As a society, we tend to assume that all parents love their children, but narcissistic parents exist. Too often the narcissist presents an image of devotion to the wider public, and yet behind closed doors, the child is subjected to emotional and physical abuse.
It would be terrifying for a child to acknowledge that this parent, who is supposed to feed and shelter the child, actually cares only for their own self-image, and not the child. Instead, the child makes sense of the parent's bewildering (and contradictory) behaviour with the use of self-blame.
It is common for the narcissistic parent to recruit 'rescuers' in the form of other family members, turning these family members against the child by portraying them as a 'persecutor' against the 'victim' narcissistic parent. This ‘triangulation’ is known as Karpman’s Drama Triangle.
Often it is years later, when that child has grown into an adult, can they accept that they were the victim of narcissistic parental abuse. But acknowledging this is just the first step.
Help is available, but you need to choose carefully. Make sure whoever you talk to (whether it is therapist or friend) listens to your actual words, and not their own preconceived notions. We all have our own assumptions about parents and parenting, so you need to find unbiased help that will see you for you. And not their own reflection.
Chris Warren-Dickins LLB MA LPC
Psychotherapist, (Licensed Professional Counselor), New Jersey (USA) and the UK
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