July 12, 2012

Pathological Narcissism Worsens with Age; the Rest of Us Get Better

Without medical intervention, I wouldn't be here. My daughter and I wouldn't have the pleasure of one another's company. 

Without medical intervention, my mother wouldn't be here. She and I and my daughter wouldn't have the privilege of one another's company. 

Without medical intervention, my daughter wouldn't be here...

My mother is in her eighties. She recently had heart surgery. A physical illness in my early forties nearly killed me. Two years ago, surgery saved my daughter's life. We three would have died had we lived a century ago. I am grateful we're together today. I'm also grateful that since the mid-fifties, none of our female relatives has passed away in childbirth. In America, women dying during childbirth went from 60.8 per 1000 births in 1915, to an almost non-existent 0.8 per 1000 births in 1997. (1) This must have had a profound impact on women's psyches! When you realize that women's lack of reliable birth control meant either celibacy or lots of babies and possible death...well, that puts a whole new spin on being hawt. One way to beat the creeping crud of narcissism is to expand our awareness beyond our own story. So let's appreciate that we're free to be hawt because contraception liberated women from concerns about being hawt

My great-grandmother in Louisiana gave birth to twelve kids and raised the son of the man she married whose first wife had passed away in childbirth. But I don't think she was worried about being hawt. She loved hawt hats, though. I inherited that fetish from her. "Nellie!" the family would shout. "We're late for church!" And off the porch great-grandmother would saunter in her Sunday best, a hat always a hat, and freshly laundered gloves.  I love hearing stories about my Southern relatives. 

What I really intended to write about today is the healing power of mother-daughter relationships. Now that women are living longer, longevity grants space for soothing emotional and psychological wounds we still carry as adults. As mothers, a longer life graces us with sufficient time to bond with our adult children, making up for past mistakes. I made mistakes. All mothers do. In cyberspace, women read criteria for the Narcissistic Personality Disorder and faster than they can flip pancakes, diagnose themselves, "I shoulda been, done, said, known…" Lotsa tears. Lotsa regrets. Lotsa self-blame. Most mothers are quick to blame themselves with a list of failures as long as Bruno Bettleheim's reign of terror.  However, and this is important: my mistakes put me in the category of the "good enough mother," not pathological. Most mothers are like myself. Good enough, not perfect. The only perfect mothers I've ever known, are pathological. hahaha

To reassure those of you who partnered with narcissists, a mother's immature narcissism will be naturally forgiven by her children---usually when daughters have made scores of mistakes, too. Raising a child is never as easy to do as it is to watch others doing it. Recognizing our own errors and arrogance gives birth to humility, and humility initiates reconciliation of old quarrels and petty grievances.

When a mother is not pathological, empathy and appreciation foster mutual respect and love. My daughter forgives me, I forgive her, and we forgive ourselves.  It's a natural maturation process. I remind my daughter daily that she is the apple of my eye, the joy of my life. I feel the same way about my son and he gets <3's just as often as his sister. 

At sixty years of age, my priorities are in order: how can I make life better for them? 

How sweet our later years when we realize what's valuable and what's disposable. Like kids and husbands. Kids being valuable, husbands the latter. Don’t flame me. I'm still a little pissy about being dumped after following that rat bazturd from one city to the next and...darn...I got myself side-tracked thinking about the scalawag My Mother Told Me NOT To Marry and I did it anyway. Mom accepted my decision without further admonishment, it's important to clarify. We hard-headed daughters should listen to our mothers more often. Unless our mothers are pathological. Then we shouldn't take their words to heart because they'll hurt us more deeply than lovers ever could. 

As we age, we become more ourselves

A long-term research study reported that the narcissistic personality disorder may not be a life sentence. (2) In other words, pathological narcissism might improve over time. Some psychologists say pathological traits mellow. People also say fairies live at the bottom of their garden but I'm not inclined to believe it even though I'd like to.

