Narcissists as Good Parents – Impossible? Maybe not, say psychologists.

Narcissists as Good Parents – Impossible? Maybe not, say psychologists.

Recently, someone asked me what I considered to be a sort of confusing question, but one that I think a lot of us have asked ourselves at one point or another. 

“Can a narcissist be a good parent who doesn’t cause any damage to their children?”

Is this even possible? I have to be honest with you. I have met a LOT of narcissists and even more victims of narcissists doing what I do.

However, I cannot say that I’ve ever met a malignant narcissist who didn’t directly or indirectly cause significant psychological harm to their children.

Often, the harm was also physical and emotional. Sometimes, it was direct and intentional. It was also just a lack of interest or presence or pure neglect.

Considering all of that, how could it be possible for a malignant narcissist or someone with narcissistic personality disorder to be a good parent to raise emotionally healthy, self-actualized, and well-rounded children who become adults without many trauma issues?

Can narcissists be good parents? 

While you might initially think it’s utterly impossible for a narcissist to be a good parent, there are a few particular circumstances under which it could theoretically happen.

Here, narcissistic abuse recovery experts Dr. Robin Bryman, Dr. Zamecia McCorvey, Dr. Judy Rosenberg, and yours honestly, Angie Atkinson, share our thoughts on what it would take for a narcissist to be a good parent.

My Theory: With a Little Friendly Competition, Maybe

Maybe we all have a little trauma in the cards. But I have not seen or heard about a narcissist who didn’t leave severe psychological scars on their children.

Minor traumas may be overblown, for sure. But just as often. the more significant, intense traumas – the kind that gives you that deep, dull ache in your heart when you recall them – are brushed under the rug like they’re nothing. 

From that perspective, it can be easy to miss the subtle, pervasive behaviors of a narcissistic abuser. But does the lack of blatant abuse mean that some malignant narcissists can raise healthy children who become healthy adults with firm boundaries and a strong sense of self

In general, my opinion has always been that it was, at best, highly unlikely that a narcissistic parent could do enough good in a child’s life to combat the bad.

And that, despite our best efforts, even some well-meaning parents cause some unintentional traumas along the way – or at least miss the opportunity to prevent them. 

Most narcissistic parents have a shining moment here and there – or at least a few not-terrible memories are made along the way. There may even be certain parts of parenting in which they shine naturally.

For example, a client recently shared with me that her narcissistic ex had one good point in this area: he was the “fun” parent, and while this also meant he dragged the kids into activities they would end up hating (due to his gung ho, never slow down attitude), it was something that can be healthy and positive in a child’s life. 

But, inevitably, such a parent will fail in other areas: genuine connection, structure, discipline, and proper attention, for example. So as sweet as the fun parent is, this is tempered with extreme emotions that can alienate the children and make them feel afraid, resentful, and unseen.

And that’s on the very mild end of the spectrum – it gets far worse.

So in the end, the best I believe it could get with a narcissist is not terrible, or tolerable. Their intermittent style of loving and validating alternating with ignoring, abusing, neglecting, and controlling their children simply doesn’t give their children a “normal” launch into life.

This is especially when that parent is controlling the other parent. You know, the one who should be the child’s advocate when the narcissist goes overboard.

The one who is most easily and often alienated by the narcissist? Yep.  

After I thought about it for a while, I concluded that there might be one way a narcissist could be the perfect parent.

They would need to be competing in a Who’s the Best, Healthiest, Least Damaging, Most Selflessly Loving Parent contest. That contest would have to have some rock-solid guidelines and would need to offer regularly scheduled praise and adoration that came at the perfect time

Plus, it would need to have plenty of accountability and unscheduled home visits with secret kid interviews and assessments, to ensure a way to measure and track their progress. And, it would need to go for the whole life of the child or parent, whoever happens to live the longest.

Finally, it might help to give the narcissist something that helps keep their ego in check, depending on what their doctors (or budtenders) have to offer. But we also have to remember that narcissistic personality disorder is not a mental health disease; it is a personality disorder.

Technically, narcissistic personality disorder with malignant traits.

You cannot treat NPD with medicine, but some doctors choose to treat narcissists for co-morbid issues or even side effects of the drugs or treatments. In those cases, treating symptoms could in theory, be possible, but I still do not believe we could ever undo or even permanently stall their behaviors with medicine. 

What Psychologists Say It Would Take to Make a Narcissist a Good Parent

The more I thought about it, I decided it would be a good idea to get the opinions of our team’s medical and educational psychologists, just to be safe and offer a full-spectrum answer. Here’s what they had to say when I asked them if there’s any chance that narcissists can be good parents. 

Dr. Robin Bryman: Under Specific Circumstances, Maybe

“I believe a narcissist can absolutely be a good parent if the moon and stars are aligned,” Dr. Robin Bryman said, smiling. 

“What I mean is that if the narcissist is intelligent, doesn’t have an addiction that impacts their lives, and they set their lives up in a way that their kids succeed, it is possible,” she added, noting that as long as the parent feels successful in their life, it’s not completely impossible.

“They’d need to have a beautiful, handsome, and/or successful spouse or partner, and they would have to be at the top of what they consider a successful life.”

“In this type of situation, the addiction, especially if it’s about control and power, can inadvertently allow a narcissist to effectively parent,” she said.

And since a narcissist often views their children as extensions of themselves, they will want that extension to be as well-adjusted as possible. 

Dr. Zamecia McCorvey: Maybe, for Devoted Golden Child

When I asked Dr. Zamecia McCorvey if she believed a narcissist could be a decent parent, she was immediately taken aback. 

“I automatically thought Hell No!,”  Dr. McCorvey Said, “Considering my life experience being raised by parents who I believe were narcissistic.”

She said that being raised this way has seriously impacted aspects of her life, both growing up and even now, well into adulthood.

“However, as I think past my experience and rely on my understanding of narcissism, I’d say it really depends,” she said.

