The tales of the narcissistic mother. How she throws situations at her child. How she deliberately twists and turns her words to make her child feel as if everything is their fault. She’s good at it. She’s had a lifetime at practicing.
For some of the adult children of her, I do have pity. They have never been able to outgrow the horrible feelings of inadequateness that this mother has bestowed upon them. The hidden belittling towards the child she chooses forever to desecrate. The narcissistic mother never stops. She just goes on and on and on.
For the others that have been able to crawl out of the hole that this mother has dug for them, I salute you. You earned much in the way of salutations. You first had to live through the belittling and torturous psychological abuse, you had to identify it, and you had to move away from it. And if you decided to stay in contact with your narcissistic mother, for whatever reason, (and I make no judgements here because many do stick around), but you do it on your own terms, you my friend, without a doubt, deserve a medal to wear proudly.
I talk about narcissism with a mother, but it is a psychiatric condition found in women and men alike. It can be found in a partner both female and male alike. It can be found in a child, also. An adult child. For clarification, here is a classic definition of narcissism:
“Traits and signs:
Thomas suggests that narcissists typically display most, sometimes all, of the following traits:
- An obvious self-focus in interpersonal exchanges
- Problems in sustaining satisfying relationships
- A lack of psychological awareness (see insight in psychology and psychiatry, egosyntonic)
- Difficulty with empathy
- Problems distinguishing the self from others (see narcissism and boundaries)
- Hypersensitivity to any insults or imagined insults (see criticism and narcissists, narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury)
- Vulnerability to shame rather than guilt
- Haughty body language
- Flattery towards people who admire and affirm them (narcissistic supply)
- Detesting those who do not admire them (narcissistic abuse)
- Using other people without considering the cost of doing so
- Pretending to be more important than they really are
- Bragging (subtly but persistently) and exaggerating their achievements
- Claiming to be an “expert” at many things
- Inability to view the world from the perspective of other people
- Denial of remorse and gratitude
Hotchkiss’ seven deadly sins of narcissism
Hotchkiss identified what she called the seven deadly sins of narcissism:
- Shamelessness: Shame is the feeling that lurks beneath all unhealthy narcissism, and the inability to process shame in healthy ways.
- Magical thinking: Narcissists see themselves as perfect, using distortion and illusion known as magical thinking. They also use projection to dump shame onto others.
- Arrogance: A narcissist who is feeling deflated may reinflate by diminishing, debasing, or degrading somebody else.
- Envy: A narcissist may secure a sense of superiority in the face of another person’s ability by using contempt to minimize the other person.
- Entitlement: Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves special. Failure to comply is considered an attack on their superiority, and the perpetrator is considered an “awkward” or “difficult” person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.
- Exploitation: Can take many forms but always involves the exploitation of others without regard for their feelings or interests. Often the other is in a subservient position where resistance would be difficult or even impossible. Sometimes the subservience is not so much real as assumed.
- Bad boundaries: Narcissists do not recognize that they have boundaries and that others are separate and are not extensions of themselves. Others either exist to meet their needs or may as well not exist at all. Those who provide narcissistic supply to the narcissist are treated as if they are part of the narcissist and are expected to live up to those expectations. In the mind of a narcissist there is no boundary between self and other.”
Taken from : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissism. Read more at the link provided.
Another description of narcissism:
The DSM IV describes narcissism as:
“DSM IV definition: Someone who suffers from Narcissistic Personality disorder (NPD) has at least 5 of the following characteristics:
- has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
- is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
- requires excessive admiration
- has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
- is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
- lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
- is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
- shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
Associated Features: Depressed Mood Dramatic or Erratic or Antisocial Personality
Differential Diagnosis Some disorders have similar or even the same symptom.
Histrionic Personality Disorder; Antisocial Personality Disorder; Borderline Personality Disorder; Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder; Schizotypal Personality Disorder; Paranoid Personality Disorder; Manic Episodes; Hypomanic Episodes; Personality Change Due to a General Medical Condition; Symptoms that may develop in association with chronic substance use.”
The DSM IV is considered controversial by some for its opinions expressed in its manual.
“The DSM has attracted praise for standardizing psychiatric diagnostic categories and criteria. It has also attracted controversy and criticism. Some critics argue that the DSM represents anunscientific system that enshrines the opinions of a few powerful psychiatrists. There are ongoing issues concerning the validity and reliability of the diagnostic categories; the reliance on superficial symptoms; the use of artificial dividing lines between categories and from ‘normality‘; possible cultural bias; medicalization of human distress and financial conflicts of interest, including with the practice of psychiatrists and with the pharmaceutical industry; political controversies about the inclusion or exclusion of diagnoses from the manual, in general or in regard to specific issues; and the experience of those who are most directly affected by the manual by being diagnosed, including the consumer/survivor movement. The publication of the DSM, with tightly guarded copyrights, now makes APA over $5 million a year, historically adding up to over $100 million.” See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diagnostic_and_Statistical_Manual_of_Mental_Disorders for more information.
A very easy layman’s guide to personality disorders can be found here: http://www.halcyon.com/jmashmun/npd/dsm-iv.html. Written with excerpts from the DSM-IV, this piece takes apart disorders and puts them into easily understood terms for the layperson.
Narcissism as described from halcyon.com:
“1. An exaggerated sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements). Translation: Grandiosity is the hallmark of narcissism.
2. Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love. Translation: Narcissists cultivate solipsistic or “autistic” fantasies, which is to say that they live in their own little worlds (and react with affront when reality dares to intrude).
3. Believes he is “special” and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions). Translation: Narcissists think that everyone who is not special and superior is worthless. By definition, normal, ordinary, and average aren’t special and superior, and so, to narcissists, they are worthless.
4. Requires excessive admiration. Translation: Excessive in two ways: they want praise, compliments, deference, and expressions of envy all the time, and they want to be told that everything they do is better than what others can do. Sincerity is not an issue here; all that matter are frequency and volume.
5. Has a sense of entitlement. Translation: They expect automatic compliance with their wishes or especially favorable treatment, such as thinking that they should always be able to go first and that other people should stop whatever they’re doing to do what the narcissists want, and may react with hurt or rage when these expectations are frustrated.
6. Selfishly takes advantage of others to achieve his own ends. Translation: Narcissists use other people to get what they want without caring about the cost to the other people.
8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him. Translation: No translation needed.
9. Shows arrogant, haughty, patronizing, or contemptuous behaviors or attitudes. Translation: They treat other people like dirt.”
I’ve chosen three presentations of narcissism simply because each human mind digests material differently. We all have different learning styles and I want those who have come here to truly understand the narcissist.
I lived with a psychopath and his narcissistic, histrionic mother for a number of years. Dealing with these two people led to an incredible journey of becoming a Survivor with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The thought processes of both Daniel and his mother Sandra were unlike any other people I had ever encountered.
Daniel’s mother was classified as a narcissist. Her tales to me often spoke of the ways she used people in her different jobs. She would often laugh at her intricate ways to use people without their knowing. She would build her stories to a crescendo and then sit back to her audience and demand respect, praise and attention . I questioned her methods of arrogance. I often found her repulsive in her attention-seeking methods at the expense of others. In the end of our relationship, her despising me eventually became built on my honest appraisal of her spoken truths that were thinly disguised lies for others in her mission to always manipulate people.
Daniel had blocked many memories of his childhood and with good reason. He often talked of his abuse during childhood. At times, he would question Sandra openly of her parental tactics in front of me, often putting her on the defensive/offensive. If she couldn’t blame someone else for her abusiveness as a parent, she would walk away from the conversation and ignore him. Nothing was ever her fault, unless in her eyes, the outcome would have been well-received.
Sandra admitted to me she drank heavily during her pregnancy and during the earlier years of his childhood. She blamed her drinking first on her obstetrician’s recommendation for her pregnancy. She told me that she couldn’t keep any food in and was constantly vomiting during her pregnancy with Daniel.
Queasiness is quite common for the beginning of a pregnancy. In her words, she told me that her doctor told her that she should “drink beer and eat saltines” for her pregnancy if “that was all she could keep down”. I have no way of proving or disproving what this woman told me. I do find it difficult to believe that a medical doctor would recommend his pregnant patient to drink alcohol. Medical advice has changed through the decades, of course.
I will offer that any child whose mother drank throughout the nine months of development has a definitive opportunity for a host of problems in their physical and mental capacities after they are born. As she continued to drink, she offered the excuse that she did “continue to drink for the sake of her marriage”. She never took ownership of her problems and the problems they might have caused for her son.
Environmentally and genetically, he never had an opportunity to thrive with his narcissistic mother. That is not an excuse for any of his behaviors. Many people go on to surpass abuses and victimization. Others do not. Does a narcissistic mother create a psychopath? I have no answer for that. I don’t think anyone does. There are many views and reasons on how a psychopath is created. I had the opportunity to live with one. I still suffer to this day from the experience.
- The role of narcissism in romantic relationship initiation (udini.proquest.com)
- Dr. Jackal and Mr. Hide (anthonysramblings.wordpress.com)
- Why It’s Hard to Write About Narcissistic Mothers (reblog) (paulettecake.wordpress.com)
All works past, present and future are protected under a CCC. Creative Common License, Kaarie Blake Musings by Kaarie Blake is licensed under a Creative Common Attribution-Noncommercial-Noderivs-3.0-Unported License