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Book Review: Will I Ever Be Good Enough?

I read as many psychology and self-help books as time permits to keep expanding my knowledge base and make targeted suggestions when clients need help. Some books relate directly to eating, others have a peripheral link. As you probably know by now, food and weight problems are connected to many facets of life. Here’s a review of a relatively new book about mothers and daughters which has been helpful to my clients.

Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Karyl McBride, Ph.D., is a terrific addition to the literature written about the clinical diagnosis of narcissism and how having a narcissistic parent can detrimentally affect you throughout life. Written by a psychology professional and daughter of a narcissistic mother, the book explains: what a narcissist is (and isn’t), the underlying causes of narcissism, why and how daughters of narcissistic mothers suffer, and what they can do about it. I’ve read other books on the subject that fall short in that critical department, detailing how daughters can deal effectively with emotionally limited parents.

Although the topic does not stray far from mothers, much of the material applies to fathers as well, and the book would be valuable for sons of narcissistic parents who want to learn more about what went wrong in childhood and how to fix it. My one complaint is that the book gives short shrift to fathers—the effect on the child when both parents are narcissistic, father’s reaction when he isn’t and mother is, and how narcissism and living in its wake goes beyond mothers and daughters.

A narcissistic mother exhibits most or all of these traits much of the time: self-absorbed and self-focused, clingy, non-empathic, demanding, aloof and insecure, easily wounded but doesn’t think twice about hurting others’ feelings, shallow emotions, limited emotional range, needy, competitive, critical, judgmental, uncaring, manipulative, or heavily externally. For many clients, focusing on being the daughter of a narcissistic mother is the final piece of the puzzle needed to recover from eating and weight, not to mention relationship and other self-regulation, problems.

As McBride and I both underscore, this book is NOT about blaming mothers. These kinds of mothers, more often than not, sadly suffered themselves from being raised by narcissistic mothers. If you suspect or know you had a narcissistic mother and continue to have unresolved eating or weight problems, give this enlightening, pragmatic book a try and see if it helps you move beyond them.

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