“They can be a great parent, depending on what role their child plays within the family dynamic,” she continued. “If the child is the golden child and does not deviate from the narcissistic parent’s control are reign, they will experience a better parent than a child who is not easily controlled by the narcissistic parent, or is the scapegoat.”

Dr. Judy Rosenberg: Maybe Good, Definitely Not Great

Maybe, says Dr. Judy Rosenberg, but there’s a catch. We know that there are plenty of malignant, toxic narcissistic parents who completely neglect their kids’ needs, ignore them, control them, physically or sexually abuse them, or otherwise make them miserable. 

But there are also many narcissists who appear to be great parents. They take care of their kids’ physical needs and ensure they’ve got the latest and greatest in fashion, gadgets, and everything else. They have beautiful, expensive homes that are perfectly decorated and always spotless.

But even those who do take care of the physical needs may barely even know their children, and the rest are sort of like live-in bullies until the kids move out – and even then, often continue to abuse and control their adult children.

“A narcissist can be a good parent if they are ethical and moral and fulfill their obligations to their children,” Dr. Judy said. “But they will never be a great parent because they just don’t have the wherewithal to show empathy.”

That trademark lack of empathy would effectively leave the child feeling unseen, at the very least. If we were talking about a malignant narcissist, the effects on the child would be more profound.

But, Dr. Judy said, “If they choose an empathic partner it can buffer the effects.”

So, if a narcissist chose a good partner with decent empathy skills, any potential damage to the child’s psyche could be mitigated.

While Dr. Judy’s thoughts are clearly sound, I’d add that, since we know that narcissists are notorious for emotionally and psychologically abusing anyone who gets close enough to see behind their false self (the mask they show the world), we can safely assume that this abuse would also, directly or indirectly, affect the child. 

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Loyalty Binds, Narcissists, and Parental Alienation (Plus: The One Way a Narcissist Could Be a Good Parent)

Loyalty Binds, Narcissists, and Parental Alienation (Plus: The One Way a Narcissist Could Be a Good Parent)

Have you ever had to choose between two equally unpleasant options, or be seen as disloyal? If you were raised by a narcissist, you might have experienced parental alienation, and you might have faced such a choice. 

What is parental alienation?

In its most basic form, parental alienation means one parent turning a child against the other parent. The goal may be to try to get full control over the child, using them for attention and away from other people who could give it to them; aka narcissistic supply. But in the case of a toxic, narcissistic parent, they don’t even see the child as a whole person but as an extension of themselves or an object to be owned. 

In other words, a narcissist is likely to use their child as a weapon or an object to hurt the other parent. It is a form of psychological manipulation and is used to trick the child into showing unwarranted fear, disrespect, or hostility toward you and or other people in your family. 

For the child involved, it’s a painful and invalidating experience that lasts long into adulthood. complicating every relationship they happen to be involved with, from romantic ones to their own children, friends, colleagues, and more. 

Can narcissists be good parents? 

Maybe, says Dr. Judy Rosenberg, but there’s a catch. We know that there are plenty of malignant, toxic narcissistic parents who completely neglect their kids’ needs, ignore them, control them, physically or sexually abuse them, or otherwise make them miserable. 

But there are also many narcissists who appear to be great parents. They take care of their kids’ physical needs and ensure they’ve got the latest and greatest in fashion, gadgets, and everything else. They have beautiful, expensive homes that are perfectly decorated and always spotless.

But even those who do take care of the physical needs may barely even know their children, and the rest are sort of like live-in bullies until the kids move out – and even then, often continue to abuse and control their adult children

This is the ONLY Way a Narcissist Can Be a GOOD Parent (But Not GREAT)

“A narcissist can be a good parent if they are ethical and moral and fulfill their obligations to their children,” Dr. Judy said. “But they will never be a great parent because they just don’t have the wherewithal to show empathy.”

That trademark lack of empathy would effectively leave the child feeling unseen, at the very least. If we were talking about a malignant narcissist, the effects on the child would be more profound.

But, Dr. Judy said, “If they choose an empathic partner it can buffer the effects.”

So, if a narcissist chose a good partner with decent empathy skills, any potential damage to the child’s psyche could be mitigated. However, since we know that narcissists are notorious for emotionally and psychologically abusing anyone who gets close enough to see behind their false self (the mask they show the world), we can safely assume that this abuse would also, directly or indirectly, affect the child. 

What happens when you raise children with a narcissist?

When you have a narcissist who marries a codependent or someone who becomes codependent, you’ll see a strange thing happening in their family:  the codependent parent tends to throw themselves under the proverbial bus more often than you might think when it comes to protecting their kids, but sadly, the kids are still affected by the tension between the parents. 

Kids think toxic is normal. 

They start to think that this is how a relationship works, and depending on which parent is the narcissist and how they treat the other, among other factors, they may become either a narcissist or a codependent. The only way to prevent this is for the narcissist to be self-aware enough to allow the more empathetic parent to do most of the discipline and daily dealing with the kids. 

So, not only would the narcissist need to be self-aware enough to actually recognize this issue, but they’d also need to let the other parent be in control on some level.

While that seems nearly impossible given what we know about toxic parents and toxic family structure, Dr. Judy said that “if they can learn not to demean them but to value their children, and at least make an offer to put their needs first, that would be a good start.”

But could or would a narcissist ever do what would be necessary to be a “good” parent? 

It’s debatable, but in my opinion and according to my research, narcissists are infamously terrible parents, whether they ignore and neglect their children or fully control them – or some uncomfortable combination of both. There are many other common behaviors among toxic parents, of course – physical abuse, psychological abuse, and more – though not every toxic parent physically abuses their children, which can make abuse difficult to prove.

This makes it even more difficult to swallow. But it’s important to understand that narcissists have no level to which they will not stoop – and often, this includes actions (or lack thereof) toward their own children. They are not afraid to use a child as a narcissistic supply – and they’re happy to use them as a tool to hurt the other parent. 

Narcissists Use Loyalty Binds to Support Parental Alienation 

Let’s discuss another kind of manipulation and a whole new low for narcissists: loyalty binds and how they’re used by toxic people to actively alienate their fellow parents and other family members from their children.

