Asked in Parenting and ChildrenNarcissism
How do a narcissist and his mother interact?
July 15, 2015 8:55PM
The study of narcissism is a century old and the two scholarly debates central to its conception are still undecided. Is there such a thing as HEALTHY adult narcissism (Kohut) - or are all the manifestations of narcissism in adulthood pathological (Freud, Kernberg)? Moreover, is pathological narcissism the outcome of verbal, sexual, physical, or psychological abuse (the overwhelming view) - or, on the contrary, the sad result of spoiling the child and idolizing it (Millon, the late Freud)?The second debate is easier to resolve if one agrees to adopt a more comprehensive definition of "abuse". Overweening, smothering, spoiling, overvaluing, and idolizing the child - are all forms of parental abuse.
This is because, as Horney pointed out, the child is dehumanized and instrumentalized. His parents love him not for what he really is - but for what they wish and imagine him to be: the fulfillment of their dreams and frustrated wishes. The child becomes the vessel of his parents' discontented lives, a tool, the magic brush with which they can transform their failures into successes, their humiliation into victory, their frustrations into happiness. The child is taught to ignore reality and to occupy the parental fantastic space. Such an unfortunate child feels omnipotent and omniscient, perfect and brilliant, worthy of adoration and entitled to special treatment. The faculties that are honed by constantly brushing against bruising reality - empathy, compassion, a realistic assessment of one's abilities and limitations, realistic expectations of oneself and of others, personal boundaries, team work, social skills, perseverance and goal-orientation, not to mention the ability to postpone gratification and to work hard to achieve it - are all lacking or missing altogether. The child turned adult sees no reason to invest in his skills and education, convinced that his inherent genius should suffice. He feels entitled for merely being, rather than for actually doing (rather as the nobility in days gone by felt entitled not by virtue of its merit but as the inevitable, foreordained outcome of its birth right). In other words, he is not meritocratic - but aristocratic. In short: a narcissist is born.
My N's mother died recently but before that his feelings toward her were predominately of fear and loathing. I could never find out exactly why he hated her only that she was "cold" to him as a child. Nevertheless, he was always afraid to stand up to her. His method of avoidance of her was to move to another country. Oddly enough, his siblings did the same thing.
My N adores his mother and feels as though she can do no wrong and made no mistakes in raising him. She treats him as though he can do no wrong. Even though he is the least successful of all of the children, she tells him that he is richer than the others in areas that most can't see. She adores him. If she says something that he disagrees with, she changes her opinion. He was born early and almost died. He is the youngest of 5 children. His older brother died in childhood and I think his mother feared losing another child, so spoiled her "baby". She did everything for him. All of his siblings also treat him this way. They will tell him whatever they think he wants to hear. I thought it was just because he was the baby, but his older sister and I were talking over Christmas and it came out that growing up he used to fly into rages over the littlest things. His family hates conflict, so I think they appease him just to avoid this. I, on the other hand, never back down from a fight and will stand my ground to the death. (Can you guess I am a little stubborn, OK, not a little, VERY stubborn. I have to be to survive this relationship in tact.)
Sounds very familiar to the sick family I got married to. My husband was raised in the creepiest family dynamic. Everyone kept secrets from each other to protect their feelings. He was the golden child, the perfect or near perfect one.
She boasted of everything he was and his potential. They both fed each other narcissistic fuels. I was out of the equation if they were together, but was only an object for both of them if i served a purpose. You couldn't talk to him you couldn't be you, anything different from him is abnormal b/c he is perfect and that causes conflict, chaos and silent treatments that he calls "peacemaking"
I am is rival mate and his mother pretends she doesn't understand what can be happening since his son is perfect.. so it HAS to be my fault.
I am the only to blame for his needs of taking medications to deal with daily life stressors that 95% of population deals with perfectly normal, BUT NOT HIM.. b/c he wants to live in a bubble pain fre, stress free, no traffic, no stupid people around him. No one should have needs that would inconvenience him.
Its all about him, it has always been all about him grown up and he likes it a lot.
Relationships reflect his mirror of what he thinks he wants.. but them he will dislike you with passion b/c you are NOT HIM.. which means you better die or get out of his face & life.
