“Dead Mothers” and Their Offspring: Narcissistic, Borderline, Psychotic

Uploaded 6/17/2023, approx. 58 minute read

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Bokeh tov yeladim ve yeladot chavigim ve chavigot.

Today we are going to discuss my favorite topic on Earth!

Dead mothers.

But not dead in the physical sense, alas, dead in the emotional, mental and psychological sense.

A construct first proposed in the 1980s by a brilliant psychoanalyst, Andrei Green.

Today we are going to discuss narcissistic mothers, borderline mothers and psychotic mothers and how they affect their unfortunate offspring.

Look it up!

My name is Sam Vaknin, I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited, I'm a former visiting professor of psychology and I'm on the faculty of CIAPS, Commonwealth for International Advanced Professional Studies, Cambridge United Kingdom, Toronto, Canada and if you ever come by, if you ever pass through there, be my guess, Lagos, Nigeria.

Dead mothers is the topic of today's video and it's divided in two parts.

The first part is for laymen, I'm going to describe the effect of such mothers on their children, lifelong lifespan effect, it never goes away. And then I'm going to delve much deeper into the psychoanalytic construct of the dead mother.

So apart from laymen and apart from professionals, my usual cocktail.

Now those of you who want to read more, learn more about the dead mother, I recommend Andrei Green's book, Life Narcissism: Death Narcissism and there's a chapter there called The Dead Mother.

The book was published in 2001 by three associations in New York.

Another excellent book in my view is The Dead Mother, the work of Andrei Green in the new library of psychoanalysis. It was authored by Gregorio Cohan, not, get your mind off the gutter, Gregorio Cohan, K-O-H-O-N. It was actually preceded Andrei Green's book. It was published in 1999.

Now before we proceed, you should not confuse, you should not confuse.

Physician in general is a bad idea and you should not confuse a dead mother with a dead father.

A dead father was first proposed by Joyce McDougall in 1989.

She introduced it into psychoanalytic literature and it is not the same.

It is not the compliment or the correspondent of a dead mother.

It's actually a really dead father, a father who died physically and in every other way.

And she says, McDougall says, "The roots of both sexual deviance and creativity may often be traced to early psychic trauma such as the death of a father.

Both are ways to overcome the damage done to the mind.

So this was the initial proposition of a dead father.

And later, Leila Kalinich and Stuart Taylor and others in 2005 and other papers expanded it, rendered it more metaphorical and therefore closer to the construct of dead mother.

But still, dead father refers to fathers who lack parental functions or abdicated parental functions.

Deadbeat fathers, if you wish.

And that, of course, has an effect on offspring.

I recommend that you watch my videos on the role of the father in early childhood. It's crucially different to the role of the mother.

Father is much less important in early childhood than the mother, vanishingly less important.

So the effects of a dead father are different. I wouldn't say they're minimal, but they're different.

Back to our topic, dead mother.

Andrei Green coined this phrase in 1980 to describe the effects of mothers who are unable to provide what mothers should provide.

Devotion, selflessness, forgiveness, help to survive, survival, soothing, nourishment, a secure base, love that is essentially unconditional although disciplined.

So with boundaries and idealization of the child.

So mothers who are unable to provide all this because they are absorbed in their own internal world of bereavement, anhedonia, depression, deadness, self-absorption, narcissism, maybe psychosis.

These kind of mothers, they raise children who later on as adults are equally unable to provide these functions.

They have no altruism, no concern for others, no generosity, no empathy, and no functional object relations, no ability to develop interpersonal relations.

We're going to discuss all these effects and impacts as you progress through this video.

I just hope you don't end up being dead viewers by the end.

So the dead mother complex is a clinical condition and it involves an early and destructive identification of the child with a figure of a depressed and emotionally unavailable mother, a dead mother in the metaphorical sense.

And so the complex, the dead mother complex, involves a mother who was initially engaged emotionally with her child but then switched off from emotional resonance to emotional detachment.

Maybe she went through a loss, maybe she is in mourning, maybe she became more narcissistic, her defenses kicked in, maybe she was exposed to adverse life circumstances.

Who knows, at some point she transitioned from an all good mother to an all bad mother or to use melanin clients, pictorial imagery, she transitioned from a good breast to a bad breast.

This transition is utterly destructive. It is the main engine of narcissism.

National narcissism is a reaction to arbitrariness, capriciousness, unpredictability, indeterminacy, a lack of a secure base, a feeling of unsafety that are engendered by a mother who is intermittently reinforcing hot and cold, loves and hates, ambivalent and consequently creates in her child hypervigilance required to survive.

The child monitors the mother constantly and continuously, fearfully anticipating her transitions from one state to another.

When the child is unable to restore a feeling of some connection, he internalizes the hardness of the mother, her unresponsiveness, her absent emotional core, her emptiness and this is what we call narcissism.

Narcissism in this sense is an attachment disorder coupled with a fantasy defense because to not be attached to your mother is too painful.

It fosters a lifelong process of bereavement and grieving and mourning, prolonged grief disorder.

And this creates in the child a kind of depression, the defense against this depression, which is an extension form of depression and the defense against this is to pretend that he is not he.

The child pretends that he is not he, he is someone else, the false self.

The false self is one step removed. You could conceive of it as an exoskeleton or a hard boundary, rigid boundary that doesn't allow the world to come in because the world is perceived to be as hostile, dangerous and painful, above all painful.

We're going to discuss all this in the professional part when I analyze Andrei Green's Dead Mother Complex.