What are Loyalty Binds?

Loyalty binds are used against you by someone who is forcing you to choose between them and someone else – often, a parent forcing a child to choose them or the other parent (or a step-parent, in many cases).

In the process, the victim feels forced to choose against their own best interests. This can happen in any type of relationship but it has been previously identified as an issue with step-parenting.

But when you really think about it, it also applies to narcissistic abuse in relationships and families –  specifically related to parental alienation. 

Loyalty binds are confusing for the recipient because the abuser will say that one thing is true, but behavior shows something else. They then blame their victim for not seeing reality in the same way that they do. This can and often does lead to cognitive dissonance.

For example, a narcissistic parent may tell a child that he loves them very much but then verbally abuse them at every opportunity. The child will believe his mother’s words about her love for him even though she keeps doing things that cause him pain and harm because he believes (rightly) that if his mother does not love him, he cannot survive due to his total dependency on her. The child’s survival depends upon keeping his mother happy so she doesn’t abandon him so he accepts her words and denies how hurtful her chronic abuse is to him.

When toxic parents use loyalty binds to alienate the other parent

The children of narcissistic parents are the most vulnerable to the effects of this vicious cycle. They often feel a tremendous amount of love and loyalty for their other parent, who is trying to protect them from their abuser. However, this abuser will use their bond and affection against them.

It can be incredibly difficult for a child that has grown up with parental alienation to stand up and question what they’ve been taught. In many cases, even as adults, they will continue to have difficulty forming relationships in which there is give-and-take, healthy boundaries, or mutual respect. The bonds they had with their targeted parent have been severed (or weakened), leaving them feeling abandoned, scared, and alone.

The relationship with the child may be distorted by the narcissist in order to maintain control.

The child may also be made to feel like they have to keep a secret or that they’re not allowed to tell the truth about how they feel for fear of disappointing the toxic parent.

They may be put in the position of having to keep the happy parent happy, or they risk punishment. The child might experience guilt and be actively triangulated by the toxic parent through guilt-tripping and other forms of manipulation. In some cases, children are made to believe that they are better off with the toxic parent, regardless of how much abuse they suffer at their hands (or how much better off they would be if they lived with the non-narcissistic one).

Attachment styles are affected deeply as a result of narcissistic abuse. The child may feel obligated to the toxic parent and guilty for loving or wanting to know the other parent (or even just being curious about them). They are often made to feel that it’s betraying one or both parents somehow just for them to want love from both sides (which is their natural right as children).

 

A child (or adult child) may have to choose one parent over the other.

When a child (or adult child) is forced to choose between the toxic parent and the narcissistic parent, they can experience very uncomfortable emotions. Examples of these situations include having to choose which parent’s birthday party to attend or being torn between visiting a sick parent in a hospital or going on a romantic vacation with a narcissistic partner.

When the narcissist is abusive toward the other parent, they may try to discourage a relationship with that other parent by demonizing them or by creating intense situations where choosing their parent would demand courage.

A child who is loyal to a narcissist parent will often have a difficult or impossible time visiting or seeing the other parent. The narcissist may create intense situations in which the child must choose between being loyal to their parent, which requires courage and strength or choosing the other parent.

The narcissist may actively try to alienate the child from their other parent by using verbal abuse, emotional manipulation, and guilt trips to discourage contact with them. An example of this might be if a child has plans to visit their father for his birthday but the mother strongly discourages it. They do this because they know that they can use fear, guilt, and shame as powerful tools against their offspring.

The abuse can escalate when it’s time for one of the parents to move out of the home.

From a child’s point of view, the custodial parent who remains in the home may get a disproportionate amount of attention. This is because the child will only spend part of their time with the non-custodial parent.

As for the non-custodial parent, he or she will feel as if they are walking on eggshells around their children. The children may be very angry at them for leaving in the first place.

They may also have been brainwashed into thinking that the non-custodial parent has done something wrong by leaving and that they somehow deserve to be punished. For those parents who live far away from their children, weekly phone calls can become awkward and difficult.

Children may experience grief, anger, and embarrassment over how the narcissistic parent talks about their other parent when they’re not around, or when they are on Skype or Zoom or over the phone.

The child may feel ashamed of what their parent is doing and feel like they are the only one dealing with this, or they may learn that this is one way to get their needs met. 

They may think that they are alone in having a parent who acts this way because no one else’s parents appear to act like this.

A narcissistic mother will often try to force her daughter into submission through guilt trips or through anger and aggression that has no reason.

  • When a narcissistic mother has decided it’s time to give you a guilt trip, she’ll disappear, suddenly and without warning. You might be in the middle of a conversation, but she won’t respond to your questions or calls, no matter how many times you try. She’ll ignore you until you’re so worried that you track her down and apologize for whatever offense she believes deserves your groveling.
  • A narcissistic mother will often threaten suicide when her daughter makes positive changes in her life that don’t involve the mother. The point is to get her daughter emotionally hooked again so the daughter will be forced to stay in the relationship and keep doing things for her mother. This can also work with threats of harming herself physically or going on “hunger strikes” when she doesn’t get what she wants from others.
  • Another common way of making people feel guilty is by threatening others with harm—especially if the threat includes children or pets. Mothers who are more concerned about their own needs than those of their children are always looking for ways to manipulate their daughters by using their emotions and fears as weapons against them—and there’s nothing they won’t do to ensure they have control over everyone around them.

Here’s the good news.

You can recover from being made to feel like you were stuck between two parents who were demanding your loyalty but not giving any back to you.

It wasn’t your fault. 

You are not alone.

You are not responsible for the dysfunction in your family.

Healing is possible and you can have a future.

Start here.

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.

 

 

Want to fast-track your narcissistic abuse healing with a celebrity psychologist?

Want to fast-track your narcissistic abuse healing with a celebrity psychologist?

Have you experienced the devastating effects of narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship? If you have, you’re not alone!

