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.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

She goes pathetic: Characteristics of Narcissistic Mothers Pt 24

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- 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


Part 24. She goes pathetic

As a last resort she goes pathetic. When she's confronted with unavoidable consequences for her own bad behavior, including your anger, she will melt into a soggy puddle of weepy helplessness. It's all her fault. She can't do anything right. She feels so bad.

I don’t think malignant NMs operate this way. But I know that “regular” NMs certainly do! I cannot count the stories I have heard from other DoNMs about their NMs going into pathetic mode just about the time the daughters feel pushed so far they are ready to go NC (no contact). These wily, crafty old bats seem to have a sixth sense for when they’ve pushed too far and begin hoovering their daughters back in with a variety of underhanded techniques, not the least of which is feigned helplessness.

When my NM was confronted with consequences of her bad behaviour she had two ways of dealing with it, often employing them simultaneously: denial and rage (which often included retaliation). My GC Bro, he who could do no wrong and had a brown nose from being so far up her butt, even said “Oh, she could be vindictive at times…” Nobody with an ounce of self-protectiveness in their bodies would directly confront her because anyone who knew her understood that her reaction would be 1) indignant denial and 2) indignant rage at someone believing she would do such a thing.

When I was in therapy I sent her a letter telling her how it felt to be her daughter, how fearful I was, how vulnerable and unprotected. In the letter I told her that I had been sexually molested as a child and that my fear of her was so great that I didn’t tell her because I thought she would not believe me and that she would punish me. I mentioned my stepfather as a perpetrator and her reply letter was appalling. First of all, it was written inside a blank card and on the front of the card was a drawing of a droopy, depressed looking little knight astride and equally droopy looking horse. It was captioned something like “I will never let you hurt me again.” I found it a peculiar choice for a reply to a letter about my perceptions of my painful childhood…I had hurt her??

The inside of the letter was vile. I could hear her, in my head, shouting angrily at me the words in the letter. The tone of her writing was one of barely controlled rage and her handwriting indicated it was written furiously. The message was vituperative, accusing me of lying, then twisting my words to make it my father who had molested me not my stepfather, then accusing me of lying again, saying it could not have happened because he was married to her at the time. None of it made any sense. It was an Nrage tantrum on paper. It was how a Malignant NM responds to the truth of her behaviours held to her face: denial and rage.

What she doesn't do: own the responsibility for her bad conduct and make it right. Instead, as always, it's all about her, and her helpless self-pitying weepiness dumps the responsibility for her consequences AND for her unhappiness about it on you.

Like MNs everywhere, Malignant NMs don’t own the responsibility for their behaviour or the consequences of their behaviour either. And while the Malignant NM might not engage in weepy self-pity, she still dumps the responsibility back onto you…and you are to blame for her being angry and for anything she does in that anger (like breaking a blood vessel in her hand when she hits you…or you “making” her hit you). In her vicious, scathing letter to me, first NM denied that it was possible for my stepfather to have molested me, but later said if it did happen, it was because I instigated it. I found it rather interesting that she was so certain of what had and hadn’t happened and who did what when not only did she not witness it, the only other participant was long dead. But, true to every other narcissist on the planet, a little thing like facts wasn’t going to get in the way of her convictions!

As so often with narcissists, it is also a manipulative behavior. If you fail to excuse her bad behavior and make her feel better, YOU are the bad person for being cold, heartless and unfeeling when your poor mother feels so awful.

Very true. And while MNMs aren’t so inclined towards feeling awful with remorse, real or fake, they have their own twist on this.

The “normal” NM will make a drama out of this but the MNM will not feel awful—she won’t even fake remorse except, perhaps, in an over-the-top sarcastic way—but she will be highly indignant. How dare you accuse her of being sneaky, underhanded, manipulative and insensitive? How dare you call her a liar…and to her face, even!! Then she will take the show on the road…everybody she knows will hear about it and, after all she did for you, all she sacrificed for you, all she gave up for you, you repay her like this?? You might even hear the old saw about serpent’s teeth and ungrateful children, and ultimately you find that since you have no gratitude for all the things she’s done for you (like put a roof over your head and food on the table), she might just stop and then maybe you will appreciate her and all her hard work.

