Narcissistic Mother Syndrome

Narcissistic Mother Syndrome

While most therapists, coaches, and creators in the narcissistic abuse recovery community mean well, they don’t always do their research before creating content. That’s why there are so many “pseudo-diagnoses” running through the community. One such pseudo-diagnosis is the recently dubbed “narcissistic mother syndrome.” Unfortunately, it has copycat bloggers and creators spreading false, though still potentially useful, information.

One of the members of our SPANily support groups asked me to look into this, so I did some digging. After a lot of research, I couldn’t find a legitimate diagnosis called “narcissistic mother syndrome,” so I checked in with my content partner and clinical advisor, Dr. Robin Bryman, a psychologist who specializes in narcissistic abuse recovery, to double-check the facts.

What is Narcissistic Mother Syndrome?

According to Dr. Bryman, the term refers to a mother who has narcissistic personality disorder, briefly defined as a pattern of empathy-deficient, self-centered, egocentric behavior that causes problems in many areas of a person’s life.

Is narcissistic mother syndrome a recognized diagnosis in the psychological community?

Is narcissistic mother syndrome a “real” diagnosis? While psychologists realize that a mother or any person can be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, and while certain qualities are shared by people who happen to be mothers who have this personality disorder, according to Dr. Bryman, isn’t listed in the DSM-V. She adds that narcissistic mother syndrome is a “fall-out of other diagnoses.” In other words, it is not an officially recognized diagnosis.

What is narcissistic personality disorder? 

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), in general, is a personality disorder that manifests in an inflated sense of importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. Learn more about NPD.

How are narcissistic mothers different from other pathological narcissists?

Narcissistic mothers, like most other pathological narcissists, share a single narcissist playbook. While you can’t necessarily pick them out in a crowd, there are certain shared qualities among narcissistic females, and some of these qualities are even specific to narcissistic mothers. For example:

  • Narcissistic mothers seem to have an inability to treat their child as a “whole person,” and instead see them as an extension of themselves.
  • Their inflated sense of entitlement and their exaggerated sense of self-importance can lead to irrational and abusive behavior when these so-called extensions don’t become whatever the narcissistic mother has decided they should be.
  • Narcissistic mothers tend to have a naturally controlling parenting style that is, to put it mildly, stifling to both children and adult children.
  • Narcissistic moms are also known to sometimes lack the ability to separate in a healthy way from their children as they become adults.
  • They have an exaggerated need for attention and praise.
  • A narcissistic mother may feel entitled or self-important, including her role in her children’s lives. For example, they may make their child’s wedding day all about them – or make their child miserable for expecting anything else.
  • She will seek admiration from others and feel dejected and offended if she doesn’t get it.
  • She is likely to believe she is above others and that her opinion is a fact. And if her children disagree with her, she will demonstrate narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury, or she will act as though they are just stupid or have inaccurate opinions.
  • She might appear to be a caregiver-type, allowing her to fly under the radar – but she would use her caregiving as a way to control and manipulate her children. This toxic mother embraces teaching her children to be helpless by not teaching them the basic life skills they need to function. She might also use her “concern” as a way to control her childrens’ every move (feigning worry and upset when she cannot reach them by phone, for example, or stopping by their homes unannounced because they didn’t pick up.)
  • Whether or not she is a caregiver type, a narcissistic mother will lack empathy, even and especially with her children.
  • She has no problem exploiting her children to her advantage (this exploitation will vary in nature and severity depending on how toxic the mother is or where she falls on the “spectrum” of narcissism.
  • Narcissistic mothers often put others down, including and sometimes especially their children.
  • She will be hypersensitive to any form of criticism, even when delivered kindly and constructively.
  • She will believe she deserves special treatment from everyone in her life, often including service people and law enforcement officials.
  • She also might have no idea that she’s causing any damage and might genuinely believe she’s only doing all of this “because she loves you.” For example, one narcissistic mother I knew severely beat her child and claimed it was due to her love for that child. She claimed that if she didn’t care, she wouldn’t want the child to “be better.”

Do you think your mother might be a narcissist? 

If you’re concerned that your mother might be a narcissist, I have a resource for you that can offer some clarity: try this Toxic Mother self-assessment.

Is it dangerous to spread incorrect information to narcissistic abuse survivors? 

