My books have helped thousands to step back, and away, from the damaging effects of a narcissistic person, whether it’s a present-day relationship or one that has haunted them from the past. Now, they may help you, too.

Narcissist ruining your life?

Maybe you love one. Or work for one. Maybe you’re related to one. Or were raised by one. Whatever the relationship, you’ve likely been hurt by the narcissist in your life.

As we move toward “The Days” (Mother’s Day and Father’s Day) I wrote a piece for about looking back across the family life cycle as a way to understand, holistically, the narcissist/narcissistic dynamic.

I started thinking about the issue of aging, and how the individual roles shift as family members get older. And I started thinking that age and intellect do not alone make the pain go away. In a way, as I write over at, it’s actually feeling the sadness and synthesizing it that can help make what feels like ingrained pain begin to finally subside.

I go into more detail about it in the book, When Your Parent Is a Narcissist, using Erikson’s stages as a framework for exploration. In the meantime, have a look at the post if you are so inclined.

This article by Eleanor Stanford in the New York Times titled 13 Questions to Ask Before Getting Married is simple and terrific.

I receive a lot of letters from readers. Many are from spouses of individuals they say are narcissists and most are filled with heartache. It’s not uncommon (at all) for people not to realize the depth of the disease until after a union. While these questions and their answers are no guarantee that the person in front of you won’t cause heartbreak, looking for clues in their answers–and how you feel receiving those answers–can be a good start in determining if the union should move forward.

Read the article by clicking here.


To get attention, the narcissist parent says whatever it takes, often contradicting him/herself and leaving the young child confused. These are things that a narcissist parent might say to a child–not only an adult child but to a young child as well (parentheses indicated unsaid thoughts):

  • No one loves me (you better).
  • I’ll always be alone.
  • You constantly disappoint me.
  • You never disappoint me. You’re the only one who doesn’t.
  • No one appreciates me.
  • You don’t appreciate me.
  • At least you appreciate me.
  • You’re so greedy. You take everything for you. What about me?
  • This is not the life I wanted.
  • Grow up (and pay attention to me).
  • All the hard work is mine.
  • We’ll always have each other (but what I really mean is…you better not leave me).

Book #3 is…finally here!

When Your Parent Is a Narcissist: Uncovering origins, patterns, and unconscious dynamics—to help you grow and let go

Thank you, readers, for all your emails asking when it would be here (and your patience).

In this book I set out to explore, distill, deconstruct and demystify the complex and convoluted relationship between the narcissist parent and child. The examination of the dynamic starts at birth (yes, birth) and extends into older adulthood.

This book is as much about examining obvious patterns as it is about exploring “un-textbook” manifestations of the dynamic.

Every parent is different. Every child is unique. But when the parent is a narcissist, there are patterns and behaviors that are particular to how they relate to their child and can set the stage for how the child’s self image develops. The dynamic is convoluted. As with my other books, I’ve tried to make the explanations as clear and direct as possible, using simple, ordinary language…to help you grow and let go.

During any political season we see MANY personality traits on parade.

In this New York Times piece, Robert Klitzman, a professor of psychiatry and the director of the bioethics master’s program at Columbia University, ask if therapists should analyze and publicly “diagnose” these candidates.

He begins when a journalist asks him what he thinks (from a psychiatrist’s POV) of one of the leading candidates and goes on:

“Many psychologists have been quick to offer diagnoses, calling him and other presidential candidates “narcissists,” and even providing thoughts about possible treatments.

I wondered what, if anything, to say. I’ve watched [the candidate] on TV like everyone else, but never met him. So, I hesitated — for ethical reasons. The American Psychiatric Association (A.P.A.) prohibits its members from giving professional opinions about public figures we have not interviewed.

Read the rest of: Should Therapists Analyze Presidential Candidates?


There is a fascinating discussion about narcissist spouses and divorce over at the New York Times Well blog. The title of the article is Divorcing a Narcissist. The article and interview is quite interesting, too. Once of the questions that Tara Parker Pope asks of author, therapist Karyl McBride, author of Will I Ever Be Free of You? How to Navigate a High-Conflict Divorce from a Narcissist and Heal Your Family is:

Q: In a divorce, everybody is hurt and angry. How is a divorce from a narcissist any different?
A: The narcissist doesn’t get over it. Other people are hurt and angry and go through their own divorce adjustment, but they tend to move on and get over it. The narcissist will continue to try to blame their partner and harm their partner. They do it by these long, extended, contentious divorce cases that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The answer is painful and it’s very very true. Knowing the truth, being dedicated to the truth can help a person cope more effectively.

The comments section of this brief interview are filled with chilling remarks. Hundreds of individuals recount the lengths they went to deal with the divorce of the narcissist. Reading the comments alone may be helpful to some because they reinforce the feeling that you are not alone.

