The mother feels betrayed, she feels that the daughter has deviated, diverged from the internal object in her mind that represents the daughter. She has an idealized daughter in her mind and her real daughter, the external object outside her mind, is misbehaving by contradicting this internal object.
For example, the real object, the real flesh and blood daughter, is becoming independent, has personal autonomy, makes decisions, has agency, teams up with another person and so on and so forth.
So this is betrayal. The daughter is a traitor.
Now in many countries you execute traitors. Unfortunately for the mother this is not an option, so what she is doing is she is transforming the internal object into a persecretary object, an enemy.
And now comes the punitive part, the punishment. The daughter needs to be punished for no longer playing the role of an obedient submissive internal object.
The mother is perceiving her daughter's behavior as some form of aggression directed at her. And so she reacts to her frustration with aggression.
This is not Sam Vaknin, this is Dolard. So the mother now becomes aggressive and she wants to eliminate the source of the frustration and the traitor, to punish the traitor and to eliminate the source of frustration.
So the mother now has an enormous motivation to devalue her daughter and then discard her.
But how to do that? You push the daughter to devalue herself. You push the daughter to self-destruct, to self-destruct. And this is what narcissistic mothers do. They push their offspring to self-destruct with the first sign of independence, disagreement, criticism, deviance from the internal object.
When the first sign of life, when the child shows any sign of life, the mother wants the child dead.
The mother is dead and she wants the child dead. A living child is a child with the potential to abandon the mother. A living child is a child with the potential to betray the mother.
So better a dead child than a living child. And so the first stage is to push the child into an impossible situation where the only option would be essentially suicidal or self-destructive in the extreme, self-trashing to the point of losing one's identity and disintegrating, psychotically if possible.
So she has betrayed her. She has abandoned her. She has frustrated her. She has contradicted her. She is rebellious and defiant. And for all these things, she needs to be obliterated as a maximum and severely punished as a minimum with the hope that she will learn a lesson and then dump everything and run back to mommy and become again an inert, lifeless object in the corner.
Today we are going to discuss my favorite topic. No, not sex.
Dead parents, emotionally absent parents, much more specifically selfish narcissistic parents, egoistic, self-centered, oblivious to the existence, separateness and externality of their own children.
Such narcissists who happen to have become parents are possessive, they're envious and they seek to destroy the object that keeps frustrating them, their own children or offspring.
This is the mythology of narcissistic parents.
My name is Sam Bachnin. I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited, a former visiting professor of psychology and currently on the faculty of CEAPs, Commonwealth Institute for Advanced Professional Studies.
And having patterned my revealing sweater, let us plunge right in.
Now we all know that narcissism breeds narcissism. But luckily only a minority of children of narcissistic parents become narcissists.
This may be due to some genetic predisposition or to different life circumstances, for example, not being the first born.
And while not all children exposed to bed parenting become narcissists, most narcissists have been exposed to one or more narcissistic parents or caregivers.
Remember the following, the narcissist never envies who you are. The narcissist envies what you possess and the narcissist envies what you accomplish. And what you possess could be anything, could be your age, your youth, your beauty, real possessions, physical objects, intangibles, your reputation, anything that you own is the target of the narcissist envy.
Similarly, what you accomplish, all your accomplishments real or imagined, narcissist envy is virulent, nefarious, pernicious, sieving and uncontrollable.
This is 10 times more true, this order of magnitude more true when the target of the envy is the narcissist's own child or offspring.
Because the child is a copy of the narcissist, he's a clone of the narcissist, 50% of the child's genetic material, 50% of the child's DNA has belonged to the narcissist. The narcissist regards the child as an extension of himself, but also as a reflection in the mirror of life, the mirror of time.
And here is this copy, this replica, this clone, you know, outsmarting the narcissist, out accomplishing the narcissist, better than the narcissist, more famous than the narcissist, richer than the narcissist, more successful with the opposite sex than the narcissist, you name it. The narcissist envies, envies to the point of hatred, his child, because his child reminds him of himself, of his own self-defeat and self-destruction of his unrealized potentials, of the fact that he had failed to become via separation, individuation, that he is not real, that he is an absence masquerading as a presence, and that he is overly and overtly dependent on other people for most of his regulatory functions.
In short, the narcissist's child and offspring are reminders of failure. They make the narcissist feel as if he were some kind of loser.
