Category Archives: Narcissism Articles

Unempathetic Mothers


An UNEMPATHETIC MOTHER is one who is unable to take her child’s perspective and see things from his/her point of view. For example, if her child responds in a negative way towards her, she is unable to see how her own behaviour contributed to such a response, or to accept that the child’s response may be absolutely normal and understandable given the circumstances. Essentially, she is unable to appreciate how her own behaviour makes her child feel, and how it may negatively impact upon him/her.



The psychologist and writer, Apter, suggests that unempathetic mothers frequently :


For example, she may say things like : ‘I am your mother so you must always show me the utmost respect and never defy me!’


For example, she may say things like : ‘Just accept that I always know what’s best for you, so do what I say without questioning me.’


For example, she may say things like : ‘Be quiet, you’re far too young to have an opinion on this; nobody’s remotely interested in anything you have to say.’


For example, she may say things like : ‘Don’t cry – you made me slap you by provoking me so much; you’d try the patience of a saint. I hope you’re happy now, making me do that!’


For example, she may say things like : ‘Stop crying, you’ve no idea what it is to really suffer – you should try living my life for a day, having to cope with a little bastard like you!’


For example, she may say things like : ‘You’re just a bad kid through and through’ or, even, ‘you’re utterly evil’

Sound familiar?

Sound familiar?


For example, she may say things like : ‘Have you managed to compose yourself now? – it must be awful for you, having such a destructive temper’


For example, she may say things like : (delivered in bored tone) : ‘Yeah…right…uh-huh…uh-huh …’(yawns) ‘sorry, I slept vey badly last night…I’m utterly shattered…it’s not that you’re boring me…’ (yawns again, more ostentatiously this time)


For example, she may say things like : ‘I promise I’ll be the world’s best mother from now on’


For example, she may say things like : ‘I’ve never acted against your interests.’


For example, she may say things like : ‘Oh, you think you’re a big shot, do you? All Hail the big-shot! – don’t make me laugh. You’ll never amount to anything. You’re a complete embarrassment to me and to everybody else who’s ever had the misfortune to know you!’

A particular kind of mother who may be especially prone to behaving in ways suggested above is the NARCISSISTIC MOTHER (click here to read my article about the characteristics of such mothers).


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

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How Narcissistic Mothers Can Invalidate Us


One of the most frustrating and upsetting things about how the narcissistic mother may respond to us is that if we try to explain how much we have been psychologically injured by her, she is very likely to respond by INVALIDATING this view as, essentially, she tends to view herself as someone who can do no wrong; by constantly and unwaveringly undermining our strongly held belief, she can lead us to question our perception of very reality.

Having our perception of reality unremittingly called into question in this insidious manner is known to be PARTICULARLY DAMAGING TO OUR MENTAL HEALTH, thus compounding, massively, the harm already down to us.

Indeed, in my own family, not only does my mother not acknowledge that I was damaged by my childhood, but so, too, do not (or have not) its other members. Their keeping up of this absurd pretence has, over the years, amounted to a highly corrosive and invidious ‘conspiracy of silence.’



This invalidation involves our thoughts, experiences and feelings being denied or, even, scorned and held in contempt ; it can, and, not infrequently does, amount to a kind of re-writing of history and brain-washing. We can be placed in an Orwellian hell in which we are forced to believe two and two really does make five, that black really is white.

Examples of things that might be said to us in an attempt to invalidate us :

– you’re over-sensitive

– for god’s sake stop harping on about that, it’s ancient history

– turn off the water-works, you’re getting upset over absolutely nothing

– I think you’re a very horrible person for bearing grudges

– Jesus told us to forgive, perhaps you should take a leaf out of his book

– you’re blowing all this massively out of proportion

– stop wallowing in this revolting self-pity

– you’re always whinging – get over yourself!

– oh, shut up – I do listen to you!

– I was just teasing you – can’t you take a joke, for god’s sake?!

– stop taking this ‘holier than thou’ attitude, you’re far too judgmental – don’t you think it’s time you climbed down from your high-horse?

– you’ve completely misinterpreted what I was saying

– stop criticizing me, I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong

– it’s your fault I did/said that – you drove me to it!

– I never did that

– I never said that

– that never happened

If you would like to read more about narcissistic mothers, click here to read another one of my articles.

To read about how narcissistic mothers can ‘PARENTIFY’ their children, CLICK HERE.

