The six Faces of Maternal Narcissism

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I have been doing a lot of reading on abuse, neglect, divorce, parenting … basically everything I can get my hands on to try and understand the way certain people act the way they do,  how they rationalize things, how the justify their actions… also trying to understand my own reactions to certain situations etc.  I came across this article and found it very interesting, I always maintained that no matter what, everyone is ultimately accountable for their actions or inactions, no matter the background..

What does the empty mirror reflect for you?

“Published on March 14, 2011 by Karyl McBride, Ph.D. in The Legacy of Distorted Love”

The six faces of maternal narcissism are identified as: the psychosomatic, the addicted, the secretly mean, and the emotionally needy. A parent can be a mixture of these types and often that is the case. Although brief, the following will explain each type.

The Flamboyant-Extrovert: This is the mother about whom movies are made. She’s a public entertainer, loved by the masses, but secretly feared by her intimate house partners and children. She’s the show biz or stage mom and is all about performing. She’s noticeable, flashy, fun and “out there.” Some love her but you despise the masquerade she performs for the world. You know that you don’t really matter to her and her show, except in how you make her look to the rest of the world.

The Accomplishment-Oriented: To the accomplishment-oriented mother, what you achieve in your life is paramount. Success depends on what you do, not who you are. This mom is about grades, best colleges and pertinent degrees. But… if you don’t accomplish what she thinks you should, she is deeply embarrassed and may even respond with fury and rage.

The Psychosomatic: The psychosomatic mother uses illness and aches and pains to manipulate others, to get her way, and to focus attention on herself. She cares little for those around her. The way to get attention from this kind of mother is to take care of her. This kind of mother uses illness to escape from her own feelings or from having to deal with difficulties in life. You cannot be sicker than she. She will up the ante.

The Addicted: A parent with a substance abuse issue will always seem narcissistic because the addiction will speak louder than anything else. Sometimes when the addict sobers up the narcissism seems less but not always. The bottle or drug of choice will always come before the child.

The Secretly Mean: The secretly mean mother does not want others to know that she is abusive to her children. She will have a public self and a private self, which are quite different. These mothers can be kind and loving in public but are abusive and cruel at home. The unpredictable, opposite messages to the child are crazy-making.

The Emotionally Needy: While all narcissistic mothers are emotionally needy, this mother shows the characteristic more openly than others. This is the mother you have to emotionally take care of which is a losing proposition to the child. The child’s feelings are neglected and the child is unlikely to receive the same nurturance that he or she is expected to provide for the parent.

If your parent had some of the above traits, it is important to note that they were not born that way. They likely had their own insurmountable barriers to receiving love and empathy when they were children. This does not take away your pain. We cannot ever condone child abuse. But, this knowledge does help accomplish a deeper understanding.

If your mirror is empty and your childhood lacked in proper nurturing, remember as an adult that recovery is the answer. It is mostly internal work that must be done. The healing five-step recovery model is outlined in Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. Once we understand, we can move forward and build an internal mother who is always there when you need her. Unlike the narcissistic mother who is always there when she needs you.

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2 thoughts on “The six Faces of Maternal Narcissism

  1. I had the secretly mean type and her behaviour was unpredictable. What helped was that I had good friends and they seemed to have much more emotionally stable mothers who were kind to me. Another thing that helped was that I had a very rich fantasy life. I had plastic animals that I played with and their family life was the one I really wanted. I have turned into the mother I wanted to have…even if she was originally a kangaroo that I found lying under a hedge.

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