Narcissistic Mothers and Their Children
Written by Sam Vaknin
Thursday, 05 November 2009 07:17
Interview granted to Samantha Cleaver for YourTango.com
Q. What are some common ways that a mother's narcissism can affect her daughter's relationships?
A. Depends on how narcissistic the mother is. Narcissistic parents fail to recognize and accept the personal autonomy and boundaries of their offspring. They treat them as instruments of gratification or extensions of themselves. Their love is conditioned on the "performance" of their children and on how well they cater to the needs, wishes, and priorities of the parent.
Consequently, narcissistic parents oscillate between clingy emotional blackmail when they seek the child's attention, adulation, and compliance (known as "narcissistic supply") and steely devaluation and silent treatment when they wish to punish the child for refusing to toe the line.
Such inconstancy and unpredictability render the child insecure and codependent. When in relationships as adults, these children feel that they have to "earn" each and every morsel of love; that they will be instantly and facilely abandoned if they "underperform"; that their primary role is to "take care" of their spouse, mate, partner, or friend; and that they are less important, less endowed, less skilled, and less deserving than their significant others.
Q. What are the top concerns when daughters of narcissistic mothers start relationships? When their relationships move
forward? When their relationships end?
A. Children of narcissistic parents are ill-adapted; their personality is rigid and they are prone to deploy psychological defense mechanisms. Consequently, they display the same behaviors throughout the relationship, from start to finish and irrespective of changing circumstances.
As adults, offspring of narcissists tend to perpetuate the pathological primary relationship (with their narcissistic parents). They depend on other people for their emotional gratification and the performance of Ego or daily functions. They are needy, demanding, and submissive. They fear abandonment, cling and display immature behaviours in their effort to maintain the "relationship" with their companion or mate upon whom they depend. No matter what abuse is inflicted upon them – they remain in the relationship. By eagerly becoming victims, codependents seek to control their abusers.
Some of them end up as inverted narcissists.
Also called "covert narcissist", this is a co-dependent who depends exclusively on narcissists (narcissist-co-dependent). If you are living with a narcissist, have a relationship with one, if you are married to one, if you are working with a narcissist, etc. – it does NOT mean that you are an inverted narcissist.
To "qualify" as an inverted narcissist, you must CRAVE to be in a relationship with a narcissist, regardless of any abuse inflicted on you by him/her. You must ACTIVELY seek relationships with narcissists and ONLY with narcissists, no matter what your (bitter and traumatic) past experience has been. You must feel EMPTY and UNHAPPY in relationships with ANY OTHER kind of person. Only then, and if you satisfy the other diagnostic criteria of a Dependent Personality Disorder, can you be safely labelled an "inverted narcissist".
A small minority end up being counterdependent and narcissistic, emulating and imitating their parents traits and conduct. The emotions of these children of narcissists emotions and needs are buried under "scar tissue" which had formed, coalesced, and hardened during years of one form of abuse or another. Grandiosity, a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, and overweening haughtiness usually hide gnawing insecurity and a fluctuating sense of self-worth.
Counterdependents are contumacious (reject and despise authority), fiercely independent, controlling, self-centered, and aggressive. They fear intimacy and are locked into cycles of hesitant approach followed by avoidance of commitment. They are "lone wolves" and bad team players.
Counterdependence is a reaction formation. The counterdependent dreads his own weaknesses. He seeks to overcome them by projecting an image of omnipotence, omniscience, success, self-sufficiency, and superiority.
Q. How do narcissistic mothers interfere (or get involved) with their daughters’ love/dating lives? How does this compare to typical mothers?
A. The narcissistic mother is a control freak and does not easily relinquish good and reliable sources of "narcissistic supply" (admiration, adulation, attention of any kind). It is the role of her children to replenish this supply, the children owe it to her. To make sure that the child does not develop boundaries, and does not become independent, or autonomous, the narcissistic parent micromanages the child's life and encourages dependent and infantile behaviors in her offspring.
Such a parent bribes the child (by offering free lodging or financial support or "help" with daily tasks) or emotionally blackmails the child (by constantly demanding help and imposing chores, claiming to be ill or disabled) or even threatens the child (for instance: to disinherit her if she does not comply with the parent's wishes). The narcissistic mother also does her best to scare away anyone who may upset this symbiotic relationship or otherwise threaten the delicate, unspoken contract. She sabotages any budding relationship her child develops with lies, deceit, and scorn.
Q. Are there any statistics that you know of that would shed light on how many people are dealing with either narcissism or a parent with narcissism?
A. According to the DSM IV-TR, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is diagnosed in between 2% and 16% of the population in clinical settings (between 0.5-1% of the general population). The DSM-IV-TR proceeds to tell us that most narcissists (50-75% of all patients) are men.
"The lifetime prevalence rate of NPD is approximately 0.5-1 percent; however, the estimated prevalence in clinical settings is approximately 2-16 percent. Almost 75 percent of individuals diagnosed with NPD are male (APA, DSM IV-TR 2000)."
From the Abstract of Psychotherapeutic Assessment and Treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorder By Robert C. Schwartz,Ph.D., DAPA and Shannon D. Smith, Ph.D., DAPA (American Psychotherapy Association, Article #3004 Annals July/August 2002)
Взято со страницы http://www.narcissism101.com/NarcissistsinMedia/NarcissistsinPrivate/narcissisticpare.html
A woman raised by a narcissist parent told me something that probably reveals how narcissists work. She told me she wanted to be "taken care of" by her husband, like a child. "Don't put me in a cage!" This comes from her childhood experiences. A narcissistic mother or father reverses rolls. Because mothers take the major role in child care, N mothers can do major damage to their children, if they are narcissists. A N mother is emotionally immature, the child has to take care of her. The needs of the narcissist mother come first and are like the needs of a hungry baby bird. "Feed me, feed me" the narcissist mother cries to its child, instead of caring for its child's needs, the mother is like a vampire feeding on the child. I have seen a narcissistic mother playing this game with daughters - the daughters would mimic a feeding bird - very childish actions for women over 20! One narcissistic mother wrote that her daughter and her were the same person! The N mother told her daughter she loved her so much that one day the daughter would not be there, because the N mother would have eaten her during the night? Scary!
From the outside, looking in, the narcissist family does not appear dysfunctional. Notice that the N family history - filled with unquestionable mythology - is replayed over and over till it sounds like the truth. No one questions present actions or past history of the narcissist. Guilt plays a big role in the family. Head games are the norm; little routines and pet names are used to brain wash children into thinking they are loved. Nothing is ever given to the child permanently.
A narcissistic woman I knew had a pet dog to keep her company, and one day some one told her that her dog had worms and he gave my mother medicine to give to the dog. An easy procedure. The next time he asked about her dog, and she told him it had died. She had not given the dog the medicine and his heart had been eaten up by the worms. Mothers and fathers who are narcissists treat their children much in the same way. If the children jump to the narcissists beck and call, mirror them, agree with them, then the narcissist parent will take care of them.
Once, my father came to visit at the same time. My mother in law called him and she spent an hour in a cafe crying, convincing him that we had to move back to where she lived. I told him that she was like his wife -another narcissist. I was furious, but my wife, still under her mother's influence, said nothing, just ignored it as if it had not happened. When my mother would visit it was no better. She would go into one of her "moods" and I would take her aside and give her a piece of my mind; I refused to be treated like a child. It was even worse when my brother was around, the same family dynamics would repeat themselves and I would end up feeling physically sick and leave.
N train people to cater to their wishes and whims, like spoiled children. If you want to remain sane you have to be an adult with them - a child of a narcissist has a difficult time with this, because they have been trained not to act like an adult with their narcissist parent.
The way N parents operate is that they assign their children roles, a bit like birth order, and they have to fulfill whatever that position entails. No matter how hard you try, you cannot compete with the golden child, the chosen one, who represents the narcissists mother or father's image. As a child, you fill as if you disappoint the narcissist if you do something other than what they want - that holds true for your role in the family. One woman I knew used to say that only her and her son had extraordinary feelings and were sensitive. Just the opposite was true, they were the most self centered and heartless members of that family. A young child has few defenses against such monsters. Adult children of narcissists end up at the shrinks, wondering what happened. A few figure it out, others just keep suffering and falling into the same trap over and over.
The sequels of being raised by a narcissistic parent are many and varied. If you happen to be the golden boy or girl, the chosen one, then you think your mother or father is great, because they think you are great, the spitting image of them. They gloss over your failings, the divorces, the bad business deals (the other people's fault), and they are your fan club, deflecting criticism from you, bolstering your ego, always complimenting you and your wife and children. They think you are a god, or goddess. You probably know that you have feet of clay, and are imperfect, yet you want your wife or husband to treat you as the apple of your family's eye. It might dawn on you that you have problems, but blame it on someone else, never yourself. You might even think that you suffer from some mental disorder, but dismiss the idea as ridiculous, other people are crazy - not you.
On the other hand you might be the unlucky one, the one in the family who always gets the short end of the stick. No matter what you do, your parents, or one of them, never likes it. They are cold, distant, but when company drops by, they will put you on display and you have to perform, you have to make nice. God forbid you say the wrong thing. You will pay for it.
You may have a sibling who gets all the attention - no matter what they do - and no matter how hard you try, you will not admired like them. Instead you will be criticized, because is for you own good (sot the favorite one will not get jealous). You may start to turn inward, not let your inner feelings show, because they like to see you cringe, cry, and so you deny them that pleasure.
You may have trouble showing your true emotions later on in life, because you are afraid. But of what? When you were young, your emotions got you in trouble, for reasons you still don't understand. You feel incomplete, half alive, and your ego seems to be either at full blast or gone to sleep. You are shy, or the opposite. Not knowing how real people act, you are suspicious of strangers. Only your N mother or N father understands you, they say, so you are constantly going home, trying to recreate a childhood that never existed. Maybe you dream a lot, never grounded in reality, and miss things. If you are given a surprise party, you collapse into yourself, not wanting to be the center of attention, because someone else should get all the attention, not you. Deep down you hate your mother or father, and feel ashamed for the sentiment because everyone else thinks they are great.