I recently realized my son is a narcissist. I don't know how much of it is inherited or learned, but he definitely exhibits the same traits as his father (who died some years ago from alcoholism). My son has always been oppositional to anything I say. He acts as if he is the most unique person and far above anyone else that he knows. His life is a shambles financially, socially, and with regard to his jobs as well. He doesn't pay bills and is getting further into debt. He has troubles with relationships with girlfriends. Yet he acts as if he is doing everything right! I am, of course, responsible for everything that has ever gone wrong in his life. Even if his father were to blame for any of it, I am the one that married him. I am nothing more than a target for his anger.
He is 19 and still argues everything I say no matter how reasonable I am. (As a child, he often argued that doing homework was not good for him! He was different and so smart he shouldn't have to do anything.) I have never experienced from anyone else the kind of convoluted logic that both he and his father could dish out. Anyway he now feels that I owe it to him to take care of him because I am the one that gave him an alcoholic father.
My friend whom I believe is an N seems to hold his mother in utter contempt. Only rarely does he say anything positive about her. He says he loves her only because she is his mother. According to him she was very negative to all of her siblings and expected them to be nothing less than perfect. He is middle aged and never married. He will only say that she was never nurturing and very negative toward him as a child. He is a very tormented person. He related that she tried to explain things to him later in life (sounds as if she was narcissistic) explaining hersef, however, he refuses to forgive her. He is a very angry person.
My N and his mother were very close. She was proud of him, but why I'm not sure. Then again she really didn't know how he was, and he could do no wrong much of the time. She would have done anything for him, and he would always say they were very close. It seemed like the one fault free relationship in his life.
My N rarely would speak kindly directly to his mother, even in the presence of myself or his father. I learned that she attempted throughout his life to make up for the abuse she allowed his father to commit against him, by paying his bills, slipping him secret money. The N is a total failure as far as his finances go. Since the death of his father, the N has been getting "closer" to his mother, aka manipulating her to get anything he wants that his father would have put the brakes on before. She is a source of supply that he takes off the shelf when he needs it or sees a windfall from her. She continues to aid him in being a "Baby Man" who is a wastrel. She is loathsome I believe to him but he can smile cunningly all the way to the bank.
From what little my husband has told me of his mother, I believe he is torn between hating her and loving her still. She was a blonde and pretty 15 year old when she became pregnant. His biological father left when my husband was only three years old. His mother remarried a few years later and had three more children with her new husband. His stepfather, who refused to adopt him or give him "his" name was a emotionally cold, brutal ex-military man. David's step-father punished him "harshly" for even the smallest mistake. Rarely, if ever did his mother intervene and protect her first born from this brute. My husband left home when he turned 18. He no longer keeps in touch with his parents or two siblings. Sadly, I've come to realize that my husband, a cerebral narcissist, is incapable of any real emotional or physical intimacy.
In our case, the son and mother feed off of each. They literally give each other supply they need to survive. The son is taken care of in all ways and is permitted at the tender of age of 29 to continue behaving in whatever manner that suits him. The mother in turn receives her supply from the son. All he has to do is say what she wants to hear.
One example is that mother and son teamed up to attack my daughter verbally the first opportunity they got her alone. The mother delivered a verbal attack that would have sent any normal person off crying. The son stood by throwing his two cents in as well. The mother proclaimed to my daughter "none of this would be a problem if YOU had kept YOUR legs shut in the first place." His mother made it clear her son had no responsibility whatsoever in anything he does. My daughter's response "Well, since I got myself pregnant, I guess we have no further business to talk about do we?" This made the mother more angry and she heightened her attack. The mother stated that all of it was my daughter's fault, her son was a perfect father, etc. His mother actually wanted my daughter to take claim to all of her son's problems. It was when my daughter looked at his mother and said "you need that go to gal to put all the blame on for what he is, I suggest you go inside, look into a mirror and you'll have the person responsible for what he is." With that his mother walked away speechless. This also calmed him down.