To view the ebooks I have written on the subject of childhood trauma CLICK HERE

To view a resource you may find helpful, click here (or visit the RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS section – see MAIN MENU – of this site).

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

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The Self-Contradictory Behaviour of The Narcissistic Parent


If we grew up with a parent who suffered from narcissistic personality disorder (click here to read my article on this) it is likely to have taken a heavy toll on our emotional development.

One of the most confusing and frustrating aspects of dealing with a narcissistic parent is that they seem to have two sides to their personality which appear to be diametrically opposed (although, actually, they are inter-related – two sides of the same coin, as it were).

The dichotomy at the heart of the personality of the narcissistic individual is that they, unpredictably, oscillate between acting in a GRANDIOSE manner and, at other times, in a NEEDY and DEPENDENT MANNER. Indeed, they may well change from one manner to the other in the course of a single encounter/argument/confrontation.

So, dealing with a narcissistic parent can be rather like a batsman in a cricket game facing fierce, fast-paced bouncers one minute, and slow, tricky spinners the next – always sans indication of what to expect.

Furthermore, whichever side of these two opposing personality types the narcissistic individual displays at any one time, its counterpart is invariably lurking just beneath the surface, co-existing and ready to emerge without warning or notice.

However, there is no deliberate ‘scheming’ involved – the presentation of the alternative personalities is operated on an UNCONSCIOUS LEVEL and serves, for the narcissistic individual, as a CRUCIAL DEFENCE MECHANISM.



In grandiose ‘mode’, the following characteristics can be frequently observed :

– superiority/surface arrogance/displays of utter contempt for others

– surface feelings of being very powerful

– desire for complete control/controlling behaviour

– sense of own great importance/specialness

– desire to be loved/adored/profoundly respected


If the grandiose personality state is operating, one can be certain that, just beneath the surface, the needy personality state is lurking (in this way, the grandiose personality state can be seen as a form of OVER-COMPENSATION for the latent ‘needy’ state)

In ‘needy’ mode, the narcissistic individual is likely to feel :

– as if they are utterly worthless

– as if they are completely inferior to others

– full of fear and anxiety

– deeply insecure/unsafe/threatened/in danger


I have already said that dealing with a narcissistic individual can be extremely confusing and frustrating – indeed, in trying to do so, one can quickly find one feels disoriented and emotionally exhausted; one feels as if one is ‘walking on eggshells’ and is inevitably worried that one may say something to make the situation worse; in relation to this concern, I list, below, responses to the narcissistic individual which are usually best AVOIDED :

1) relying on rational argument

2) verbally attacking the narcissist

3) highlighting aspects of the narcissist’s behaviour you consider to be unreasonable

4) attempting to persuade the narcissist to accept responsibility for any of their destructive behaviours

Why should these approaches be avoided?

The reason that these responses are best avoided is that the narcissist has a deep, psychological need to deny and repress his/her negative thoughts/beliefs about him/herself. To achieve this, the narcissist will PROJECT his/her own faults onto others. As I have already stated, their defence mechanisms operate on an unconscious level and prevent them from accepting criticism, however rationally and tactfully presented to them.

Were they to become fully aware of their own faults and failings, they would be flooded with an overwhelming and unmanageable amount of emotional pain, shame and guilt.


One method that can be useful for those who need to interact with narcissists is called the emotional insulation technique; you can read my article on this by clicking here.


Dealing with Narcissistic Behaviour hypnotherapy MP3/CD – click here (or see the ‘Recommended Products’ section of the main menu.

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


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How Destructive Narcissists May ‘Parentify’ Their Children


Dealing With Narcissistic Behaviour – CLICK ON BANNER BELOW :


Parents who suffer from a destructive narcissist pattern (DNP) of behaviour frequently ‘parentify’ their children whereby a kind of role reversal occurs and the child is expected to act as the parent’s parent (although this may well occur on an unconscious level rather than it coming about due to a parent’s conscious decision making).

Such parents are likely to:

– use their children to feed their constant need for positive attention

– use their children to feed their insatiable need for admiration

– need to be made to feel they are particularly special/important/superior to others

– lack empathy

– regard children as an extension of themselves rather than individuals with their own needs/interests/desires

– have shallow emotions (except for fear and anxiety)

– behave in a grandiose manner

– exploit others (including own children)

– be emotionally abusive towards own children

– expect emotional support from their children, even when child obviously far too young to provide it

– expect the child to bolster and endorse his/her sense of special entitlement

Such parents lack the capacity to nurture the child and put his/her needs above their own – it tends to be more a case of what they can ‘get out of’ their children rather than what they can give them.

