Sons and Daughters of Narcissistic Parents

An adult can choose to live with or without a narcissist, and it is up to that adult to decide whether or not to weather the storm(s). What about the children, the sons and daughters, living with a narcissistic parent? They have no choice in remaining with the narcissist and are ready victims for his abuse as they have neither the knowledge nor the power to defend themselves. The parent/child relationship is so important with its long term effects and, unfortunately, can be easily manipulated. Narcissistic parents can, willingly or unwillingly, inflict long term wounds on their children through their behaviors. It is the people who are closest to the narcissist who bear the brunt of the disorder and children are especially vulnerable.

Narcissists are deplorable parents as they cannot put their child’s needs first at any age. They tend to be somewhat better parents when their children are still young and easier to control. The children are a captive audience, easily impressed and also easily manipulated. If the child tries to gain independence as he or she matures, the narcissistic parent(s) will turn against the child and become more emotionally abusive.

Golden Child and Scapegoat

Beginning in infancy, the children are trained to meet the needs of the narcissistic parent. If the narcissist has more than one child, one of the children is selected to be the “golden child”. This is the child that the narcissist most identifies with. The other children can never achieve to the point of warranting pride or love from the narcissistic parent. Another child usually plays the role of the “scapegoat” and gets the worst of the abuse and vilification. Although in reality, even the golden child is not loved by the narcissistic parent (they are incapable of love) but they will make it appear that the golden child is loved. The golden child will be praised just as the scapegoat and/or others are insulted or mocked. Eventually, the golden child matures and either realizes their parent is not capable of providing love and acceptance or they will continue in their denial and never accept that they have been abused. If the child remains in denial he or she is likely to propagate similar abuse onto their own children.

For the child that realizes his parent is a narcissist (or at least incapable of love), there are three choices:

  • Choice One is to continue to cater to the narcissist and allow the instilled feelings of guilt to push them in directions they do not wish to go.
  • Choice Two is to limit the abuse by setting boundaries with the parent.  If the child chooses to continue the relationship (with boundaries), the child will be tested to their limits by the parent. Rage and negativity will be taken to an entirely new level.
  • Choice Three is to leave the relationship. Completely cut ties with the narcissistic parent. Cutting ties with the narcissistic parent allows them to gain their own life.

The scapegoat has only one choice if he wants to end the abusive relationship and that is to get out of the toxic relationship. He or she must cut ties with the narcissistic parent.

Source of Narcissistic Supply

Sam Vaknin, narcissist and author of Malignant Self Love, wrote “the narcissistic parent regards his or her child as a multifaceted Source of Narcissistic Supply… as an extension of the narcissist…. The child is supposed to realize the unfulfilled grandiose dreams and fantasies of the narcissistic parent.” Narcissistic parents run the gamut from being very intrusive in some ways to entirely neglectful in other ways. The narcissist’s children are “disciplined” if they do not respond adequately and immediately to the parents’ needs. “Discipline” is used to enforce compliance and may include physical abuse, verbal abuse (angry outbursts, criticism, etc), blaming, attempts to instill guilt, or emotional neglect.

Children have an important function for the narcissist – they are sources of Narcissistic Supply. The natural dependence of the young child serves to alleviate the narcissist’s strong fear of abandonment, thus, the narcissist tries to perpetuate this dependence through methods of strict control. They are often over-controlling and try to micromanage their children’s lives.

A child can be the ultimate source of Narcissistic Supply (secondary). He or she is always around, admires the narcissist, remembers the narcissist’s moments of “glory”, and because he wants to be loved he will continue to give and give despite never receiving.

However, when the child doesn’t perform his main function (which is to provide his narcissistic parent with consistent Narcissistic Supply) – the parental reaction is harsh and revealing.

It is at that point that we see the true nature of this dysfunctional relationship. The narcissist may react to a ‘breach in the unwritten contract’ with aggression, contempt, rage, psychological abuse as well as physical abuse. He tries to destroy the authentic child and replace it with the former subservient version.

Narcissist begets narcissist?

Narcissistic parents are unable to meet their children’s emotional needs as they develop, resulting in either narcissistic or codependent children. Although not always true, a narcissistic parent tends to produce a narcissistic child. However, this outcome can be alleviated by a “loving, empathic, predictable, just, and positive upbringing which encourages a sense of autonomy and responsibility”.

Some children in a narcissistic household detect how the selfish parent gets his needs met by the other family members. Those children observe how manipulation and using guilt gets the parent what they want. They emulate the narcissistic parent and develop a false self, use aggression and intimidation, and bully the other siblings and other parent in order to get their way.  Those children become narcissists themselves.

The more sensitive, easily guilt-ridden children learn to meet the narcissistic parent’s needs and try to win their love by obliging every whim and wish of that parent. The child learns to repress or deny all their feelings in their vain attempts to gain the parent’s love. Their aggressive impulses, feelings of anger, or other negative feelings are not integrated in to their development. Those children also develop a false self as a defense mechanism and become co-dependent in their later relationships.

Resources:

  1. http://www.ehow.com/how_8386878_children-narcissists.html#ixzz2vZuPB2TZ
  2. http://samvak.tripod.com/4.html
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissistic_parents
  4. http://childrenofnarcissists.blogspot.com/

 

About Alexander Burgemeester

63 Responses to “Sons and Daughters of Narcissistic Parents”

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  1. Shelly Franco says:

    Brilliant work on narcissism. Thank you. I have been married for 21 years to a man 17 yrs. my senior. In 2007, he was diagnosed with terminal kidney cancer. His narcissism has made it a wicked experience to boot. Now he is nearing the end of his journey as his final days are present. I feel valiant I have fulfilled my, “in sickness and in health” vows; however, I feel I will spent and betrayed. Carpe Diem…
    Best regards, Shelly

  2. kathlene says:

    Oh yes being born to a narcissistic mother akin to handing a demon a baby! Great article! One thing I have learned about these beings is they are child abusers….or will always cover for child abuse. I used to love my NMother so much- I just took the abuse.When I dared ask her why she let men abuse me…she snapped into a rage that has been going on for years now! Sadly my mother uses her Golden child-my sister- against me. Abuse by proxy was/is rampant with my Mother. It is sick how Narcissistic parents split their children,and enjoy the chaos and hurt- they actually feed on it! I AM the scapegoated daughter!

    • Karen says:

      great piece, but the reality is that these three options are not so much options to controlling the emotional damage of the narcissistic parent, but steps to healing from the healing. Who is this writer kidding? The child has had decades of abuse, and the narcissist has had decades of power, THAT status quo will be really hard fought over by the narcissist because they have no respect for the fact that their child is a separate entity, and they will have no compunction to engage any empathy when the cards are down. The NPD parent is not open for negotiations.

      Once you become aware of the narcissism of a parent (or, at the very least, you question WHY nothing you ever do is ever going to be good enough for them) then you have no option, as an intelligent being, but to go through the three steps………. try to put up with it, even giving yourself ‘time-outs’ when you are just ‘too busy’ to see the parent, but failing, then try to set boundaries, but having those fail too, then try leaving the relationship altogether………. but you soon realise that this option fails too if you assume that this will stop the abuse. In fact, the abuse intensifies with each step down these three options you choose. THAT is the reality. The other reality is that the flying monkeys are further removed from your real life so you can easily discard them because you have no emotional attachment to them. Third persons that you have never met even.

      (us kids of narcissists are really conditioned to not being good enough, and having all our efforts fail, after all……….. we are conditioned to fail, so we kind of expect that, and we have always accepted that in the past. It’s only when we can no longer accept being a failure that we actually start kicking back as to what we deserve, which is true and unconditional love that should just be natural of our parent).

      What this article fails to acknowledge is the very basis of narcissism in a parent is that the parent does not/will not see the child as a separate entity, the child is an extension of themselves ……….. although it does name a source for it………“the narcissistic parent regards his or her child as a multifaceted Source of Narcissistic Supply… as an extension of the narcissist…. The child is supposed to realize the unfulfilled grandiose dreams and fantasies of the narcissistic parent.”

      The whole problem with this article is that, regardless of acknowledging that the narcissist only sees their child as an extension of themselves, is that the emotional abuse will stop when the child removes themselves (step three). The narcissistic parent is not likely to give up their ‘fix’ so easily and will actually increase the abuse via whatever avenues they can find to get the child to come back to the status quo, even if the child removes themselves. I have gone through these three ‘options’ and found the abuse intensified, the avenues the abuse came from increased massively, even total strangers to me were roped in to pass judgement on me (they had never met me) in stat decs to court proceedings!

