1st Edition

Narcissism A Contemporary Introduction

By Richard Wood Copyright 2025
    144 Pages
    by Routledge

    144 Pages
    by Routledge

    Narcissism: A Contemporary Introduction provides a historical overview of this key foundational concept within psychoanalytic thought.

    Richard Wood offers a critical overview of the theoretical landscape that characterizes the understanding of narcissism, referring to the work of Fromm, Rosenfeld, Kernberg, and Kohut, among others. He delineates and investigates three key forms of narcissism: severe, pathological narcissism that can result in extreme human suffering; narcissism that falls within the spectrum of Narcissistic Personality Disorder; and healthy forms of narcissism that are essential to successful personal, cultural, and creative development.

    Using clinical examples throughout, Wood aids psychoanalysts and psychologists in training and practice in recognizing, evaluating, and treating patients with narcissistic personality traits. His thorough and jargon-free approach will also support students looking for a comprehensive overview of narcissism.


    1.A Confusing and Elusive Concept  2.Thick Skinned or Grandiose Narcissism (GN) and Thin-Skinned or Vulnerable Narcissism (VN)  3.Clinical Examples of GN and VN  4.Alternative Conceptions of the VN/GN Relationship  5.Additional Clinical Examples 6.Relationship Between Self and Other  7. Narcissism as a Defense  Brief Considerations of Etiology



    Richard Wood is a registered psychologist in the province of Ontario, Canada. He is a founding member of the Canadian Association of Psychologists in Disability Assessment (CAPDA) and is the author of A Study of Malignant Narcissism: Personal and Professional Insights (2022).

    ‘This latest of Richard Wood’s books on narcissism promises to be his masterpiece. For a small book it is one of the most comprehensive and engaging reviews of narcissism that I have read. Wood has covered most of the authoritative contributors to the study of narcissism, and I would think that this book would be the go-to book for psychiatric residents, psychoanalytic candidates, and even the journalistic world. Congratulations on a fine piece of work.’

    David Ray Freebury, MB Ch FICPC DLFAPA, Training and supervising analyst, Canadian and Toronto psychoanalytic societies

    ‘Richard Wood leads us into the complex, sometimes confusing, world of narcissism. Summarizing seminal contributions, he weighs in on seemingly contradictory elements, providing useful reflections. He relates these matters to his experience with narcissistic patients and parents, with thought-provoking things to say about the relationships that narcissists and those who suffered narcissistic parenting attempt to establish. These ideas will stimulate readers not only with respect to patients but also regarding clinical theory and the wider sociopolitical world (e.g., relationships between grandiose narcissistic leaders and their supporters).’

    Brent Willock, author, Comparative-Integrative Psychoanalysis

    ‘Dr. Wood’s latest book is an exceptional integration of clinical research, theory and practice on the subject and treatment of narcissism in its various forms. What emerges is a ground-breaking model through which this condition can best be understood and more completely recognized.

    Dr. Wood acknowledges the work of his co-navigators and renders a great service by articulating their insights … untangling the cross-threads of past and present clinical experience. The dynamics of narcissism have never been so compellingly described.’

    Tim Gilmor, Ph.D., specializing in personality/clinical psychology

    ‘Dr. Richard Wood provides us with another well-written and engaging book exploring narcissism. Wood first offers an impressive and well-digested literature review of contemporary perspectives of thin-skinned, or vulnerable narcissism, and thick-skinned, or grandiose narcissism. After providing a number of useful clinical examples he expounds his own perspective. Wood understands narcissism as a defense meant to protect the psyche from unbearable and catastrophic outcomes. Wood does not see thin-skinned narcissism as falling within the spectrum of narcissistic disorders. He views thin-skinned narcissistic patients as suffering from cumulative developmental post-traumatic stress. These vulnerable people were invaded and tormented by malignant narcissistic early relational experiences with vampire-like narcissistic parents who have damaged their soul. Wood views these traumatized patients as quite amenable to psychodynamic treatment. The book will therefore support psychotherapists and psychoanalysts who are willing to discover the deeply traumatized person underneath the label of "narcissist". Dr. Wood also throws light on the pathological relationship between malignant narcissistic leaders and their exploited followers. The book is a significant contribution to our field and a gift to all of us.’

    Era A. Loewenstein, Ph.D. Training and Supervising Analyst, San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis. Editor of the Psychoanalytic Inquiry Issue: Perspectives on Populist and Fascistic States of Mind (Taylor and Francis, 2023)