Also, these parents lack empathy when it comes to their children’s feelings, whilst always expecting the child to fully sympathize and empathize with their own.

Furthermore, such parents lack patience when their children are demanding and incapable of holding their children in unconditional positive regard.

Additionally, DNP parents will find it very hard to relate to/tune into the child’s own rich emotional life.

Such parents, too, tend to set their children extremely high and exacting standards of behaviour which are impossible to meet and then become very angry when the children inevitably ‘fall short’.


Being treated in such a way over a long period of time will frequently have a profound long-term effect upon the child. Indeed, without therapy, such effects can last for an entire lifetime.

As a result of this treatment, in adulthood the now grown child may :

-constantly expect others to manipulate him/her and, therefore, have a cynical and distrustful attitude towards them

– have a high level of anxiety about the possibility of being trapped by,and enmeshed in, the emotional needs of others

– paradoxically feeling responsible for the needs of others and ashamed and guilty that they are unable to fulfil them

In order to prevent him/herself being manipulated by others and being caught up in their needs the adult child who was brought up by the DNP parent is also likely to develop certain DEFENSE MECHANISMS. These defense mechanisms are likely to include :





Let’s look at each of these in turn :

1) DEFIANCE – this occurs when the individual does not want to do whatever it is that others are trying to get him/her to do. It occurs because painful memories of being manipulated as a child are triggered (either on a conscious or unconscious level) and the individual desperately needs to avoid being treated in such a way again.

2) REBELLION – whereas ‘defiance’ relates to the attitude that the individual adopts, ‘rebellion’ relates to the ation they take.

Rebellion can be a healthy way to establish independence from parents but it can also be destructive if it becomes a kind of indiscriminate, reflexive, knee-jerk reaction to everything (including things that it would be in the person’s own interest to comply with).

3) WITHDRAWAL – an individual brought up by an DNP parent may constantly feel compelled to withdraw from :

– intimacy with others

– disapproval from others

– the needs of others to be ‘nurtured’

– the emotional intensity of others

– the emergence of own strong emotions

– criticism from others

Withdrawal can be emotional or physical.

It is used as a defense mechanism in order to protect the individual who was brought up by the DNP parent from those behaviours which trigger memories of how s/he was treated as a child which would cause intolerable levels of anxiety.

Unfortunately, because such defense mechanisms are automatic, they are very likely to occur even when the other individual poses no objective psychological threat and has no intention of exploiting them.

In this way, opportunities to form satisfying relationships are frequently missed.

4) SEEMING INSENSITIVITY – the individual who was brought up by the DNP parent may well, underneath, be a very sensitive person but s/he covers this up to protect him/herself due to his/her fear of being emotionally overwhelmed and manipulated by others. This can mean his/her inability to fulfil the emotional needs of others actually leaves him/her with a constant sense of guilt.

Furthermore, his/her defense mechanisms may lead him/her to be viewed by others as hard to understand and get to know, as well as cold, distant and aloof.

Sadly and paradoxically, however, the individual, deep down, may well yearn for love and affection, validation, admiration and have a strong desire to be free of his/her profound and pervasive fear of emotional intimacy.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)


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Typical Behaviour of The Narcissistic Parent


Dealing with A Narcissist MP3. CLICK ABOVE

Dealing with A Narcissist MP3. CLICK ABOVE

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

4) Grandiosity

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


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




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Effects of Narcissistic Parents who ‘Parentify’ Their Child



Dealing with A Narcissist MP3. CLICK ABOVE

Dealing with A Narcissist MP3. CLICK ABOVE

A ‘parentified’ child is a term that psychologists use to refer to a situation between the child and the parent in which a role-reversal has occurred resulting in the child having to care for the parent (emotionally and/or physically) rather than the other way around.

I have already written articles about narcissistic parents (eg click here) but I will briefly repeat the ways in which they often interact with their children.

