Harvard Medical School psychologist and Huffington Post blogger Craig Malkin addresses the "narcissism epidemic," by illuminating the spectrum of narcissism, identifying ways to control the trait, and explaining how too little of it may be a bad thing.
"What is narcissism?" is one of the fastest rising searches on Google, and articles on the topic routinely go viral. Yet, the word "narcissist" seems to mean something different every time it's uttered. People hurl the word as insult at anyone who offends them. It's become so ubiquitous, in fact, that it's lost any clear meaning. The only certainty these days is that it's bad to be a narcissist—really bad—inspiring the same kind of roiling queasiness we feel when we hear the words sexist or racist. That's especially troubling news for millennials, the people born after 1980, who've been branded the "most narcissistic generation ever."
In Rethinking Narcissism readers will learn that there's far more to narcissism than its reductive invective would imply. The truth is that we all fall on a spectrum somewhere between utter selflessness on the one side, and arrogance and grandiosity on the other. A healthy middle exhibits a strong sense of self. On the far end lies sociopathy. Malkin deconstructs healthy from unhealthy narcissism and offers clear, step-by-step guidance on how to promote healthy narcissism in our partners, our children, and ourselves.
This wide-ranging discussion aims to absolve narcissism of its negative reputation. Psychologist Malkin makes no attempt to rigidly define narcissism, instead expanding the term into one that encompasses many different meanings. Readers are presented with a range of features broad enough to include almost anyone. Malkin delves into the Greek myth of Narcissus, which inspires him to propose a new category of "subtle narcissists" he calls echoists. Supplementing fable with modern anecdote, he also addresses the more familiar subject of modern technology's influence on personality traits. Even if narcissism has come to be known as an affliction, it proves here to offer a range of adaptive benefits, collectively described as "healthy narcissism." An inset quiz allows readers to discover where they fall on narcissism's fluid continuum. Such a spectrum is perhaps too slippery: Malkin's newly liberal definition may make narcissism too flexible a term to be very useful. Yet this is, importantly, a book that will have readers rethinking themselves and, paradoxically, those around them.
all critical reviews
“[Dr. Malkin’s] reassuring tone and plethora of case histories offer considered advice and generous encouragement.”
“... a book that will have readers rethinking themselves and, paradoxically, those around them.”
“...gives us all a coherent way of talking about a much-discussed but often over-simplified and over-dramatized subject in these ‘look at me’ times.”
—Peg Streep, bestselling author of Mean Mothers: Overcoming the Legacy of Hurt
“[A] fascinating book.”
“A fresh approach to the way we regard one of psychology’s most complex conditions. In a book that’s persuasive, insightful, and never dry, Dr. Malkin offers the right mix of analysis and advice and presents compelling, ground-breaking evidence that narcissism is necessary-in the right doses, of course.”
—Peggy Drexler, PhD, Assistant Professor, Weill Cornell Medical College, author of Raising Boys Without Men and Our Fathers, Ourselves
“A gripping and sometimes terrifying book that will make you look anew at your spouse, your parents, your children, your friends, your enemies, your fellow workers and - perhaps most pertinently - your reflection in the mirror.”
—The Daily Mail (UK), "Book of the Week"
“Among all the books that have been published on the topic in the past 10 years, Rethinking Narcissism: The Bad - and Surprising Good - About Feeling Special stands out as a definite must-read.”
“Certainly one of the best books I’ve read this year. Don’t be fooled by the title.. this book is for anyone trying to better understand themselves and other people.”
—Todd Kashdan, PhD, author of The Upside of Your Dark Side
“Dr. Craig Malkin offers a surprising, accessible analyis of narcissism-and explains why a healthy dash of narcissism can be a good thing.”
—Gretchen Rubin, bestselling author of Better Than Before and The Happiness Project
“If you’re to buy just one book on narcissism, this is the one to purchase.”
—Leon Seltzer, author of Paradoxical Strategies in Psychotherapy
“In Rethinking Narcissism, Dr. Malkin reveals the surprising good news about narcissism, exploring the complexities of narcissistic traits and deflating popular myths. Most importantly, he shows us how to develop a healthy sense of narcissism and how to manage relationships with narcissistic partners, friends, colleagues, and family.”
—Dr. Drew Pinsky, author of The Mirror Effect
“Is there a narcissist in your life? Chances are, the answer’s yes-here’s how to spot them.”
“Malkin, a therapist and psychology instructor at Harvard Medical School, takes a more inspirational attitude...”
—New York Times Book Review
“Narcissists. They’re everywhere…Not according to Dr. Craig Malkin, whose new book suggests we’ve got it all wrong.”
—Sunday Times Magazine (London)
“Rethinking Narcissism brings much needed compassion and clarity to one of the most vexing problems in mental health without ever resorting to false hope or naivete. In that way, the book itself is special.”
—Tom Wootton, Huffington Post blogger and author of The Bipolar Advantage
“Thank you, Dr. Malkin, for saying what needed to be said and clearing things up for me. For all of us.”
“The book that protects you from narcissists...Is there someone in your life who’s hurting you and you just don’t know it? In this Harvard researcher’s illuminating, reads-like-a-novel-book, he reveals how to identify and repair your relationships to live with more fulfillment.”
—Oprah Book Club
“This is a true gem on the subject of narcissism.”
“This is an enthralling book. It takes the clichés of narcissism and unpacks them to help us understand and accept our human need to feel special while also coping with the dangers of self-absorption. It will become a classic.”
—Dr. Sue Johnson, author of Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships
Thank you for taking a hopeful approach
Very insightful and valuable research in this book, I really recommend that more people read it. It was hard to put down when I started, I had learned a lot. Thank you for taking a more hopeful approach, for advocating for change, and for doing good in society.
A very good read
I loved this book-so informative and easy to read. I’m not much of a reader and I had a hard time putting it down. Thanks Dr Malkin!