      The truth is the attacks continue. They are sent via flying monkeys, they are gossip sent out through channels of church, social contacts about what a horrible child you are to the parent, they are confrontations with siblings instigated by the parent who knows just which button to push for that sibling to get them to attack you, they are total strangers calling you a horrible person.

      The truth is, once you have tried steps one, two and three, you have to grow a BACKBONE and have to find a way to develop a sense of self-worth. You have to have a very strong understanding of what is the truth in your particular circumstances (I found a journal really helped me to go back to a particular issue and say “hang on, THIS is actually how that incident happened!”).

      Us kids of narcissists will NEVER EVER get acknowledgment of us being an individual entity with valid emotions from the narcissistic parent. They will ONLY ever give you ONE option………. accept their truth. There will never be a period of negotiation.

      THIS truth is actually ‘option 4’……….. accepting that removing yourself won’t change them or their behaviour. This is the hardest lesson of a child of a narcissist because it offers no hope of reconciliation………….. ever………… with ‘normal’ boundaries and acceptance. Whilst, as a child of a narcissist, you grapple with having the parent ACCEPT you and love you for who you really are, you always have the dream and hope that this may eventuate, and you spent decades capitulating just for that acceptance. Just as you fight for your truth, they are fighting for theirs………… and so you HAVE to extend to them the courtesy of accepting that they are who they are, regardless of them never accepting you for who you truly are, because your own emotional survival begins with accepting what a wonderful person you are, warts and all, so accepting others with all their foibles is necessary for your emotional healing.

      YOU………… not them is why I say this. If YOU deserve to be accepted exactly as you are, then you have to accept your parent as they are. You don’t EVER have to have a relationship with them again, but you have to accept you have no control over them, just as you expected them to accept that they have no control over you (that is what healthy relationships are all about after all).

      This NPD is a mental illness and you have no hope, as the child, of changing that unless the parent seeks professional help. This is a very rare occurrence, since they believe everything is your fault. I am saying, uncategorically, that option 4 is to give up the hope that you can have a changed relationship in the future………. you HAVE to accept that when you walk away, it is forever. Your new life, where you are worthy of love just because you are a wonderful person with much to offer, starts the day you stop accepting less.

      More importantly, you have to stand by your decision of not remaining in an abusive relationship, no matter what flying monkeys come after you, and I have lived this having having been the golden child of one narcissist parent, but the scapegoat of the other, and having cut ties with both over 6 and 15 years ago.

      This article says that you have three choices for healing………. but the reality is these are the first three STEPS to healing, with or (most likely) without the NPD parent. I am still on step 4, will you join me?

      The writer of this article still assumes that their ‘options’ are valid choices when dealing with NPD parents. They are not, if you want to survive.

      • El says:

        I think it depends on the parents.

        Some narcissistic parents will pursue a child who drastically reduces contact and sets (and keeps) firm boundaries, and will also try to pursue the child even if he/she competely cuts off contact. They are relentless.

        But other narcissistic parents won’t bother. If the child makes it clear that she/he is no longer going to provide N-supply, the parents just “dumps” the kid and moves on to an easier source of supply.

        Once I stopped catering to my N parent while I was still living at home, she mostly just ignored me. It was cold, but it was no longer “invasive” for lack of a better word. My choice was clear: pander for fake love, or be ignored. But there was a choice, because once I stopped pandering, it was like I didn’t exist. And once I moved out, drastically limited contact, and made it clear that I wasn’t going to put up with any nonsense or give her what she wanted, she just sort of dried up and blew away. I could see other extended family members at holidays and be in the same place as her for limited amounts of time and she really just exhibited no interest in me – I wasn’t a rewarding enough target. She didn’t pursue me or send anyone after me or anything like that, and I never heard of a whisper of gossip about me either – the extended family and neighbors may have no idea what she’s really like, but are all still perfectly fine with me.

        All narcissists are the same, but not all narcissists are exactly the same. There are different “species” of Ns, so to speak. I believe the terms often used are “engulfing” vs. “neglecting.” You are correct in your description of an engulfing narcissist; there is nothing you can do to get that type to stop pursuing their victim, short of a restraining order. But the neglecting ones are slightly different, and it is possible to get that type to just brush you off and “move on” to new victims if you make yourself too hard a target to be “worth” pursuing for N-supply.

        (Of course, it should go without saying that having a neglecting N parent who is willing to let you go without too much of a fight, and who you can be in the same room with at a relative’s house, is not the same thing as having a real relationship. Having my type of N parent just means that you might be able to breathe the same air for a few hours around the holidays in order to see your cousins, or attend a relative’s wedding without drama; it does not mean that you have a real parent, or should ever relax boundaries.)

        • teddybowties says:

          Hi. saw your response on here and thoguht you might be the one to ask. okay, i think my mom is an Englufing tepy. My dad is an aspie, so if she is indeed an N, then she has already eaten his poor brain. Eitehr that, or I am one sick puppy. Le us hope that this is not the case, becuase If I am the sick one, I will not be a happy camper. That owuld horrify me. But at least I know that I would be willing to accept it on some leve, or at least strive to. All my life, once I realized I should, I have striven to be a better person to myself, to others, and the world. How do you deal with your mother being this engulfer if you:
          a. cant leave becaue oyu have no means and cannot work
          b. she gets your dad to be completely vicious to you whenever you say no to her
          c. you are 31 years old and cannot foresee any help coming your way, but oy uknow you don’t have what it takes to leave yet becaue you know yourself too well. It just isn’t time, and there isNO HELP from the outside world, and you are scared shitless to be alone. What if you are terribly wrong and sick, and you are just perceiving everything the wrong way?

          what would you tell me?

      • Dominique says:

        Yes ! I am with you and I agree and adhere to all you say.
        I have been the partner of a narcissistic man for 27years and when I have left him I’ve believed I was going to die with the pain and the feeling I had destroyed my family.
        I have taken a few years to reach stage 4 and feel relieved and able to love myself and believe that I’m a wonderful person who truly deserves to be loved.
        My mother is also a narcissist but who covers it well. She’s used to saying horrible things about me to all my friends and acquaintances that she’s met but it’s only when she said in the presence of my children in an access of rage that my partner should have beaten me sooner that I realised how much she hates me. It helped me understand how I could go from an abusive relationship to another one and accept so easily to constantly be guilt ridden and the person to blame for everything.

        Now the children : out of my four adult children, two remain very subservient to their father and absolutely horrible with me, contrary to all that I expected (i expected them to be supportive,
        understanding and lucid), the youngest one being a
        little bit more lucid but still too young and fragile to see the reality of his dad, but he is relatively loving and caring for me as well as I love him and care for
        him. As long as it doesn’t create conflicts with his father.
        My daughter in between the two oldest ones and the youngest one was the golden child on whom all his hopes were invested. She was a clever and sensitive child and could feel the sick pressure on her. At the age of 13 she asked to go to Uk in a school for musical children and I helped her apply and do it. She therefore escaped the family sickness and is now the only one truly supportive, very lucid and detached from her father, considering him a sick person she has to be careful with and protect herself from as if he were some sort of dangerous explosive nuclear waste . We have a good loving relationship based on trust, respect and unconditional love and it feels really good.

        Now, what destroyed me most, after leaving the father to my kids in several attempts was that I was convinced they would see what I and they had endured and be on my side. Instead of that they remained submitted to him and were used by him to hurt me without opening their eyes on what’s going on. And they’ve been also manipulated by his all important friend, who happens to be his ex partner from before we met and whom I have put up with (and welcomed and been nice and friendly with) for the past 30 years. Like him, she showed no empathy and was cold as an ice cube especially in all the situations she witnessed abuse towards me so it was reinforcing in me the conviction he was right to treat me like that and I was effectively to blame and it was a situation normal and
        acceptable and what I felt was wrong. B***h.

        I am seeking help towards you all. Is there any hope my two oldest children of whom one hit me several times and never apologised and the other one makes me feel guilty about gifts and materialistic things and has abused me verbally in the presence of her father and with his encouragements, is there any hope they will realise they were victims and the mother they now abuse was a victim too ? Or are they likely to be narcissists like their father ? For sure, those two have imprinted in their flesh that a mother is something that must be treated without respect, like their father treated me, like a non person, a convenient thing with no rights that was repressed all the time.
        I suddenly realise the way they abuse me verbally, make me keep paying for them, manipulate me to hurt by being extra nice then cold then ignoring me in the course of 15 minutes, never call, never visit, never initiate contact, never give a present even tiny and symbolic and meet me only when the circumstances make it unavoidable when they are loving, happy, laughing good friends to my partners ex. Should I fear they too are going to be abusive narcissistic people, and not only to their hated mother ?
        Having to suffer from a mother then from a partnerwith with NPD was one thing, hard to cope with. Do I now have to fear I have engendered
        some too ?

        • Jen says:

          Dominique,

          Your kids who are hateful to you are caught in something called Attachment-based Parental Alienation. Happens when the other parent has NPD, and is often triggered by divorce. See the work of Dr. Craig Childress on this (website). It is a very nasty situation, and I wish I could tell you it will work out fine, but it doesn’t always. Sometimes, though, the kids do change. I am in the same boat.

      • Raquel says:

        Karen

        I don’t know who you are but your words reach out to my soul searching question, thank you I would love some guidance on step 4 !!??

      • Lou says:

        Wow. This cut me to the core. Thank you. I needed this!

      • Rick says:

        Thanks so much. This article and your comments were a great help. I have been steadily working on steps one and two most of my life. In the last seven months I have cut almost all ties, but I have left he door open, asking my father to please get professional help. I know in my heart that I will likely need to accept that he will not change and that I will need to begin a new chapter in my life. I have already started reaching out to make new friends and create a stronger support system which will help me through this transition and help me be strong enough to stand my ground in the face of certain retaliation. Thanks again. Rick

      • Sandra says:

        Damn, Karen. I got so immersed into reading your comment that I forgot it was a comment and began reading it like a blog post.

      • Barbara Welch says:

        This is where in am.. I did the other 3.

      • Gerry says:

        Hi,

        I was shocked by how accurate your post was in detail. After decades of abuse “the scapegoat” I am only now trying to understand what I have been dealing with, it is completely perplexig.

        This type of personality type are incredibly destructive to their targets, pure evil. I would be happy to exchange email on the subject.

        • Jen says:

          Gerry,

          Family Scapegoating tends to be intergenerational, meaning that if you were the scapegoated kid in your family of origin, you are likely to become a scapegoated adult in spousal relationships. There was an article in March 2017 in The National Post (Canada) by Christie Blatchford on the horrors of the Family Court System. She described the tragic story of Jeramey A., who was a suicide. He had apparently been shunned (scapegoated) by his family of origin when he was young, for refusing to go along with a religious group they belonged to (and I don’t bash religion in general — lots of good in some of it). Then he was scapegoated by an ex-wife in adult life and not only destroyed financially, but his children were taught to hate him and the relationship destroyed (Attachment-based Parental Alienation). There came a point he had had enough, and saw no light at the end of the tunnel. I think of him often. I know how it is.

          There is a book called “Scapegoating in Families” by Vimala Pillari which may shed some light on the scapegoating concept. I also found a website about legal matters at http://www.disinherited.com that has some good descriptions of family scapegoating. Academic Rene Girard (deceased) wrote extensively about this concept too, considering Christ the greatest Scapegoat, and the one who introduced the expectation that we are all to take responsibility for our own sins, not trying to blame others. That might have been the idea, but plenty of scapegoating still goes on in human life. I find that scapegoaters betray you, bigtime. The more you give up your life for them, the more these beneficiaries of your largess betray you later. It is as if they kept you from developing a self because you had to give it to their needs instead, but then they hate you for not having that self. You cannot win. Self-sacrifice is not all it is cracked-up to be.

          Parents out there, with spouses who are pathological Narcissists, I cannot warn you enough about the potential for Attachment-based Parental Alienation. Whatever you thought you knew about it, read the up-to-date work of Dr. Craig Childress on his website or one of his books. This is an Attachment issue, a Mirror Neuron issue, and is exceedingly serious. You can lose the relationship of your children forever, and they are put at higher risk of emotional disorders and suicide. Not just young children, either, but teens and young adults as well. Try “A Kidnapped Mind” by Pamela Richardson, too. This often happens when divorce is announced, but can happen in intact families also. My spouse had been priming my kids to hate me for several years before he announced the divorce. I had no idea, but when he made the decision to end the marriage, the kids turned cruel and vicious towards me overnight, literally. I have never been so shocked. Arm yourselves with knowledge. It is not the kids’ fault, but their loss, combined with their sudden hatred, is extremely hard to take. It is another kick in the teeth for the Scapegoat.

    • joan says:

      im also the scapegoat. she did all of the things that it says that narcissist mothers do. i only recently found out that thats what she is. i just knew she was evil. it is like handing a demon a baby. shes the most evil person i ever met. i was the scapegoat. she divided us. she did every single freaking thing ive read online that a narcissist mother does. i never knew though that thats what she was. she also killed and mutilated all of my pets. i didnt read anything about that on here though. why would anyone want to split their children apart? how strange that i keep reading about one child being the scapegoat and the other the golden child. and even saw it on “you tube” and thats exactly what she did. now i know why. shes a narcissist. that is the most EVIL person ive EVER met in my life. i had no idea why she hated me and did all of these things to me. and every single thing i have read online that they do to their daughters she has done to me. every weird thing.

      • susan says:

        that’s exactly how I’m feeling…just finding out that it’s a condition, diagnosis. I feel relieved when I found all of this out but then frightened at the same time because now I know it’s real something real. I’ve done hundreds of hours of research also YouTube you name it. but now I go back in time and it makes me sick, because she has done all of that to us (4 sisters). She’s a sick old lady, I laugh at her now, all of the moves she makes to try to get me to react , I laugh and tell everyone close to me, and love seeing them shocked. I don’t know who sings this song but my dad was the only normal one and would take care of her if she started her s**t, but he past 2 years ago and boy has s**t hit the fan! I was driving and was loss and confused pretty much given up hope. My dad’s song came on and put it all together for me, I mean whipped all that s**t she was putting in my head…and helped me to not pay attention at all to her..because at the end of the day, we are all just dust in the wind. That song saved my life, i now am bullet proof from her. we get only one life and why not live it?? At the same time I’m divorcingredients a Narc, They play nothing but games and with my youngest son…I don’t even care anymore.. .they are miserable people hollow inside that’s worst to live like that.I found someone I truly love and would give my right arm for, and I never knew of what a relationship with a normal man was like, never knew it exists, only thoughto it was only in the movies. I feel sorry for his next victim….the abuse she’s gonna have to take…but one well we all learn our own way…My dad saved me again.

  3. suzanna anderson says:

    i have a narcissistic mother, i’m writing a lot down, she not only turned me and my sister against each other as children, but she has even turned my own children against me, my son was the only one i had , Tragically he was found dead 2 years ago, nm took the family and friends out to celebrate 3 days after my son’s inquest and disguised what she was celebrating, my misery and grief stricken state, by her birthday, i’m completely on my own now, i walked out of her life for good 12 years ago, i had no idea the price i would have to pay, everyone and everything i ever had, nm was cruel to her own mother eventually killing her and fooling everyone into thinking it was suicide, she had it all planned out, i have the facts, no one believes me, i’m still the scapegoat at 54 years of age, narcissistic mother’s do feed on it,

    • Narcmomsonlychild says:

      I’m 51 and was discarded by my narc parents. It is very painful. That is when I started looking for answers. I have identified the problem. Six months of the silent treatment, I finally made the decision to go no contact. The abuses of my childhood are to sick to be believed by anyone except others who have experienced; ghosting, baiting,gas lighting, and hoovering, neglect, munchild syndrome by proxy, physical beatings, and not to mention putting me in harms way to sexual abuse from the time I was three. No contact is the only way. The abuse will never stop, until you cut them out along with their flying monkeys.

