March 13, 2015

Parental Communication Study Thanks ACoNs!

Norman Rockwell

Prior posts referring to this study:

ACoNs: Research Study Needs Your Help!

Valerie Berinice Coles contacted me yesterday about the ACoN research study. She said (with double exclamation points) that "people helped out from 32 different countries!!" There were 978 respondents which surpassed their greatest expectations and mine, too! Thank you for being willing to participate in this research. Maybe we can find new ways to stop the transgenerational transmission of narcissistic traits and behaviors ("fleas") and trauma

Untreated, un-countered narcissism reduces the quality of everyone's lives; especially children born into an upside-down and backwards reality where Mom and Dad demand care-taking, not the reverse. A family where self-reliance is idealized and interdependence belittled. It may take decades, or even the rest of a child's life, to claim their full authenticity as a worthy and lovable human being. The narcissistic dysfunction marches through families from one generation to the next, through learned behaviors and/or psychological and physical traumas. 

While prior generations frowned on egocentricity and self-promotion, today's culture reinforces narcissism as a normal and even positive behavior. This makes it even more imperative for people like ourselves to recognize pathological relationships, especially our lineage on a crooked family tree. If Lizzie Borden is our grandma and Captain Hook an uncle, all the more important to understand how we might be affected, what we can and cannot do to heal the family tree. 

Families. Aren't they fascinating? Check out your genealogy and see who your ancestors were! My recovery work goes all the way back to my great-grandmother who I hope, at this very moment, is smiling down on me. 

As soon as the final results of the study are available, I'll post them on this blog. The following is a copy of the email sent to me by Valerie Bernice Coles (one of the researchers in this study). She wrote: 

"We have received a number of emails from individuals who missed the survey the first time around.  We did close data collection on February 27th. However, we will have a smaller study soon available to those who did not participate the first time. Anyone interested may email me at The link for the large study that you helped us with has been discontinued. THANK YOU AGAIN FOR ALL OF YOUR AID! 

"...We are truly amazed and humbled at how many ACONs took our survey.  We had 978 respondents from at least 32 countries, 16 websites that we personally contacted to participate, and then many more websites that you and your readers, our respondents, forwarded the survey to.  Never in our wildest imagination did we think that so many ACONs would step up and help us out.  We are examining our findings over the next six weeks and when we have a summary of the results then.  As I mentioned in previous emails, I will be sending this summary out to all the known websites that participated as well as to any individuals who requested a summary.

Meanwhile, we did the drawing today for the ten $100 gift cards.  Anyone who entered their email address at the end of the survey was eligible for the drawing.  There were 711 emails in the drawing! The ten winners were contacted today via email to get their full name/address so we can mail the gift cards to them.  At the start of the study we had agreed not to publicize their names (as ACONs may not want narcissistic family members to know that they are part of an ACON site) but, of course, if one of the winners is part of your site, we hope that person will let the rest of the group know s/he was a recipient.

Again, we truly appreciate your help and we hope through this study that we can create a short useful questionnaire for people to use to help identify narcissistic parents. The success of this study would not have been possible without you."


  1. All I can think is, "How cool is that?" Well done.

    1. I was holding my breath because ACoNs are (and rightfully so) hesitant to trust authority figures like researchers and psychologists and people who've dismissed them in the past. To see so many people participate in the study was shocking. Some "pathology" studies I've been acquainted with, have worked with as few as 60 respondents. Yes, well done to everyone.

      I would have loved to know more about narcissistic families twenty years ago when John Bradshaw was educating the public about dysfunction. The narcissistic family goes beyond dysfunction because (depending on the degree of narcissism), NOTHING can change the system. We might as well go outside and beat our heads on a brick wall. If narcissistic parents don't want to change, end of story. The impression most people had twenty years ago, was that "changing ourselves" would change the system which led to some very unhealthy behaviors because we didn't recognize pathology: believing we had more influence than we actually did; believing understanding and forgiveness would create a happy family; believing parents should be making amends, not the kids.

      Nice to hear from you, Judy!

    2. Truer words were never spoken. "Nothing can change the system" in a narcissistic family. Narcissists simply do not see themselves as disordered; and even if they do, they would never care enough about others and the damage they do to seek truly good help, or to make amends. So it's a pathology that just needs to be understood, that needs light to be shone into all its dark little corners.

  2. Wow. Well done CZ. Your blog was the first to put out the call to respond to this study. Some others followed suit. I am proud of the ACoN community (yeah, I'll use that word. Not scared anymore) for
    stepping forward and giving the input. Because we are legion, and the therapeutic professions have a LOT to learn from all of us. I'm so glad the study authors recognize you and your big role in rallying the troops. love CS

    1. I hope hope hope that the work bloggers do (and the courage it takes) has a positive effect on the therapeutic community. After all, they will have clients who are suffering from parental narcissism and the only way out of that horror is understanding their experience. I believe, after reading people's blogs for years, that there is Great Wisdom to be gleaned from everyday people writing about everyday lives that are diminished by unrecognized pathology. It has taken a long time but I feel pretty confident about my ability to "spot" pathology in a family system and I believe it's because of the great numbers of writers willing to give us a glimpse into their families.

      My blogging experience began as the partner-of-a-narcissist and I was very honored to be included in the ACoN community. I don't write very much about my FOO although I'd wager a guess that anyone staying "IN" a narcissistic relationship for as long as I did, has serious dysfunction in his/her childhood.

      As you know, my daughter was "outed" as an ACoN by her therapist, which gave me great hope that people like ourselves ARE making a difference in other people's lives. And our own too, of course! I'm so grateful for the recovery work I've done with my online friends because it holds me steady, allowing me to have faith and trust in my daughter's process, too.


  3. I am always inspired by your commitment and dedication to making the world a better, non-narcisstic place CZ. Job well done to everyone!

    And... did you hear.... I'm getting married April 25th!

    Hugs to you my friend. <3

    1. What fabulous news, Louise! I will be celebrating your marriage even though you're in another country, far far away from my home. I think about you frequently, you having been a guiding light during my dark days. There are times when I'm feeling old and blue and "irrelevant" and immediately think of you and poetry:

      When the blues descend,
      look up into the wild blue wonder above you
      and SEE
      the limitless possibilities of your life
      when you dare to
      and BE
      all that you are meant to be.

      (link: )

      Congratulations Louise! I'm tickled pink about your wedding!



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