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.

Monday, August 13, 2012

She is insanely defensive: Characteristics of Narcissistic Mothers Pt 13

 The black text is a shortened version of an original work by Chris, The Harpy’s Child. Original at  Copyright 2007, all rights reserved

[There are two basic types of narcissistic mothers, the ignoring type and the engulfing type. These may—and often do—overlap but most NMs have a basic style and will be primarily one or the other. Some of the following points may not apply to your NM simply because they describe an engulfing characteristic when your NM is an ignoring type—or vice versa. But our mothers are not the only narcissists we will encounter in our lives. In fact, being raised by a narcissistic parent actually sets us up to be prey for more of the self-centred emotional vampires as we go out into the world, from girlfriends who are anything but friends to lovers who love themselves best to husbands who are the mirror image of dear old mom. So, whether something looks like it applies to your NM or not, read and consider it carefully—it may give you the awareness necessary to avoid the predator lurking around the next bend. As ever, my comments are shown in violet. -V]

It's about secret things. The Destructive Narcissistic Parent creates a child that only exists to be an extension of her self. It's about body language. It's about disapproving glances. It's about vocal tone. It's very intimate. And it's very powerful. It's part of who the child is. ~ Chris

She is insanely defensive and is extremely sensitive to any criticism.

Narcissists must always be right…their sense of self depends on it. Many narcissists I have known tend toward “black and white” thinking, so if they are to acknowledge they are wrong on anything, then they must be wrong on everything. So, any kind of criticism must be vigorously defended because their entire being feels at risk. They don’t conceptualize that being wrong on “something” doesn’t mean they are wrong on “everything.”

I suspect this comes from a deep inner knowledge that the person they project to others is not their authentic self, and so their lives are a house of cards and that the smallest jostle can tumble it down, revealing the real person they try so hard to keep hidden. If they weren’t so destructive to others, one could almost feel sorry for them. But, despite their inner damage, narcissists have a choice and that they choose to hurt others to salve their own wounds makes them rather like psychic cannibals and beyond the pale of compassion.

I ordinarily advocate giving people the benefit of the doubt and to act with compassion and empathy towards others. In dealing with narcissists, however, I withdraw that advice. Narcissists are the people who see your compassion as weakness and your empathy as condescension. It provokes them to defensiveness (which is sometimes embodied in offensive or aggressive tactics); in your compassion they feel you pity them, in your empathy they feel you mocking them because, lacking compassion and empathy themselves, pity and mockery are all they have and so they assume the same of you. Pitiful people are, in their world, to be exploited and weak people to be mocked: their interpretation of your compassion and empathy is that you see them as pitiful, weak individuals to be mocked and exploited, just as they would see you, and so they become defensive.

Criticism is viewed much the same way: in order to be legitimately criticized you must be wrong; narcissists cannot be wrong, therefore they cannot be legitimately criticized—which therefore means if you criticized the narcissist, you are wrong. Only weak people are wrong, so if you are wrong, you are weak and therefore vulnerable to attack. And nothing shores up a narcissist’s sense of self like beating someone else at something, even if it is a 6 year old playing Monopoly for the first time or a well-meaning person who made what he thought was a helpful observation and was verbally excoriated for his trouble.

The bottom line is, narcissists cannot be wrong and if you try to show one s/he is, you open yourself to a battle they cannot allow you to win…their very lives depend on it.

If you criticize her or defy her she will explode with fury, threaten, storm, rage, destroy and may become violent, beating, confining, putting her child outdoors in bad weather or otherwise engaging in classic physical abuse.

There are self-appointed “experts” on the web who maintain that true Ns never engage in physical abuse of their children; they claim that if a parent engages in physical abuse, s/he is not a narcissist but suffers from some other problem, like Anti-social Personality Disorder.

Don’t you believe a word of it. Narcissism seldom occurs in a vacuum and it is most likely that your NM’s disorder is what the shrinks call “co-morbid” with another disorder including the Anti-social Personality Disorder noted above. In other words, while your NM may be largely narcissistic, she can also be a little bit BPD (borderline), a little bit HPD (histrionic), and/or a little AsPD (Antisocial). There is nothing in the psychiatrist’s Big Book of Personality Disorders that says a person cannot have more than one personality disorder at a time so, if your narcissistic mother beat you or put you outdoors in the snow or otherwise physically abused you, she probably has some AsPD along with her NPD. But she is still a narcissist.

I never criticized my NM because I was afraid of her. She was physically as well as emotionally abusive. I am not sure how non-malignant NMs respond to criticism from their kids, but I can tell you that my NM brooked none from anyone except, maybe, her own parents. If my father objected to something, she blew up into a towering rage and she would try to get her own way through bombast—intimidating and trying to back him down. And then, no matter how her rage and the ensuing fight turned out, I suspect she just went and did what she wanted, no matter what. She did seem to be a bit subdued in the presence of her own parents, but only when they were physically present. The snide remarks to me never stopped, they were just delivered quietly and menacingly when Nana wasn’t nearby.

Defiance, however, she saw at every turn. Any time something was not done exactly to her liking (even if she had never bothered to set out parameters or demonstrate how to do something to her liking), she blamed it on defiance—there was no quarter given for inexperience, ignorance, youthfulness, or the natural immaturity of a child—no, if it wasn’t done properly, whether it was a chore or simply how I spoke, it was because I was defiant.

Truth is, I wasn’t defiant, I was terrified. Whenever I opened my mouth around her, I stood a good chance of the wrong thing coming out, or at least something she could twist and use against me. So, if I spoke, I got skewered with my own words; if I was silent, I was defiant. There was no way to win—which, to me, meant to be safe.

I have previously mentioned how, when she took The Strap to me, I would often grit my teeth and try to endure the beating without making a sound. This was because I didn’t know if she wanted me to scream or be silent, and it was very hard to stop screaming, once I started…and to keep sobbing or hiccoughing or sniffing once she commanded silence was to ask for more. But if she was in a mood that she wanted to hear me scream, my silence was “defiance.” But if I screamed when she hit me and didn’t stop all semblance of sound when she commanded, that was defiance as well.

Defiance was a punishable offense. And it didn’t have to be (and usually wasn’t) real defiance either, just anything she could identify as such. And while other NMs might rage and bellow and scream,—or go into a sulk—mine got physical. Why should she break something she owned in a rage? (Although she could blame me, I suppose—I often heard “Don’t make me hurt you,” from her, so certainly a broken tchotchke could be blamed on me with “Look what you made me do!”) I suspect throwing dishes against a wall would not be as satisfying as beating her child into a quivering pulp, so she skipped the starters and went straight for the main course—me.

I have often wondered why she didn’t see defiance in my younger brother when, in fact, he really was defiant! The kid was always in some kind of trouble or another—but I generally got punished for “letting” him do whatever it was he did. He was not a stupid child and this was not lost on him…since the consequences for his misbehaviour was invariably meted out on someone other than himself, he had no incentive to behave himself. He knew enough not to openly defy NM to her face because she might not ignore that…but he was certainly smart enough to exploit her weaknesses as well as mine.

Narcissists loathe being thought of as being wrong. For some reason, many of them think a tantrum, a meltdown worthy of a sleep-deprived 2 year old, is an appropriate way to deal with someone who has had the audacity of implying they are not perfect in every way. Back them down with bullshit, teach them with terror not to make the mistake of thinking a narcissist is anything but utterly perfect. Never let a crack in the defences show—how very narcissistic of them!

Next: Part 14. She terrorized.


  1. Wha? Who are these (likely self-annointed/self-appointed) "experts" stating a physically abusive Narc can't possibly be a Narc? Mon Dieu, there's over-lap all OVER the Cluster B's and that's according to the REAL Pros-you know, the one's with a PH.D they didn't purchase on line?
    Good gawd. And YES, you WILL see more than one Cluster B dx. on Axis II or at least a "...with H/B/A features."
    Yeesch. Sounds like Narcs masquerading as "Experts/Helpers." And there's more than a few out there.

    1. In Tracy Culleton's ("Danu Morrigan's") DoNM forum there is a write up by "Light" (Michelle Ede) claiming that if your NM is physically abusive, she in not a narcissist, she suffers from something else, possibly AsPD, and you do not belong on their forum.

      This was first posted about 2.5 years ago when I wrote a post for the "My Story" section in which I revealed my NM was physically abusive. First my post was modified without permission, then it was removed and I was admonished that it was too graphic (it wasn't graphic at all) and that it might 'trigger' some of the women (isn't that the whole point of a support forum? To trigger old stuff and then work through it in a supportive environment??). A few days later, the article was posted saying that if your NM was physically abusive, she wasn't an N and you didn't belong there on their forum.

      A psychologist who was also a DoNM, gently corrected Michelle, telling her that physical abuse WAS part of an NM's bag of tricks if she was comorbid with another PD that included physical outbursts. The psychologist's post was deleted and the psychologist banned without any warning or explanation. I send an email pleading the psychologist's case and *I* was then banned. Checking back on the rules of that forum recently, I saw that mental health professionals are now not allowed to join the forum unless they CONCEAL their professional credentials. The date this set of rules went up was less than one month after the psychologist and I were banned.

      Did they ever correct that "erroneous" article. Nope. And now Michelle Ede has put up her OWN website, LightsHouse, where she holds herself up to be an expert on the subject and perpetuates the myth that NMs are not physically abusive to their children.

  2. (Head/Keyboard) If there's one "indicator" of an N-or an MN-I've noted, everything is a competition. Every *last* event/experience is an opportunity for one-upsmanship. Obviously that sets up a "Compare" rather than "Share" atmosphere which results in Exclusion and Exclusivity. If you want to join the AC "Club" you have to meet their parameters, whether or not they are researched based or reality based. Everyone has an opinion and that's fine as long as it's presented as such, yk? But to present opinion as fact? No. To deny admission to your exclusive club or ban without explanation is just cruel, IMO.
    Of course they're NEVER wrong and it doesn't matter how much documentary evidence you provide or how tactfully it's presented. Reminds me of a child placing their hands in front of their eyes or closing them and saying, "I don't SEEE YOUUU!!" Yep, that just makes it all "disappear" with the stoke of the "Delete" key-as often as the "Administrator" deigns "appropriate."
    I just feel so sorry for all the pain these people have caused to so many. And now they're "going forth and multiplying" which is scarier yet.

    1. Well, I have to agree that competition seems to be a rampant theme among Ns. Oddly, I was pretty much oblivious to it for years and years. It was my step mother who pointed out, when I was 14 and still wearing little-girl dresses and still had hairy legs, eyebrows and underarms, that NM had not allowed me to grow up because of competitiveness on NM's part. I didn't understand it for a long time, I was just grateful for my stepmother finally ushering me into the adolescent rites of passage.

      Years later I discovered my NHusband was in constant competition with me without me even being aware of it. Everything in our lives was measured by him in terms of who was better at something, smarter, faster, earned more, etc. Anything I was good (or better than him) at, he devalued, like cooking or driving or growing our own fresh vegetables. Again, it took YEARS for me to see it...probably because I am actually a collaborative person and detest competition!

      My daughter is no different. She has tried to best me at everything, from the kind of car she drives to the size of house she lives in, to her appearance--she even moved in with my ex-husband at one point!---and she also used the tactic of devaluing anything I was better at, like cooking, sewing, artsy crafty stuff.

      Personally, I think competition if stupid, destructive and pointless. Think how much better the world would be if governments, corporations and individual people COOPERATED with each other instead of competed against each other...

    2. Competition is not inherently a bad thing, though, it just depends on how it's done. Constructive competition is about doing the best you can, and seeing whose best is better. In this paradigm, your competitors doing well is, if anything, a good thing for you, because it motivates you to do even better. Narcissists, on the other hand, tend toward a destructive form of competition: for them, it is at least as much about making sure their competitors lose as it is about winning. As they see it, competition divides the world into winners and losers and since the narcissistic worldview doesn't allow them to be a loser, they have to win or at least make everyone else lose, which in their view amounts to the same thing. Constructive competitions requires a certain respect one's competitors that narcissists just aren't capable of.

    3. I am afraid I am going to have to disagree with you on the subject of competition as you describe it because I don't agree with judging ourselves using other people as the standard. This can set you up for perpetual disappointment in yourself.

      We are each unique and each of us has strengths and weaknesses. If a woman sets her standard for beauty by comparing herself to a wealthy, famous woman, she sets herself up for disappointment because she is unlikely to have access to all of the advantages that the famous woman's money can buy: plastic surgery, costly cosmetics, expensive treatments, profession make up artists, etc. Additionally, her colouring and physique may be light years away from the famous person's, meaning she dooms herself to disappointment. Better that she should learn not to judge herself at all, not to compete at all, but to simply learn to be the best that she can be with what she has.

      Competition is not as healthy as cooperation and collaboration. In a competitive situation, only one can win and the others must lose; in a cooperative/collaborative effort, everyone wins: some may win more than others, depending on the effort put in, but nobody comes out trounced and feeling bad about himself.

      Your view of competition presupposes that everyone who does not win finds their loss motivating. Believe me, that is not a universal response to losing a competition...and especially to losing multiple times. It is discouraging and leads many, many people to not try anymore. I suppose some people would view that as a character flaw, but I see it as common sense: why expend increasing amounts of energy (emotional as well as physical) on something that experience has proven you will likely end up losing? Why not walk away and put that energy into something satisfying and productive?

      Not all of us are competitive, not all of us are motivated by the same thing. I used to work as a recruiter in an office that made us ring a bell each time we closed a was supposed to make us feel good when our colleagues all applauded and congratulated us. It embarrassed me...I didn't need all that hoopla to feel good about what I did--I had just helped someone find a new job--THAT was all the "feel good" I needed. This company put up a "prize" (usually a trip) each year for the recruiter who made the most money during the year. I never cared about that, I cared about putting people to work, lifting them out of the doldrums of un- or underemployment. That was MY help people. I won the trip two years in a row, but not because it motivated me...I was motivated by the relief and pleasure I saw on peoples' faces when I said "You got the job!"

      Competition, unfortunately, too often leads people to take short cuts to the win. It too often leads to unethical behaviour, to the squelching of such things as empathy and compassion. Most of the economic woes of the last decade can be squarely traced back to a competitive business environment where, absent ethics and compassion, one group of people set out to make more and more money with no regard for those who would lose the jobs, their homes, even their lives as a result.

      I think we, as a society, put entirely too much emphasis on competition and far to little on compassion, cooperation and collaboration.

      Thanks for writing in,



  3. I hate that evil witch miserable hag. She has hated me for years since i was about 5


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