Malignant narcissism

Dangerous lover, abusive parent:
the pathology of the malignant narcissist

“Being raised by a narcissist gives rise to a belief throughout our lives that we are just not ‘good enough’

“(Being raised by a narcissist) damages your boundaries, which are the invisible barriers between you and your outside systems that regulate the flow of information and input between you and these systems. These damaged boundaries thwart your ability to communicate authentically and powerfully, and taint your own self-concept, which in turn damages your relationships and your capability to thrive personally and professionally in the world… Often, children of narcissists are overly-sensitive, deeply insecure, unable to see themselves as good, worthy and lovable.  And sadly, they are so familiar with narcissism (because they dealt with it all their lives) that they unconsciously attract it into their lives, through their adult relationships, and in their work cultures and careers.”

“But I need to share that it’s critical for your well-being that you don’t turn around and begin blaming (and hating) your parents if indeed they are/were narcissists. Everyone is doing the best they can in life, and their disorder most likely stems from their own damaging childhood and upbringing that was in need of healing, which they never received.”

The narcissist personality:

1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance, e.g. exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements.

2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love.

3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high status people (or institutions).

4. Requires excessive admiration.

5. Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.

6. Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e. takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.

7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.

8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of her.

9. Shows arrogance, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

I’ve found too that narcissistic parents demand that you agree with them or else they’ll reject you, because being challenged to them means they are not loved.

Therefore, adult children of narcissists experience love that’s conditional only (based on certain conditions and specific actions that must be demonstrated). From that experience of needing to behave in a certain way to be loved and accepted, they never receive the validation, empathy, and unconditional love and nurture that we humans all so desperately crave.

“I’ve seen in my therapy work and coaching that adult children of narcissists often feel this:

• Never good enough or valuable enough

• Deeply afraid to speak up confidently or challenge others

• Very attuned (to an almost uncanny degree) to what everyone around them is feeling, because they have a hyper-sensitivity to what others are experiencing (they had to have this in order to survive being raised by a narcissist). This can lead to their inability to protect themselves from others’ emotions.

• Chronically unsure of themselves, and overly-worried about what others think of them

• Deeply insecure, because they never experienced unconditional love. Any love or care that was given was done so under certain challenging conditions that made them feel inauthentic and fake.

• That the relationships they’ve form (either at work or in personal life) are deeply challenging and unsatisfying (and even toxic and frightening). When they step back and look at these relationships honestly, they see narcissism all around them and they have no idea what to do.

• Finally, they feel used and beaten up by their work, by their bosses and their colleagues, and can’t understand why their careers are so challenged and difficult.

“If the above experiences resonate with you, it’s time to gain greater awareness of what you’ve experienced in childhood, so you can have greater choice over your thoughts, mindsets and behaviors in order to heal.

“We don’t just “get over” being raised by a narcissist. It takes strong therapeutic support to “peel the onion” and heal the wounds — to have the courage to look at the specific brand of narcissism you experienced (it’s different in every family), how this has impacted you and the way you operate, and learn new behaviors that will allow you to heal the child within and become the adult you long to be.

For more information, visit Will I Ever Be Good Enough and Dr. Karyl McBride’s book Will I Ever Be Good Enough.

“The child of the narcissist must cater to and keep their partner happy, even when that involves squashing her own needs and feelings.”

“The narcissist’s interpersonal tricks and stunts, these children internalize intense shame (‘I keep failing my Mom’) which leads to anger that the child turns on himself (‘I’m so stupid,’ ‘Something’s wrong with me’). The overall quality and strength of the bond between the narcissistic parent and young child is poor and weak. Deep down, the child doesn’t feel consistently loved, as the child is taught the metaphoric Narcissistic Parenting Program: You’re only as good as I say you are, and you’ll be loved only if you’re fully compliant with my wishes. Simply put, it’s truly heartbreaking for the child – though the narcissistic parent is sinfully oblivious.”

“Because the narcissistic parent-child bond was so distorted and corrupt, the offspring as adults tend to gravitate toward drama-laden, roller-coaster relationships – especially with romantic partners.”


“First, you have to grieve the loss of the parent you never had. Really grieve the fact that you didn’t get the parent you needed, the one who put you and your needs first. Part of that requires releasing the fantasy that your narcissistic parent can change and eventually give you what you need.”

“You are going to need to discover boundaries—where you begin and your parents end—to free your authentic self. When you choose who you want to be, rather than who your parents wanted you to be, you break free from their narcissistic grip. Tolerate their discomfort, even if they make a lot of noise. You are not misbehaving, rebelling, or rejecting them. You are being you, the real you—maybe for the first time. This is the first part of breaking the cycle. Next, you don’t want to repeat/generalize the relationship that you had with your narcissistic parent to your coworkers, partner, or friends. Realize where you are meeting the needs of other narcissists in your life, real or imagined.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s