An ongoing survival guide.
The Reading List.
I have threatened in the past to include a relevant reading list for this guidebook.
This will be the first installment. Also, if anyone on the web has a suggestion not on this list, please email me. I would love to hear from you.
The list begins with Swiss psychologist Alice Miller. It was reading her book Drama of the Gifted Child while in graduate school that opened my eyes to my own past experiences and proved to be very influential to my career as a counselor. The original title of the book in German was Prisoners of Childhood, and I agree it is a far better sounding title than the American translation.
If I could sum up what this book offers for the first time reader, it would be a perspective on your childhood where the invalidation of your emotional life and the general toxicity of the environment around you are not—and never were—your fault or responsibility.
Miller wrote several books on the topic of children with narcissistic or emotionally invalidating parents. It is hard not to recommend everything by her, but I will leave it at these few:
Thou Shall not be Aware: An effective dismantling of Freud’s theory of childhood sexuality (think the Oedipus Complex), and a historical reinterpretation of what childhood really was like pre-20th century.
The Untouched Key: Tracing Childhood Trauma in Creativity and Destructiveness
For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence
Other useful books, not written by Miller, include:
Trapped in the Mirror by Elan Golomb. I highly recommend this. It is a very good overview of the spectrum of concerns that adult children of narcissists have to contend with. It was published in 1992, but still worth a read.
The Search for the Real Self by James Masterson. From 1988, Masterson, a professor of psychiatry discusses not only Narcissism, but Borderline Personality Disorder. It will be very hard to ever confuse the two after reading this book.
Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life by Linda Martinez-Lewi. I read this book just this year, and it is good enough, but not something I would suggest before reading Miller or Golomb. When I read this, it was very easy to read the author’s existing anger towards whatever narcissist she had/has in her life. That can be a little off-putting, and she sometimes goes over the top in describing narcissistic, grandiose behavior.
The Narcissistic Family by Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman and Robert M. Pressman. This is less a book for the general population than it is for other therapists to get a therapeutic perspective on how to treat adults with narcissistic familes. Not as a sassy at the Therapy is Dandy Guidebook to having a Narcissist for a Parent, but still an interesting read.
Daring Greatly by Brene Browne. This is a book I have not read but it was recommended to me by one of my office partners. I trust her suggestion and the Amazon blurb makes it sound compelling. I will be buying it soon and updating this list with my thoughts on the book.
It’s My Turn by Tina Fuller. I haven’t read this book either, but the author contacted me through email to tell me about this book. Tina writes about growing up with a narcissistic mother. It is only available on Kindle.
This list is by no means complete. It will be a work in progress. If you, my dear readers, have suggestions of your own, please let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org