  4. suzanna anderson says:

    narcisstic mother’s are good liars and master manipulater’s, but their not very intelligent as they know what their going to say and do ahead when in company, they copy other people’s sentences, so they don’t get caught out if they have to think for themselves they can’t as they’ve always been too busy plotting and planning how to destroy our lives, their clever at lying, deceiving, but intelligent no, they will play everyone against the other, their so good at lying and manipulating , they even get other’s to think the same way as they do, How in God’s name do they get away with it, their pshycopaths, i’m speaking from experience, they’ll go to great lengths not to get exposed, if they think a member of the family knows and can see through them, they will get rid of them,

  5. kerry kydd says:

    My own mother is a narc and she never loved me enough to take me away and protect me from my sexually abusive father. At age 34, I’m now coming to terms with my co dependancy and seeing a shrink. I have a younger brother and sister, and I felt that my brother and I shared both scapegoat and golden child status… although I do feel that as a child i was more the scapegoat and in older life, the golden child…. it hurts, but the only way to heal from this is to cut ties and move on, and enjoy the adventure of finding yourself without the burden of guilt or criticism. Big hugs and good luck to all the narc offspring…. you made it this far, we are all survivors xx

    • Carrie says:

      Wow sounds like my mother. I told her my stepdad was sexually abusing me and she didnt believe me and then blamed it on me! They way you worded it “she never loved me enough to take me away and protect me” is well articulated and profound. Thank you for your post.

    • J.B. says:

      Yes! We are survivors. I survived both narc parents. My younger brother and I both played the golden child and scapegoat to both parents. We were often put against each other and our relationship didn’t get a chance to heal because just when I was trying to reach out to him, he committed suicide before we can mend things. My N father had put him against me by then to make it harder for me to get through to him and both of my N parents blamed me for his death and turned both sides of my families against me. Never mind that we grew up in an abusive violent household. They even tried to control my kids. I eventually gave up and moved away with VERY limited or no contact. Unfortunately now I’m married to a narcissistic husband who I happened to meet at that very vulnerable point in my life when my brother died. My children and o have suffered tremendously at the hands of these narcs. At one time, all three of them fought for control over the kids around the time I wasn’t aware that my husband was a narc too. We moved away and now life is one big circus show with seemingly no way out. This has taken an emotional and psychological toll on both myself and my children. I survived 2 narcs, now I HAVE to survive this and protect my kids.

      • J.B. says:

        I just recently found out about this disorder so now I know why my N parents behaved so crazily. That explains why I couldn’t recognize it in my husband when we were dating. I feel like a Narc magnet. Goodness, sometimes I wonder if that’s just my lot in life.

        • susan says:

          same here exactly. ..my mother a full blown Narc, and married one too, try this one on for size, Cuz my mom must be right, that I’m crazy …I went no contact to both all at once, you hve no idea what those two hve been doing, since they teamed up…I must be that important..

  6. callmecyril says:

    You described MY MOTHER to a tea.
    It took me years to leave the relationship and I swore I would NEVER be like her to my own children!!!

  7. Denise says:

    It’s so sad reading this, and all of the comments. The daughters and sons of NM are too many. I’ve walked the same path, destructive, manipulating, coerced by my own NM, and she continues despite more than 2 yrs of going no contact. I take refuge in God, in knowing I am FREE of the cycle, that my children are also FREE. In that I find peace. She is sick, beyond sickness. This world cannot cure it. But in the end, I have been saved, and I pray others find strength in being saved from the abuse, and preventing it from traveling to the next generation.

    • J.B. says:

      Yes, I totally agree. These are only situations that God Himself can take care of. He is my refuge as well and the only reason I haven’t fallen apart. Stay strong everyone. We’re survivors! Let’s just keep on praying and pushing forward. My love to you all and may all go well with you.

    • Lysa says:

      Denise you nailed it! I too have been searching for the “why” behind my moms behavior and looks like I have a Narc Mother – for sure without a doubt but I too have already decided that my God can and will fill the void that me, my poor sister and even my kids have. Breaking and Binding this so it DOES not go to the next generation.

  8. Nina says:

    Thank you for this article and all you’ve shared. Really helps knowing others are struggling with same madness.

    At 44 years old, I finally had to go No Contact with my narcissistic disordered Mother, father and sister.
    Mother was always the leader and the sickest. But Sis and Dad just followed along. Always too busy worrying about themselves. Before I went No contact I tried to see if I could still be involved with my family with this knowledge. NOPE. Things only got worse. Image is BIG in my family.

    I’m not sure what to do next. I haven’t talked to or visited my family in 7 months. And guess what? They don’t care if They ever see me again. The big secret is out.
    I always wondered why I felt so different and lost. Why I never developed a sense of self. Why I always picked the wrong friends and wrong relationships . Why I hated my self so bad. Why I’ve suffered debilitating depression ever since I was a kid. Someday Ill share my crazy family stories.
    I am angry. I’ve been trying to fix my self for 20 years Therapists, psychiatrists, group therapy, medications.
    And not one of these people could figure this out. I had to find out myself searching the Internet. I believe most therapist are narcissits…… At least all the ones I’ve been to were.
    I am angry. I literally have to start my whole life over again at 45 years old. I can’t even stand to be around the people I used to consider my friends. I feel like such a fool. I am sitting here right now like I was just born into a new life. I feel lonely.
    I should add: I have been trying to heal for 13 months.
    Any advice would be appreciated.
    Thank you.

    • david says:

      nina,

      I’m 39 and totally get where you are coming from. I relate to your post BUT I’ve been trying to solve this since a kid and I feel like I just cracked the code for myself! When I finally figured out what I tried to ask of my mother (narc) for all these years and realized why she has worked so hard to NOT answer it was a relief! I don’t wonder anymore why I feel crazy and frustrated and SO f cking angry. She would take me there so she could say, “I just don’t understand why David is so angry?” Its been almost 3 years of no contact and finally after understanding gas lighting I am free!!!!! I don’t wonder anymore and take the blame on. She still through aunts, sister etc is asking “why I’m so angry” and I haven’t seen her in 3 years! How would she know if I’m angry? She doesn’t but its always been her go to for what the problem is. Guess what? Im not angry anymore! Its like a weight has been lifted and I have realized I have a second shot at living my life. It’s like I just got out of prison for a crime I didn’t commit and instead of feeling bitter about time lost and losing out I feel like I get a second chance and it really is mine this time. I can finally leave it behind me, like her, and know it’s right. Don’t feel like a fool or lonely, with a newly clear head go grab some life and use your second chance to LIVE!

      • Louise says:

        David,
        36 & in exactly the same place with my NPD Father. Looks like my sister, now, too. My discoveries since reading & learning.
        I’m looking to move away somewhere…not sure where! Huge step but better than being dragged back into things in the future due to some family crisis or other.
        Scary stuff, but hopefully positive results.
        Lou
        x

      • Dominique says:

        When I left my partner, the first nights i managed sleeping alone in my independent flat I felt as if i had escaped concentration camp. Seeing the daylight in the morning and feeling safe was an exhilarating feeling. So I so much understand how you feel too. I hold you tight. Dominique

    • Tae says:

      Nina, you are mirroring my life. I am 45 years old and have struggled to live. I tick the boxes of University education, marriage, three beautiful children and am working part- time. I have seen countless professionals like you have and am as angry as you are that no one since I was about 18 could work out the cause. None of the doctors or specialists picked that I was still in actively abusive relationships to which I was reacting with all types of depression and other symptoms. I have since gone no contact and am much better. I could write a book though. I had been soaking in this abuse all my life. These people are very evil but only the victims seem to come in for help. I feel lonely as well and have numerous types of brokenness that I can’t fix. I have trouble forming relationships. My advice is prayer. Ask whatever is out there even if you don’t know what it is, to heal you. I have had massive healing this way. Also , no contact, exercise, fruits and veggies, glycans ( health powder) , doing what you love every day, nature, music, good movies. Life’s getting better all the time. I wish you healing.

      • Jacinta says:

        Hi Tae,

        thanks for writing this. It is almost word for word, my own experience. I am 48 and have drawn heavily on “God” or whatever people believe it to be and it has healed me along with diet and exercise including glycans and yes we are dealing with evil in people. Narcissist personality disorder is a very evil thing.

        Peace

        Jacinta

    • Karyne says:

      Look up the Melanie Tonia Evans website from Australia. She will show you the way. You will definitely be saved. Best of luck.

    • san says:

      Hi, for the first time, after reading this, I realize that the perennial depression I have always had since a long long time, more than two decades, is what other people , have too. Now, I need no longer blame myself for being so low sometimes, it was part of the struggle. I also realized that my father never ever gave me a gift in my whole life. I also have been made to feel so guilty in life that I never thought of this even, until I read this, and it struck me. I have always been treated like a non entity but sometimes as if they really care…which has made it all so confusing. I am not sure of how to deal, but if I start with the damaged parts of me, my self confidence, and most importantly, the acknowledgment that I deserve better and that I am the only one who can give myself what I need. For starters, I am going to do all the things that make me happy.

