The Favorite Child

Overview

For more than thirty years, veteran clinical psychologist Ellen Weber Libby has been helping successful, often-powerful clients in Washington, DC?a place known for its outsized personalities?deal with their personal problems. One pattern that has emerged out of some 60,000 hours of therapy is what she calls "the favorite child complex." In this groundbreaking book, she describes in intimate detail how being the favorite child can confer both great advantages and also significant...
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Overview

For more than thirty years, veteran clinical psychologist Ellen Weber Libby has been helping successful, often-powerful clients in Washington, DC—a place known for its outsized personalities—deal with their personal problems. One pattern that has emerged out of some 60,000 hours of therapy is what she calls "the favorite child complex." In this groundbreaking book, she describes in intimate detail how being the favorite child can confer both great advantages and also significant emotional handicaps.
While many of Dr. Libby’s clients are successful because of their favorite-child status—they have been brought up to believe that they can do anything and are unafraid of challenges— they suffer from an array of personality problems. Behind the outward appearance of money, power, charm, and attractive looks, they feel an intense pressure to maintain the façade at all costs. Sometimes their ability to tell the truth becomes shaky; sometimes their intimate relationships are elusive. In a series of chapters that offer insightful vignettes from actual therapy sessions (the identities of clients are disguised), Dr. Libby explores why parents, consciously or unconsciously, choose a favorite child, as well as the long-term effects of being the favorite son or daughter of either or both parents. She also discusses family situations where parents have successfully made each of their children feel favored and have instilled in their children a healthy emotional balance. She details parental skills and family processes that increase the likelihood of this type of success and that, most importantly, reduce the risk of the favorite child’s curse—power corrupted. Illuminating for adults trying to come to terms with their own emotional baggage as well as parents seeking the best way to rear their children, The Favorite Child makes for rewarding reading.
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  • Dr. Ellen Weber Libby
    Dr. Ellen Weber Libby  

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"American history is full of great achievers brought down by self-regard, fantasies of invulnerability, and indifference to the truth. Psychologist Ellen Weber Libby has witnessed such personal dramas over three decades of clinical practice in the nation’s capital and in thoughtful observation of the American scene. Now, she distills her insights in an important volume of wide interest not only to her fellow therapists but also to scholars in many fields and to everyone – parents and children – concerned about the quality of our intertwined private and public lives…."
—Robert A. Gross, James L. and Shirley A. Draper Professor of Early American History, University of Connecticut

"Dr. Libby’s illuminating exploration and her understanding of the profound and complex issues of being a favorite child challenge us all to be more thoughtful and aware of our impact on a child’s eventual character, expectations, and performance in the world. Powerful and provocative, this is a must read."
—Ellen Schiff, PhD, psychologist in private practice, Bethesda, MD

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591027621
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 1/26/2010
  • Pages: 230
  • Sales rank: 1,439,429
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Ellen Weber Libby, PhD (Annapolis, MD), is a licensed clinical psychologist who has been in private practice in Washington, DC, for over thirty years. Her professional experience includes the position of clinical director of a mental health center serving a three-county region and service on the faculty at the University of Maryland where she had significant responsibility for clinical training of students. Dr. Libby writes a blog for Psychology Today called "The Favorite Child": http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-favorite-child
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Table of Contents

Preface 9

Acknowledgments 11

Introduction: Favorite Child-The Road to Power 15

Section 1 Favoritism: IT's All Around US

Chapter 1 Every Family Has Its Story 27

Chapter 2 Favoritism: Known to All 45

Section 2 The Favorite Child Complex

Chapter 3 The Favorite Child Complex 65

Chapter 4 Who's the Favorite and Who Isn't 75

Chapter 5 They're All My Favorites 99

Chapter 6 Rewards and Risks of Being the Favorite 123

Section 3 Children's Stories

Chapter 7 Father's Favorite Son 153

Chapter 8 Father's Favorite Daughter 179

Chapter 9 Mother's Favorite Son 199

Chapter 10 Mother's Favorite Daughter 213

Chapter 11 The Overlooked Child 241

Chapter 12 Conclusion 257

Suggested Readings 275

Notes 277

Index 283

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Preface

Preface by Howard M. Halpern, Ph.D.
Author of the bestselling How To Break Your Addiction to a Person

For more than thirty years veteran clinical psychologist Ellen Weber Libby has been helping successful, often-powerful clients in Washington, DC-a place known for its outsized personalities-deal with their personal problems. One pattern that has emerged out of some 60,000 hours of therapy is what she calls "the favorite child complex." In this groundbreaking book, she describes in intimate detail how being the favorite child can confer both great advantages and also significant emotional handicaps.
While many of Dr. Libby's clients are successful because of their favorite-child status-they have been brought up to believe that they can do anything and are unafraid of challenges- they suffer from an array of personality problems. Behind the outward appearance of money, power, charm, and attractive looks, they feel an intense pressure to maintain the façade at all costs. Sometimes their ability to tell the truth becomes shaky; sometimes intimate relationships are elusive.
In a series of chapters that offer insightful vignettes from actual therapy sessions (the identities of clients carefully disguised), Dr. Libby explores why parents, consciously or unconsciously, choose a favorite child as well as the long-term effects of being the favorite son or daughter of either or both parents.
She also discusses family situations where parents have successfully made each of their children feel favored and have instilled in their children a healthy emotional balance. She details parental skills and family processes that increase the likelihood of this type of successand that, most importantly, reduce the risk of the favorite child's curse-power corrupted.
Illuminating for adults trying to come to terms with their own emotional baggage as well as young parents seeking the best way to rear their children, The Favorite Child makes for rewarding reading.
Read More Show Less

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