Help! I’m in Love with a Narcissist
Author: Steven Carter, Julia Sokol
Publisher: M. Evans & Company
Number of pages: 288
I started reading, Help! I’m in Love with a Narcissist, with the hope that I would better understand the situation that someone I love is in, and with the goal that I might be able to support her in more productive and healthy ways. Having finished the book, I feel that I really do better understand her situation (as well as I can from the outside) and that I am better equipped to offer productive and healthy support.
As I was reading the book and the stories of those relationships the book uses as anecdotes, I pictured my friend and her boyfriend over and over in the stories that she has told me and the effects I have seen played out in her life. If there had ever been a doubt that her relationship involved a toxic narcissist, that doubt had been removed by the time I was a third of the way through the book. While not every story was a reflection of her reality, the vast majority were situations I am familiar with.
The authors do a great job of giving examples of toxic narcissism and how it manifests in relationships, they show the red flags and warning signs in clear images that the reader cannot help but consider in their own life. A respectable amount of time is dedicated to the difference between narcissistic tendencies and legitimate toxic narcissism, caution is urged that you carefully weigh the behavior of a person against specific criteria before labeling them with such a weighted predatory title; at the same time the reader is cautioned not to excuse behavior that is harmful and damaging.
Above all, the authors strongly suggest the victim of a narcissist seek professional help through therapy and surround themselves with a loving support network that understands the dangers of the toxic narcissist.
The book doesn’t really teach the reader anything about narcissists that cannot be found in dozens of other places online or in similar books, I would venture to guess that anyone looking into this book has a fairly solid and accurate understanding of what a narcissist is, so there is nothing really new to be gained in that area. Where this book really succeeds is in the direction of the reader feeling not alone, validated and unashamed for things that have happened, attacks made at them by their victimizer.
As neither the toxic narcissist nor the other partner in the relationship, I was reading the book from a unique perspective that allowed me to consider my own behaviors and their connection to my own narcissism. I will admit, there were moments where I really felt I needed to think long and hard about the things I have done and behaviors that I exhibit. The book encourages the reader to reflect and spend some time in introspection, at the same time it reminds the reader that a true narcissist has no capacity for empathy, very limited capacity for truly loving another being and systematic patterns of behavior. So, while I may exhibit narcissistic tendencies (as we all do in varying degrees) there is a difference between my selfish habits and toxic narcissism.
For anyone that has the clarity of self and their possible toxic relationship, I highly recommend this book. It may not give you the answers that you want, but it will help you recognize the tools within yourself to be a healthier and stronger person than you seem to be right now. For those on the outside looking in, if you want to better understand both sides of a narcissistic relationships, the possible why’s and how’s, this book will allow you to truly empathize with both parties, even if the narcissist cannot do the same.