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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Review: The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists

The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love, and Family
by Eleanor D. Payson
Kindle Edition: $9.99
Paperback (Amazon): $12.27

So much of my struggle, post divorce, has revolved around trying to understand what happened, what went wrong. Then why it went so very, very wrong. I've waffled between feeling all "IT WAS ALL MY FAULT, I'M A TERRIBLE PERSON" - during these periods, I bought books about improving myself - and then I shifted to "IT WAS ALL HIS FAULT, HE'S A TERRIBLE PERSON" - and so I bought books about relationships and dealing with difficult people. Now I've settled somewhere around "Well, that happened. I'm sure there's blame on both sides. Perhaps I should turn my focus to trying to ensure it doesn't happen again." This book is very well suited for that purpose.

I love this book. I want to sing about it from rooftops. I sent my therapist an email about it the day after I finished reading it. She ended up recommending it to another client, who later told her to thank me for the suggestion. I highlighted excessively while reading. My Kindle edition is so marked up it would have been easier to just select the passages I didn't want to highlight, which were few and far between. I devoured this book over the course of two evenings, often nodding as I read, and occasionally even calling out a fervent "YES!" to my empty living room.

It is written in clear, understandable language, but doesn't dumb down the subject matter or fluff it up with an excess of flowery prose. It isn't too clinical, and it's not trying to diagnose anyone (nor is it suggesting that you do). The author does not judge your choices - I was surprised at her suggestions for trying to save and maintain an intimate relationship with someone with narcissistic tendencies. My assumption was that the only advice would be "GET OUT NOW", but I suppose that would make for a short and rather unhelpful book.

There is a brief explanation of narcissists, their tendencies and types, and then suggestions for dealing with them in all areas of your life, whether they are your parents, your boss, or a partner or spouse. The author makes a connection between codependence and narcissism that is extremely helpful and utterly fascinating.

In the introduction, the author writes,
This book is meant to be a map for the person who wishes to return from the World of Oz, where all roads appear to be going one way - in the direction of the narcissist.
Word, Eleanor Payson. Word. And then in the chapter on recovery, there's this little gem,
Dorothy illustrates the journey of the codependent person who becomes enthralled with the grandeur of Oz, seeking to find her worth and power by gaining his approval and help. Although she is capable of intimacy (as we see in her friendships with her three companions) she in unable to recognize her true strengths and abilities. 
In the above excerpt, the words that stand out to me are worth, power, strengths and abilities. We have all those, we just have to figure out how to nurture them in and for ourselves.


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