I don’t believe that most coaches and creators are trying to hurt anyone by repeating whatever they hear or read around the internet. Still, as a former journalist, I like to share the facts as accurately as possible.

Some of the inaccuracies are simply due to creators making assumptions about terms they hear without researching. For instance, I recently saw someone define narcissistic injury as something a narcissist does to injure another person physically. But in reality, the term refers to a type of behavior a narcissist uses to manipulate their victims. You might know it as the “poor me” act.

Many survivors who start blogs and YouTube channels or Tiktok accounts are still in abusive relationships with narcissists – or just recently out of one. They are still very raw and still learning. As they do, they share their journey. This is great and it can help a survivor feel less alone. The problem is that it is during this time that they’re still trying to figure things out. They have just learned that they might have been dealing with a narcissist, and they’re reading and watching a lot of related content. But since they sound passionate and knowledgeable, new subscribers may not understand that they’re not an authority on the topic – so they may assume that their theories and feelings are facts.

However, while it can be harmless in many cases, false information can be hazardous for vulnerable survivors of narcissistic abuse.

For example:

  • A TikTok creator swears that you can have a successful, healthy relationship with a narcissist if you keep trying.
  • A YouTuber claimed that  narcissistic abuse isn’t “real.”
  • There’s one doctor who “treats” narcissists, but his results are questionable at best – and to maintain them, his patients must stick with him for life.

These statements could be dangerous because they might push a narcissistic abuse victim to stay with their abuser.  But, in general, most narcissistic abuse recovery coaches and creators do mean well.

For example, another pseudo-diagnosis spread like wildfire recently when someone coined the term “narcissistic abuse syndrome,” which refers to C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder). In other words, in most cases, the information that these creators are repeating might be helpful for survivors, and they might just be making it easier to find it by changing the names of these diagnoses.

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support & Resources

If you feel you need additional help and support in your narcissistic abuse recovery, look for a trauma-informed professional trained in helping people who are dealing with overcoming narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. Depending on your particular situation, you might benefit from Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching, or you might do better with a therapist.

You have to decide what to do from here – if you’re not sure, start with my free Narcissistic Abuse Recovery quiz. With your results will come recommended resources for your situation. It’s free. Are you looking for more personal support? You might like to join one of our private small-group coaching sessions, or you might prefer to check out our one-on-one narcissistic abuse recovery counseling and coaching sessions. 

Resources & Support for Adult Children of Narcissists

More on Narcissistic Mothers

More Free, Helpful Information & Resources to Help 

Signs the Narcissist is About to Discard You

Signs the Narcissist is About to Discard You

Are you worried that the narcissist in your life is about to discard you? What are the signs that a narcissist is about to dump you?

How do you know you’re about to be discarded by a narcissist?

While there is still a lot that you can learn about narcissists, certain signs of the final discard are common among narcissists and people with narcissistic personality disorder (as well as other abusers with narcissistic traits who haven’t been diagnosed). And while there does seem to be sort of a playbook for narcissistic abuse, narcissists each still have their own patterns and behaviors separate from their personality disorder.

Still, certain signs of the final discard are common among narcissists and people with narcissistic personality disorder (as well as other abusers with narcissistic traits who haven’t been diagnosed) – and they are likely to stand out if you’re looking for them. Even so, if you’re paying attention to the signs of the final discard, you will probably spot them in most cases.

What is the discard in narcissistic abuse?

The discard is part of the cycle of abuse, and it follows the devaluation period. The narcissist will start picking you apart, and if this is the first time it happens, it can feel devastating and confusing. On the other hand, if you’ve been in the relationship long enough to know the cycle, you might be prepared to hunker down and get through it as you wait for the next “good” part.

What are signs the narcissist is about to discard you?

The Narcissist’s Intermittent Reinforcement Patterns Will Change

Narcissistic abuse involves trauma bonding, which is maintained through intermittent reinforcement. That means that the narcissist is kind and cruel to you in alternating patterns. As a result, you essentially become addicted to them, much like you would any other addictive substance or behavior. This is why it’s so difficult for most survivors to walk away and leave a narcissist.