First of all, these studies are usually based on self-report. So tell me, how does a pathological narcissist who lacks self-awareness, self-report? The very nature of the disorder suggests excessive self-enhancement and inflated self-esteem. You can't ask a pathological narcissist if she’s gotten better! She'll say she's more together than she’s ever been. She'll say she's finally, after years of putting herself last, prioritizing herself because it's healthy and it's the right thing to do and if she hadn't had kids in the first place, she wouldn't have been so miserable the first half of her life, the little ingrates! She is focusing on herself now and shoulda done it years ago, thus proving she's cured her narcissistic personality disorder. 

Pathological mothers get meaner with age, ask her family

She holds her children hostage through obligation, guilt and fear. And even after years of miserable care-taking, she punished her children by leaving her money to charity, telling other people that she'd never want to cripple her children with something as burdensome as an inheritance. If a research study asked about the quality of her relationships, she'd check box 10 for Perfect. "I'm a strong enough mother to do what's right for my children!" This hateful, selfish and punishing behavior is contrary to what happens with normal mothers. Non-pathological mothers naturally move into a generative and wise phase of life when we want to give back. (3) We're concerned about our progeny, our community, leaving the world a better place for having been here. This is healthy maturation according to Erick Erickson. I believe that the majority of human beings become wiser and more gentle as they age, graciously accepting their vulnerability and their family's support.

But there are those older people who aren't generative and wise. Who are still concerned about their hawtness, concerned about their status, as in Over Others, who still seek vengeance for perceived insults, narcissistic injuries, and threats to their superiority. With a pathologically narcissistic mother, the prognosis for a rewarding late-life relationship with her is slim-to-none. Close relationships gets worse as the narcissistic mother's self-control and power over others deteriorates. She becomes meaner when she no longer has the hope of eternal youth and unlimited possibilities.

I used to think caustic women were hostile because they were old.  I don't view mean women that way anymore. I see pathology. When an old woman proudly says she's cut off her children and is giving her money to the church, I see a narcissistic pathology. When an old woman is abandoned in a rest home with no one caring enough to visit, I see pathology. Children, who are not pathological, do not abandon parents who loved them. Even children of difficult mothers are devoted to giving back to her when she’s older. 

My relationship with my adult daughter becomes increasingly intimate and precious as we age.  I am grateful to have the gift of time, growing old with her. I do not off-load my guilt onto her shoulders, insisting I stayed in the marriage because of my kids even if that was part of my decision after the first raging incident suggested my mother was right about that guy all along. No. It's selfish to beg children for absolution. I am no martyr and don't want her to be one either. We carry the burden of our mistakes ourselves with the intention of forgiving ourselves because had we known then what we know now, we wouldn't have done what we did. Life is a series of mistakes and errors, sorrows and joys, false beliefs and unquestioned assumptions.

Getting old is hard. Getting old is hard on your ego. 

It only makes sense then that an egotistical disorder would worsen with age. Being elderly increases dependency, makes us more vulnerable, reduces our status, triggers regrets, shouts hello to envy. Being old whittles illusions of immortality. 

For years, narcissists were able to hold everything together---effectively mirroring their community, perhaps through brute strength and sheer will. When they get old, when they lose control and become more impulsive, narcissists quit trying. When it's too hard pretending to be someone they're not, they quit trying. Narcissists get worse with age because they give up giving a shit. They've earned their right Not To Care about their impact on anyone anymore ever again. After trying so hard to please everyone their entire lifetime, what did it get them? A bunch of ingrates just waiting for them to die. 

Benign, immature narcissism improves overtime. Pathological narcissism doesn't. You'll know the difference because people become more of who they always were. 

