Why Do Narcissists Have a Golden Child and Scapegoat Child?

Last Updated on July 22, 2021 by Alexander Burgemeester

It’s often said that all families are dysfunctional in some way. If this is true, then narcissistic families must be among the most dysfunctional families.

If one or both parents in a family are narcissists, they will put their own emotional needs ahead of those of their children. This is bound to cause some tension among the other members of the family – and indeed, research shows that children of narcissistic parents are at greater risk of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety.

But what is this “tension” I’m talking about here? What happens in a narcissistic family that doesn’t happen in other families?

While there is very little research in this area, we do have reports from people who grew up in narcissistic families – and from the psychotherapists who treat them. And some common themes have emerged. As trauma counsellor Shannon Thomas told INSIDER in 2019:

“[Narcissistic parents] will triangulate siblings, they spin stories, they tell half truths, and you start to notice the pattern, just like in a romantic relationship, of how they create that chaos.”

One of the “pattern” that Thomas refers to here is known as the “golden child scapegoat dynamic.” Here’s what we know about the Golden Child and Scapegoat Child dynamics and how it affects the family.

The golden child and scapegoat child

As I said earlier, narcissistic parents put their own needs ahead of their children. In fact, their need to be in control and at the center of attention is sometimes the reason they choose to have children in the first place. 

In order to fulfil those needs and get their narcissistic supply, narcissistic parents sometimes push their children into specific roles within the family. Two of the common roles that have been identified, are the “golden child” and the “scapegoat.”

Why Do Narcissists Have a Golden Child and Scapegoat Child_

Let’s look at the characteristics of each role in turn, and see at what they actually entail.

Golden child characteristics

The golden child role is just what it sounds like – it’s the favoured child of the narcissistic parent. However, this isn’t your ordinary, garden-variety favouritism – as is often the case with narcissists, it’s taken to extreme levels.

Most of the time, the golden child can’t put a foot wrong. Anything they do well will be celebrated exuberantly. The narcissist will  pile on the praise for even minor successes. They win the diving competition? “That’s fantastic, you’re so talented!” They get a C in English? “Great work, you’re so smart!” They tell a joke at the dinner table? “That’s hilarious, you’re so funny!”

Often the golden child is chosen for the role because they do actually possess some qualities or abilities that would reflect well on the narcissist. They may be the most attractive of their children, do well in school, or have some potential in a skill such as a sport or musical instrument. This is not always the case though, and sometimes the child who simply identifies the most strongly with the narcissistic parent will become the golden child.

Scapegoat child characteristics

Scapegoating is a group dynamic where one person is singled out by the rest of the group, and becomes a target of blame, abuse, and other negative treatment. And again, unfortunately, this is taken to the extreme by narcissistic parents.

While the golden child can do nothing wrong, the scapegoat can do nothing right. They win the diving contest?

Did you? Oh OK. Oh by the way we’re going to have to stop your diving lessons, we can’t afford them on top of your sister’s violin lessons”. They get a C in English? “Just a C? Is that all? Why am I not surprised?” They tell a joke at the dinner table? “That was terrible, maybe you should just be quiet.”

The nature and intensity of the abuse varies from family to family, depending on the type of narcissist we’re talking about, and how severe their NPD is. Direct, overt verbal abuse such as insults, blaming, and put-downs are commonly reported, but in more extreme cases there may also be physical abuse. 

In other cases, the abuse may be much more subtle. Take the diving example above. The narcissist failed to praise their child for something they did well, and then removed the diving lessons to prevent them doing it again. They might have done this so that the scapegoat stealing the thunder from the golden child – but they’d never admit that.

The Golden child-scapegoat child relationship

As you can well imagine, the relationship between golden children and the scapegoat is likely to be strained at best, but downright toxic more often. This comes down to how the golden children treats the scapegoat children.

In some cases, mainly where the golden child identifies with the narcissistic parent, or has a narcissistic side themselves, they will join in the abuse directed towards the scapegoat. This is obviously no basis for a healthy relationship, and the narcissistic parent will do nothing to bridge this gap. In fact, they will likely encourage rivalry and hostility, using triangulation as a tool of control.

