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Overprotective Parents And Manipulative Helplessness

Uploaded 12/3/2023, approx. 22 minute read

Do you know the kind of parents who dress up their children in six layers in mid-summer, won't let the child go and play outside with his peers lest he be kidnapped by a pedophile?

Keep warning the child about all kinds of risks and dangers, some of them real, many of them imaginary.

Follow the child everywhere.

Play the child, supervise the child, micromanage the child, constrict the child's life, mummify the child, ossify the child, fossilize the child, freeze the child, etc.

These parents export their own post-traumatic response to the child.

They force the child to freeze later on in life, to flee, and in between, to fall and so on.

So it's a traumatic environment.

Traumatic environment over protectiveness is a way to traumatize the child.

And today we are going to discuss the untoward, the bad consequences which are lifelong as far as the child of overprotective parents goes.

The child has to bear the brunt of the parents' insecurities, anxieties and fears and has to defray the cost of all these throughout his adulthood.

So this is the topic of today's video.


My name is Sam Vaknin, I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited, a former visiting professor of psychology and currently of the faculty of CEAPS.

But before we go there, allow me two, three minutes to correct a misconception online.

The narcissist does not devalue you because you see through him, because you expose him, because you criticize him, because you disagree with him.

And of course, whenever I say him, you feel free to change the gender pronoun psychodynamically, female narcissist and male narcissist indistinguishable.

So this has nothing to do with your behavior.

Evaluation and discard are automatic built-in features of the shared fantasy.

Even if you are 100% docile, 1000% submissive, obedient, never ever confront the narcissist, even remotely in any way, shape or form, directly or indirectly.

You're the narcissist's biggest fan.

You always justify the narcissist. You're overprotective.

I propose the topic of today's video.

Even then, you're going to be devalued and discarded.

So your devaluation and discard has nothing to do with your behavior, your alleged disillusionment or disenchantment, your waking up, your realization who the narcissist is, confrontation with the narcissist, nothing to do with any of this.

Even if you never go through these stages, you will be dumped and replaced, pronto.

So of course, when the narcissist is in the phase of devaluation, when he needs to convert you in his mind from an idealized internal object to a persecretary evil malevolent object, of course then the narcissist latches on to any misbehavior, misconduct on your part, to your misdeeds.

You dared to disagree with him three years ago. You criticized him seven years ago. The way you looked at him was wrong, etc.

He would latch on to any excuse, to any piece of nonsense, real or imagined. He would conjure up all kinds of infractions and transgressions on your part.

So narcissist devaluation and discard you because you're a maternal figure and they need to get back at their mothers to close the accounts, to separate from you as a stand in for the narcissist's original mother and then to become an individual.

Narcissist needs to push you away and in order to push you away, he needs to make you the bad guy.

And this has nothing to do with your awakening or with your behavior or with anything you might or might not do.

Even if you're in coma, permanent coma, in a vegetative state, in a hospital, narcissist is going to devalue and discard you. He's going to say that your coma state is a form of abandonment and you're a really, really bad partner. Got it?

Okay.

We move on.


We move on to today's topic, which is a bit similar and that is overprotective parents.

Overprotective parents do the following.

Number one, they deny the child access to reality. They corset the child. They spoil and pamper the child. They idolize the child. They pedestalize the child and they do all this in order to prevent the child from experiencing friction with reality, unforgiving, merciless reality.

The world out there, the world that makes no concessions, the world that does not regard the child as a gift to humanity, the best thing since sliced bread.

So the world out there is perceived as injurious and punitive and the overprotective parent wants to isolate his or her child from the inevitable pains and hurts and injuries that the child will absolutely guaranteed suffer in his dealings with the world out there and with other people.

Now the thing is that these pains, these hurts, these losses, they're critical to personal growth and development. We evolve mentally and psychologically through suffering and through losses and if we are denied these experiences, we never grow up.

We remain arrested and stunted.

Clinically we remain children or adolescents who have a ternous pitterpans.

The next thing that the overprotective parent does, having denied the child access to reality and having stymied the child's growth and development, he prevents the child from separating and individuating.

Overprotective parents are terrified about the child going his own way and this has nothing to do with the empty nest syndrome. It's not a form of attachment or overattachment or malignant bonding. That's not the case here.

The overprotective parent is really terrified that something bad is going to happen to the child should the child separate and go his own way. It's a form of catastrophizing. The overprotective parent catastrophizes all the time and to fend off against the catastrophe, the overprotective parent becomes obsessivecompulsive.

