Friday, January 12, 2007

Narcissism: Denial of the True Self

Are you a narcissist? Do you interact with someone who is? Contrary to popular belief, narcissists do not love themselves or anyone else. They cannot accept their true selves, constructing instead fixed masks that hide emotional numbness. Influenced by forces in culture and predisposed by factors in the human personality, narcissists tend to be

• More concerned with how they appear than what they feel

• Seductive and manipulative, striving for power and control

• Egotists, focused on their own interests but lacking the true values of the self — self-expression, self-possession, dignity, and integrity

• Without a solid sense of self, which leads them to experience life as empty and meaningless

In this groundbreaking study, Dr. Alexander Lowen uses his extensive clinical experience to demonstrate how narcissists can recover their suppressed feelings and regain their lost humanity. By the use of Bioenergetic Analysis, the psychotherapy created by Dr. Lowen, a new possibility of a fulfilling and authentic life is presented for people with narcissistic characteristics and for those who interact with them.

Narcissism: Denial of the True Self
by Alexander Lowen
ISBN: 0743255437

Book Reviews:

Although another reviewer rated this book as a "1", I wonder whether we read the same book. We are, at least, very different readers. Perhaps for an academic, Lowen's discussion of narcissism might seem narrow. However, for the general reader, and especially for anyone who is fascinated (or tortured) by the paradox of self-destructive behavior, Lowen's analysis is revelatory. One does not have to accept BioEnergetic theory in general to conclude that Lowen has achieved some critical insights into the affliction known as "narcissism." Rather than the state of haughty self-absorption it is often made out to be, narcissism is in fact a form of slavery to a false image of the self. The theory that narcissism is actually a symptom of self-alienation, that can be relieved by bringing the sufferer back into contact with those portions of the self that he or she has banished, is most liberating. Lowen makes his points using understated, elegant prose that is more evocative of a collegial conversation than an argument. Highly recommended to anyone who has ever been baffled by behavior, whether of themselves or of a family member, reflecting a combination of gross insensitivity to others, intolerance of personal shortcomings, and a bewilderment at the seeming aridity of life itself. Lowen has gone a long way toward making sense of this suffering. - ""

If you are the victim of a narcissist in the first stages of learning about narcissism there are several excellent books available about this disorder that will be much more readable and more helpful to you. It is important that you not make this the one book you read on the subject. The very best book is by Sam Vaknin, who wrote a review of Lowen's book on Amazon. Vaknin's book is entitled "Malignant Self Love". Vaknin pulls no punches in telling the victim of the narcissist the facts of life: your narcissist does not love you, never has and never will. Things will not get better. Get out before you are abused further. Vaknin does not hold out false hopes that therapy will make it all better. Although of course all narcissists are not the same, their treatment of others ALWAYS follows very specific, very destructive patterns. Narcissists specialize in using lies and false encouragement to get others to do their bidding, and a narcissist is perfectly capable of going to therapy, manipulating the therapist, and using the experience to feed the disorder, not cure it. Lowen's work, on the other hand, seems to center on the narcissist as the victim of the disorder, minimizing the destruction caused to people in the narcissist's life. For that reason might be more encouraging and helpful to the narcissist himself, as opposed to the narcissist's family. There is good information in this book about the origins of the disorder. So if you are the narcissist, read this book. I'm sure it will help you to understand your disorder. If you are the victim of a narcissist, please don't take Lowen's book as a sign that you should stay with a narcissist and think the condition is treatable. Personality disorders are almost impossible to treat. - Sammy Madison