Scapegoat child syndrome

When we experience stress, neglect, and abuse early in life, it can have long-term effects on us. In one study of 21,000 people in Australia, those who experienced childhood abuse were at greater risk of poor mental health, particularly anxiety and depression, and poor physical health, including a higher risk of heart problems. The striking thing about this study, is that the participants were all over the age of 60. The researchers concluded that “the effects of childhood abuse appear to last a lifetime.”

In the case of the scapegoated child in a narcissistic family, there are some other more specific issues that might spring up. Some have referred to these as “scapegoat child syndrome,” although this isn’t a recognised condition in the way that disorders like depression are. Psych Central lists a few of the longer-term impacts that the scapegoated child might experience:

1) An altered view of relationships/difficulty trusting others.

2) Internalising the negative views that are pushed upon them, leading to excessive self-criticism.

3) Little or no sense of belonging, due to never experiencing a safe and stable family life

4) Damage to their sense of self

5) Repeating the pattern – they may be drawn to friends and romantic partners who are controlling or narcissistic themselves.

Golden child syndrome

Again, “scapegoat child syndrome” isn’t a recognised condition – rather, it’s something that popped up online, it’s a label given to the negative effects of being the golden child. 

Negative effects? Yep, you read that right. You might think that life is pretty great for golden children – and in terms of day-to-day overt abuse, that’s almost certainly true. However, there are downsides to the this role too. The School of Life gives some examples:

  • They never learn that flaws and weaknesses are OK. To flourish in life, we need to be able to make mistakes. We need to learn that we will be forgiven, that the love and esteem we receive from others won’t be compromised if we mess up. This is known as “psychological safety.” But the golden child often has their mistakes and faults swept under the rug. So they can become terrified of failure in the future.
  • Insecurity. If you are given high praise and told you are special, gifted, talented, and so on, it’s usually in response to something you’ve done. However, the narcissist showers such praise on the golden child without them having done anything to warrant it. This is called “overvaluation.” The problem here is that the golden child comes to need that praise, but they don’t know why they deserve it. This can cause insecurity because they have no basis for knowing if the praise will come in the future.
  • Lack of control. Being a golden child comes with responsibilities – namely attending to the narcissistic parent’s needs. They are an extension of their parent, not allowed to be themselves. For this reason, they may struggle to develop an identity of their own.
  • Guilt. Remember that they are still a child. They are being pushed into the role by the narcissistic parent, and they go along with it because they lack the maturity to understand any differently. However when they get older, some develop great guilt when it dawns on them that they were participants in the abuse of the scapegoat child.

But there is another potential impact of being the golden child that we should discuss…

Does the golden child become a narcissist?

Although there is very little research on these two family roles, there is reason to believe that children placed in the golden child role are at greater risk of developing NPD themselves – certainly compared to the scapegoat. Here’s why.

The development of disorders like NPD is a bit like baking a cake (although the outcome, of course, is much less pleasant). To bake a cake, you need to put the right ingredients together (flour, eggs, sugar, etc.), and then put them into the right environment (a hot oven), for the right amount of time.

If you use sawdust instead of flour, you are not going to get a cake – no matter how long you bake it for. Likewise, if you mix flour, eggs, and sugar together, but then put them in a refrigerator instead of an oven, you also won’t get a cake.

So it is with NPD. 

The “ingredients” of NPD are genetic – a particular combination of genes work in tandem to produce the psychological and behavioural effects that we call narcissism. We all inherit half of our genes from our mother, and half from our father. So it really is a roll of the dice when it comes to whether the children of narcissists inherit these genetic ingredients or not. 

The research so far suggests that these genes are necessary for NPD to develop – or at least, they make it much more likely. If the golden child doesn’t inherit these ingredients, it’s like mixing sawdust with eggs and sugar – not going to make a cake.

If children do inherit these genes, they’ve got the right ingredients, but they still need to be “baked”. So what’s the equivalent of the hot oven in this analogy? What are the environmental factors that might “activate” these genes, and cause NPD to develop?

One of the key factors identified in the research is parental overvaluation – this is where parents shower their children with praise, even when they have done nothing to warrant it. If you’re thinking, “That sounds exactly like the description of the golden child,” then you’re right – it is! 

The theory goes like this – when children are told continuously that they are special and better than other people, but they don’t understand why, then the only way they can get that feeling of being special, is through praise. So, the child develops a need for verbal praise from others. 