By the time she is done, you will have been painted the most selfish, cold, heartless, manipulative, impossible daughter a mother ever had. Everyone who knows her, from the butcher to the meter reader to the mechanic to your grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles, will know how unappreciative and self-centred you are and how she just keeps giving and giving and gets nothing back from you other than a hard time.

If your NM isn’t of the malignant variety, she may still do this…it is critical to her self-image that she is loving and sacrificing and if your perception is different either you have to be brought into line with hers or you have to be discredited.

Any way you view them, narcissists are a nasty piece of work. It is as parents, however, that they do their worst damage, setting their children up for a lifetime of dysfunction as partners and enablers of fellow narcissists, even in some cases, to grow up to be narcissists themselves. It is not a legacy to wish on anyone except, perhaps, the narcissists themselves.

Next: Forgiveness: A mistake?


  1. Wow...I too was a molestation victim, though mercifully not by a family member...with no one to tell it to, I wrote in (what I thought) was my private diary, which NM swore she'd never touch. Well, somehow she found out and turned it around, scathingly calling me names like "slut" and "nothing but garbage" for months. I was 15, and wound up taking an overdose of pills in a botched suicide attempt...I couldn't stand her tormenting me on top of having to try to deal with what had happened to me...I spent 3 days in the hospital on an IV and then 3 weeks in the psychiatric ward. All the time, NM was wringing her hands at having to deal with her messed up daughter. Nobody ever even asked me why I wanted to take my own life, and if I'd told them, they wouldn't have believed me anyway.

    I'm so sorry your step"father" molested you, and that your "mother" refused to believe you. I can't imagine. I hope you are well on your way to healing. And, thank you for posting so candidly, because you've given validation to me and probably many others who so needed it. (((hugs))) --"Poohbear"

    1. Your NM's attitude coupled with your earlier comment about why you were put into Catholic school makes me wonder if she wasn't projecting. Turns out my NM did the same kinds of things to me and I was terribly hurt...some of the stuff she accused me of I had not even thought of!! When I complained to my father, my feeling really hurt by it, he explained that she was simply expecting that I was behaving the same way SHE did when I was that age. Many years later, one of my uncles confirmed that she was a "wild one" when she was a teen and their parents couldn't control her.

      I wonder if that fit YOUR NM as well?

    2. Hi Violet, actually, my NM, as far as I know, was pretty messed up when it came to these things. She once confessed to me (which I thought was pretty inappropriate) that she had no knowledge of ANYTHING till her wedding night, and how traumatic it had been for her. TMI for your own daughter!

      She told me several times that she remembered having a terrible infection as a little girl, which she told me she got from the family toilet seat. She explained that her own mother (also an NM, but IMO not the promiscuous type) used to have men over and apparently caught some sort of STD which she passed to my mother via the bathroom. Years later, I mentioned this to my grandmother, who was livid, and replied that yes, she'd sometimes have a man or two over to sit out on the porch and talk and have coffee, but that was IT. From her reaction, I tended to believe her. She said my mother had had a bladder infection as a child, and nothing more.

      It made me wonder, if she didn't know anything of the subject, how could she correlate a male visitor with an STD anyway? Hmmm...

      All I know is, she was dead wrong about me, to her own loss...she lost what might have been a nice relationship with her daughter. :(

      Thank you for your reply.