This kind of parent creates rituals and ceremonies that are partly symbolic and partly practical intended to freeze the child in its tracks before it walks too far, before it vanishes, before it explores the world and experiences everything the world has to offer, good but also bad and sometimes very bad. The overprotective parent in short suffers from an anxiety disorder and imposes this anxiety upon the child, renders the childanxious, infects the child with this anxiety and the child is terrified and wouldn't leave the parent.

There's no separation, individuation.

Consequently, of course, there are no boundaries. The parents disallow emerging boundaries.

Very simply saying, that's where I stop and the world begins. That's where you cease and I start. That's my border. You can't cross it. This is a boundary. Boundaries are the outlining, outlining perimeters, the more rigid the better perimeters of the nascent self, a sense of identity, continuous memories, they all critically depend on the existence of boundaries. Boundaries are also emotionally affected. There's an emotional investment in boundaries.

But if you're not allowed to be in touch with reality, if you are not allowed to grow, if separation and individuation is impermissible and a really, really bad thing to do, you're a bad boy if you do it or a bad girl if you do this, the bad object.

Then of course you cannot form any boundaries because forming boundaries is betraying the parental figures, causing them pain and anxiety, maybe even shame and guilt.

All this complex impairs the child's reality testing.

In the absence of exposure to reality, there is no reality testing. In the absence of interactions with peers, pushback, the pushback of others, there is no reality testing.

When everything is filtered through the membrane of the parental presence, there is no reality testing.

And so these children grow up, become adults, who are very bad at reading other people, deciphering social cues and signals, following scripts and generally handling themselves, managing themselves in ever-changing, ever-shifting kaleidoscopic environmentssocial cues and signals, following scripts and generally handling themselves, managing themselves in ever-changing, ever-shifting kaleidoscopic environments, which is a state of today's world.

And this fosters dependency.

The child realizes his or her own deficiencies.

Having attempted here and there to interact with others, to function socially, the child develops social phobia or social anxiety and withdraws from the world, avoids the world, and develops increased or enhanced dependency, codependency on the parents.

The child also forms a distorted internal working model.

The internal working model is an amalgamation of how we see ourselves in the world, how we regard the world, and how we decode other people's minds.

It includes a theory of mind and a theory of the world.

And so a child who is not exposed to other minds, is not exposed to the world, has no functioning, long-term, stable, core internal working model.

And a major reason is that the parents keep broadcasting and signaling to the child, the world is bad, the world is to be avoided because the world out there is hostile and dangerous.

We are your parents, we are your shield, and you should never get rid of us. And you should never ever attempt to interact with the world on your own because you are not, you're inadequate. You're not qualified, you're not skilled to do so.

You may perish.

And of course, it's very difficult under these conditions to even attempt to develop a perception of the world, a conception of other people, because these are enemies and the only thing to do is to avoid them.


And so another consequence of this is that there is a decoupling, decoupling of actions from consequences.

In the absence of reality testing and contact with the world, the child acts in vacuum.

The child's actions do not lead to any consequences because the parents firewall the consequences.

They prevent the child from experiencing the consequences of his actions.

The child can do no wrong. The child is entitled to special treatment because he's a special child or she's a unique girl.

So the parents teach the child, condition the child and model, provides a model, model, modeling.

They teach the child that actions can have no consequences, that the child can do anything the child wants to himself and to others.

And the child will never be punished, will never pay the price, will never bear the cost because his parents will be there to isolate him, to shield him, to protect him, to mothball him if you want.

So this kind of children grow up and they act in ways which are vile, abhorrent and they don't even realize that what they're doing is utterly socially condemned and unacceptable, not to mention sometimes criminal, because they have never been brought up to associate actions with consequences, including adverse consequences.

And so in many ways, the overprotective parents instrumentalize the child.

They use the child as anxiolytic medication. They medicate with the child. They have anxiety. They suffer from anxiety disorder or even depression. They are dead, dead mother or dead father in Andre Greenstone, not physically dead, but metaphorically dead, emotionally dead, absent in many ways because they're immured and they're immersed in their own mental health problems.

And so they use the child to reduce their anxiety, to mitigate their depression and insecurities to somehow control their internal environment.

So the child becomes an external regulator of the overprotective parent.

Child is objectified and instrumentalized and parentified because the child learns to believe erroneously that he or she is responsible for the well-being and mental health and functioning of the parents, exactly the opposite of what the case should be.

So the child walks on actions. The child constricts his life and his behaviors. Child refrains from exploring and experimenting because it might badly or adversely affect his father or mother.

They may become depressed or anxious or cry or what have you.

In short, the child grows up to be a people-pleasing narcissist, in many cases covert.

And this leads to a very interesting behavior.

Learned helplessness, feigned, fake, dramatic, manipulative helplessness.

These kind of children as adults, they control from the bottom. They leverage their dependency to manipulate the partner.

