Living under a smokescreen of denial, narcissistic parents use “gaslighting” to make the child look completely mad and entirely bad. Poor frustration tolerance, tantrums, jealousies and breaking boundaries, e.g., flirting with, seducing or conning the child’s partner or friends is the parents’ game. Control dressed up as care justifies the parents’ violations such as interrogation or torture and making decisions about with who the child “should” hang out, date, marry, even where they must live. Rigid rules and shoulds override, censor and eclipse the child’s propensity for self-regulation.
Ill-equipped to negotiate the messy terrain of adulthood, the abused child feeling unloveable suffers low self-esteem due to imposed conditions of worth, insecure attachment patterns result in mistreatment, different, lower or second best standards in every aspect. The child may comfort eat, drink or take drugs to keep the parents idealised. Denial is the way they learn to ride the storm of life. An abusive father may tell a prospective groom or bride: “I hope you know what you’re taking on”. No words of pride.
Survivors of narcissistic parents
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Amanda Perl MSc Psychotherapist CounsellorMBPsS BACP (Accred) CBT Practitioner