Relatives of narcissists usually get caught in a hugely distressing Catch If they end up losing their illusion of having a relationship with a close family member, Also, many kids of narcissistic mothers grow up unable to feel or express. Narcissists have been in the news lately because every amateur and professional psychologist describes Donald J Trump, the new President. The reason that sons of narcissistic mothers are more likely than daughters to become narcissistic themselves is that mother-son relationships.
Some sons don't seem to be entirely aware that they have been the victims of abuse. Many sons report a rather normal childhood. Some report abuse starting in adolescence. He may have been treated like a prince, and then a king. He will have been fed with the message that he is special, exceptional, etc. He will become a doctor, or lawyer, or anything that makes mommy proud. He will have a trophy wife, picture perfect children, a house and a dog, or two, and maybe a boat on a lake.
He may sleep around and divorce, be a workaholic, gamble, drink a bit, steal a little.
But he makes mommy, and daddy, proud. He may never realise that he was never allowed to be truly himself, and will continue going through life according to mommy's wishes until he dies. He is unlikely to be reading this webpage. But usually childhood is remembered as the better part. In early childhood, the narcissistic mother can more easily control her children and maintain them in a state of dependence.
Many ACoNs report being isolated, often missing school, never having any friends at home, etc.
It is usual for a mother to accompany her children everywhere in childhood, and to make decisions for them. But as the child becomes an adolescent, they will need more independence, and want to make their own decisions according to their needs and wants. It is then that the more obvious forms of abuse start. Beatings, insults, beratement, humiliations, unfair treatment, neglect, abandonment, etc.
All this aims at ensuring that you behave as you narcissistic mother wishes. Some of this abuse is similar to what a totalitarian regime would do to break an adult's spirit. When your behavior deviates from his expectations, he often becomes as upset with you as he would be if his arm or leg were no longer under his control. While it may feel like the abuse started with adolescence, the reality is that abuse by the NM will have started from very early childhood.
But you may have forgotten it. Pia Mellody, author of Facing Codependence, writes: But there are many other ways a child can be abused and scarred for life. In Facing CodependencePia Mellody distinguishes five different types of abuse: She also makes a distinction between overt and covert abuse. Overt abuse is visible, while covert abuse is less obvious, sneaky, and deniable. The NM is a specialist of covert abuse.
Most ACoNs report how difficult it was to deal with covert abuse because nobody other than them could see what was really going on, and they strive for validation as a result. Covert abuse can be crazy-making. Some physical abuse is also sexual abuse. Covert physical abuse can happen through inflicting the child unnecessary physical pain, like an itchy woolly sweater.
A mother being seductive with her son, or walking naked in front of him, are forms of sexual abuse. Teasing the child about sex, exposing them to inappropriate sexual content or information, etc. It happens through verbal abuse, social abuse, and the neglect or abandonment of dependency needs' Mellody p Public humiliation is a form of covert emotional abuse favoured by NMs.
Withdrawing love, however, is her favourite weapon. Not listening to a child voicing an opinion is a subtle but efficient form of intellectual abuse. Being active in church and acting as a devoted servant of God is a typical example of covert spiritual abuse by the NM, Mellody,p In the Recovery section of this sitewe look at ways to recover from abuse.
The narcissistic mother sees her children as an extension of herself and doesn't recognise their right to be a separate human being. As a result the NM abuses her children by failing to respect their boundaries, and treating them like objects or possessions rather than human beings.
The main damage done by abuse is that the emotions triggered by the abuse cannot be expressed, recognized and processed, unless the child is given the opportunity to do so. Many victims of abuse report that the abuser didn't allow them to show their emotions especially as they were abused.
The contrast is left up to you. She has let you know that you're no good without saying a word. She'll spoil your pleasure in something by simply congratulating you for it in an angry, envious voice that conveys how unhappy she is, again, completely deniably. It is impossible to confront someone over their tone of voice, their demeanor or the way they look at you, but once your narcissistic mother has you trained, she can promise terrible punishment without a word.
As a result, you're always afraid, always in the wrong, and can never exactly put your finger on why. Because her abusiveness is part of a lifelong campaign of control and because she is careful to rationalize her abuse, it is extremely difficult to explain to other people what is so bad about her.
