It is difficult to deal with a narcissist when you are a grown, independent, fully functioning adult. The children of narcissists have an especially difficult burden, for they lack the knowledge, power, and resources to deal with their narcissistic parents without becoming their victims. Whether cast into the role of Scapegoat or Golden Child, the Narcissist's Child never truly receives that to which all children are entitled: a parent's unconditional love. Start by reading the 46 memories--it all began there.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Narcissists are Delusional

From: House of mirrors

Let’s take a look at why malignant narcissists not only don't change but become worse. Keep in mind, they have mastered a lifetime of this twisted way of being in the world, and are always pushing their warped behavior to the limits.

Narcissists are delusional. They refuse to confront reality. Like a child, they use illusions and distortions to maintain their fantasy about themselves and the world around them. And everyone is expected to play along. If you refuse to play your role in the narcissist's fantasy production then the narcissist child screams, cries, and stomps her feet declaring that something is wrong with you.

Narcissists are not delusional in the sense that they see little green men or hear disembodied voices telling them to kill the local sports team or have worms living under their skin. They aren’t schizophrenic or hallucinating. No, narcissists simply don’t deal in the truth. They have fantasy perceptions of themselves and the world around them (and the people in it) that they convince themselves are real. Rather like a child, they live in a pretend world. And like a child with an invisible friend, it is very, very real to them.

Narcissists are very good at projection. They are good at rewriting history to suit their ends. They are masters of taking a grain or two of truth and cooking up a huge messy pot of lies. And they are positively brilliant at making themselves believe it all, even to the point of trying to destroy those who would drag them kicking and screaming into reality.

James (my N-ex) was brilliant at projecting. I used to walk around the house feeling like I didn’t really exist, that when he looked at me he saw someone entirely different, someone I didn’t recognize, but someone he did. One day we were going to take the kids up over one of the local mountains to a valley park that had picnic tables, a small lake and riding stables. Since my car was too small, we were going to take his.

Because he was too busy with TV and some financial program he was watching, we were running late. If James had been obsessed with these financial programs and magazines as a way to grow some investments and wealth, that would be one thing, but James was focussed on “one big score,” to use his phrase. It would be too mundane, too ignominious of him to simply earn and wisely invest to make money. No, he had to find an edge, an angle, a way to make others gasp in awe at his brilliance in coming up with a viable get-rich quick scheme…that, or he had to find a way to do it illegally and not get caught so he could gloat over it. Knowing this about James, I had little patience with him sacrificing time with the kids for yet another foray into the fantasy of being a sudden zillionaire.

The plan had been for me to get the kids ready while he took the car out and filled the gas tank and, because the car had a slow leak, top up the radiator. He was then to stop by a sandwich shop and pick up our order. Meanwhile, I would be getting ready and gathering up the rest of the stuff we would need like blankets, hats, sunscreen, drinks, etc. He groused and mumbled when I insisted he turn off the TV and get going because we were almost ready. He left and came back in amazingly quick time.

With the kids in the back seat and the picnic in the trunk, we headed up the mountain. But only a third of the way up the car started to misbehave. It was making rattling sounds in the engine and losing speed. But James kept driving. After it became obvious that the car was definitely in trouble and I yelled at him to pull over, James gave me a sidelong glance and his mouth formed into a sly smirk and he did. I slid into the driver’s seat, only to see that the temperature gauge was pegged to one side—the car was grossly overheated!

When I asked him if he had put water into the radiator, he said he had not. When I asked him why, he said he had not had time, and since I was in such an all-fired hurry, he gave me what I wanted. When I asked if he realized that running the car dry could seize up the engine, he gave me a contemptuous look and said “of course.” I was so flabbergasted, I couldn’t speak.

My oldest son and I saved the day by getting water from a helpful nearby farmer and filling the radiator before we resume the chug up the mountain. Despite James’ effort to derail the day, the kids had a good time and we made it home safely. But I was still angry with James and still baffled as to what he was thinking when he decided to strand us on a mountainside with a car he had deliberately caused to malfunction. I got answers, but it was the shock of my life!