    • Diana Moser says:

      I’m 8 months into no contact with my narc dad. I’m 56 years old and when I found out there was a name for what was so profoundly wrong with him it shed light on my entire childhood while simultaneously freeing me from the responsibility of being his daughter. He is now feeling the full weight of the consequences of his actions and has tried twice to contact me and even showed up at my church thinking he would get supply from me or everyone around me. One of my friends dispatched him diplomatically and I didn’t get within 20 feet of him. They don’t want help, they want an audience for their drama. Fix their problems and you take away their drama. They’ll have to create more. Don’t look back and regret the time wasted on them. Get out while you can and FIND YOUR JOY!

    • Celeste says:

      Nina,
      If you are still out there, I feel the exact same way and I’m in my 40’s also.
      May be we can support each other?

    • JE Robins says:

      Hi Nina,

      I wonder how you’re doing.. I’ve just read your July 16th 2014 message, on https://thenarcissisticlife.com. Your situation is (or at least was) very similar to mine. (Eg. “Mother was always the leader and the sickest. But Sis and Dad just followed along.” / “Why I always picked the wrong friends and wrong relationships”…) I’m 57, my Dad passed away 8 years ago, and since then Mum has been AWFUL! (She became a different person overnight, to me.) Social services arranged for her to go into a care home 2 weeks ago, an hours drive from me, which has been a huge blessing. I’ve also had a real struggle, over the last year, trying to get the NHS to diagnose what was the matter with Mum (mentally), apart from her Alzheimer’s. I’m now realising that, not only is she narcissistic, but she seems to be a Dark Triad personality as well! I hope things are getting easier / better for you.
      Just in case its helpful, (re making new friends) I read a Scientific American paper online today. I felt that this advice from it was SO important to bear in mind.. “This is yet another reason why it may be important to take your time in forming judgements, when you get to know someone. The initial appeal of the narcissist or psychopath may be hard to resist. Physical attractiveness is often automatically associated with a host of other positive traits – a phenomenon known as “the halo effect.” When we perceive someone as physically attractive, we automatically assume they are also kinder, smarter, and more confident.” [Source: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/psychology-uncovers-sex-appeal-dark-personalities/%5D Best wishes, Jane.

  9. cheryl says:

    I finally became no contact with my mother after 47 years of HELL. She was as physically and verbally abusive as possible. My brother is the golden child and, since my father passed away, it has been “no holds barred” for him and my mother. They call my grown children and try to get them on their side.My mother calls, feigning a reason, and i firmly believe it is to “feel me out.” I hate her, and have since the day I was born.

  10. Nina says:

    Hi David. Thanks for the reply. It’s so weird. After learning about and understanding this sick, bizarre family dynamic… I felt such relief. Now I am sitting… STUCK in a big puddle of anger. I KNOW HOW UNHEALTHY THIS TYPE OF THINKING IS. I’m lashing out like crazy.
    Most of the time I’m not even sorry.

    Thank you for giving me hope. I guess Healing takes time.
    You are 3 years in. And are feeling better. This gives me hope. I feel like a crazy person most of the time.

    God!! I feel like I have nothing but kindness and compassion for others. And to think my Own family just thrived off of this kind of behavior Is almost more than I am able to accept. I’m trying to forgive and let Go.
    But I am just not there yet.
    Best wishes to you and to All.
    N

    • P says:

      Alice-Miller.com – go to her website. You will find out that your anger is healthy, that so many therapists will tell you to forgive while it actuallymakes the things worse.
      Alice Miller saved me from my narc father

  11. benson says:

    Great Article!

    Very straight forward….

    I am a codependent… I have a narcissitc father and a very controlling mom.
    i took me years before i have known what has been happening to my life. It is good to have internet this days, everything is really at the tip of your fingertips.

    I have awaken right now and i have been strugglingall this months. My dilemma right now is my parents are getting older. I just cant leave all of a sudden.

    I am an Asian, half Chinese and half Filipino. I handle most of our business, specially the business problems. I am the first born, male, 45 yrs old, and still single.

    I know i can really go forward with whatever i want to do in life. I am a Mechanical Engr and has an MBA degree, but my saalry here in our family business is so much frustrating. I make more outside the company.

    I am trying to make the best of option 1 and 2, as mentioned from aboved but i an having a difficult time.

    any one? need help?
    thanks

    benson
    notocitibank@yahoo.com

  12. teachit says:

    I, after suspecting, knowing then denying round and around for 30 years; just realised I am a scapegoat. In the last week the lights came on! I mean like blinding my sight for a minute. And this is all thanks to posts like this. At 48 it has now become brutally apparent that I was raised by a narc mother who employs my ‘golden child’ sister as her minion. All of the continuous put downs, neglect, bitchiness and lies she has told about me have been replaying through my mind and I am in part, still in shock that it was not all in my mind or that it was something to do with some filthy flaws in me. So much of the experience of other victims resonates with me I am finding it all rather mesmerising. The final catalyst was an argument with my sister last week that was instigated by my mum. My sister, being the favourite actually accused me of being the golden child at which point I fell about laughing. Interestingly enough my mother sat there witnessing the whole thing. That to me felt so weird I decided to emotionally become unavailable to them both. Being at the end of my rope and feeling that this time I had really really had enough, I searched under manipulative mothers on the web. Lo and behold a truckload of posts about NPD came up. What a bloody revelation that was!!!
    So let the healing begin. Turns out I’m not so bad after all.

    And in the words of a previous writer, Yes we are the lucky ones. At least we get to come out of the friggin rank and insipid darkness. Power peace and love to all survivors. Xx

  13. CatsEyes says:

    I have a Narcissistic Father & Co-Dependant Mother. It’s only taken me 36 years to figure out! My mother also became abusive. I believe this was her frustrations being taken out on me as a child, to compensate for the abuse my Father handed out to her. Her mental health was severely compromised. It’s no excuse, but I can see how it could come about.

    I was constantly dating narcissistic or sociopathic men, & it was through researching them & then learning about myself, that led me to realise where the whole problem began; with my parents.

    I left home when I was 15 years old, unable to cope any longer. I had no where to go to, no money, no plan…I just walked out of the house with the clothes I was wearing. Finally I just snapped & told my parents exactly what I felt & thought, then walked away.

    My life up to now has been very, very hard, on lots of levels. I was unable to complete my education due to leaving home, which prevented me from going to university, as I had wanted. I have had to forge a career for myself, which has been really difficult.

    I have had depression & anxiety, emotional problems, relationship problems, financial issues…you name it.

    Just a month or two ago my Father decided to give me his latest bout of the silent treatment, because I expressed my feelings & needs on a matter, & when he became angry & started to verbally abuse me down the telephone, I hung up. Apparently that warrants the silent treatment, and so I have done a great deal of thinking…

    I have spent the years since leaving home, trying to make up for it! I did nothing wrong, but in trying to minimise & rationalise, & to maintain good relations with my parents, I have allowed my Father to repeatedly abuse me & play silly head games, such as the silent treatment. Keeping him in my life has done me more emotional harm than good, & unfortunately this also applies to my sister, who I believe also has strong narcissistic traits. She’s certainly showing very strong signs of lacking empathy.

    So, I’ve decided that this time, I will not be waiting for him to break his silence! When he tries, he’ll be very disappointed by the lack of open arms. I will stay in touch with my mother (although I expect that my Father will make that as difficult as possible), but I have taken the decision to remove all toxic people from my life. No one has the right to guilt me into being around abusive people. If they push me to do so, then they do not truly love me, & so I will not feel bad.

    Do I feel devastated by my realisations & my decisions?…at first, yes. For a couple of weeks I felt very low. I felt cheated out of a loving, supportive family, & angry that I lost my childhood, & any hopes I held onto that one day I would have a ‘proper’ family around me. I felt very lonely.

    After a few more weeks of coming out of the FOG (Fear, Obligation, Guilt), I now actually feel like a weight is off my shoulders. I feel positive about the future, & able to perhaps do things I wouldn’t have considered doing before, & living my life as I want to, & not holding back for fear of judgement etc.

    I plan to move away. If my Mother decides to leave my Father (Yeah, right!) then she is welcome to follow me.

    It’s a very personal decision to make, to cut off a loved one, but ultimately we deserve to be happy. We have done nothing wrong. If you decide to make the break, then do it with your head held high, know that you did your best & tried all other options, & then walk away & never look back. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty. Life is too short. You are only taking back what should have always been yours.

  14. Problem Child says:

    Wow. Very eye opening article that I just happened to stumble upon.