In fact, millions of people have been affected by narcissistic abuse from their spouses or partners, family members, friends, bosses, coworkers, and even acquaintances. So many survivors suffer in silence, and some don’t even recognize the abuse due to its pervasive nature.

But now you can change all of that – and the best part is that you don’t have to go it alone. You can get personal help from celebrity psychologist, Dr. Judy Rosenberg.

Introducing Dr. Judy Rosenberg’s Mind Map – BREAKTHROUGH THERAPY

A Life-Changing Journey To Be The Cause® Of Better Outcomes For Your Life!

DECODE YOUR PAST…RECODE YOUR FUTURE®

This is a proven system designed to identify childhood wounds, dismantle them at the CAUSAL level, and Paradigm Shift into mental well-being. You Will Finally Get To The Truth of WHY You Seem to Attract Toxic People and Learn How to End the Pain, ONCE AND FOR ALL! 

The Mind Map Will Help You to:

  • Identify Your Childhood Wounds
  • Learn how to identify childhood wounds from your past, how you reacted to them, and how you encoded them.
  • See How Your Wounds Still Affect You Today
  • See how your wounds created your current chaos and how to identify defense mechanisms that keep you stuck.
  • Break through your defenses and release yourself from psychological prison. 

You Will Learn To Shift: 

  • Paradigm Shift Into Mental Health
  • Learn how to paradigm shift your relationship with yourself and others, heal, recode, and reconnect. This will allow you to Be The Cause® of better outcomes for your life.

GET TO THE HEART OF THE PROBLEM AND STRAIGHT TO THE CAUSE

  • Don’t Get Treatment for the Symptoms, Treat the Underlying Cause
  • These Are Not Just Techniques. It’s an Entire System That Has Worked for Thousands, Including Many of Dr. Judy’s celebrity clients.
  • Get Instruction From a Licensed Clinical Psychologist Who Has Been in Practice for Over 25 Years
  •  Journal Your Mind Map™ Journey, your storyboard of your pathway from DISCONNECTION and MENTAL UNHEALTH to your mental HEALTH and CONNECTION

You Will Learn:

  • WHO is the cause of your mental dis-ease
  • WHAT Human Disconnect does to your psyche
  • WHERE you are going on the pathway to healing
  • FROM – Past mental health
  • THROUGH – Dismantling your old psychological DNA
  • TO – Paradigm shifting into a newly encoded and healthy blueprint of mental health
  • Do this NOW so you don’t have to carry your dis-ease within and spread it to the next generation.
  • WHY? Because you’re sick and tired of suffering from anxiety, depression, bad habits, relationships, and other unhealthy symptoms and patterns

What if you could personally jumpstart your healing process with a renowned celebrity psychologist?

In her mission to help heal Global Disconnect, Dr. Judy Rosenberg has been helping to heal some of our society’s most elite members for over 30 years. Now, she wants to take her mission to the next level with an exclusive offer! But this offer will only be extended to a select few – so you’re going to need to hurry if you want a spot. 

Learn more about Dr. Judy’s mind map system

Here’s a video interview I recently did with Dr. Judy about her amazing mind map system. If you have questions, give Dr. Judy’s office a call at (855) 431-0360.

Only a few spots left in Dr. Judy’s upcoming online workshop!

Here’s the exciting part: Dr. Judy has created a special, 3-part live interactive webinar workshop, during which she will personally guide 25 special people through her personally developed, proven, and shockingly effective Mind Map system.

Yes, the same one that countless celebrities have used to heal from their own childhood traumas and adult toxic relationships.

The catch? Because she wants to personally guide each survivor through the system, she has limited access to this exclusive event to only 25 people.

So how do you qualify to be part of this rare event?

  • First, you must be able to attend each session and ready to take back your power.
  • Second, you must be willing and able to do the work involved.
  • Finally, you must be genuinely committed to creating profound personal change in your life.

What do you get out of this?

I mean, besides the opportunity to have this celebrity psychologist personally walk you through the system that has been helping the elite heal for years?

Not only will Dr. Judy teach you how to “think like a shrink” so you can manage your own mental health, but you’ll come away with a new secret superpower: you can reuse the Mind Map, again and again, to dig into and resolve most issues that keep you from living your best life.

Plus, you’ll get the benefit of the shared community experience with others who are on their own healing journeys.

Learn practical strategies for making a successful transition from victim to survivor and master how to: avoid the pitfalls of narcissistic abuse, interpret narcissistic signals, manage distorted feelings and emotions, avoid the problems of codependency, gain clarity from past experiences including childhood wounds, and reclaim your true identity, once and for all.

YES, the Mind Map system is THAT powerful – it really works.

What Dr. Judy’s Clients Say

” I was so excited to see and work with Dr. Judy as I had been following the WTF shows from London. From the start, Dr. Judy ‘got it’, I mean she got my story! For the first time in my life, someone was able to understand and see the patterns. It wasn’t at all easy if I am honest and sometimes I was filled with so much fear that I would never be able to escape my core belief system but in the end, after a climactic panel 6, something inside me began to shift.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Dr. Judy who really does all this from her heart! I’m still working through a lot even though I’m almost on panel 9 but what I know is that deep within me a seismic shift has taken place. I’m discovering more about the effects of narcissism and uncovering deep offshoots of my core belief which is painful fascinating at the same time.

It is true what they say- ‘when the student is ready, the teacher comes.” ~C,D.

“She mindfully shifts our conversations to relevant behavioral patterns and provides useful, constructive tools through her mind map principles, which causes me to better understand the relationship with myself and others in a completely new (and healthier) perspective.” ~T.R.
“After only 10 sessions I became a better, stronger person with Judy. When I first came in I was full of issues and not having any idea about how to deal with them and start living life again.” ~K.K.

Learn more and sign up for this one-time online event

Visit Psychological Healing Center to learn more and sign up for this amazing opportunity – but hurry, as there are just a few spots left!

Questions you’d like to ask before you sign up? 

