Many people are responsible for taking care of an aging parent, an ailing spouse, or a handicapped child and do so out of love, devotion, or obligation, and many others have caretaking occupations in the areas of nursing, social work, counseling, and so on. But there are other less benign caretakers in our midst. These people have an excessive need to be needed, and they assume the caretaking role not out of love, obligation, or choice of profession but due to unconscious motivations over which they have little control. This addiction to pleasing others can be as debilitating as substance addictions.
Les Barbanell shows that this addiction, which he calls "caretaker personality disorder," masks psychological conflicts and can be a self-destructive force leading to exhaustion, emptiness, even suicide. Barbanell provides strategies for learning to say no, retraining one's focus from others to oneself, gaining freedom from past traumas and abuse, and learning to express rather than repress feelings in order to find a balance between kindness and a pathological level of selflessness. This book is a must-read for those suffering from the addiction to please, their families, and psychotherapists and counselors who work with them.
--- from the publisher
"Psychotherapist Barbanell presents an important analysis of the less-known 'caretaker personality disorder,' characterized as an addiction to helping others . . . He offers insights gleaned from his unique practice; explains the basic traits of the addiction, the role of the unconsciousness in the etiology of the disorder, and typical masks that hide underlying emotional turmoil; and presents practical suggestions for long-term recovery and stability. Barbanell frankly integrates his own personal experiences as a recovering pleaser. Both this work and his earlier title provide a foundation to understand better this relatively obscure disorder. A vital work for those in the helping professions and people suffering from this disorder. "—December 2009, Library Journal
"A powerful tool in the treatment of trauma, Les Barbanell's second book on the caretaker personality syndrome will offer social workers, psychologists, counselors, and individuals interested in understanding their behaviors and motivations further insight into how those who selflessly please are caught in an addiction paradigm borne out of early childhood trauma, rejection, abandonment, and neglect. This powerful and easy-to-read book offers a template for change and reminds us that pleasing may very well be a cover up for underlying problems and that 'breaking the addiction to please' is saying 'goodbye to guilt' and hello to 'real, intimate connections to others.'"—Alison Prince Hammonds, LCSW, BCD, LPC, DAPA, ATR-BC
* 1 Selflessness as an Addiction
* 2 The Role of the Unconscious
* 3 Mask or Masquerade?
* 4 When Being Good Goes Bad
* 5 The Illusion of Closeness
* 6 Primed to Please
* 7 The Pursuit of the Lost Self
* 8 Life beyond Trauma
* 9 Three R's: Rebuilding, Re-Training, Recovery
* 10 Once A Please Addict, Always A Please Addict?
About the Author
Les Barbanell is a current faculty member, supervisor and training analyst at the New Jersey Institute for
Training in Teaneck, New Jersey. He has published articles on a variety of subjects that include narcissism, selflessness, exercise and sports psychology, adolescence and relationships. He has a general psychotherapy practice in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey and specializes in the treatment of helping professionals.
Praise for Les Barbanell's Removing the Mask of Kindness
"Barbanell delineates the pathological side of selflessness and argues, as the title suggests, that kindness can serve as a psychological mechanism for concealing emotional problems .The author effectively charts the defining characteristics of a heretofore-unrecognized diagnostic category: caretaker personality disorder (CPD). Recommended." -CHOICE
"Les Barbanell reveals a new and shocking defense mechanism that individuals use to hid psychological conflicts. The caretaker personality disorder helps explain why an accommodating, sacrificing individual, who is always concerned with others, can end up miserable and feeling incomplete. A must read for anyone in the helping professions."
-United States Association for Body Psychotherapy Newsletter