Do you ever wonder why you are so exhausted raising your kids when their other parent is a narcissist? It’s because, in all practicality, you’re a single parent. Not only that, if you are still married to the narcissist, he or she is the biggest and most difficult of all your kids. He/she causes you a high level of stress most of the time. If you are trying to co-parent with a narcissist you might as well give up right now. Repeat after me, ‘I am the only parent.’ Or, ‘He/she is not a parent.’ While the narcissist is the biological mom or dad, he/she is not interested in, nor capable of properly raising another human being. Let’s examine this concept. What does it mean to parent? Being a parent requires the following abilities and traits: Responsibility Self-sacrifice Initiative Positive role-modeling Hard work Consistency Stability Patience Perseverance Empathy and Compassion Respectability Which of these traits would you say a person with narcissism possesses? Narcissists lack
In order to function, a narcissist, whether they are an adult or child needs
“narcissistic supply.” Narcissistic supply is the things, people, emotions, or
situations that internally generate strapping feelings of self-importance and
grandiosity. These feelings can start at an early age and are commonly found
in the narcissist’s exaggerated version of their life achievements or talents to
the point of pathological lying. Narcissists are categorized as either Cerebral
or Somatic. Cerebrals derive their narcissistic supply from their intelligence,academic achievements and so forth, whereas Somatics derive their narcissistic supply from their physique, exercise, physical or sexual prowess, and “conquests.” Not unlike the sociopath, narcissists without proportionate successes will demand (either overtly or covertly) to be recognized as superior.
With striking similarity to the narcissist, the sociopath is nearly always male
and they “place self-interest above all other considerations and are masters
at rationalizing their actions, the responsibility for which they often attribute
to someone else” (Nance, 2003, pp. 85–86).
From my Book – From Charm to Harm and Everything else in Between with a Narcissist! @ We constantly struggled with the vision of that special love in the back of our mind (the one that we…
Source: Ending a relationship with a Narcissist is not like walking away from a normal relationship with a broken heart – you are walking away with a broken SELF. The vicious cycle of this abuse is really a manipulative trap that keeps you running in circles until it completely disables your reality, erases your personality, and then it ends and your abuser destroys YOUR integrity so they can move on to start this cycle up AGAIN with some new and unsuspecting person.
I was sitting with my therapist the other day. We were (as usual) discussing my ex and the book I have just written ‘Web of Lies – My Life with a Narcissist.’ She made an interesting observation.
She told me that although she’s never met my ex, she would describe him as a ‘Narcissistic Sociopath’. This description actually send shivers down my spine. I’m no psychiatrist, but the word ‘sociopath’ is scary to me. It conjures up visions of Ted Bundy or Charles Manson. Surely I didn’t marry one of those?
My therapist smiled and tried to reassure me. As with all personality disorders, there are varying degrees of each. And it’s perfectly possible for a person to suffer ‘complex personality disorders’, which to you and me, means there is an overlapping of disorders.
She got me thinking, so I researched a bit about APD (Antisocial Personality Disorder) and was amazed to discover the similarity with NPD.
Put the two together, and you surely have a recipe for disaster.
No wonder my shrink can’t wait to get her hands on the book!
Profile of a Sociopath
* Glibness and Superficial Charm
* Manipulative and Conning – They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims.
* Grandiose Sense of Self – Feels entitled to certain things as “their right.”
* Pathological Lying – Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.
* Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt – A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way.
* Shallow Emotions – When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. Since they are not genuine, neither are their promises.
* Incapacity for Love
* Need for Stimulation – Living on the edge. Verbal outbursts and physical punishments are normal. Promiscuity and gambling are common.
* Callousness/Lack of Empathy – Unable to empathize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others’ feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them.
* Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature – Rage and abuse, alternating with small expressions of love and approval produce an addictive cycle for abuser and abused, as well as creating hopelessness in the victim. Believe they are all-powerful, all-knowing, entitled to every wish, no sense of personal boundaries, no concern for their impact on others.
* Early Behavior Problems/Juvenile Delinquency – Usually has a history of behavioral and academic difficulties, yet “gets by” by conning others. Problems in making and keeping friends; aberrant behaviors such as cruelty to people or animals, stealing, etc.