Within the week the son called to apologize for the behavior of himself and his mother. He said his mom was in a bad mood and he couldn't control what she does. He said he was sorry for their behavior, they were out of line, and wanted to make things right. What he didn't tell my daughter was that before he made this call to her to apologize, he had filed numerous papers in court including a review of child support to get a reduction. In all of my readings, this exact behavior is demonstrated and common among N's. Talking worthless talk, while undertaking hateful actions.
In our case, it truly is the blind leading the blind. While both have a great need to get their supply from each other, they each also have very different agendas that serves their own needs. So while they work together, they also are each other's worse enemy.
If you must deal with N and Mommie Nist, remember to document everything, and use the truth in all your dealings. We also found it most helpful to further confuse them both by maintaining the same, consistent behavior we have always used with them. They literally expected some form of rebuttal after the confrontation, but that didn't happen and they both went away confused, not understanding why, and they literally looked disappointed. As if their grand plan to prove something had backfired.
This is by far the worse family I have ever had to have personal contact with. Protect your family against them as best you can. They honestly only care about what's in it for them. Good luck.
My sister is a narcissist. All she had to do was wail as loud as she could, and my parents gave her what ever she wanted just to shut her up. I noticed that she still cried like a baby when she was 12 years old. Not tears so much as loud, screaming voice. Her mouth was open as wide as she could, like a baby bird. She also lied, and got away with it. She tattled on me, my parents chose to believe her over me, so they reinforced her lying habit. Early on, she was the good child and I was the bad child. (I come from a family of splitters, where people are saints or devils, but no in between, it drives me nuts). When she turned into an adult, she either tried to or succeeded in driving the rest of us kids out. Told us we should be ashamed as adults to live at home and reminded us as we approached 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 on a daily basis that we should have jobs and living on our own. She didn't work and lived at home for a long time. She took over the house and my parents by the time she was 14. She told the rest of us what to wear, what to eat and started accusing us of things we did not do, then proceeded to punish us with her rage attacks. My parents let her and watched. She made their job easier. Everyday when I was 14, this is what I heard. "you'll be 16 soon and should look for a job." Day after day after day. I felt like I got robbed of being 14 and 15 due to all the daily pressuring of her to make me grow up faster so she can get rid of me. I had a job as a teenager, but not because of her. She tried to get our father to take my paychecks away from me. She didn't work, but she wanted a car but didn't have the money for it. Instead of admitting her selfish goals, she hid them behind, "this is a family project so everyone has to contribute." She wanted a car to "relieve the burden off of mother from driving us kids everywhere." I worked, and I had a car payment. She didn't work but wanted to use my money for her to get her own car, "for mom's sake." I saw it for what it was. Years later, she still tries to do "family projects" but her and my parents are the ones always benefitting, and everyone else always has to pay. She uses all our money to buy something for our parents, then tells my parents "I did this for you. Here's my gift mom and dad." (not we, but "I"). I pretty much felt like their ATM. I tested my boundaries as an adult and said "no". She begged me, guilt-tripped me, accused me of being selfish. Her definition of selfish refers to non-givers. She apparently doesn't consider takers infected with entitlement as being selfish. She is like a communist dictator. She reminds me of Hitler.
Aren't they usually the first child or the last child. They are the special ones, and all the middle children are lumped together as a group.
Do you remember that rattle they bought you when you were 1 years old? It has strings attached. You now owe them back.
They don't ask you how you feel, they tell you how you feel. They just CAN"T RELATE, CAN"T hear you.
Child-- "I got chosen for a project."
N-mom-- "I bet that made you feel so special."
Child-- "actually, it's a lot of hard work and nobody else wanted to do it. I'm dreading it."
N-mom-- "I am so proud of you."
Child-- "This isn't an award, mom, this is the grunge work nobody else wanted."
N-mom-- "they picked you because they trusted you. Do you know what the weather is supposed to be like tomorrow?"
Child-- "no, they picked me because I was the only one who had an open sched/"
N-mom-- "It looks stormy."
N-mom-- "oh honey what's wrong?"
Child-- "nothing. just have a lot of work cut out for me now."
N-mom-- "What do you mean? what work?"
Child-- "the project"
N-mom-- "what project?"
Child-- "MOM! I already told you."
N-mom-- "Don't you yell at me. I didn't do anything wrong. You didn't tell me about a project. I am tired of your lies."