Just give Dr. Judy’s office a call at (855) 431-0360, or take a look at this video featuring more information about Dr. Judy’s Mind Map system

Movies to Empower You During the End of Your Toxic Relationship (Narcissistic Abuse Recovery)

Movies to Empower You During the End of Your Toxic Relationship (Narcissistic Abuse Recovery)

So, you’re looking for movies and TV shows that inspire you to leave a toxic, abusive relationship? Or you’ve already left and you’re working on narcissistic abuse recovery, so you’d like to watch something that makes you feel inspired and ready to move on? Well, my friend, look no further. Here’s a list made by our community of narcissistic abuse survivors of movies and television shows that inspired, entertained, and properly distracted them during their own recovery.

You’re not alone if movies and TV shows help give you a little push toward taking back your life. A lot of narcissistic abuse survivors find that, especially these days, they spend a lot of time alone – whether they’re still with their abusers, or not. And in any case, one convenient way to spend rainy days or extended alone times is to watch movies and TV shows.

And, hey – when you’re dealing with the need to feel empowered or motivated, what better way to multitask than by watching inspiring, empowering, and at times, hilarious movies during the end of a toxic relationship and into your narcissistic abuse recovery, right? So what are the best movies to inspire you to feel strong, empowered, and ready to move forward with your life?

Best Movies to Empower You in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

I polled The SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Group – and they shared the movies and television shows that help them stay focused on their goals, empowered to take back their lives, and properly distracted as needed

Best Movies to Inspire & Empower You To Leave a Narcissist

#1. Enough

Survivor Reviews:

  • “It’s got Jennifer Lopez in it, playing an abuse victim. It was my relationship to a T!”
  • “It helps you realize what you’re dealing with in the relationship, but then she takes back her power.”
  • “Totally inspired me to leave.”

 

#2. Birds Of Prey And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

Survivor Reviews:

  • “Somehow they really nailed some of the truths of escaping abusive relationships. Like how they made her vulnerable and depressed and disoriented and strong and capable and resilient all at the same time.”
  • “I felt a lot of that movie on a personal level. It definitely was a solid pick me up.”
  • “I found Birds of Prey to be strangely inspiring. I mean I took away from it that Harley learned to be independent and strong after her breakup. Not having to rely on anyone else’s protection anymore.”

#3. Sleeping with the Enemy

“Julia Roberts kicks narc ASS!”

Honorable Mention: I Can Only Imagine

Survivor Reviews:

  • “I just watched the movie and I cried like a baby!”
  • “Warning: it can cause triggers. It’s about an abusive father but the ending is absolutely amazing.”

Movies That Make Good Distractions During Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

#1. Ma

Survivor Reviews:

“It’s a horror revenge thriller but I enjoyed it so much.”

“Not necessarily empowering, but a perfect way to distract myself.”

#2. Magic Mike XXL

Survivor Reviews:

  • “Because it’s sex-positive with hot guys.”
  • “Yeah, that one will keep your eyes glued to it!”

#3. Forgetting Sarah Marshall

“This one’s on the lighter side, but it was a great distraction for me when processing the end of my narcissistic relationship.”

More Interesting and Empowering Movies Recommended by Survivors of Abuse

Honorable Mentions 

TV Shows Recommended to Help Inspire & Distract You During Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Please remember this. 

Clearly, TV shows and movies aren’t going to solve any problems for you. But, if you carefully curate your intake and choose media that empowers, amuses and otherwise supports you in your narcissistic abuse recovery, you’ll thank yourself.

As one survivor noted, “TV and movies can be very triggering for me too sometimes. I never realized how deeply it was affecting my thinking but so much of it is aimed at getting people to measure their worth by romantic relationships. So now I have a list of emotionally ‘safe’ shows and movies and even music that I resort to when I am feeling vulnerable. They are ones that don’t focus on romantic relationships but instead base the female character development on other aspects of their lives.”

Be sure that TV and movies are not the only areas you start curating in this narcissistic abuse recovery process. You want to focus on the people, activities and even the general energy you allow in your space while you’re going through recovery. It’s an ongoing process and if you want to intentionally heal, the first place to begin is by removing toxic influences from your life to make space for more positive ones.

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Resources

Helpful Videos for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors

 

Narcissists And Selective Memory

Narcissists And Selective Memory

(Prefer to watch or listen instead of reading? Here’s a video!) Is it selective memory? Or maybe it’s narcissistic selective amnesia? Is there any such thing?

Have you ever dealt with a narcissist who seems to conveniently forget things that are important to you, but who never seems to forget that time 10 years ago when you stepped on their toe or said something that hurt their feelings? Someone who would be very forgetful when they promised you they’d do something that mattered, but who would never forget if you even looked at them cross-eyed? How did that feel to you?

Maybe you worried that they were losing their memory or started Googling stuff like “early-onset dementia” or “convenient memory loss.” Or, if you are still in a relationship with a narcissist, whether they are a parent, spouse, partner, friend, or coworker, and you are noticing that their memory seems to be going south, then you might be wondering about this right now, at this moment.

If your toxic relationships look anything like mine did, you might find this to be especially poignant when you think back to incidents where the narcissist said they’d take care of something, but pretended to forget that they made such a promise.

Later, they’d end up blaming you for being irresponsible. For instance, the narcissist in your life may have told you that they were going to take care of the grocery shopping on Wednesday. But then when you go to cook dinner on Wednesday night, they’re offended when you ask what happened with the groceries. At that moment, rather than taking responsibility and acknowledging that they forgot or chose not to do the shopping for whatever reason, they might accuse you of forgetting to do the shopping. And when you remind them that they said they were going to take care of the shopping, they get angry and deny having said that.

Despite the fact that you know for sure they said it, they will insist that you’re mistaken, and narcissistic rage will ensue as they give you a good “dressing down,” reminding you how scatter-brained and flaky you tend to be. By the time this emotionally draining exchange is over, you’ll find yourself wishing you’d just done the shopping yourself – and you never ask them to do it again.

