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Obsessive self-promotion, an aggressive triggering response, retaliatory rants...So goes the vicious circle we now know too well.


Even before Donald Trump entered America’s highest office, an international survey revealed that narcissism is part of the assumed “national character” of Americans. While only a small number actually meet the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder, those exploitive few have a way of gaining center stage in our culture.  


Fragile Bully: Understanding Our Destructive Affair with Narcissism in the Age of Trump looks beyond the sound bites of self-aggrandizing celebrities and selfish tweets to the real problem of narcissism. We see past the solo act to the vicious circles that arise in relationships with a fragile bully, and how patterns like this generate both power and self-destruction. We also look at the problem of Echo, how so many of us get hooked by the narcissist, and how variations on the destructive affair leave both partners dehumanized and diminished. Once we recognize the steps in each dance, we can break the cycle and allow the possibility of true engagement.

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Advance Praise for Dr. Laurie Helgoe’s Fragile Bully


“Brilliant! Get ready to finally understand those people who drive you the craziest. Dr. Helgoe reveals how fragile bullies enrage us with their hostile self-centeredness while simultaneously hooking us with their underlying emotional vulnerability. A first-class researcher with a storyteller’s gift, Dr. Helgoe describes the high costs of narcissism in both intimate lives and national arenas, then shows you how to disentangle yourself without attacking them or betraying yourself. The best book on toxic narcissism I’ve ever read; it’s going on my recommended reading list for clients.”


~Lindsay C. Gibson, PsyD, clinical psychologist and author of Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents and Recovering from Emotionally Immature Parents



“Fragile Bully is a wonderful, timely, and broadly relevant book that grapples with the dynamics of narcissism in a nuanced and rich manner. Laurie Helgoe’s treatment of the topic is both sensitive and incisive. The title beautifully captures the paradoxical dynamic of narcissism—that the grandiosity and surrounding bravado belies an underlying fragility and brittleness. Through the use of evocative clinical examples and vignettes, Helgoe vividly brings to life these dynamics in a manner that will resonate with readers from a broad range of disciplines and interests. As such this book is suitable for a range of disciplines—clinical psychology, social psychology, political science, and any form of contemporary studies. This gem is a must read.”


~Kenneth N. Levy, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist and Senior Fellow, Personality Disorders Institute, Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College, Cornell University



“This is a thought-provoking book that reveals not only what drives the narcissists in our lives, but also the dances that keep us engaged with them. Helgoe draws from research as well as her own practice and family experiences to help us look within at the postures we take. She offers clinically sound ways to make changes, improve relationships, and find authentic ways to connect with the people we love. Given the current political scene and our fascination with reality TV, this book has something relevant to offer for everyone.”


~Judith Siegel, PhD, LCSW, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Family Social Work and author of Stop Overreacting: Effective Strategies for Calming Your Emotions


FRAGILE BULLY book cover
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