    Having been labeled the “problem” by my mother my entire childhood, I was taken to counselors, doctors, “diagnosed” with ADD, put on medication for ADD and depression (all as a child). Only ONE out of countless doctors and therapists took the time to interview my other family members and subsequently told me (at age 12) that I was NOT the problem and I was NOT the “crazy one”. She probably saved my life but I didn’t really know what to do with that information. So I ended up marrying a physically abusive N sociopath who molested my oldest child. I divorced him (obviously) and remarried a N man. While not physically or sexual abusive, he was emotionally (and physically most of the time) absent. I divorced him too. Fast forward 20 years…I have 3 grown children and am single. My oldest child is estranged from me as she is so very angry with me…for everything, really. I don’t think I was the mother she imagined or wanted. I can’t do anything right in her opinion…I am too conservative, I’m too overweight, I’m too lax with her siblings, etc. The other two have a relationship with me but it’s very much like the one I had with my father; infrequent polite conversations. I’m so sad about this… I grew up wanting a close knit family that does things together and encourages each other and I end up having exactly what I grew up with. Reading this article terrified me…did I turn out to be a N parent? Am I the one the article is about? I don’t have a golden child or scapegoat among my children but we aren’t close, unfortunately, and with my oldest daughter, I’m ok with that because she is so angry and loathsome of me that she calls me names and is verbally abusive. I don’t chase after her…I think she needs therapy and hope she finds peace. OMG…am I the N one in my family???!!!

    • Wishing for NC says:

      No, you definitely are not a narcissist! Just asking if you are one already shows awareness, concern and sympathy. Traits that are absent in a narc. Peace to you!

    • Jen says:

      Sounds as if your daughter is caught in Attachment-based Parental Alienation and you are the target parent. This is another kind of scapegoating.

      I know what you mean about always having wanted a close-knit family, and being willing to sacrifice for it. But sacrifice on your part only seems to make it worse. Ever heard of Jeffrey Young’s Schema Therapy, and the Self-Sacrificer pattern? Try his book, “Reinventing Your Life.”

      When my pathologically Narcissistic spouse of many years announced divorce, and taught our children to hate me through Attachment-based Parental Alienation, I suddenly found that my sister was in touch with them after a decade of shunning all of us. She had heard the bad news about the divorce somehow, and began inviting my spouse and kids to her place, behind my back. The kids had gone most of their lives without any such invitations, and hardly knew their aunt. All of a sudden, she couldn’t do enough for them. Turned out that she was feeding them a steady diet of terrible lies about what their mother had supposedly done before they were born, though I was such a conservative good girl, my sister would have to try awfully hard to find any wrong-doings whatsoever. She just made it up as she went along, though my sister has a very nasty past herself, and I’m sure she would choke if I told HER kids a small fraction of her own ugly transgressions before they came along. My sister, I suddenly understood, is a Narcissist too. That was bad news. These people are some other level of humanity…..and they make our world an unsavory place. I have since found hidden communication between my sister and my spouse in their unified effort to destroy me. Two of the people I should be able to trust hugely in life, and yet I find that they are jointly betraying me in some truly vicious ways. As I say, she had no interest in me or my family at all, until she found that she could move in for the kill by hurting the relationship between my children and myself. Yes…..these people are evil. No other way to describe them. And yet, she portrays herself as a very virtuous human being in front of others who don’t know what she gets up to behind the scenes. Imagine inviting your young nieces and nephews for a party so that you can feed them destructive lies about their own mother, who is absent because the party was hidden from her. This is sub-humanity.

  15. applecheeks says:

    Researching narcissism has been like discovering playbooks that describe my mother, and her various behaviors and actions. It is eery how they are all so similar in their tactics, yet are completely blind to that, and consider themselves so smart, and above others ( my mother always thinks she is fooling people).

    The thing I appreciated in this article is the explanation of how, and why Narcs treat children differently, and pit them against each other. My mother did that to my sister and I. I was the scapegoat/ rejected child….. my sister the “golden” one. Despite the outer differences in treatment, my sister was also neglected and abused…. and had to witness horrible things happen to me. As teenagers, she and I were always at war with each other, however…..whenever our mother would go away for trips with her boyfriend, like magic we suddenly would get along great. It was due to not having her pitting us against each other. Fortunately, once we no-longer were living with her, my sister and I became best friends, and love each other dearly.

    The comments from other posters saying, “it is like handing a demon a baby” caught my breath, because that is how we have always described my mother when she flips—all of a sudden she has a demon voice and face, with just pure malice, and even wicked pleasure (from causing pain) in her eyes. My second earliest memory is of her beating me. I was two, and I had wet the bed…. and she had me on my back on a table, and was slapping me all over, all the while that demon voice and face spitting horrible things at me, and demeaning me by calling me a baby, and asking me if I wanted to wear diapers like my sister. Who the heck expects a two-year-old to be completely potty trained, let alone to not have bedtime accidents?
    My mother did not care about what happened to me. When I was five, she was engaged to a man who started molesting, and beating/ injuring me before they were married….. but she married him anyway. An unloved child is an unprotected child. She made some kind of pact with him that he could have me, as long as he didn’t touch my sister. She then became absolutely hateful towards me, and we think it was because she both blamed me for the situation, as well as was jealous of/ saw me as some kind of threat and competition…..instead of understanding that I was her child, and that I was being harmed, and that she was supposed to protect me. She punished me for my step-father’s “attentions”…..non-stop cruel words about how ugly, stupid, fat, disgusting I was….that no-one would ever love or want me etc….combined with constant physical abuse, demeaning treatment, neglect etc…..( its sad now, to see pictures of myself, and see that in reality I was a very beautiful child, but I was made to believe I was nothing). I was never hugged, kissed, or given any kind of affection or comfort…and typically was not allowed to cry when I was beaten etc….I grew-up thinking touch was pain.

    My mother’s friend reported my step-father when I was 9, and it resulted in my mother having to get a divorce to save face……so she took it all out on me. Blamed me for his actions, told me I was dirty, damaged goods, and that I could not tell anyone because they would hate me……and forbade me from talking in the court-appointed therapy group. Now I understand that a lot of that was to cover her own self…..she was afraid that I would reveal her abuse, and that she had known the whole time about what my step-father was doing….so she scared me into silence. Just how she would punish/ beat me for flinching, staring at my feet, crying in pain, revealing/ reacting to injury etc…..all to force me to conceal what she was doing.
    Once step-father was gone, we were completely neglected. She became a party girl of sorts, and my sister and I were alone without food most of the time….and were expected to take care of her, the house etc….We went through her live-in boyfriends ( who always were more important than us). I went without a bed for years, rarely had coats, proper shoes etc….what little she did buy in that regard went to my sister, because I did not matter.
    When I was 11 I almost died from severe medical neglect. For months I endured pain that any adult would have instantly rushed to an emergency room for….. could barely walk, and was in constant agony. I was beaten and threatened when I tried to tell her, and when the PE teacher called and reported that I kept sitting down. Most parents would notice that their children were struggling to walk. I knew that I was dying, and didn’t understand that anyone was supposed to care. In the end, after screaming for hours ( and being ignored)…..I finally was taken to the hospital, and ended-up having surgery ( for something that the doctors were baffled had not already burst/ killed me).

    Our house only had pictures of my sister on the walls. My mother’s work desk had a collage of pictures of my sister that she showed off….but not a single one of me. She did not see me as pretty enough to show-off, however I doubt she ever considered how horrible all of that must of looked to her co-workers who knew she had two daughters. Ironic?
    Whenever I had something important…. such as a choir concert, birthday, graduation etc… she would do and say horrible things to me just before, in order to strip the happy/ big moments from me. She couldn’t let me be happy, or feel good for achieving anything. So she would inflict pain, and create obstacles to make herself feel bigger, and in control.

    As adults, her manipulation has continued to create chaos for us. She is a hoarder, and has created a fantasy history of amazing achievements, and being the best mother ever….. that she thinks is real. She thinks that we owe her, and even steals from us…….. neither of us like to have her in our homes. Its gotten to the point that we no-longer have her over for holidays, because it is too draining ( she always acts like its her birthday……all of the attention should be on her etc….), and not fair to my nephew to have her detract from what should be special for him.

