Book Review: Freeing Yourself from the NarcIssist in Your Life by Linda Martinez-Lewi


 

To survive and flourish, we all need healthy narcissism. 

– Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D. 

Narcissists are actors on the stage of life.  Beneath their masks, narcissists are a fraud. 

In Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life, Linda Martinez-Lewi rips off the mask to expose the ruthless tyrant hiding behind it.  In an age when narcissists are “treated like royalty,” we need solid information and advice on how to recognize and deal with the terminally self-absorbed:

. . .you are confronting a severe personality disorder not a benign character eccentricity. . .high-level narcissist is an exploiter par excellence. . .gifts of cunning and persuasion.  Not having a conscience is a plus for him. 

Feeling secure within yourself and psychologically grounded is essential.  Stay mindful in the present moment with the issue at hand.  Honor your moral and ethical values. . .always have plans B, C, and D ready for execution. . .practice of meditation. . .live authentically. . . 

We can love others only if we possess healthy self-love.  Having compassion for ourselves, we learn to forgive our mistakes. . .spontaneous bedrock of humor. . .comic absurdity of life. 

 

For me there are only two kinds of women ~ goddesses and doormats. 

– Pablo Picasso 

Whenever he thought I might be feeling too much like a goddess, he did his best to turn me into a doormat. 

– Françoise Gilot 

The late Pablo Picasso was a high-achieving narcissist who exploited and abused the women in his life.  Françoise Gilot was his decades-younger mistress and muse and the mother of his children Claude and Paloma. 

 Relationships with narcissists always end badly.

Their length is dependent on how useful you are to the narcissist and how much psychological abuse you can tolerate.

– Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

Dr. Martinez-Lewi on Narcissists 

  • Most narcissistic personalities never seek psychological treatment.  They are comfortable with themselves, feeling no need to change.
  • Narcissists blame their intimates, labeling them demanding, spoiled, dependent, and mentally unstable.  Why should he acknowledge and take responsibility for the pain he has caused others.
  • The narcissist belongs to a different psychological faith, whose first commandment is to never prostrate oneself on the altar of truth.
  • Facing down the narcissist eye-to-eye, while remaining psychologically grounded and true to ourselves, is a daunting task.
  • When a narcissist turns his attention to you, the move is calculated. . .”What can this person do for me?  How will I use him to achieve my goals?”
  • The narcissist has an incredible sense of self-entitlement. . .He is the hunter, they are prey. . .he deserves the first fruits of the kill.
  • Blind to his deceptions and cruelties, [the narcissist] plays the role of victim when he is accused of iniquity. . .mercilessly injures others and then whines noisily that he is being persecuted.
  • Narcissists are perfectionists. . .incapable of introspection. . .focus is on the material. . .unrealistic expectations of others. . .no one will ever be good enough.
  • The narcissist is a master at extracting the pulp and juice of others ~ their time, talent, creative ideas, energies ~ to service his purpose alone.  When he has distilled the best. . .he discards the rest and moves on.  All relationships with narcissistic individuals are exploitive.
  • The child of a narcissist must endure that he never had a real or loving parent.  The mother or father that they revered and cherished was a counterfeit. . .children of narcisssistic parents struggle throughout their lives to obtain the love and acceptance their mother and/or father failed to provide. . .they were never and will not be cherished by this person whom they call a parent.  These children become experts at catering.
  • A narcissist is a chameleon. . .wolves in sacred clothing.
  • The narcissist is a tyrant. . .dictator. . .he always wins, and you always lose.
  • The narcissist is a puppet master. . .controls others. . .image of omnipotence and perfection. . .know exactly how to manipulate others. . .implied threats that force a colleague or underling to capitulate to his will. . .quick to size up his opponent’s weakest spots.
  • The narcissist is predatory. . .cruel and sadistic.  He may not actually kill his victims, but he finds undectectable ways to diminish or destroy their lives:  “Be what I want you to be and I will love you; be yourself, defy me, and you will not survive.” 
  • Narcissistic rage is fierce and relentless. . .shows no mercy.
  • The narcissist is vulnerable to the most infinitesimal criticism or slight.
  • Intimates of a narcissist are trapped in the role of obedient child. . .uncomfortable activating their individuality, afraid of being assertive, of taking the initiative. . .locked in this symbiotic relationship.

Françoise Gilot Self-portrait

Surviving the Narcissist

Françoise Gilot is the widow of Dr. Jonas Salk, who created the polio vaccine.  She became an internationally acclaimed artist and has written several books.

Dr. Martinez-Lewi believes narcissists are “impossible.”  We must reach into the “roots of [our] character:  concentration, fearlessness, and unshakeable will” to survive a narcissist:

Becoming deeply aware of your psychological issues. . .empowers. . .we learn not to intermingle the narcissist’s ego-driven concerns with the psychological scenarios of our life story.  This frees those who are involved with a narcissist from shouldering the devaluation and guilt he so readily projects upon them. . .designed to cut to the core, leaving their victim psychologically wounded. . .remember to tell yourself:  “This is his issue; I’m not at fault and will not carry the blame that is being unjustifiably heaped upon me.” 

. . .Owning your own psychological issues and not taking on his represents a major advancement, a great victory for you. . .

The key. . .is to become and remain psychologically grounded.  A grounded individual is secure and calm; he feels solid at his center.  He places value on being real. . .penetrating insight. . .An individual who is grounded doesn’t permit himself to be exploited by others. . .stands firmly on the soil of his authenticity.

I was not surprised to see Dr. Martinez-Lewi endorse Buddhist philosophy.  Meditiation and mindfulness ~ living fully in the present ~ have been strategies successfully employed by many abuse survivors.  She also recommends humor and Hatha yoga.  I smiled when I read we need to chart our own course and learn to sail rough and calm seas.  Of course, intuition is our greatest gift.

In the end, karma is a reliable bitch!

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