When the discard is on the way, these abusive patterns will change. The intermittent periods of devaluation will be longer and more intense than usual. In addition, the narcissist may reach new levels of disrespect, or stop being kind to you altogether before the discard. In other words, the narcissist will be making you miserable, and you’ll never or seldom have a moment of feeling loved or accepted as the discard approaches.

The Narcissist Will Go Dark 

You might get the silent treatment. Or, the narcissist might get super quiet, only replying to you when it benefits them to do so. Whether the narcissist cuts off communication completely or cuts way back, you might hear from them far less often, if at all, before the discard. This might be because they are working on securing a new source of narcissistic supply or for literally any other reason. It just means they are beginning to reduce their dependence on you and could be placing it on someone else.

The Narcissist Will Betray You in New and More Painful Ways

The narcissist might cross a line they never have before. For example, they might become physically aggressive when they haven’t before. As always, they will blame you for their behavior – but please note: no matter how “terrible” they claim you’ve been, there is never an excuse for physical abuse or aggression in any relationship.

The Narcissist Will Discard You When You Stop Giving Them Narcissistic Supply

When the narcissist realizes and accepts that they cannot own you, that they can no longer dominate you, and that you will not allow them to drain you any longer, they will walk away and stay away. But truthfully, that kind of awareness is quite rare for someone who has NPD.

Remember that narcissists need your time, attention, acts of service, and several other kinds of energy from you – this is what we call narcissistic supply. So, if you stop doing things for the narcissist and stop being useful to them, the discard is sure to follow before long. That’s because the most obvious sign that you’re about to be discarded is when the narcissist starts to show you that they no longer need you.

Get help with narcissistic abuse recovery right now.

Helpful Reading for Recognizing and Dealing With Narcissistic Discard 

8 Questions a Narcissist Absolutely Cannot Answer – Plus, What They’d Say If They Could

8 Questions a Narcissist Absolutely Cannot Answer – Plus, What They’d Say If They Could


(See video)

If you’ve ever met a narcissist, you’ll know that not only do they have a ridiculously overinflated sense of self, but they also tend to be unable to see things from a perspective other than their own. You cannot expect to have a genuinely open and honest relationship with a malignant narcissist. The narcissist’s lack of self-awareness compounds the issue significantly. That’s why, when asked certain questions, a narcissist is more likely to deflect them or walk away than to actually engage.

What are the questions that a narcissist can’t answer?

What does the narcissist have to avoid answering and why? Ask a narcissist any of the following questions, and prepare to be met with silence or some other seriously evasive response.

What is love?

Since narcissists love people in the same way that most people love their smartphones, they really don’t “get it.” In other worse, they don’t understand the concept of real love, so they can’t answer this question. They don’t know what love is, and they don’t know what it’s supposed to feel like either.

What makes you happy?

Narcissists can’t define happiness for themselves, let alone for someone else.

How do you feel about me?

If you ask the narcissist how they feel about you, you’ll get one of a few answers. These boil down to either a flurry of idealized qualities that you may or may not actually have, the runaround or they’ll give you a whole laundry list of things they think are wrong with you – depending on which phase of the toxic relationship cycle you happen to be dealing with in the moment. If you ask them what they love, they’ll say something you do for them – the way you rub their back or the fact that you pay all the bills – whatever it happens to be. The truth is that the narcissist doesn’t tell you exactly how they feel about you because they’re not even fully aware of who you are; instead, they care about what you do for them and how much narcissistic supply you can provide for them. So, when you’re away, they miss your acts of service, your money, your attention – not the things that make you yourself.

Who hurt you?

More often than you might expect, narcissists report that they’ve had the same kinds of childhood trauma and experiences that their victims share. They’ve just manifested their trauma differently. And, while a lot of narcissists tell sob stories to gain narcissistic supply from the people around them, they can’t always see the forest for the trees. What I mean is that by nature, narcissists avoid introspection. They hate having to deal with themselves, and even if they do share genuine stories about how people hurt them in their lives, they can’t usually admit the issues that surround their pain. If they could, they wouldn’t be likely to fall into the narcissist category – they might actually resolve their core wounds.

Why won’t you ever admit you’re wrong?

Why do you blame others for your actions and decisions? Narcissists don’t take responsibility for their mistakes, ever. They will, at every opportunity, either completely deny the things they’ve done wrong, or shift the blame to someone else. And if they are caught in the act of making a mistake, they’ll blame you for being the reason they did what they did – somehow you’ve caused it, they’ll swear.