Narcissism is a dead mother complex, but who are these dead mothers and why are they dead and in which they in which ways do they acquire their death like qualities, their fanatic or destrudo qualities in which sense.

Well, there are three types that I want to single out, single out, although there are many additional types of dead mothers.

I want to single out the borderline mother, the narcissistic mother and the psychotic mother, mother with psychotic disorder.

Start with the borderline mother.

Borderline mothers are unstable. They are unstable in a variety of fields. They are unstable in interpersonal relationships. They have an identity disturbance. Their self-image fluctuates, their affects up and down, their mood lability, their values and beliefs change from one day to another. They are markedly impulsive.

So this extremely volatile, fluctuating, labile environment is perceived by the child as ominous, threatening the absolute antithesis, absolute opposite of a secure base.

In the absence of a secure base, the child cannot separate from the mother and explore the world because he is afraid that once he had finished exploring the world, mother will be gone.

In short, there is a problem with introject constancy.

The child is unable to internalize mother, convert her into an internal object and trust that in her constancy, trust that she will always be there for him.

Now I'm using he, you can easily replace it with a she. The gender pronouns are interchangeable.

Women and men are equally represented, genitalia are equally represented in personality disorders, plus the B personality disorder.

So an unsafe mother creates an anxious child. An anxious child cannot take on the world, cannot let go of mommy.

Sometimes physically he hugs her legs, he wouldn't let her go. He throws a temper tantrum whenever she wants to move away.

This lack, this sense of lack of safety follows the child into adulthood, creates an insecure attachment style.

The child is terrified of loss, imminent loss, anticipated loss, catastrophize loss, a loss that is all but ascertained.

Now the borderline mother is her entire psychodynamic, her entire internal world revolves around the twin issues of abandonment and engulfment.

Abundant and genders in her anxiety, separation and insecurity and engulfment or enmeshment does the same, generates an anxiety.

This kind of mother is approach, avoidant and she broadcasts to the child, don't abandon me, you're going to kill me if you abandon me, I'm going to die.

So the child doesn't dare to venture forth, to go out of his or her way, to meet other people, to socialize, to be subjected to peer processes. Peer processes are critical in other lessons for example.

This kind of child remains homebound in a mommy's boy or a mommy's girl because the child perceives abandoning mommy as a really, really evil and wicked thing to do. Mommy says so.

But when the child tries to be intimate with mother, to love her, to care for her, to show signs of emotions, her engulfment and enmeshment anxiety kicks in.

The only way she knows how to relate to her child is via merger and fusion with the child.

And so she feels consumed by the child, she feels hemmed in, stifled, strangled, suffocated by the child's presence and she rejects the child, which again creates in the child an anxiety.

And of course the child becomes a reflection of the mother.

The child also develops an abandonment anxiety.

So all in all, there's this unstable and intense interpersonal relationship between the mother and the child characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.

He's disastrous as far as a child is concerned. It ruins his ability to regulate his own sense of self-worth, his self-esteem, his self-confidence and ultimately his self-perception and self-image.

In short, it engenders in the child an identity disturbance.

There's no core identity. There's no one there.

The mother hollows out the child, empties the child from the inside by refusing to allow the child to define his boundaries through her gaze.

It's the mother's gaze that allows the child to realize this is mommy and this is me. She gazes at me because I'm external to her.

And so her gaze tells me that I'm not her.

So now I can individually, I can separate, I can individually, I can become me.

The mother's gaze is the first boundary and the first periphery of an emerging sense of self.

And so the mother's identity disturbance, her own unstable self-image or sense of self, pushes on the child, contaminates the child, makes it impossible for the child to create a sense of stable core.

Now you know my view, I don't believe there's such a thing as self, but I do believe there's such a thing as a sense of self.

It's deceptive, but it's a useful deception.

What happens with this kind of child who is exposed to a borderline mother, this kind of child has multiple self-states.

They do not coalesce, they do not cohere, they do not communicate with each other effectively.

In short, this kind of child becomes dissociative.

Dissociation is a defense against pain and hurt.

And in the case of the child, the dissociation keeps the self-states separate from each other so that some of them are better equipped to absorb the mother's emanation of anhedonia, depression, grieving, pain, hurt.

A borderline mother is a painful mother.

This kind of mother is also impulsive, self-defeating, self-damaging, self-harming, self-trashing, self-destructive, self-handicapping, exceedingly painful to observe.

A mother who is drinking, a mother who is doing drugs, a mother who brings strangers home and sleeps with them in front of the child, a mother who is always penniless because she is a reckless spender, a mother who drives dangerously, binge eats, gets addicted to TV shows, I know what.

The child is a witness, a mute witness, but still a witness of the mother's descent into hell.

And he loves his mother.

It's a painful thing to behold.

Now, imagine a mother, 11% of borderline women, who attempts suicide, who keeps talking about suicide, suicidal ideation, a mother who self-mutilates.

This is intolerable as far as the child. It's hell. It's an inferno. It's an ongoing nightmare, recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures or threats, self-mutilation in a variety of ways.

These are figments of a nightmare, surreal figments, and the child can't wake up ever to the day he dies.

The borderline mother's affective instability is the outcome of reactivity of moods.

Reactivity of mood simply means ups and downs, cycling, lability, intense episodic dysphoria, AKA depression, wrongly, but intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, anxiety, and even brief psychotic episodes.