The N I was involved with never mentioned his mother unless I asked and I never got a real answer. Once after he had had a lot to drink we got onto the mother topic and he confessed his mother was just his mother...she had no real significance except that of running a matriarchal household. Dad was a quiet guy who lived according to mum's rules wishes. When he was going overseas to see them he said, "I suppose I should give mum a hug when I see her". That summed it up for me.
I just informed my N husband's mother about some of his risk-taking behavior. She defended, denied and blamed others. And congratulated herself on the enabling behavior that helps keep my husband believing that his unacceptable behavior is normal. His value in his parents' eyes is based on his achievements, (their bragging rights), and any misconduct is explained away or ignored. He is the result of "overweening, smothering, spoiling, overvaluing, and idolizing the child". Every time he has some insight, (I have no idea why I would sabotage our marriage/my career/our security by doing this...), his mother an father are quick to blame someone else. Hence, drinking to excess and ateempting to seduce a junior, much younger woman on a business trip and being so hung-over that his almost missed his meeting is explained by his father as "an error in judgment, used by militant lesbians at work to undermine him politically" and an offer to pay our bills should he be fired for misconduct. Their need for him to be perfect and blameless is pathological. And if he stops believing them, then he who is he?
His mom is an Adult Child of an Alcoholic. (Dad just liked to drink, but everyone loved him. It was all mom's fault.) I think her need for everything to be "perfect" and her own husband being quite insecure/N, has created a situation where you never feel valued for who you are, because her interactive style is so based in fantasy-land. She actually praises her adult son for getting dressed in the morning.
The cause is the mother's developmental relationship with her son. She is first imtimate female he learns from. If she is not nurturing and loving, he has no role model. he learns how to self-love. there is no mirroring here so the only reflection he can copy is his own. The parent is to blame for the son's lack of trust which is at the root of the dysfunction: conscious awareness or not, all women are the same; they are not to be trusted, so have your way with them. mother was utilitarian with me so that must be love. if you never had an orgasm, you fake it until you do, right? the same with love....it takes a very special strong woman with strength to endure and teach a man how to love who never learned as a child. it she can handle the stress and frustration of the abuse, then eventually, an intelligent man gets it...but is it worth it? it could take years to learn how to love another person. Annie Sullivan took the abuse from Helen Keller, but in the end she taught her to behave humanely and to speak. she almost gave up many times.
it takes a very special person to reach an unreachable star.
my narc and his mother seem to get on very well and are very close, he wouldn't have anything said against her.although he does say some bad things about her himself, on the whole its usually good. he is the youngest and still lives at home most of the time even though he is mid 30`s. i have noticed that he speaks to her terribly, expecting her to wait on him hand and foot, he tells her what to buy, what and when to cook,when she can go on holiday, in fact controls everything she does. if she disagrees with him he is very moody and she will change her opinion to agree with what ever he says. she doesn't know anything about npd but has spoken to me often over her concerns about him. i have touched on the subject with her but she just tells him what i say and it makes problems for myself so I've given up now!
I think some answers here misunderstand what a narcissist is. As the son of a covert narcissist mother, I have done enough reading to see that a narcissist can never really change, they are always right and 'gaslight' away merrily when they are held accountable for their destructive patterns.My sister and I are very close to our father, and for his sake we keep in good contact with our parents but keep our mother at emotional arms-length. In order to keep my life and my family sane I have had to, in many ways, mourn the passing of the mother I never really had. Whilst she's still alive. She really was unfit to be a mother, her aggressive and mean-spirited neediness has interfered with our lives fairly profoundly and placed strain on our own relationships... It took years away from home for my sister and I to both to finally admit to each other it was all wrong, and right from the start. I have seen a few answers above that imply that someone being aloof or indifferent about their N-mother seems narcissistic, but you might want to consider that emotional distance from an N is probably the only way of coping with them short of cutting ALL contact with them, and forever. I cannot state to you enough the sheer emotional turmoil a covert- N mother will put you through from age zero, and I will do anything I can to protect myself from that poison, especially now I have a small family. 33 years later I just can't find it in me to care about a person who never really cared for me. Am I a narcissist, or am I just protecting myself and my family?