Monday, August 31, 2009

Disarming the Narcissist - Surviving & Thriving with the Self-absorbed by Dr Wendy T Behary

This book answers my question: 'Why can't someone accept another's difference?'  Dr Wendy Behary 'carved her niche' [her own words] as a therapist specialising in dealing with narcissists. I'm quickly drawn to her unique application of words that makes the hard task of addressing 'victims' of narcissist at once familiar and amusing in its familiarity. It's like picking up the phone and hearing from a longtime friend who knows so much so deep. In the 'Introduction', she describes a childhood pasttime that somewhat reflects mine: varociously devouring the dictionary, writing poems, and being enthralled by the infinite brushstrokes of words to bring different expressions to life.

Descriptions like 'alluring and appalling', and 'luminous and dusky' present the ever paradoxical interplay of personas or schemas within a narcissist. They are definitely not ordinary people - many are illusionists, larger than life, comfortably grandiose about what they mean to the world around them and totally oblivious to ordinary mankind.

The book describes typical behaviour of those clinically diagnosed as 'narcissists', so it doesn't really apply to the casual or occasional narcissist that is in all of us! These are the perennial narcissists - so good at it, it's even hard for casual friends or business associates to point them out! But those who have spent time living or working with narcissists will quickly find themselves in the book. I find it tremendously helpful for those who have to co-exist with narcissists to learn how not to fight, flee or freeze. Really quite empowering if one can turn away from these knee-jerk responses! At the end of the day, the author is firm about this as a thriving mechanism: integrity of heart and character towards a narcissist. She does not condone victim or martyr mentalities in dealing with narcissists.

Where you can get it: Kinokuniya S$30.15; National Library
Level of impact: Vindicted and empowered to co-exist with the narcissists in my life
Timing of book: Long overdue