During this mood, captured in this mood rollercoaster, the mother is very threatening, is an ominous entity. She's terrifying. She's a kind of monster.

The child covers in the corner, covering his eyes and minimizing himself the way an animal does when she confronts a predator.

The mother, in this case, becomes the source of fear rather than the source of comfort.

But of course, this creates a dissonance, as many scholars have observed, because it is a mother who should comfort and soothe the child and provide a secure base and a sense of safety and stability.

Child has no other recourse to anyone else, and yet the child knows should he attempt to extract these goods from mother?

Stability, safety, and so on.

Mother will erupt, often unpredictably, often vitriolically. The mother will annihilate him, eradicate him, psychologically, if not very often physically.

So the child is caught in an approach avoidance situation of his own, and gradually the child learns to negate himself, to officiate himself, to empty himself so that he doesn't exist.

If I don't exist, I cannot be harmed.

This is the child's message.

Also as an adult, I am not here, I am my false self.

I am not here, I am a fantasy.

I am not here, I am what you want me to be, a codependent or a borderline.

I am not here because you own my mind, let alone my body.

I am not.

The strategy this kind of child develops is a strategy of self negation, the message is I am an absence, I am not a presence.

I am not a being, I am a non-being, not an entity, I am a non-entity.

Even the narcissist, the overt narcissist, or the grandiose narcissist, protestations that he is the world.

This is compensatory, this deep inside, this nobody home.

The mother, the borderline mother, hollows her child.

She is like a huge excavator. She excavates the child's soul and trashes it, never to be returned, at least not in his pristine condition.

This is this chronic feelings of emptiness also described by Andrei Green, as you will see, those of you who want to, will see in the second part.

The mother flares up with inappropriate intense anger. She has anger management problems, difficulty to control anger, frequent displays of temper, recurrent physical or other fights and so on and so forth.

The child regards the mother as a bully, as a bull, as a crazed person, as a criminal, you know, it's terrifying to be around.

And so this creates in the child transient stress related paranoid ideation, hypervigilance, dissociative symptoms which reflect the mothers.

This is the borderline, this is the outcome of the borderline mother. This is the borderline mother's offspring and everything I've just described survives well into adulthood.

Borderline mothers often create narcissists, co-dependence or borderline children. Their effect on children is bigger than the effect of narcissistic mothers and equal perhaps to the effects of psychotic mothers.

That's why I started with the borderline mother.

Now let's proceed to the narcissistic mother.

Narcissistic mother is the exact opposite of the borderline mother.

The borderline mother uses the child to self-regulate. She imposes on the child parental functions, she parentifies and instrumentalizes and objectifies the child.

In this sense, the borderline mother is hyper focused on the child. The child is getting too much attention.

In a way it's equivalent, the equivalent of hyper-reflexivity in psychosis as we shall see.

So in the borderline mother's case, the child is the eye of a twister, a hurricane, you know, that is swirling around him about to consume him.

With a narcissistic mother, the problem is exactly the opposite.

The child is not getting attention, neglected, ignored, repressed, suppressed. The narcissistic mother is self-absorbed. She revolves around herself. She is the only object in her world. She is solipsistic. There's no one else there. She converts external objects, including the child, into internal objects, introjects. She snapshots the child and she continues to interact only with the internal objects.

Now that's a no-win catch-22 situation because she idealizes the child's, she idealizes the internal object that corresponds to the child. She idealizes, she photoshops the snap-shotted introject that represents the child in her mind and if the child deviates from this internal object, if the child diverges, contradicts the internal object, shows any signs of autonomy or independence or agency, this infuriates the narcissistic mother and she penalizes the child horribly.

The child is not allowed to separate because a separated child is a child that is not the equivalent of the internal object, does not conform fully to the internal object and this threatens the inner equilibrium and balance of the narcissistic mother's mind.

Confirmation is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity in fantasy and in behavior and grandiosity is of course a cognitive distortion.

The mother coerces the child to become a source of supply. She insists on the child affirming, confirming, reflecting her grandiose inflated, fantastic construct, narrative, story, piece of fiction about who she is.

So it's very coercive, it's a coercive environment and if the child fails to adulate her, to admire her, to the child is punished. The child learns, gradually, to become a service provider and his mother's parent.

Again, his, her, gender pronouns are interchangeable. Don't stop with this.

Don't get me started.


Grandiosity distorts the entire world.

The mother's cognition is erroneous, it's glitchy, it's buggy and because the child initially in the first 36 months of life, the child has access through the world almost exclusively through the mother's cognition, the child obtains a deformed, defective and distorted view of his reality.

He acquires impaired reality testing.

Child also learns that his existence is conditional, contingent upon the mother's gaze. The child learns that to exist means to be seen, to be noticed.

Yes, child is becoming a narcissist.

And this deformity of reality leads the child of course to wrong decision making. This wrong decision making persists into adulthood, mate selection for example.

The child also learns to associate the world with his mother because as I said, initially the child is symbiotic with the mother, child is one with the mother and everything is mediated through the mother's view, including getting to know the world.

The mother has a lack of empathy and she cannot understand the child in the deepest sense of the world.

And again, because the child understands himself and the world through the mother, a lack of empathy implies that the child cannot empathize with himself.

He needs the mother's empathy to acquire empathy, including self empathy.

So he cannot empathize with others. And he fails to empathize with himself. He wrongly perceives his own needs, emotions and so on.

And because he keeps failing, ultimately he divorces his emotions and he denies his self. He creates a false self.

