Category Archives: Effect Of Narcissistic Parents Articles

Shame Caused By Childhood Trauma And How We Try To Repress It.

trauma and shame

 

We have seen in other articles published on this site that if we have experienced significant childhood trauma we may, as adults, develop profound feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, self-hatred, rock-bottom self-esteem, feelings of being ‘innately bad’ and irrational self-blame for what we experienced. This pernicious brew of feelings about the self can devastate every area of our lives and cause us to live with a deep, abiding sense of shame.

Because feelings of such shame are so psychologically painful to live with, some individuals may develop certain psychological defense mechanisms (the cause of which is generally unconscious) in order to banish them from conscious awareness into the dark recesses of the unconscious where they simmer and fester.

According to the psychoanalyst, Joseph Burgo, PhD., the three main types of defense mechanisms we may unconsciously be driven to employ in a desperate attempt to avoid feeling this shame are as follows:

narcissism

– blame

– contempt

Let’s look at each of these defense mechanisms in turn.

NARCISSISM:

Narcissists have a relentless and desperate need to prove to both themselves and others that they are superior. They crave admiration from others and aspire to make themselves the object of great envy.

They feel that they must perpetually be the centre of attention and may be driven to achieve, or attempt to achieve, high social status (including ‘social climbing’), earning a high salary, and seeking positions of power.

Or they may always try to appear cleverer, wittier or more interesting than those around them (although these attempts, especially if perceived as desperate, generally serve only to annoy, irritate and alienate others, as opposed to enthralling them).

narcissistic defense

They tend, too, to treat others as if they are beneath them. However, their view of themselves as superior beings is often strongly out of kilter with reality – in other words, they may suffer something approaching delusions of grandeur. Indeed, they may provoke comments from others such as the following (overused) one: Who does she think she is? The Queen of Sheeba?’ Or others may regard them as a prima donna.

To reiterate, this constant need to view themselves as superior is a desperate attempt to avoid coming face-to-face with who they (deep down) believe they really are, as fully experiencing such a deep sense of worthlessness and shame is psychologically intolerable to them.

BLAME:

Because acceptance of failure would cause the individual who feels worthless and inadequate in the core of his/her being, and who needs to keep these feelings repressed, s/he cannot tolerate criticism and will shift the blame onto others when things go wrong. Such individuals may also be perfectionists.

CONTEMPT:

Another defense mechanism an individual may utilize in an attempt to keep feelings of shame buried in the unconscious is to ‘look down’ on others and to see them as inferior beings to be mocked or pitied. Such individuals may relish the humiliation of others and delight in their failures. The more s/he can view others as beneath him/her, the more effectively s/he can keep his/her own profound feelings of inferiority and shame at bay.

The Role Of Therapy:

Psychoanalysis can help the individual realize that his/her core feelings of inadequacy and shame, hitherto largely unconscious, were caused by his/her childhood trauma that the trauma was not his/her fault and by absolutely no means means s/he is inferior, worthless, or, in any way whatsoever, needs to feel ashamed. Under the supervision of a skilled therapist, this can cause the individual’s dysfunctional defense mechanisms to start to melt away so that s/he may start to live an altogether more authentic life.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Is Your Mother Narcissistic?

I have already published several articles on the effects on us of being brought up by a narcissistic parent. In this article, I intend to focus upon the main characteristics that are frequently found in narcissistic mothers. These characteristics are as follows:

1) Self-absorption : she regards her own needs as absolutely paramount which completely take precedence over the needs of her children. Indeed, she fails to properly recognise her own children as distinct and separate individuals with their own unique needs; if their needs get in the way of her own, she is likely to bitterly resent the fact. She is selfish and has a strong need to be admired by others and to be the centre of attention. For example, she may expect her own birthdays to be treated as a cause for international celebration, dancing in the street, ticker- tape parades and a twenty-one gun salute whilst resenting the birthdays of her children for deflecting attention from herself (as I have written elsewhere, my own mother utterly ignored me on the morning of my thirteenth birthday due to my having incurred her displeasure for some minor infraction the previous day).

2) Lack of empathy : this is one of the main hallmarks of the narcissist. She does not only lack empathy for her own children, but for other people in general. In this way, she invalidates the importance of her children’s own feelings, worries, concerns and problems by dismissing, ignoring or minimising them.

3) Warped relationship with her children: she may exploit and ‘parentify’ her child (click here to read my article on ‘parentification’), expecting him/her to cater for her emotional needs rather than the other way around. She may, too, scapegoat one child – often the most sensitive and vulnerable child (click here to read my article about how children may be ‘scapegoated’) whilst favouring another child (perhaps treating this other child as a ‘golden child’).