Ways in which the narcissistic parent may interact with their children :

The diagram below gives an indication of the narcissistic parent’s typical behaviour patterns :

Additionally :

1- they may show limited or no empathy with their children’s feelings

2- they may be emotionally abusive towards their children (my mother, for example, would refer to me as ‘poof’, ‘scabby’, and tell me she wished I’d never been born, and that she felt ‘evil towards’ me, or ‘murderous towards’ me. She also constantly threatened to throw me out of the house and did exactly that when I was thirteen)

3- they may treat their children as an extension of themselves, rather than as a unique individual with his/her own hopes, dreams, needs, desires etc

4- they may constantly seek/demand admiration from their children

5- they may perpetually expect to be treated as the ‘centre of the child’s universe’, rather than the other way around

6- they may constantly demand that the child pays them attention (this may involve dramatic gestures – when I was about ten and alone with my mother, she threatened to take an overdose of her tranquillizers and commit suicide, for example, making it necessary for me to phone for help ; she never took the overdose, however)

7- they may constantly behave in a grandiose manner

8- they may display only shallow emotions (eg the child may sense any love and affection s/he is occasionally shown is extremely tenuous, fragile, conditional and transient)

9- they may generally exploit their child (again, to use a personal example, from about the time I was eleven, I operated as my mother’s personal counsellor – indeed, she used to refer to me as her ‘little psychiatrist’).

What Is The Parentified Child Deprived Of?

The parentified child tends to be deprived of :

– being treated with empathy

– being treated as a unique individual with own needs, desires, ideas etc

– being unconditionally treated with positive regard

– having his/her needs treated as a priority

– having his/her faults accepted

– being treated with patience

Essentially, then, the parent is emotionally unavailable to the child. The emphasis is on the child meeting the needs of the parent (eg the parent’s need for attention, admiration and emotional nourishment).

Effects Upon The Child :

When the child who was brought up by a narcissistic parent becomes an adult, s/he may find that his/her own functioning has been adversely affected by his/her narcissistic parent’s influence. For example, s/he may :

– feel lonely and isolated from others

– have low self-confidence/self-esteem

– have problems with his/her relationships with others (including family, friends and work colleagues)

– have low empathy with feelings of others

– be highly self-critical

– have a sense of being a deeply flawed human being

– have a low stress-tolerance threshold

– often feel overwhelmed by, and unable to cope with, the demands of other people

– have an inability to form satisfying and fulfilling intimate relationships

– feel they are always operating on a different emotional level compared with others

– react badly to criticism – eg feel far more angry and hurt because of it than would be more objectively warranted

In my next post, I will look in greater depth at how a narcissistic parent typically behaves with his/her children.


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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)


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Effects of the Narcissistic Mother. Part 2.

what is narcissism

It is extremely difficult for the child to reason with the narcissistic mother. She may explode into rages at the slightest provocation (for example,if, when I was a young child, I needed to get up to use the toilet in the night and accidently woke my mother when I did so, no matter how careful not to disturb her, she would become apoplectic with rage; likewise, if I spilt a few millilitres of milk when making her a coffee, she would become similarly demented with anger). Because such anger, however ridiculous and absurd, is justified in the mind of the narcissistic mother, the child is, essentially, left with a choice of two strategies in order to attempt to cope :

1) appeasing/placating the mother

2) rebelling against the mother

Often, the first strategy may be used to begin with, but, when it inevitably fails, due to the mother’s incapacity to ever be satisfied with her child’s behaviour, the child is very likely to resort to strategy 2 – that of rebellion. Indeed, rebellion against the mother can be A NECESSARY SURVIVAL STRATEGY TO PREVENT HER FROM EMOTIONALLY AND PSYCHOLOGICALLY UTTERLY CRUSHING AND DESTROYING THE CHILD. (Once this strategy has been learned as a necessary means of PSYCHOLOGICAL SURVIVAL, it is very hard indeed to unlearn; the child is then likely to carry a rebellious predisposition into adulthood, even if it is, by this stage of his/her life, a largely obsolete, maladaptive and self-destructive way of behaving).

The child will invariably feel deeply insecure in connection with his/her relationship with his/her mother. The relationship is felt to be extremely fragile – the child has a constant sense that it could totally fall apart and collapse at any second. The child also knows s/he could very well be totally rejected (when I began to try – rather feebly – to stand up to my mother when I was thirteen, and the hormones which accompany puberty were kicking in, my mother threw me out of the house. Permanently. I had to go and live with my father and step-mother, neither of whom wanted me either – and made this abundantly clear).

