Tag Archives: Effects Of Narcissistic Mother

Brought Up by A Narcissist? The Myriad Possible Adverse Effects.



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 parent (henceforth referred to as NP) 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 NP’s 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 NP was 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.


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

7) PROBLEMS WITH TRUST : if we found we were unable to rely upon our NP, it is probable we will generalize these feelings of distrust onto other people we interact with in our ault 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 NP 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 NP’s approval and love. Such individuals may become obsessive workaholics.

12) EXISTENTIAL LONELINESS : rejection by our NP 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 NP 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 devasting effect of having an NP.

The NP, 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).

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).