The narcissist's parent regards his or her child as a multifaceted source of narcissistic supply on the one hand and a competitor on the other. The child is considered and treated as an extension of the narcissist.
As I've said, it is through the child that the narcissist seeks to settle open scores with the world. The child is supposed to realize and actualize the narcissistic parent's unfulfilled dreams, his or her wishes and fantasies. That's what the child is for, an instrument, a tool, a way to even the scales, to regain a sense of cosmic justice.
And this vicarious life by proxy can develop in two ways. The narcissist can either merge with his child, fuse with the child, create a symbiosis with the child, a single organism with two heads, or the narcissist can feel ambivalent about the child.
The narcissist attempts to have a second go at life, a second chance at life through the child, the child's unfolding biography, the child's achievements, the child's adventures, the child's experiences are all appropriated by the narcissist as his.
And so this creates on the one hand an enormous sense of closeness and intimacy, almost self-love. The narcissist falls in love with himself through the child.
In short, the narcissist creates a shared fantasy with the child on the one hand.
On the other hand, the narcissist cannot deny the fact that the child is separate, is an individual because for example the child relocates, walks away, moves to another country or another city, begins to have his own friends, circle of friends and peers later on, gets married maybe. These are undeniable facts. They create a lot of ambivalence. It's as if the child refuses to remain a child, refuses to succumb to his role or her role as an instrumentalized extension of the narcissist.
And so the narcissist is angry at the child for this ostentatious, what he perceives as ostentatious or conspicuous agency of personal autonomy and independence.
And the ambivalence is the result of a conflict between the narcissist's wish to attain or obtain or secure his narcissistic goals through the child and his pathological destructive envy of the child and of the child's accomplishments and possessions.
And to ameliorate the unease and the anxiety bred by this emotional ambivalence, the narcissistic parents resorts to myriad control mechanisms.
It's as if the narcissist is trying to objectify the child, to render the child an inert object, a corpse, a dead entity, a dead body, thereby removing the threat of loss and of challenge and of confrontation and of conflict.
Signs of life, vital signs, are suppressed egregiously and actively in order to not reach a stage, to avoid a stage or phase of confronting the reality of the child's separateness and perhaps transcendence and elevation above the narcissist's own accomplishments.
And so what the narcissist does, tries to control the child and he uses several types of mechanisms.
Number one, the guilt-driven mechanisms. I sacrifice my life for you, you owe me.
Number two, the goal-driven mechanisms. We have a common goal which we can and must achieve. It's us against reality.
And then there's the shared psychosis which frequently manifests as a form of emotional incest. You and I are united against the whole world or at least against your monstrous no good father or mother. You are my one and only true love and passion. You are the man in this house or you are the woman in this house.
And the fourth type of, fourth class of mechanisms are the explicit mechanisms. If you do not adhere to my principles, to my beliefs, ideology, religion, values, if you do not obey my instructions and if you do not provide me with narcissistic supply, I'm going to punish you. I'm going to disinherit you. I'm going to throw you out. I'm going to punish you so.
As Lydia Kavalkos observed, the narcissistic parent often regards himself or herself as a martyr, as a victim. The parent uses her or his alleged suffering as a currency, this sacrifice. The sacrifices emphasize the whole relationship between the parent and the child is cast in terms of self-sacrifice. It's a sacrificial relationship.
I encourage you to watch my video about sacrificial entitlement. And this is a mode of communication and explanatory and organizing principle, which endows the lives of the parent and of the parents, nearest and dearest with meaning, sense, direction, message and mission.
I've sacrificed myself for you. I've denied myself for you. Now it's your turn to actualize or realize the potentials that I have avoided just in order to give you a life and to raise you.
Being introduced into the narcissist drama is a privilege and honor and a right of passage and initiation, the true hallmark of intimacy.
Also, the child is led to believe. Now all this, of course, creates guilt, guilt and shame and rage, guilt, shame and rage, in short, negative affectivity.
The child feels guilty if he fails to meet the parent's expectations, if he is ashamed for his or her own inadequacy and defeat. And if he's angry because the parent won't let the child go, won't allow the child to separate, individuate, acquire personhood and become his own person, his own human being.
The guilt trip induced by the narcissistic parent is not limited in time because it is not linked to a specific action of the child perpetrator. It is intended to elicit never-ending compensation.
The child needs to compensate the narcissistic parent for the child's own and mere existence. It is as if the existence of a child is a transgression of some kind because it absconds with the parent's resources. It imposes on the parent. It burdens the parent.
And this kind of guilt tripping is not designed to bring on some kind of restoration of their relationship or rehabilitation of the offender, the child. It is a tool of control and an instrument of manipulation.
The culprit, the poor offspring, is meant to feel guilty for merely existing and for as long as she or he exists. And this exercise of control helps to sustain the illusion that the child is a part of the narcissist, inseparable.
But maintaining this illusion calls for extraordinary levels of control, micromanagement on the part of the parent, and in parallel, obedience, submissiveness, obsequiousness, succumbing to the parent's narrative on the part of the child.
The relationship is typically symbiotic and emotionally turbulent, dysregulated. The parent induces in the child dysregulation in order to become the child's external regulator.
The child's emotions and moods are labile. They go up and down, and it is the parent who stabilizes the child, provides the child with a false aura or sense of a secure base, becomes the rock in the child's turbulent life.
The child fulfills another important narcissistic function, the provision of narcissistic supply.
There is no denying they imply the imaginary immortality in having a child, and you have a child as if you're going to live forever.
The early natural dependency of the child on his or her caregivers, on the parents, serves to assuage their fear of abandonment and loss.
The narcissist tries to perpetuate this dependence, to carry it forward by not allowing the child to separate and individuate by using the aforementioned control mechanisms.
The child is the ultimate secondary source of narcissistic supply.
The child is always present. The child admires the narcissistic parent. The child witnesses the narcissist's moments of triumph and grandeur and can replay them in times of narcissistic supply deficiency.
So the child is very useful for the regulation of the narcissistic supply, flow of narcissistic supply, and sense of self-worth.
Owing to the child's innate wish to be loved, the child can be manipulated and extorted into a state of constant giving.
As far as a narcissist is concerned, a child is a dream come true, but only in the most egotistical sense.
When the child is perceived as reneging on his main obligation to provide the narcissistic parent with a constant supply of attention, the parent's emotional reaction is harsh and revealing there's no love there. It's clear that the narcissistic parent's so-called love is utterly conditioned on performance and actually represents not love but elation or gratification.
It is when the narcissistic parent is disenchanted with his child that we see the true nature of this pathological relationship. We see the true face of the narcissistic parent.
The child is totally objectified. The narcissist reacts to any bridge in the unwritten and unspoken contract with the child with wells of aggression and aggressive transformations, contempt, rage, emotional and psychological abuse, and even physical violence.
The narcissist as a parent tries to annihilate the real external object which is disobedient. The child out there who keeps negating and conflicting with and contradicting the internal object, the snapshot in the narcissist's mind that represents the child.
And then the narcissist is trying to substitute for the real child with a subservient, edifying and fictitious version. It's as good as killing the child psychologically. It's a form of mental assassination.
I granted an interview to yourtango.com Samantha Cleaver. We spoke about daughters and narcissistic mothers.
There's a private case of narcissistic parenting and she asked what are some common ways that the mother's narcissism can affect her daughter's relationships.
And I told her, depends on how narcissistic the mother is, the outcome is different, could be different.
Narcissistic parents fail to recognize and accept the personal autonomy and boundaries of their offspring. They treat their offspring, their children as instruments of gratification, or as extension of themselves. Their love is conditioned on the performance of their children and on how well these children cater to the needs, wishes and priorities of the parent.
Consequently, I told Samantha, narcissistic parents oscillate between clingy emotional blackmail when they seek the child's attention, adulation and compliance known as narcissistic supply and a kind of steely ice cold devaluation, silent treatment when they wish to punish the child for refusing to toe the line and act the part, follow the script in this state of production.
And such inconstancy and unpredictability, such intermittent reinforcement render the child insecure and codependent.
When in relationships as adults, these children feel that they have to earn, earn, work hard for each and every morsel of love, that they will be instantly and easily abandoned if they underperform, that their primary role is to take care of their spouse, mate, partner or friend, and that they are less important, less endowed, less skilled and less deserving than any significant other in their lives.
These are the outcomes of instrumentalizing, adultifying and parentifying the child.
And so it's a form of insecure attachment style.
The child exposed to narcissistic parenting is trying to compensate future intimate partners by being the exact opposite of the narcissistic parent that he has grown up with.
Some of the top concerns when daughters of narcissistic mothers start relationships, when their relationships move forward and when their relationships end.
And I told her children of narcissistic parents are ill-adapted, their personality is rigid and they are prone to deploy psychological defense mechanisms, primitive and infantile ones, such as splitting or projection or projective identification.
Consequently, when they become adults, when they grow up, they display the same behaviors throughout their relationship from start to finish and irrespective of changing circumstances.
As adults, offspring of narcissists tend to perpetuate a pathological primary relationship with their narcissistic parents.
This is known as repetition compulsion.
This kind of children turned adults depend on other people for their emotional gratification and for the performance of ego or daily functions.
They are needy, demanding and submissive. They fear abandonment, they are clingy and they display immature behaviors in their effort to maintain their relationship with a companion or mate upon whom they depend.
No matter what abuse is inflicted on these children as adults, they remain in the relationship by eagerly becoming victims.
Codependents seek to control the abusers, control from the bottom. And some of these children end up as inverted narcissists.
It's a form of covert narcissists and it's a codependent who depends exclusively on narcissists and narcissists who depend.
If you are living with a narcissist, if you have a relationship with a narcissist, if you're married to a narcissist, if you're working with a narcissist, that does not mean that you're 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 the narcissist.
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 when you're in relationships with any other kind of person except the narcissist.
Only then, and if you satisfy some other criteria of dependent personality disorder, only then can you be safely labeled as an inverted narcissist.
A small minority of children who grow up with narcissistic parents end up being counter-dependent and narcissistic themselves, emulating and imitating 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 of abuse or another.
They have grandiosity, they have a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy and over-winning anxiety. Usually these hide knowing insecurity and a fluctuating sense of self-worth.
They are compensatory.
Now counter-dependence are consummations. They reject and they despise authority. They are fiercely independent. They're controlling, they're self-centered, they're aggressive. They fear intimacy and they're locked into cycles of hesitant approach followed by avoidance of commitment. They're lone wolves, they're bad team players.
Counter-dependency is a reaction formation. The counter-dependent dreads his own weaknesses and he seeks to overcome these self-imputed frailties and vulnerabilities by projecting an image of omnipotence, omniscience, defiance, success, self-sufficiently superiority, unbridled aggression and dangerous personality.
Samatha asks, how do narcissistic mothers interfere or get involved with their daughter's love or dating lives? How does this compare to typical mothers?
That's a very interesting question because of the envy that I mentioned.
The narcissistic mother is a control freak and does not easily relinquish good and reliable sources of narcissistic supply, admiration, adulation, attention of any kind. She doesn't give up. She doesn't take it lying down when someone else enters the family and tries to hijack her daughter or her son.
It is the role of her children to replenish this supply. The children owe it to her and to make sure that the child does not develop boundaries, 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 bribes the child by offering free lodging or financial support or helping with daily tasks.
Another strategy is to emotionally blackmail the child by constantly demanding help and imposing chores, claiming to be ill, disabled, needy. Another way is to threaten the child. As I mentioned, to disinherit the child if she doesn't comply with the parent's wishes, strictures and behavioral rules.
The narcissistic mother also does her best to scare away anyone who may upset this symbiotic relationship or otherwise threaten the delicate unspoken contract between her and her daughter's. She sabotages anybody in relationship. Her child develops with lies, deceit and scorn.
And yes, it equally applies to the sons of narcissistic mothers.
And so the extent of this problem is not small.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, narcissistic personality disorder is diagnosed in between 2 and 16% of the population in clinical settings and between 0.5 and 1% of the general population.
And today, about half of all narcissists are women. And so it's not a small problem.
And children are affected not only by narcissistic fathers, but increasingly so, and increasingly more by narcissistic mothers.
The narcissistic parent takes the child's life away and makes this life his or her own. The child is rendered a zombie. The walking dead.
The narcissistic parent exalts in the child's life, experiences it, enhances it, introduces into it stimuli and adventures and challenges and goals. All the time, all this time, the child is a mere witness as his or her own life unfolds in the hands of the narcissistic parent.
It's a take over, a hostile take over, a vampiric infestation. The child is hijacked, mind and body snatched, and no longer is any separate or external existence.
Gradually, the child wilts and withers and shrivels and at some point fades into oblivion or is transformed into a variant of the parent known as the false self.
A narcissist is born.