What Is The Typical Behavior Of The Narcissistic Parent?
I have already written about the narcissistic parent in other articles and now I am going to look, in a little more detail, at such parents’ typical patterns of behavior.
The psychologist Brown, an expert in this area, highlights for us the kinds of characteristics narcissistic parents 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
Let’s look at each of these nine areas in turn :
1) A need to constantly be the centre of attention –
Narcissistic parents 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 –
Narcissistic parents 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 –
Narcissistic parents may feel what she has to say is far more important than what anyone else has to say, get angry if they believe they have 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 them 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 –
Narcisstic parents 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 they has shallow emotions, they may fake feelings such as pretending to be concerned when another person is upset but then give themselves away shortly afterwards by saying something obviously insensitive, changing the subject back to themselves or generally displaying a complete lack of proper understanding.
They 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 their children as an extension of themselves :
Children treated by narcissistic parents as an extensions of themselves will tend to fail two extremely important 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.
Narcissistic parent who views their child as an extension of themselves do not fully regard the child as an individual who is separate from them. As such, they 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 –
They may see others existing solely as objects to help them fulfill their own needs. They may, too, sever all connections with ‘friends’ when they cease to be of use. Further characteristics may include :
– being ruthless in getting what they want
– lying and dishonesty / distortion of the truth to serve their 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 –
They may be very adept at verbally hurting others (knowing their sensitive points/weak spots/emotional triggers). They are also likely to expect the person they are abusing to simply accept such abuse uncomplainingly even though they would never tolerate it were the boot on the other foot, so to speak. Also, they 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) their own disappointment in life, frustrations, regrets etc on others
– project their own, unconscious, negative image of themselves onto others
NB : ALL BEHAVIOURS LISTED ABOVE MAY BE DIRECTED TOWARDS THE NARCISSISTIC PARENT’S CHILD, THUS MAKING HIS/HER CHILDHOOD ALL BUT IMPOSSIBLE.
Resources (Self-hypnosis downloads).
Dealing With Narcissistic Behavior : Click HERE for further details.
Escape Emotional Abuse : Click HERE for further details.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).
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Copyright 2014 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery