Tag Archives: Narcissistic Mother

How Narcissistic Parents Weaken Our Sense Of A Personal Boundary.

weak personal boundaries

Because narcissistic parents are so unpredictable, and their mood changes so mercurial and frightening, the young child quickly learns, largely on an unconscious level, that s/he (i.e. the young child) must be able to ‘read’, with great precision, such a parent’s feelings and emotions lest s/he fails to respond in such a way that meets the parent’s emotional needs and, as a result of such failure, inadvertently upsets him/her (sadly, this is never possible to fully achieve as the narcissistic parent’s emotional needs are infinite and cannot ever be fully sated).

In other words, the child is driven and compelled to develop a profound level of empathy for the narcissistic parent as a means to helping to ensure his/her (i.e. the child’s) psychological survival (the alternative is to be psychologically crushed). I remember, as a child of about four, I had a recurring nightmare of being a tiny insect next to an enormous boulder which was invariably and inexorably rolling towards me, threatening to crush me. In fact, sometimes this image would intrude on my mind when I was awake, seemingly out of nowhere. At the time, of course, I could not discern its (now) all too obvious meaning.

personal-boundary

By the time I was eight or nine years old my empathy for my mother was so acute that she (in her typically melodramatic manner) would tell me that I had ‘a sixth sense’ and could ‘read her mind’ or, even, that I was ‘psychic’, so good was I at being able to tell exactly what she was feeling within a second of her entering the room. Absurd nonsense, obviously. The truth is, I’d simply had no choice, and no conscious control, over developing my unusual empathetic abilities.

There is a heavy price to be paid for this process. When my mother was very depressed, for example, I felt her pain as my own and would become obsessively preoccupied by her unhappy condition, able to think of nothing else. This could last for days at a time.

Indeed, because the child of the narcissist becomes so deeply attuned to his/her parent’s mental state, this substantially interferes with his/her own sense of self as a separate, distinct, individual person in such a way that his/her sense of a personal boundary between him/herself and the parent becomes blurred and nebulous. This, in turn, is highly likely to lead to a collapse of his/her incipient and precarious sense of a personal identity as well as of his/her sense intrinsic value (if, indeed, any has been allowed to develop).

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

Narcissistic Mother Checklist (And Useful Links)

narcissistic mother checklist

Narcissistic Mother Checklist :

I have published many articles about narcissism on this site, including articles about how traumatizing it is for children to be brought up by a narcissistic parent.

In this article, I wish to distil down into one list the most prominent traits, characteristics, attitudes and behaviors that the narcissistic mother may display ; here is the list (the useful, clickable links are in BLUE – clicking on these will take you directly to the relevant article in this site’s archives) :

 

  • extreme reluctance to admit being in the wrong (due to being in a state of denial, lack of insight or dishonesty) and, in the unlikely event that she does, minimizes or makes light of the harm done by her behavior
  • undermines, criticizes and denigrates you
  • treats you with contempt, disdain and derision
  • treats you dismissively, including being dismissive of your legitimate and deeply felt feelings
  • does not respect your personal boundaries
  • makes you question yourself / keeps you ‘off balance’ / mentally disorientated and confused
  • can make you start to question your own sanity, including by using the ‘gaslighting‘ technique
  • prone to jealousy and envy
  • vindictive
  • resentful and unforgiving
  • holds grudges
  • deceitful and devious

(This list continues after the inserted image)

narcissistic mother checklist

  • constant need to be center of attention
  • sees self as being ‘at the center of the universe’
  • hypersensitive
  • self-absorbed
  • emotionally ‘terrorizes’ you
  • selfish
  • immature
  • petty
  • undermines and interferes with your relationships
  • prone to extreme aggression
  • exploits and takes advantage of you
  • behaves how she likes and shows no shame about this (however, narcissists feel an extreme amount of internal shame)
  • parentifies you
  • seems oblivious to the sensitivity, feelings and vulnerability of others
  • blames others
  • as a psychological defense mechanism often unconsciously projects her own negative feelings about herself onto you

(The above list is not exhaustive and individuals suffering from narcissistic personality disorder will not necessarily demonstrate all of the above traits, characteristics, attitudes and behaviors.)

 

RESOURCE :

DEALING WITH NARCISSIST BEHAVIOR – click here for further details.

 

eBook :

emotional abuse ebook

Above eBook now available on Amazon for instant download. Click here for further details.

 

You may also wish to read my article : FOUR TYPES OF BORDERLINE MOTHER

or you may wish to browse all my articles on the subject of narcissistic personality disorder.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

Characteristics Of Narcissistic Parents

narcissistic parents

effects of narcissistic parents on child

narcissistic parents

Typically, the narcissistic parent views his/her child as a kind of possession whose sole purpose is to continuously fulfil 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 (though pretends to have) for their child and are have scant regard for the child’s personal boundaries.

