Narcissistic mothers are injured people. All injuries are multi-generational, meaning that they get passed down from one generation to the next. When a parent is narcissistically injured they will project their injuries onto their children unless they take the time to heal their own childhood wounds before becoming parents.
Narcissistic wounds become embedded into the human psyche in the first few years of life. According to Attachment Theory (John Bowlby, MD) in order to form a healthy human psyche we must attune to the emotions of our infants. Through this attunement and “good enough” mothering, infants learn to self-soothe and establish a healthy core self.
Basic ingredients for mental health according to John Bowlby, MD include breast feeding, eye contact, skin contact, stay at home mothering (at least for the first plus two years of life) and a general attitude of child-centered parenting. When these ingredients are lacking, the infant/child is then lacking in “narcissistic supplies” which leaves them feeling empty.
Narcissistic injuries can be a result of abuse in the form of neglect, physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse and smothering. When a mother abuses, neglects or smothers the infant, the infant cannot grow emotionally.
Children of narcissistic mothers suffer deeply because they become the narcissistic supply for the mother, rather than the mother supplying their emotional needs. They are groomed to supply and satisfy mother’s needs which creates a reverse flow of emotions.
Typically, children become extensions of their mother by becoming their little dolly and fulfilling their mothers need for beauty, success and other wishes. The fallout of this dysfunctional dynamic can create children who become co-dependent and fail to grow into healthy independent adults. Co-dependent on the parent, their world revolves around the parent and thwarts the separation individuation process. Other fallout costs of this unhealthy dynamic includes low self-esteem, inability to form healthy relationships, feeling of entitlement and flipping into extreme self-criticism, and a need for perfectionism. This injury leads to a hollow sense of self known as a “false self.” These children are vampired of their energy and often dismissed and or punished when they don’t fulfill on mother’s needs and wishes.
Body dysmorphic disorder, deep depression, self-hatred and feelings of not feeling “good enough” are not uncommon symptoms in these children. Narcissistically wounded children may fluctuate from over valuing to undervaluing themselves and others. They can DEMEAN DEVALUE AND DESTROY not only others, but themselves as well. This “cracked lens of perception” can result in some fluctuating misperceptions and sometimes see themselves as being “very special” and other times see themselves as worthless.
Typically fathers participate in this unhealthy dynamic by being passive. Although they may not overtly injure their children. they covertly contribute to the injury to their children by not standing up for them. Children coming from these family dynamics often have negative core beliefs revolving around not feeling special. Their sense of worthlessness comes from an understanding that they are only as valuable as how much they can serve their mother. Their defense mechanism can also come across as presenting as though they are “very special.” They can repeat the blueprint.
These dynamics can be avoided by healing the wounds at the causal level and reprocessing the grief and shame behind the curtain of the fragile self. If boundaries cannot be established with the mother, it is sometimes advisable to completely disconnect from these injured and injurious mothers to avoid a complete breakdown of the self.