Where do I begin? Maybe just saying that I love this book. I found it easy to follow, with a lot of information, explained in a way that is very clear to understand, full of resources and tools for healing, and with stories from other survivors.
I find the author to be remarkable. I believe Shahida Arabi to be a remarkable young woman. She’s a graduate of Columbia University and she also attended NYU. She’s published several books and she’s been featured in many news medias and magazines.
But leave her credentials aside, her book is full of insight and if you’re just taking your first steps into learning about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD,) this is clearly a book for you. I find myself going back to it from time to time. There is so much information in it and the writing is so clear that you do not have to be a psychologist yourself to understand.
Some people have complained about her repeating some things over and over again. After reading her book, I can see why they may feel that way. However, from my own point of view, I’m glad that she repeats some things time and time again. Why? Because if you’re reading this book while still in the NPD fog, your thoughts are so scattered that you can and you will forget important things for your personal healing and recovery, as well as understanding of this pathology.
Moreover, I’m sure that there are people who do not read books in the order they were intended. I’m sure some people glance at the table of contents and go straight to a particular chapter that catches their attention or that they think is what they need at that time. While Shahida’s book might be read like that, I don’t recommend skipping chapters since many of them build on the concepts covered in previous ones.
This is what you can expect to find in this book, from the table of contents:
- Recognizing the Narcissist – Explains what is narcissistic abuse, its causes, who is the narcissist and his or her false and true selves, who the narcissist targets, the abuse cycle, and more. I really liked the Essential Dictionary and the Narcissist Translator sections. The first one provides a list of common terms with the appropriate explanations. The latter explains the actual meaning behind many of the narcissist’s doings and actions.
- Your Brain on Love, Sex, and the Narcissist – Explains how our brain adapts and changes because of the trauma. For those of you who do not understand why you keep going back to your narcissist even after everything he or she has done to you, this section is for you.
- How to Heal from Narcissistic Abuse – Covers from trauma and the biochemical changes and how to revert them to alternative healing methods, even some I’m sure you have never heard of. Shahida has really tried many different things and she shares them with you so you can consider them, as well.
- The Game You Can Win – How to look at yourself, weaknesses and strengths, as well as those of the narcissist, so you can promote healing, recovery, understanding, and change
- The Journey of No Contact – Information on no contact with your abuser, as well as how to implement it and stick to it. There’s a section for those of us who are not going to be able to go full no contact due to the fact of sharing children. This section was by far one of my favourites in the book. It’s titled ‘Co-Parenting with a Narcissist by Kim Saeed.’ It confirmed what I already felt: There’s no such thing as co-parenting with a narcissist. It may not be as in depth as many of us parents would probably like it to be, but it’s more than enough to get you started on the right path when you are stuck having to share custody with your partner. Great advise. Feel free to jump straight to this section if that is the case with you.
- Pathological Narcissism in the Family, Friendships, Workplace and Society – Everything you have read in the book so far, but applied to specific situations. I really enjoyed the ‘How to Deal with Narcissists You Can’t Avoid: Six Ways to Skillfully Respond‘ section. It covers the Grey Rock Method, avoiding triggering subjects, making the narcissist a source of your supply, opposite action, validating your feelings and establishing boundaries, and finally, reframing your thoughts.
- Healing from Emotional Trauma and Rebuilding Your Life
- Ten Life-Changing Truths for Abuse Survivors – This particular chapter touched my soul in a way that it has not been touched in a very long time. I felt relief while reading this and it validated and confirmed some of my thoughts, such as those regarding forgiveness of my narssist, as well as to myself. I felt so validated by Shahida’s words in this particular realm. I was glad to see that other people felt like me concerning forgiveness. It also provided me with hope for what may lie ahead for me.
- Owning Our Power and Agency – This is a very short chapter covering the distinction between victim-blaming and owning our agency, as well as providing three steps to owning our agency and power after narcissistic abuse.
- Writing Your Way to Recovery and Closure – A couple more pages about one of the healing methods suggested by the author: Writing. She explains this more in-depth in Chapter 3. But basically, what this and Chapter 3 talk about is that writing (be it journaling or in any other way) can be an incredible tool for recovery. I know it because I always tend to write when I need to make sense of my feelings and thoughts. When it comes to abuse, while we are going through it, we tend to compartmentalize our thoughts and even bury many of them so we can cope with the abuse and survive through it. Unfortunately, those buried feelings and thoughts will need to be dealt with eventually. Writing can help make sense of juttered thoughts.
- A Closing Love Letter to Abuse Survivors
- FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Interjected between the chapters are sections titled ‘Survivor Insights.‘ These are tidbits of experiences and stories shared with the author and now shared with the reader. If you don’t find these interesting or useful, at least you should find them validating. I mean, they at least will help you see that you’re not alone; that your experiences, while unique, they are not really that unique. Many of us have gone through many of the things you may be experiencing today. We all have different experiences and we maybe subjected to different aspects of NPD more than others. We may even not experience some of the typical abuse narcissists subject their victims to (for example, in my particular case, my husband never physically abused me, but he would just give me a certain stare that would be more than enough to frighten me; he never insulted me by calling me names or with bad words as I have heard other survivors be the recipients of, but he did insult me and disrespected me with very candid words that were part of word salads and gaslight, as well as diminishing my feelings, especially when he had caused the hurt and pain.)
I could go on praising the book, but there is so much to this book, not mentioning the endless references to other resources on YouTube, the Internet, and elsewhere, that it would require me to write several posts. I rather let you be the judge.
Before I close this blog post, I bought the paperback. However, the paperback is enrolled in the Kindle Matchbook Program. (For more information about the Kindle Matchbook Program, visit its informational page on Amazon.) In the case of this particular book, this enables the reader to gain free access to its e-book version, as long as you buy the book on Amazon. I love that Shahida has made this possible. It’s a long book (a little over 500 pages) and by being able to download it on my android device, it has allowed me to read it anywhere. at any time, without my having to carry the book itself with me.
To wrap-up, for what my word is worth, I do recommend this book. It has helped me immensely and it’s still helping me to this day since I go back to it whenever I want to reinforce something or clear a doubt.