 

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.

 

What Are The Main Characteristics Of The Narcissistic Parent?

 

Narcissistic parents may also display the following characteristics :

 

   – extreme possessiveness of child (in the sense of owning, controlling and using the child)

   – uses emotional blackmail

   – uses the technique of gaslighting’  (i.e. they deny your reality e.g. by constantly telling you that your experience of your childhood was not as you claim / believe / perceived it to be) to the extent that you may even begin to question own sanity)

   – blow all criticism way out of proportion / exceptionally thin skinned

   – can be sadistic / relish psychologically crushing the child with devastating verbal abuse / enjoy being cruel to the child and the feeling of power / omnipotence this may provide

   – makes frequent use of ‘triangulation’ e.g. encroaches upon the child’s friendships to use to his/her (i.e. the narcissistic parent’s) advantage, including turning them against the child if necessary)

   – lacks capacity to love in any meaningful way the child (though may ‘act loving’)

   – cares deeply about what others think so will present image of ‘perfect mother / father’ to the outside world (e.g makes sure the child is immaculately turned out to ‘prove’ to others what a ‘good’ parent s/he is.

   – withdraws any pretence of ‘love’ / approval as soon child fails to please (especially by giving the child the ‘silent treatment’ ) 

   – controls the child by instilling feelings of shame and guilt into him / her

   – possesses a conscious or unconscious belief that child exists solely to fulfil his/her (i.e. the narcissistic parent’s) needs

   – narcissistic parentification : the narcissist ‘parentifies’ child / uses child as an ’emotional caretaker)

   – creates an atmosphere in which the child is constantly anxious / fearful / hypervigilant

   – only wants the child to succeed in a way which benefits him/her (i.e. the narcissistic parent), NOT on his/her (i.e the child’s) own terms

 – wants to keep the child dependent and needy so may derive satisfaction from him/her (i.e. the child) being emotionally upset as this puts the child in a weak position, makes him/her (i.e. the child) easier to manipulate and provides the narcissistic parent with the opportunity to display false concern. S/he (i.e. the narcissistic parent) is motivated NOT by the desire to alleviate the child’s suffering, but by the wholly egocentric wish to demonstrate what a ‘good parent’ s/he is – as such, s/he may toy with the child’s emotions, alternating between ensuring s/he (i.e. the child) becomes emotionally upset and then acting as his/her ’emotional rescuer.’

   – does not respect the child’s personal boundaries / right to privacy / may insist the child divulges highly sensitive information only to use this information against them at a later date

   – becomes jealous and resentful if the child tries to become independent and successful (in a way which does not benefit the parent)

 

 

 

Potential Long-Term Harm Narcissistic Parents May Do To Their Children :

 

The harmful emotional impact such parents may have on their children can be profound ; as an adult, the former abused child may suffer from a whole multitude of serious problems, including :

   – complex PTSD

   – inability to trust others

   – emotional detachment

   – self-sabotage  / self-defeating personality

   – invasive thoughts of emotional abuse

   – anxious attachment (constantly fearful people don’t like us or will suddenly ‘turn on’ us as we believe we are, in our very essence, in some indefinable but undeniable way despicable and others will surely ‘sense’ this, too – ‘it’s simply a matter of time,’ we tell ourselves)

   – avoidant attachment

   – equation of intimate relationships with making oneself unsafe and vulnerable ; this may cause us to become self-protectively aggressive

   – slowed down emotional development / arrested emotional development

   – narcissistic personality disorder

   – borderline personality disorder

   – anxiety

   – depression (frequently due to repressed anger which can, in turn, lead to physical illness)

   – desperation to achieve high goals (in frantic attempt to bolster profoundly undermined self-esteem).

   – self-blame and a perpetual feeling of being ‘a bad person’ (connected to the narcissistic parent’s focus on the child’s ‘faults’ / ‘failings’ and ‘failure’ to meet his/her (i.e. the narcissistic parent’s) impossibly demanding needs)

   – emotionally enmeshed relationship with the narcissistic parent and consequent profound uncertainty as to own identity and personal boundaries caused by the parent’s view of the child as an extension of him/herself (i.e. of the narcissistic parent’s self).

 

How Destructive Narcissists May ‘Parentify’ Their Children :

Narcissistic Parentification :

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’.

EFFECTS OF SUCH DNP BEHAVIOUR ON THE CHILD :

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 :

– DEFIANCE

– REBELLION

– WITHDRAWAL

– APPARENT INSENSITIVITY

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.

