Tag Archives: Narcissistic Parents

Characteristics Of Narcissistic Parents

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Typically, the narcissistic parent views his/her child as a kind of possession whose sole purpose is to continuously fulfill his/her (i.e. the narcissistic parent’s) emotional needs.

In order to keep the child in this role (i.e. the role of existing solely to meet the parent’s emotional needs), the narcissistic parent may exert power over the child in highly manipulative and controlling ways.

Because such parents are so possessive of the child, as the child grows older and starts to become more independent (especially during early adolescence), the narcissistic parent may feel threatened that his/her hitherto exclusive relationship with the child is becoming increasingly precarious. Indeed, if the child begins to show signs of no longer fulfilling the role that the narcissistic parent has assigned to him/her, such parents may become deeply resentful of the child and start to punish him/her through emotional abuse (including directing intense rage toward the child).

The narcissistic parent essentially EXPLOITS their child, capitalizing on the fact that the child is biologically programmed to be dependent upon him/her (but especially the mother); as already alluded to, this enables such parents to exert enormous power and control over the child, a power which they ruthlessly abuse. Such parents feel little or no empathy for their child and are have scant regard for the child’s personal boundaries.

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Narcissistic abuse tends to be covert in the sense that it takes place in the privacy of the family home ; in public, the narcissistic parent tends to be extremely careful to present as good an image as possible (in an attempt to maintain the illusion of being superior to others), perhaps trying to act ‘the perfect parent’ to keep up appearances (as already implied, narcissists are exceptionally concerned about how others perceive them)’

The child of the narcissistic parent is doomed to failure in as far that whatever s/he does in order attempt to meet the parent’s emotional needs, it will never be enough as, in this regard, the narcissist is impossible to satisfy.

Unfortunately, when growing up with a narcissistic parent, the child is highly unlikely to realize that the parent is suffering from a serious disorder that results in highly dysfunctional parenting. This is because most children just accept their family circumstances as ‘normal’ given that they have no point of comparison (in most cases).

Even more sadly, if and when they do realize how dysfunctional their family environment was whilst they were growing up, perhaps in early to mid-adulthood, they may have already suffered a great deal of psychological damage which may well require extensive therapy to alleviate.

in order to minimize the psychological harm caused to children by narcissistic parents, EARLY, EFFECTIVE, THERAPEUTIC INTERVENTION IS OF FUNDAMENTAL IMPORTANCE.

 

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The Self-Contradictory Behaviour of The Narcissistic Parent

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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.

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THE GRANDIOSE PERSONALITY STATE :

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

THE ‘NEEDY’ PERSONALITY STATE :

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

HOW IS IT BEST TO DEAL WITH THE NARCISSISTIC INDIVIDUAL?

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.

EMOTIONAL INSULATION :

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.

RESOURCES :

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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Narcissistic Parent : Typical Behavior

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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

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

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:

Dealing With Narcissistic Behavior : Click HERE


 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Effects of Narcissistic Parents Who ‘Parentify’ Their Child

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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 :

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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’).

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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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Above e-Book now available from Amazon. Instant download. $4.99. CLICK HERE (other titles also available).

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

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Copyright 2014 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery