I have already written about narcissistic parents in other articles and now I am going to look, in a little more detail, at such parents’ typical patterns of behaviour.
The psychologist Brown, an expert in this area, highlights for us the kinds of characteristics the narcissistic parent frequently has; these are :
1) A need to constantly be the centre of attention
2) A need for constant and unconditional admiration from others
3) A need to be treated at all times with special consideration / as having special entitlement
5) Lacks empathy
6) Has shallow emotions
7) Sees her children as an extension of herself
8) Exploits others
9) Emotionally abusive towards others
Below : The narcissist’s universe
Let’s look at each of these nine areas in turn :
1) A need to constantly be the centre of attention –
She may try to achieve this by being boastful, sulking, having tantrums, complaining (often about trivialities), frequently teasing others
2) A need for constant and unconditional admiration from others –
She may display great vanity, seek status (eg try to form relationships with people of high social standing), make excessive demands to be shown gratitude, be desperate to gain compliments and approval, overspend to impress others, gloat, neglect family to seek status/limelight for herself.
3) Expects at all times to be treated with special consideration / has deep sense of own entitlement –
She may feel what she has to say is far more important than what anyone else has to say, get angry if she believes she has somehow been overlooked, expect to receive better service than the ‘run-of-the-mill’ person, have excessive expectations of others to do things and say things to make her feel special (and become annoyed and angry if they do not), expect always to be deferred to by others, be inconsiderate of others, be contemptuous and disdainful of others, demand unwavering obedience, frequently issue ‘orders’, and always regard her own needs of taking priority over the needs of others
4) Grandiosity –
She may have an highly inflated opinion of herself, have false prtensions, exaggerate achievements, and constantly try to impress others (however, beneath this their lies a sense of deep inadequacy).
She may react very badly to even a hint of criticism, see others as inferior, be very arrogant, find it very hard to laugh at herself.
5) Lacks empathy –
She may be extremely insensitive to the feelings of others, be very bad at listening to others, blame others for their own negative feelings, change the subject when others are talking about things that have great emotional significance for them, belittle/criticize the feelings of others (eg by telling the person they are being ridiculously oversensitive), regard her own feelings as being of far greater importance than the feelings of others.
6) Has shallow emotions –
Because she has shallow emotions, she may fake feelings such as pretending to be concerned when another person is upset but then give herself away shortly afterwards by saying something obviously insensitive, changing the subject back to herself or generally displaying a complete lack of proper understanding.
She may also take no pleasure in the happiness of others (eg if they are pleased because they have made a particular achievement, such as getting a good degree) and may resent and be jealous of such happiness
Whilst she experiences mainly shallow emotions, there are two notable exceptions to this which are ANGER and FEAR.
7) Sees her children as an extension of herself –
Children treated by the narcissistic parent as an extension of herself will tend to fail two extremely imprtant developmental tasks – the tasks of INDIVIDUATION and SEPARATION. As a result, they may have A VERY POOR SENSE OF THEIR OWN IDENTITY AND OF WHO THEY REALLY ARE (click here to read my article on this). They can fail to differentiate between where their ‘self starts’ and where their ‘self ends’; in other words, they only have a vague notion of which aspects of themselves are under their own control and which are not.
The narcissistic parent who views her child as an extension of herself does not fully regard the child as an individual who is separate from herself. As such, she will tend to :
– not respect the child’s boundaries
– interfere inappropriately in the detail of the child’s life
– act in an overbearing and over-controlling manner towards the child
– become angry with, and resent, the child if s/he rebels against such behaviour
– become offended if the child’s opinion on particular matters is at odds with her own
– deny the child appropriate choice in decisions affecting his/her own life
– expect the child to be compliant, at all times, with her own wishes and needs
– expect the child to neglect his/her own needs in order to help her to satisfy her own
8) Exploits others –
She may see others existing solely as objects to help her fulfill her own needs. She may, too, sever all connections with ‘friends’ when they cease to be of use to her. Further characteristics may include :
– being ruthless in getting what she wants
– lying and dishonesty / distortion of the truth to serve her own interests /prone to exaggeration
– manipulation of others
– making frequent use of emotional blackmail
– frequently expects favours and becoming angry if they are not granted, but rarely returns such favours
– avoid feeling shame and guilt by rationalizing (justifying to herself) the things that she says and does; any expression of shame and guilt is likely to be faked
9) Emotionally abusive towards others –
She may be very adept at verbally hurting others (knowing their sensitive points/weak spots/emotional triggers). She is also likely to expect the person she is abusing to simply accept her abuse uncomplainingly even though she would never tolerate it were the boot on the other foot, so to speak. Also, she may :
– make frequent upsetting, hurtful, degrading and disparaging remarks to others
– unfairly and aggressively blame others
– makes others feel constantly defensive when in her company
– belittle, or show minimal interest in the attainments and achievements of others
– become verbally aggressive to others when they have done nothing to deserve such treatment
– displace (take out) her own disappointment in life, frustrations, regrets etc on others
– project her own, unconscious, negative image of herself onto others
NB : ALL BEHAVIOURS LISTED ABOVE MAY BE DIRECTED TOWARDS THE NARCISSISTIC PARENT’S CHILD, THUS MAKING HIS/HER CHILDHOOD ALL BUT IMPOSSIBLE.
In later posts, I will look at how we may defend ourselves against the narcissistic parent.
Dealing With Narcissistic Behavior : Click HERE
Improve Relationship With Mother : Click HERE
Ten Steps To Assertiveness : Click HERE
Above e-books now available for immediate download from Amazon. $4.99 each. CLICK HERE (other titles also available).
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).