Hugs all,


7. Middle-aged Adult: 35 to 55 or 65 Generativity vs. Self absorption or Stagnation – Care Career and work are the most important things at this stage, along with family.  Middle adulthood is also the time when people can take on greater responsibilities and control. For this stage, working to establish stability and Erikson’s idea of generativity – attempting to produce something that makes a difference to society.  Inactivity and meaninglessness are common fears during this stage. Major life shifts can occur during this stage.  For example, children leave the household, careers can change, and so on.  Some may struggle with finding purpose.  Significant relationships are those within the family, workplace, local church and other communities.  
8. Late Adult: 55 or 65 to Death/Integrity vs. Despair – Wisdom Erikson believed that much of life is preparing for the middle adulthood stage and the last stage involves much reflection.  As older adults, some can look back with a feeling of integrity — that is, contentment and fulfillment, having led a meaningful life and valuable contribution to society.  Others may have a sense of despair during this stage, reflecting upon their experiences and failures. They may fear death as they struggle to find a purpose to their lives, wondering “What was the point of life?  Was it worth it?”


    Yk, I can't say I've enjoyed all the physical aspects of aging in terms of medical issues but here's what I've told my best friend of the last 30 yrs: "When everything on the outside starts really falling apart, everything on the inside starts really coming together." And in my experience it does. And IMO, it's really interesting and delightful in so many ways. I'm just fine with my saggy skinny arms, my little poochy thing, my lines, wrinkles and hair where it shouldn't be vs. lack of hair where it should be. Hell CZ, I'm seein' stuff I haven't seen since I was what...11? 12?!
    Ohhh, but my MN Psychobitch-age did NOT bring improvement in ANY way. Despite having been NC for years her behavior and activities the "effects" of which were unavoidable became yet more indicative of her just plain nastiness.
    And I agree-it's NOT surprising, it's pathology. It's who they ARE in all its ugliness and perfidy. It's transparently exposed for all to see. And they play their "infirmities" aka, the natural process of aging for all it's worth. The bitterness, the lack of anything remotely resembling humanity aside from their human-like FORM becomes stunningly manifest.
    Each stage brings it's own "adventures." I'll trade THIS for THAT any day-even if I had a choice. Much like you, I shouldn't have lived this long. But I sure am enjoying so much of this stage of my life!
    Thanks-another great Post.

    1. O my LOL!!! I'm seeing stuff I haven't seen since I was eleven or twelve, too. Who needs a Brazillian wax? Save your money. One day they'll be free. Course, you might not want to wear a bikini but gosh, a woman NEVER can have everything.

      See the thing is, my mind is so open my mother says my brains fell out. And she's not completely wrong. It has taken decades for me to see pathology in 'wicked'. Pathology in 'cruel'. Pathology in 'arrogance and vengeance'. Pathology in 'resistance to change'.

      I've been reluctant to label anyone or even suggest serial killers weren't remediable. I am a product of the Love Generation and even if I wasn't loosy-Lucy myself, I believed completely and totally in what my culture taught me. All you need is love.

      In other words, there was no such thing as pathology. Inside the hedge fund guru was a widdle wounded boy (or girl, just waiting to be released from his/her traumatic imprisonment.

      This same hard-headed belief persists in my psyche. After identifying with thousands of people's stories, and writing about my own experiences to which people respond with shock, sadness, and sympathy---I am finally willing to confront my illusion that all people are, at heart, loving and kind.

      As you can imagine, my beliefs about human nature have made me a sitting duck for pathological people.

      Thank you so much for talking with me, TW! I really appreciate people who take the time to leave a comment.


  2. Well done CZ. I can hear how hard you worked in this post to be scrupulously mindful of those of us whose mothers were not "good enough," and who continue to be what they've always been, but more so. As you say, the pathological narcissists remain fixed in the prisonhouse of their characters, unable to learn how to change because unwilling to believe in their need to. And the enabling of others makes it painless for them to stay stuck. I have no doubt at all that parenting is HARD. But I believe that no matter how many mistakes a parent makes with a child, if the underlying feeling the parent has for the child is tenderness, kindness, love, then the child will always feel it. if the child cannot feel it, if the adult child has never really FELT that substrate (and isn't autistic), then that love was not there. I cannot tell you how many times my mother has said to me "I love you." In my family we have to "sign off" with it all the time, or say it before going to bed or saying goodbye on the phone. I have come to believe that we say it compulsively because we do not feel it convincingly. Another eloquent and gifted post by you.

