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Trapped in the Mirror: Adult Children of Narcissists in Their Struggle for Self
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Trapped in the Mirror: Adult Children of Narcissists in Their Struggle for Self

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  877 ratings  ·  91 reviews
In this compelling book, Elan Golomb identifies the crux of the emotional and psychological problems of millions of adults. Simply put, the children of narcissist -- offspring of parents whose interest always towered above the most basic needs of their sons and daughters -- share a common belief: They believe they do not have the right to exist.

The difficulties
Paperback, 272 pages
Published March 28th 1995 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 1992)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  877 ratings  ·  91 reviews

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Ryan Holiday
The idea that this author is in any way justified in writing a book on healing or conquering narcissism is laughable. The book is filled with countless examples of her own insanity--like the time she cracked her skull and insisted on seeing an Eastern meditative healer instead of a doctor. Of course, her parents intervention was proof of their narcissism.

This is a fascinating topic but an awful book. Most of the anecdotes come from group therapy that she ATTENDED instead of led. The book bills
Apr 28, 2010 rated it did not like it
"You know you're an idiot!" I'm talking to the face in the mirror. If you haven't already decided that I am indeed an idiot, some of you may now be thinking that a narcissistic parent is responsible for my "powerfully self-hating negative inner parent"(55) -- also known, by those who worship at Our Lady of Jargon, as "negative introject"(55). Well, forget about my poor old mother, who happens to be narcissistic; and accept this explanation for my self-deprecation: I bought Elan Golomb's book; I ...more
Paul King
Mar 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I would say this is fundamentally the most painful book I've ever read as it hit me so personally about my own upbringing. The truths about the particulars that children of narcissists suffer are a daily struggle for me. What a wonderful gift that Golomb has given - even if not every idea works for you, it gives a group of very lost souls a means to navigate the emotional holocaust that is so often at play.
I found various insights worth noting here and there but I became too bored with the content to continue after I'd read 50% of the book. I won't be picking it up again and officially put it on my DNF pile.

The delivery of the text is pretty dry and the book is organized in a way I didn't like. As the authors explains the characteristics of a narcissist and the different behavior profiles that manifest in their children she continually inserts herself into the text, "I", "me", "my friend", "my
Linda Robinson
Apr 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another first - I picked this book up before lunch, and read it through my meal, sat in the car reading in my parking lot, and now have finished it in my favorite reading chair, without taking off my coat. There are a couple of reviews I read here that are my reactions as well. The book is cross-eyed hard to get into, but I think this is because the subject matter is difficult, especially for someone who had narcissistic parents. There's not much sense to be had in that brand of childhood. But ...more
Sep 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, 2017
The first half was useful. The second half started to veer off into stories that got more and more far off the beaten path. So I'm stopping at 67%. I'm glad I read this. I needed it. I learned a lot about myself.

p. 28 "The narcissistic parent’s principle, “You don’t count,” means the child’s effort to be seen as an individual is worthy of consideration, if only for trying to understand that her problems are felt by the parent to be an act of treason. The child’s move toward autonomy is greeted
Jul 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: extra-curricular
I'm giving up on this one half way through. What I hoped would be an exploration of adult manifestations of surviving (or trying to survive) a narcissistic family system (or parent), is actually an inarticulate series of caricatures of destructive individuals that, despite the reality of their situations, seem more like titillating psyhco-drama than explanatory case studies. Golomb manages to be both flippant and melodramatic, all the while making sweeping generalizations but failing to present ...more
Moss 慈映夢図
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Don't overlook this thinking that the content is bound only to adult children of narcissists, there's actually a range of issues covered in the book that will likely resonate with anyone still reeling from the contemptible actions of others from their past. Obviously your mileage may vary depending on your personal circumstances but it's all very earnest.
David Winkler
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: my family and anyone else who suffers
Recommended to David by: One of my teachers
This is one deep and heavy book which forces one to look into the deep recesses of one's soul in order to wrestle with the damage familial pedagogy causes. In retrospect, we're all innocent and we're all to blame but instead of voicing the blame, shame, and guilt, we should recognize our introjected parents and realize that nobody can make us feel a certain way; we are our own person and we're in charge of our lives.

Before I could reason, I was indoctrinated into a cult, Christian Science, and
Dec 18, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Poorly organized, lacking in any clinical rigor, and simply troubling at times. This book was a hot mess. Given the author's creds, I thought this would have some research or scientific rigor behind it. Nope. It was much more akin to a memoir as it gave anecdotes from her own life along with many of her friends and colleagues. There is no doubt that the people featured in this book have endured rejection and pain at the hands of their parents, however it wasn't clear how much of it was due to ...more
Jessie Marie
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
I agree with those that found Trapped in the Mirror difficult going and time consuming to read because of the fact that it hits so close to home. I also agree that Golomb's tangents don't always work and are sometimes cumbersome. She reaches in all directions with her comparisons, to her own dreams, and once to a Mobius strip--it gets a bit sprawling.

But sometimes this manner really works for me, and allows me to remember experiences I've had myself, but through incorporating both intellectual
Mar 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
I'm torn between three and four stars. So many of the descriptions of certain emotions/behaviors in this book were so exacting for me that I wanted to pull out a highlighter, just to make the point abundantly clear to myself (people who know me and the way I treat books will be shocked at this urge... and will not be surprised to know that I resisted the highlighter). The confirmation of these emotions and actions and why I experience them is illuminating and gratifying.

On the other hand, many
Mar 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, nonfiction
(Recommended to me by my therapist). An excellent treatise on the influence of narcissistic individuals in those for whom abuse and negativity feels more like normal behavior than dysfunction. The author is a well-educated clinical psychologist who herself is the child of two narcissistic parents. Adeptly weaving her experiences with those of her friends, patients, and other individuals, she helps us to recognize the thought patterns and unintentional, automatic reactions to challenges that ...more
Aug 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is a very interesting book. It should be noted that every person is multifaceted, and reading this book gave me glimpses of insight into my own experiences throughout my life. While no one experience listed here fits perfectly into my own pattern growing up, there are shadows of patterns that I learned a tremendous amount from. It took me a little while to get through this book because it was very thought provoking for me. There are occasional swear words, so if you're sensitive to ...more
Michele Winship
Dec 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
For any child who has grown up in a home with narcissistic parents, this book provides real insight to the family dynamics that can create damage that lasts for a lifetime. Recommended by my therapist,Trapped in the Mirror allowed me to look from the outside in and understand more about my own family dysfunction.
Aug 03, 2014 rated it did not like it
This book was given to me by a friend who thought it was great. It didn't live up to my expectations at all. This is not a thoughtful piece of academic literature written by an expert in the field. It's definitely not a clear, thoughtful path to self-healing. It's a psychologically damaged woman writing about her scarring childhood and exposing the problems of her friends and relations as supporting evidence of her own personal theories. Some of the conclusions are just incredulous. A ...more
Jan 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2018
While you’ll find the occasional insight in this book, they are few and far between, and aren’t anything you couldn’t find in the multiplicity of online support groups for survivors of abusive parents. Further, these insights are buried so far beneath sedimentary layers of bad clinical practice, conjecture, countertransference, and bigotry (racism, homophobia/transphobia, fatphobia, sex-negativity), that it’s not worth the time or energy to read the book and unearth them. As a mental health ...more
Craig Bergland
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
Outstanding, but obviously triggered many reviewers!

After finishing this book, I am amazed by the number or reviewers who were critical of the format of the book, questioned semantics, disputed the author's credentials, and so on. The conclusion I have come to is that this book is spot on, and those who walked away from it for the aforementioned reasons were actually avoiding doing the work they need to do.

As the child of narcissistic parents, I saw myself and them throughout this book. I came
Aug 28, 2011 rated it liked it
This book was interesting. I read it because my stepdaughter asked me to. She said that in her opinion, her mother is a narcissist and the book is geared for the adult children of people with this condition. It makes me more compassionate as my stepdaughter has had many life problems which my husband and I have helped her with repeatedly. She is now doing well - holding a job, living on her own. It gives an interesting and a bit disturbing view of what her childhood may have been like and why ...more
Miss Scarlett
Sep 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
This book is self serving to the author. You can tell, and she even mentions, that she wrote it for herself, to deal with her narcissistic father. Because of this, you read personal accounts of her life. Which, at times, are off putting, but mostly, they are beneficial. It is striking how similar narcissists are. I recommend this book to anyone who had a narcissist parent.
Robin Adler
Disarming the Narcissist was more useful in terms of what to do when you have identified a narcissist in your life. Trapped in the mirror seemed like it was just a series of stories about narcissists.
Sep 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology-books
Insightful, personal, scientific, and deeply relatable delving into the reasons, motivations, consequences, and recovery related to being the child of a narcissistic parent. I'm stunned this author has not written more! She's shockingly personal while maintaining scientific fervor.
Aug 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Helpful information if you've ever lived with a narcissist person.
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fabulous....really fabulous book on such a difficult subject. Helped me a lot.
May 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
It is useful and insightful if you are delving into your self and has a personal history of disfunctional families.
Apr 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Written by a psychologist who had a narcissistic father. Helpful information and insight into how to recover from living with one or more narcissistic parents.
This book was very healing to read. I admire the author a lot for her generosity (on so many levels) in the writing of this book.
Nov 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
this book is written for adult children of narcisstic parents.
Venka Anderson
May 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2017
This book is annoying the crap out of me. I'm the child of a narcissist and I don't find narcissism around every corner and in every person I meet. I'm sure as hell not a complete victim or have endless addictions. I survived my life with mom - narcissism, paranoia and obsessive/compulsive disorders intact and fully engaged. I'll be thankful to be done with this. My therapist thought it would be comforting. Ha! If I met the author or any of her case studies, I'd hightail it to the nearest bleak. ...more
Nov 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book touched on some good thoughts about growing up as the child of a narcissist. Overall the book increased my self-awareness of my own struggles, particularly with perfectionism. I was struck by many similarities between my own childhood and the experiences depicted in the book.

However, the author's tone was at some points discouraging and unnecessarily gloomy. I disagreed with many of her opinions, and I don't feel that recovery is as difficult as she would make it out to be. I also
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“Often, her mate is the child of a narcissist, already indoctrinated to regard exploitation and disregard as love. Others lured by the narcissistic aura are those in whom healthy childhood exhibitionism has been repressed. . . . If the parent puts the child to shame for showing off, the need for attention gets repressed into the unconscious. Repression means that the need is not satisfied and continues to press for expression in the adult without her being aware of it. The repressed adult may select an exhibitionistic mate to achieve vicarious satisfaction.” 1 likes
“Children of narcissists emerge from this crucible with a common and most serious problem. They feel that they do not have the right to exist.” 0 likes
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