  2. Excellent description of a Narc vs. a Malignant Narc: They will dump THEIR culpability on YOU (true for both, just a bit of variation on the implementation) and "Then she will take the show on the road." That's IT, right there, IMO. It's not nearly enough to slime and malign you to your immediate family; you will be smeared to the ends of the earth in the most vicious, malicious, endless (I'm talkin' YEARS, here) nastiest campaign of denigration, defamation, slander and proactive destruction of another human being-you, her "DD" (or "DS" if one happens to be reading)-that will include people she does NOT know, your employers, your friends, your place of worship (if you have one) etc. and distance is no real deterrent if you have an NP with financial resources-but as much geographical distance as possible is really helpful. If she has the financial resources, she will hire Private Investigators, have them jumping out of bushes/vehicles at the grocery store taking pictures of you AND yours (friends, family etc.), going through your garbage on trash day etc. And yes, if you have children she will contact Children's Services alleging all kinds of abuse you're perpetrating on your own children-it goes on and on.
    That's why you want to be prepared, IMO. If you are terminating a relationship with an NP, you may want to consider a legal consult just in case you are indeed dealing with a Malignant Narc. (A preliminary consult is generally gratis.) Even if in your assessment, she's a "typical" Narc, I'd still get a consult. It really helps to go on a "Fact Finding Mission" from a legal POV simply because they do NOT let go, give up, move on unless they are confronted by a higher authority. In my situation, that was Law Enforcement. Starting a paper trail with an attorney is at least some documentary evidence you have made inquiries and proactive in your concerns-which likely will come true. There are now laws on the books relating to Stalking, Aggravated Harassment etc. in the US that were not available when I initiated NC. Please use them.
    The issue of sexual abuse is so common with these "mothers" (I shudder to use the word) yet it is of no help to the Survivor to know intellectually you're not alone: There is nothing your Perp and co-Perp (the "adults" in the household) would like more than to paint YOU "perverted"/"responsible"/crazy/"mentally ill" etc. when the perversion was their's alone and often, an inherent part of the dynamics in these Family Systems. Kids are NEVER, EVER responsible for atrocities inflicted on them by the very people who were responsible for PROTECTING you. This is a PRIMARY parental obligation in which they failed spectacularly (again).
    There's so many great points in this Post and I don't want to be a thread hog, but a discussion of writing a letter and sending it/initiating NC (or attempting to set Boundaries/LC) is another Post or two in and of themselves. V, sometime could you Post on your thoughts/experiences re: the previous? I realize there are no "One Size Fits All" but a discussion IMO would be helpful because so many AC's are uncertain about letter writing/sending one etc. Thanks.

    1. That's a great idea, TW--I will put it on my list of topics!

      You said " if you have children she will contact Children's Services alleging all kinds of abuse you're perpetrating on your own children"--my NM actually did this. It backfired on her--I was on welfare at the time so I had a social worker and the letter he wrote was on my behalf, detailing me as a conscientious mother. I specifically remember him saying my house was sparsely furnished but immaculately clean, the cupboards stocked, and the children well-nourished, well-adjusted and happy. Unfortunately, the judge my mother took me before (after poisoning the minds of the court investigative officers) refused to even open the letter from the social worker!! NM had brought her flying monkeys to court, my uncle and GCBro who testified against me (my uncle hadn't seem me in 7 years, yet testified about my house and fitness as a mother to children he had never met--GCBro had been to my house but once). I have no idea what they said in their interviews with the court investigative officer, but the judge said to my lawyer, whom he would not allow to present any evidence or information "Nothing you can say now or in the future will change my mind...a 1 year temporary guardianship is awarded to the grandmother." And I didn't see them again for 8 years. NM fled the state as soon as she had them, told a court in Utah she didn't know where I was so I wouldn't get notified of the court hearing, declared I abandoned them, and my parental rights were terminated and she got a permanent guardianship. And then she took them to New York where she gave them to my childless uncle and aunt (who had been unable to pass their state's home study for adoption) who adopted them. Years later, when my son was in trouble with the law (age 12) and my uncle didn't want to sell his boat or use his vacation fund to hire a lawyer for the boy, he contacted me to take the kids back. Imagine that!?!

      There is NOTHING these people will not do to attain their own ends. I would not put murder past them, if they thought they could get away with it...

    2. OMG! This woman sounds so much like my NM. NM tried a similar thing, but I managed to wriggle free. I am so very sorry this was done to you and your children. Blessings

  3. Yes, I read your heart-breaking account of how she legally abducted your children and frankly, you're not the only one who's had this experience-I know, little consolation-but that nightmare situation has occurred with more frequency than people are aware. These cases don't end up in newspapers or on some TV Program.
    My concern is appearing overly radical/extreme in some way when I say, "Please DON'T let your kids anywhere NEAR these people-EVER. And if you have, PLEASE make other arrangements for child care, etc." That's a huge reason why I think a Legal Consult should be on the "To Do" list, especially if you have kids. So many AC parents are terrorized by this whole "Grandparents Rights" THREATS (and yes, that exactly what they amount to) you really need to have legal info instead of working off of fear/obligation/guilt or simply ignorance-I mean that in the truest sense of the word, "Not knowing." And yes, they WILL abduct your kids and flee "underground" through homeless shelters, "DV Shelters" and change names-good luck finding them. It's no problem to enroll children in a school in the US with a good sob-story and easily faked documents. The schools have NO idea what to look for in terms of documentation and the nice church folks swallow their shit and set 'em right up with a place, furnishings, clothes etc. Better yet, they'll tell the schools/nice folks the children have been dxd. with "BiPolar" or you sexually abused them or some other BS and get them on meds which make them so zonked they're nothing if NOT "compliant." I kid you not.
    "There is NOTHING these people will not do to attain their own ends." YESSS! There is NO "low" for an MN with an agenda-and believe me, there is ALWAYS an AGENDA and I can absolutely assure you, it bodes nothing well for you or your family.
    I also agree-the reality is they HAVE murdered; they engaged in daily soul murder of their kids and certainly are capable of unspeakable physical aggression. Never forget or underestimate the reality they are most fundamentally Predators. I don't understand where the concept that Narcs are "Impulsive" comes from: In my experience, they are plotters and planners extraordinaire and they will carry out a "plan of attack" that's stunning in it's chronicity and severity.
    Let's face it, this is not the kind of stuff you talk about in every day life, yk? And I'm not an alarmist (that's certainly one label I've never been given) but I am a realist. Of course they don't WANT the kids any more than they wanted us; however, they don't want YOU to have them either and don't ever loose sight of that reality. The goal is nothing less than total annihilation of you in every way.
    Being Pro-Active, covering all your bases is not only a peace of mind issue, it's practical as well: You're starting a paper trail that IMO is equally as important as the Letter conundrum.

    1. My son had spinal meningitis as an infant and was left with a brain injury that impeded his ability to control his impulsivness. He was hyperactive with a capital H, sleeping only 4 hours in a 24 hour period and literally destroying anything he touched. It was so bad, at age 2 he was a danger to himself and to the rest of us (imagine getting up in the morning and finding your floor covered with cooking oil that he spread around and you slip in it). It was the late 60s, so more sophisticated drugs had not yet hit the marketplace, so he was put on Dexidrine, an amphetamine, because it has a "paradoxical effect" on small children, calming them down.

      My NM told the court I was a drug-addicted prostitute and further told them that I drugged my young son. She told them I gave him "speed" without bothering to tell them why or that it was prescribed by a doctor at one of the most prestigious children's hospitals in the world: Children's Hospital in Boston. Furthermore, she neglected to tell her brother, who adopted this child, that he had had meningitis or had brain damage--when I asked her later why she withheld this information from my uncle, she said because it wasn't true, it was something I made up!!!

      The lies, the substitution of their fantasies for reality, never, EVER stops. It doesn't even stop when they die because family members who believe the lies, keep them alive.


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: