Damaged People: Narcissism and the Foundation of a Dysfunctional American Society


Loved it! 😍

A fascinating in-depth analysis of a common, widely misunderstood personality disorder, Narcissism, and it’s impact on American society.

Damaged People is a fascinating analysis of a common and widely misunderstood personality disorder. The author is not a psychologist or academic, but has read widely on the subject of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, as a result of growing up with a narcissist father, and then working for a series of them. This is not a self-help book, but an exploration of the impact narcissists have had on the USA since it’s inception, right up to the worst of them all, Trump. I received a free ebook to review through the Reedsy Discovery programme.

The book is relatively short, very well written and easy to read. Avant begins by explaining what NPD is, theories about it’s causes and how widespread it is. He describes growing up in a conservative, religious family in Georgia where feelings and contrary opinions were not tolerated and conformity to the social norms of his parents’ community were rigidly enforced through belittlement and gaslighting. He compares NPD to sociopathy, and describes the different subtypes, including covert narcissism. Unafraid of controversy, he tackles the hypocrisy of American fundamental Christianity in ignoring the narcissists they embrace as their religious and political leaders.

Later chapters discuss narcissism in the workplace - with the slightly depressing if realistic conclusion that the only solution to a toxic manager or workplace culture is to leave. This might actually be the most valuable lesson of the book: “it’s not you it’s him, he can’t/won’t change, get out.” Then he looks at narcissism in the context of American history and politics, and how it underpins racism and white supremacy. He labels the Baby Boomers as the most narcissistic generation, and describes how their political power and the rise of anti-intellectualism has let to the huge income disparities, injustices and societal wreckage of recent decades. 

I would recommend this to anyone interested in psychology or who has suffered under a narcissist. I would’ve liked more on the role of narcissism in America’s mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is barely mentioned despite the book being published in late 2020. There’s something very narcissistic about refusing to wear a mask or get vaccinated because you don’t personally think you’re at risk. Unfortunately the people who most need to read this, won’t: if you’re the type of person who uses the word snowflake as an insult, chances are you’re a narcissist yourself and you just won’t get it.

Reviewed by

I’m English but have lived in NZ for 19 years.
I’ve always been a serious reader, and have been reviewing on GoodReads for years, but in the past few years have developed my reviewing through NetGalley and now Reedsy. I mostly read mysteries and thrillers, although enjoy other genres in between.

Narcissistic Normality

About the author

I am an independent author whose first non-fiction book - Damaged People: Narcissism and the Foundation of a Dysfunctional American Society - combines memoir and scholarly analysis to describe the current turmoil in American society and the factors that led us here. view profile

Published on December 22, 2020

Published by

50000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Psychology

Reviewed by