The Selfishness of Others by Kristin Dombek
An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism

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Dombek’s “The Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism” is a treatise that comes in at just under 140 pages of text, dense with information but light on its feet.
-NY Times

Synopsis

They're among us, but they are not like us. They manipulate, lie, cheat, and steal. They are irresistibly charming and accomplished, appearing to live in a radiance beyond what we are capable of. But narcissists are empty. No one knows exactly what everyone else is full of--some kind of a soul, or personhood--but whatever it is, experts agree that narcissists do not have it.

So goes the popular understanding of narcissism, or NPD (narcissistic personality disorder). And it's more prevalent than ever, according to recent articles in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Time. In bestsellers like The Narcissism Epidemic, Narcissists Exposed, and The Narcissist Next Door, pop psychologists have armed the normal with tools to identify and combat the vampiric influence of this rising population, while on websites like narcissismsurvivor.com, thousands of people congregate to swap horror stories about relationships with "narcs."

In The Selfishness of Others, the essayist Kristin Dombek provides a clear-sighted account of how a rare clinical diagnosis became a fluid cultural phenomenon, a repository for our deepest fears about love, friendship, and family. She cuts through hysteria in search of the razor-thin line between pathology and common selfishness, writing with robust skepticism toward the prophets of NPD and genuine empathy for those who see themselves as its victims. And finally, she shares her own story in a candid effort to find a path away from the cycle of fear and blame and toward a more forgiving and rewarding life.

 

About Kristin Dombek

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Kristin Dombek is an essayist and a cultural journalist. She has published essays in The New York Times Magazine, London Review of Books, n+1, and The Paris Review. She received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award for Nonfiction in 2013.
 
Published August 16, 2016 by FSG Originals. 160 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences, Self Help, Parenting & Relationships. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Selfishness of Others
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Above average
on May 23 2016

Cleverly, Dombek turns the narrative around, making the tragedy of Narcissus not his problem but ours, for being so besotted by him that we are appalled by his inability to return our love. A savvy, sharp study that only occasionally loses readers in the psychological brambles.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Gemma Sieff on Aug 18 2016

Dombek’s “The Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism” is a treatise that comes in at just under 140 pages of text, dense with information but light on its feet.

Read Full Review of The Selfishness of Others: An... | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by JENNIFER SCHUESSLER on Jul 31 2016

That may sound awfully judgmental. But Ms. Dombek, despite her efforts to keep the first-person pronoun at bay (“I don’t want you to find me self-absorbed,” she writes early on), is also offering an earnest recovery narrative of sorts.

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