Traits of a Narcissistic Mother

Narcissism is a personality disorder where the need for self importance and vanity takes over every sphere of life. For a young child it is very difficult to deal with a parent who has these traits. A narcissistic mother can not only create havoc in a child's life, but also cause immeasurable amount of pain.
PsycholoGenie Staff
"Mirror, mirror on the wall,
who in the land is the fairest of all?"

- Queen Mother in the animation Snow White.

Most definitions of narcissism define it as an excessive fascination with oneself, that thrives on self-love, vanity, and constant need for gratification. It is believed to be a personality disorder.

The term is derived from the Greek mythological character, Narcissus, a handsome Greek youth who was punished for rejecting nymph Echo's desperate advances. He was cursed to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water, and as he was unable to consummate his love, he changed into a flower due to grief. The yellow-colored flowers are named after him; Narcissus.

While a certain amount of self-love is essential to make us feel good about ourselves, it spells trouble when it becomes an obsession. The situation becomes especially traumatic when children have to deal with a narcissistic mother.

Traits of a Narcissistic Mother

As the child is born, so is the mother. There is no denying the fact that a mother plays a vital role in a child's upbringing. In most normal setups, a mother is the one who nurtures the child with unselfish love and care. Now imagine a scenario, where a child has to constantly 'seek' for the mother's love, or worse deal with role reversals. Although intelligent, such women are emotionally immature, and incapable of providing the child with a healthy environment. They are too wrapped up in asserting their own superiority or significance.

For small children it is a difficult time as they cannot comprehend why the mother loves them only when her conditions are satisfied. Such a woman wants to be taken care of, pampered, and spoiled, by the young child. Basically they train their children to cater to their wishes and whims. The children are forced to reverse roles, and the love they receive depends upon how much they are willing to shower on their mother. A child who lives with a narcissistic mother has to constantly prove that she/he is worth the mother's love. One of the most severe repercussions of this is that the child grows up into an adult, full of complexes and personality disorders, or maybe turn narcissistic himself.

A narcissist mother sees herself as perfect; she can distort the truth in the process, especially while bearing the child down. A common trait seen among such individuals is that they do not like anyone being praised in front of them. And God forbid, the child is praised, an envious mother is quite capable of diminishing or degrading her own child. She won't wince in her need to feel superior while minimizing the child's ability. For her, the child is there to serve just one purpose, to comply with her needs. She will refuse to acknowledge the child as an individual who has his/her own needs. She believes that she alone is entitled to all the love and affection.

Psychologists who have treated women with this disorder have reported that such women compete with their own children for their spouse's as well family's attention. They expect favorable treatment and complete compliance, and any defiance shown by the child results in rage and exploitation. What seems as a cause of worry is that such a mother is quite capable of sexually abusing the child as well.

Until the children grows, they really don't know what they are dealing with. Hence, it is up to the family, friends, and teachers to recognize this condition in a mother, and help both; the mother and the child. A child who is deprived of a normal childhood, will in turn be deprived of being a normal adult.