 

 

How To Reduce Harm Done By The Narcissistic Parent

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

Psychotherapists frequently stress the importance of drawing clear boundaries with narcissistic parents, limiting contact with them or cutting off contact altogether (with the support , ideally, of a therapist who has expertise in this area). They also frequently advise that truly narcissistic parents have a mental illness which will make it extremely difficult for us to change them and that, therefore, our energies should be focused on our own recovery.

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

FOR ALL OTHER ARTICLES ON NARCISSISM

 

AND NARCISSISTIC PARENTS, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

Is Your Mother Narcissistic?

I have already published several articles on the effects on us of being brought up by a narcissistic parent. In this article, I intend to focus upon the main characteristics that are frequently found in narcissistic mothers. These characteristics are as follows:

1) Self-absorption : she regards her own needs as absolutely paramount which completely take precedence over the needs of her children. Indeed, she fails to properly recognise her own children as distinct and separate individuals with their own unique needs; if their needs get in the way of her own, she is likely to bitterly resent the fact. She is selfish and has a strong need to be admired by others and to be the centre of attention. For example, she may expect her own birthdays to be treated as a cause for international celebration, dancing in the street, ticker- tape parades and a twenty-one gun salute whilst resenting the birthdays of her children for deflecting attention from herself (as I have written elsewhere, my own mother utterly ignored me on the morning of my thirteenth birthday due to my having incurred her displeasure for some minor infraction the previous day).

2) Lack of empathy : this is one of the main hallmarks of the narcissist. She does not only lack empathy for her own children, but for other people in general. In this way, she invalidates the importance of her children’s own feelings, worries, concerns and problems by dismissing, ignoring or minimising them.

3) Warped relationship with her children: she may exploit and ‘parentify’ her child (click here to read my article on ‘parentification’), expecting him/her to cater for her emotional needs rather than the other way around. She may, too, scapegoat one child – often the most sensitive and vulnerable child (click here to read my article about how children may be ‘scapegoated’) whilst favouring another child (perhaps treating this other child as a ‘golden child’).

Often, too, any attempt children make to demonstrate affection for the narcissistic mother may be coldly rebuffed. As regards any loving, affectionate behaviour flowing from the mother to the children, this is likely to be extremely minimal or utterly non-existent.

The narcissistic mother may relate to a child in a strangely intense and possessive manner as a means to manipulating and controlling the child.

Also, she is only interested in her children doing well so that it will reflect well on her and enable her to ‘bathe in reflected glory.’ What the child him/herself derives from his/her success is largely immaterial to the narcissistic. Indeed. If she herself does not gain psychologically from her children’s success she is liable to resent it.

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4) Makes sure her child’s appearance is always immaculate in order to give the outward display to others that she is a ‘good and caring’ mother. She may, too, be extremely dictatorial about what the child wears, how s/he has his/her hair cut etc… Again, this is because she is only concerned that the child’s appearance reflects well upon her. She is unlikely to care, or take any notice of, what the child would like to wear / how s/he would like his/her hair cut.

 

5) Uninterested in your hobbies/interests but expects you to be fascinated by her own. Eg Never coming to watch you play a sport you excel in or even ask you about it whilst expecting you come to watch every performance of an Amateur Dramatics production in which she is performing and subsequently to express your ‘limitless admiration’ for her ‘supreme, Oscar-deserving, acting abilities’.

6) Prone to outbursts of extreme outbursts of narcissist rage/hysteria often over very petty issues and refuses to be pacified

7) Can psychologically terrorize her children

8) Lacks maternal instinct – does not derive pleasure from her children and frequently resents them as a burden and great inconvenience

9) If challenged denies her behaviour harms her children and may lie to cover up her treatment of them. She is highly sensitive to criticism in general and extremely defensive.

10) Projects her own faults onto others, particularly her selfishness.

11) Her moods pervade and dominate the home.

12) Can be sulky and petulant in a childish way and employ passive-aggressive strategies to emotionally punish her children such as the ‘silent treatment’ (click here to read my article on the ‘silent treatment’).

13) Vengeful and spiteful – driven to ‘get even’ with those whom she perceives to have ‘crossed her’.

14) If her child is suffering a crisis, she may actually derive pleasure and excitement from the drama of it

15) She does not experience shame in connection with her behaviour.

 

Resources:

.     Dealing With Narcissistic Behaviour (instantly downloadable hypnotherapy audio). Click here for further details.

 

David Hosier BSc; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

How Narcissistic Mothers Can Invalidate Us

narcissistic_mothers

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 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.’

narcissistic_mothers

WHAT FORM DOES SUCH INVALIDATION TAKE?

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

RESOUTCE :

 

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

Childhood Trauma Recovery