She's also careful about when and how she engages in her abuses. She's very secretive, a characteristic of almost all abusers "Don't wash our dirty laundry in public! The times and locations of her worst abuses are carefully chosen so that no one who might intervene will hear or see her bad behavior, and she will seem like a completely different person in public. She'll slam you to other people, but will always embed her devaluing nuggets of snide gossip in protestations of concern, love and understanding "I feel so sorry for poor Cynthia.
She always seems to have such a hard time, but I just don't know what I can do for her! Unfortunately therapists, given the deniable actions of the narcissist and eager to defend a fellow parent, will often jump to the narcissist's defense as well, reinforcing your sense of isolation and helplessness "I'm sure she didn't mean it like that! She violates your boundaries. You feel like an extension of her. Your property is given away without your consent, sometimes in front of you.
Your food is eaten off your plate or given to others off your plate. Your property may be repossessed and no reason given other than that it was never yours. Your time is committed without consulting you, and opinions purported to be yours are expressed for you. He would never want anything like that. She wouldn't like kumquats. You are discussed in your presence as though you are not there.
She keeps tabs on your bodily functions and humiliates you by divulging the information she gleans, especially when it can be used to demonstrate her devotion and highlight her martyrdom to your needs "Mike had that problem with frequent urination too, only his was much worse. I was so worried about him!
She will want to dig into your feelings, particularly painful ones and is always looking for negative information on you which can be used against you. She does things against your expressed wishes frequently. All of this is done without seeming embarrassment or thought. Any attempt at autonomy on your part is strongly resisted. Normal rites of passage learning to shave, wearing makeup, dating are grudgingly allowed only if you insist, and you're punished for your insistence "Since you're old enough to date, I think you're old enough to pay for your own clothes!
Narcissistic mothers commonly choose one sometimes more child to be the golden child and one sometimes more to be the scapegoat. The narcissist identifies with the golden child and provides privileges to him or her as long as the golden child does just as she wants. The golden child has to be cared for assiduously by everyone in the family.
The scapegoat has no needs and instead gets to do the caring. The golden child can do nothing wrong. The scapegoat is always at fault. This creates divisions between the children, one of whom has a large investment in the mother being wise and wonderful, and the other s who hate her. That division will be fostered by the narcissist with lies and with blatantly unfair and favoritizing behavior. The golden child will defend the mother and indirectly perpetuate the abuse by finding reasons to blame the scapegoat for the mother's actions.
The golden child may also directly take on the narcissistic mother's tasks by physically abusing the scapegoat so the narcissistic mother doesn't have to do that herself. Your accomplishments are acknowledged only to the extent that she can take credit for them. Any success or accomplishment for which she cannot take credit is ignored or diminished. Any time you are to be center stage and there is no opportunity for her to be the center of attention, she will try to prevent the occasion altogether, or she doesn't come, or she leaves early, or she acts like it's no big deal, or she steals the spotlight or she slips in little wounding comments about how much better someone else did or how what you did wasn't as much as you could have done or as you think it is.
She undermines you by picking fights with you or being especially unpleasant just before you have to make a major effort. She acts put out if she has to do anything to support your opportunities or will outright refuse to do even small things in support of you.
She will be nasty to you about things that are peripherally connected with your successes so that you find your joy in what you've done is tarnished, without her ever saying anything directly about it.
No matter what your success, she has to take you down a peg about it. She demeans, criticizes and denigrates. She lets you know in all sorts of little ways that she thinks less of you than she does of your siblings or of other people in general.
Sons of Narcissitic Mothers
If you complain about mistreatment by someone else, she will take that person's side even if she doesn't know them at all. She doesn't care about those people or the justice of your complaints. She just wants to let you know that you're never right. She will deliver generalized barbs that are almost impossible to rebut always in a loving, caring tone: As always, this combines criticism with deniability.
She will slip little comments into conversation that she really enjoyed something she did with someone else - something she did with you too, but didn't like as much. She'll let you know that her relationship with some other person you both know is wonderful in a way your relationship with her isn't - the carefully unspoken message being that you don't matter much to her.
She minimizes, discounts or ignores your opinions and experiences. Your insights are met with condescension, denials and accusations "I think you read too much! Whatever you say is met with smirks and amused sounding or exaggerated exclamations "Uh hunh! She'll then make it clear that she didn't listen to a word you said.
