Important books: “Narcissism, seduction and power” by Bärbel Wardetzki

Books can touch, move, teach and, at best, become significant in the course of one's life if they open one's eyes or change one's perspective in areas such as education, relationships or others. We have collected exactly such books in this series. This time the focus is on the book “Narcissism, Seduction and Power” by Bärbel Wardetzki.

Narcissists only think about themselves and their own needs, are ruthless and lack empathy: this is how many people imagine a person who fits this description. But how can it be that narcissists are often in a relationship (albeit usually unhealthy) and are often not as repulsive as they may initially sound? On the contrary: Narcissists often seem rather attractive – to very specific groups of people.

Dr. Bärbel Wardetzki explains what these are in her book “Narcissism, Seduction and Power”The author, who already convinced me with her book “Female Narcissism”, reveals that people with narcissistic traits are particularly attracted to those who have less obvious self-confidence and who (would) like to adorn themselves with the extroverted character of the other person. These are usually people who have been disappointed by other people. Be it their parents, partners or even political figures. They are looking for someone they can hope for. Narcissists are ideal for this. The problem: They rarely keep what they promise or claim to be. Then it becomes unhealthy.


Narcissism, seduction and power: What makes narcissists and how they seduce
Narcissism, seduction and power: What makes narcissists and how they seduce

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And the principle can be adapted to relationships, but also to other areas of life. Why so many people voted for Donald Trump as president seems completely incomprehensible to many of us. But Wardetzki explains very clearly how this can happen – and how it can then happen that narcissists hit a wall with their unhealthy behavior. The example of Trump, which runs through the entire book, is particularly useful for recognizing the actions of a narcissist. In direct comparison with people in the same position (for example Obama, who also appears in the book), the author explains very clearly when narcissistic traits are healthy and good and when they become a problem.

The qualified psychologist is referring primarily to male narcissism, which is very different from female narcissism. Wardetzki makes it clear that this personality disorder does not always occur in men, as well as the reason why she prefers to avoid the word “narcissist”.

Important books: Why “Narcissism, Seduction and Power” is one of them

And precisely because the phenomenon of people with narcissistic tendencies and their admirers can occur anywhere, it is so important to read her book. To perhaps catch yourself wondering whether you would fall for one yourself. Whether you yourself have deficits that you would like to know how to fill through them. Or even just to be able to expose narcissistic people in positions of power and to know how to deal with them. Because people with narcissistic traits also have weaknesses and strong deficits that they want to compensate for with their behavior. Bärbel Wardetzki makes this clear too.

As with many relationships in life, in the end it is about understanding the other person and yourself and recognizing the motivation for your own actions – whether it is voting, relationships or friendships – and shaping them in a healthy way. Another book that helps to broaden your horizons and improve relationships. And thus an important book.

Tip: You can find further book recommendations from the editorial team on our topic page.

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Transparency note: Goldmann belongs to the publishing group Penguin Random House, which, like Stern, is part of the Bertelsmann Group.