Often, too, any attempt children make to demonstrate affection for the narcissistic mother may be coldly rebuffed. As regards any loving, affectionate behaviour flowing from the mother to the children, this is likely to be extremely minimal or utterly non-existent.

The narcissistic mother may relate to a child in a strangely intense and possessive manner as a means to manipulating and controlling the child.

Also, she is only interested in her children doing well so that it will reflect well on her and enable her to ‘bathe in reflected glory.’ What the child him/herself derives from his/her success is largely immaterial to the narcissistic. Indeed. If she herself does not gain psychologically from her children’s success she is liable to resent it.

download

4) Makes sure her child’s appearance is always immaculate in order to give the outward display to others that she is a ‘good and caring’ mother. She may, too, be extremely dictatorial about what the child wears, how s/he has his/her hair cut etc… Again, this is because she is only concerned that the child’s appearance reflects well upon her. She is unlikely to care, or take any notice of, what the child would like to wear / how s/he would like his/her hair cut.

 

5) Uninterested in your hobbies/interests but expects you to be fascinated by her own. Eg Never coming to watch you play a sport you excel in or even ask you about it whilst expecting you come to watch every performance of an Amateur Dramatics production in which she is performing and subsequently to express your ‘limitless admiration’ for her ‘supreme, Oscar-deserving, acting abilities’.

6) Prone to outbursts of extreme outbursts of narcissist rage/hysteria often over very petty issues and refuses to be pacified

7) Can psychologically terrorize her children

8) Lacks maternal instinct – does not derive pleasure from her children and frequently resents them as a burden and great inconvenience

9) If challenged denies her behaviour harms her children and may lie to cover up her treatment of them. She is highly sensitive to criticism in general and extremely defensive.

10) Projects her own faults onto others, particularly her selfishness.

11) Her moods pervade and dominate the home.

12) Can be sulky and petulant in a childish way and employ passive-aggressive strategies to emotionally punish her children such as the ‘silent treatment’ (click here to read my article on the ‘silent treatment’).

13) Vengeful and spiteful – driven to ‘get even’ with those whom she perceives to have ‘crossed her’.

14) If her child is suffering a crisis, she may actually derive pleasure and excitement from the drama of it

15) She does not experience shame in connection with her behaviour.

 

Resources:

.     Dealing With Narcissistic Behaviour (instantly downloadable hypnotherapy audio). Click here for further details.

 

David Hosier BSc; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Sadistic-Narcissistic Parents And Their Effects

Sadistic-narcissistic parents need to feel superior to others and maintain power and control over them.

In order to achieve this end, s/he is willing to inflict pain upon others, most frequently emotional and psychological pain, but sometimes physical pain too.

Sadistic-narcissistic parents will frequently be prepared to inflict such pain on his/her own children in order to maintain power and control over them. This sometimes involves scapegoating one child (usually the most sensitive and vulnerable) whilst largely sparing the more favoured/psychologically tougher child. This more favoured child may sometimes join with the sadistic-narcissistic parent in scapegoating the more vulnerable child.

Indeed, it was my own misfortune to experience such a malignant and poisonous alliance between my own mother and older brother, which I have referred to elsewhere so will not repeat here (to read my article on how the child can become the family scapegoat, click here).

The infliction of psychological and emotional pain upon the child by the sadistic-narcissistic parent may include:

– humiliating him/her (eg cruel and derogatory name-calling, palpably motivated by spite)

– threats of abandonment and total rejection

– ignoring him/her in a vindictive manner for protracted periods of time in order to intensify the child’s feelings of insecurity and of being unwanted

– saying to the child ‘I wish you’d never been born’



Dealing With Narcisstic Behaviour hypnotherapy MP3: click here for more details


 

At the risk of sounding self-indulgent, all of the above were frequent occurrences in my own childhood, it feels me with pain to report.

The sadistic-narcissistic parent is able to behave in this extraordinary and shocking manner as s/he feels no empathy with his/her children and is sadly devoid of, or severely deficient in, feelings of normal parental protectiveness, love and affection.

Furthermore, after behaving towards his/her children in such a way, the sadistic-narcissistic parent will feel little or no genuine remorse, but, instead, justify and rationalise his/her behaviour by telling him/ herself, as well as others, that the child ‘deserved’ it and ‘brought it upon themselves’. And, whilst it may sound like parody, s/he may actually blame the child for ‘making [him/her] behave that way.’