    1. "if the underlying feeling the parent has for the child is tenderness, kindness, love, then the child will always feel it. if the child cannot feel it, if the adult child has never really FELT that substrate (and isn't autistic), then that love was not there."

      Hi Cali's Sis!

      My nephew who lives with me, has Aspergers---which means he is on the autistic spectrum but high-functioning. It is more difficult for him to feel love and tender emotions than it would be for other children. I can almost pinpoint the day when he finally attached to me. I am a walking love magnet for kids. As my daughter says, "You can resist being loved all you want, but my Mom will never give up."

      That's probably the most wonderful thing she's ever said about me, perhaps that's my Legacy? I love people's False Selves to pieces. If they are only narcissist-Ick, that hard shell cracks. If they are pathological, they wanna kill me. hehehe...I'm still alive though. The patriarchy hasn't won yet.

      I appreciate very much that you recognized how much time I put into that article/essay/entry. Two days. Lots of rewrites trying to say it right.

      I hope my post does not convey the idea that my life has been a bed of roses and I've never struggled with narcissistic traits myself.

      I also don't want people to think that my relationship with my daughter has been easy. What made intimacy and reconciliation possible is that we were EACH willing to change ourselves because bottom line: the substrate was solid. I like how you put that!

      And my mother has narcissistic traits, too. But those traits have changed as her children refused to enable old patterns of relationship.

      That's my sociological perspective and my armchair analysis of Mom, my Daughter and I.

      I hope to write more about our journey this coming year.

      p.s. I'm considering your comment about compulsive "I love You-ing." I'd never given any thought to that before! TY...


    2. Hi CZ,
      I think you came across exactly right in this post; also, your previous posts and the rest of your blog make it clear that you aren't lionizing yourself at anyone else's expense.
      In my family, the parents did not tuck us in. Rather, they sat in front of the tv, or reading a book, or whatever, and we came to them, kissed them on the cheek and said "good night, I love you." This was literally the SCRIPT. To not have said it would have been seen as weird. It was a ritual FOR the parents, the way that tucking children into bed is a ritual done for kids. I may write a post about this. But children get tucked in by their parents because it reassures them that their world is safe from monsters. When it's reversed, when the kids have to perform the ritual for their parents (and then take ourselves up to bed on our own), it reassures the parents that their world is safe, that they are "good" parents, because after all, their kids keep saying "I love you." For years I was afraid of the dark because no one ever "secured the space" for me. That's what tucking a kid in is all about. Securing their space.

    3. Of course, if either of them HAD tucked me in at night, they would have noticed
      that poor turtle, stuck high and dry. :-)

    4. Please write a post about the ritual-that-pretends-to-be-for-kids. What an insight!! I've never heard anyone mention this before. I look forward to reading it.

      I was not tucked in. My kids were always tucked in. I read to them aloud even into their early teens. Past fourteen though, no way. They weren't sure they wanted to claim me as their mother.

      My point is that sometimes we're even more conscientious parents with our kids, making up for what we didn't get (and wanted).

      I find that it's a delicate balance between 'lionizing' yourself and 'cockroaching' yourself to make sure people know you don't think "TOO MUCH" of yourself. ha!

      Talking about parenting is touchy. There's way too many experts out there who think they know it all and their baby is only two. Nobody should be allowed to offer advice until their kids are forty-five. Or sixty maybe. hehehe

      You're great to talk with, Cali's sis. Your family is missing out on somethin' good.