Why do you care more about what strangers think than the people you claim to love?

Narcissists see strangers as potential new sources of supply, and they are happy to reel them into their trap. Think back before you knew your ex narcissistic partner. They were impressive to you, too, right? But they care less about what you or anyone else who is close to them thinks – they’re already thoroughly enmeshed and feel they’ve learned everything there is to know. So like any object, sometimes the narcissist puts you in the closet until they want to play with you again.

Why does it bother you so much when we don’t like the same things? 

Ever notice how narcissists tend to get upset if you don’t like the same restaurants, television shows, or books that they like? It seems ridiculous when you think bout it. But narcissists cannot put into words why they find your differences so threatening. They will easily skirt away from the question and tell you that you are ridiculous for thinking that way. The truth is, they do find your differences threatening because they lack empathy. They cannot understand how you would not like the same things they do or have different beliefs. Therefore, this threatens them.

What do you need to change about yourself or your life? 

If you ask a narcissist this question, they will either tell you there’s nothing they need to change, or they’ll give you answers such as they need to make more money, or they need to get a better car or move into a larger home. They will never acknowledge that there is room for improvement within. They stay away from self-reflection of any kind, so the answers they give you to this question are faithful to them. If you asked anyone else this question, they would tell you that they could eat better, exercise more, meditate more, and create a gratitude journal, be better organized, and so on.

QOTD: Does any of this sound familiar to you? What would you add to my list? Share your thoughts, experiences, and ideas in the comments section below this video.

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Resources

How to Safely Leave the Narcissist: A Checklist of Things to Do

How to Safely Leave the Narcissist: A Checklist of Things to Do

Is there a way to create a safety plan when you are going to leave the narcissist? How can you get out of a controlling relationship safely and successfully? Here’s everything you need to know to start planning your escape from the narcissist in your life.

Are you planning to leave an abusive narcissist? 

Your narcissistic partner is abusing you, and you are finally ready to leave. But, unfortunately, it took you way too long to this point, and the idea of leaving the narcissist is quite scary. Not only do you have no idea what consequences you will face when the narcissist realizes you are trying to escape, but the idea of going it alone in the future could have you feeling stuck and alone. These are just a couple of the reasons that it’s so very essential to create a safety plan, and you have to make some considerations.

Your Guide to Leaving a Narcissist

When you are finally ready to leave the narcissist, there are several things you need to put in place before pulling the proverbial trigger. If you have kids, it’s even more complicated.

What’s the PLAN?

If you haven’t already, you might like to download my free PLAN (Planning to Leave a Narcissist) Toolkit to help you plan your escape. PLAN is a free, comprehensive toolkit designed specifically to help you safely leave a narcissistic abuse situation in an emotionally, physically, and/or psychologically abusive relationship, with or without kids involved.

Leaving a Narcissist is Harder Than People Think

In many cases, leaving the narcissist will be a tough decision for you. Even though you’ve heard people tell you to “just leave if it’s so bad,” way too often, you’re scared to leave. Maybe it isn’t THAT bad, you’ll reason. I am probably just overdramatizing it, you’ll tell yourself. But change is hard, even when it’s for the best.

And, assuming you’ve been codependent in the relationship and are struggling with trauma bonding (as most survivors of narcissistic abuse will), leaving the narcissist will be even more difficult. Plus, whether or not the narcissist can return your feelings, chances are you do or did love them with all of your heart. And that doesn’t make it easier.

In fact, leaving a relationship is not easy under any circumstances, and doing so can lead to a lot of pain, confusion, and suffering. But when a narcissistic person is involved, things are far more complicated.

You might be planning how to leave the narcissist already, so this article, along with your PLAN, will ensure that your plan is as effective as it can get. However, whether you decided that enough is enough or they have decided to leave you, it can be highly stressful and chaotic.

What do you need to consider when creating a safety plan to leave the narcissist? 

Get support where you can

When creating a safety plan to leave a narcissist, be aware that you may need outside help. Especially if you are enduring another episode of abuse and you want to leave, it can help to talk to a trusted neighbor or friend and tell them what you’re dealing with, the truth of it. And fill them in on your plan to leave.