The psychologist, Vaknin, an expert in this field, has put forward the theory that the sadistic-narcissistic parent behaves in this way to gain ‘narcisstic supply’ ( the word ‘supply’ here refers to the feeding of the sadistic-narcissistic parent’s ferocious and insatiable hunger for power and control) or to punish those who have previously provided him/her with such narcisstic supply but have stopped being sufficiently ( in the view of the sadistic-narcissistic parent) compliant, respectful, obedient and admiring of him/her.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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Characteristics Of Narcissistic Mothers

I have already published several articles about narcissism on this site (see MAIN MENU AT TOP OF PAGE) but, in this post, want to look at some of the characteristics a narcissistic mother is likely to possess:

She only appreciates her children for the benefit she can derive from them. For example, she may push them to succeed in areas of their lives (such as playing a musical instrument to reflect well on her. Or she may discipline them in damaging ways to ensure they never show her up in public. Similarly, she may ensure they are always immaculately dressed. She does not care how such things affect her children, but only that they reflect well on her and make her look like a good mother to outsiders.

She does not take pleasure in her children enjoying themselves and may resent it.

She seems devoid of any maternal instinct and is unable to feel true, selfless, unconditional love for her children nor does she empathise with them – their happiness does not make her feel happy, just as their sadness does not make her sad

If the child tries to show her affection, she is likely to reject the offer or even mock it. Once, for example, when I was extremely I’ll with depression, I tried to hold my mother’s hand which reciprocated no reassuring squeeze or pressure but sat in mine an inert a lifeless thing, like a cold, dead fish.

She is likely to be very prone to outbursts of utterly disproportionate and entirely unprovoked outbursts of extreme rage over the most trivial things and at such times is likely to become verbally and emotionally abusive.

However inappropriate and outrageous her behavior she does not experience shame afterwards but will always rationalize it and justify herself ( eg she will often claim her behavior was entirely the fault of others for ‘driving [her] to it’ and ‘provoking’ her

She may cruelly tease the child and then, when s/he becomes upset, may berate the child by saying s/he can’t take a ‘joke’, is ‘oversensitive’ or claim that the teasing was ‘meant affectionately.’

She exploits her children and may parentify them. For example. my own mother used me as her own personal counselor, starting before I was even in my teens, going as far as to refer to me as her ‘Little Psychiatrist’ despite the fact I was already developing symptoms of profound emotional disturbance myself.

Often projects (a psychological defense mechanism) her own failings onto others which leads her to constantly criticizing them for possessing the very same faults she has, whether, in reality, they do actually have these faults or not, laying herself wide open to charges of hypocrisy.

She resents the time her children take up and any effort she has to make on their behalf as this interferes with her pursuing her own goals and interests which, of course, take precedence over those of her children

She is utterly intolerant and dismissive of any criticisms against her and is exceptionally defensive in relation to this

She self-absorbed. obsessed with her self-image and likely to be exceedingly vain

If her child complains about how his/her mother behaves towards him/her, she (the mother) is likely to undermine and invalidate this complaint aggressively and with alacrity.

NB It is important to keep in mind that only an appropriately qualified and experienced professional can diagnose Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

RELATED POST :

READ MY RELATED POST : CHARACTERISTICS OF ABUSIVE MOTHERS. CLICK HERE.

 

Resources:

‘Dealing With Narcissistic Behavior’ Hypnotherapy Download : Click here.

 

Ebook:

 

 

Above ebook available for immediate download on Amazon. Click here for details.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

 

 

 

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Narcissistic Parents? The Possible Adverse Effects.

narcissistic parents

Possible Effects Of Narcissistic Parents :

I have already posted many articles on this site on the subject of narcissism (see NARCISSISM ARTICLES in the main menu or in CATEGORIES in the right hand sidebar) and in this article I want to look at the many ways that having been brought up by a narcissist may have negatively impacted our childhood experience and adversely affected our psychological development. These possible effects are as follows:

1) SENSE OF BEING INTRINSICALLY BAD: If our narcissistic parents did not love us we are likely to feel that there is something INTRINSICALLY BAD about us and that the profound essence of who we are is somehow repellent to others no matter what our superficial behaviour. In my own case, I certainly felt this; if people were nice to me I assumed it was due to pity or politeness. Because, as children, we are genetically programmed to believe and learn from parents, we feel our narcissistic parents’ constant negative appraisal of us must be correct, and, as a result, we carry around with us a deep sense of personal shame.

2) PERFECTIONISM: if our narcissistic parents were constantly highly critical of us when we were children we may have believed that if only we could stop making the ‘mistakes’ that seemed to displease the NP we could finally win his/her approval (a vain hope, sadly, as nothing would ever have been enough for the NP).