      Big hugs,

    5. Morning CZ. You are right that writing about parenting is hard. And I don't have
      kids, for reasons that are probably apparent to you by now. I had lunch with a former student last year and told her what my mother said: "you have nothing to teach me about parenting or family" (after she'd plagiarized). My student said: "your children are the ONLY ones who can teach you about parenting." I thought her insight was brilliant. I will work on this "tucking-in and love rituals" in my next post. I had a phobia about being "safe" at home into young adulthood. Had to check under the bed and in closets for years, even after moving out of the family home. Until I was 30 I never felt "safe" at home. When I connected the dots, which took years, and realized it's because I was abandoned emotionally in my own childhood home, left alone, never feeling looked after, cared for, loved, this phobia went away. It's been long gone now. I feel safe. Did it for myself, in myriad ways, over time. But for about a decade in my twenties, I thought there was something wrong with me about this "checking" all the closets, etc. Makes me very sad now since I understand what it was about. I'll write about this later today, I think, in a post. Thanks for the prod to do so. Feels very personal and vulnerable to me, so I was hesitating. You are a friend. Cal's Sis

    6. "your children are the ONLY ones who can teach you about parenting"

      That IS brilliant. If all operating systems are 'normal', parents learn as they go. But that infamous substrate you wrote about earlier, has to be there.

      Narcissists lack self-awareness and insight. They cannot connect the dots back to themselves and are thus stuck looking at everyone else as the problem. It's baffling to those of us who took 'insight' for granted!

      Big hugs,

    7. "They cannot connect the dots back to themselves and are thus stuck looking at everyone else as the problem." Q has a great cartoon on Rumblestrip that has a guy walking into a restaurant, sitting down, then screaming, as the horror dawns on him, "Somebody put shit in my paaaaannntsss." I LOVE that cartoon. Seems apposite here about narcissists never connecting causation with results...

  3. I saw my mother TRYING to change when she knew her time was coming to a close. I always called it the "old people trying to get into heaven effect". Even though my mother tried she still just couldn't find the words a "kind and supportive" mother would use. She only valued the things I could do for her and not me. Death finally brought me relief.

    1. Hello Barbara Joy. I don't think we've met before...so I've added your blog to my list below and will catch up on your story as soon as possible.

      You bring up an interesting observation about "Old people trying to get in heaven" ha! I've seen this before too...and in a way, it's a nice reprieve from "I don't give a shite about anyone but me." Or the older mother who punishes her children for triggering her "unconscious" envy. That's the kicker about narcissism, isn't it? They ACT on feelings they don't even acknowledge owning.

      I'm glad to hear though, that you've found peace. So many people say a similar thing, that losing their parents allowed them to move on and find peace.

      That is so sad, it's hard to hear, let alone bear.

      I'd love to read how you've worked through this, Barbara. How you learned about NPD, how you changed your behavior (if this helped), and what conclusions you've come to about mother-daughter relationships that are NOT remediable.

      Hugs (and Welcome!),

  4. Well, they do get meaner. Period. Mine is 93 and she expends more energy on insults, etc. than ever before...not that she slackened at all. LOL!

    The energy is rather...demonic. For lack of a better word, but it fits.

    She's been telling me each phone call (her only daughter) that she's not leaving me anything...even when I call her to comfort her...(Boston Marathon thing) she soon slips into "I hate you mode".

    Well, what can you do? You go no contact for years and then you slip up because we usually are compassionate people (and so much healthier in the head and heart!) and think for a moment...maybe the old bat has changed? Nah....meaner than ever.

    I believe strongly that pathological narcissism is a degenerative disease.

    When I published my 3rd book in 2011...I got a letter from her: "I can never be truly proud of you because I'm not part of your artistry".

    You got that, mom. There would be no 'artistry' as she calls it IF I let her near my writing. As a narcissist she would take it all for herself. What narcissism means in practice is a dis-respect of everyone around you. You are Queen and everything must serve you. Even if you have nothing to do with buttkiss.

