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

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They've been called "parentified children." What these millions of adults have in common is that they grew up with immature, self-absorbed parents parents who made their own children responsible for their physical and emotional well-being, who expected admiration and constant attention, and who reacted with demeaning criticism and blame when anything went wrong or their sl They've been called "parentified children." What these millions of adults have in common is that they grew up with immature, self-absorbed parents parents who made their own children responsible for their physical and emotional well-being, who expected admiration and constant attention, and who reacted with demeaning criticism and blame when anything went wrong or their slightest need went unattended. Psychologist and author Nina Brown has labelled the underlying process at work here the destructive narcissistic pattern (DNP). Children of the Self-Absorbed helps readers sort out what happened to them as the result of a destructive childhood living with a self-absorbed parent. Through challenging self-exploration exercises, Brown helps readers to work toward building healthy self-esteem and to develop a new repetoire of protective and coping strategies. Readers learn how to identify destructive patterns that their parents may have had, evaluate attitudes and behaviors that may be hampering their own adult relationships, deal with self-doubt and other negative feelings, and explore techniques and stragegies for rebuilding their confidence and self-esteem.


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They've been called "parentified children." What these millions of adults have in common is that they grew up with immature, self-absorbed parents parents who made their own children responsible for their physical and emotional well-being, who expected admiration and constant attention, and who reacted with demeaning criticism and blame when anything went wrong or their sl They've been called "parentified children." What these millions of adults have in common is that they grew up with immature, self-absorbed parents parents who made their own children responsible for their physical and emotional well-being, who expected admiration and constant attention, and who reacted with demeaning criticism and blame when anything went wrong or their slightest need went unattended. Psychologist and author Nina Brown has labelled the underlying process at work here the destructive narcissistic pattern (DNP). Children of the Self-Absorbed helps readers sort out what happened to them as the result of a destructive childhood living with a self-absorbed parent. Through challenging self-exploration exercises, Brown helps readers to work toward building healthy self-esteem and to develop a new repetoire of protective and coping strategies. Readers learn how to identify destructive patterns that their parents may have had, evaluate attitudes and behaviors that may be hampering their own adult relationships, deal with self-doubt and other negative feelings, and explore techniques and stragegies for rebuilding their confidence and self-esteem.

30 review for Children of the Self-Absorbed: A Grown-Up's Guide to Getting over Narcissistic Parents

  1. 4 out of 5

    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.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rua Brithem

    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 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 of yourself when under the thumb of them still in your adult life.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    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 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 get it." Additionally, Brown helps the reader to determine his own level of narcissism and to roll back any of the bad habits that may have formed. I listened to this on audiobook. In fact, it was my first audiobook and I highly recommend that version. The woman who read the book was so calming that even in those parts where Brown writes, "this might make you angry" I couldn't be angry because the narrator was so soothing. An added bonus!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gloria

    A book that changed my life in my forties. What more can I say.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lucimar

    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 =)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Daniel J

    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 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 book applies to you. And if this book applies to you, you'll likely know by the end of the first couple sections or so. of course, this book makes a good supplemental offering to therapy, especially, perhaps ONLY, if you're determined to follow the book's advice. Its advice is pretty sound on the whole, well researched, even.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    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 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 your parent is narcissistic, the children of such parents may or may not be. I'm guessing that in this particular book she assumes that children will become like their parents because of the "role modeling" aspect, or the concept of "the apple does not fall far from the tree". There were some aspects I did find interesting, like the "different types of narcissistic parents" as well as the responses that the children may make in reaction to their narcissistic parent.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    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 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 behaviors instead of an "AHA!" blaming attitude. I exhibited some negative behaviors myself and came to realize how hard it is to change them and how damaging they can be to one's self and one's relationships. It's one of those books I think should be required reading in school, especially in the field of psychology, business and behavioral therapy.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Monika

    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 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 themselves. (Side note: This book makes a great case for the use of singular "they". The constant use of "he/she" was distracting.)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    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.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Solita

    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 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 as evidenced by my reading (er, listening to) this, I am still trying to learn as much as I can, so I can be my best self.

  12. 5 out of 5

    MissAnnThrope

    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 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 the book. Not exactly what I was hoping for, but may be helpful to some.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    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.

  14. 5 out of 5

    ksj

    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."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    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.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    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 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 evaluation with one in Chapter 8 on ways to reduce self-absorption. I thought the book was rich in ideas for evaluating the problem of being wounded. While I thought the exercises were interesting, I feel that self reflection isn't always the most effective tool in combating low self esteem and negative beliefs. After finishing my first read of the book I wasn't sure the book had much to say about narcissism but in reviewing the course of the authors ideas I see that she speaks to the child about the child's self and leaves the parent pretty much out of it. This is an unusual way to approach the subject of narcissism. The ideas in the book were about 50% relevant to my own experience and I felt that some of the ideas were one-sided meaning that they covered the positive symptom but not the negative or reverse symptom. I learned a lot about the ideal of charity from this book. Paul's description in 1 Corinthians 13 talks a lot about what charity is not. This book describes in lots of detail how loving relationships cause soul wounds and there is a strong correlation to what Paul is talking about in his letter.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Davyne DeSye

    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. Wow. 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. Wow. What a book. Having heard for years about the behaviors of the parent, I was absolutely shocked to discover that this book seems to have been written about this particular parent – the behaviors, speech patterns, etc., uncannily fitting to a tee; so much so, in fact, that I found myself wondering if this parent had been secretly recorded or observed in the preparation of the book! And yes, my friend showed a lot of the insecurities that develop when a child is raised by a destructively narcissistic parent. The best part of the book (outside of describing the destructive behaviors of the parent and defense mechanisms of the child) is that it is all about setting boundaries, strategies for maintaining a less destructive relationship and healing. Healing. I love that. I highly recommend this book to anyone suffering from the aftereffects of being raised by a narcissistic parent and/or anyone who wants to learn more about the aftereffects so that you might be of some help yourself.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Missy J

    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 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 this book are the terms and wordings. Nina W. Brown found the exact words to describe what I went through. I took down a lot of notes, even though it was a difficult read. I do recommend this book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Starlyn

    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!!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    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.

  21. 4 out of 5

    April

    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.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bita

    There was really nothing in there that I didn't know. It gave advice about how to not become self-absorbed yourself. However, there was one thing on there that no other book I have read had it and it is very true: the self-absorbed parents never change or admit they are wrong, do not try to do it!!!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alison Whiteman

    I picked this book out of a pile of free books. Times have changed since its publication, but it doesn't hold up to the test of time. The book really is about having a narcissistic parent, but the term this author uses is "destructive narcissistic parent." I got lost in the formatting. There are quizzes and again, time has passed and this is the first-time I have even encountered the term "destructive narcissistic parent." I thought this might give insight into the current times when narcissism I picked this book out of a pile of free books. Times have changed since its publication, but it doesn't hold up to the test of time. The book really is about having a narcissistic parent, but the term this author uses is "destructive narcissistic parent." I got lost in the formatting. There are quizzes and again, time has passed and this is the first-time I have even encountered the term "destructive narcissistic parent." I thought this might give insight into the current times when narcissism is being discussed almost daily because of our current President. I was disappointed.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rick 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 Gottfried

  25. 5 out of 5

    John O

    Good beginning insight into Narcissism in parenting and the wider world.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Em

    Get the crayons out! You'll need them for the drawing exercises that take place on every other page... Some good parts, but I take issue with the "need" to develop "healthy adult narcissism". That's not a thing. Narcissism is not healthy; self-respect, boundaries and confidence are. It was weird that it was assumed everyone will continue to have contact with their narcissistic parents. Nothing about cutting contact and dealing with that. I also found it offensive that the book kept repeatedly trea Get the crayons out! You'll need them for the drawing exercises that take place on every other page... Some good parts, but I take issue with the "need" to develop "healthy adult narcissism". That's not a thing. Narcissism is not healthy; self-respect, boundaries and confidence are. It was weird that it was assumed everyone will continue to have contact with their narcissistic parents. Nothing about cutting contact and dealing with that. I also found it offensive that the book kept repeatedly treating the reader like they're also a self-absorbed narcissist who's horrible to be around and oblivious to others. A lot of people who deal with narcissists are the opposite -- too sensitive to the feelings of others, too eager to please, too quick to self-reflect and blame themselves. It was definitely appropriate to bring up the possibility of "narcissistic tendencies" and strategies to address them, but constantly repeating "you definitely have narcissistic tendencies and are self-absorbed and no one likes you" didn't seem that helpful.

  27. 4 out of 5

    M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews

    This is a pretty good book for children of narcissistic parents. There is a checklist in the first chapter for you to match to your parent's behavior to help determine if they have NPD. The rest of the chapters cover a variety of subjects such as types of parents, abuse, sets of behaviors, and how a narcissistic parent could have impacted your own behavior in negative ways (there are checklists for that too) The checklists are easy to follow, understand, and add up scores for, and I actually fou This is a pretty good book for children of narcissistic parents. There is a checklist in the first chapter for you to match to your parent's behavior to help determine if they have NPD. The rest of the chapters cover a variety of subjects such as types of parents, abuse, sets of behaviors, and how a narcissistic parent could have impacted your own behavior in negative ways (there are checklists for that too) The checklists are easy to follow, understand, and add up scores for, and I actually found all of these to be handy in my thinking process. Some of the 'assignments' here require paper, markers, and etc. I will be honest, I didn't do any of these, but I did the checklists and self-assessments. I can honestly say I learned some new things from this book. It's not the end-all book on this subject, but I think the chapters were well-organized and the checklists actually helps one to make a fair assessment of the situation.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alisa

    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 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 read every line of the 1/2 of the book and skimmed for the meaty parts for the remainder when she discusses tactical approaches to "healing." She is smart and a clear writer who isn't full of herself....befitting.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Hemani

    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 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 text would have done better to engage in a wholesale analysis of narcissistic parents and the effects of that complex personality type on family dynamics for children and the adults they eventually grow up to be.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Klein

    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.

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