Schoen, G. (2011). The Gentle Self: How to Overcome Your Difficulties with Depression, Anxiety, Shyness, and Low Self-Esteem. CreateSpace.

I think everyone’s a little narcissistic. We all have moments when we wish everyone would be more like us?when we get upset that no one seems to care about what we are feeling.? We also often put others ahead of ourselves and deny ourselves the satisfaction of saying “I need to do this for me.” If either of these becomes an extreme, psychologists may diagnose it as Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The Gentle Self by Gerti Schoen addresses the second type of narcissist.

Drawing on her own experiences and her observations of others, Schoen explains exactly what a “gentle self” is. This type of narcissist puts others ahead of themselves because the narcissist feels that he or she is unworthy of love or respect. I can definitely relate to the gentle self. Schoen spends half the book comparing and contrasting the two types of narcissist. You may be thinking, “How can someone who puts others first be a narcissist? Isn’t that the exact opposite of what a narcissist is?” Schoen addresses this very question. She explains that a narcissist is anyone who is self-absorbed. The gentle self is self-absorbed in the sense that they are constantly thinking about how they don’t feel like they belong, how they aren’t worthy of love, etc.

The second half of The Gentle Self is about how to overcome depression, anxiety, shyness, and low self-esteem. Schoen offers such advice as, “If you feel strong anxiety or pain or even a nervous breakdown approaching, the first rule to remember is: leave yourself alone.” She goes on to say, “We often tend to put more pressure on ourselves in the form of ‘I can’t possibly burst into tears right now,’ ‘what’s wrong with me,’ or ‘I hate myself,’” and suggests trying to “be your own friend” when others are being negative toward you.

Reviewed by Greg Tyzzer

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