Here is the link to Well: Divorcing a Narcissist [NYTimes].

As I prepare my third ebook: The Narcissist Parent: Sanity and Survival for Self-Care This compelling essay from the New York Times Opinionator/Couch column, written by psychotherapist Orna Shachar, caught my eye. The author does an incredible job of capturing one of the ways the narcissistic parent affects the child and how the child, now adult, “is” out in the world. In this case, how he is with his therapist. Of course, the case of “Daniel” is not everyone’s experience who grows up with a narcissistic parent, but the author does such pitch perfect job of describing the loneliness and fear:

I think to myself that this hate is his essence. It keeps him alive, intact. Without this hate he is impotent and dead.

…and later, this:

I do not typically read comments, but I found myself reading these. Several people asked if the piece was fiction; others found it amusing. More were baffled, like this dynamic couldn’t possibly be real.

If you’ve been deeply affected by a narcissist you know it can play out this way. Likewise, you also know that the wounds manifest differently, too:  where you are the one who is the object of the hate but instead of internalizing and lashing/acting out (like Daniel), you only internalize.

Yes, the wound is there. But so is the potential to heal.

I used to run a program for older adults, and also saw many, many patients at the end of their lives. Very often I ended up working with their adult children instead. Many of these adult children felt extreme amounts of guilt because they weren’t doing enough to help their parents when, in fact, they were doing more than most people do for themselves.

Often, the parent, unwittingly, seemed disapproving of the adult child, shooing them away, labeling them needy or—always worse—controlling. Sometimes the parent was very ill and, so, very angry at the adult child for dealing with the reality of the situation. Sometimes the parent was not so ill and, so, if the adult child did not pay the attention to parent wanted, the parent grew snippy and ornery. Once the comments were out of the bag, the parent seemed to feel better, as in lighter, as in happier. But the adult child felt worse. The adult child also felt worse even when the parent boasted about how great their son or daughter was at meeting their every need. Go figure.

A parent’s illness signals a reminder that we are not children anymore—that the wounds we got as kids—inflicted by parents, sometimes intentionally, oftentimes not—are still with us and feel like they define us without our even realizing it. This happens in all aspects of our lives, but the original relationship with our parents is most poignant because that’s often where the patterns begin to define us.

You’re probably already doing this, but if you’re not, why not invite yourself to stand apart from the parent who criticizes…and even the one who fawns. This has nothing to do with love or caring, but rather how to define oneself. What does it feel? It might be a subtle feeling, something almost non-feel-able, but if you focus long enough, you’ll notice a slight shift, if only for the moment. Perhaps it feels like freedom?

Now consider your parent. Is he or she emotionally dependent on you? If so, it can be breathtaking to realize how dependent they not only are—but always were…on you as a child, a little kid.

Shifting your perspective just a bit can help you as a caregiver gain compassion for yourself and your parent, no matter how “close” or “un-close” you are.

This post first appeared at as Caring For The Parent Who Doesn’t Care For You:Perhaps there is a new way to view the relationship so it doesn’t hurt so much.

Look for my new book about coping with narcissistic parents, available late 2015.

I’m forever noticing ways how narcissism presents, and looking for examples to share to help people view the disorder in a slightly different way to view the disease more holistically.

This book review by Maureen Corrigan, NPR book critic, of Harper Lee’s newly released novel Go Set a Watchman (GSAW) is a good find for exactly this.

GSAW follows the main characters—Scout and Atticus, mainly, in the decades after her classic To Kill A Mockingbird (TKAM) ends.

It’s the Atticus character, based on this reviewer’s notes, who I want to call your attention to.

Ms. Corrigan writes:

“He’s like Ahab turned into a whale lover or Holden Caulfield a phony.”

Literary criticism (and un-fleshed out drafts) aside, this struck me as an example of how an individual with narcissism behaves. The change in persona is key. Usually we think of narcissists changing to look better, but the Atticus self in the earlier TKAM is far more ethical, humane. It would be easier for us to understand if his nasty self came first, followed by the adaptation of a socially approved mask, wouldn’t it?

But using this thesis of false self without presuming a linear, foward-moving trajectory, the TKAM Atticus might have been showing his false self and the GSAW Atticus might be showing his truer self (based on his anger, which is something that is present but shunned and split off/disowned in the disease).

Perhaps, if we view GSAW as a continuation of TKAM, then Atticus, the narcissistic individual, has been unable to keep up the mask of goodness he projected, and, in older age, is revealing who is truly is. Is he self-destructing? Will he find another persona to step into?

What does this do to Scout? To their relationship?  To her belief in his ideals? To her belief in herself?

All this is hypothetical because this is fiction, but it’s a very useful lesson in narcissism.

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