We may, therefore, have developed an obsession with ‘getting everything right’ or perfectionism; this is often likely represent a subconscious drive to finally win love from our NP.

This can lead to high levels of anxiety, so we need to realise that our NP’s expectations of us were not only utterly unreasonable but also completely unobtainable.

Only then can we get off the treadmill, accept we are human and inevitably prone to making human errors just like everyone else.

3) LOW SELF-ESTEEM: if, pretty much from birth, we were treated as unimportant and not mattering very much, shown little interest oraffection and not listened to, it is easy to see that we are likely to become adults with serious self-esteem problems.

Linked to this, we are likely to have low confidence and difficulties with asserting ourselves.

4) PROBLEMS WITH OUR RELATIONSHIPS: many people who are abused by their parents are, as Sigmund Freud pointed out, likely to have an unconscious drive to repeat similar abusive experiences as adults, perhaps by always forming relationships with abusive partners.

Freud referred to this as a REPETITION COMPULSION and it is based on the theory we are unconsciously driven to keep repeating our abusive experiences so that we can, eventually, ‘master’ them.

5) ADDICTIONS : we are more likely to develop addictions than the average person to help numb the intensity of our emotional pain, or, to use a technical term, to dissociate.

effects_of_narcissistic_mother

6) PERPETUAL, UNFULFILLED HOPE: we may constantly hope that we will finally be able to resolve our problems with our narcissistic parents but find that a permanent rapproachment remains stubbornly elusive.

7) PROBLEMS WITH TRUST : if we found we were unable to rely upon our narcissistic parents, it is probable we will generalize these feelings of distrust onto other people we interact with in our adult lives.

8) PRONENESS TO SELF-HARM : physically self-harming (such as self-burning, self-cutting etc) detracts our attention from unbearable psychological pain and also floods the brain with endorphins (these are chemicals produced in the brain which have a soothing effect upon us; we use self-harm to induce this as it is probable, due to our childhoods, we have never learned more helpful self-soothing techniques).

9) PRONENESS TO SELF-NEGLECT – if we have learned from our NP to believe we are worthless, we may stop bothering to look after ourselves (it sounds disgusting, but when my illness was at its worse I went three months without properly washing or changing my clothes – my socks became all but welded to my feet).

10) PRONE TO UNDERACHIEVEMENT: we may, unconsciously, be driven to underachieve as, deep down, our narcissistic parent has made us feel we are not worthy of success. Indeed, if we had success in childhood, our NP may have resented this, as it detracted attention from him/herself.

11)PRONE TO OVERACHIEVEMENT: alternatively, we may be strongly driven to overachieve due to an unconscious overwhelming need to finally win our narcissistic parents’ approval and love. Such individuals may become obsessive workaholics.

12) EXISTENTIAL LONELINESS : rejection by our narcissistic parents can lead to a deep sense of painful, existential loneliness in our adulthood.

13) SOCIAL ANXIETY : due to the fact we feel intrinsically unlikeable, we are likely, as adults, to find it difficult to interact confidently with others.

Unfortunately, believing this can become a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy – our lack of confidence and subsequent awkwardness may be sensed by others and make them feel uncomfortable, leading them to withdraw from us.

We are then likely to (falsely) interpret this as evidence we are intrinsically unlikeable.

14) DISLIKE CELEBRATIONS : our narcissistic parents may have resented our celebrations when we were young as it would detract attention from him/her.

I remember, due, apparently, to a minor argument with her the night before, my single mother completely ignored me on my 13th birthday, not even acknowledging me when I got up in the morning and went downstairs to the room in which she was sitting.

However, she made as much out of her own birthdays as possible, excitedly talking about what presents I might like to buy her days, even weeks, in advance.

Such experiences can lead to us being uncertain how to deal with celebrations that centre on us as adults. In my own case, for example, I did not attend any of the three graduation celebrations I was entitled to attend to receive my degrees/diplomas.

15) PRONENESS TO QUESTION OUR OWN PERCEPTION OF REALITY: this is a particularly devastating effect of having an narcissistic parents.

The narcissistic parent, with his/her pathological need to protect his/her self-image, will deny and invalidate our perception of our own childhoods using every available tactic – evasiveness, dissembling, outright denial, minimization etc.

Research suggests that such invalidation of our adverse childhood experiences is especially psychologically harmful and can prove a significant obstacle to recovery.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Narcissism : The Sub-types.

