“Rethinking Narcissism” As a Spectrum For All: A Book By Craig Malkin

Do you find it as hard as I do to find one consistent and reliable definition of narcissism? Psychologist Craig Malkin guesses you do—and tries to clear things up for us in Rethinking Narcissism: The Bad–and Surprising Good–About Feeling Special.

As stated by Kirkus Reviews, “That word, he says, is used so much that its meaning has become ‘alarmingly vague,’ synonymous with selfishness and self-aggrandizement. Even among psychologists, the ‘slippery and amorphous’ term can refer to ‘an obnoxious yet common personality trait or a rare and dangerous mental health disorder’.”

“The truth is,” states the Rethinking Narcissism blurb, “that narcissists (all of us) 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.”

Publishers Weekly elaborates on Malkin’s conceptualized spectrum:

…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.’

If you’d like a deeper sense of Malkin’s views on related topics, the following articles will help:

Selected Book Reviews

Peggy Drexler, PhD: “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.”

Dr. Sue Johnson“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.”

Kirkus Reviews: “[Dr. Malkin’s] reassuring tone and plethora of case histories offer considered advice and generous encouragement.”

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