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