* Irresponsibility/Unreliability – Not concerned about wrecking others’ lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause. Does not accept blame themselves, but blames others, even for acts they obviously committed.
* Promiscuous Sexual Behavior/Infidelity – Promiscuity, child sexual abuse, rape and sexual acting out of all sorts.
* Lack of Realistic Life Plan/Parasitic Lifestyle – Tends to move around a lot or makes all encompassing promises for the future, poor work ethic but exploits others effectively.
* Criminal or Entrepreneurial Versatility – Changes their image as needed to avoid prosecution. Changes life story readily.
Other Related Qualities:
- Contemptuous of those who seek to understand them
- Does not perceive that anything is wrong with them
- Only rarely in difficulty with the law, but seeks out situations where their tyrannical behavior will be tolerated, condoned, or admired
- Conventional appearance
- Goal of enslavement of their victim(s)
- Exercises despotic control over every aspect of the victim’s life
- Has an emotional need to justify their crimes and therefore needs their victim’s affirmation (respect, gratitude and love)
- Ultimate goal is the creation of a willing victim
- Incapable of real human attachment to another
- Unable to feel remorse or guilt
- Extreme narcissism and grandiose
- May state readily that their goal is to rule the world
(The above traits are based on the psychopathy checklists of H. Cleckley and R. Hare.)
A narcissistic sociopath is someone with a combination of narcissistic personality disorder and definitive behavioral signs of sociopathy. People with narcissism are characterized by their excessive and persistent need for others’ admiration and positive reinforcement. They generally have grandiose opinions of themselves and believe they are superior to other people. Narcissists are also frequently convinced that they are above the normal responsibilities and obligations of everyday life, so they usually have significant difficulties maintaining employment or relationships as a result. The narcissistic sociopath has this type of personality along with a noticeable lack of regard for the rights of others and a tendency to regularly violate those rights.
One noted difference between a narcissistic sociopath and people with narcissism alone is that the narcissist with the sociopathy reacts strongly and sometimes even violently to negative feedback. True sociopaths generally do not respond to criticism or care what others may think of them. A narcissistic sociopath is unable to tolerate criticism and needs constant praise, as well as deference from other people. Many with this condition present themselves in the best light possible and are able to easily charm others to gain their trust.
A definite characteristic of a narcissistic sociopath is a tendency to view others not as fellow human beings, but rather as tools or means to an end. If certain other people are deemed unable to further the narcissistic sociopath’s given agenda, they are normally cast aside. People diagnosed with this type of personality disorder usually do not have boundaries when it comes to manipulating and victimizing others if doing so will lead to their own benefit. This behavior trait can usually make romantic relationships with a narcissistic sociopath particularly destructive emotionally, mentally, and often financially. Many former spouses or partners of these individuals report that recovering from the relationship can take a long time.
Causes of narcissism are commonly attributed to abusive or dysfunctional early years, although some psychologists claim that specific biological differences in brain chemistry may also be partially to blame. Exact causes of sociopathic behavior are similarly subject to debate. When these two personality conditions coexist in the same person, some mental health professionals report that treating narcissism often yields better results than most attempts to treat sociopathy. Others maintain that most narcissistic sociopaths are largely untreatable through any kinds of established therapies, so the most that society can do is establish protective measures against these individuals’ destructive behaviors.
From Children of the Self Absorbed: A Grownup’s Guide to Getting over Narcissistic Parents by Nina Brown
- Turns every conversation to him or herself.
- Expects you to meet his or her emotional needs.
- Ignores the impact of his negative comments on you.
- Constantly criticizes or berates you and knows what is best for you.
- Focuses on blaming rather than taking responsibility for his own behavior.
- Expects you to jump at his every need.
- Is overly involved with his own hobbies, interests or addictions and ignores your needs.
- Has a high need for attention.
- Brags, sulks, complains, inappropriately teases and is flamboyant, loud and boisterous.
- Is closed minded about own mistakes. Can’t handle criticism and gets angry to shut it off.
- Becomes angry when his needs are not met and throws tantrums or intimidates.
- Has an attitude of “anything you can do, I can do better.”
- Engages in one-upmanship to seem important.
- Acts in a seductive manner or is overly charming.
- Is vain and fishes for compliments. Expects you to admire him.
- Isn’t satisfied unless he has the “biggest” or “best.”
- Seeks status. Spends money to impress others.
- Forgets what you have done for them yet keeps reminding you that you owe them today.
- Neglects the family to impress others. Does it all: Is a super person to gain admiration.
- Threatens to abandon you if you don’t go along with what he wants.
- Does not obey the law—sees himself above the law.
- Does not expect to be penalized for failure to follow directions or conform to guidelines.
- Ignores your feelings and calls you overly sensitive or touchy if you express feelings.
- Tells you how you should feel or not feel.
- Cannot listen to you and cannot allow your opinions.
- Is more interested in his own concerns and interests than yours.
- Is unable to see things from any point of view other than his own.
- Wants to control what you do and say—tries to micromanage you.
- Attempts to make you feel stupid, helpless and inept when you do things on your own.
- Has poor insight and can not see the impact his selfish behavior has on you.
- Has shallow emotions and interests.
- Exploits others with lies and manipulations.
- Uses emotional blackmail to get what he wants.
- May engage in physical or sexual abuse of children.
(View original source here.)
One thing I “suspect” is that narc dads probably molest their daughters more than other abberant personality types (this is JUST my suspicion so don’t quote me on it.) It would go along with the 2nd list directly above which includes sexual molestation. It also fits right in with that sense of entitlement and envy as in “She’s mine and I don’t want any other man touching her so I’ll introduce her to the wonders of my sexual prowess so that she knows what a true master in bed is like” or something equally creepy.
I remember a woman in a church based recovery group back in 1996 and her father had molested her. She is still, to this day, the most wounded human being I’ve ever met and I remember thinking how awful it must have been to have your own father sexually molest you. And I wondered how a woman could ever trust “Father God” coming from that. She didn’t and she was so broken, fearful and wounded.
That was when I found out the word for God “Abba” does NOT indicate male but instead indicates “one who sustains.” If you have a hard time with the idea of a loving father God due to a horrible relationship with your own father, look to God as “Abba” God who loves you and sustains you. God is both male and female and above humanity in every way. This helped me to trust the Lord when I was struggling with issues about my own fathers (all 4 of ’em!) and my prayer is that this helps you too.
The above lists describe characteristics as opposed to delving into specific behaviors. I highly recommend reading how narc moms act (view here) because I suspect that the behaviors are similar and if you’re trying to figure out if your father is a narcissist, the TYPES of behaviors and words that are probably common for both male narcissists AND female narcissists may help you.
So how do you survive a narcissist father?
Every narcissist is a hero and a legend in his own mind. And, so was Daddy.
- Get into a good therapy. You want to come to terms with dad for who he is, and how he hurt you. He’ is your father after all, and you will need to differentiate from him in order to enjoy his presence without being undermined. It’s no small task.
- His arrogance and constant need for ego stroking can be annoying. AcceptDad for who he is. If you put him into place in your mind, he may simply end up being a lovable, but annoying father. Take the best, as long as he doesn’t still have the power to hurt you.
- Do not let Dad hurt you. If he has a rage attack, you may decide to get in the car and leave. Limits are often a good thing. “Dad, this is not constructive.”
- Cut ties if it is too toxic or dangerous. Some narcissistic parents have violent or abusive tendencies. It goes along with their self righteousness. You are now and adult. Take care and take caution.
- Has your Dad affected your dating habits and choices? Some identify with their father by becoming arrogant themselves. Others are anxious in their attachments because they could never trust Dad’s undivided attention. Do you date narcissistic people yourself?
- Keep your expectations realistic and low. Don’t expect a relationship with a narcissistic person to be based on mutuality or reciprocity. Narcissists are selfish and can’t put your needs on par with their own. As an adult, you can keep these conflicts with your father at a distance; but if you date or marry a narcissist, it probably will wear you out.
- When you want something from a narcissist, convince them that it will be to their benefit. I am not a big fan of dishonesty, but some people with narcissistic traits can be manipulated. When you want such a person to do something for you, you need to spin it in a way so that your request seems to be to their benefit. This may work with your father and with others too.
- Never let a narcissist determine your self-worth. Narcissists lack empathy and the ability to validate others, so be careful about trusting them with sensitive information or sharing important achievements because they won’t treat it with the respect it deserves. I have seen this backfire many times.
- Sometimes compliance is the simplest way to deal with a narcissistic parent. It may sound cheap, but if your father is narcissistic, you may not be interested in cutting him out of your life. He is your Dad, after all. Sometimes, it’s easier, and requires less effort, to comply with most of his wishes. It may not be worth the fight. You are an adult now, and you are not under his roof anymore.
- Alternatively, you can assert your own authority and challenge his. Narcissists get away with their behavior because others (passively) allow them to. Sometimes, you may need to adopt an authoritative stance – and firmly impress upon him that his demeaning attitude is unacceptable. You are no longer a child, and you are not as vulnerable to his rejection or anger. Be prepared for push back. Narcissistic people HATE criticism.
- Pity the Narcissist. Arrogance doesn’t really inspire sympathy or compassion. But at the end of the day, when you think about it, you may come to pity someone who is in constant need of compliments, attention and validation. It is freeing.
Appreciate the Healthy Adults Out There:
While it’s hard to grow up unaffected by a narcissistic father, there may have been others who helped you along the way. Looking back on your life, you may identify a grandfather, a grandmother, a coach, a teacher, a therapist or a religious figure who really appreciated you. Maybe, your mother saved the day.
Take in the Good:
I hope you can find the good. There may have been some good in your narcissistic father. Embrace that, while distancing yourself from the rest. Plus, there may have been special men and women in your upbringing – internalize their good. And, there are good people to care about today – bring in this good as well.
Finally, realize the value within yourself. You don’t have to be great to be good enough. That’s an important healing.
As the son of a narcissistic father you never feel that you can measure up. Dad was so competitive, that he even competed with you. (Or, didn’t pay attention to you one way or the other.) You may have accepted defeat – you’d never outdo your dad. Or, you may have worked hard to beat Dad at his own game just to get his attention and some semblance of fatherly pride. You somehow never feel good enough even when you do succeed, you still feel empty and second rate.
Just like girls need to be adored by their fathers to feel validated, boys also need their dad to believe in them. You may even become a narcissist yourself. This way you get Dad’s attention (after all imitation is the highest form of flattery); and you learn from your old man how to manipulate and use people.
Daughters of narcissistic fathers often describe feeling “unsatiated” when it to comes to getting what they needed from their fathers. They never got enough and would have to compete with siblings for time with Dad. As a young child, Dad would comment on how beautiful you were. But as you grew older, he would rarely miss out on commenting on weight and attitude. You probably carry these concerns into adulthood, even if you found success. With a Dad like this, it’s never enough. With men (or women), you often feel vulnerable and worried you’ll be dumped for someone else. Anxiously avoiding commitment or taking on the narcissitic role are both natural ways to keep relationships safe; it’s understanble and self protective.(But, you lose.)
A daughter needs her dad’s adoration; it validates her and helps her internalize her specialness. Healthy fathers give their girls that gift. You are special and deserve love, for being you.
“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm, but the harm (that they cause) does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves”. ~ T.S. Eliot
You used to think that by the time you were in your twenties and definitely by your thirties you’d have your act together – you’d be establishing a successful career, have your own place, be in a committed and stable relationship, visit the gym enough to have the body you always wanted and your social life would be vibrant.
But, you’re nowhere near where you thought you’d be, and the tiny boxes next to the list of achievements that you’d hoped to accomplish are still unchecked.
As your confidence deflates, you look back on your own upbringing, and think about your father – Mr Self-Assured. He seemed to have it all – charm, success, popularity and he never seemed to be plagued by self-doubt, unlike you. He was the hit of the party, knew everyone and made things happen. You couldn’t get enough of him.
How Kids Experience Narcissistic Traits:
Come to think of it, did his confidence border on arrogance? Is it possible that you were raised by someone with narcissistic traits? And if so, why is it important?
