8 Most Helpful Books on Healing and Recovery From Narcissistic Abuse

Narcissistic abuse is a type of abuse experienced by someone in a relationship with a narcissistic person.

This person may be their life partner, their parent, relative, friend or boss.

More often than not, narcissistic individuals have little to no awareness of their abusive behaviours. This lack of awareness is a defence mechanism that protects them from confronting the trauma they’ve been through as a child (which is, obviously unresolved).

Unfortunately, the narcissist’s lack of awareness leads to them being unable to take responsibility for their hurtful actions.

The best way to deal with a narcissist, whether it is a spouse, parent or work colleague is to get physical and emotional distance from them.

There is a plethora of information on the web about narcissistic abuse.

YouTube channels that educate people on narcissism are too many to count. And they all offer valid information on this complex topic.

However, books on narcissistic abuse are better, in the sense that they in-depth advice on healing and recovery from this issue.

Moreover, the authors of these books are therapists or coaches who have been helping people get better for years.

Thus, if you’re interested in reading certain books that might aid your understanding of narcissistic abuse as well as your recovery from it, check the following titles below.

1.Stop caretaking the borderline or narcissist: how to end the drama and get on with life, by Margalis Fjelstad.

This is by far the best book I’ve read on the topic of narcissistic abuse. Dr Fjelstad clearly understands how a narcissist’s or a borderline’s mind works. The author wanted to focus on borderlines and narcissists in relationships because, in her opinion, these two are not very different from each other.

2. Will I ever be good enough? Healing the daughters of narcissistic mothers, by Dr Karyl McBride.

‘Will I Ever Be Good Enough’ is written specifically for daughters who were raised by mothers with a narcissistic personality disorder or high degrees of narcissism. The last part of the book focuses on recovery and moving on from the abusive relationship, which is something I truly value.

McBride offers valuable advice on healing and recovery and doesn’t spend too much time explaining the damaging effects of a toxic relationship.

This book helped me start grieving my mother and, if you know me, you know that I have a hard time expressing my emotions, especially sadness. Letting myself go and having good crying sessions was an achievement for me. And it was all due to this book.

3. Mothers who can’t love: a healing guide for daughters, by Susan Forward

This book was recommended to me by a friend and I just started reading it.

What I like about this one are the practical steps that the author lays out in the book. A valuable exercise is to discover the limiting beliefs that your mother left you with based on what she used to call you.

For example, if she’d often call you lazy or irresponsible, then your limiting belief about yourself is that you are lazy (or irresponsible).

Your limiting, disempowering beliefs about yourself and your worth are illusions. This is a very important thing to understand.

If you can’t get past the fact that your narcissistic mother lied to you about who you are and what you’re capable of because she needed to feed off your pain and vulnerability, recovery is not possible.

This book will undo the negativity that the narcissistic or borderline mother implanted in you at an early age. It will also help you decide if you’re going to maintain a relationship with your mother as an adult or cut her off.

The choice is yours.

4. Complex PTSD: From surviving to thriving: a guide and map for recovering from childhood trauma, by Peter Walker

This book is considered the ‘Bible’ of c-PTSD and it’s recommended in many narcissistic abuse recovery and trauma groups.

I have browsed it for a while and found it very helpful. However, it is not an easy read. Walker has a plethora of exercises for the reader to do and some of you may have a hard time with it.

5. Codependency for dummies by Darlene Lancer

I included this book on the list because, in my opinion, every single person who was affected by narcissistic abuse is codependent. But do you know who else is a codependent? The narcissist.

Sam Vaknin, professor of Psychology and author believes that there is a high degree of destructive, codependent behaviour in both partners.

Vaknin also thinks that there is not much difference between the codependent behaviour of the victim and that of the abuser. Both partners engage in controlling and manipulative behaviours to get something out of the other.

I disagree with Vaknin here. A victim of narcissistic abuse who has no obvious signs of NPD doesn’t engage in co-dependent behaviours to manipulate or hurt another.

They do it because they are deeply afraid of being physically or emotionally hurt and they want to survive. Being co-dependent is an efficient way of surviving for someone who grew up with emotionally unstable parents or caretakers.

The codependent, non-narcissistic person who’s in a relationship with a narcissist tries to avoid disaster by making themselves as lovable and accomodating as possible. They know that if they don’t deliver the ‘goods’, all hell will break loose.

On the other hand, the narcissist enters a relationship with the conscious thought of destroying the other’s mental health, awareness of who they are and self-esteem to re-create the relationship they had with their abusive parent (and by doing so, they hope to change it).

Anyway, I digress. This book has a plethora of information on codependency and all the destructive behaviours that come with it.

I believe it is critical for anyone who has been abused by one of their parents to recognize that:

-they have developed a codependent personality;

-their codependency is an addictive/compulsive behaviour and should be treated as such;

-codependency needs treatment; they need to seek the help of a therapist that understands co-dependency and/or join support groups that can help them unlearn their self-destructive, self-sabotaging habits.

This book is a good introduction to the topic of codependency and can be used in addition to therapy and/or going to Codependency/Al-Anon recovery groups.

6. Malignant self-love: narcissism revisited, by Sam Vaknin

The narcissist’s world is grim and scary. One peek into the mind of a narcissist and you’ll be horrified. Sam Vaknin knows all the horror stories and plots that take place in such dangerous minds.

His book Malignant self-love delivers those creepy, hidden details of the inner workings of a narcissist. You may wonder, why do I need to know all this?

Think about it: how easy would then be for you to understand why your parent or ex behaved so atrociously with you. If you understand what lies underneath the abusive patterns of a personality-disordered individual, you may be able to detach yourself from them emotionally.

You’ll understand that it was not you who ‘made’ them behave that way but their own, internal demons. These demons are big, ferocious and are always looking for ‘blood’.

For the narcissist to ‘escape’ the wrath of such inner beasts, they need to use you as a ‘shield’. When you cut ties with these people, you’ll realize that all they wanted from you is for you to protect them from the harm that lies deep within themselves. They weren’t interested in you or your needs at all. They only wanted you to carry their pain in your heart.

7. The narcissistic family, by Stephanie Donaldson Pressman and Robert M. Pressman

This book is good at explaining in detail what a narcissistic family system is and what makes this kind of system trap adult children in it. As long as you know how a narcissistic parental system works and why you’ve developed feelings of low self-esteem and worthlessness, you’ll be less likely to blame everything that’s going bad on yourself.

The author wants the reader to understand that their emotional problems are reactions to them growing up putting the needs of their mother (or father) first. This is an unnatural behaviour and can be undone through psychotherapy.

8. Boundaries: when to say yes, how to say no to take control of your life, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

I love this book. Henry Cloud talks in detail here about boundaries. What are boundaries, how to recognize whether you have boundaries or not and how to start setting limits in your relationships.

This book is a must-read for all those who grew up in dysfunctional homes. We were taught that boundaries are not important and we should let our guard down because our integrity doesn’t matter.

Well, let me tell you this: your integrity does matter! Your dysfunctional family was wrong to treat you that way. However, it is no longer necessary for you to depend on what your mother (or father) does to feel good or worthy.

You can start your healing journey by putting the focus on yourself and your needs. Reading some of these books is a good step towards recovering from a toxic parent.

Good luck in your healing journey and let me know which of these books helped you the most.

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Content writer, tea drinker, English-Romanian girl living abroad. Writes about NPD, relationships, health, finances and business.

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Marlena Bontas

Marlena Bontas

Content writer, tea drinker, English-Romanian girl living abroad. Writes about NPD, relationships, health, finances and business.