In a post on Psychology Today titled “Why Do Narcissists Need to Outdo Everyone Else?” Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D. cites new research explaining the differences between high self-esteem, the need to be liked by others, and true narcissism.
“In distinguishing between self-esteem and narcissism…researchers note that both refer to a form of self-regard. Self-esteem is defined as a positive or negative attitude toward the self. People high in self-esteem feel that they have worth, but don’t need to see themselves as better than others. People high in narcissism, though, have a more grandiose set of needs that include a sense of entitlement, a tendency to exploit others, and unusual sensitivity to criticism. “
Read the entire post including the outcome of the studies here
The parent-child relationship is inherently rich with emotion, but when the parent is a narcissist the child is often fraught with confusion and filled with inexplicable desperation as the parent says:
“What is wrong with you?”
This is one of the reasons the child of a narcissist slips into anxiety quicker than anger.
Becoming aware of one’s own anger is intimidating. It tends to causes shame for those who have been taught that anger is their flaw. It may manifest as low-grade anxiety or vague worry that something bad is going to happen.
Sometimes the child’s anger or anxiety is the parent’s displaced anger or anxiety. When a parent berates, “What is wrong with you?” the parent is actually calling their own anger or anxiety flawed. However, now ascribed to the child, the parent’s feelings are handily projected, disowned, and criticized as separate from them. The adult child who must work through it appropriately.
Adapted from When Your Parent Is a Narcissist
An article from the New York Times by Benedict Carey examines how abusive relationships often begin, underscoring the self-doubt and shame victims frequently feel.
The article quotes psychologist Patricia Pape who offers:
“It often starts in a very insidious way,”… “He says, ‘Don’t put Sweet-and-Low in your coffee, it’s poisonous.’
“Then, ‘When you wear that nail polish, it makes you look like a fallen woman,’ and ‘That skirt is too short, it’s too revealing.’ Or, ‘I don’t think you should see her, she’s not good for you.’
“You wind up in a situation where he’s telling you what to wear, what to eat, who you can see, how to behave.”
Each small adjustment made by the victim reinforces this control.”
Read “How Abusive Relationships Take Root” here
“Healing is not always what I expect. Sometimes it feels revitalizing, other times it seems to bring more hurt. I trust that if I surrender to the process of healing, I will reach a place of neutrality, where my focus is no longer on the pain or even on the healing, but on living my life. The moment I turn my attention inward, relief comes. This process becomes more natural every time I make the effort.”
Adapted from Surviving the Narcissist- 30 Days of Recovery
“It’s human nature for a child to crave their parent’s affection and to want to be seen as special and valuable in their parent’s eyes. For acts of caring and uniqueness and sincerity to be noticed. But from the very beginning, the narcissist parent lacks the ability to do this. Narcissism, as a disease, carries with it the feeling that the individual is himself a black hole, a nothing. This is the place that the narcissist parent parents from.”
From When Your Parent Is a Narcissist
In article on the Huffington Post titled “6 Glaring Signs Your Friend Is A Narcissist” Brittany Wong interviews experts and therapists about dealing with narcissistic friends.
“A friend will ask you for help, and you gladly comply. This is what friends do. If your friend is narcissistic, your act of [giving advice] will eventually be used against you…Everyone else likes my ideas except you,’ this person might say. ‘You’re jealous and envious and want me to fail.’” — Meredith Gordon Resnick
Read the entire article here
In response to an article about a psychologist accused of sexual misconduct, Felice J. Freyer of the Boston Globe writes that approximately 9-12% of mental health professionals admit to sexual misconduct and unlawful relationships with patients. Shockingly, these percentages may be underestimated. Andrea Celenza, a psychoanalyst who studies therapist-patient sexual misconduct says:
“…some are predators with a need to dominate and control, but about 60 percent merely fall prey to their own weaknesses.”
Read the article here
As a child, you likely did not understand the depth of your narcissistic parent’s illness. It’s often the adult child’s unhealed wound that makes one prone to clinging—and a target for clingers. As you release, your anxiety might surge (do not hesitate to seek the help of a qualified therapist). But if tolerated, it can become manageable. If you don’t disengage, you remain in the insanity and you prolong the anxiety of letting go. Once that happens, you’ve triggered the unhealthy dynamic again.
Too much focus on the “other”— in this case, the narcissist parent—takes away from one’s own healing. It does this by perpetuating the off-kilter belief in the adult child’s psyche that the parent is the center of everything. Rejection of the dynamic is in opposition to what the narcissist parent wants of you.
“Instead of trying to take control of the situation and get the n happy with us again, we can simply focus on ourselves―what we want, need, feel like doing… We have to move back into our own house, so to speak. At first the rooms are bare, cold, drafty. We need to spend time getting to know our own interior floor plan… and fill the space with love, acceptance and patience for ourselves.”
In an article featured in The Atlantic, Adam Grant writes about how humans often lack self-awareness. Numerous studies show that we often overestimate our levels of intelligence and generosity. Grant writes:
“…people spend a staggering amount of time making claims about themselves. It makes sense: You’re the only person on Earth who has direct knowledge of every thought, feeling, and experience you’ve ever had. Who could possibly know you better than you? But your backstage access to your own mind sometimes makes you the last person on Earth others should trust about it. Think of it like owning a car: Just because you’ve driven it for years doesn’t mean you can pinpoint when and why the engine broke down.”
Read “People Don’t Actually Know Themselves Very Well” here