Education plays a major role in the healing process from narcissistic abuse. It is the first step that starts your journey to recovery. There are several useful resources online in the form of articles, blogs, forums and videos (For a helpful list, see 10 Online Resources for Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse). To add to these helpful online resources, I suggest reading the following books. These books have been instrumental in helping me along my healing and recovery journey.
- ‘Confessions of a Sociopath’ by M E Thomas
This memoir is a one-of-a-kind book, as it is writ ten directly from the point of view of a self-confessed psychopath. Reading the words from the horse’s mouth is spine-chilling. Thomas gives insight into the thought processes, motivations and manipulative techniques of psychopaths.
Though much of this book focuses on Thomas’s personal life story, the book still provides first-hand insight into the psychopath’s mind. In fact, the examples from her life, bring the theories to life. You may need to read this book in small doses. The horror is overwhelming, especially if you are still raw from the abuse and trauma.
Thomas runs an online forum for psychopaths called ‘sociopathworld.com.’ This is an additional resource to explore to gain understanding into the psychopath’s mind.
Quote: “I regularly comment on my desire to exploit my admirers or to kill babies and cute animals, and I don’t even need to laugh or smile for people to think I am joking.”
- ‘Women Who Love Psychopaths’ by Sandra L Brown
If there was just one book that I could recommend, it would be this one. ‘Women Who Love Psychopaths’ is a comprehensive study into psychopaths as well as the woman who are harmed by them. The book is backed up by statistics and personal stories from multiple survivors. The most important take-away from this book is the revelation on what makes a woman a target to the psychopath. In learning this, you can protect yourself going forward in life.
Brown is the founder of ‘The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction’ and has over 20 years of experience working with women who have been abused by psychopaths. Her studies have brought her to the forefront of the psychotherapy industry as the authoritative voice on pathological love relationships.
Quote: “Psychopaths enjoy power most when it is equated to, and produces, victimization. The psychopath will not find victory as ‘power inducing’ if the victim knowingly gives him what he wants. He prefers to victimize her somewhere in the process. In order for him to feel the most power, someone else must be weak.”
- ‘Psychopath Free’ by Jackson MacKenzie
MacKenzie is a survivor and uses his personal experience as a backdrop to explain the relationship patterns of psychopaths. MacKenzie openly shares his story and exposes the emotional damage done to individuals in these harmful relationships. Whilst much of the book specifically follows MacKenzie’s story, there is still much to be learnt about the broader scope of psychopaths in their relationship cycle.
Most importantly, MacKenzie brings hope to survivors for a new, happier and more fulfilling life ahead. MacKenzie has just released a new book called ‘Whole Again,’ which I have not read as yet, but I have heard good reviews about it.
Quote: “The most important thing to remember for all trauma survivors; there is nothing wrong with you. You are beautiful. You were thrown into an impossible situation, and you survived. Your innocence was taken away without your permission. You were violated. But in this violation, you regained something that takes most people a lifetime to find. You path may be painful, but it is also special.”
- ‘Healing from Hidden Abuse’ by Shannon Thomas
Thomas is the owner and lead therapist for ‘Southlake Christian Counselling’ in Texas, USA. In her book, she does an excellent job of breaking down the healing process. Each stage is explored in great detail. The book is filled with compassionate insight from a psychotherapist’s point of view. In particular, I found this book to be highly validating for survivors. Thomas, herself, is a survivor which brings an additional element of understanding to her perspective.
Quote: “… toxic people do not pick weak people as their targets. This is a common misconception among survivors. On the contrary, psychologically abusive people set out to take down the biggest challenge that presented itself at the time. The abuser sees a huge victory to turn an independent survivor into a needy, dependent person who can no longer make decisions without the abusive person’s help. The abuser often complains about how weak the survivor has become, but it is exactly the abuser’s actions that have made the changes. Blaming the survivor is the ultimate insult. Many targets experience deep levels of shame when they realize how different they have become while in these relationships.”