 

 narcissism-subtypes

I have already written several articles on the possible adverse effects of having been brought up by a narcissistic parent, including the fact that this may lead us ourselves to develop narcissistic tendencies. In this article, I want to look at narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) in rather more detail by examining its subtypes.

 

1) ACQUIRED SITUATIONAL NARCISSISM – this type of narcissism can develop as a result of an individual acquiring great wealth , celebrity and/or status.

In the case of celebrities, for example, their narcissistic tendencies may be encouraged due to the adoring, sometimes worshipful, behaviour of fans, attention from the media, the sycophantic manner in which they are treated by deferential and submissive assistants, and the obsequiousness of general hangers- on and ‘Yes-men.’

If the person had incipient narcissistic traits prior to achieving celebrity status, these may become exacerbated by his/her new station in life leading to the development of full- blown narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

2) AGGRESSIVE NARCISSISM – a person with this type of narcissism has a grandiose view of him/herself, is prone to pathological lying, lacks empathy, lacks the ability to feel remorse, is cunning and manipulative and, not uncommonly, will display a superficial charm (it overlaps – ie. has features in common with – antisocial personality disorder.

3) CODEPENDENT/INVERTED NARCISSISM – the individual who suffers from this psychological condition is drawn towards/attracted to classical narcissists, feeding their emotional needs and becoming codependent upon them

4) COLLECTIVE/GROUP NARCISSISM – this syndrome entails an individual developing a grandiose, highly superior and elevated view of both him/herself and the group to which s/he belongs.

When all group members view themselves and their group in this elitist manner the group itself may morph into a narcissistic entity.

Ethnocentrism is an example of this; it involves a whole culture or ethnic group regarding itself as far superior to others, rather like many of those who oversaw the building of the British Empire.

5) CONVERSATIONAL NARCISSISM – in the case of this form of narcissism the individual has a great need to talk about him/herself and, if the conversation diverts from this topic, s/he is likely to make efforts to revert it back to being about him/herself.

6) CORPORATE NARCISSISM – this refers to an individual who runs a corporation and is obsessed with profits to the extent of being prepared to act morally unscrupulously and even criminally.  S/he is not adverse to exploiting those who can help him/her achieve this goal (eg. employees).

Whilst such a strategy can be effective in the short-term, in the long term it tends to alienate employees and the general public.

corporate_narcissism

Mr Burns : The ultimate corporate narcissist. Excellent.

7) CROSS-CULTURAL NARCISSISM – this refers to individuals who are immigrants but are also fiercely and aggressively of the view that the original culture from which they came is vastly superior to the new culture which imbues his/her new geographically location.

8) MALIGNANT NARCISSISM – the malignant narcissist can be regarded as a hybrid of a classical narcissist and someone suffering from antisocial personality disorder. Additionally, s/he frequently displays paranoid traits.

Such individuals often go to extreme lengths to gain, and hold onto, power over, and control of, others.

They are likely, too, to despise, ridicule and display general contempt and disdain for anyone who has authority over them.

If it comes to the choice between another person liking them or being afraid of them, they will tend to prefer the latter scenario.

Their lust for power and success leads them to becoming trapped on a treadmill, forever chasing more of these things and never being satisfied with the extent to which they already have them.

Because of the obsessive nature of the condition, and the individual’s inability to ever feel satisfied, it often leads to psychological breakdown and illness, hence its name: malignant narcissism.

9) MEDICAL NARCISSISM – this refers to people in the medical profession, such as surgeons, who have an unhealthy, powerful drive to appear utterly competent and infallible at all times; it is unhealthy as it can lead such individuals to hide and cover up their errors so that their patients and colleagues are not made aware of them. This is a form of negligence which may, of course, lead to suboptimal treatment of patients, or, in extreme cases, serious harm to them.

Those who suffer from this syndrome are sometimes referred to as having a ‘god-complex’.

10) PHALLIC NARCISSISM – those who suffer from this hold themselves in extremely high regard, tend to have great social aspirations (a desperate desire to ascend the ‘social ladder’), are desperate to obtain the admiration of others, are self-promoting, prone to boastfulness, vain and highly sensitive in relation to how they are perceived by others. They are, too, often reckless.

Whilst determined to achieve their goals and outwardly self-assured, their condition arises from a drive to overcompensate for inner feelings of deep, personal inadequacy.

11) SEXUAL NARCISSISM – individuals with this condition perceive themselves as having great sexual prowess and also have a strong sense of entitlement regarding having sex with others, as if it were their natural right and due. This can lead to sexually predatory behaviour.