At the same time, the fact that a narcissistic parent doesn’t provide any unconditional love or affection, creates a low self-esteem. They don’t know when or how the praise will come, so they start learning how to elicit it from other people, through things like bragging, and lying. If you’re thinking “That sounds like a description of a narcissist,” you’d be right again!

Some research also suggests that the siblings of scapegoated children display lower than normal levels of empathy. It could be that siblings with low empathy end up being the ones who join in on the abuse of the scapegoat. But, the researchers also propose that it could be the other way around – siblings who join in on the abuse could end up with lower empathy. For example, the child may suppress their empathy to hide from themselves the fact that they are being abusive – to avoid the self-guilt and self-shame that this might trigger.

Since impaired empathy is another characteristic of NPD, this shows another potential reason why we might expect more golden children than scapegoats to develop NPD themselves.

However there’s another important thing to point out here – the impact of the second parent can be crucial. If the second parent is non-narcissistic, and is able to show the golden child the warmth they don’t get from the parent with NPD, while also not engaging in overvaluation, they might act as a barrier, preventing NPD from developing.

What happens to the golden child when the scapegoat leaves?

Although it might sound strange, there are some advantages to being the scapegoat child.

Although they receive the brunt of the narcissistic abuse, the golden child is certainly more controlled – they have more expectations put upon them. Their role is to serve the narcissist’s needs and give the narcissist something to brag about. Because of the narcissist’s low opinion of the scapegoat, they have less expectations placed on them. 

The golden child in this dynamic is being manipulated and abused too. But the abuse is more subtle, more confusing. They may not really realise what’s going on, and may not see their situation as unfavourable, at least relative to the scapegoat.

This means that, of the two roles, the scapegoat has the most incentive and opportunity to leave the toxic family environment. When they leave, they may also take a stronger sense of who they actually are with them – something they may not fully develop, as they are being shaped by the narcissist. 

So what happens when the scapegoat child leaves? 

The writers over at “Silence is not OK” suggest that discord in the family can increase after the scapegoat child leaves. As we’ll see, the scapegoat child can form as a kind of pressure release valve. When that valve is taken away, the anger that the narcissist previously it directed at the scapegoat, will find alternative targets.

They may also find someone else to fill the scapegoat role. If the narcissist set up the golden child-scapegoat dynamic in the first place, it is probably because they have a need for it (we’ll discuss these needs a little later on). So with the family now a scapegoat down, what does the narcissist do?

Well, often the original scapegoat will remain the scapegoat, even if they are not physically present. Much like Napoleon did to Snowball in George Orwell’s animal farm, the narcissist may continue to use, blame, insult the scapegoat, even in their absence. If there are any more children in the family, another sibling may take up the scapegoat mantle, and in some cases, they might switch roles.

Can the golden child become the scapegoat?

It’s important to note that the two roles we’re discussing here say more about the parent assigning then than they do about the characteristics of the children themselves. Some people who have reported experiences have said that in their family, the roles were more fluid. They were based on which child was the flavour of the month – in other words, which child had been most effective at providing narcissistic supply, and the most able to avoid triggering a narcissistic injury.

Although it’s more common for the roles to be fixed than fluid, a fixed role is not necessarily a permanent one. Often a narcissist’s opinion of someone is influenced more by their most recent interactions with that person, than a rational, long-term evaluation of their interactions over time.

So, if the golden child was to trigger a sufficiently painful narcissistic injury, they could certainly find themselves out of that role and perhaps the new family scapegoat. Of course, the action that would trigger such a role change will vary from person to person, but imagine if the golden child directly challenged the narcissist’s abuse of the scapegoat – it’s hard to imagine them remaining in this role for too long after something like that.

Why do narcissists have a golden child and a scapegoat child?

Before we get into this, let me make a quick little side point. This family dynamic is not guaranteed to occur in families with a narcissistic parent. At the time of writing, there is very little research on these roles, so we don’t know for sure how common they are. The main thing we have to go on are people’s reports, and this can make the dynamic seem more common than it actually is.

For example, how many reports, online or off, have you read where someone said “I grew up in a household with narcissistic parent, and we didn’t have a scapegoat or a golden child.”? I’ve read a few comments to this effect here and there, but not many. But is that because this dynamic is super-common, or is it because people who didn’t experience it aren’t speaking up as much?

We have no way of knowing. One fair assumption we could make, is that this dynamic is more likely to occur in people with more severe NPD, especially those who we might classify as “malignant narcissists.” We’d expect to see it less in narcissists with less severe symptoms of NPD, and much less still in people who are narcissistic, but don’t meet the criteria for NPD.

So the key driver behind this dynamic will be the severity of the parent’s narcissism. But just remember that not all narcissists have NPD, and not all narcissists with NPD have malignant narcissism.

Anyway, with that point made, let’s explore why a parent with NPD might be inclined to push their children into them…

Why do narcissists have a scapegoat child?

Here are a few possibilities as to why a narcissist might have a scapegoat child.

The emotional lightning rod

When one key member of the family puts their needs (far) ahead of everyone else’s, this can create dynamics where stress, fear, and conflict are more common.

Now, to a narcissist, image is everything – and this applies even within the family, where they are largely the one in control. Since narcissists view themselves are pretty much perfect, they have a bit of a dilemma here – if they are so great, why would there be there stress and conflict within the family?

Enter the scapegoat as a ready-made solution to this problem. As Peg Streep explains over at Psychology Today,

the scapegoat “permits the narcissistic mother to make sense of family dynamics and the things that displease her without ever blemishing her own role as a “perfect” mother, or feeling the need for any introspection or action. She has a ready-made explanation for fractiousness or any other deviation from what she expects her family to look like.

(note: Streep was talking about narcissistic mothers in this article, but the point applies equally to narcissistic fathers).

So one reason narcissists create scapegoat role, is for them to serve as a lightning rod, attracting negativity so they don’t have to experience it themselves. This can sometimes become a team effort where the rest of the family joins in – commonly known as “family mobbing.”


Another reason is narcissists have a scapegoat child is more simple – to serve as a source of narcissistic supply. Narcissists sometimes insult and put other people down so that they can feel better about themselves. It simply enables them to think better of themselves, knowing that there’s someone else that they’re superior to.


One interesting theory around why narcissists create these two roles is that they are projecting different aspects of themselves onto their children. 

As you may know, people with NPD have two “selves”. One is the the grandiose image of the perfect person that they present to the world. The other lives much deeper in their mind – the insecure self who lurks beneath the surface. The insecure self is deeply worried that they aren’t as important as they like to think. Narcissists hate this aspect of themselves, and put most of their energy into avoiding ever having to face it or accept that it is real.

Yet it’s there underneath, nonetheless. So what do you do in that situation? Well one thing you can do, is to project your insecure self onto someone else – the scapegoat. Any hatred towards the insecure self can then be directed at the scapegoat. They turn an inner conflict into an outer one – something they can attack and control more easily. They “externalise” their pain, so that it’s no longer a part of themselves.

Why do narcissists have a golden child?

Here are a couple of ideas as to why narcissists have a golden child:


Very often, to understand a narcissist’s behaviour, you just need to come back to their two key needs – to obtain narcissistic supply, and to avoid narcissistic injury.

So how does the golden child provide supply? It comes down to the family image. They don’t just just praise the golden child directly, they brag about them to others, too. They understand that to have intelligent, successful, high-achieving children is something that gets you a little status in the eyes of other people, so they use the golden child to get that status. It’s the offspring equivalent of a trophy wife.

The golden child will also be a direct source of supply to the narcissist – they are the narcissist’s chief assistant, there to serve their needs. The golden child will often come to identify with the narcissistic parent, and then reflect their positive view back at them. They are like a familial “yes man/woman”.


As the scapegoat is the projection of the narcissist’s insecure self, the golden child is the projection of the narcissist’s grandiose self. 

It’s often said that narcissists see their children as extensions of themselves, rather than as individuals in their own right. So in a sense, the golden child – or at least the narcissist’s image of them – is who the narcissist would like to be. 

Does this sound familiar?

As I said earlier, while these dynamics do appear to be somewhat common, they won’t show up in all narcissistic families. And where they do appear, each instance will have its own unique flavour and severity.

Did you grow up in a family where one or both parents were narcissistic? If so, what was your experience? Do these roles match up with what you experienced?