Once the kids were in bed I asked him what was going on with him that afternoon. He professed to not know what I was talking about. So I asked him point-blank why he had not put water in the car.

“To teach you a lesson,” he said with a completely straight face.

“Huh?” I asked. “What do you mean?”

What came out of his mouth next made the hair on my neck stand on end, it was so creepy. While he had been gone getting the gas and the sandwiches, he had had an entire conversation with me in his head! It was of the “if I said this, then you would say that, and then I would say this and you would reply that” variety, and I listened slack-jawed as he recounted his fantasy conversation. And it made him very, very angry with me!

“Who were you really talking to, James?” I finally asked him. “I would never say those kinds of things—that’s nothing like me. I actually asked you to get water in the car, so why would I get angry with you for taking the time to do that?”

“Well, that is what my mother would do to my father…” I didn’t hear the rest of his sentence—I didn’t need to. The alarm bells were going off in my head, epiphanies were falling like dominoes behind my eyes, realization was creeping over me like a cold chill. I was no more to him than a blank screen upon which he projected his mother. Every word I had spoken, every opinion or belief or value I had voiced in the previous six years were never heard by him, never taken on board because they were drowned out by his projection of his mother onto me. I did not exist!! He knew nothing about me or who I was or how I felt or what I believed because none of that could pierce that projection of his mother. We were together for another seven years and he never did find out who I really was.

My mother had her own kind of delusions. She was the neighbourhood paragon (pretty ironic, considering we had to leave our small town in Oregon under the cloud of scandal she had created!). Judgmental to the nth degree, mother took it upon herself to save the neighbourhood from the woman next door, Mrs. McKenzie. The war she waged on that poor woman was awful! Narcissists think that they way they think is the way we all should think, that their likes, dislikes, beliefs and values should be shared by ALL of us. But most of all, they think they are the centre of the universe and any attention given to others is attention taken away from them.

At the time we moved into our house (I was in the first grade), Mrs. McKenzie was the object of neighbourhood sympathy. A war widow with two young girls to raise, she worked nights as a registered nurse to support them. The girls were a couple of years older than I was and, like their mother, tall and rail thin. People on the block felt sorry for Mrs. McKenzie and, because she had no husband to do the work (and precious little income), her house was a little shabby and the front garden rather unkempt.

My mother, however, did not share the neighbourhood sympathy and went out of her way to blacken the woman’s reputation, spying on her and making up the most outrageous lies and spreading them up and down the street. By the time she was done, Mrs. McKenzie sold her house and moved away and my mother was basking in the glow of having saved our neighbourhood from what she had eventually convinced herself was a terrible danger.

In later years she convinced herself that my children would be better off in the custody of her brother, despite the fact that he and his wife had failed their state’s home study for adoption on three separate occasions. That I had a welfare worker investigate my home and write a letter for the court that my home was fit and so was I, NM convinced herself she was “rescuing” my children from me. She went to her grave believing herself a “hero” and the champion of those poor kids, even though the reality was her entire family stopped talking to her and the damage she did to those kids continues on to the present day, fourteen years after her death.

Narcissists do not see anything they do not want to see and when they can’t find what they want to see, they make it up. This can make the people around them crazy. Because they can be charming and glib, narcissists often bring a lot of people to their point of view, even professionals like therapists, social workers, judges, law enforcement. In the hearings I had in juvenile court, we drew a judge who could see right through her…and she knew it. The judge told me to return to court in three weeks with a letter from my local social services agency, attesting to my fitness, and custody would be settled in my favour…he had NM sussed out! So what did she do? She filed an emergency petition for guardianship in another (higher ranking) court before the juvenile court hearing was scheduled, and drew a judge who was taken in by her false sincerity and the perjured testimony of my uncle. (This uncle, BTW, apologized to me years later with the truth finally came out.) When she could not persuade the juvenile court judge to take up her delusions, when the judge required more than unsubstantiated accusations and asked for proof from a trusted source, NM knew she had to change the venue and find someone to corroborate her accusations (among others, that I was a drug addicted prostitute). By the time it was all over, eight years later and I had regained custody of my children, NM believed her own lies and, despite most of the family finally embracing the truth, my daughter continues to believe them. “Why would a mother lie about her own daughter?” she once asked me. Indeed…when that mother is a narcissist, she will lie about anything and anybody—and believe those lies—in order to get what she wants.