Of course, if we’re being honest, this was the narcissist’s desire all along – to avoid the responsibility of bringing home the proverbial bacon and then frying it up in a pan part – but as always, they’ll expect you to serve it up to them with a smile if and when they want it, regardless of your own state of wellbeing and ability to drop whatever you’re doing and take care of their many demands in any given moment.

But I digress. Now, here is the question you have really been wanting to ask.

Do Narcissists Really Have Memory Problems?

Yes, and no. It’s complicated – and there are a couple of different possibilities here. Let me explain.

First, it’s important to remember that, as much as they make us doubt it, narcissists are technically human. And all humans seem to have a certain amount of bias as well as selectiveness in both their perceptions and their memories.

For example, you know about confirmation bias, right? That is where someone will only notice or remember things that confirm what they already believe. And we all know how nostalgia can lead to a convenient “forgetting” of the bad parts of life – for example, when a woman has a baby, we don’t focus on the gross, painful parts of giving birth, but we do focus on how amazing it was that we managed to have a baby. The truth is that, in this case, humanity might be in serious danger of extinction if it was any other way.

Even survivors of narcissistic abuse will find themselves dealing with what might be called nostalgia-based selective memory – but we call it “abuse amnesia.” That is what happens when we are away from the abuser in our lives for a while and we start to forget all the bad parts of being in a relationship with them. It’s when “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” on a toxic level. You literally sort of “forget” all of the bad stuff and begin to romanticize the reality of your toxic relationship. This is dangerous as it leads to reuniting with your abuser. Too many of us end up going back to the very people who made our lives feel miserable – simply because some part of us wants to believe them when they swear they’ve changed – and because on some level, we really sort of “forget” the depth of how they actually treated us in the relationship.

This is truly just how the human brain functions. Our memories function sort of like little databases, keeping records in realtime over the course of our lives. As our brain manages our physical bodies, it also grabs a few main details of each situation we deal with every day, or at least those situations that seem to matter to us in the moment – good or bad. It discards the stuff that doesn’t feel or seem important to us – and if we tap into that memory later to figure out what happened, our brains attempt to sort of reconstruct that situation, based on only those saved details.

C-PTSD and Selective Memory

If you’ve been in a toxic relationship with a narcissist, then you might be experiencing C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder), which is a serious mental health condition affecting a large percentage of victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse. This disorder can take years to treat and many professionals aren’t familiar with its symptoms or misdiagnose it. They may even victim-blame if they aren’t familiar with the subtle tricks of a narcissist. Unfortunately, it can be a lifelong condition, but it can be managed with mindfulness and behavior modification, among other therapies and modalities.

With that being said, one of the most often-reported symptoms is short-term memory loss, along with longer-term loss in some especially traumatic cases where people might sort of blackout painful incidents of verbal or emotional abuse suffered at the hands of a narcissist.  This is a result of the way our brains function under the stress of being in a relationship with a narcissist.

This is partially related to the trauma, which has a tendency to cause us to sort of live instinctively – as in, a constant state of fight-or-flight and/or freeze mode. And you know when it’s really hard for the human brain to form and retain new memories, right?

When you’re in fight-or-flight and/or freeze mode. Yup.

So, in other words: YES, the narcissist has a selective memory or “selective amnesia.” And often, they use the premise of it as a way to gaslight you.

When Narcissists Use Selective Memory in Gaslighting

So, when it comes to a narcissist who hurts us emotionally, we obviously consider this important and significant. This is part of our survival instinct. It makes sense.

But when you consider that narcissists tend to have incredibly volatile emotions along with a lack of emotional and compassionate empathy – not to mention that when they are feeling upset or angry or embarrassed – or when they’re feeling anything other than being fully in control of the situation, and then you add in the fact that they don’t see you as real, relevant or important as they are…well, their “selective” memory might be understandable, in a way. Right?

Of course, with narcissists, nothing is so simple. And in many cases, if we’re being honest, it isn’t really about a naturally-occurring personality defect. In fact, for most narcissists, selective memory is used as a manipulation tactic, at least some of the time. It is one of the many ways they gaslight you – as in manipulating you by psychological means into questioning your own sanity.

They might claim they don’t remember doing something that hurt you so they can get out of taking responsibility, for example. Or, (and this is more common in my experience), they might even sort of attack you for EXPECTING them to remember – and they might even try to use this to justify their abuse (or to deny it completely).

The fact of the matter is that narcissists only care about what they want and what they need. And sadly, when it comes to you, they are mostly only concerned with the narcissistic supply you provide them.

The Conveniently Forgetful Narcissist

The truth is that, while human memory is fallible and while narcissists are technically human, most of the time, unless they are diagnosed with dementia or another memory-affecting disease, the narcissist’s memory is as good as anyone else’s.

In other words, narcissists will remember what they choose to remember.

They might selectively remember how much you love something. Here’s a hypothetical example to explain it a little more clearly. Let’s say that at one time, you told the narcissist you love white roses but that you’re allergic to yellow daisies to the point that it could endanger your life.

They will remember that when it is convenient for them – and forget when they feel like it.

So, during love bombing, you’ll get all kinds of white roses. And then, when they are in the devalue phase, where they’re noticing everything wrong with you and picking you apart, they will forget you like flowers at all. Or they’ll fill the house with yellow daisies and get mad at you when your throat closes up and you have to rush to the emergency room. They’ll say you are just being dramatic.

And once that incident is over and they decide they want some more of the narcissistic supply they can provide you, they might want to suck you back into the relationship with a good, solid hoover maneuver. That’s when they will suddenly recall that you love white roses, and they’ll expect you to be ever-so-grateful that they “thought about you” and that they brought you these beautiful roses. And, you might even fall for it, because they will seem so sincere and like they really mean it.

But don’t let your soft heart fool you here, my friend. The fact is that those white roses you love so much are being used as a tool to reel you in once again. That is the only reason they decide to remember that single fact about you in any given moment (and it is the same reason they forget when it is convenient for them).