    For me, I am there if she needs legit help with something, but I otherwise keep distance now. It is always hard to tell what is real with her though, because her whole life she has faked and exaggerated medical issues…. to the point of even doctors being baffled by her. I don’t like who I am around her. I rarely get angry, irritated etc… ( which i found interesting given mention of that in article)….. save when I am around her. Many other people feel the same way when interacting with her… and i think it is due to how draining it is to try to talk to someone who is highly self-absorbed. It is always a battle to get her to understand things, to listen etc… she is in her own bubble, and does what she wants without consideration of others.

    I have spent my life figuring-out who I really am, and learning to love myself. I battled c-ptsd….. and have had struggles with touch and connecting with others in those kind of ways. It is very hard for me to ask for help, or open-up to people because I was trained to always do, and cope with everything on my own……so in a way I am a contradiction. I crave connections and support, but struggle with the “how” etc….. thus, 40, single, no kids etc…. so it goes to show how far-reaching narcissistic parental abuse can be. I am someone who feels great love for others, and I have no problem with giving of my self etc… but sometimes I over do it, and do not see when I am hurting my own self in the process. I can’t bare to see anyone in pain, or having to deal with things alone. However, on the flip side, I still am learning how to let others love, and help me…..it literally overwhelms me, and it is hard to work past the mental reflex that makes me think I am an inconvenience/ burden etc…

    It is so important to hug, and love children.

    • Jen says:

      My Narcissistic mother behaved this way with my graduations (made plans to go elsewhere those days), and my wedding. The wedding of the scapegoat in a personality-disordered family deserves a book of its own. My BPD/NPD father stood up and told my guests to go home about halfway through the reception, because he had decided he had better things to do with his afternoon. They were so stunned, they complied.

  16. Ang says:

    I am about in tears reading this. I never knew this was something that they all do. My oldest child is the scapegoat, the middle is the golden child, the third is just ignored. I thought it was just him. I just found out in Aug that he was a N. I never knew anything about this disorder. 23 years of feeling like I wasn’t were I should be. Hating every moment of verbal abuse to me and my children. Now the courts say they have to go to visitation. It just isn’t fair. They don’t want to go and they get angry for me making them go. I am afraid if they don’t go then he will take me back to court to get more rights. Why will the court not listen? Why must they suffer?

  17. Bradley Wayne Englund says:

    My name is Brad Englund a son of a narcissist. i am a sensitive well mannered child thanks to some men in my community where my mom raised me. I was the escape goat and was treated like crap but God is a Good Good Daddy. I have been codependant due to going to college and the awesome economy that we americans live in. I am a codependant to my narrcissitic father. i have had two girlfriends in my life and my last one i noticed that i was turning into my father and i am not going to do that because that is not Love. 1 John 4:7-8 says to have a relationship with God my True Father is to have Love, for if we do not love God than we can’t have a good relationship with our spouses. i have learned that with my walk. So ya

  18. Rob says:

    I enjoyed your post with the exception of referring to the narcissistic parent as being male. I am becoming a little tired of reading posts like this with the continual use of ‘him’ ‘he’ when referring to the possible instigator. Please leave posts as open to both sexes being the possible instigators.

  19. Angela F says:

    I was the golden child. I became her caretaker into adulthood, a people pleaser (even became a nurse), codependent personality that attracts NPDs, hopelessly emeshed with her. I knew she was “off” but wasn’t sure what. I loved her. My younger stepsister was the scapegoat and was verbally abused. My N mother followed me around the country living down the street, always saying bad things to each of us about each sibling. In an auto accident 2 Yago and could no longer offer her financial and emotional sustenance, and I moved. She FLIPPED even though I offered to take her with me (she would have had to pack her own things as my leg was broken). She used her spare key after I left and sold all the appliances (lawsuit for $7,000), tried to get my employment records (why?), and told everyone in my family I got evicted, was using drugs, was a bad mother, constantly berating me via text for months.

    She got someone to move her to my city. We made up. 2 years later I received a medical diagnosis that made it difficult to care for my son. She didn’t offer help, she offered to take my 10 year old away. I finally got SO ANGRY and told her off to high heaven via text. Felt so good.

    She spends her days now telling all kinds of lies about me and has turned half of our family against FOUR of her FIVE children. She has convinced one sister that I am evil. I always wonder…..She raised 5 children and only one has any contact with her. She really has the whole family convinced that she just had bad luck and rotten kids.

    I love her, and I hate her. But I don’t think anyone but me realizes that she doesn’t love us, or anyone for that matter. She’s incapable. They are such hurtful, cruel parents. I agree the golden child has many more years of suffering than the scape goat. I was depressed when I was 6 years old.

  20. jaim says:

    Does anyone feel like their parent could be comorbid in having narcissistic personality disorder with bipolar? I really think this is my mom’s issue.

  21. jody says:

    I am a health care professional and I have read your article. I am sure many other people also have read your article. My concern is that is this world of ours, there are too many people who are too anxious to quickly label someone they have a disagreement with as dysfunctional. The internet provides information, but as the old saying is “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” There are some people who search the internet to look for something that will “fit” and use that label to describe someone who they have issues with. Sometimes instead of trying to work out problems, these people are so decided in their unprofessional diagnosis that labelling someone with the wrong label, will be perceived as name calling and it can become more damaging to any relationship than practising effective communication skills. Too many adult children looking for reasons to blame their parents for……..anything. Nobody is perfect, Communication,listening, and genuinely caring about each other, projecting a loving relationship is a good start. Isolation, deviance, name calling and labelling or putting others under a magnifying glass and searching the internet to see what will fit, is not the way to future any relationship. Humans are basically social beings and as a community, I think we need to nuture supportive relationships and learn to help each other instead of abandoning people or isolating them because we find them inconvenient. Everyone has faults, we need to work through them. All relationships need work, they are not made in heaven.

    • Alexander Burgemeester says:

      Hi Jody,

      Thank you for your concerns, I understand where you going at. Do you have some tips or advice I could use to address this or is it more of a general concern? I am not here to label people, just to give people insights. Thanks for sharing.

    • GG says:

      Maybe you should live in one of these families to understand there is no communication except that of the Narcissist. They will beat you into submission while a child or as an adult. Pull a gun on you and saying they will kill you, tell you repeatedly you are of Satan and rebuke you. They never show love or compassion unless it’s after they have beat the crap out of you and say they did it “because they love you”. They make everyone outside your family i.e. Co-Workers, Friends and church people think they are SAINTS! I grew up in HELL and thought it was my fault. A neighborhood man who was 64 + years old was our babysitter and he kept 5 other kids from our neighborhood too. He molested & raped my Sister and me starting at age 5 – 8. When I told my Mother she slapped me then chocked me calling me a Lier saying I was being disloyal to our good neighbor/friend. He’s a good man! So Much for your Health Care Professional Idea’s – Go Back to School!

    • Jane R. says:

      Hi Jody,

      Your comments got me thinking.. [I have a N Mum who’s just gone into a care home, after my brother and I have had 8 very difficult years with her, after my Dad died.] I’ve only known for sure that Mum has (at the least) “(Controlling) narcissistic personality traits” since January (2017). However I’ve had a good idea about what the problem was, for a year now. During that time I’ve been reading as much as I could (about narcissism, and ‘pathological parents’ eg.), and I’ve talked to (at least) two counsellors, a geriatrician / psychiatrist, 2 psychologists, 2 social workers, a community psychiatric nurse and two general practitioners (GPs). [Can you imagine what all that cost the taxpayer? – As you’ve probably guessed, I live in the UK..]

      Well, so I have two points that I’d like to make…:- The first concerns the costs to society of (what I see as) significant selfishness and destructiveness in relationships (especially from parent to child). The second point is that, I’ve found it interesting to note that, many health professionals seem to be happy with the status quo. (Ie. ‘Pathological narcissism isn’t that bad’.)

      To expand on the first point a bit.. In the UK (maybe you even live here..), we have what’s regarded by many as a fantastic health service, in the ‘NHS’. However its said to be at bursting point. (We’re told it doesn’t have enough money, ‘by a long chalk’, to service all the demands being made on it.) I watched a Question Time (BBC) programme not long ago, on this topic. There was a group of junior doctors in the audience, and they were pleading with the general public, .. asking them to try to live their lives more healthily, (to reduce the burden on the service). If you scan through the posts here, I think you’ll find quite a number, where people are mentioning that they’ve had depression (or a selection of other health problems), and so they’ve needed to see therapists, or other specialists, to help them deal with the ‘fall-out’, from having been close to a narcissist or two. If we can learn more about what constitutes bad parenting (for instance), or about how people can be more careful, the next time they’re about to start out on a new friendship, or love relationship, by looking at sites such as this one, much heartache (and expense on health services) might be avoided.