This propensity for creating and believing their own reality can make the people around them crazy. It alters the perception of reality and sucks people into things they might never have otherwise entertained. When practiced on children, it can interfere with their ability to trust, to apply critical thinking, to make good decisions. When a child’s life is based on and guided by lies, that child grows up unable to tell lies from truth and their ability to function is compromised.

Narcissists have no peers. In their delusional world, no one is equal to them. The world is made of entirely of inferiors (most of us) and superiors (those whom they aspire to be like). Narcissists, for all they are full of themselves, do have people they admire. James once had a boss he admired so much he dressed like him and angled for assignments that allowed him to travel internationally, like his boss did. Unfortunately (for James), none of his get rich schemes came to fruition so he was unable to be as rich as his boss and therefore was never able to relegate him to “inferior” status.

Narcissists truly believe they are above the law…and that they are so clever that they can fool the police and therefore are not in danger of getting caught. In the months leading up to our separation and divorce, James began leaving things around that were highly incriminating…but proved he truly believed that even his most outrageous scheme was “doable,” meaning he could get away with it. I seldom entered his home office—he was an egregious slob—but went in one morning to vacuum. Collecting dirty coffee cups and glasses from the desk, my eyes feel on some drawings and notes left on the desktop in his precise, draftsman-like hand printing. Basically, he was drawing up plans to turn our huge family room (larger than a two-car garage) into a marijuana farm and to use the neighbourhood teen agers as his sales agents! Conspicuous by its absence was any mention of me, causing me to wonder what his plans were: either he was planning to get rid of me or his delusion of wealth via drugs included me going along with the scheme.

James loved porn and simply refused to acknowledge that not everybody else did. It was his firm belief that everybody liked porn, he was just one of the morally superior who admitted it. We had dinner guests one night and he ended the evening by putting on an XXX rated video for the guests, one of whom was a female co-worker, to watch! They excused themselves early and never accepted another invitation to get together, and he couldn’t seem to understand why. When I told him they were probably offended by the porn video, he didn’t believe me, and if they left because of it, it was because they were hypocrites.

The ways in which a narcissist can delude him/herself are limitless. Because they live inside their delusions—these delusions are their “reality,”—any attempt to deal with them on a rational basis is futile. The delusions narcissists engage in are not harmless fantasies but dangerous to those around them, because trying to reason with a narcissist is like stepping through the Looking Glass—remember, Alice was the only rational one in there.


  1. Your explanations are spot on with the narcissist, This personality disorder is toxic to family members and sucks the life out of people. I pray for those who have this disorder.

    1. I am not a praying woman but if I were, I would be inclined to pray for those who are the victims of those who gave this disorder. My NM would laugh herself stupid if someone prayed for her...just before she gave flayed them alive with her sharp, pointed tongue!

      But you are right--they are toxic and they suck the life out of those around them.

    2. Violet: Reading your blog has changed me life for the better. I didn't know what I was living all of the misery and pain; but you have helped me get the answer that I despertly needed. Yes,compassion, sympathy (not prayers) for the destroyed, devastated child/children not the NM.

  2. What amazes me is how many people believe their delusions! People who you think are close to you and would never even consider believing her lies. What a relief to me when just a few months ago I found out what N is. I couldn't believe that all these years I wasn't mad! That I hadn't made up stories she said weren't true! It gives you a whole different perspective when you finally find out what they have been doing to you your whole life then suddenly their 'games' seem so predictable. Just a pity your brainwashed emotions can't seem to catch on as quickly as your mind!

    1. It's true your emotions take a while to catch up to the brain, but once they out! The most common response I have seen in people when they reach that stage is anger: "How DARE she do that to me??" kind of anger. After the anger is often hurt: "How could she do that to me, her own child?" In fact, figuring out and processing the fact that your mother is a narcissist is a lot like Kubler-Ross's five stages of grief.

