Discussion Topic

Narcissistic Mothers

Posted on 01/17/14, 07:30 pm
I looked at a site for estranged adult children of narcissistic mothers about a week ago (due to something posted on PEACE that I wanted to follow up on.) It got me thinking, "What is the definition of a narcissistic mother?" So I googled narcissistic mothers and found a plethora of pop psychology articles with check lists to help "victims" identify the source of their problems.

Now, I'm in the mental health profession and I know that it takes a while to get the hang of diagnosing a personality disorder. It is extremely rare (and reckless) to diagnose a personality disorder based on just a couple sessions. What may look like a personality disorder, can be situational. It is about long term patterns of behavior, not initial impressions.

One of the lists I looked at, really bothered me and I have had trouble getting it out of my mind ever since I read it. There were brief descriptions of narcissistic mother behaviors, which included the motives for the behaviors (to abuse, manipulate, humiliate, physically abuse by proxy, etc.) As I read, I could see many scenarios that just about anyone could plug into the examples; from the truly abused to the "victims" of normal mothers with reasonable parental expectations.

If I were one of my children, I could "recognize" many scenarios that "fit" some of the experiences they had with me. Just about anyone could plug their own experiences into the examples. Many examples were of behaviors that typically happen in families at one time or another (a parent mistakenly embarrassed the child, or didn't support the child in something that was important to them, because they didn't realize the level of importance.) I could take the same examples and plug in scenes from truly dysfunctional families or a scene out of Mommy Dearest.

What bothered me, was that a very complicated diagnosis was being presented to people as if by relating to the examples, they could determine that their mother was seriously disturbed AND, they were given the MOTIVES behind the behavior (to be hurtful.) Actually, narcissists are too self absorbed to calculate what they are doing to others.

I did some things during my children's teen years especially, that they could legitimately take issue with, and I have sincerely apologized until I was blue in the face. They wouldn't confirm that mia culpas were really the problem, but I couldn't imagine anything else. Then, I recently found out what they really think about me and they are so WRONG! I am very introspective. I want to find, acknowledge, and work on /resolve my faults. But all I can think in response to their analysis is "Really?"

Now, I think I can see how labels are being assigned so easily. But unlike past labels like "mean" and "lazy," today's labels sound better if they sound like a professional diagnosis. AND, some professionals DO hand out diagnosis' to people they have never met, which only complicates the situation. Once the diagnosis, (no matter how ignorantly and recklessly assigned) is applied, the "victim" of that diagnosis (no longer a person, but a diagnosis) is assumed to be in need of comfort and support. It becomes a part of the "victim's" story of what they endured. Everyone who comments, reinforces the story.

I am not at all saying that there are not true victims of sick, cruel parents. But it is tragic to think about how many people believe that they were raised by horrible people, instead of recognizing that there is a certain amount of crazy in all families.
Showing 1 - 10 of 21 Replies
  • Reply #1 01/17/14  7:35pm
    True...my thoughts exactly !!!!!!! Too much information with no sound base (on the kids parts especially) of Knowledge.

    AllK
  • Reply #2 01/17/14  9:38pm
    I agree, one of my ED's grievances was that we hadn't supported her in something she felt was important.
    Almost anybody could fit the profile at one time or another but a true diagnosis needs to be made by a person trained properly NOT an aggrieved EK.
  • Reply #3 01/17/14  10:12pm
    I found it interesting that in my surfing of the internet, there was a LOT of info on the narcissistic parent but almost nothing on the narcissistic child - especially narcissistic ADULT child. Wonder why that is....
  • Reply #4 01/18/14  1:25am
    marimagi - mental health professional also (in former life, no licenses anymore) however, remember up till the 1960;s, into the 1970's .. autism was 'caused' by the mother, the cold mother, I think she was called the Refrigerator Mother? Turned out to be biological/chemical to the best of the latest knowledge.

    Now the new psychobabble of Narcissist Mother .. will probably last another generation at least, this one has to wear itself out. And it will but most of us will be long dead when it does.

    And I shudder at the damage this will leave in its wake. Can't even imagine what a generation or two of today's kids/young adults and their offspring .. will do to the workforce (social security base) and the purchasing habits (Wall Street) (and Main Street) and an entire way of life that has been our country since the 1990's or so.

    Scary to say the least.

    I do NOT like to think of women like myself and everyone else here as 'victims' but in a way we are .. we are the true victims of our kids. NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. I know for myself my kids had a nice life, a good-enough life, certainly a life full of choices offered and great opportunities both as children growing up and as young adults. I worked very hard to preserve their choices so they would have good lives.

    They each told me (and their dad) to go fuck ourselves. Give me give me give me ... I'm entitled .. I deserve .. endlessly. Then. And still. We did NOT raise them to be like this. But no matter what we did, they got it from the TV, the internet, the principal at their schools, the special ed teams (of course, they were SPECIAL!) the police department (who lectured me every time the kids acted horribly) their summer camp counselors, the probation department (who lectures my ex every time my daughter is horrid or beats up another kid, yeah right, like he can really control her) other kids, even the President of the United States who endlessly tells the press how special our kids are, they deserve THE BEST, they are entitled to THE BEST and the rest of his 'children are our greatest National resource!'

