Rethinking Narcissism Book Summary - Rethinking Narcissism Book explained in key points
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Rethinking Narcissism summary

Craig Malkin

The Bad – and Surprising Good – about Feeling Special

3.7 (164 ratings)
13 mins

Brief summary

Rethinking Narcissism by Craig Malkin challenges the traditional view of narcissism as a purely negative trait.
He explores the spectrum of narcissism and provides tools to identify and manage healthy and unhealthy levels of this personality trait.

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    Rethinking Narcissism
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    Narcissism has been debated since ancient times.

    You’re probably familiar with the myth of Narcissus – the extraordinarily handsome hunter, who, after shunning the mountain nymph Echo, fell in love with his own reflection in a lake and, unable to draw himself away, perished at water’s edge. Clearly, self-love has been a controversial topic since ancient times.

    Back in 350 BC, Aristotle asked whom the good man should love more: himself or others. Ultimately, Aristotle decided that the good man is he who loves himself most. If, a few centuries earlier, you’d asked Buddha the same question, you’d have gotten a very different response. He claimed that the self is nothing more than an illusion, and that it was best to love others.

    But it wasn’t until the early twentieth century that the word narcissism appeared for the first time, courtesy of Sigmund Freud. Freud claimed that, in order to establish meaningful relationships with others, a person must first fall in love with themselves. In a famous paper, On Narcissism: An Introduction, published in 1914, Freud theorized that infancy is the stage at which we fall in love with ourselves.

    As young children, we develop self-love after witnessing all the things we are capable of. According to Freud, this is a healthy and necessary step in our development. Without it, we’d fail to discover our own importance and would subsequently struggle to reach out to others. In this sense, self-love was a positive thing for Freud. But when it came to his view of human nature overall, he was decidedly pessimistic.

    Freud argued that humans are driven by aggressive and sexual instincts. Decades later, Heinz Kohut, an Austrian psychoanalyst, opposed this idea. Kohut believed that humans are driven by the need to develop a healthy self-image. So narcissism is central to Kohut’s theory. The love, admiration and consolation of those around us is what makes us feel special, allowing us to grow into confident, self-loving individuals.

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    What is Rethinking Narcissism about?

    Rethinking Narcissism (2015) provides fresh perspectives on what we typically understand as arrogance or vanity. These blinks situate narcissism both historically and culturally, explaining the spectrum of narcissism and its different forms; they also provide helpful strategies for recognizing and dealing with the narcissists you might know.

    Rethinking Narcissism Review

    Rethinking Narcissism (2016) by Craig Malkin is an insightful book that explores the complex topic of narcissism and provides a fresh perspective on understanding and dealing with it. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Offers a nuanced approach to narcissism, highlighting that it is not just a negative trait but also has positive aspects.
    • Provides practical strategies for dealing with narcissistic individuals in relationships, work, and everyday life, empowering readers to navigate these challenging situations more effectively.
    • Unveils the subtle signs of healthy and unhealthy narcissism, helping readers develop a greater self-awareness and better understand the people around them.

    Who should read Rethinking Narcissism?

    • Anyone interested in psychology
    • People with narcissistic partners and friends
    • Potential narcissists

    About the Author

    Craig Malkin is a clinical psychologist. He’s written articles about relationships for top publications, including Time and Psychology Today. Malkin is also the director of YM Psychotherapy and Consultation, which offers workshops in couples therapy.

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    Rethinking Narcissism FAQs 

    What is the main message of Rethinking Narcissism?

    Rethinking Narcissism challenges our understanding of narcissism and helps us develop healthier relationships.

    How long does it take to read Rethinking Narcissism?

    The reading time for Rethinking Narcissism varies, but the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Rethinking Narcissism a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Rethinking Narcissism is worth reading for its fresh perspective on narcissism and how it impacts our lives.

    Who is the author of Rethinking Narcissism?

    Craig Malkin is the author of Rethinking Narcissism.

    What to read after Rethinking Narcissism?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Rethinking Narcissism, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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