      Regarding health professionals’ (HPs) reactions about narcissists.. I can’t help feeling that, often such people have more compassion for ‘Ns’, than say someone who’s complaining on this site about them, because 1) their life probably hasn’t been turned upside down, by such a person, and 2) looking after ‘poorly people’ is what HPs do. Its their ‘raison d’etre’.. (As far as their work goes..) We need them to be caring / compassionate. However, in the UK at least, we also need to become much healthier, as a people. We have massive mental health problems here. (In my view) we can’t afford to keep going the way we have been.

      Wherever you live, we’re all fortunate to have among us people who are good at caring, for those who are unwell. Paid carers in the UK though, on the whole, are on very low wages. Narcissists are often described as ‘disturbing’, and can be very physically destructive too. It surely ain’t fair, to ask such (comparatively) poorly paid people, to take such treatment on a regular basis? (Especially when narcissists are often the most powerful people in society.)

      Well these are my views.. It’ll be interesting to (hopefully) hear what you think.. Kind regards, Jane R.
      (JE Robins on my first post.)

    • Jen says:

      Pardon me, Jody, but are you for real? Have you actually read a large portion of the postings on this site? If you are truly a health care professional, your clients are in trouble. You could cause an awful lot of damage with your denial. Borderline/Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a certified mental illness, in the DSM. Are you familiar with that? Or sometimes, posts such as this one are written by Narcissists themselves, trying to look good.

      Yes, I think you need further professional education. Everyone who has read this, and had the misfortune of dealing with actual Narcissists, must be shaking their heads.

  22. Landon says:

    It’s quite scary the day you realize your parents a narcissist. Or maybe everyone alrwst knew but me. I am the golden child of my Nmother and a motivated one at that. It scares me to think of what kind of narcissist I was on my way to becoming. I had already accepted the idea nobody would ever love me but my mom, I was prepared to attack and conquer the jealous evil people who were waiting to attack me, it was just a matter of time, I assume my heart would have gone completely cold after my mother passes turning me into a full narcissist. But then my scape goat sister saved us all and I haven’t heard of this scenario happening on any sights I’ve come across. My sister the independent smart strong scape goat came to the conclusion the only way to save us and her own children she was already molding intk the next generation was to take her own life. I was devasted. Clinging to mom. But something happened to my mom I haven’t heard of, she reverted back to her scape goat child self and felt her feelings and empathayzed. It’s was like a glitch in the programming, and she had been biunceing between the adult narcissist she became and the scape goat child she was growing up. Then when I was reading about my sisters diagnosis and disorder, my mother pointed to a link “NPD” and asked me what it was. As I read it aloud my stomach turned in knots. At the end of the article speechless I turned to my mother as she raised her eyebrows and said “well that definitely sounds like you good thing I told you to click it”. But her eyes under her confident eyebrows were the little scape goat girls. Did my Nmother just hand me the key to my freedom? Of course after that I have researched every site watched every video, learned how to set boundaries, I’ve never felt so great about being alive and having my own thoughts and opinions. My narcisstic exs don’t hurt to think about anymore, I don’t blame myself for ruining all my relationships. I am able to identify which people in my past I needed to make amends to, and which people are narcissists I need to cut ties from. I don’t have it in me to ever abandon my mother even now that I see the truth, instead I’m desperately searching for recovery methods or suggestions to help but everyone says it’s too late for them. I can’t believe that, this controlling opinionated self centered queen didn’t start that way, so why should she end like that. Small progress had been made by a few methods I’ve applied in case anyone else is where I am at refusing to give up their narcissist, when I want to address the things my mother does or did to us, I direct my feelings about it to her parents, “I can’t believe nana would BLANK, that would cause me to feel like BLANk”. It’s like watching a computer glitch when I do this because she is able to completely empathize with me what she has done to me. The narcissist in her will roar up when it connects the two tho and she will start accusing me or her traits and flaws and really believe that I am her negative actions or defects as a defense. To which from there I tell her “mom maybe your right, I have been (narcissistic trait) lately, what should I do? I don’t want to come off like that to people” then of course she has a perfect know it all answer to her own problem she is blaming on me. Then I told her that it’s good advice and grabbed my mirror off the wall and asked if she could write it down so I can read it everyday when I look in the mirror. As my mother held the mirror and wrote her directions of how to fix her problem she was accusing me off it broke through a chain. I know it’s only one of many but it’s been progress a little everyday. I hope my story can help one of you as well.

  23. greentreesky says:

    I have a Nmother and enabler/flying monkey father I am now 59 and just getting a handle on this understanding and the impact on my life.

    I thought my parents were the best thing out for years – that was what I was trained to believe – our family HAD to be PERFECT… even while I was sliding from one depression to another, constantly feeling that ‘it’ was my fault. I started counselling at 38 and after going through about 6 who were hopeless (some likely with NPD tendencies) – I finally found someone who showed me that it was not my fault.

    Back then though NOONE understood the NPD framework. This counsellor was extremely intuitive and saved me from myself (I was close to suicide) but she would admit she could not q_u_i_t_e put her finger on what was going on – I know now she just did not have the framework to explain it. I did 10 years of work with her (not covered by health insurance). At least I had learned I had a problem mother. My brother (who also did heaps of counselling) and I often discussed this fact but remained confused and kept our distance from parents but dutifully kept contact… (I think we shared golden-child-scapegoat roles, flip flopping when the situation suited NM)

    Some years after ending counselling it seems I was still broken and would slide into depression struggling to keep work, make money, stay focused. I would try to seek out Medicare (Australia) supported counsellors but they were only able to keep me in a holding pattern. It was only earlier this year that a friend who also has a “problem mother” handed me 2 books about narcissism – it was a revelation… Having a frame through which to look back on my life and my behaviours has been life changing… rather than the chronic sense of confusion/stupidity/my fault that had always been part of my life.

    Only now that I understand that the Nmother can never be fixed that I feel a sense of MY life floating into being (I spent so much time hoping that next time it would be better – that I could fix it – my brother still thinks he can fix it!). Once I understood the framework I tried grey rock / minimal contact but even the sound of their voices on the phone would send me crazy for days if not weeks and then the entrained guilt would set in and I would phone again only to be set off yet again. I knew the status quo could not continue – I was losing the plot. I have been no contact for 4 weeks now – It has been the most liberating, life enhancing thing I have ever done.

    NOW I can heal – now I can take 100% responsibility for my life. I am proactively working at healing myself. I am doing Brene Brown Courses on understanding vulnerability, resilience and shame. I have found a good counsellor who gets Narcissism in families and is doing extra research to help me – interestingly she is not covered by Medicare. In the last couple of weeks, I stumbled onto Meridith Miller’s SANA programs: Self-healing After Narcissistic Abuse (look up on google). All this self-healing in the context of what I now understand have given me a life I did not even know I had… I still have a lot of healing to do but I am on the way…

    To conclude – (in response to a couple of earlier posts)…

    labelling: providing frameworks through which one can understand the complexities of our problems is HUGELY important – they are not limiting they are a stepping off point. Each Narc-Child relationship will be different and it is up to us to work that bit out but mainly it is up to us to accept 100% responsibility for what we do from here on in once we have a framework, yes we cannot change what has happened in our past but we can take the reigns from this moment on. I have found my husband to be hugely supportive once I had the framework to explain things to him and he experienced “her” behaviour full on. Blessedly I did not marry a narc – I was probably looking for a rescuer, which bless him he refused to be – but he has become a great supporter now I have taken responsibility.

    Therapist/Counsellors do not understand how NPD affects the children: the framework for understanding children of Narc Parents / the label / diagnosis is relatively new only described in the mid 1990s (extrapolated out of children of alcoholic parents theories) – it takes a long time for this stuff to work its way into the main stream. It is also not easily seen as opposed to physical abuse. I also sense that counsellors are rather afraid to label anyone narcissist – possibly becauseh they do not fully understand it (and yes some might be Narcissists themselves).

    It seems that with our understanding, having been in the fray, it might be up to us (taking 100% responsibility) to help our counsellors understand, to help them become supporters in our journey to our authentic life… my new counsellor who had some understanding when I met her is working WITH me to understand it better (in my first session I turned up with 4 books about NPD/ narcissism in families) – having someone so much ‘on my side’ is pretty powerful stuff.

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