Again, this type of narcissism is a form of overcompensation for having low self-esteem and those afflicted by it usually have problems with experiencing emotional and psychological closeness/intimacy with others.

12) SPIRITUAL NARCISSISM – people with this condition are of the view that their religious/spiritual beliefs make them superior (especially morally) to others. Essentially, their religious beliefs feed their ego (and, again, this is likely to be a compensatory measure caused by an inner sense of inadequacy).

13) UNPRINCIPLED NARCISSISM – people with this condition have very little or no conscience, are unempathetic and uninterested in the feelings and needs of others, are duplicitous, devious, dishonest, unscrupulous, amoral, interpersonally exploitative and regard life as a game that must be won at almost any cost. Highly competitive, the quote ( I forget from whom):

‘It is not enough for me to succeed, my friends must fail’

is, perhaps, a not altogether inaccurate summation of their attitude to life.

14) AMOUROUS NARCISSIST – individuals with this type of narcissism view themselves as highly sexually desirable and use their sexuality to manipulate and control others. Seduction, for them, is a game and they need to make sexual conquests to give themselves a sense of self-worth.

They tend to exploit their partners and can often be what are colloquially referred to as ‘heartbreakers’.

15) FANATIC NARCISSISM – individuals of this type have low self-esteem which is usually due to having experienced significant childhood trauma. They compensate for lack of success in their lives through living a rich fantasy life in which they may imagine achieving great things and gaining unlimited social admiration. They also tend to have paranoid traits.

16) COMPENSATORY NARCISSISM – this type overlaps with/underpins many of the above types of narcissism. Those suffering from the condition have feelings of inadequacy stemming from traumatic childhood experiences and retreat into a fantasy world in which they can compensate for their failure in real life by being a great success in their internal, imaginative worlds.

They are often passive a aggressive and, because they are very concerned about what others think ofthem, are prone to experiencing high levels of social anxiety.

17) CEREBRAL NARCISSISM – with this type, the person holds themselves in excessively high regard, and views him/herself as superior to others, for the intellectual abilities of which s/he perceives him/herself to be in possession.

18) SOMATIC NARCISSISM – a person with this condition is besotted by his/her own body/body image and highly physically self-admiring. S/he regards his/her deeply attractive body ( according to his/her own estimations) as bestowing upon him/herself superior status compared to those cruelly devoid of similar physical attributes.

Resources:

Hypnotherapy MP3/Instant download. DEALING WITH NARCISSISTS : click here.

 

 

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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The Narcissistic Defence (And Why It Is Self-Defeating).

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If we frequently felt threatened when we were growing up, it is likely we have developed a dysfunctional response to perceived danger, threat and stress now that we are adults. Many of us may find we react in a more volatile way to such experiences compared to the average person (all else being equal).

This is likely to be because our childhood experiences have caused us to have difficulty regulating (controlling) our emotions ( in some cases this can be because our childhood experiences have adversely affected the development of a brain region involved in the processing of our emotions ; this brain region is called the AMYGDALA – click here to read my article on this).

In relation to this, not untypically, we may find we have an exaggerated and augmented fight response  to perceived danger (both physical and psychological). If this is the case, it is possible, too, that we have developed commensurate narcissistic traits as a psychological defence mechanism : the narcissistic defence.

The individual who uses the narcissistic defence is, usually on an unconscious level, using power and control to prevent abandonment and secure love; s/he is responding to the threat of abandonment with anger. As already stated, this can be as a result of having felt frequently threatened as a child, but, also, especially, if too, we were spoiled and given insufficient limits during our childhood or were allowed to imitate an aggressive, narcissistic parent.

Individuals using the narcissistic defence may frequently display contempt for others, intimidating them for the purposes of their own psychological needs. They may, too, see others less as individuals in their own right and more as extensions of themselves.

Often, too, they will form relationships with subservient and submissive types in order to more easily dominate and control them. As a result, the dominated party may lose all sense of his/her identity and lose touch with his/her own needs, preoccupied as s/he is in catering to the endless psychological demands and needs of the narcissistic partner.

However, such individuals who have developed this narcissistic defence are frequently not true, full-blown, card carrying narcissists (ie. they would not meet the diagnostic threshold to be diagnosed as suffering from narcissistic personality disorder).