She makes you look crazy. If you try to confront her about something she's done, she'll tell you that you have "a very vivid imagination" this is a phrase commonly used by abusers of all sorts to invalidate your experience of their abuse that you don't know what you're talking about, or that she has no idea what you're talking about. She will claim not to remember even very memorable events, flatly denying they ever happened, nor will she ever acknowledge any possibility that she might have forgotten.
This is an extremely aggressive and exceptionally infuriating tactic called "gaslighting," common to abusers of all kinds. Your perceptions of reality are continually undermined so that you end up without any confidence in your intuition, your memory or your powers of reasoning. This makes you a much better victim for the abuser. The narcissist will either insinuate or will tell you outright that you're unstable, otherwise you wouldn't believe such ridiculous things or be so uncooperative.
You're over-reacting, like you always do. She'll talk to you when you've calmed down and aren't so irrational. She may even characterize you as being neurotic or psychotic. Once she's constructed these fantasies of your emotional pathologies, she'll tell others about them, as always, presenting her smears as expressions of concern and declaring her own helpless victimhood. She didn't do anything.
She has no idea why you're so irrationally angry with her. You've hurt her terribly. She thinks you may need psychotherapy. She loves you very much and would do anything to make you happy, but she just doesn't know what to do. You keep pushing her away when all she wants to do is help you. She has simultaneously absolved herself of any responsibility for your obvious antipathy towards her, implied that it's something fundamentally wrong with you that makes you angry with her, and undermined your credibility with her listeners.
She plays the role of the doting mother so perfectly that no one will believe you. Any time you get something nice she's angry and envious and her envy will be apparent when she admires whatever it is.
She'll try to get it from you, spoil it for you, or get the same or better for herself. She's always working on ways to get what other people have.
The envy of narcissistic mothers often includes competing sexually with their daughters or daughters-in-law. They'll attempt to forbid their daughters to wear makeup, to groom themselves in an age-appropriate way or to date. They will criticize the appearance of their daughters and daughters-in-law. This envy extends to relationships. Narcissistic mothers infamously attempt to damage their children's marriages and interfere in the upbringing of their grandchildren.
She's a liar in too many ways to count. Any time she talks about something that has emotional significance for her, it's a fair bet that she's lying. Lying is one way that she creates conflict in the relationships and lives of those around her - she'll lie to them about what other people have said, what they've done, or how they feel.
She'll lie about her relationship with them, about your behavior or about your situation in order to inflate herself and to undermine your credibility. The narcissist is very careful about how she lies. To outsiders she'll lie thoughtfully and deliberately, always in a way that can be covered up if she's confronted with her lie. She spins what you said rather than makes something up wholesale. She puts dishonest interpretations on things you actually did. If she's recently done something particularly egregious she may engage in preventative lying: To you, she'll lie blatantly.
She will claim to be unable to remember bad things she has done, even if she did one of them recently and even if it was something very memorable. Of course, if you try to jog her memory by recounting the circumstances "You have a very vivid imagination" or "That was so long ago. Why do you have to dredge up your old grudges?
For example she'll start with a self-serving lie: You'll only lose about eight hundred dollars. On the rare occasions she is forced to acknowledge some bad behavior, she will couch the admission deniably.
She "guesses" that "maybe" she "might have" done something wrong. The wrongdoing is always heavily spun and trimmed to make it sound better. The words "I guess," "maybe," and "might have" are in and of themselves lies because she knows exactly what she did - no guessing, no might haves, no maybes.
She has to be the center of attention all the time. This need is a defining trait of narcissists and particularly of narcissistic mothers for whom their children exist to be sources of attention and adoration. Narcissistic mothers love to be waited on and often pepper their children with little requests.
You couldn't just be assigned a chore at the beginning of the week or of the day, instead, you had to do it on demand, preferably at a time that was inconvenient for you, or you had to "help" her do it, fetching and carrying for her while she made up to herself for the menial work she had to do as your mother by glorying in your attentions. A narcissistic mother may create odd occasions at which she can be the center of attention, such as memorials for someone close to her who died long ago, or major celebrations of small personal milestones.