The false self is objective, it's out there, it's a piece of fiction, it's easier to relate to and later it's easier to become the false self.

The true self cannot be apprehended, cannot be comprehended.

The narcissistic mother fails to provide the child with the most basic tools of gauging internal state.

In other words, she hampers, obstructs the development of an internal working model and a theory of mind.

Children of narcissistic mothers know nothing about other people and even less about the world.

Solipsistic exactly like the mother, they revolve around themselves, swirling into the black hole, self consuming.

We mentioned grandiosity, which is a sense of self importance.

This kind of mother exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements and is manipulative and often successful.

What the child learns is that a fake biography is much preferable to a real one.

Interaction is preferable to being true. Lying is both more convenient and more self efficacious than the truth, an inconvenient truth.

Mother teaches the child, this narcissistic mother teaches the child that appearances matter much more than substance and if appearances are not will be, all you have to do is just say pretend that they are there.

The child of the narcissistic mother is groomed to become a con artist later in life.

The mother is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love and she instrumentalizes the child. She tries to force the child to realize these dreams. She uses emotional blackmail, she says I had such high expectations of you, you know I couldn't become an author but you can, you can do it for me.

So there is an incestuous bond between mother, narcissistic mother and child.

The child becomes an extension of the mother and by implication one with the mother.

When do we become one with another person?

Sex, there is a lot of sexual tension between the narcissistic mother and the child and in this sense the interactions between narcissistic mothers and children, their children are histrionic interactions.

The mother believes that she is special and unique, she can be understood by or associate with high special status people.

Only very few can grasp who she is and what she has to offer.

She often complains of being discriminated against, envied, pulled down, taken down by people who are much inferior to her.

The child learns that the world is a dangerous place when you engage in excellence and when you are a giant and that this is a price to be paid for accomplishing and attaining things.

Ironically this creates in the child a perverse incentive.

The child says well if I truly accomplish things people will try to take me down, they will try to destroy me, they will hate me, they will envy me but if I just pretend to accomplish things maybe I will get by. Maybe no one will really envy me because I will be playing the game of faking it without making it.

So the mother creates a pseudo human, an imitation, a parody of a man or a woman or a human being, caricature in effect.

And this caricature of a child, later adult, requires excessive admiration, has a sense of entitlement and so on.

The mother also feels entitled. She feels entitled to her child's unbridled admiration, to her child's time and physical presence. She has unreasonable expectations of the child. She demands favorable treatment, automatic compliance and so on and so forth.

The child learns to obey. It's obey or die because the narcissistic mother would not hesitate to neglect the child to the point of death.

A child who does not fulfill her needs, who does not cater to her psychological demands, a child who does not serve her, is a dead child anyhow.

She doesn't have the necessary resources, emotional or other, to invest in anyone who is not a perfect ideal source of narcissistic supply.

The child learns to mold himself in accordance with the mother's expectations, on pain of death.

Imagine the effect this has on the child.

There is a mind meld between the narcissistic mother's mind and the child's mind.

Anyhow, they share a single mind until age 24 to 36 months. Anyhow, they share a single mind until then.

Almost. Not fully of course, but almost.

But in the case of the offspring of a narcissistic mother, this mind meld continues indefinitely. There's no separation, no individuation.

Child remains a figment in the mother's mind.

Later on when this child becomes an adult, the child misidentifies existence as being present in someone else's mind, insinuating oneself into someone else's mind.

Narcissist exactly like borderlines exist only through other people's minds. They are parasites. They exist only through other people's gaze.

This is a lesson emanating from the narcissistic mother.

As far as I'm concerned she says, "You exist only if you service my mind, only if you are a part of my mind, only if you are my extension, otherwise you don't exist."

This kind of mother is interpersonally exploitative of course. She takes advantage of the child to achieve her own ends. She is unwilling, unable to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of the child.

So the child learns to not have feelings and to not have needs, to self-deny.

Don't be impressed by the narcissist's coercive techniques of gratifying himself. He's not gratifying himself. He's gratifying a harsh master, his false self, which is often coupled with a harsh inner critic.

So the child of a narcissistic mother learns to deny his needs, to eliminate his wishes, to suppress any demands he may have.

Actually the false self is his mother. He designs, he creates the false self to resemble his mother. The false self is godlike, omnipotent, omniscient, exactly like mother, infallible, never makes mistakes, harsh, demanding, dysempathic. It's mother, false self is mother. It's an aborted internalization, identification, introjection process where instead of creating an introject of mother, which is impossible because mother is conditionally there. There's no object constancy. So it's impossible to create a stable introject of mother, even when the mother is narcissistic.

So what the child does, he creates an outer introject.

This outer introject is the false self.

The child perceives the false self and the child turned narcissistic adult, perceives the false self as an introject, as an internal object.

In reality it's not its mother.

Mother still there, out there, pretending to be in here. It's pernicious. It's literally vicious.

This kind of mother is envious of other people. She believes that others are envious of her and that does not exclude her child.

She competes with her child. She's envious of her child. She undermines and obstructs her child. She renders her child self-defeating and self-destructive and self-hating and self-loathing.

Narcissism is compensatory.

So this kind of mother would steal her daughter's boyfriends. She would compete with her child's literary work or literary output. She would use the child to aggrandize herself at his school or university. She's arrogant and haughty in behavior and in attitude.

But many narcissistic mothers gradually migrate and become covert, inverted narcissists.