- ‘The Journey’ by Meredith Miller
Miller is a survivor who has lived through three decades of narcissistic abuse with multiple abusers. Her book is a great guide to the healing steps in the recovery process. She highlights the do’s and don’ts for effective healing.
Miller is a holistic healing coach who runs a successful coaching service and YouTube channel called ‘Inner Integration.’ Her videos offer extensive advice on all relevant topics related to recovery.
Quote: “When manipulators are using idealization, they’re looking for positive supply in the form of attention, adoration, devotion, sex, money, etc. When they are using devaluation, they’re looking for negative supply in the form of anger, outrage, jealousy, emotional outbursts, fear, pain, etc.”
6. ‘Why Does He Do That?’ by Lundy Bancroft
This book does not focus on abuse by narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths. Instead it is a study into the mind of abusive men who do not have any personality disorders. This book is an in-depth study into the attitudes, values and beliefs which abusive men have towards women. The author is a mental health professional who has specifically worked with abusive men in a specialized reform program for abusive men. Over a period of twenty years, Bancroft worked with hundreds of abusive men, closely studying and treating them. He offers incredible insight into the mindset of abusers, and provides many examples of real-life scenarios, to give the reader a thorough understanding of the dynamics of abusive relationships.
Quote: “Objectification is a critical reason why an abuser tends to get worse over time. As his conscience adapts to one level of cruelty – or violence – he builds to the next. By depersonalizing his partner, the abuser protects himself from the natural human emotions of guilt and empathy, so that he can sleep at night with a clear conscience. He distances himself so far from her humanity that her feelings no longer count, or simply cease to exist.”
7. ‘The Betrayal Bond’ by Patrick Carnes
If you have been in an abusive relationship, you are most likely suffering from the trauma bond. This is almost inevitable as abusers use intermittent reinforcement to “hook” their partners. Overcoming the addiction to the abuser, can be one of the hardest struggles in a survivor’s life. Carnes’ book looks specifically at the trauma bond. He goes into the reader’s childhood to explain the causes, effects and patterns which are formed through multiple relationships over one’s lifetime. The book provides many self-reflective activities to help the reader along the journey to recovery.
Quote: “My experience with survivors of trauma is that every journey or recovery depends on the survivor coming to a point where all that person has gone through means something.”
8. ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ by Bessel van der Kolk
This book has been recognized as a revolutionary source of information on understanding the inner workings of trauma on the mind, body and brain. Van Der Kolk dives deeply into the explanations about the mind-body connection; thus emphasizing the need for holistic healing. He provides insight into the various tools which can be used to heal trauma, such as EMDR, neurofeedback, and other successful methods.
Quote: “After trauma the world is experienced with a different nervous system. The survivor’s energy now becomes focused on suppressing inner chaos, at the expense of spontaneous involvement in their lives. These attempts to maintain control over unbearable physiological reactions can result in a whole range of physical symptoms, including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and other autoimmune diseases. This explains why it is critical for trauma treatment to engage the entire organism, body, mind and brain.”
9. ‘Healing Developmental Trauma’by Laurence Heller and Aline LaPierre
In reading this book, you will learn about the various survival strategies children use to cope with trauma. These survival adaptations and their effects on adulthood are explained in detail in this book. The only downside to reading this book, is that it is written for psychologists, which makes it difficult for the reader to apply to themselves while reading. But by learning about the concepts, the reader is able to identify their particular survival style which helps to send them in the right direction for finding healing.
Quote: “This is a book about restoring connection. It is the experience of being in connection that fulfills the longing we have to feel fully alive. An impaired capacity for connection to self and others, and the ensuing diminished aliveness, are the hidden dimensions that underlie most psychological and many physiological problems.”
It is my wish that these books bring you healing and hope along your journey of recovery from one of the most malicious kinds of abuse out there. If you have any other book suggestions, please feel free to share the titles and authors in the comments below. Wishing you much love, hope and wholeness going forward.