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Children of the Self-Absorbed: A Grown-Up's Guide to Getting Over Narcissistic Parents

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  775 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
Being a parent is usually all about giving of yourself to foster your child's growth and development. But what happens when this isn't the case? Some parents dismiss the needs of their children, asserting their own instead, demanding attention and reassurance from even very young children. This may especially be the case when a parent has narcissistic tendencies or ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by New Harbinger Publications (first published December 31st 2000)
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(showing 1-30)
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Juanita Shenkman
I liked the book and found it very helpful in identifying maternal narcissism. Unfortunately this book advocates that the adult child put up with the abuse because the adult will never recognize their own narcissistic and abusive behavior. Since they are unable to change, the best one can do is adapt and change to accommodate their abuse. For some that will not work. No-one should have to put up with abuse.
Mar 04, 2008 Gloria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book that changed my life in my forties. What more can I say.
May 07, 2015 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mental-health
I've read Children of the Self-Absorbed and Disarming the Narcissist and Children of the SA was far better. This book was a very practical approach to dealing with narcissistic parents as an adult. The first few chapters covered what narcissism is so those pieces are a bit repetitive if you've read any other books on the subject. Then, Brown teaches tools to combat (or rather, learn to ignore) the narcissistic parent. One of her best tools, I've found, is "Stop fantasizing that they will finally ...more
Sep 18, 2012 Lucimar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So....I bought this book to try to "understand" my mother and somehow (possibly) moved towards forgiveness. sometimes when reading a chapter I'd forget it started to read to get to know my mother, it sounded like I was reading about ME. Chances are, if you had a narcissistic parent, some of those qualities/habits/etc may show up in your personality too.

So, um...yeah =)
Daniel J DeMersseman
As I began reading, I quickly realized that it'd make a great drinking game to take a shot every time I ran across a typographical error but, fearing alcohol poisoning, I decided against it. Once I got past that and the sometimes-rambling, repetitive nature of the book, I realized it was really on point and wished I'd read it long ago when my mother had asked me to read the book, back when my father was still alive.

That said, as the book repeatedly mentions, therapy is your best option if this b
May 06, 2012 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even if your parents aren't certified narcissistic, this book is a great dose of reality for anyone whose parents are or were overbearing and tough to handle. It's a nice piece of advice and guidance about ushering your parents into "retirement" from parenting you and monitoring your life's happenings.
May 25, 2015 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read more than half of this book. Got a bit frustrated with it. It is full of writing or art exercises to, supposedly, help people with narcissistic parents. But after awhile, I started reading about exercises that I had absolutely no clue as to why they were even included in this book in the first place. The author seems a bit insulting by insinuating that just because your parent is "self-absorbed" that your are just as "self-absorbed" as well. Whereas, other books suggest that just because ...more
Jun 04, 2015 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think it's a great book for people who have trouble identifying their emotions. Also for those who have trouble with negative self talk and hatred, and who grew up with parents who had trouble with emotional management--but also those who just want to be better at emotional awareness in general. It's interesting, well-written and has exercises for the reader.

While reading it, I could find many unhealthy patterns and behaviors in people around me. It helped to develop a compassion for those be
If you already know you're the child of a destructive narcissist, you can skip to the third chapter and start from there. I was hoping to find helpful strategies in the healing process to recover from this type of relationship, but did not find much guidance there. I can't say it's to the fault of this book, though. Anyone who has had a destructive narcissist in their life knows there isn't much you can do but focus on healing yourself. There are numerous exercises to perform towards the end of ...more
Mar 06, 2009 Starlyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So far this is an excellant book. It talks about our family of origin and how that can effect you and what you take from that that effects your own life and that of YOUR children. Lots of exercises to do and valuable information to help you drop off the old baggage and create new self talk!!!

Very helpful excercises in this book. Very insighful!!
Aug 17, 2009 ksj rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
From the title, I thought this book would be more helpful than it turned out to be. The focus was too much on the narcissist and dealing with them effectively, when I'm looking to understand my empathic side better, to find ways to protect myself and give myself space. I wanted the focus more to be on the "child" rather than the "parent."
Dec 10, 2012 Sandy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
First half was alright, after that it digressed into a how-to fix-it book, which is denigrating to the depth of insight required to heal from narcissistic parenting.
Nick Scandy

Too repetitive and cheesy-self-help-ish. Could go for something a little more in-depth.
Jul 30, 2015 Andrea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: motherhood
In this book the author describes sixteen actions and attitudes of self-absorbed people. She describes ten negative beliefs of the wounded child. She suggests that many injured children exhibit self-absorbed qualities themselves which I thought was a bold statement considering the intended audience. She suggests ways to increase your own awareness of your defense mechanisms, actions and attitudes with the hope that awareness will bring positive change. She has lots of exercises for self ...more
May 27, 2014 Hemani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid introductory book for people who suspect that they may have grown up with narcissistic parent(s). There are a good number of lists to complete. I suspect the lists are beneficial to individuals who have never participated in long term therapy sessions or are at the early stages of their reflection on their relationship with their parents. For readers who are a bit more advanced in their understanding, the lists are tedious.

The homework assignments seem misplaced. The authors of this tex
Feb 15, 2013 Alisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is not really about narcissistic parents, it is a primer on narcissists, may they be your friend, partner, boss, et al. I don't want to malign my parents! For damage to be done, the narcissist must be a figure with power/sway/authority in your life.

It clearly details how to spot a narcissist, their tactics and how to avoid "catching" the devaluations that ensue.

Very clinical given the genre. The exercises -- if embraced -- are hooky but informative (I didn't do them). So, yeah, I rea
Missy J
Oct 25, 2016 Missy J rated it really liked it
Along with explanations, this book also includes some exercises, which the reader can complete in order to understand his/her situation better.

In the first half of the book, the author describes what DNP (destructive narcissistic parent) is and what symptoms you may have as an adult due to an upbringing with a DNP. The second half of the book focuses on methods to heal, how to become more self-aware and to become your self. I found some of the strategies quite useful.

Overall, what I got out of t
Rua Brithem
May 04, 2013 Rua Brithem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who have lived life feeling like they're always wrong.
Recommended to Rua by: Google
Shelves: reference
Eye-opening, heartbreaking, and empowering at the same time. I am an adult child of a narcissistic mother and have lived my life being told what to think, do, and say. Any deviation was to be called bad, or bitch, or useless, or have to her say to me face 'I wish you were a better person'. I'd always thought there was something wrong with me and had no clue that something could be wrong with her. This book opened my eyes.

Gives strategies for dealing with narcissistic parents and how to take care
Margaret Klein
Dec 20, 2015 Margaret Klein rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
This is a very interesting and compelling book with lots of exercises that can help identify parents who may have been narcissistic. It contains plenty of appropriate suggestions for seeking professional help beyond the book which are often missing in self-help books. Useful as well for identifying the repeating patterns from generation to generation within a family or with other leaders. The one critique would be that it doesn't provide any suggestions for if that parent maybe already deceased.
Sep 04, 2016 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up because my sister is very self absorbed and I was thinking of the effect it's had on my niece. However, whilst reading it, I realised for the first time that my depressed mother was actually self absorbed aswell! She was absorbed in her self pity and unhappy marriage etc etc. I realised by reading this book that it's not just the children of narcissists who get pushed to one side. It's also children of mothers with BPD.
Nov 05, 2012 Joslyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent information but I came away, nearly in a panic with the thought that I was going to turn out with NPD as well. Having read a few more books, I understand a lot more clearly that I may have some issues, but all is not lost and not everyone reacts by becoming self-absorbed and hateful themselves. Also, I can work to help myself. So, I could not rate this more than a three.
Marie Burns Holzer
A solid starter on how to cope add the grown child of a narcissist. I reread it as a refresher because it was straightforward and helpful, but feels like a primer on the subject. Great for those just starting to deal with this issue but a bit too simplistic for someone who needs guidance on the nuisances of navigating narcissistic parents.
Oct 07, 2015 Kerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An eye-opening book. Good for determining the degree to which affects from being raised by a narcissistic parent can linger and ways to deal with the parent if he/she is still a part of your life. While the book doesn't exactly seem to advocate continuing a relationship with the parent, it doesn't seem to acknowledge those who don't, either.
Jul 27, 2010 Warrior4 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this to better understand my stepchildren's dealings with their mother who is a narcissist. It was very interesting. I think my stepchildren could get much more out of this book than I could.
Nov 02, 2012 Wendi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't really learn anything new reading this book. It is a good read for anyone just starting out to explore this topic. I can see where it can be really helpful with someone struggling to change their life and have effective relationships with people who act in selfish ways.
Dec 16, 2010 Kate rated it liked it

a lot of this is common sense and I know already, the great thing is it tells you how you might have some of the same qualities or could be going that way and what reactionary behaviors can be and how that effects you and how to deal with these types of people.
Oct 23, 2012 Joanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Redefines the popular definition of narcissism, which is helpful to understanding people who exhibit this behavior. After reading I was much more able to recognize destructive behavior in order to avoid it.
Jun 13, 2011 Sky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book right on target. It was a bit too
broad to really solve any issues, but still gave
useful pointers. Like the beginning of a trailhead.

I feel like I could read it in a year and get something
new out of it.
Aug 07, 2010 Jennifer rated it it was ok
Mostly skimmed through the book, doing only some of the exercises. Thought it was interesting seeing myself and my family in it. It's a good support for when you're finding it difficult to deal with a narcissistic person. I'll probably pass it on in the family.
Oct 01, 2014 Karin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this book is beneficial to anyone really. It is very self reflective and not finger pointing and blaming of others. Good self examination exercises. We all can do with some self examination in life. It can't be everyone else's fault can it ? No.
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Nina W. Brown, Ed.D., LPC, is professor and eminent scholar in the Educational Leadership and Counseling Department at Old Dominion University. An expert on narcissism's effects on relationships, she is the author of ten books, including Children of the Self-Absorbed, Working with the Self-Absorbed and Whose Life is it Anyway?
More about Nina W. Brown...

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“Catching others’ feelings is why some people think that they have too much empathy; they are overly sensitive to others’ feelings and as a result can feel taken over, manipulated, conned, and so on. Sufficient boundary strength permits you to be empathic without experiencing the negative effects. Until” 1 likes
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