Posted in Alienated children, Alienation, Child abuse, Child Maltreatment, Child Protection, Children's Rights, Parental Alienation PA

What it means to heal from childhood experiences


As I’ve written, Western culture sees healing—it literally means “to make whole”—as restoring something or someone to an undamaged state; when something of value is damaged, such as a painting or other artifact, our practice is always to repair it in such a way that it looks as though the damage never happened.

That tends to be the mindset we bring to our emotional healing from childhood which is, of course, impossible. For that reason, I think it’s far more productive to think of healing using the Japanese art of Kintsugi as the guiding metaphor. When a valuable or cherished ceramic object is broken, the Japanese repair the piece with lacquer mixed with precious metals—gold, silver, or copper—so that the breaks are not only visible but form a pattern of their own, testifying to the object’s history while transforming how it looks. The repaired object remains its old self while becoming an emblem of resilience and newly envisioned beauty. Continue reading “What it means to heal from childhood experiences”

Posted in Alienation


The term “narcissism” is interpreted as an all-consuming unbalanced self-
absorption or self love. The onset of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

generally starts in infancy, childhood, or early adolescence. Many specialists

believe that it is commonly attributed to psychological childhood abuse and

trauma inflicted by parents, family, or other authority figures. Individuals with

NPD often “display snobbish, disdainful, or patronizing attitudes” (American

Psychiatric Association, 1994, p. 659).

Just as it is normal for little children to be egocentric at an early age, feel-
ing important or even invincible, the NPA becomes locked into that stage and

never grows out of it. When the NPA allows their child to feel too important,

giving them too much control, that child will inevitably maintain their infan-
tile fantasy of power to control their parents, thereby hindering their ability

to stand alone in later years. These children learn how to hone their skills

by scanning their environment, seeking out others who can fulfill their own

narcissistic supply, eventually becoming an alienator themselves. This way,

the child(ren) can share the household parental power, usurp and maintain

control at the expense of the target parent, and, at the same time, cater to

the needs of the infantile NPA who gains their internal gratification from the

child’s or teen’s behavior and the pain caused to the target parent.

People who tolerate bad boundaries and the subsequent violations are

very much like the narcissist and parental alienator, as they have not de-
veloped a strong perception of Separate Self. These individuals have grown

in families where intrusions were accepted and were not given the support

for autonomy. Nevertheless, alienating abusers are not very likely to seek

professional help, as they are shame-intolerant, salted with the inability to

recognize their own narcissism. Many therapists ignore or miss the possibility

to diagnose NPD, as it is not amenable to health insurance companies who

pay for patients and favor a short-term treatment approach.

Children who become severely alienated from a once-loved parent and

who have developed Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), frequently become

brutally narcissistic and cruelly abusive during adolescence. As Aristotle re-
marked “Youth is easily deceived because it is quick to hope.” Their intensity

to hate the people they once loved grows, sometimes to the point of violence

or threats thereof, kleptomania, and in some instances, teens may commit

suicide or parricide.

The threat of parricide/suicide by a severely alienated adolescent teen

toward a target parent is not that uncommon. When the target parent brings

a threat or an act of self-harm such as “head-banging” or self-mutilation by

the child to the attention of the alienating parent or to a therapist, all too

often the target parent is undeservedly accused of lying or exaggerating.

And frequently no genuine therapeutic intervention is afforded the child due

402 D. M. Summers & C. C. Summers

to deceptive NPA manipulation. Thus, in these families, “the normal love and

respect that children naturally feel for a parent appeared to be insufficient to

satisfy the narcissistic demands of the alienating parent. What they wanted

from their children was a level of adulation and exclusivity typically reserved

for cult leaders” (Baker, 2005).

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports in the study Murder in Families

(Dawson & Langan, 1994), that “1.97 percent of murder victims were killed

by their children. This translates to about 300 cases per year.” In a review

of 10 studies that examined adolescents who had killed their parents. It was

pointed out that: “. . . ascertaining the driving force behind a parricide is com-
plex, but factors in the family that often contribute to the homicides include

a pattern of violence. . . and that adolescent offenders expressed helpless-
ness in coping with stress in the home and feelings of isolation and suicidal

ideation. . . ” and “failed in their attempts to get help with little (if any) adult

intervention” (Crime Victim Services, 2006).

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 narcis-
sistic supply from their physique, exercise, physical or sexual prowess, and

“conquests.” Not unlike the sociopath, narcissists without proportionate suc-
cesses 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).

Regarding the narcissist, San Diego State University psychology professor

Jean Twenge found: “Americans born after 1970—including the so-called

Generation X and Millennial Generation—have become ‘an army of little

narcissists’.” Twenge well documents this view in her new book: Generation

Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled

and More Miserable than Ever Before (2006). During an interview with the

Washington Times, professor Twenge explained:

Unlike their parents and grandparents, ‘GenMes’ have never known a

world that put duty before self . . . Instead, they were raised in a cul-
ture obsessed with self-esteem and feel-good mantras . . . They expect

to go to college, to make lots of money, and perhaps even to be fa-
mous . . . but when reality hits, and they don’t get the coveted college

placement or high-paying job, or they discover the high-costs of housing

Unadulterated Arrogance 403

and healthcare, many members of Generation Me crash emotionally.

(Wetzstein, 2006, p. 10)

In 1999, Time magazine reported in an article about the Columbine

shootings that “parents spend 40 percent less time with their kids now than

30 years ago” (Cloud, 1999, pp. 34–43). Newsweek also weighed in:

In survey after survey, many kids—even those on the honor roll—say

they feel increasingly alone and alienated, unable to connect with their

parents, teachers, and sometimes even classmates. They’re desperate for

guidance, and when they don’t get what they need at home or in school,

they cling to cliques or immerse themselves in a universe out of their

parents’ reach, a world defined by computer games, TV, and movies,

where brutality is so common it has become mundane. (Kantrowitz &

Wingert, 1999, p. 10)

NPAs frequently create and raise: “Arrogant, entitled teenagers who are

a law unto themselves push a lot of people’s buttons . . . It is tempting to

blame society, the schools, the government, the politicians, the media, your

ex-spouse, or any number of other factors outside your control, but that

won’t help you find solutions” (Hotchkiss, 2003, p. 100).

winners and losers