Understanding Narcissism and the root of Abusive Behaviour


narcissistic mothers; knowing the diagnosis does not alter the damageWhen a shark bites the damage needs to be attended to and then that damage needs to heal. The fact that something may have been wrong with the shark doesn’t assist in healing that damage nor does it change the facts about that damage.  

Many of us come up with the term “narcissism” when we look into our family history and conclude that our mothers had narcissistic personality disorder.  Sometimes it is the father that fits the description. The diagnosis of Narcissism seems to answer so many mysteries and questions.

At first, realizing that my Mother had the symptoms and all the signs of narcissism I was relieved that I finally realized and even understood what was wrong with her. I felt like I had finally found the answer. I had this kind of “OH NOW I UNDERSTAND” feeling. But the more I thought about it, I wasn’t any farther ahead knowing that she fit the description of being a narcissistic mother.  

She also suffers from depression and is on medication for that too. But that knowledge also didn’t help me overcome the damage that has been caused to ME because the damage is there regardless of what is wrong with her. 

My father is dissociated. He seems disconnected from reality and as he ages he lives in his own little world more and more.  He was passive and non violent but because he was dissociated and emotionally unavailable, there were consequences for me as his daughter. I got the message that I didn’t matter to him.  

Having an answer or a diagnosis for the people who caused so much damage with their neglect and carelessness in my life, did not actually help me to proceed on my recovery journey even though it can be another little piece in the puzzle we are trying to solve as survivors.

All my life I had tried to understand my mother and father.

Why was my mother so self centered? Why was everything about her? Why did she have so much depression? Why did she spend money on herself and leave me fending for myself? Why did she humiliate me in public? What is wrong with me? And at the bottom of all those unspoken questions, I thought it was because something was wrong or lacking in me; that I was a big disappointment and that if I was a better daughter, then she would not have to be selfish with her love. I tried to find the way to “deserve her love.” 

Realizing that my mother has all the symptoms for the diagnosis of Narcissism at first allowed me to believe that her ill regard for me was about the Narcissistic personality disorder, but that knowledge didn’t help for long.  Pretty soon I realized that my mother did not treat everyone the way she treated me.  She was popular in her friend group.  She was much less self centered with her boyfriends and with her co-workers.  She did not treat other people the way that she treated me which helped me determine that she could actually control her behaviour.  And if she could hide it from others… then was it really a disorder? Did she really have narcissistic personality disorder if she only seemed to target it at a few select people?

I decided that perhaps my mother had specifically the “narcissistic mother” disorder which would only affect the way that she was with her children. But the more I thought about that, it didn’t really fit either. She didn’t seem to do the same things to my brothers that she did to me or even have the expectations from them that she had from me and although I am in no way saying that I was the most picked on of the children in my family when I look at the details of this whole picture, the fact remains that my mother could control her behaviour.  People with disorders can’t really help it. 

Thinking about it that way, I was back to square one.  Why me? Although learning about narcissism and other diagnosis’s and realizing which ones my parents may have had, it turned out that only a small piece of that huge puzzle was solved for me. 

It seemed as though my struggle for finding emotional healing went round and round for many years as I sought the solution to the mysteries, until I realized a few key things;

~ I had to realize that there was damage done to me and acknowledging that damage was the first step in my emotional and personal healing.

~ I realized that I HAD to face the pain that damage caused in order to validate myself where I had never been validated before. In a way it was like giving myself permission to be right and to be alive. I began to embrace my own value for the first time ever.

Covering up for my parents by excusing damage they had contributed to had kept me in the spin of mental illness for many years.  My loyalty to them was based on my fear of further rejection and on my belief that they would “be there for me and love me” if I could finally figure out how to be acceptable in their eyes. If I could find THAT missing piece of THAT puzzle I thought I could be good enough and that I could be what they needed and wanted as a daughter.  All those thoughts and beliefs kept me on the wrong track because the focus was based in a lie. I already WAS good enough and I already HAD value. The truth is that THEY had failed to communicate that to me.

In the beginning of my healing process, I had huge amounts of guilt, shame and fear about feeling anger and blame towards my parents. I realized that the fear is based on my childhood understanding that if they reject me, I will not survive. Eventually I realized that the truth isn’t always pretty and that anger and blame are necessary stages that I had to allow and even encourage in myself. Those stages were a huge part of my SELF VALIDATION process.  I had to validate myself in order to go forward.

So although understanding what is wrong with the abusive person in your life may be valuable information and it may even feel like winning the lottery, it is not the answer to healing from the damage. The real freedom and recovery happens when we begin to validate the hurt that was caused.

Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time

Darlene Ouimet

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The related posts are in bold print throughout this post.  One more related post is ~ My mothers Narcissistic Reaction to my book idea


75 response to "Understanding Narcissism and the root of Abusive Behaviour"

  1. By: Paula Hayes Posted: 8th December

    Oh no, my previous comment did not make it. I spent an hour explaining the complexities of the narcissism-psychopathy spectrum and how the narcissist assigns a separate – unchanging – role to each of her victims. Your role was the scapegoat and your siblings would have been assigned other roles. Enough for now.

  2. By: Paula Hayes Posted: 8th December

    I don’t know if my previous comment has made it. Long one – please don’t ignore it. I just thought of something else. Your mother’s ‘depression’ is another attention-seeking ploy. My mother used it, too. Even went to the GP one day, then came home and announced that she was diagnosed with manic-depression (abrakebabra, just like that!). Gives them another chance to talk about ‘poor me’ and their medication.

  3. By: Coco Posted: 9th March

    Ps. My mother (fool 1) is known to put down her animals when they become too much trouble… My poor dog suffered the same fate when I was young, and I wasn’t allowed to say goodbye. The pain i feel is still unbearable today. Absolutely sick behaviour and I am so sorry for your loss. Hugs

  4. By: Coco Posted: 9th March

    Loved the link to daughters of narcissistic mothers. While its great to be able to label, it’s up to me to let the healing begin. No contact now for 18 months… Relief, freedom and a certain level of guilt would be the descriptive words. But the best thing away from them is to not have the daily tears berating myself saying “why did I say that”. It’s nice not to be so down on myself all the time, and highlights just how much they contributed to that.

  5. By: Davina Posted: 16th February

    Michelle at #56–

    Your mother killing your pets and then making you watch is sickening. I don’t know if she’s a narcissist but among the signs of sociopathy are cruelty to animals as well as people, and lack of empathy.

    Whatever her diagnosis might have been, it is clear that she’s cruel and mentally sick. I’m sorry you had to go through these things and pray that your life is much improved.

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