    8 years of therapy showed only one thing. Path. narcissism only gets worst with age. They get more entrenched and meaner. On the other end, we get healthier...but we do have to remember the fleas from the old dog. That is a life time issue I believe.

    But life away from the PN is beautiful, fruitful and worth living. Except for the abject slavery around her for her 'goodies' I really wonder what these people have to live for except to demean others each day.

    Lady Nyo

    1. I have missed hearing from you, LadyNyo! If anyone can write about the narcissistic mother, it's yourself. Hard for most people to even imagine that at 93, your mother is still trying to punish you. To hurt you. The "disinheritance" thing is an assault weapon used to hurt their children. Even if you don't give a damn about the inheritance, SHE thinks you do and THAT gives her satisfaction.

      You can be very sure that your mother would steal your artistry if she could, never giving mention to you as the author nor appreciation for your contributions. It's happened before and it will happen again, sad to say. Narcissistic mothers have no compunction against serving themselves, even at the cost of ruining a relationship with her daughter.

      I appreciate your comments about narcissism worsening as people age. There's several articles on the web right now, suggesting otherwise. Suggesting people get better overtime and if they do (this is my opinion), they weren't pathological narcissists to begin with. Narcissistic perhaps but malignant narcissism is a different ballgame altogether. Compare it to psychopathy...

      It's good to hear from you around Mother's Day, which I hope was beautiful and loving for yourself.


      p.s. I stop by your blog once in awhile to read your lovely writing. Beautiful and sensitive as always. How YOU came from a hard-hearted woman is a sheer mystery. <3

  5. Dear CZ....I missed your response to my posting on your blog, but as always, you are supportive and encouraging...and that is what we maimed daughters need. Support.

    Others have seen her pix when they googled her name, and came away rather shocked. Or perhaps not shocked, but well, her smile didn't mount to her eyes. And an great dose of meanness in the countenance.

    I think that a true pathological narcissist puts on a scowl, a 'leave me alone bitch' face, something to scare people away, or perhaps those that she doesn't value at all, and at the same time, complains of lonliness. Of Course! When you run your life as if people's value are only to serve you, what can you think?

    And...I can testify that at 93, she hasn't slacked up one bit. She's spewing hatred to beat the band. They do get worse, but I think it is because they are still fighting with dead people..trying to rearrange history where they are justified in their actions and beliefs.

    And...when the pathology crosses with sadism in some form, it becomes malignant narcissism. Just my opinion from the study of the NM and a few other likely candidates. And I believe sadism is the ultimate weapon of such a narcissist. They have no civil boundaries...they have no respect for the person at the other end of their mouths.

    We are scarred forever by their behavior. But that doesn't mean that our scars will keep us from growing...we just have to attend the wounds and know that they are from the past...or still from the present, but we have an ability to understand (finally) what these narcissists are all about. And our best and only revenge actually, is within the creativity that lurks inside of us, pushed down by the constant maiming of the narcissist, by the amount of energy we expel to try to not drown in their vemon.

    I think we are blessed, when we are not destroyed by the NM. We have been through a particular Hell, and we have survived...hopefully wiser.

    I can't push the benefits of No Contact more strongly. I started out three years ago on this path, and faltered a number of times, but when I did, I fast realized that there was NO CHANGE in the NM, none at all...in fact, she had gotten worse. There was nothing to play with, nothing to take to your heart. Her revenge (and this is from a life-time of struggle between us) has been refined, has gotten more perverse.

    Life really is what we make of it. And avoiding narcissits of all stripes just makes our life better...and calmer. We would not have learned much about narcissism IF we had not been through this 'refining fire'. So, perhaps we become NOT a 'chip off the old block' because of all the past trauma. Perhaps we are tendered in the heart because of what we have seen and experienced. I have no metaphysical answer for any of this.

    with LOVE,

    Lady Nyo

  6. This is like the plot of "August, Osange, Orange County". The narcissist that doesn't give a shit anymore, i.e. Meryl Streep's character. I was quite traumatized by watching this film, far too familiar. Although my mother doesn't abuse drugs she is still up to her old tricks, where she is always the victim, the toxic blabber mouth setting everyone up against each other. I finally told her what I thought about all the sabotage she creates in my life and other family members. She has declared now she has one less daughter. So be it.

    I was prepared to say perhaps I had been too hard on her, but I see that indeed, she would have just used that against me, I am very glad to read the article on here about that before confessing to any faults, which I would in any other circumstance, because most people do "come to the party" forgive and forget if someone makes a move towards that. But not the narcissist.

    1. You are so right, Pauline! Most people forgive and forget if someone takes responsibility for themselves. If they are really and truly sorry for the things they did (for whatever reason they did those thing), most people willingly open a 'new' space for rebuilding relationship. Because this works for us with "most people", we confess and apologize. What a shock to hear our self-disclosure used against us.

      I can tell you that my kids have been pretty darn "hard" on me. I didn't react by shutting them out, smearing their reputations or demeaning them to build myself up. And I certainly did not claim to be perfect OR their victim!!! This "rough go" through teenage years gives me a deeper understanding of the Non-pathological mother's behavior. But then again, I wasn't sabotaging relationships and setting people up against one another.

      Narcissistic people use our confessions against us. They see this as an admission of fault, their perceptions valid. What they do not see and CANNOT see is themselves--how their behavior impacted other people.

      I"ll clip an excerpt from my recent article on No Contact:

      "Narcissists identify as victims. Perpetually. They may stalk, cheat, plagiarize, abuse and betray people, yet consider themselves to be victims, their victimizing behaviors justified. Perpetually. Well, what can you expect from a disorder preventing accurate self-appraisal, inhibiting the capacity for self-reflection? If someone is unable to introspect and own their aggression, they will view people's defensive reactions as unpredictable and threatening. From the narcissist's point of view, people are attacking without any provocation on the narcissist's part. They believe they are defending themselves from aggression. Since pathological narcissism is defined by distorted perceptions, what narcissists see is not what is. Their provoking behavior is outside their awareness. This does not mean they aren't consciously aware of their aggressive tactics. They believe their aggressive tactics are warranted." http://n-continuum.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-appropriation-of-no-contact-when.html


  7. I have struggled so much with this subject matter. my final verdict is this. Narcissists have value. Perhaps your average narcissist is just a delusional freak, but that delusional freak who has survived into adulthood may have had even less competence and skills if they had not been precisely as they are. many many famous artists are narcissists, and their work is brilliant. Maybe in the end we all as humans need to try to show a bit more appreciation for humanity as a depth of experience but also a breadth. Meaning, we cannot all be humble giving and kind and compassionate. It just wouldn't work.

    1. Hello Nisha,

      I think you may be confusing "normal narcissism" with "pathological narcissism." Please refer to the chart at the top of my sidebar to learn about this important distinction. While everyday normal narcissism leads to a self-centered and dismissive character style, pathological narcissism is Machiavellian, sadistic, and punitive. Pathological narcissists can ruin people lives---so much so that they may never recover their losses and that included trust, the ability to love again, their lives.

      I'm sure people are hurt by self-centered artists (for example) just like non-narcissists hurt one another. But if you've been in a relationship with a pathological narcissist, the losses you will suffer are traumatizing. When most people write about narcissists, they are finally focusing on themselves, being compassionate towards themselves. This is healthy and normal and as it should be. They are finally angry and it might take a long time (with therapy) to access their anger! It's easy to mistake the anger in people's writings as "dehumanizing" to narcissists.

      Of course narcissists have intrinsic value as human beings. I don't think most people would argue that point. The mistake most people make is underestimating the damage narcissists can do (and are willing to do in order to get whatever they want).

      I don't quite understand your last sentence. I believe humans have the capacity to be giving, kind, compassionate and humble. We don't value those traits as much as we do agentic traits like individuality, dominance, and agency, so who knows what society would be like if we did.