When I say partner, by the way, it could be a good friend, it could be a romantic partner, it could be their own children, it could be neighbors, it could be colleagues, it could be the authorities, it could be a collective.

These kind of people, having learned to depend for vital life functions on their parents, carry the tradition forward. Fake helplessness, but I mean total helplessness.

I won't survive without you. I can't function without you. My moods cycle without you. You are responsible for stabilizing my moodlability, you're responsible for regulating my emotions, you're responsible for regulating me externally.

This is very manipulative. It's also fake because actually nothing would happen if the partner were to vanish.

Abandonment looms large in the minds of these children turned adults, but in effect, they are very, in many ways, they're very exploitative.

And even I would say antisocial, psychopathic.

So there's a lot of drama in the helplessness. It is expressed visually, it's expressed ostentatiously and conspicuously. It's discernible, it's in the air, but also in specific behaviors and speech acts.

The helplessness is not just assumed, it is consumed and it is communicated.

And so this is known as control from the bottom, leveraging dependency as a state of mind to manipulate, AKA some forms of covert narcissism.


And what is the partner expected to do?

What is he expected to do?

He is expected to recreate the overprotective parental role, exactly like in every shared fantasy, every narcissistic shared fantasy, the partner has to become a parent, usually a mother.

So he's expected to recreate the parental role, which in this case has been overprotective, isolating from reality.

Parental role, which created a shared fantasy with a child.

Overprotective is a form of shared fantasy. The parent created a fantasy with a child, a bubble, a bubble divorced from reality where the child could attain perfection. The child could be godlike, dependent on the child's performance, he could even be loved.

So this kind of children as adults expect conditional behavior, a conditional love, I'm sorry.

Anyhow, the partner is expected to reenact the maternal or paternal role.

And that means the partner is expected to firewall reality, to isolate his partner from reality.

Let's call them the dependent partner and the primary partner.

So the primary partner is expected to isolate the dependent partner from reality. He's supposed to protect the dependent partner from the slings and arrows of a cruel fate. He's supposed to create an environment which is largely fictitious, a narrative which is in essence fantastic, in which everything is pink, everything is glowing, everything is optimistic, everything has a happy ending.

The beginning of Hollywood, 1950s Hollywood movie, 1940s Hollywood movie. So it's a movie setting and this is the main role of the partner.

And within this fantasy, shared fantasy, the primary partner is expected to prevent, listen well, prevent the dependent partner from growing up.

In the mind of the dependent partner, love is associated with performance and growing up is associated with danger, with risk, with pain, with hurt, with loss.

So the primary partner has to infantilize the dependent partner, has to keep her in a regressed infantile form, has to provide a womb matrix within which the dependent partner can flourish, nourished, corseted, isolated, protected behind the walls afforded by the primary partner.

And this of course prevents a reenactment of separation individuation, separation individuation failed with the original parents.

But it stands a chance in a shared fantasy.

Yet in this kind of shared fantasy, when the dependent partner has been brought up by overprotective parents, separation individuation is not even on the table.

There's no attempt to separate individually, there's no devaluation, there's no discard.

It's a bizarre form, a mutant form of narcissistic shared fantasy, which never reaches its conclusion.

On the very contrary, there's a lot of clinging, a lot of neediness.

The dependent partner is all over the primary partner, suffocating him in a way, preventing him from having an independent existence.

Agencies, self-efficacy, interactions with other people, a social circle. She isolates the primary partner and then keeps him to herself.

And again, all gender pronouns are interchangeable. Remember?

Of course, if you as a primary partner, your job is to protect your dependent partner, to prevent her from growing, to prevent her from separating from you, becoming an individual because she doesn't want to, she's terrified of the prospect.

If you're there as a parent, a parent figure, you don't allow her to establish boundaries.

So these relationships are highly unboundaried. There are no rules of the game. Everything is up for grabs.

The most egregious transgressions and misbehavior are tolerated, accepted, emulated sometimes, and definitely reframed.

He beats me up because he loves me and he's jealous, for example. So there are no boundaries. And of course, there's no reality testing. The dependent partner's reality testing is mediated via the primary partner.

When she wants to learn something about reality without the risk attendant on experiencing it firsthand, she doesn't want to experience anything firsthand. She just wants to know about it, to learn about it, a little like watching war on television, a conflict on the news.

So when she wants to get in touch or to learn something, to edify herself, to educate herself about reality, she reaches out to the primary partner who interfaces with reality on her behalf.

It is a primary partner who is exposed to the risks and dangers and hostility and implacability of the external worldwhile the dependent partner benefits from his experience and from his resilience and from his impermeability and invulnerability. He is invincible, he is godlike, and she is in his shadow.

Her reality testing is vicarious by proxy, by his proxy.

The dependency is almost total and it has a tendency to escalate and grow all the time. If the primary partner permits it, ultimately, all the ego functions of the dependent partner plus all the life functions of the dependent partner are transferred to the primary partner, with the exception of eating and doing a few unmentionable things in the toilet.

Even eating is relegated to the primary partner. He decides when, he decides what, he decides where.

Solution making and choice and selection are all outsourced to the primary partner and the dependent partner is evacuated.

She develops emptiness and empty core.

Consequently, she is unable to truly, genuinely, authentically, correctly grasp the world or other people. Her internal working model is distorted by the fact that it is filtered through another person's mind, another person's prejudices, another person's autobiography, another person's experiences.

If you learn about the world through someone else, you're never going to be yourself. You're going to be an extension of that someone else, a reflection of that someone else, but never you.

So, this kind of dependent partner never becomes. There's no process of becoming.

Now, the primary partner in his parental role in this kind of malignant, mutated, thwarted relationships, the primary partner also perpetuates the decoupling of actions from consequences.

For example, he can be very forgiving. Whenever the dependent partner misbehaves, even egregiously, cheats on him, infidelity.

Even then, the primary partner is magnanimous, patient, parent-like, forgiving, accepting, embracing, provides absolution and restitution and reconstruction of the relationship.

Primary partner is very concerned to disconnect, to detach, and to divorce actions from consequences because he also misbehaves. There's misbehavior on the part of the primary partner.

To collude in all this, to kill the dependent partner mentally and psychologically, it's an assassination. And the primary partner is an accomplice in this.

So, he needs to be forgiven as well. His misdeeds need to be overlooked. He seeks indulgence as an absolution, as much as the dependent partner.

There is a conspiracy, unspoken conspiracy, of I will forgive you and you will forgive me. And both of us will regress into a baby-like state where we can do no wrong, we are entitled, and we are always forgiven because we are babies. We don't know what we are doing. We are not responsible yet for our actions.

This baby-fication of the relationship leads to amazing behaviors, even the tone of voice changes, the body posture. People regress not only mentally and psychologically, but very often physically.

And both the dependent partner and the primary partner instrumentalize each other. The dependent partner uses the primary partner to somehow control her anxiety, to reduce it, to mitigate it, to ameliorate it, to reframe it, to experience it without any major psychological consequences. So, she instrumentalizes the partner to provide external regulation and anxiolytic functions.

Partner mitigates her insecurities. And if she's borderline, her twin anxieties, the engagement and the abandonment anxiety. Partner is there to medicate her. He is her medicine chest.

This is one form of instrumentalization. Same goes for the primary partner.

The primary partner instrumentalizes the dependent partner by rendering her childlike and dependent on him. He wants her to be needy because that assuages, that reduces his abandonment anxiety.

They're both terrified of loss. The primary partner in such relationships is also mentally unwell. They both parentify each other. They become responsible for each other's moods, emotions, cognitions, well-being, happiness, and so on. They make each other responsible.

And so, the dependent partner would be aggressive and furious and vindictive or passive aggressive if the primary partner fails in his parental roles. And similarly, the primary partner might just walk away. Or even if he's a narcissist, devalue and discard the dependent partner. If she fails to parentify, if she fails to act as his substitute or surrogate mother figure, maternal figure, it's a very sick dynamic, as you can see.

And it all starts with overprotective parents. Parents who are so terrified of life, so horrified by the world out there, and above all, so insecure of their own selves, or maybe devoid of self.

They try to use the child as a solution, a medication, an amelioration, a tactic, a technique, a therapy. They instrumentalize and objectify and parentify the child. They don't let the child become, they don't let the child evolve, they don't let the child experience anything. They don't let the child grow up, become an adult, functioning, loving, boundaried, self-aware and self-cognizant, and above all, self-efficacious, because the overprotective parent wants the child to remain an invalid, dependent on him, on the parent.

These parents don't want their children to grow up and walk away, to flourish and blossom and thrive in environments devoid of the parental presence. They want the child, and this is in a way kind of Minhauen syndrome, where the parent renders the child mentally ill in order to remain forever a crucial critical presence in the child's life, the only cure to the child's constant mental health deterioration.

These are cruel parents. These are obnoxious and vile parents, horrible parents, parents who inflict on the child the torture of never becoming, never self-actualizing, never realizing the child's potentials, never ever experiencing love, never maintaining a relationship of intimacy and equality, never facing the challenges of life, never growing up into reality, never experiencing the losses that spur us forward, make us better.

This kind of child remains a fetus, an embryo, never born.

Thank you.

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