      The good news is you can process it and come out whole and strong on the other side. A good therapist who has experience in helping adults who were abused as children can be invaluable in sorting your way through it all, but once you are awake to what is going on, unless you are a master at fooling yourself (as Ns are) you can never "unknow" what your mother is and what it all means.

      Congratulations on your awareness and best of luck on your journey!



    2. Anonymous, sadly you are SO RIGHT when you mentioned "brainwashed emotions." The NM mother is an expert at programming her children to see and think of the world the same sick, twisted way she does. To become aware that your life has been based on lies is devastating on a nuclear level. To go through the process of learning who you really are is . . . literally, life changing. I'm 46, the youngest of three, and grew up as the scapegoat. I was "rescued" 3 years ago by a friend who saw what my mom was doing. My sister, the "golden child" still believes the lies, and her husband is a solid supporter of my mom. With many prayers, and the help of Divine intervention, I hopefully will be successful in finding a way to connect with my sister, as my mom has been happily feeding the lifelong conflict SHE started between my sister and I.

    3. Unfortunately, there is a high probability that your sister is just as narcissistic as your mother...Golden Children seldom outgrow the natural narcissism of early childhood because their narcissistic mothers stunt their emotional growth and keep them at that developmental stage.

      You might want to reconsider your goal of connecting with your sister and, instead, focus on healing yourself. Once that healing is well in hand, THEN is the time to try to access your sister because then you will be aware enough to tell if she is hopelessly N or not, and emotionally strong enough to take it if you find out she is just a clone of your NM.

      Best of luck to you,



  3. So much information and sweet relief, Sweet Violet. Thank you for your blog. I'm 52 and can hardly believe the mystery is beginning to unravel. I have been the scapegoat in my very large family. As the youngest of six girls, I was also the golden child, I believe. We were spread out in age, so my sister and I didn't grow up with the four eldest. Hence, as the baby, I simultaneously was catered to and became my mother's confident, as well, her best friend, yet set aside to fend for myself as she went through menopause. Unbeknownst to me, she announced my every movement to my older sisters and their families -- well, I thought she was bragging. They in turn, despised me, and when they visited, it showed, with dangerous passive aggression. On two occassions, I've been taken on cross-country trips with more than one sister, only to be "forgotten" roadside when we made a stop somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Each time, I waited more than eight hours to be found by my parents. In the last week, I read that there are two characteristics of a person who is delegated to be the scapegoat in a family system. She or he is always the strongest and the most loving. This makes me feel better.

    So many stories. So many painful situations in my life I have not understood. Of course, I've also lived a wonderful life for years when I have not been around my family. I'm choosing to go No Contact just as soon as my divorce is over. Meanwhile, I'll have as little contact as possible, and your blog is so helpful in solving the mystery. I'm in both group and individual therapy now (just starting) to learn what my role is and how to stop playing the scapegoat in relationships. I know that I cannot change the behavior of others, only my one. I will not allow these people to take me down. There are great people out there. The only time in my life in which I have thought that perhaps being alive isn't all it's cracked up to be and I've wanted to give up (although I wasn't suicidal, I wouldn't say) has been being involved with my MN husband. Although I want to be alive for my own self, I also know perhaps I can help someone else. Like you are doing for me and so many. Thank you so much.

    1. Therapy is the single most important tool you can employ in your quest to put the puzzle all together. Yes, we can do a lot of it on our own, but the pain of our discoveries often holds us back. In a therapeutic situation you have support for probing those painful things, reassurances that you will not drown in the pain or die from it. There were many times in my therapy that I was not entirely certain I would survive the pain of some of my can anyone hurt so much and still live and breathe? And yet you can...I did...and it was with the help of my therapist and my group that I was able to get through it.

      Best of luck to you. It is never too late to take steps to make our lives improves not only your life now, but your future as well. Helping others is a noble goal, but you must not let that distract you from first helping yourself. First things first...I was in therapy from 1985 to 1990 and carried out of it the tools to continue helping myself. It was not until two years ago that I went public with my blog (the 46 Memories)...the blog was written originally as a catharsis--for me--and it was not until several years later that I realized it could be helpful for others and went public with it.

      Through helping myself I found a way to help others. I wish that for you.



