Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Plethora of Narcissistic Parents

Or is it more of a glut? An excess?

I have no way of really knowing if the world is afflicted with a superabundance of self-absorbed leeches, also known as the narcissistic parent.

But when I check Blogpatrol to see what people are typing into their search engines on their way to finding my obscure site in the massive Blogosphere, hands down, it's "dealing with a narcissistic parent" or some variation.

Sheesh. Ten out of the last ten searches had to do with narcissistic parents.

If you're stuck with one of those and you found me here....I'm sorry for your loss. Because it IS a loss. You lost out on a parent. You lost out on receiving the best gift empathetic mother or father. And if you're adopted, like me, you lost out on being parented....twice.

It's not fun parenting your parent. And if you haven't cut them out of your life by the time you hit middle age, when that parent is old and needs help, you're so sick and tired of this role (and them) that you can hardly find strength enough to do it one more day. Other people smile cheerfully and talk about how much they love their aging mom or dad and want to help them. But it's hard to love a narcissistic because they've never loved you. Not really. They've needed you. Which is different.

From what I've heard and read, narcissism can be mild, moderate or severe. It can take the form of wanting admiration. In the case of my adoptive father, he can only talk about himself. This is not an exaggeration. If I manage to say five words in a row it's a miracle. I'm not saying this as a play for sympathy or to make myself sound like a victim. It's merely descriptive. If he asks me how I am, he does not wait for a response. Once, I told him I was having to go in for scary medical tests and he said, "Uh, uh...did I tell you what my doctor said to me yesterday about my cough?"

Having a parent who's a narcissist makes you feel invisible.

Having one in your life is to live in a permanent state of toxicity.

The only way to effectively deal with a parent like this is to emotionally detach. (Book recommendation: Children of the Self-Absorbed by Nina Brown)

Even when you finally emotionally detach, there will be times when you regress. When you can't help but feel angry and disappointed that you got stuck propping up the psyche of somebody who should have been looking after your welfare...helping you to mature. And if you're adopted, you may feel especially bitter and angry because, certainly, it wasn't in the best interest of the child to be burdened with a child-like parent.

Some adoptive parents have "returned" (or tried to return) their children saying full disclosure was not made and they were not prepared to take on such a troubled kid.

Do adoptees have that same recourse?



Blogger elizabeth said...

Yeah Nina I think we do have the same recourse.

My aparents were not narcissists, but I didn't sign any papers. I left at 15 and never looked back.

As for my NPD mother and co-conspirator father, well they will have to depend on my brother's good will, not mine.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Elizabeth, I REALLY admire your courage. I think it takes a lot to separate from your parents at that age. I think I've been too much of a pathetic, people pleasing goody-too shoes out-of-touch w/myself mess - til recently - to take that step. But I like to think that we DO have that recourse if we can find our way to it in time. I'm glad you have a brother to dump 'em on.

5:06 PM  
Blogger LeRoy Dissing said...

I don't think adoptees are given the same recourse as adoptive parents. I have known of many adoptive parents who have TPR on the children they adopted. In my opinion it is another rejection for these children to deal with. I do not believe many adoptive parents are adequately prepared to adopt children.

I have done a bit of research on NPD and what I found is that:

According to DSM IV, the prevalence of NPD is less than 1% of the general population, though it manifests itself in 2-16% of psychiatric outpatients. Studies have not conclusively demonstrated any ethnic, social, cultural, economic, genetic, or professional predilection to NPD[3]. However, [4] reports evidence for heritability greater than that of other personality disorders.

Some narcissistic traits are common and a normal developmental phase. When these traits are compounded by a failure of the interpersonal environment and continue into adulthood they may intensify to the point where NPD is diagnosed. The disorder occurs 50 to 75 percent more frequently in men than in women. It has been suggested that NPD may be exacerbated by the onset of aging and the physical, mental, and occupational restrictions it imposes[3].

I can't say with any certainty that adoptive parents, especially adoptive fathers, are disportionately more likely to exhibt a narcissitic personality disorder. However, if I were your social worker I would have given you the same recourse to back out of the adoption if I could have. You deserved better.

I am glad you are finally putting some emotional distance between you and him for your own health and well-being. It shows me you are healing and I am sure it is having a positive impact in other areas of your life.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

I always look forward to your research and insight, LeRoy. OMG! I'd never heard that there are more male NPDs. Fascinating...and the bit about aging! Well, that makes sense as their world does begin to "dial down." One positive about researching NPD is that as the mother of two teenagers, I'm hyper aware of my behavior and role as parent. When they talk, I try to listen carefully, then repeat back their key points and feelings, basically to "mirror" them. I'm so determined to stop the destructive pattern. Too bad more of us adoptees didn't score such an enlightened social worker as yourself! It takes a lot of effort to be enlightened.

6:22 PM  
Blogger elizabeth said...

You know Nina I never really thought of it before but I think you are right. It would be more difficult to dump my parents if not for my brother.

Wow. Yeah, and yikes. For sure it was much easier to leave my aparents because they still had their real daughter, so I did not leave them all alone.


9:20 PM  
Blogger LeRoy Dissing said...

Thanks also takes a lot of effort to listen and empathize, both of which I see you doing here on your blog and then what you report doing with your children. I don't think you have anything to worry about in terms of getting NPD. If anything, you probably lean more toward pleasing others rather than yourself. You have in the past and need to guard against sacrificing yourself to the point of losing yourself. I am encouraged by all that you have done to develop your sense of self, set healthy boundaries and say "no" when you don't want to do something. The old Virgina Slims cigarette slogan comes to mind when I think of you Nina: "You've come along way Baby"!