Especially during the devalue and discard phases, the narcissist might suddenly recall something embarrassing that you did years ago at a party or among friends, and they might intentionally humiliate you with the story. And you can bet that they will certainly never manage to forget that one time you had let them down 20 years ago – but they won’t recall that you failed to do whatever they expected because you were in the hospital having surgery – they’ll just remember that you forgot to pay the water bill or that you didn’t make their lunch for work that day. Seriously.

Let me be clear here. The narcissist remembers and forgets things that matter to you at different times because they instinctively recognize that you will have emotional reactions to them in either case. In other words, they use this “selective memory” thing as a way to control and manipulate you.

Ultimately, while the narcissist most certainly can and does occasionally have moments of forgetfulness or things that really slip their minds, in many cases, it can be a smokescreen for the gaslighting techniques they use to control you and manipulate you into doing what they want.

Question of the day: Do you know a narcissist who used selective memory as a gaslighting and manipulation tactic? Do you believe that they are just having the same issues as other humans? What do you think? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, and share your experiences in the comments section below this video – and let’s talk about it!

You might also enjoy these videos:

Self-Identifying as an Adult Child of Narcissistic Parents

Self-Identifying as an Adult Child of Narcissistic Parents

Did you grow up feeling like you didn’t matter, or like you weren’t good enough? Did one of your parents teach you that you weren’t as important as they were, or did they control every move you made? Or maybe your parent was more of a lazy, hands-off type who didn’t seem to care what you did – or who only paid attention to you when it was convenient for them.

If any of that sounds familiar to you, have you ever wondered if you might be the adult child of a narcissistic parent? If you are, chances are you don’t have the best memories about at least certain parts of your childhood. But the good news is that you don’t have to allow the effects of your abusive, gaslighting parents to control your life anymore. Even better, there is plenty of help and support available for adult children of narcissistic parents.

Signs You Were Raised by a Narcissistic Parent

.Were you raised by a narcissistic parent? If you were, then you might already know how significantly it can impact your adult life and your relationships. If you’re not sure it can help to take a look at the signs you were raised by a toxic parent.

Signs of a Narcissistic Parent in Infancy and Early Childhood

In early childhood, narcissistic parents can be more difficult to detect, as the children won’t have as much of their own, separate opinions yet.  Even more confusing, narcissistic parents tend to go to one extreme or the other – either they are highly engaged and controlling, or not. For example:

  • Narcissistic parents are often extremely possessive of their kids. If not possessive, then they are completely dismissive of children.
  • They see kids as extensions of themselves, and they use the kids as accessories when they’re small. Or, they see them as extensions of themselves which means they don’t matter as they’re not as “real” or “important” as other people. They are often not even able to imagine that their child might be a “whole person” in any given moment.
  • They act like taking care of their babies is above and beyond their responsibility as a parent. They may have wanted or expected praise for completing basic parental responsibilities.  Alternatively, they ignored their responsibilities and pushed them off on to the other parent or even a grandparent, babysitter, or, in some cases, a sibling.
  • They may have been fans of the helicopter parenting style. If not helicopter parents, they’d have been very hands-off.

Signs of a Narcissistic Parent in the Tween and Teen Years

Of course, since we know that narcissists rarely change, we know that going into the tween and teen years, the toxic parent will want to retain control, if that is their weapon of choice, or they will increasingly ignore and neglect their kids if they’re a “hands-off” type.

And the older a child gets, the more separate they naturally become from their parents. It is a healthy and normal part of a child’s development and journey into adulthood. They form their own opinions, thoughts, feelings, and styles. They may see the world differently than their parents, and they may talk back or openly rebel against even the most easy-going parent. But when it comes to kids being raised by a narcissist, this time will look a little different.

Just like during infancy and early childhood, you’ll see a lot of extremes. For example: 

  • The kids will actively either be people-pleaser types, actively trying to please the parent, or in some cases, they’ll sort of “become the adult” who is responsible for taking care of the parent as if they’re responsible for their emotional and even physical wellbeing – or they may actively and directly defy the parents and lean into that whole “black sheep” role.
  • The kids will either struggle with boundaries and be regularly walked all over, or they’ll be so firmly anti-authority that they’ll be the one doing the walking all over someone else.
  • In many cases, the kids will feel responsible for everyone’s problems and mistakes. Narcissistic parents almost never take responsibility and often blame one or more of their kids for their issues.
  • In families where there is more than one child, the narcissistic parent will often assign various roles to each child, such as scapegoat, the golden child, and the lost child. These roles will be interchangeable over the years, depending on which child happens to be in the toxic parent’s good graces at the time.
  • Parents often become oddly jealous of or feel threatened by their children, especially those of the same sex as the parent.
  • The parents may feel that their kids’ sole purpose is to fulfill their own wishes or dreams and often live vicariously through them.
  • The children of narcissistic parents often feel like they’re unimportant and don’t matter. They feel not good enough and often accept whatever affection they can find – which is why they also often end up in toxic relationships as adults.

Are you the adult child of a narcissist parent?

Does any of that sound familiar to you? If so, you might be the adult child of a narcissistic parent. And the real question is how did your parents treat you growing up? And how do you view them now when you think back on it? Children of gaslighting parents will have a lot of emotional trouble and psychological effects from the way they were treated, including having and struggling with a lot of different triggers, low self-esteem, and more.  Many people are shocked when they finally learn the dark truth of how narcissists really treat their families.

Shocking: Effects Narcissistic Parents Have on Your Adult Life

If you are the adult child of a narcissistic parent, then you’ll relate to some of the surprising effects that their parenting had on you. Let’s look at them now.

1. Narcissist Parents Teach You to Blame Yourself

Children of toxic, narcissistic parents are often told (and tend to believe) that they (or their birth, or something they’ve done or not done) are the reason that things have gone wrong in their parents’ lives. If you are a child of a narcissistic parent, as soon as you exercise your independence, your parent might have constantly made you doubt yourself by subtly (or not so subtly) tearing down your efforts, your attempts to do new things, and even your personal self in the process.

Since you were told over and over again everything was your fault, you may have believed you were the problem and the source of your narcissistic parents’ unhappiness. This might have led you to become extra hard on yourself – and this is where self-loathing comes in when you make mistakes.

All any child really wants is the love and approval of their parents. And the games your parents may have played made you think that if you did well, then they would love you. Especially if you were the scapegoat. Of course, if you were the golden child, you were terrified of losing your parents’ approval. In either case, you never quite felt like you measured up – and this is just one of the many toxic effects being raised by a narcissistic parent can manifest.

2. Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents May Develop Insecure Attachment Styles

The toxic family – also known as a dysfunctional family – is often lead by a narcissist and/or an enabler. In addition to the fact that narcissistic parents may cause their children to be subject to trauma bonding. Similar to Stockholm Syndrome, this is a condition that causes abuse victims to develop a psychological dependence on their abusers as a survival strategy during abuse. Of course, trauma bonding makes recovering from any toxic relationship significantly more difficult.

All of this leads us to attachment theory, which describes how the dynamics of interpersonal relationships affect us on so many levels. Your attachment style is brought on by your relationship with your mother or another primary caregiver. Studies tell us that narcissistic parenting often causes insecure attachment styles.

In some cases, you can feel numb on a consistent basis, having on some level completely abandoned your ability to emotionally attach to anyone. In cases of extreme neglect early in infancy, this can be even more serious, often resulting in reactive attachment disorder (RAD).

This would have made you a loner that keeps walls around so you never form interpersonal relationships. Do you have trouble trusting others? You were made to believe that others don’t like you as soon as they meet you. Or you believe that no one is trustworthy. Therefore, you grow into someone who builds ‘walls’ around so that others don’t get close. You would end up alone and have a hard time building any type of friendship or connection.

Here’s additional information on narcissistic parents and how the way they treated you during infancy and early childhood could literally, for the rest of your life, affect you, your psychology, and your relationships.

3. Adult Children of Narcissists Might Become Narcissists or Codependents

This does not always happen, of course, but often, the adult children of narcissistic parents will go to one extreme or the other in personality as well – they’ll be either a narcissist themselves, or they’ll be codependents who may feel doomed to serve narcissists for their entire lives.

In either case, there is a pretty good chance that, unless you’re careful, you might sort of “pick up” certain narcissistic tendencies (also called narcissistic fleas) as you navigate your adult relationships, and later your children. This would unfortunately keep that toxic family legacy intact, and the cycle would continue.

It’s important to understand how narcissists are created – here’s a clear explanation of the psychology of how a narcissist develops. 

4. Adult Children of Narcissists Might Marry a Narcissist

If you’re not a narcissist yourself, chances are that being raised by a narcissistic parent could lead to you ending up being involved with a narcissist in a relationship as an adult.  In fact, if you’re being honest, you may have seen the effects of narcissistic parenting in someone else in your life,  and you might understand how a narcissistic parent could create narcissistic children. Often, the “people-pleaser” child will end up with a narcissistic partner.

If you’re anything like me, you may have gone the other way by becoming so concerned with making people happy that you forget about making yourself happy. You just really want people to love you, so in your efforts to avoid any stress and drama, you become incredibly selfless. You make it your mission to avoid conflict and you might appear to be overly nurturing and caring for others. And often, you’ll be the person who supports everyone around you but who gets very little support from anyone else. You tolerate this because you just want to be loved and not “alone” and abandoned as you felt you might be growing up.

All of this is of course due to having this subconscious longing for someone – literally almost anyone – to give you the love and care that you deserved, but never received as a child. See, there are just a few people in our lives who are SUPPOSED to love us unconditionally, and when those people never show up for you, you very often feel like you are intrinsically unlovable. You may manifest this in a number of ways.

For example, you might end up having a large family yourself. If your parent was the “hands-off” type, you might have felt very lonely growing up, so this could lead you to become so involved and supportive of your kids that you fail to put yourself on your priority list at all.  Or, if your parents were helicoptering, controlling types, you may become so “laid back” and permissive that you fail to discipline your children correctly. It’s a fine line you have to walk.

In either case, you grew up being made to believe your needs and wants didn’t matter. Or, you do this because you deeply crave the experience of having the love and warmth that you never had. Here is additional information on how growing up with a narcissistic parent can cause you to engage with narcissists in relationships as an adult.

(Side note: there are a few situations in which the parents are not to blame for their adult child’s narcissistic behaviors – you can learn more about acquired situational narcissism here.)

5. Adult Children of Narcissists May Develop C-PTSD

Do you ever find yourself having invasive thoughts and flashbacks of the psychological, emotional, or physical abuse you experienced growing up? Do you ever find yourself feeling positively numb, like you’re not even a real person?  Sadly, the adult children of narcissistic parents often end up developing complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), a serious mental health condition affecting a large percentage of victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse. As life goes on, you may also find that you end up caring for – or at least dealing with – an aging parent who demonstrates narcissistic tendencies. If that’s the case, you might be dealing with a collapsed, aging narcissist. This, clearly, can add to the triggering and other issues related to C-PTSD and certainly will stifle your ability to heal and move forward.

C-PTSD can take years to heal from, and treatment may be difficult to obtain as many professionals aren’t familiar with its symptoms and often tend to misdiagnose it. Therapists and other medical professionals may even victim-blame you and believe your abuser, if you go to therapy together, especially if they aren’t familiar with the subtle tricks of a narcissist.

There are so many different ways we can be affected by C-PTSD as adult children of narcissists. Here’s a handy playlist that will walk you through the complications, signs, and some self-help options for your healing after being raised by a toxic parent. 

Unfortunately, C-PTSD can be a lifelong condition, but it can be managed with mindfulness and behavior modification, among other therapies and modalities. On the plus side, if you’re willing to do your homework, there are plenty of trauma-informed coaching and counseling professionals as well as traditional therapists who are qualified to help you heal from your toxic childhood.

If you’re struggling to get over your abusive, traumatic childhood, you’re not alone – but you do have some healing to do. Start by getting these abusers out of your head so you can focus on the business of healing and evolving.

 

Additional Resources for Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents and Toxic Families

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