By Sandy Hotchkiss Free Press, 2002 Review by David M. Wolf, M.A. on Jul 2nd 2003
text by Sandy Hotchkiss concerning narcissistic people everywhere, Why Is It Always About You?, would better be titled, thinks this
reviewer, by its subtitle, "Saving Yourself from the Narcissists in Your
Life" The book is organized along the lines of a battle manual: very
little background of theory, heavy strategy explanations, and then some case
examples and final thoughts for victory.
since Sigmund Freud published his ideas involving narcissism and libido,
psychologists and counselors have worked from the premise that many people
suffer a form of stunted emotional development which makes them, well,
insufferable themselves--ostensibly shameless (but actually shame sensitive),
arrogant, self-centered and selfish, exploitive and manipulative. Sandy
Hotchkiss takes this premise and constructs on it what she calls "The
Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism" and tells the reader how to deal with
these people and their unwanted effects.
Seven Deadly... are worth enumerating here: shamelessness, magical thinking,
arrogance, envy, entitlement, exploitation, bad boundaries. The author devotes
all of Part I to these seven. These pages lay out the problem and ring lots of
bells for any reader about problem people we have all known in our working
lives--if not in our families and personal relationships.
Afterward, Hotchkiss returns to a too brief treatment of the causes and
background of "unhealthy" narcissism and distinguishes it from the
healthy stage of childhood development and the continuing "healthy
narcissism" which everyone needs in order to work and function in
contemporary society. Her focus is on offering strategies for dealing with the
unhealthy narcissists in our lives, and this book is very effective in setting
forth such helpful measures.
Hotchkiss, whose degree is in social work, doesn't conclude without a
hard swipe at the "narcissistic society" and all the pumped up, false
proponents of "self-esteem" who have, in her view, turned some
children since the 1980's into "entitlement monsters." She even finds
narcissism being preached in the new age churches whose penchant for
"unity" with God and all things anti-authority reflects the "Me
decade" more than scripture. In general, she is for a return to sensible
parenting that can raise up a generation in better touch with reality than some
recently inflated and distorted ones.
book if you already know that unhealthy narcissism affects people you must deal
with; buy it, too, if you have been hurt by a narcissist (or two) and need to
clarify what has happened so you can get beyond these harms. And even if you
are a counselor or therapist and experienced with narcissistic clients or their
victims in therapy, you will find in Why
Is It Always About You? a strongly organized, clear, useful guide to the
management of such people's impact on others.
David M. Wolf, M.A. studied philosophy of
science for the M.A. with Prof. David Hawkins at the University of Colorado,
Boulder, and also read advanced philosophy at Trinity College Dublin. His
undergraduate education in Philosophy was guided by Prof. Mason Gross. Wolf is
certified in philosophic counseling with the American Philosophic Practitioners
Assoc. and earns his living in management consulting, where he is distinguished
in writing strategic plans and advising in organization development and career