cover image The Narcissist Next Door

The Narcissist Next Door

Jeffrey Kluger. Riverhead, $27.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-59448-636-4

Time magazine editor Kluger analyzes narcissistic personality disorder from a scientific and social perspective to help readers identify and understand narcissists in their lives. He outlines symptoms—including an “unquenchable thirst for admiration,” lack of empathy, and sense of entitlement—and the condition’s potential causes, whether hereditary or camouflage for secret self-loathing. In the workplace, the narcissist is described as an adept interviewer, “powerfully driven by the prospect of praise and recognition”; they rise quickly through company hierarchies even though they wreak havoc on subordinates, thanks to their charisma and skill at self-promotion. In relationships, they tend to cheat, find partners “expendable,” and may always be on the lookout to “trade-up.” A chapter on “tribal” narcissism explores the pitfalls of mob mentality, which can be seen in phenomena such as racism, war, and the slightly more benign arena of competitive sports. Kluger provides a wealth of (in)famous examples of the disorder, including Donald Trump’s “insatiable hunger to be the largest, loudest, most honkingly conspicuous presence in any room”; Charlie Sheen’s effusive confidence; and Sarah Palin’s frenzied desperation. Compelling studies investigate the elevated use of first-person pronouns in popular entertainment, narcissistic habits on Facebook profile pages, and a ranking of 39 U.S. presidents on a narcisissm scale. In addition to being informative and engaging, Kluger’s account provides some effective tools for dealing with potential narcissists. (Sept.)