Tag Archives: Narcissistic Parents Effect On Children

The Self-Contradictory Behaviour of The Narcissistic Parent

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The Narcissistic Parent :

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).

 

Effects of Narcissistic Parents Who ‘Parentify’ Their Child

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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 (e.g. 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 :

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’).

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 (e.g. 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 – e.g. feel far more angry and hurt because of it than would be more objectively warranted

 

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Above e-Book now available from Amazon. Instant download. Click here.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

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