Create a code word or a signal together that you can use to get help. For example, if you’re dealing with an episode of narcissistic abuse and you need the police, you could text your code word to the neighbor or put something in the window that faces their home. Or, if you’re planning to leave, you could have your go-bag at a friend’s house so you can get in the car and go when you have the opportunity.

Keep your car full of gas.

When you make your escape plan, you want to make sure that your car is fully fueled at all times so that you can go when the opportunity presents itself. You also want to keep your vehicle parked forward in the driveway or on the street and avoid keeping it in the garage. This way, the narcissist cannot block your way when you make your escape.

Keep an extra set of keys on you. 

Make a copy of your car and house keys so you can keep them in your pocket at all times, if possible.  The narcissist can quickly grab your car keys and keep them hidden from you, and they will absolutely do so if they think it’ll keep you around.

Plan for income

When you plan to leave the narcissist, you’re going to need to figure out how to survive, so try learning some skills by taking an online class. You can also apply to work part-time at a coffee shop or supermarket to start saving some extra cash. Finally, you will want to look into financial aid and other options to help until you get back on your feet.

Plan for a place to land

Tell your friends and trusted family members what you are enduring and your plan to leave the narcissist. Perhaps someone can give you and your kids, if you have any, a place to stay temporarily when you escape. Of course, you will want to look into shelters as well.

If you need additional help and support in your narcissistic abuse recovery, look for a trauma-informed professional trained in helping people who are dealing with overcoming narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. Depending on your particular situation, you might benefit from Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching, or you might do better with a therapist. But, first, you have to decide what to do from here – if you’re unsure, start with my free Narcissistic Abuse Recovery quiz. With your results will come recommended resources for your situation.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

If you haven’t already picked it up, head over and download your free PLANning Tool Kit (Planning to Leave a Narcissist). Then, when you’re safe and ready to move forward, remember that online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

 

How Narcissists Destroy You and How You Can Put Yourself Back Together

How Narcissists Destroy You and How You Can Put Yourself Back Together

If you know what it’s like to experience narcissistic abuse, then you might understand the level of damage that narcissists can do. It is profound and life-altering – and not in a good way. Narcissists destroy you, but if you want to put yourself together again, you can absolutely do it – starting with focusing on understanding what happened to you. Your next (and most important step) is then moving forward into intentionally healing and embracing your true self. Let’s talk about it.

How do narcissists destroy you?

Narcissists are masters of manipulation and control, but the effects of being in a toxic relationship with someone affected by narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are life-changing. The narcissist’s form of psychological and emotional abuse is so harmful that most survivors find it impossible to go back to the way things used to be after recovering from narcissistic abuse.  Their trademark lack of empathy and compassion spills into every interaction with you.

Here are just a few of the ways they destroy you through narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships.

  • They make you believe you’re unworthy of love or respect.
  • They require and take absolute control over your life.
  • They drain your life of energy, confidence, and happiness
  • They see and treat you less like a person and more like an object.
  • They destroy your self-esteem.
  • They isolate you.
  • They shame you.
  • They use your kindness and devotion against you.
  • They make you dependent on them.
  • They manipulate you into staying with them, first through future faking and later through fear, obligation, and guilt.

How can you rebuild yourself and your life after narcissistic abuse?

There are several steps you can take when you’re ready to rebuild your life after narcissistic abuse. In this video, you can learn about how narcissists destroy you, and the psychology around it, plus (and most importantly) exactly what you need to do to find the strength and self-awareness you need to detach from the narcissist and how you can heal and move forward. You’ll learn about how can narcissists manipulate you into giving up everything you care about for them, and you’ll understand why it feels like you might never be able to recover. Plus, you’ll learn exactly what you need to do to embrace your power and take back your life and your SELF after narcissistic abuse.

Have you been destroyed by a narcissist?

If you feel you need additional help and support in your narcissistic abuse recovery, look for a trauma-informed professional trained in helping people who are dealing with overcoming narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. Depending on your particular situation, you might benefit from Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching, or you might do better with a therapist. But, first, you have to decide what to do from here – if you’re unsure, start with my free Narcissistic Abuse Recovery quiz. With your results will come recommended resources for your situation.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

 

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