She may love to entertain so she can be the life of her own party. She will try to steal the spotlight or will try to spoil any occasion where someone else is the center of attention, particularly the child she has cast as the scapegoat. She often invites herself along where she isn't welcome. If she visits you or you visit her, you are required to spend all your time with her. Entertaining herself is unthinkable.
She has always pouted, manipulated or raged if you tried to do anything without her, didn't want to entertain her, refused to wait on her, stymied her plans for a drama or otherwise deprived her of attention. Older narcissistic mothers often use the natural limitations of aging to manipulate dramas, often by neglecting their health or by doing things they know will make them ill.
This gives them the opportunity to cash in on the investment they made when they trained you to wait on them as a child. Then they call you or better still, get the neighbor or the nursing home administrator to call you demanding your immediate attendance. You are to rush to her side, pat her hand, weep over her pain and listen sympathetically to her unending complaints about how hard and awful it is.
If you don't provide the audience and attention she's manipulating to get, you look extremely bad to everyone else and may even have legal culpability. Narcissistic behaviors commonly accompany Alzheimer's disease, so this behavior may also occur in perfectly normal mothers as they age. She manipulates your emotions in order to feed on your pain.
This exceptionally sick and bizarre behavior is so common among narcissistic mothers that their children often call them "emotional vampires. She does and says things just to be wounding or she engages in tormenting teasing or she needles you about things you're sensitive about, all the while a smile plays over her lips. She may have taken you to scary movies or told you horrifying stories, then mocked you for being a baby when you cried; she will slip a wounding comment into conversation and smile delightedly into your hurt face.
You can hear the laughter in her voice as she pressures you or says distressing things to you. Later she'll gloat over how much she upset you, gaily telling other people that you're so much fun to tease, and recruiting others to share in her amusement.
She enjoys her cruelties and makes no effort to disguise that. She wants you to know that your pain entertains her. She may bring up subjects that are painful for you and probe you about them, all the while watching you carefully. This is emotional vampirism in its purest form. She's feeding emotionally off your pain. A peculiar form of this emotional vampirism combines attention-seeking behavior with a demand that the audience suffer.
Since narcissistic mothers often play the martyr this may take the form of wrenching, self-pitying dramas which she carefully produces, and in which she is the star performer.
She sobs and wails that no one loves her and everyone is so selfish, and she doesn't want to live, she wants to die! She wants to die! She will not seem to care how much the manipulation of their emotions and the self-pity repels other people. One weird behavior that is very common to narcissists: She's selfish and willful.
Characteristics of Narcissistic Mothers
She always makes sure she has the best of everything. She insists on having her own way all the time and she will ruthlessly, manipulatively pursue it, even if what she wants isn't worth all the effort she's putting into it and even if that effort goes far beyond normal behavior.
She will make a huge effort to get something you denied her, even if it was entirely your right to do so and even if her demand was selfish and unreasonable. If you tell her she cannot bring her friends to your party she will show up with them anyway, and she will have told them that they were invited so that you either have to give in, or be the bad guy to these poor dupes on your doorstep.
If you tell her she can't come over to your house tonight she'll call your spouse and try get him or her to agree that she can, and to not say anything to you about it because it's a "surprise. They'll give you hand-me-downs or market things for themselves as gifts for you "I thought I'd give you my old bicycle and buy myself a new one! She'll make it clear that it pains her to give you anything.
She may buy you a gift and get the identical item for herself, or take you shopping for a gift and get herself something nice at the same time to make herself feel better. Her feelings, needs and wants are very important; yours are insignificant to the point that her least whim takes precedence over your most basic needs.
Her problems deserve your immediate and full attention; yours are brushed aside. Her wishes always take precedence; if she does something for you, she reminds you constantly of her munificence in doing so and will often try to extract some sort of payment.
She will complain constantly, even though your situation may be much worse than hers. If you point that out, she will effortlessly, thoughtlessly brush it aside as of no importance It's easy for you She is insanely defensive and is extremely sensitive to any criticism.
If you criticize her or defy her she will explode with fury, threaten, storm, rage, destroy and may become violent, beating, confining, putting her child outdoors in bad weather or otherwise engaging in classic physical abuse.
For all abusers, fear is a powerful means of control of the victim, and your narcissistic mother used it ruthlessly to train you. Narcissists teach you to beware their wrath even when they aren't present. The only alternative is constant placation.
If you give her everything she wants all the time, you might be spared.