There has been plenty of discussion regarding the abuse of children by narcissistic parents and the roots of mental illness. Whilst I’m not a doctor (and all advice is to be taken with the opinion of a qualified medical doctor), the main issue with adult children of narcissistic parents is the lack of love received, which leaves the child insecure and unsettled in the mind.
Lack of resonance
A child that has his mother cooing and responding to him gives the child a sense of safety in expression. There is a person invested in the security and safety of the child’s development of his individual expression. This act of being there gives the child confidence. To confirm that the child exists and his feelings are supported and valid. This is called emotional resonance.
Narcissistic parents are more invested in what the child can give her – namely narcissistic supply, and the feeling that « she is god » over a living being. The child then feels he has to perform for the mother, since she cannot envisage climbing down in order to be of service. The narcissist is superior over the child.
The lack of resonance toward the child reverse the role of parent-child. The child now has to adapt his behaviours in order to try to make the mother look after him. Pyschologist and counsellor Jay Reid suggests the child adapts his behaviour towards his mother, in order that the mother « remains willing » to look after him.
Remain willing = primal survival.
Without this willing from the parent, the child will surely die.
The child instead of getting his needs met is now in charge of parenting the parent. The child must go without but the mother is more than catered for by a person ill equipped to deal with adult complex emotions.
Resonance for the child is like oxygen, the child cannot function well without it.
Link to mental illness
The most horrifying types of abuse, physical and verbal, install the mother’s poisonous chatter in the boy’s mind. No longer will the boy need outside encouragement to disparage and insult himself, he’ll do it on his own. He’s bad, awful, unworthy and not fit to be on this earth, he’ll be his own negative cheerleader.
The experience of not being heard, validated and soothed in childhood carries onto adult life, and the now adult male will be angrily triggered by anyone who resembles Mommie Dearest – his girlfriend, his wife, his sister and female family members, even random women. The type of abuse hurled at women is a clear symptom of his parents inadequate child rearing skills.
Resonance in adult life
The need to be heard is what counselors rely on in healing from this type of mental anguish. Unfortunately men tend not to talk about their emotions for fear of being « weak ». Counselling or a safe space with a friend is effective in developing resonance. Even supportive online forums can stand in for a qualified counsellor.
For the abused boy with a narcissistic mother, other supportive women, often outside the family’s toxic culture can be invaluable in gaining a more accurate sense of yourself. Sometimes all it takes is a female to affirm your good qualities to get going on the road to healing.
The negative chatter can be solved in one word – self acceptance.
When you’ve accepted everything that you are – even the « bad » parts, no one can tell you that you are « unfit for purpose », « savage » or « inferior ». You love yourself unconditionally and whatever one says about you negatively, can be clean discarded, because of your strong foundation.
The best tools for self acceptance can be found on the TOOLS page.