  8. It's good to read this again, CZ. The lessons just deepen over the years, and there is a vast difference between pathological narcissism and plain ol' narcissism. One can literately destroy lives. I know, because it was touch and go for me for years.

    I can't speak of NC in a more serious tone. I was the space of a few years for my own psychological recovery: From a path. narcissist mother to a husband the same. Only with the determined love and devotion of my husband of 31 years and a therapist of 10 did I find the will to live.

    Last summer, I decided to address the insults, the slights, the venom head on. I don't recommend this but after 50 years of this combat, I wrote her a short letter calling her a path. narcissist and a woman at 95 who was so immersed in hatred, anger and jealously (towards me, her own daughter, but to so many others in family and outside)and that I would not be her narcissistic supply anymore. It was the very first time I had made an offensive move to let the old bat know that she had no power over me ever again.

    Finally, path. narcissists NEVER get better....they get worse. Path. narcissism is where the wiring is so twisted, and from childhood usually, that there is no relief to this mental illness. They are lost in their hatred and anger. They feed on it because that is the energy that they are used to displaying. Love doesn't come into the picture because they have no concept of love. Ever. Love is a self-serving emotion to them. And that is very much part of their destructive behavior.
    But we who are wounded by these 'mothers' don't have to become them. At some point in our lives the insanity of all this becomes remarkably clear. We are not destined to be our mothers. We are of something else. Perhaps I would not be healthier IF I had not received the love and encouragement, the unconditional love that these paths never understand...that they refuse to even consider the principle here....if it wasn't for elderly women on my father's side who saw a motherless child: me. My aunts, some cousins, they made me feel a part of a family that my own mother had said didn't ever want me. They are all dead now, except the cousins, but they proved her very wrong. They themselves, though not knowing what to call her, saw her over many decades....70 plus years...for the person she was. And still is.
    NC is the ground where we recover and it needs time. And we also learn to love without fear.

    Lady Nyo

    1. Hi Lady Nyo! What a pleasure to hear from you on my blog, the blog that hasn't been updated for nearly a year! Now and then, someone wanders in and leaves a comment which I appreciate more than you could know! I miss writing blog posts, making connections between what I've learned and what I've experienced. Narcissism continues to evolve as psychologists present their own perspective on "the continuum." One thing doesn't seem to change about narcissism however and that is the excruciating pain pathological parents inflict on their children.

      Many of us (including myself) have behaved in narcissistic ways. We have struggled to develop our authentic and true selves as we mature and it's not always an easy task. However, pathological narcissists do not change---not unless by some miracle, they're able to handle the truth about imperfection.

      I love that you said children of narcissistic parents are NOT destined to be narcissists themselves. There might be a lot of damage to "undo" so it's important to know CHANGE is possible. It's important to keep hope directed towards one's self and stop spending energy on hoping a narcissistic parent will change. As long as we're too focused on the pareNt, we're not focusing on ourselves.

      I don't know what you think but it seems to me that the earlier someone receives validation from others, the quicker they're able to let go of the excessive rumination and wasted attempts to 'educate' and 'change' a narcissistic pareNt. Once we let go of that electric fence, we become grounded in ourselves. Then we can become the person we intend to be---perhaps the person we were meant to be all along. It's very complicated knowing what our strengths might be when the best things about us were denigrated and even denied by the narcissistic parent. If we're lucky, we'll have a loving partner who can help us learn to love and even appreciate our strengths.

      Lovely to hear from you...don't be a stranger. You have much to offer people who are interested in learning about narcissistic mothers. Your mother's picture could be in the DSM's page on NPD. ha!

      Love CZ

  9. My elderly aunt is a narcissist. She never did anything for me or my family when we had illnesses. Now, in her time of need, she demands, manipulates and uses guilt trips. I'm no longer in contact with her.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...