    2. Being a scapegoat and golden child must be infuriating and very painful.

    3. Being a scapegoat is very painful...I am not so sure about the Golden Child, however. Children are naturally narcissistic and being treated as the Golden Child plays into the natural narcissism and often fixes it so that the child never grows out of it. I have met very few GCs who were not arrogant and entitled, very few who had any compassion or empathy for their scapegoat sibling or anyone else, for that matter.

      Certainly the GC suffers, but not in a way that the GC recognizes. S/he suffers from stunted emotional growth, lack of empathy, arrogance and a false sense of entitlement but they feel no pain or angst over least not consciously. My late husband's brother was an N par excellance...and he was a swaggering, arrogant, rude boor who drank himself into a stupor every family dinner--but only on the best California reds, of course. If you asked him, he was suffering only from having to associate with complete fools, like his brother--he was clueless about anything further or deeper than that.

      Being a scapegoat is infuriating only if you haven't been so beaten down that all you feel is hurt. People can reach a point where the pain just overwhelms any sense of indignity or anger and then depression sets in...then you just drown in pain until someone throws you a lifeline or you expire from it. The self-preserving nature of indignance and anger have been stomped out and you just exist. I can remember laying on my bed staring at the ceiling, willing myself to just stop breathing.

      Golden Children are just as abused as scapegoats, but in a completely different way. And they are probably less likely to recover than scapegoats because their don't even know something is wrong.

  4. Same thing happened in my marriage with the porn video scenario. It was pretty embarrassing.

  5. Recovering Golden Child here. Despite a childhood of N programming and being forced to live as an extension someone else's ego, some GC are not psychologically inclined to adopt N behavious as a permanent lifestyle. The GC is robbed of all personal identity, and they may live their entire lives as slaves to the absurd standards of the Nparent, but they don't all turn out to be narcs in the end. Introspective thought is not a skill narcs are known for, but Golden Children who posess this trait can break free. In contrast, the Scapegoat in my family has no introspective tendencies, and is still completely in the fog.

    1. True effects of living with a "real" narcissist are very painful and generally very obvious to others before to the person effected.

      The real narcissist is often the one accusing someone else of being such. Narcissistic tendencies are in everyone a bit, but being labeled with a NP or NPD should only come from a professional.

      It has been a destroying and sad epidemic that young adult children are accusing parents of being abusive and narcissistic when, in most cases, it is the adult/children who have become narcissistic and have failed to grow up and take responsibility for their own life. There is a proven epidemic of entitlement, lack of work ethic and respect in general from young adults.

      Is this the parents fault? Maybe. Too much was offered to and provided for the young adult children of this day. Parents thought by giving their child more than what they had, it would offer them more opportunity and personal comfort. In reality, it created monsters and the parents of these children are unfortunate targets.

      Mature ways to deal with issues in anyone's family is to sit and discuss, without making accusatory statements. It is apparent that many people and their intentions are often misunderstood and just need clarity. "Family" is already challenged in this day and age, be patient, love one another, be kind, open your hearts to understanding as opposed to blaming and accusing. I can say that NO PARENT ever wishes to have a severed relationship with their child. Sadly, some adult children close the door and go no contact, but that will only darken their soul more. If the parent wishes to make amends of any type, the child should open their heart and seek the resolve. Human beings need resolve to live and grow in a healthy fashion.

      May peace be with us all.

    2. I am publishing your comment as a learning tool for readers.

      You obviously know NOTHING about being the child of a narcissist because if you did, you would never suggest "sit and discuss" because you would know that this is impossible with a narcissistic parent.

      I suspect from the tone of your message that you have estranged adult children, at least one of whom has suggested to you that you might be a narcissist. And, I further suspect that, rather that take that on board, visit a therapist for diagnosis, and embark upon a plan of therapy to manage it, you have--in true narcissist fashion--decided to blame those children (and their whole generation) for being entitled. You are just a poor, misunderstood loving parent...innocent of any wrong doing except maybe loving them too much and spoiling them.

      I have known many adult children who have gone No Contact and, rather than darkening their souls, the bloom light flowers brought out of a dark place and into the light. Absent the stultifying blame and guilt heaped upon them by their controlling, self-centred parents, these survivors grow and gather joy into their lives.

      You do not have the right to speak for all parents (because some DO wish a severed relationship) nor do you have the right to dictate what an adult child of people you have never met should do. You write as if you were the ultimate authority on parenting and the entire population of the planet should do as you dictate.

      Well, guess what? You completely lack empathy for the victims of these monstrous parents. Without a shred of a clue as to what these victims have suffered, you counsel they should open their hearts and seek resolve-- do you say that to a young woman who was raped by her own father and her mother, who knew, ignored it? Do you say that to a young mother whose own mother created such a fabric of lies inside and outside of the family that her children were taken from her? Do you say that to a middle-aged woman who suffers daily from chronic pain caused by deliberate medical neglect in her childhood?

      Some parents are monsters--some of them are blatant and overtly abuse their children. Others are covert and manipulate and control and guilt their kids. But in either case, children are not allowed to mature and individuate and become their independent, autonomous own persons without a fight.

      Your comment is not about love, it is about control. It is about a parent who is no longer in control of her adult children, despite her best efforts to keep that control, and is now name-calling those kids who had the backbone to stand up to her and say "ENOUGH!"

      I would like to congratulate your adult children for cutting the cord and invite them to the Facebook group. You--if you wish to have any hope in hell of ever having a relationship with your NC child(ren) I suggest you get yourself to a therapist, genuinely participate in the therapy, and get over yourself.

    3. Thank you for that awesome true response.

  6. I lived with narcissistic parents, and my mom died a horrible death in the hospital. I'm a former golden child who decided to move out of her roof because they were already involving my then-fiancé's family. My mom died of ovarian cancer last month in the hospital. She experienced her own mortality to the very last minute of her life. Up to now I'm still very confused as to what kind of person my mom really was. She had a heart for those in need, but I myself can confirm that she is a narcissist. Judging by what I've read about narcissists, there is definitely no doubt that she is. I'm at a loss right now. I'm somewhat devastated by her untimely passing. I don't know how to feel right now. Should I be relieved? Should I grieve as much as I am right now? I was her favorite subject in the world. She gave me luxury back when we could afford it. She provided for me and my sister. She's an influential and wealthy type, by the way. I just wish I could have some sort of closure with her passing away. She has a lot of flying monkeys, most of whom are still around. I think she had a fucked up childhood, and that's where I attribute as the source of her disorder. I need some counseling. Badly. Please. Anyone.

    1. Golden Child, I know this is a little late, but having come to the conclusion that my MIL is a narcissist, I can empathize with your situation. Just to be clear, had you cut off or minimized contact with your mother? It is natural to grieve the loss of someone you love no matter how much pain they may have caused in your life. If you feel like crying then cry because it shows you are human and you can still feel for someone else no matter how they have treated you. I don't believe anyone that had to separate from a NP stopped loving their parent. They just had to do what was best for themselves for the sake of their own sanity as well as their families if they had started one of their own. I'm sure your confusion may have stemmed from your mother having a heart for those in need. But true to form she had a heart to suit her own needs. I'm going through a similar situation as I type and the N is my family seems like she has the biggest heart possible but we have since learned she does nothing unless she has something to gain. Whether it be appearance purposes or otherwise. I wish you well in your healing process and please don't feel guilty for things beyond your control. I'm no licensed therapist but it sounds like the closure you are looking for and need are two different things. I think you needed your mom to tell or reassure you of some things in your life as a child and an adult. She is no longer here and if she were, because N are never wrong, you very well may not have heard or gotten what you were seeking anyway. You are wounded just like the rest of us and spouses are also affected not just the ACoN. Please update on how you are doing as of today. I would love hear.

  7. I wonder if the author realizes that she, as well as her ex (albeit in different ways and on different levels), is a narcissist. It frightens me to think that she might not.

    1. Are you referring to the author of the blog post or to someone else who wrote a comment here?


I don't publish rudeness, so please keep your comments respectful, not only to me, but to those who comment as well. We are not all at the same point in our recovery.

Not clear on what constitutes "rudeness"? You can read this blog post for clarification: