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

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  930 Ratings  ·  65 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 narciss ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by New Harbinger Publications (first published December 31st 2000)
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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.
Rua Brithem
May 04, 2013 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
Mar 03, 2008 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 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 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
Apr 30, 2015 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
Aug 22, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
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
May 06, 2012 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 22, 2015 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
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-tunein
There is some good info in this book, but overall it had a *very* narrow approach to dealing with narcissistic parents - it assumes the reader will continue to interact with them, and focuses on how to deal with those interactions. There's also an assumption that the reader has narcissistic tendencies as well, with lots of cheesy self-help exercises to address that. The book doesn't really focus on healing (the "getting over" part of the subtitle) unless readers are struggling with narcissism th ...more
Jul 15, 2013 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 evaluati ...more
Davyne DeSye
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have a close friend who is going through a crisis with their parent. Even though my friend is an adult, their relationship with their parent seems strangely skewed and is causing my friend a lot of anxiety. After talking to someone very knowledgeable about psychology, this book was recommended as something that might help my friend. Being a compulsive reader and genuinely worried about my friend, I thought I’d read it before passing it along, just to possibly gain some perspective myself.

Missy J
Jan 22, 2016 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
Apr 01, 2017 rated it liked it
I didn't read this, I listened to a recording. It made me tired. All those exercises. It seems to me an awful lot of work to continue a relationship with an abusive parent. It was helpful to have the nature of a narcissistic parent (mother, in my case) described. For me, NC (no contact) was a better choice. Sure, no family is perfect, but not all families are toxic either. Mine was. Lots of therapy, lots of readings, lots of thinking, analyzing and attempts to understand has helped greatly. And ...more
Jan 13, 2016 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.
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very informative and very insightful.

It felt very accurate in how it described me and my situation. Almost eerie at times.

It's a little dull, but that's to be expected in a book like this. It was also a little tough to read at times due to how accurate it was.

Either way, and informative book that was beneficial in my reading.
Dec 24, 2008 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!!
Apr 11, 2009 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."
Oct 31, 2012 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.
Feb 01, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am so glad to be done with this book. Some of the exercises were pretty good but mostly it just felt like busy work.
Nick Scandy

Too repetitive and cheesy-self-help-ish. Could go for something a little more in-depth.
John O
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self
Good beginning insight into Narcissism in parenting and the wider world.
Gottfried Sam
A Great book for me to learn more about exploring my own emotions, and grow. I really enjoyed the chapter about boundaries. A lot of times, I had to look into myself for my own behaviors and emotions. The takeaway from this book is that you need to prepare yourself for situations and how you would react. I remember one time when I was ready and prepared for a confrontation. I didn't feel enmeshed with feelings.

--Deus Vult
May 25, 2014 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
Jan 01, 2013 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
Margaret Klein
Jul 22, 2013 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.
It had sections and chunks that were useful. There was a fair amount of repetition, though. Many of the exercises instructed you to draw people or feelings, which felt rather childlike. I don't find drawing to be particularly useful, so I would have preferred a wider range of activities. Some of it felt like an ad for her other books. I did appreciate that she wanted the reader to move beyond the childhood damage and focus on changes they could make to themselves.
Oct 10, 2012 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.
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Some of this book was helpful, but in general, I found it to be more addressed to people who were raised by narcissistic parents and tend towards narcissism themselves. It wasn't really meant for people who reacted by fawning/being totally selfless in the face of parental self- absorption. And because of that focus, it felt the author assumed things about me that were patently untrue.
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  • Understanding the Borderline Mother: Helping Her Children Transcend the Intense, Unpredictable, and Volatile Relationship
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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” 0 likes
“Your parent is not open to your thoughts, feelings, and ideas; does not relate to or care about your feelings; does not feel a need to change anything about himself; and can become enraged that you think that he is less than perfect. You cannot win, or even make any inroads into your parent’s self-absorption.” 0 likes
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