In the tradition of The Sociopath Next Door, clinical psychologist Joseph Burgo’s The Narcissist You Know is a “clear, easily digestible” (Kirkus Reviews) guide to help you identify, disarm, and coexist with extreme narcissists.
In today’s social media and selfie-obsessed culture, we are living in an age of narcissism—and a society that often celebrates this potentially harmful trait rather than understanding it as a psychological disorder. Scientists are beginning to learn that narcissism exists on a spectrum—much like autism—and most of us exhibit some mild narcissistic tendencies. But one in twenty people fall into a category the author refers to as Extreme Narcissism, in which these self-absorbed characteristics result in destructive behavior that harms not only the individual but everyone around them, including friends, family, and coworkers.
With more than thirty years of experience studying personality disorders and treating extreme narcissists, Dr. Joseph Burgo has developed a useful guidebook to help you “spot narcissists out there in the wild” (Glamour) and then understand and manage the narcissistic personalities in your own life. Relying on detailed profiles, vignettes from the author’s practice, and celebrity biographies, The Narcissist You Know offers easy-to-understand tools and solutions you can use to defuse hostile situations and survive assaults on your self-esteem should you ever find yourself in an extreme narcissist’s orbit.
Psychologist Burgo presents an involving, if not always credible, study demonstrating that narcissism is more than just mirror-gazing taken to a pathological extreme. The idea that we are all narcissists is a commonplace, but he seeks to more critically define the many forms the condition can take and, accordingly, the many ways in which we can confront it. Burgo compiles and organizes his chapters by different "brands" of narcissist (seductive, grandiose, know-it-all, vindictive), and though he draws on research and theory, his main evidence comes from cases he treated as a practicing psychologist, presented to the reader compellingly and without jargon. He also turns to cases that are famous in their own right or that involve celebrities, which add to the narrative's entertainment value but seem less scrupulous as evidence. Indeed, narcissism as it is employed here seems a suspiciously flexible term, sometimes referring to behaviors that could be explained in other ways. Readers may also be left wondering how neatly the narcissists they know fit into Burgo's prescriptive categories. Nonetheless, this book does offer lessons in self-criticism guidance that is of undeniable value, whether sparked by narcissism or not.