    Uh .. no .. I think that would be me (and you) .. the taxpayer. He who pays the bills is the important one in my opinion.

    Talk about war. It really is war right now.

    I gave myself permission to exit the war.

    Remember that saying "Suppose they gave a war and nobody came?" Well I'm that Nobody.
  • Reply #5 01/18/14  12:35pm
    I think labeling is too easy. I have done many stupid things, but I am not stupid. I have thoughtlessly hurt another's feelings, but I am not thoughtless nor unfeeling. Assigning labels is gratifying, as Marimagi said, because once you can claim to be raised by a narcissist, you are a victim; and given status and sympathy accordingly.

    And like Neednewshoe, I am unwilling to play that game.
  • Reply #6 01/18/14  12:44pm
    NNS: Schizophrenia was also supposedly caused by mothers.
  • Reply #7 01/18/14  3:00pm
    marimagi,

    I have so many thoughts on this subject but I am failing at organizing them sufficiently to write a coherent post. You have mentioned a number of things on this topic that have occurred to me too. Thank you for writing about this topic and for writing about it so well.

    It brings to mind the recent thread on drinking the Kool-Aid. It is discouraging that people so easily do this and seem to lose their critical thinking skills.
  • Reply #8 01/18/14  3:06pm
    I'm out of that war too.
    My son once was trying like heck for 2 days of a visit I had with him, wife and then little daughter. He was convinced I didn't have PTSD..which I do, but was a border line personality disorder. I tried to tell him people with that issue would not have done as well with the sort of business I operated for 20 years..I explained everything I'd read and he insisted he knew me best. I fled past his drunken rambling to bed.
    The next day while waiting to board a plane I was trying to play with my then 3 year old granddaughter.. She had a book and we were reading it and chatting as my son went off to the bathroom. When he returned he just totally interrupted my time with my Granddaughter and insisted he had to make me realize my problem, That being a borderline personality disorder. He was abrupt, ignored the fact I was saying farewell to my granddaughter who was sad by this scene and he stare getting all puffed up again and ranting like a maniac.
    I had to escape, so hugged my granddaughter, kissed her quick, told her I loved her dearly and fled to the security zone to get away from my son.

    Later that year when finding out my daughter was coming to see me he emailed me and said he didn't mean I was an actual borderline but just that way around my kids.

    I didn't respond. My therapist said it sounded like my son had that issue himself.
    I refuse to allow them the constant re psychoanalyzing me when in fact neither of them as actual adults have spent more then a few days ever few years around me and then barely even talked with me. They can all shove it as far as I'm concerned. They are narcissistic if anyone is and I'm done with them.

    I'm so done with all of it.
  • Reply #9 01/18/14  3:45pm
    Hi Ab and everyone, Ab your comment about your EC seeing you brief times in years is how I feel about my ED and my husband's EC. In 18 years of marriage, we have probably seen each one of them independently about 20 times. Maybe 25.. No more. Yet, they hate us, talk about us, smear us at any chance, and tell us we have the problems. Really?

    I just don't get this interpersonal relationship or lack there of. Bizarre. No crying, pleading, talking logic works.

    I was totally believing DH and I were the only people in the world who had this problem before I can on this site in Oct. of last year. Now, 4 months later, I am equally convinced there must have been an alien who spread something to have the generation below us to warp their brain! Talk about Agent Orange in Vietnam. There must have been Agent Mean Selfish Being that hit our kids.

  • Reply #10 01/18/14  3:51pm
    I have imagined it becoming more like a war. There are no compromises in EC's thinking.
    "Feelings are facts" is one of their most misguided beliefs, and their feelings are their truth. There's little that they see beyond their very personal world.

    I also remember that homosexuality was considered an illness, and it was the mother's doing.

    The mother's of the schizophrenic children were called schizophrenogenic mothers." How's that for a word? Both the mother and the child were diagnosed as ill.

    I agree that narcissism has become a throw away term. Its become a label to throw at a person one is not getting along with or doesn't want around. Obviously, our EC's do not have the skills to diagnose. Can they diagnose brain tumors as well? Whthe yearschild raising years away, as if they didn't even exist. Its a way to really twist our thnking. a way to dwhen this as just another weapon to acquire even more power over us?

    This accusation is one of the more painful ones. This is a strong bullet in their arsenal. They are trying to eradicate their parent(s) and so they grasp at anything that will allow them to acquire more and more power over the parent(s). They have no feelings when it comes to parents being hospitalized or living with a chronic or terminal illness. We are already dead inside of them.Its because they have alreadyTheyIt feels unnatural to them,One aspect of their unhappThe EC kids are pushing us away and trying t
    build



    At the time, society had an even greater disdain for women than it does today. I also think society bought into this because it was easier than having to take a close look at the schizophrenic children (and adults).

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