So they bask in the glory of the child. They instrumentalize the child to obtain supply and then they abscond with the supply. They hijack the supply, so to speak.

If the child is famous, the mother is famous for being the famous child's mother. She's famous by proxy vicariously through the child. She becomes a mere channel to the outer world, a suction cup sucking narcissistic supply from the environment.

The narcissistic mother inhabits, colonizes her child's mind forever via processes such as in training and others. This is a unique phenomenon. It's a hive mind and requires its own treatment. Suffice it to say that the child watches the world, observes the world through his mother's eyes. It's eerie. It's reminiscent of Hitchcock's Psycho, the 1960 movie.

Whenever you look at a narcissist and you meet his eyes, you are dealing with his mother. She never goes away. She's there, tentacles all over, octopus-like. It's a lesion, keeps dictating the narcissist's life, but it has also amazing cognitive artifacts and emotional consequences.

Narcissist's inability to access positive emotions is an outcome of this colonizing process.

But again, it's not a topic for today's video.

Let's talk about the psychotic mother.

Psychosis is a general term. It's actually a family of disorders known as psychotic disorders. Schizophrenia is the most famous, but there are other psychotic disorders. Even schizotypal personality disorder is a psychotic disorder, in effect. These are abnormalities involving delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking and speech, or also disorganized or abnormal motor behavior, sometimes catatonia, and what we call negative symptoms.

Now, delusions, these are fixed beliefs that are not amenable to change in light of conflicting evidence. So, the delusions can be persecutory or referential. Someone is talking about me. Or somatic or religious or paranoid or grandiose.

And so, this kind of mother creates an alternative universe, an alternative world, very similar to a cult, where it's the mother and the child against the world that is almost always hostile. And sometimes it's the mother and the child and God against such a world. There's always a coalition involving the child in the majority of cases and sometimes God himself. And so, this coalition is a coalition of the willing fighting the axis of evil. And it involves beliefs that dictate behaviors, conspiracy, conspiratorial beliefs, in many cases, that dictate behavior.

The child learns, the child grows up in a siege mentality, where everyone and everything is suspect. Nothing is what it seems.

So there's a problem with reality.

Child begins to believe in a hidden text, in a reality that is essentially fantastic, fictitious, and he inhabits the narrative way more than he inhabits reality.

In other words, the narrative to him is much more realistic than reality itself.

He becomes, in short, delusional.

Hallucinations are perception-like experiences that occur without an external stimulus.

When the child is very young, a mother who has hallucinations would try to convince the child that these are not hallucinations, that she has special powers, special powers somehow to see things and hear things that other people don't.

And so, it's a form of self-aggrandizement, but founded on real experience.

Hallucination is perceived by the psychotic as real.

It's actually a projection of internal objects onto the world.

It's hyper-reflexivity. It's a mirror image of narcissism.

Narcissists internalize external objects, psychotics externalize internal objects.

The child, especially a very young child, convinces himself or herself that mother is right and that mother is superior. She sees and hears things that are real, but only she can see and hear.

So this duality of a superior being who is privy to information that is privileged persists with the child throughout life.

The child could become, for example, a rabid religious person or someone who believes in conspiracy theories or someone who develops paranoid personality disorder.

The mother's speech and thinking are disorganized. She switches from one topic to another. This is known as derailment or loose associations. She answers questions which are only obliquely related or completely unrelated. Questions that were never asked. And this is known as tangentiality. She also goes on tangents. The speech is disorganized and sometimes it's so severely disorganized that it's incomprehensible. It resembles aphasia, incoherence, word salad. Yes, word salad is in psychotic disorders.

Narcissists don't engage in word salad. Self-styled experts learn psychology. So word salad, the speech is nonspecific.

And so the child learns to decode and decipher mother. Her speech and thinking impair effective communication. The child substitutes. The child speculates. Later on the child learns to confabulate. He bridges the gaps. He makes sense in his mind. He creates plausible scenarios and narratives.

In short, he is busy speculating most of the time.

And this creates in the child a hypnotic or trance-like state.

This kind of child, and as an adult as well, will be immersed in himself trying to make sense of the world.

Gradually the child will learn, wrongly, that the only sense prevailing is inside himself. Only his inside makes sense. Only his internal world is organized and communicative and not chaotic. World out there is the opposite.

So the child learns to become schizoid, self-reliant, self-contained, solipsistic.

Because the child believes that the world is crazy, chaotic, nonsense, cannot be made sensible. There's no meaning out there. And everything comes from the inside.

Child sinks deeper and deeper into himself.

This is especially true if the mother exhibits grossly disorganized or abnormal mood behavior. For example, catatonia, she sees steel or stupor or mutism or whatever.

Negative symptoms are very common in psychotic disorders, especially schizophrenia, but also in others. They involve diminished emotional expression, reduced affect display and what we call abolition. It's like withdrawal. It's like self-negation. It's like not being, but ostentatiously not being.

Like the mother shuts herself. It's not catatonia, which requires physical immobility. It's emotional catatonia, if you wish.

The mother stops being. She does not interact with the child emotionally or expresses emotions or affects in any way, shape or form.

And she lacks will. There's nothing motivating her from the inside. She becomes expressionless. She avoids eye contact.

The intonation of her speech, her prosody, is very monotonous.

Movements of hand, head and face that normally give an emotional emphasis to speech disappear.

Body language is muted. There is a decrease in motivated, self-initiated purposeful activities.

The mother begins to resemble a robot and a very basic robot with very basic programming, primitive programming.