Indeed, the narcissistic mother is likely to have rejected many others during her life (friends, siblings etc, for criticizing her or failing to show her ‘sufficient deference’) and, as the child will have witnessed such behaviour, will instinctively know that the threat of rejection is a very real one. Before my own mother finally threw me out, she had issued innumerable threats that she would do this (as well as repeatedly telling me that she wished I’d never been born, and, sometimes, that she felt she could easily ‘knife’ me, or, even, ‘murder’ me). Another of her favourite expressions -said in a suitably melodramatic and sinister tone of voice, utterly terrifying to the a child, was : ‘I FEEL EVIL TOWARDS YOU! EVIL!!’

Eventually, the narcissistic mother can essentially brain-wash the child into believing s/he is a bad (or even evil) person – beyond any kind of redemption. This can then become the child’s fundamental view of him/herself. Without therapy, s/he can go through the rest of his/her life with a deeply entrenched feeling of self-hatred, self-loathing, and worthlessness. S/he may become utterly convinced that not only is s/he ‘unlovable’, but even ‘unlikeable’. This can lead to an inability to be able to accept affection from others and a life in which satisfying relationships are impossible. A life, too, which is profoundly lonely and emotionally agonizing.




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

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Effects of the Narcissistic Mother. Part 1.

what is narcissism

In Greek legend, the beautiful youth, Narcissus, fell deeply in love with his own reflection as he gazed into a pool of water, only to fall in and drown when he attempted to embrace it.

narcissistic personaliy


As young children, we need our mother’s attention and approval, and, indeed, feel distressed if we fail to receive it when it is necessary. As we grow older, for most of us, our mother’s view of us continues to be of great importance, defining, in not insignificant part, how we view ourselves (in particular, our self-worth).

However, this view of ourselves becomes distorted when our mother is far more concerned with us fulfilling her emotional needs than she is with fulfilling ours.

The narcissistic mother is likely to use us, as we grow up, to bolster her own aggrandized self-image, and to continually require us to feed her insatiable hunger for flattery, compliments, reassurance, and having her ego boosted.

Narcissists are entirely self-obsessed. Their conversation tends to focus exclusively upon themselves. They also tend to greatly overestimate their own talents, achievements, skills and importance and may, superficially, exude a smug sense of superiority. However, because of the fact that, beneath the surface, their own sense of self-worth is actually extremely fragile, they will constantly rely upon others to bolster this deluded self-image and to keep the illusion of their own fundamental superiority to all the other mere mortals alive.

Narcissists will also tend to devalue, belittle and demean the achievements of others, fearing their lime-light will be stolen. All admiration, and an inexhaustible supply of it, must, they believe, be directed from others onto themselves.

Often, especially when the mother cannot obtain admiration from elsewhere, she will come to rely upon her children to provide it. This means that they are deprived of being the focus of their mother’s attention – indeed, in this regard, roles are reversed. It’s almost a case of the mother, I suppose, metaphorically riding the bicycle and shouting out to her child, ‘LOOK SON!! NO HANDS!’

My own mother, for example, would never come and see me play, say, rugby for the school, but would INSIST I came to watch her performance in her latest amateur dramatics society’s production (amateur dramatics being a tediously predictable hobby for the narcissisist, of course). After the performance , naturally, she would settle for no less than to be compared to Elizabeth Taylor and nominated for an Oscar. Not that I’m bitter.

Because the narcissistic mother has a very poor sense of self-identity beneath the shallow veneer of grandiosity, she will tend to vascillate between a highly inflated view of herself and deep insecurity. As she is essentially highly vulnerable, she may be hugely sensitive to criticism, have her exquisitely delicate feelings injured easily, and feel easily humiliated. In the face of attacks upon her self-worth, she may well become intensely defensive, hostile and aggressive.

Furthermore, the narcissistic mother will tend to live her life carefully monitoring, in a hyper-sensitive manner, other people’s reactions to her. She will be quick to perceive criticism, usually blowing it out of all proportion, and may well hold long-lasting grudges against those who dare to suggest she has failings. Very often, too, she will ‘read in’ criticism where none was intended.

Those who do dare to criticize her will incur her wrath, and she will seek to punish them emotionally and psychologically : she is likely to hold the person who criticized her in contempt and to openly and bitterly express this contempt both to the ‘offender’ and to others. She may declare that both he, and his views, are worthless.

Please click here to read Part 2 of this post; it includes some further musings on my own experiences.


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

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