Whilst full-blown narcissists are very hard to treat, the type described above is amenable to therapeutic intervention. They can be helped to understand that their criticisms, intimidation of, and contempt for others alienates potential intimates.

narcissistic_defence

Their demanding, over-cotrolling behaviour leads to a vicious cycle: feelings of abandonment leads them to making excessive use of power tactics and controlling behaviour; this,  in turn, causes the person so treated to be scared away and to, in effect, emotionally withdraw; this then leads to feelings of even greater abandonment leading to even more extreme controlling behaviour and so on as infinitum…

THERAPY :

The individual who uses the narcissistic defence needs to redirect hishis/her anger, which s/he displaces on to undeserving others, onto how his/her childhood was managed resulting in his/her intimacy-destroying behaviour. His/her misdirected anger is an acting out of his/her sadness and hurt in relation to his/her childhood. Such individuals need to allow themselves to be sad about their childhood. It may also be necessary for them to work at developing their empathetic skills.

childhood_emotional_abuse

Above eBook now available from Amazon. Click here.

(Other titles available).

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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Are You A Narcissist?

are you a narcissist?

Are You A Narcissist?

If we were brought up by a narcissistic parent, it is possible that we ourselves have developed narcissistic traits by the processes of modelling and learning.

If you want to get an indication of whether this may be true of you, read through the following statements. The statements do NOT make up a diagnostic tool, but narcissists tend to answer AGREE with the following statements:

‘ARE YOU A NARCISSIST?’ TEST :

1)  I regard myself as an extraordinary person

2) I can easily make people believe anything I say

3) I like to be complimented

4) People are always interested in my stories

5) I like to show off

6) It’s important to me that I amount to something in the eyes of the world

7) I regard myself as having very good leadership potential

8) I like to look at/show off my body.

9) I regard myself as a special person

10) I am extremely concerned that others perceive me as a great success

nacissism test

Above – The Ancient Greek Mythological Youth – Narcissus

11) I am very concerned that I achieve worldly success

12) I know that I’m destined to be successful

13) If someone dares me to do something, it’s very likely that I’ll do it

14) If I get into trouble I can almost always talk my way out of it

15) I enjoy being the center of attention

16) If I ruled the world, I’d be able to make it a better place for people to live in

17) I enjoy being in authority over others

18) I am a good manipulator and am capable of manipulating others when necessary

19) Respect from others is my due and I insist upon getting it

20) I must get all I deserve and will not rest until I get it

21) I very much desire to be a powerful person

22) I believe that I am a natural leader and very much wish to be one

23) It is my right to live my life precisely as I choose

24) I think I would make an excellent subject for a biography and would like it if, one day, someone wrote it.

25) When I am in public I like to be the centre of attention and resent it if people fail to notice me

26) I am a far more capable person than average.

 

THE ACTUAL DIAGNOSTIC CRITERIA FOR NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER, FROM THE DSM V (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V) ARE AS FOLLOWS:

– grandiose sense of self-importance

– expects to be seen as superior (though lacks commensurate achievements)

– preoccupied with fantasies of enormous success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love

– sees self as ‘special’ and as someone who should only associate with other special/high status individuals

– has a strong sense of ‘entitlement’/expects others to treat him/her especially favourably

– interpersonally exploitative

– lacks empathy (does not identify with/recognize needs/feelings of others)

– frequently envies others but also imagines others envy him/her

– frequently displays arrogant behavior

Above adapted from DSM V.

NB. Proper diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder can ONLY be made by a suitably qualified professional. 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc: PGDE(FAHE)

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Emotional Incest

emotional-incest

Emotional Incest

Emotional incest, also sometimes referred to as covert incest or psychic incest, occurs when a parent expects/forces the child to take on the emotional role of an adult/spouse.

Although it does NOT involve sexual intimacy between the child and the parent, it does involve intense emotional intimacy which would far more usually be expected to take place between sexually involved, adult partners.

In my own case, my mother used me to act as her ‘counsellor’ from when I was very young (about 11 years old) and would reinforce this behaviour by referring to me as her ‘Little Psychiatrist.’

 

The child, then, is used to satisfy the parent’s needs. I provide examples of such needs below:

– advice

– companionship

– ego fulfillment (especially if the parent is narcissistic – click here to read my article about the effects of narcissistic parents on their children)

– counselling

– intimacy

– the need to have a confidante

– the need to have a ‘best friend’

– the need to have a substitute spouse

– the need to have a substitute parent (indeed, some parents ‘parentify’ their own children – click to read my article about this

– emotional support

Because the focus within the family dynamic is on the child meeting the needs of the parent, the child’s own needs are likely to be neglected. Examples of such neglected needs include:

– protection

– guidance

– nurturance

– affection

– affirmation

– discipline

– structure

Adverse Effects Of Emotional Incest :

