I am Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
Today we will discuss the relationship between a narcissistic mother and her adult daughter.
What are some common ways that a mother's narcissism can affect the daughter's adult relationships?
Well, it depends on how narcissistic the mother is.
Narcissistic parents generally fail to recognize and accept the personal autonomy and the boundaries of their offspring. They treat their children as instruments of gratification or as extensions of themselves. Their love is conditioned on the performance of their children and how well they cater to the needs, wishes and priorities of the narcissistic parents.
Consequently, narcissistic parents oscillate between two modes.
The first one is clingy emotional blackmail. This they use when they seek the child's attention, adulation and compliance, collectively known as narcissistic supply.
Alternatively, they treat the child with steely devaluation and silent treatment when they wish to punish the child for refusing to toe the line. Such inconstancy, unpredictability, arbitrariness and capriciousness render the child insecure and co-dependent.
When the child grows up and enters a relationship as an adult, he feels that he has to earn each and every morsel of love, that he will be instantly and easily abandoned if he underperforms, that her primary role is to take care of her spouse, mate, partner or friend and that she is less important, less endowed, less skilled and less deserving than her significant others.
What are the top concerns?
When daughters of narcissistic mothers start relationships and their relationships move forward when their relationships end, well, children of narcissistic parents are ill-adapted, their personality is rigid and they are prone to deploy a host of psychological defense mechanisms.
Consequently, children of narcissistic parents display the same behaviors throughout their relationship from start to finish, irrespective of changing circumstances.
As adults, offspring of narcissists tend to perpetuate a pathological primary relationship with their narcissistic parents. They depend on other people for their emotional gratification and for the performance of ego or even daily functions. They are needy, demanding and submissive. They fear abandonment, cling and display immature behaviors in their effort to maintain the so-called relationship with their companion or mate upon whom they depend.
No matter what abuse is inflicted upon these children turned adults, they remain in the relationship.
By eagerly becoming victims, co-dependents seek to control their abusers.
Some children of narcissistic parents become inverted narcissists, also called covert narcissists. This is a co-dependent who depends exclusively on narcissists, a narcissist co-dependent.
If you are living with a narcissist, have a relationship with one, if you are married to one, if you are working with a narcissist etc., this does not mean that you are an inverted narcissist.
To qualify as an inverted narcissist, you must crave to be in a relationship with a narcissist, regardless of any abuse inflicted on you by him. You must actively seek relationships with narcissists and only with narcissists, no matter what your bitter and traumatic past experience has been. You must feel empty and unhappy in relationships with any other kind of person.
Only then, and if you satisfy the other diagnostic criteria of dependent personality disorder, can you safely label yourself an inverted narcissist.
So a small minority of children of narcissistic parents end up being counterdependent or even narcissists themselves.
They emulate and imitate their parents' traits and conduct. The emotions of these children of narcissists, their needs are buried under scar tissue which had formed, coalesced and hardened during years of one form or abuse or another.
So these children develop grandiosity, a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, an overwhelming and overwhelming emptiness that usually hides in knowing insecurity and a fluctuating sense of self-worth.
Counterdependence are consummations. They reject and despise authority. They are fiercely independent. They are controlling, self-centered and aggressive. They fear intimacy and they are locked into cycles of hesitant approach followed by avoidance of commitment. They are lone wolves. They are bad team players.
Counterdependents are a reaction formation.
The counterdependent dreads his own weaknesses. He seeks to overcome them by projecting an image of omnipotence, omniscience, success, self-sufficiency and superiority.
Some daughters of narcissists choose this path of coping.
How do narcissistic mothers interfere or get involved with their daughter's love or take lives? How does this compare to typical mothers?
The narcissistic mother is a control freak and does not easily relinquish a good and reliable source of narcissistic supply such as her daughter. It is the role of her children to replenish this supply.
The children, the daughter, owe it to her. To make sure that the child does not develop boundaries and does not become independent or autonomous, the narcissistic parent micromanages the child's life and encourages dependent and infantile behaviors in her offspring. Such a parent, for instance, bribes the child by offering free lodging or financial support or help with daily tasks. Such a parent emotionally blackmails the child by constantly demanding help and imposing chores, claiming to be disabled. Threatens the child, for instance, to disinherit her if she does not comply with the parent's wishes.
The narcissistic mother also does her best to scare away anyone who may have set this symbiotic relationship or otherwise threaten the delicate, unbroken, unspoken contract between the parent and daughter. Such a narcissistic mother sabotages any budding relationship that a child develops with lies, deceit, or overt scorn.
According to the DSM, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, narcissistic personality disorder is diagnosed in between 2 and 16% of the population in clinical settings, or about 1% of the general population.
The DSM proceeds to tell us that most narcissists are men, but 25 to 30% of all narcissists are women. These become narcissistic mothers, and their daughters care the consequences.