She sits for long periods of time. She shows little interest in participating in work and social activities.

There's also a logia, anhedonia, a sociality. A logia is diminished speech output and anhedonia is decreased ability to experience pleasure.

And as sociality is apparent, there's a lack of interest in social interactions. The mother withdraws. She isolates herself. She often doesn't wash for weeks.

And the child observes all this. He's exposed to all this.

Mother is vanishing, beat by beat, like the Cheshire cat.

Only the smile remains. It's the most terrifying thing imaginable because mother is disappearing incrementally, gradually, part by part, and it's inexorable.

There's nothing the child can do about this.

Imagine the sense of helplessness and hopelessness.

And the ensuing anxiety and depression.

Okay. These are the types of dead mothers and their effects on their children.

I want to talk a bit.

So this is the part for laymen.

If you're a layman, let alone a laywoman, get your minds off the gutter. If you're a layman or a laywoman, you can just move on with life. If you're interested in the dead mother complex, Andrei Green's dead mother complex, stay tuned.

As I said, the complex of the dead mother was first described by Andrei Green in 1980.

He suggested that we come to know about the dead mother complex through something called transference depression.

Transference depression in therapy is a repetition of an infantile depression that is often not conscious.

So there is some depression in the room in the therapy. There is infantilization. There is regression as far as behaviors and a lack of motivation.

Effect display. And so you see that it is an infant who is depressed.

And this, says Andrei Green, proves that there has been a dead mother in the background of such patient.

And the essential characteristic of this depression is that it occurs in the presence of an object that itself is absorbed in mourning.

So this depression is reflective or reflexive, secondary.

The child regards his mother, the dead mother, as a mother in mourning, as a grieving mother. As a mother that is self-absorbed because she's sad.

Child is very primitive ways of interpreting the world. He doesn't have a lot of repertory or experience. He is binary. You know, I feel good, I feel bad. Mummy is feeling bad. Mummy is sad. Mummy is mourning.

The child, through mirror empathy, the child reflects her, becomes her. The symbiosis is at that stage.

Remember, child is one with the mother. She is sad, he is sad. She is depressed, he is depressed.

And this is transference depression.

The causes of these mornings can be many.

But the mother does not admit them, does not verbalize them, does not communicate them. It's ambient. It's in the atmosphere.

The maternal object is very, very threatening because something is happening there.

Mother is sinking and disappearing and avoiding and hurtful.

And yet the child can't make sense of it because mother is not telling him anything.

This is a non-communicative mother, a cold mother, a hard, hard mother.

And this is the mother the child interjects.

That's the mother the child identifies with and internalizes.

She is hard.

He becomes hard.

She is unfeeling.

He becomes unfeeling.

She is called, he becomes, yes, you guessed it, called.

And this is the result of a process of cathect and de-cathects.

The child tries to affect mother, child loves mother. He tries to imbue mother with his newfound budding emotions.

That mother is rejecting, frustrating.

I refer you to work by Winnicott and Gantt and others in the British School of Object Relations in the 1960s.

Mother creates a schizoid core because she's rejecting and frustrating.

The child learns to de-cathect, withdraw from her.

And the de-cathect is a horrendous, brutal process.

The child loves mother more than anything in the world.

You know what?

Mother is the world.

The de-cathectis, the withdrawal, the avoidance of mother is the de-cathect and withdrawal and avoidance from the world.

The child is, it's suicide, isn't it?

When you withdraw from the world, totally, because the world is frustrating and rejecting and cold and unfeeling and hard, what are you doing?

The child approaches the mother.

This is called reparation.

It's very common in the Aposhmo phase.

The child approaches the mother, reparation, but keeps being rebuffed one way or another.

The mother is self-absorbed. She's narcissistic. The mother is volatile and lebile. She's a borderline. The mother is no longer with us. She's floating somewhere in the upper stratosphere. She's psychotic. Whatever the reason may be, the child keeps being rejected, frustrated, abandoned, neglected.

The reparation keeps failing and the child develops a profound sense of helplessness, impotence and threat.

And they become dominant.

At some point, they become dominant.

How can you survive like this?

You can't.

You need to defend against this.

Because if this is your state of mind, you'd rather not have a mind.

So this creates complex defenses.

And these defenses associate a mirror representation of the disinvestment in the mother with an unconscious identification with the dead mother.

So on the one hand, the child withdraws from the mother, disinvets, disinvests in her, deep affects, takes back his emotions. Doesn't attempt anymore to bond with her, to attach to her. Doesn't regard her as a secure base.

On the one hand, on the other hand, he still needs her. He still loves her. He still depends on her. So he internalizes her.

And a compromise.

I will not attempt to connect with my mother in reality because that's painful, that's hurtful, that's frustrating.

Instead I will attempt to connect with my mother internally.

As I control the internal space, I will not be hurt. Or at least I can minimize the pain.

This is of course the narcissistic solution. Isn't it?

Snapshotting, introjection.

And the result of this process is the psychic murder of the mother.

There's no hatred involved, it's just necessity.

The child needs to kill the mother.

By internalizing her, he also objectifies her. She becomes an internal object. And he takes away her life.

Because his control over the internal object is so total, she is no longer alive in any meaningful sense except by his permission.

He becomes godlike. Grandiosity.

Now of course it's mother, so the child cannot do any of this explicitly, aggressively.

The maternal affliction prohibits any aggressive expression.

If you reject mother, if you reject mother. If you tell mother I'm going to kill you, if you aggress against mother, she's going to withdraw further.

This would guarantee maternal detachment.

And this is something the child doesn't want.

So it's all hush, hush. It's all very secret.

The whole process of internalizing the mother, interjecting the mother, killing the mother inside the mind, all this is done secretly.

The child learns to keep secrets from mother. He learns to construct an alternative universe which is inhabited by mother and interject a maternal figure, but the real mother has no access to this alternative universe.

So the child becomes solipsistic.

You're beginning to see the rudiments of pathological narcissism.

That's why I consider the dead mother complex to be super critical in narcissism, way more than many of the suggestions of Freud.

That's why I keep mentioning the dead mother in many of my videos.

The pattern of object relations is destroyed and instead there's what we call peripheral cathexes, getting attached to people who are not threatening, who are not significant, who are not meaningful, sources of narcissistic supply.

There's a hole in the middle, some black, all-consuming, sucking hole, and you surround its periphery with people who cannot hurt you because they are not meaningful. They can't do anything to you. They don't have the power. You don't give them the power. You don't experience emotions or empathy. You use them, their instruments, you objectify them the same way you have been objectified by your mother.

This silent destructiveness doesn't allow the child to re-establish object relations with people.

He cannot overcome the conflict. He cannot, the internal conflict with his mother, he cannot open the way to connections that would strengthen his ability to overcome the conflict. He creates a shield that prevents access to the conflict.

So the child breaks in two.

In one part of the child there is an unresolved conflict with mother and in the other part of the child there's a fake false version which interacts with people who would never be mother, who would never be given the powers that mother had.

The child is trying to heal the first part, the part involving the conflict by teaming up with maternal substitutes, with stand-in mothers, you, the intimate partners of the narcissist.

So the only thing that endures in the adult narcissist's life is a dull psychic pain, some feeling of hollowness and emptiness, an incapacity to bond or attach or love any object, no effects. I can't begin to tell you how it feels.

It feels like you have to hold yourself together all the time actively or you will disintegrate into molecules and be spread over the floor and never put yourself back together.

It's a constant Humpty Dumpty situation.

Hatred, hatred is as impossible as love by the way.

Instead of hatred, there's devaluation.

The narcissist, the child who grows up to become a narcissist under the dead mother, this child doesn't deal with love or hate. He deals with functions, she can serve me, she can't serve me. And if she can't serve me, she's persecutory, she's frustrating me on purpose, she's the enemy, but there's no hatred involved. It's just okay, she's useless, let's discard her.

And this is what many victims can't wrap their minds around.

They are not sufficiently important to be hated. As they are not sufficiently significant to be loved, they are nothing.

They are buttons, they are instruments, they are tools, they are functions, they are obstructions, they are narratives.

And victims don't understand, they've never been three dimensional to the narcissist.

The narcissist is incapable of deep emotions, hatred included, is capable of envy and anger.

But hatred is the opposite of love.

The principle of ambivalence, narcissist is incapable of the former as he is incapable of the latter.

He discards you coldly and calculatingly. Your piece of trash at the end of the process.

Who hates trash?

So the narcissist feels that it is impossible to receive without feeling obliged to give back.

Now I know that this flies in the face of everything you are being told by self-styled experts.

Notice the self-styled part.

Narcissists are transactional. I just said that you are nothing but instruments and functions and so on.

Narcissist makes a deal with you.

So in the love bombing phase, the narcissist will make a deal with you, I'll be your mother, you'll be my mother, the dual mother thing.

Later he will offer you money or freedom, unbridled freedom to look as you please with whoever you please.

It's also a form of bribe. The narcissist bribes you into being in his life because he grew up in an environment where to obtain his mother's attention, let alone love, he needed to perform.

He has the same expectations from you and from himself. It's a deal. It's a business.

That's why narcissists are shocked when their former intimate partners are angry.

They don't understand what have they done wrong. There was a deal, they kept their end of the bargain.

Why is the other party angry?

Because narcissists are incapable of introducing into the calculus of interpersonal relationships emotions, for example.

So they, narcissists don't want to owe anything, not even masochistic pleasure, nothing.

And if there is a situation where they receive more than they give, they devalue you.

Yes, I know it flies in the face of everything you've heard.

So everything you've heard is wrong.

One of the main reasons that the narcissist devalues you is he begins to feel that you are superior to him, that in some way you have advantages over him.

Maybe you are more regulated, maybe you're more self efficacious and maybe you give him more than he's able to give you.

And so he is in your debt. He owes you, which is a position of inferiority.

The dead mother is omnipresent, but she is, she kind of seized the child. She seizes the child. She makes the child the captive of his warning for her.

The absent mother, the dead mother believes that if she makes the child, if she forces the child or coerces the child to grieve for her, to miss her, that's the surest way of keeping him around.

It's a form of emotional blackmail.

So she fosters in the child prolonged grief by withdrawing, by avoiding, by neglecting, by ignoring, by chastising, and castigating, and humiliating, shaming, and blackmailing, you owe me, if you don't do this, I will die.

All these techniques are intended to produce in the child. The sense that mother is tantalizingly close, but unattainable and the resulting grief.

Grief is as strong as love and as strong as hate in binding people together and the only mechanism of attachment the dead mother trusts.

She's been grieving all her life and she's attached to herself. She's narcissistic, remember?

And this clinical picture develops against the background of the child's inability to grasp the reasons for it.

So the whole world looks totally crazy, senseless, arbitrary, and consequently menacious.