9:22 PM  
Blogger suz said...

Some adoptive parents have "returned" (or tried to return) their children saying full disclosure was not made and they were not prepared to take on such a troubled kid. Do adoptees have that same recourse?

I say yes and I have seen it happen. I know several adoptees who upon reunion, were adopted BACK! They were emancipated from their adopters and then had their natural parents adopt them. Thats one way to get some recourse (of course, assumes you want to be adopt back by your natural family..I realize not everyone would want that).

I love it when I see adoptees take back their power by adopting back, combining birth/amended names, etc.

9:35 AM  
Anonymous For The Lord said...

My wife is the only child(adopted) of a mother that is without a doubt a NPD and I come from a family of 6 that is strong with each other and the Lord. I do not say that to brag at all, I just want to let you know the extreme difference in up bringings that we come from. I Love my wife with all of my heart and wish as she does that her Mom (NPD) would just love her and be happy for our marriage but we both know that she will not. My problem is that I know and my wife knows that her mom (understament) has a problem about putting her on guilt trips about everything under the sun away, but I am afraid my wife will hold it against me if I put my foot down and boot her mom's deceptive ways out of our lives. She feels as if it is her only family(said repeatedly by her mother to her)and I need to know what the healthiest way for my wife to deal with this would be? Please help me out. God Bless!

and here you thought this blog was all about you. :~) Thanks for any advice you can give.

2:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dearest Nina,

I am 31. I was adopted at 6 weeks of age. I have spent most of these 31 years trying to please my mother to no avail. I was sent to counseling from age 15 and then some because I was "bad," because my mom has always felt there was something "wrong" with me. Two years ago, with about 6 months away from my X boyfriend who was also a narcissist, I woke up one day to find that something in my brain had "snapped," I felt enlightened. I knew that I didn't want to spend the next 31 years of my life crying or in bed, depressed; which is how much of my life has gone. I took on the task of trying to learn about myself, felt a new "lust" for life and discovered that those feelings of anger and sadness can be used in other ways, such as energy for a hike or bike ride. I spent the summer with my family, thinking that I had beaten the odds, that I was "on my way." A year ago, after that wonderful summer, I ran into that X again and thought that I was healthy enough to try it again -- of course I let him write our problems off on me -- I believed the things he said, simply because my mom had always said the same. It was the worst year of my life, the abuse reached a whole new level; I was beaten, lied to, used, manipulated and cheated on. I started therapy to heal from this, last week. I have known for a very long time now that a lot of my problems were stemming from my relationship with my mom, but I couldn't pinpoint it. Today, I happened on the term, "narcissist." I have been sitting here crying, as I surf; some of it relief, some of it deep sorrow. It took me several searches to find your website, but I am so glad that I did. I don't feel alone anymore. I am a deeply wounded and misgruntled woman, right now. I have been unsuccesful in personal relationships and in business; I am a self sabotager. Today I'm taking my life back. I have a long road ahead, but hopefully with this insight, I can move forward. I love my mom and know that her tendencies must be from her own experiences as a child/growing up. I also know that, luckily, I don't have her genes. I know that I'm a good person with a lot to offer. That has been the worst part, I think (that and I too, feel like I have been abandoned twice); never being good enough and not understanding why, with all I have done and how I have tried to mold myslef to her standards and expectations -- it was never enough, there was always something new. I now know that it's not me, or not all me, anyhow. Thank you for this site. Good luck to you, my sister; wish me the same.

7:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post. Yours was the first place that came up for narissistic adopted parents.

Great to know others are out there *who are adopted* that are going thru this.

I will have to read the book you posted.

Can relate to the father that can only talk about himself. I thought My eyes did a double take on that lol.

The real kicker was hearing that we were selfish children growing up.

Just recently my parents joined an exclusive country club, went to China, then to France, then bought a new car, then remodeled their house but they said they could not visit our family for Christmas because the stock market was bad(and couldn't we, with one income, just fly there for the holidays?)

It has taken me years of therapy to untangle this. Thank you for creating a blog for people like me. It really helps.

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Adoptees have no recourse at all. Like yourself, I was adopted into a narcissistic family. I've been trying to get it undone at age 30 and it's impossible.

I even have on my side that my adopted narcissistic mother's brother molested my friend before the adoption was final (I was adopted just after my 14th birthday but was living with them for 8 months by then) and he was charged by the police for a different victim because I came forward 25 years later. The law specifies pretty clearly that you have to report that sort of thing and my birth family at minimum should have been notified that this slimeball had tried to molest me, did molest my friend and molested her nephew- he was living with them.

Yet it is still very difficult to get the adoption overturned with all of that. I did sign paperwork given my age, but I was not the age of majority. I was at school during the court hearing when the order was granted.

They should build into adoption that the adoptee can enter into an arrangement whereby they want to reverse the adoption with some involvement from the state, CPS, or some other independent body to determine if the kid is just being unruly or if the kid maybe has a point.

I have now read so many stories of adoptions and foster kids that I think the adoption/foster process attracts narcissists. Not all adoptive parents are narcissists, but I think a lot of narcissists get involved in adopting and fostering.

I personally went through hell. They should be screening for narcissists.

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