The blogs I have found written by women who were raised by narcissistic mothers, although tragic, have intrigued me. I am very blessed to have been raised by a mother who gave her life to myself and my siblings. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for us. I’ve often wondered how could a parent and especially the mother, the person who is supposed to be the strongest nurturer in the family, abuse her children. For some women I am certain it is a cycle of abuse. For others, who knows? Perhaps some people are simply born to be. It’s possible too that women who become narcissists were not abused so much as utterly spoiled and pampered, made to believe they were the centre of everyone’s world. When they become adults their own children are victimized as mere extensions of themselves, a means of achieving what they themselves have not.
Here is something disturbing: narcissistic personalities are at an epidemic proportion according to psychologist Dr. W. Keith Campbell.
He claims he measured the data in 2007, in some therapeutic manner. College students were his focus in a number of surveys Campbell distributed. Interestingly, obesity and narcissism are closely linked. These are the alpha bosses, terrible boyfriends and girlfriends, truly insecure inside about their weight flaws. Weird.
Its All About Me
The whole “it’s all about me“ generation certainly makes sense. We see and hear that all the time. People use the phrase jokingly, but perhaps it’s more prevalent than we realize. Campbell hit a nerve with his study: people insisted his work was a waste of money. Narcissism on the rise? You can see it in silly t-shirts children wear (“little princess” or “too good to eat my vegetables”). Believe it or not I know a boy whose nickname at home is “King.” His teachers find him to be a handful and his mother can’t understand it. Seriously.
Children who lack talent but are given a prize just for “showing up” and doing something so ridiculous as to be pathetic, are another example of narcissism in the making. Campbell claims this extremity to be 1 in 11 for today’s generation, compared to 1 in 15 for our parents’. Strangely, despite the claim that at the core the narcissist experiences self-hatred and low self-esteem, Campbell insists that isn’t the case. Even debt drives the narcissistic personality. It’s the fairy godmother of malignant self-love. Buying and treating oneself to material items that aren’t affordable to uphold social status, is also at the core. As far as gender is concerned, Campbell insists men corner the market on narcissism. Who knew?
Dr. Phil (the ultimate narcissist) interviewed a mother named RoseMarie who admits she is extremely narcissistic. “Everything is about me. I love looking at myself in the mirror. It is me, me, me all the time. I look in the mirror I think about how beautiful I look. Cannot get enough of myself.” Her face, heavily made up, is merely attractive not beautiful. She is noticeably obese. Perhaps Campbell is onto something. Her fiancee states it is impossible to complete a sentence in a conversation with RoseMarie: she interrupts continually, telling him to “shut up and listen to [her].” I find it strange that a narcissist is so openly frank about her personality disorder. When a person can admit to being a narcissist, does that truly make her a narcissist? It echoes the belief that when a person can say “am I crazy?” she cannot be crazy. Perhaps the supposed narcissist is paid for this appearance. Her partner is a passive, pitiful man, clearly reveling in their codependent relationship. Weird.
When a narcissistic woman raises a daughter, several things can happen. The daughter often may:
- become a narcissist
- display some narcissistic traits
- suffer low self-esteem
- become suicidal
- break the cycle and distance herself from her mother
I’m linked to the blog Daughter of a Strange Mother. Here is a mere sample of what the blogger lived and currently lives through:
Sexuality and the narcissistic mother are an odd combination. She might be over-sexual and act inappropriately flirty, maybe with her daughters’ boyfriends or other inappropriate people. (Flirting with the daughters’ boyfriends invades her boundaries, making sure the daughters know their place in the grand scheme of things.) Or Mommy Dearest might blur boundaries again by giving their daughters too much information re their own sex lives. This might even blur the boundaries between inappropriate behaviour and sexual abuse. In healthy relationships mothers are physically intimate in many ways with their daughters (such trying on clothes in a shop together), so it’s easy for inappropriate behaviour to slip into unhealthy relationships.
The narcissistic mother may be cunning enough to bring sexual abuse into the mother-daughter relationship, but of such a subtle kind that the victim doesn’t even realize she is being abused. This is a form of gaslighting. or ambient abuse. It is the most devastating form of abuse. Gaslighting is a strange-sounding term which refers to the way in which abusers such as Narcissistic Mothers lie to you, by word or deed, intentionally or not intentionally, to convince you that your version of reality is not right. It involves instability, unpredictability, and an environment of fear. It yields a disagreeable foreboding in the victim. The self-esteem is badly shaken and in this manner the victim is even more vulnerable to abuse. Somehow the gaslighter manages to convince people that she is the sufferer and the victim is mentally unstable.
Childhood and the teen years are a living hell for the daughter or son of a narcissistic parent. Every time the child tries to assert autonomy away from the narcissist s/he is punished, sometimes covertly and sometimes overtly. there are a number of ways the narcissistic mother punishes her child for attempting to express her own opinions or become involved in activities that do not include Mommy Dearest:
- she won’t talk to her daughter for several days
- she withholds privileges
- she isolates her child from friends and family
- she lectures and degrades her
Birds of a Feather
These are full-blown narcissists. Sometimes people only display narcissistic traits, a less severe but still traumatizing form of narcissism. These are the parent who exaggerate a child’s beauty, ability and intellect. “You’re the prettiest”, or “you’re the smartest” are frequent messages to the child however since the child is viewed as an extension of the narcissist, this is an indirect way of admiring oneself. That may not sound abusive but these are lies. When the child grows up and discovers these messages to be untrue, social interactions become difficult, and self-esteem plummets. It seems harmful and for some children who manage to blend reality into such effervescent praise, well no harm done. But not everyone’s psyche develops that way. Worse, narcissists refuse to allow their children to associate with children deemed to be unworthy, of lower social and financial status. They must live by the adage, tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are. No child has a chance at growing up to be a decent, non-judgmental adult from that household.
Should the daughter maintain a relationship with her narcissistic mother, her mother continues to control her by offering her lodging, help with chores and raising her child, then she demands loyalty in return. She sabotages her daughter’s relationship with her husband and friends. She seeks to drive away anyone who might come between her and her daughter. The vicious cycle of manipulation continues. Yet in the family, usually there is one scapegoat. The narcissistic mother spends most of her effort tormenting her daughter, sometimes her eldest, simply because she came first. Sometimes it’s the youngest, because she is the most vulnerable. When the daughter tries to tell her siblings about the abuse, they refuse to listen. They tell her she’s the crazy one in the family. She is rejected and pushed out. She is the odd one out. They know there are serious problems in the family but they don’t want to discuss them. They want to be a “normal” family like everyone else.
This video depicts a telephone call between a daughter and her narcissistic mother. The mother attempts to make her adult daughter doubt her own experience and maintain control of her years after she has left home, The argument is redundant. I believe the daughter (Brianna) is wasting her time. Her sister, Brittany, takes prescription medication at their mother’s advice. No matter what you say to a narcissist, they are a slippery eel you simply cannot contain. It would seem narcissistic mothering parallels Munchausen by Proxy.
I want women who are the daughters of narcissistic mothers to know this: it’s not your fault. You aren’t crazy. You were born to a sick family. Now that you’re recognizing yourself, you can stop doubting your sanity. God love you.