We mentioned, I mentioned at the beginning that there's depression, infantile depression. There's a loss of meaning, the feeling of inability to repair the mourned object, to awaken the lost desire and passion to connect with this object.

The mourning is not only for the lost mother, the mourning is for the lost potential to have bonded with mother and the lost potential to have become who you could have become.

It's multiple layers of mourning which are replicated to the letter in relationships with narcissists.

And sometimes there are some significant realizations that displace the source of the conflict into the external world.

The mother's desire becomes inaccessible compared to what the child believes that he has observed and he blames a failure of subjective omnipotence in relationships. He blames himself for having failed to bond with mother or to attach with mother.

And he tries to compensate for this because it's an intolerable feeling.

When the child experiences guilt and shame for having failed to make mother love him, he reinforces his omnipotence in other areas.

He says, okay, maybe I failed with mother, but I'm a genius. Narcism is compensatory also in this sense.

Repression erases the memory traces of the mother's touch, her smell, how good she feels, any contact with her.

And the child's cathexia with her before the mourning, the sudden end to this forgotten relationship.

Repression sets in.

Repression is so massive in such children that they become dissociative. They learn to repress not only this, but generally they repress memories. They repress life itself because life is painful. Memory is threatening. Emotions are deadly, lethal.

So repression and dissociation becomes dominant mechanisms in such people.

It is repression. It is a way to bury the mother alive.

Even when repression and dissociation demolish everything, even when they demolish her own memory, her tomb in Andrei Grin's words, even when repression and dissociation eradicate her past existence and anything the child has had with her, it's a price worth paying.

Because what Winnicott called "Holding" has collapsed. The object is encased, encased within a firewall.

And then the whole thing is cast into outer oblivion and darkness, aka unconscious, not traces left of it.

The identification then is not with the mother because the mother is gone in every possible way. She's been killed and buried and her tomb was desecrated and everything was burned to the ground, scorched earth policy. It's the only way the child could cope with his pain and hurt and impotence.

So what's left?

A hole, a hole, a vacuum in the shape of the mother.

The disinvestment, the de-café, the withdrawal, the avoidance, the disconnection, the detachment, they leave a trace behind which is not a trace of the mother but a placeholder where the mother should have been.

It's a hole in the shape of the mother.

And the absence of all meaningful reference points is very important.

The modification of the maternal attitudes is inexplicable. The child can't explain to himself why am I being rejected, suddenly ignored, hated even, and chattering. Can't wrap his mind around this.

And this inexplicability, this mystery leads to all sorts of questions which arouse feelings of guilt aggravated by secondary defenses displaced into elements and other people.

I mean, the child is flailing about trying desperately to solve this conundrum, which is unsolvable, of course, because it's not the child's fault.

To feel guilty and at fault and responsible for the mother's behavior is a grandiose defense, even I would say a bit psychotic.

So any attempt to block problems not governed by repression of this untenable situation, this provokes significant pathological reactions. It's major etiopology.

The purpose of these defenses is to keep the ego alive or somehow coherent and functioning, although this often fails.

Narcissistic children, for example, don't have a functioning ego. To some extent, borderlines are the compromised ego.

But there is a desperate attempt to keep the ego alive through a secondary hatred of the mother.

But of course, as I just said, narcissists are incapable of hatred, which is precisely why this defense fails.

There's a frenetic, unquenchable search for maternal love substitutes, for example, pleasures, attempts to find meaning in displacements, in other things. There's an attempt to this kind of crazy race to reanimate the dead mother, to get her interested, to distract her, to seduce her sex, remember, to give her back the taste for life, to undo her mourning and grieving, to say, you know, "Mommy, don't grieve. Don't mourn. I'm here. Am I not a reason to be happy and to feel pleasure? To breathe into her by any means possible, artificial if necessary, the joy of living. And then to compete with the object of mourning in a kind of precautious triangulation. Ignore the reason you're mourning. Look at me.

The dead mother complex is a powerful and intense element, and it affects all the systems of the psyche. And that includes fantasy defenses, attempts to make life, the world, intelligible, competitive relations with other objects, sudden mourning periods, reawakening of the chains, and so on and so forth.

There is a kind of apocalyptic sense, this kind of impending catastrophe, because the child feels that he has to retaliate against the maternal object.

And the child undulates, oscillates between indifference, because the mother is gone somehow, and the terror of knowing that he's about to conflict with mother.

The fantasy takes him away from this conflict, but the fantasy itself involves maternal elements, so reminders.

The Oedipus complex is an example, by the way. I don't want to go into this. There's important rage in such a child. There's paralysis. He's helpless against the violence inside him, against his own aggression. It's an intensified feeling of emptiness. The most deleterious effects on everything that makes a human human.

And Ray Green hypothesized the destiny of the primary object as a framing structure for the ego, hiding the negative hallucination of the mother. He said that the dead mother complex demonstrates the failure of this process, forcing its representations into a painful vacuity, obstructing the capacity to bind together in any preconscious thought pattern. The dead mother complex opposes hot castration anxiety, links to the vicissitudes of object relations, which can be threatened with corporal mutilation.

And this is all converted into a cold anxiety, which is linked with losses suffered on a narcissistic level, negative hallucination, flat psychosis, dull morning, resulting in the clinical treatment of negativity.

End quote. It is a dead mother that creates dead children who become dead inside adults. Death is intergenerational, transmitted intergenerational.

Not so life. Life requires effort. Life is a project. Death is a default.

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