Golden child Scapegoat child

Written by Alexander Burgemeester on

Alexander Burgemeester has a Master in Neuropsychology. He studied at the University of Amsterdam and has a bachelor's in Clinical Psychology. Want to know more? Read my author bio page.

15 thoughts on “Why Do Narcissists Have a Golden Child and Scapegoat Child?”

  1. Hi. Thank you for this great site which educates about narcissistic personalities, with all the problems that arise. It’s an important topic, and it is useful to understand the psychological wounds that may occur when living close to a narcissist. Found this article particularly interesting, and have not read something this clear about the golden child / scapegoat dynamic elsewhere!

  2. Both my parents were narcissists. It seems I was the Golden Child. They sent me to China to learn mandarin, which boosted their ego as it was perfect conversation at cocktail parties. My brother committed suicide shortly after. I felt so abandoned. We never talked about it with my parents, of course. My relationships have all been with narcissists, I have worked and been diminished by narcissistic bosses and I feel I am surrounded by such individuals, which does not help with my sense of trust in a relationship. I only realized this year that the father of my 2 children is a Covert Narcissist. We separated but I am really concerned that he is manipulating our children, with my son being the GC and daughter being SG. Fortunately, they are now with me most of the time. My mother and my parents-in-law are all self-absorbed, so they are not resources. I am seeking help and will do everything in my power to help my children develop healthy emotions, self-confidence and self-esteem. Although in appearance I was the GC, I can relate to all 5 impacts associated with the Scapegoat Child Syndrome.

  3. I was giving you depth into the scapegoat subject and your site deleted it too bad you missed out.Bottom line it was neglect and abuse.There is no such thing as health narcissistic.Either your poison or not.I have suffered since 5yrs old.If you need to know the depth you can call me .1-508-584-4232

  4. I know a family where this happens. The older daughter has been praised all her life, and developed an air of superiority because of it.
    The younger daughter was constantly put down and told she was ugly, fat, worthless and would never achieve anything.
    What’s funny is that the younger daughter (the scapegoat) is actually the prettier one and she is much nicer than her older sister. But she doesn’t believe this, because the abusive comments damaged her self-esteem. Meanwhile the golden child has an inflated sense of self and feels entitled to everything. It’s really sad to watch.

    In narcissistic families, there is a pecking order. It will be decided who is “worthy” of love and who isn’t…which does a lot of harm to children, who then grow into adults that never feel good enough.
    This type of favoritism is cruel because no child should ever be made to feel that way. I had to call out the golden child for being mean to her sister recently. I told her it was terrible the way she treated her scapegoat sister, and that she needed to be more humble.
    She simply laughed. Not all golden children are like this, some are decent people…but this particular person is rotten and she has received many undeserved privileges in life while her sister hasn’t been so lucky. The family has never tried to hide their favoritism either.
    It seems to be a game that they all play. To her credit, the younger sister works hard and continues to be kind despite what she’s been through. She managed to find a loving husband and has two great kids, so the scapegoat sometimes comes out on top despite how they were raised.

  5. Hi, this article is very important for self education.
    I can witness to every single detail of the exemples.

    Coming from an family of one narc mother and one enabling father
    3 siblings with about 5 1/2 years between each

    I’m the oldest and the scapegoat
    Middle Brother is golden child
    And the youngest brother somehow in a free zone,

    but I’m not completely sure because I had left home when he
    (youngest brother )
    was only 5
    so i didn’t witness his upbringing

    But now as he had his own kids
    I see some sign of him scapegoating one of his kids
    So I guess he didn’t avoid the toxicity after all

    -About being the scapegoat and how it impacts lifelong
    I can say that all of the above mentioned in the article is reality for me.

    Only now in my early fifties after more than a decade of reading about narc online

    I can slowly and methodically begin to realize that I’m not that dumb, impossible, flawed, unintelligent, odd, ridiculous ect ect

    I suffer with: cronique fatigue, severe sleep disorder anxiety evasive depression borderline

    (though depression lifting slowly through methodically working on my inner strength and the overall “right” to be me” )

    I can recommend the book: [now it’s about me] :
    Josef Giger-Bütler

    As the scapegoat I was very aware that my mother wished to crush me, break down my spirit
    I felt that without doubt.