We take our families for granted – it’s natural that we do. Each family is a miniature sociological experiment, with its own set of unwritten rules, secrets, and nuanced behavioral patterns. We take our mom and dad for granted; like this must be what it’s like for everyone. Your dad may have been narcissistic, but you just assumed that all fathers were like him.
Here are some signs that your dad had narcissistic tendencies or was an out-rightnarcissist.
- Dad was self-centered and pretty vain. He had an inflated sense of self-importance that led him to believe he was superior and entitled to only the best.
- Dad used people for his own good. He would take advantage of others, to the point of exploiting them when it suited him. Everybody seemed to cater to him, or at least he expected them to.
- Dad was charismatic. Everyone wanted to be around him and he relished admiration from others. He loved being in the spotlight and the positive reinforcement that came from being the center of attention.
- No one had an imagination like Dad. Grandiosity is alluring, and so were hisfantasies of success, prestige, and brilliance. He would often exaggerate his achievements, and his ambitions and goals bordered on unrealistic.
- Dad didn’t take criticism well. Nothing stung him like criticism; he often cut those people out of his life, or tried to hurt them.
- Dad’s rage was truly scary. Some people get mad and yell a lot. Dad could hurt you with his anger. It cut to the bone.
- Dad could be aloof and unsympathetic. Narcissists often have a hard time experiencing empathy; they often disregard and invalidate how others feel. Of course, he was exquisitely sensitive to what he felt, but others were of no mind.
- Dad wasn’t around a lot. He got a lot of gratification outside the family. Other fathers hung out with their families a lot more. Plus, he craved excitement and seemed to be more concerned by what others thought of him, rather then how his own kids felt about him.
- Dad did what he wanted when dealing with you. Narcissists don’t step into someone else’s shoes very often. He did things with you that he enjoyed; maybe you did as well.
- Dad wanted you to look great to his friends and colleagues. You were most important to him when he could brag about you; sad but true.
- You couldn’t really get what you needed from him. Even if Dad provided on a material level, you felt deprived on a more subtle level. For example, you wanted his attention and affection, but would only get it sporadically, and only when it worked for him.
When you go through these traits, some may hit home; while others may not be relevant. Some may ring as very true; while others as less so. This is why narcissitic traits are not synonomous with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Narcissism is not a dirty word, in fact, narcissistic traits are commonly found in most of us. There’s nothing disturbed about that. The other extreme is the Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a controversial, but often helpful label. For the record, our diagnostic categories are somewhat arbitrary and lack the veracity of harder medical diagnostic labels like a broken femur or glaucoma. These disorders are easier to document and study.Personality Disorders help us organize our thinking about an individual, but may fall far short of a truthful depiction of a whole complex person.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether a person is narcissistic or merely has a healthy self regard. Narcissism isn’t about having high self-confidence; it’s a love for oneself that has morphed into a preoccupation. The term is based on Narcissus, the Greek mythological character who was so infatuated with himself, that it ultimately proved fatal.
Although it’s not actually fatal, narcissism can become so pathological that it satisfies the criteria, however faulty, of a personality disorder. The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV-TR) defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) as
“A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts… as indicated…. by the following”:
- wanting to be admired
- having a sense of entitlement
- being exploitative
- lacking empathy
- being envious
Another characteristic typical of narcissists is a disregard of personal boundaries. Narcissists don’t always acknowledge the need for boundaries which is coupled with their failure to realize that others do not exist merely to meet their needs. A narcissist will often treat others, especially those that are close to him, as if they are there to fulfill his needs and expectations.
Now that you have a firm grasp on what a narcissistic father may be like, let’s take a look at how he might affect his kids. (We will get to narcissistic mothers another time.)
How a Narcissistic Father Can Hurt his Son or Daughter:
Narcissistic parents often damage their children. For example, they may disregard boundaries, manipulate their children by withholding affection (until they perform), and neglect to meet their children’s needs because their needs come first. Because image is so important to narcissists, they may demand perfection from their children. The child of a narcissist father can, in turn, feel a pressure ramp up their talents, looks, smarts or charisma. It can cost them if they fulfill their Dad’s wishes – and it can cost them if they fail. No winning here.
In general, here‘s how a narcissistic father can affect a daughter or son.