Reader’s Commentary “My mother is a narcissist.
“After eight years with an excellent therapist, I was able to unravel the devastating effects she had on my life, particularly my having been her only adult child to enter the world of parenting.
“My siblings didn’t dare.
“My psychiatrist told me that my mother must’ve been the victim of a narcissistic injury before the age of three, that so traumatized her that she created a false self. She was incapable of any genuine feeling.
“That was certainly the case: all of her love was conditional.
“There was no treatment for her since narcissists feel superior to therapists.
“When my son was born, she took immediate charge right from the delivery room.
“My father left when I was young, so she was all we had growing up.
“Her narcissistic ways cost me my marriage after 30 years, as there were always three people in my relationship.
“My siblings and I struggled with this all our lives. My psychiatrist said that narcissists are the hardest near-impossible patients to treat. In the art of manipulation, they’re geniuses.
“My mother still takes no responsibility for her actions and sees herself as a good Samaritan, like the overbearing mother on the TV show, “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
“She’s always the victim, or the hero, never the villain.
“Now elderly, nothing’s changed. My therapist said that though you can end contact, it’s easier to have some semblance of relationship or she’ll spend 24 hours daily plotting to get even. The decision was left to me.
“My siblings and I have never been free from her tyranny, not even now as older adults.
“Who’s really the victim here? She’s incapable of feeling love or giving unconditional love, so, why add to her suffering?”
Ellie – You suffered deeply growing up with a narcissistic mother, yet you had the inner strength/determination to persevere, and the wisdom to seek professional help, staying with it through all the challenges.
Your mother’s behaviour was the extreme result of what your therapist described as an early trauma that ended her ability to feel love, compassion, understanding for others, not even her own children.
You’ve painted a strong picture of what it was like to live with, and be manipulated by, her.
Yet, it’s usually not as clear whether someone fits the diagnosable narcissist description.
Insecurity, lack of good communication skills, and self-interest can make some people appear bossy, argumentative, overpowering, but it’s not necessarily from a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).
That’s why therapy and a clear understanding of what you’re dealing with – especially if that person is a prospective spouse, roommate, work partner – is crucial and worth the time and cost of deciding how to handle it, with professional guidance.
Dr. Ramani Suryakantham Durvasula, Ph.D is a Los-Angeles based psychologist who’s written books, and has a YouTube video, in which she verbally estimates that 10-to15 percent of the population can be described as among these different types of narcissist: grandiose (egotistical, arrogant, attention-seeking); malignant (mean, will steal, cheat, lie, and not feel guilty); covert (“done wrong by the world,” passive aggressive, hyper-sensitive. They may appear depressed, but treatment for depression doesn’t change their narcissism. Also, stealth narcissism (more “woe is me, as compared to lucky you”).
When asked, “How would I know when I’m dating a narcissist?” she responded, “Look at how victimized they feel.”
She also notes that men are far more likely than women to be narcissists… ”but women are catching up!”
FEEDBACK Regarding the middle-aged sister-in-law’s plan to move in with her elderly mother (February. 12):
Reader – “My husband was the eldest son. We became responsible for taking his parents to their doctors’ appointments, oncology clinics, etc. We visited at least twice weekly and provided meals so that my MIL, with developing Alzheimer’s, didn’t have to cook.
“After my father-in-law died, my husband left work early each day to prepare her evening meal and her medication. He lost over 40 pounds. I was left to deal with our household, children, and everything else. Taking care of elderly people isn’t easy. Adding a lazy, selfish individual is a recipe for disaster.
“The letter-writer should enlist the help of the other siblings to ensure the SIL does not move in with the MIL. Or they must insist she finds help to stay in her present home/apartment or help her move to a retirement or assisted-care facility.”
Tip of the day:
Red flags for narcissism in early dating include arrogance, repeated cheating, and passive-aggressive comments.