    Despite that I never stopped being highly critical and “suspicious” of her
    whether I spoke it out loud or just observed her
    It was obvious to me that she was not like other grownups
    Not normal

    She would have killed me if looks could kill !
    Not kiddin!

    At the same time I felt sorry for her because she obviously lacked true empathy,
    it was like she somehow was hollow
    and very very sad

    She died quite young
    and despite the sorrow
    and pain and that I felt and feel deeply sorry for her miserable emotional life, it was ALSO an relief

    The family dynamic is muuuuuuuuch more relaxed
    More genuine
    Not so high toxic

    To my surprise when speaking with my middle brother,
    something that was unlikely before (my mom died) because he and I were almost deadly enemies …..
    now we can speak on the phone
    and be in the same room without massive conflict , arguing
    and when younger even physical fights

    To my surprise when he tells me about how he felt when growing up
    (as the golden child in my perspective)
    He say the exact same words as I do :
    I never felt loved
    I never felt I could do anything right

    This puzzles me as he was the Goldenchild completely

    And now as an grownup he is without doubt on the higher end of the
    narcissistic spectrum

    But all the praise raining down on him didn’t make him grow up and feel content and relaxed about him self
    On the contrary ???????

    His ability to reflect upon his own character is 0 zero

    But his lifelong pain is similar to mine, nothing he said or did was ever good enough
    We were not loved !

    It breaks my heart
    all That pain
    probably going down in generations

    My mom was not loved by her mother
    And I guess my grandma was not loved by her mother

    On and on and on
    it goes

    As a parent I must admit that there’s only a hairthin line between being my genuine empathic Soul

    and being a 1-1 copy of my mom when it comes to my own behavior towards my child
    With severe awareness I work HARD to not fall into the trap of either scapegoating or Goldenchilding ( is that a word ?)

    Sorry to say but my own childhood has scarred my inner persona
    Not my immense strong Spirit
    but my persona is damaged in its core
    very hard to adjust !

    Not much more I can add
    as the article pretty much has the various dynamics covered
    in exellent way
    Well written and good research done


  6. It’s really like Cinderella. In the story of Cinderella, the wicked stepmother is a stepmother, and the her children are stepchildren. However, this is still the same story. Usually, the mother is jealous of the daughter, and this articles seems to “leave out” this key fact. The “scapegoat” isn’t usually “not golden” at all. They are usually the opposite. The mother abuses them and puts them down and abuses them because they are jealous of them in some way or another. It could be relationships with the father, friends, or even the other siblings. But after the abuse starts, and that’s usually pretty early, people, ( including whoever wrote this article) are fooled into thinking the “golden child” is actually “golden” at all. It’s the scapegoat who is actually “golden” but the mother does everything she can to turn those tables and sometimes it actually works, and other times, like the story of Cinderella the mother’s (be it stepmother or real mother) backfires, and Cinderella wins. Don’t let the narcisisst fool you about her children. She is downing the “golden child” and writing her own reality because writing the reallity of actual human beings “her children” is where she gets her feeling of power. She is “taking down the golden child” and turning the “ungolden child ” into the “golden child” and getting her kicks doing it.

    • Exactly. Thank you for writing this…in my family, I think it was as simple as my older sister (Golden Child) was born with brown hair (non-threatening) and I was born blonde like my mother so, as an aging woman, she felt threatened/jealous by the blonde baby. Her favoritism was so extreme she paid for a fancy college with all the perks plus an MBA for my sister while I went to a state college. She supported my sister financially throughout her adult life and left absolutely everything to her when she died. My mother’s excuse was: your sister needs it more. My husband makes a lot of money and my sister is divorced, so this is true now, but I needed many things a long time ago that I never got. And of course, the money is the least of it, it’s merely a paper trail for gross favoritism and control. I consider myself lucky to have escaped. Do I blame my sister? No. After all, just as she said nothing in my defense when I was young, I watched her fall into the trap of caring for our elderly mother and was relieved not to share that burden. We both upheld at least the minimum level of decency toward the other and each felt helpless to do more. In the end, it’s about self-preservation and not drowning to save someone else.

    • Thanks for writing that perspective. I think you’ve actually nailed it perfectly. It’s one of the reasons the golden child is also a role to be pitied; they know somehow the praise piled high on them is feigned, and over the top. If you reflect on that, this is worse than no praise at all, as it delivers not just a zero, but a negative number. The author called it over valuation.

  7. I find this article truly revolutionary. It totally cuts to the heart of a family where I always felt like an outsider when with my mum and sister together. (Mum’s doing only). I can so relate to this. Even the comments above are similar to my story. A mother who clearly favoured my sister, the “uncomfortable trail” of money, praise and affection leading to blatant laser focused attention to only her. It’s totally unconscious behaviour in them though. They’ve learned it, I could tell my mum’s mum was a little light on love to my mum, I only ever heard criticism. Both my mum and her own mum seemed to hide their toxic way of raising siblings under a veil of being a saint. What a joke!

  8. Excellent write up! Thank you for focusing on this area as it helps so many of us make sense of our family dynamic.

  9. Thank you for your articles. It’s very helpful bc I am a forgetful person by nature and always get gaslighting by almost everyone in my life. I am my father’s daughter Golden child but my mother hates me. I could feel all her feelings radiated to me when I was 5 especially when she were forced by my father to sit me down on her laps. My mother always physically abuse all of us 5 before whenever she had problems with our father (he avoided her bc he can’t stand to face realities, conflicts, etc). So my mother stop when one of our neighbor killed all of her families (known cause: anger issue and stress) and my father come back controlling her this time. They switch roles. But my father is the overbearing type from that time onwards and won’t dote on me any longer. My mother has lessen her physical abuse but resort more to verbal abuse. This is where my story of scapegoating starts. My older gets to be GC. Our caretaker hates my crybabyself so she would physically abuse me till I bleed and black in not so obvious place when not in presence of others. She always abuse me verbally when I didn’t do things she orders as perfect as she wants. She won’t even look at me, real me, current me. Now, I know better; she is also a narcissist. She always do smear campaigns to our relatives about my family but target specifically me. I always get blame by all of my family members and her all the time and still is. I am stumped. They have disarmed me so much. Most of the time I’m wishing that I should just die already or lost my memories or even losing my heart and spirit so I could not feel anymore and be their perfect puppet/doll. A plaything if you will. My family’s too complicated bc I have noticed they have double standard and sexist attitudes. All the girls get severe abuse than the boys. We become 8 siblings now. But like I said I am specifically targeted by my mother, so everyone join in as long they didn’t get the same treatment as me. They are all so happy in doing so it’s no wonder I looked so much stressed/in agony when I look back at our family event photos’. They all look very healthy, young and stress free. Me, opposite of all that. I get denied whenever I get happy, sad, anger, and many things. I wish I am treated like a human rather than their own personal slave 🙁 I am unemployed, no friends, and worth nothing to the world as I am right now. I wish for an end whatever ends that would bring me. I feel so alone in this crowd called ‘family’.

  10. Thank you Alexander Burgemeester. Wonderful articles like yours help provide actionable awareness and understanding for us trapped in exit-less horror houses. In my case, my 10 year old daughter is the GC and 14 year old son is the SG. Sadly, my ex also uses him to maintain control over me years after the divorce and, as a result of the many times realized risk of pain to my son, I am unable to build a new life because I want to minimize his pain. With all of this drama, do you have any thoughts on (1) whether it would be harmful/help to “call” (i.e., point out) my ex on her NPD behavior, by,. e.g., sending her a copy of this article or something else (with the unexpected hope, she will have an epiphany and improve) and (2) any way to get my son and daughter mental health therapy even though my ex refuses to consent (which she must do in FL for a kid to get counseling). It is horribly sad to see my son count the days until he is out of the house. Thank you for any help, Keith

    • Hi Keith, that all sound horrible and very complex. I would suggest foremost to find some support to help you build a new life. a Social worker or psychologist could help you with this.

      1) Confronting a Narcissist is almost always a waste of time. They don’t see themselves as “sick” and will only attack you for insulting them. The few Narcissists who do see they need help are often the ones looking for help by themselves.

      2) This is not something I can help you with sorry.. I hope a local social worker who knows the law in your state can help you better with this and let you know what is possible. Reading your message, I am not entirely sure if you are still seeing your children of have joint custody? Children need a stable home where they feel safe. Keep talking to your children and try to help them where it is possible. Invest in quality time seeing your children.

      Greets, Alex


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