Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Identifying and Understanding the Narcissistic Personality

Identifying and Understanding the Narcissistic Personality

by Elsa Ronningstam

ISBN: 0195148738
ISBN-13: 9780195148732

From the Publisher

"Identifying and Understanding the Narcissistic Personality is the first integrated clinical and empirical guide to assist clinicians in their work with narcissistic patients. While many of us associate arrogance, haughtiness, vanity, selfishness, and even criminal behavior with narcissism, according to clinicians who study personality there are also many productive narcissistic people whose success in life is partially due to their ability to articulate a vision and lead others to follow." Now, Elsa Ronningstam presents a balanced, comprehensive, and up-to-date review of our understanding of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). She insightfully addresses the complicated matter of the etiology of NPD and provides practical criteria for its diagnosis. She broadens the reader's understanding of narcissism and explains the ways in which it ranges from personality trait, which can be productive, to full-blown disorder, which can be highly destructive. Through fascinating case vignettes, Ronningstam shows us the inner life of narcissistic people, revealing their inner tug of war between self-confidence and arrogance on the one hand and painful shame and insecurity on the other.

Doody Review Services

Reviewer: Nicholas Greco IV, M.S., BCETS, CATSM, CCRA (Abbott Laboratories)

Description: This book provides a needed exploration into a personality disorder where there has been a paucity of research as well as misinterpretations. The author separates pathology from functionality:in other words, from what is a productive personality trait to a full-blown disorder. This delineation is fascinating and highly informative.

Purpose: The purpose is to bridge the gaps between the psychoanalytic, psychological, and psychiatric studies and present a cohesive and integrated clinical and empirical guideline to assist clinicians in their work with narcissistic patients. The breakdown of healthy and pathological narcissism allows clinicians to have the needed differentiation to implement in their practice. The book exceeds objectives and is much needed.

Audience: Clearly, seasoned and young clinicians will benefit as well as academics and researchers. This would make for a good seminar course or as an add-on to graduate training. The author is well-versed and a leading authority in narcissism.

Features: As expected, a historical perspective of the disorder is introduced and supported by appropriate references. The discussion of "normal" narcissism in chapter 2 is intriguing and focuses on empathy, self-reference, control, power, etc. The chapter on differentiating pathological narcissism is a must-read for every clinician. I liked how the case vignettes help elaborate and provide a unique perspective on the material. The book is well written and solidly examines the material.

Assessment: Personality disorders, while always discussed and sometimes deferred on Axis II, do exist. Narcissistic personality finally is receiving the attention it deserves with this book. Readers should always be ready to expand their knowledge base with worthwhile information and this book will quite comfortably satisfy that need.