THE ADVERSE EFFECTS ON CHILD OF BEING FORCED TO PARTICIPATE IN AN EMOTIONALLY INCESTUOUS RELATIONSHIP INCLUDE:

– crisis in identity – may vacillate between seeing self as talented and worthless/having high and low self-esteem

-isolation from peers – this can mean the child grows up without developing necessary social skills

– learns to repress/suppress own needs

– development of a compulsion to be ‘special’/excel – as it was learnt in childhood being ‘special’ was the only way to gain the parent’s approval

– become out of touch with own feelings

– personal boundaries fluctuate between being too strong and too weak

– a fear of intimacy and personal commitment (due to unconscious fear of being exploited in the same way as was exploited by the ‘needy’ parent or due to fear that any such relationship will become ‘suffocating’ like the childhood relationship with the parent

– a compulsion may develop to recreate another intense relationship in adulthood (repetition compulsion) or a relationship with a selfish/self-absorbed person (again, repetition compulsion)

– anger

– guilt

– addictions ( eg alcohol, drugs, gambling)

– problems with emotional intimacy

– problems with sexual intimacy

Parents At Risk Of Emotionally Enmeshing Children:

WHICH PARENTS ARE AT GREATEST RISK OF ENMESHING THEIR CHILD INTO AN EMOTIONALLY INCESTUOUS RELATIONSHIP?

– single parents

– divorced parents

– unhappily married parents

– isolated parents with little social support from other adults

– narcissistic parents ( click here to read my article on this)

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

 

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What Does ‘Gaslighting’ Mean?

what-does-gaslighting-mean

The term GASLIGHTING, whilst a colloquialism, is often used by psychologists to refer to a particular type of manipulative behaviour, and form of psychological abuse,which may be employed by narcissists (click here to read my article on the effects of narcissistic mothers on their children), sociopaths, or, indeed, narcissistic sociopaths (or should that be sociopathic narcissists?!).

Gaslighting involves the perpetrator of the psychological abuse systematically and deliberately undermining the victim’s memory, perceptions, judgements, self-esteem, self-confidence, sense of identity and their very sense of reality.

In extreme cases, it can leave the victim questioning their own sanity and becoming actively suicidal.

Gaslighting may involve both denying that certain events ever happened and claiming that other events did happen when, in reality, they did not. It can, then, almost be characterised as a kind of ‘brainwashing’ which is carried out in an insidious and subtle manner over a prolonged period.

what-is-gaslighting

As well as the effects referred to above, the victim may also become depressed, highly anxious, find it increasingly difficult to make own decisions, confused and, paradoxically, increasingly dependent upon their psychological tormentor.

The strategy is used to gain control and power over the victim and may occur within a variety of relationship types, including :

– parent and child

– romantic relationships

– siblings

– ‘friends’

– work colleagues

I have already stated that gaslighting is a long-term strategy, and one of the reasons it can go on for so long is that, in many cases, the victim remains in a state of DENIAL, unable to accept that the other person could be so cruel, darkly calculating and coldly manipulative.

THE 3 STAGES OF RELATIONSHIPS INVOLVING GASLIGHTING:

Typically, relationships involving gaslighting entails 3 stages :

1) IDEALIZATION

2) DEVALUATION

3) DISCARDING

Let’s look at each of these in turn:

IDEALIZATION – in this first stage, the abuser presents the most positive image of themselves possible to entice the victim into a relationship. They may lavish the victim with love, affection and attention, be charming and charismatic, flirtatious, full of fun, energy, enthusiasm and a general joie de vie.

As a result, the victim becomes enamoured of them and imagines that these feelings are reciprocated. Whilst this is not the case, the abuser does obtain a psychological gain : the victim provides the abuser with what has been termed ‘narcissistic supply’ – this refers to the boost of ego derived from the victim’s ‘worshipful’ behaviour towards him/her.

Often, the victim becomes psychologically ‘hooked’, or ‘addicted’ to the abuser during this initial stage.

DEVALUATION – Once the IDEALIZATION stage has run its course, however, it is replaced by the devaluation stage.

In this stage, the abuser abruptly loses interest in the victim, becomes emotionally cold towards him/her and may treat him/her him with contempt and derision.

The victim may well try to win back the abuser (providing the abuser with further narcissistic supply) but to no avail. The abuser continues to treat the victim as worthless, inferior, pathetic and weak.

DISCARDING – finally, once the abuser has derived all the narcissistic supply s/he can from stage 2, s/he loses interest in the victim altogether and discards him/her as s/he might a disposable plastic razor.

 

RESOURCES:

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MP3:

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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