“What is wrong with you?”

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

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