Sep 25

Parented by a Narcissist?

Parented by a narcissist? The following quotes about being parented by a narcissist have been selected from the following books:

Ramani Durvasula: [Being parented by a narcissist] is an early manifestation of a phenomenon termed by some as “co-narcissism.” Alan Rappoport describes this as unconsciously adapting to and supporting the narcissistic patterns of another person. He argues that this pattern starts in childhood, with the child having to adjust and calibrate to the narcissistic parent.
Narcissistic parents are not tuned into their children, and the narcissistic parent largely views the child as an object with which to satisfy his or her needs. Narcissistic parents will be overly indulgent and intrusive about some things and detached and uninterested in others. Children in these situations often believe life is unpredictable and strive hard to please “unpleasable” and distracted parents. If you grow up like this, you learn that you are valued for what you did, but only if it was aligned with your parent’s wants and needs. It can be a confusing way to grow up and also the perfect set-up for accepting narcissistic behavior as “normal” and then tolerating it from a partner or in other close relationships.

Danu Morrigan: Being raised by a narcissist is a special kind of crazy. It is a pure and lasersharp form of psychological and emotional abuse. But even more devastatingly, it is an invisible abuse. Neither the perpetrator nor the victim even knows it‟s happening. The perpetrator, the narcissist, doesn‟t think she‟s abusing anyone because, by definition, she‟s perfect, remember, and perfect people don‟t do imperfect things like abuse people. And the abuse victim, the daughter – this would be you – doesn’t realise she‟s abused because she believes her mother‟s lies and thinks that everything is her fault, that she is the one who is broken.

Karyl McBride: Boys seem to have a different kind of relationship with Mother. Just about every daughter of a narcissistic mother has reported to me that her brother or brothers were better liked and more favored than she or her sisters were. Daughters consistently report how hurtful this has been. Typically, the mother appears not to notice the imbalance, or if confronted, denies it, but it does make some sense. Her sons are not threatening to her in relation to the father as another girl or woman is, because the boys are not as much an extension of her as is a daughter.

Danu Morrigan: Our Narcissistic Mother told us a Big Lie. She told it subliminally if not in actual words. And The Big Lie was this: If we tried hard enough we could win her approval and her love. If we were good enough, or wise enough, or beautiful enough, or that-magical-unspecified-ingredient enough. In other words, if we achieved perfection, she would love us.

 Joseph Burgo: Narcissistic Parents often enlist other family members on their side, causing rifts and building alliances against a “bad” child. In other words, they may bully their own children. The victims of such behavior often describe themselves as a “scapegoat,” held accountable for all the family troubles. Their mothers often compare them unfavorably to a sibling viewed as “golden,” one child a loser and the other a winner. Narcissistic Parents tell blatant lies, too, painting themselves as victims and their children as heartless ingrates.

Robert M. Pressman and Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman: The typical adult from a narcissistic family is filled with unacknowledged anger, feels like a hollow person, feels inadequate and defective, suffers from periodic anxiety and depression, and has no clue about how he or she got that way.

Mar 26

“Extreme Narcissists”: How to Identify and Cope

A bit of narcissism may exist in everyone, argues psychologist Joseph Burgo, but of course some have it more than others. While approximately one percent of folks qualify for the personality condition Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) as found in the DSM 5, perhaps five percent are Extreme Narcissists, who don’t meet the full criteria for NPD.

His 2015 book on the subject, The Narcissist You Know: Defending Yourself Against Extreme Narcissists in an All-About-Me Age, contains this explanatory quote:

Because their shame is so much deeper and more agonizing, Extreme Narcissists will stop at nothing to avoid feeling it. In fact, almost everything they say and do is intended to avoid the experience of shame. The narcissistic defenses they mobilize against shame are so extreme and pervasive that they color everything about the person’s personality, relationships, and behavior, creating a kind of shell or armor against the threat of shame.

How do we identify the various manifestations of narcissism? From a Psychology Today post by Burgo, the following are the five types, “from least to most toxic”:

  1. The Know-It-All Narcissist: self-explanatory
  2. The Grandiose Narcissist:     ”          “
  3. The Seductive Narcissist: “…manipulates you by making you feel good about yourself.”
  4. The Bullying Narcissist: “…builds himself up by humiliating other people.”
  5. The Vindictive Narcissist: If threatened by you, “…needs to prove you the ultimate loser by destroying you.”

Do you regularly deal with any of the above? Below are quotes taken from Genevieve Shaw Brown‘s interview with Burgo (ABC News) regarding his suggested coping tips:

1. “Think of the Extreme Narcissist in your life as the emotional equivalent of a toddler and don’t expect more mature behavior from her. You’ll always have to be the ‘bigger’ one.”

2. “As cowardly as the advice may sound, avoid ruffling his massive ego whenever possible. If you can do so without compromising your own sense of self worth, don’t challenge him head-on. It might provoke a vengeful attack.”

3. “On the other hand, dealing with someone who has a strong sense of entitlement means you need to set clear limits and boundaries in order to protect yourself from exploitation. Expect anger and resentment as a result. Don’t let him bully you.”

4. “Because an Extreme Narcissist often builds herself up at your expense, try not to let her get under your skin. Hold on tight to your own self-esteem and, if you begin to doubt yourself, remember that she wants you to feel that way.”

5. “At the end of the day, coping with an Extreme Narcissist means managing your own reactions to the ways they treat you. Even if you’re successful, the only “reward” you can expect is blame and resentment for the limits you have set. Extreme Narcissists almost never change, and for this reason, the most useful piece I offer is simple: Stay as far away as possible.”