complete the separation-individuation which leads to the narcissistic personality.
Hotchkiss also addresses Survival Strategies: Know Yourself, Embrace Reality, Set Boundaries and Cultivate Reciprocal Relationships.
Overall, Why is Always About You? Is a good guide recognizing this personality. I would like to know more about how to spot these people in advance, as once you are in their clutch, it can be a lifelong unhealthy relationship. Hotchkiss does provides some tools for when you can not disentangle yourself; a child or a parent. A recommended read as with our Narcissistic Society, you need to recognize and escape them and them BEFORE you get involved. They don’t change.
Wendy Terrie Behary LCSW and "The Object of My Affection Is in My Relection", by Rokelle Lerner. All three books are well worth reading if you are trying to learn how best to interact with the people in your life who are self absorbed as well trying to find out why they are the way they are and understanding them better..