The Object of My Affection is My Reflection; Coping with Narcissists, a Book Review
Janie had recently written an article mentioning dealing with narcissists, and I was in the midst of reading the book, The Object of My Affection is My Reflection; Coping with Narcissists, by Rokelle Lerner, as I have been experiencing clients getting “stuck” in old expectations as they do the deep work of healing t
There are no sources in the current document.heir inner child. Being raised by a narcissist or being in a relationship with one presents a plethora of roadblocks. And they are involved with people, as they need a constant supply, a host, or as Lerner writes, “a person or group of people who can provide perfect unconditional admiration and can focus on the narcissist’s need, to the exclusion of their own.” (Lerner) Unfortunately, people get involved with a narcissist long before the true colors appear.
When clients are working to make sense of the “script” of their past, I have encountered some obstacles as they continue to want their parents to have been nurturing, to give them what they needed and wanted as children (not material wants and needs but attunement, reciprocity, and attachment) and which they now seek in partners. However, “To narcissists, people are objects who exist only for their satisfaction”. (Lerner) These narcissists are masters of manipulations, are vain, and are usually actors putting on a show. They can be bright, witty and charming, and often as parents, use their children as “show pieces”. But when they are home, out of the lime-light, there is a sudden switch in personality, especially if the child does not give the attention and admiration the parent feels he/she deserves.
Now narcissists do need a “supply” to feed their egos, and this supply can be children, can be the spouse and can also be co-workers and friends who “buy” into the magical essence of the narcissist, at least for a while. Children who are raised by a narcissitic parent often grow up to be narcissits themselves, or pair with a narcissist, continuing the cycle. Most narcissists do no see their behaviors as abusive, “even when their reactions are explosive or violent-justifying their behaviors, which are discguised in altruistic motivations”. (Lerner) Narcissists do no have the ability to show remorse, although they can be “shape-shifters”, often playing whatever role is needed, even if it looks like remorse.
Lerner’s book talks about being the child of a narcissist, the spouse, or encountering one in the workplace. She shares anecdotes about narcissists in therapy, (which of course they are only coming to to help their partner), and especially about setting boundaries with narcissists. Because narcissists rarely share credit or take the blame, healing is very difficult, as they don’t accept feedback and are not open to re-direction, believing that they don’t need to change.
Most narcissists, according to Lerner, have a huge amount of shame underlying their obvious pathology, and if one can ever break through the ego veneer and address the shame, there is hope for healing of the narcissist. However, her book addresses in the 2nd half, about setting boundaries with narcissists, co-working with them in the workplace, and in living with them as partners. Healthy boundaries, she writes, are a “statement of dignity for yourself and others” while for narcissists, “Entitlement is the name of their game. (Lerner). If people are to thrive (take responsibilty for their healing) in relationships with narcissists, Lerner says there are 4 steps which must be taken: 1) set limits; 2) Make a request; 3) Take an action; and 4) Name the emotion. If people aren’t willing to take the action (leave the room, discontinue the conversation, etc.), then the narcissist stays in power.
The book continues with so many more great ideas for people who continually interact with narcissists and I will be sharing that, as well as the Personal Bill of Rights and tips on letting go and gaining perspective. The book is a great model for people who are ready to take responsibility, quit expecting healthy behaviors from unhealthy people, set limits and boundaries, and move forward in their growth.
Lerner, Rokelle. (2009) The object of my affection is my reflection, coping with narcissists. Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL.
Tags: in relationship with a narcissist, narcissist in the workplace, Raised by a narcissist
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
Licensed Professional Counselor
Advanced Clinical HypnoTherapist
- Deb England began working part-time for Wholeness Healing Center in September 2004 and began full-time in May 2005. Deb practices primarily in the Broken Bow office and one day a week in the Grand Island office. Previously she had completed her practicum and internship at Morning Star Alliance, working in the Broken Bow and Grand Island offices.
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