The Deidré Wallace System

11. REJECTION IN CHILDHOOD CAN LEAD TO EXTREME NARCISSISTIC BEHAVIOUR

3 Posted by - September 5, 2014 - My Step-By-Step Relationship System, Uncategorized

11. REJECTION IN CHILDHOOD CAN LEAD TO EXTREME NARCISSISTIC BEHAVIOUR

To understand relationships we must first understand how we all develop emotionally.

Remember that my blogs are divided into major sections. The blogs in this first section describe the behavioural habits so many of my clients presented me with. They are the fundamental issues that we all grapple with. Because we are all the same – our issues are just packaged differently.

So here is another of these behavioural habits that you may want to get your head around because on a scale of 1-10 we all to some extent fall under this category. I will describe the more extreme angles of narcissism and this is usually the best way of describing behavioural habits or patterns.

Narcissism:

Much has been spoken about Narcissism and you can Google tons of information with regards this vast subject. And remember that in a previous blog I wrote that we are all abandoned to some extent. Getting your head around Narcissism and the extremes traits if this behaviour pattern will help you understand how abandonment of whatever kind in childhood can have vast destructive consequences like narcissism in adulthood. By understanding this important topic can help you possibly understand these aspects within yourself or in others.

Narcissism dovetails all the issues I have written about so far – how a parent connects with a child, abandonment, punishment, the emotional roller-coaster, how our brains are our worst enemies, the rescuer-victim-punisher/bully triangle, the knight in shining armour and putting ourselves or others on pedestals and better still, is that we are all have the same issues, they are just packaged differently.

I will try to summarize this topic.

Narcissus is a beautiful young man who falls in love with his own reflection. Unable to love anyone other than himself, his inability to enter the world of human relationships proves fatal: he literally drowns in his own image.

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This story is similar to what we call a narcissistic disorder. It describes someone so needy of positive approval, that all their energy is directed towards satisfying this insatiable self-centredness. They live in fear of that Black Hole scenario I spoke about in one of my blogs. Terrified of lurching into a pit of insecurity and self-hate, they try to stay in control by manipulating situations. They can become conscious or even unconscious bullies. By unconscious I mean that the behaviour has become such a habit that the bully isn’t even aware of what they may be doing.

And narcissists construct a massive ego to defend a shatteringly fragile self-esteem. It’s a fatal combination with manipulative charm and relentless cruelty depending on the levels of abandonment or cruelty they experienced as children. They may even resort to threats as tactics to get you under their control. They can dominate relationships with little regard for other’s needs or wishes. They can be openly hostile and aloof. Often they are unable to accept that others have needs, interests and expectations of their own. And if you don’t constantly give them attention they can throw tantrums with often loud and vehement protests. They can be aggressive and destructive. And at a minutes notice they either violently blow up, go silent or they just get up and leave. It’s like their world becomes smashed up. They can also let go of relationships at the ‘drop of a hat’ as they either idealise or denigrate their relationships. And any attempt to offer solutions will only incur more aggression. Unable to see their own vulnerability and anxiety, they often accuse people of failing them. Because they feel deeply abandoned, they will attack at any moment if they feel insecure or ignored.

They do however love adoration and they thrive on getting your attention. If at the same time they can feel that they’ve become your ‘knight in shining armour’ this will thrill them to no end. However, once they’ve got your attention and your admiring gaze, be warned lest you dare to gaze or give anyone else attention even if it’s just for a moment. It can result in them feeling that they’ve slipped back into that bleak hole, all because their fear of abandonment and it’s consequent feelings and emotions is huge. All the feelings of the black hole can come rushing back at a moments notice: feelings of rejection, self-hate, rage, depression, isolation, loneliness and despair, leaving them feeling terrified and totally out of control.

Then look what can happen and it can happen very quickly too:

In order to punish you for this perceived abandonment, the Narcissist can stomp off furiously and/or throw a tantrum. Be careful – they have just turned into a bully. And if you are prepared to play the victim the Narcissist may just have ‘won’ the game. They may have just got back the control they thought they had lost.

This behaviour relates to the rescuer-victim-punisher/bully triangle. I covered this triangular behaviour in a previous blog. So yes, it’s a game of cat and mouse. And Narcissists can thrive on playing the game because it has become either a conscious or unconscious game. It has become a habit.

There are of course widely differing degrees of narcissism. All of us have our self-engrossed and needy moments. A certain amount of narcissism is essential for our psychological health. There are times when it is vital for narcissism to prevail: the baby needs the reflection of a mother’s adoring gaze and her attention in order to feel secure.

As we grow older, the idea is that we will begin to feel secure enough after receiving sufficient ‘good enough’ love and attention as well as praise from our parents.

The opposite or varying degrees of Narcissism can develop if a child is continually rejected, never praised, criticized, abandoned or unloved. This can result in ‘extreme’ narcissism, and a feeling of never having experienced being loved unconditionally. So they search endlessly for positive reflections of themselves to ward off an ever-threatening insecurity. If they do fall in love they will experience ‘feeling on top of the world’ but if any real separateness is felt, they will rage and quickly withdraw. Why – because their inner life is frozen with loneliness, sadness and fear.

And partners of Narcissists will fall into the triangular system I mentioned earlier: the rescuer-victim-punisher/bully triangle. Partners become victims and usually accept blame readily, are eager to please, defer to other’s opinions, and fear being considered selfish if they act assertively. Their crumbling self-belief might mean that they only accept mere crumbs that are thrown their way, believing that they are at fault. So they collude with the Narcissist.

Narcissists are often emotionally empty shells. And yet, they can be full of themselves. They throw their toys out of the cot when they don’t get their way. They need others to look up to them and reflect their glory. Consequently, they may find empathy difficult. Failing to gain the love of a parent, the child or adult is ill equipped to understand others. Feeling insecure, they create a self-protective shell of arrogance and grandiosity around themselves.

And this is all because they lack the love that most of us take for granted.

The Narcissistic Parent:

A narcissistic parent can be so preoccupied with protecting their self image that they tend to beinflexible, and lack the empathy necessary for child rearing.

The narcissistic parent has low self-esteem and their need to control how others regard them; their fear of blame or rejection; their fear that their personal inadequacies might be exposed; often leads them to become very possessive and exclusively close to their children.

And narcissists have two faces – one they wear in public and the other they wear at home. Only those close to a narcissist have any idea that there is more than one face. A frequent frustration for the children of narcissists is that everyone else thinks that their mother or father is the most amazing person ever. Yet in reality and at home, the child suffers the control and manipulation in silence.

The child can be denied friends because when the child begins to show independence, or when they begin to develop relationships and friendships with others, the narcissistic parent often becomes very envious. Seeing a child with others may feel like a dreadful betrayal all because the narcissistic parent may feel rejected and even abandoned by their child. And if the child does spend time with friends they might feel guilty, knowing that the parent will be sitting at home feeling hurt even angry. Returning home then becomes fraught with anxiety as the child knows they will be confronted with a perceived betrayal by the manipulating parent.

Narcissistic parents also love to brag about their children – not as authentic individuals but rather as objects of their creation. A common phrase can go something like – “Look what I have achieved – isn’t it wonderful!” This is an example of what is meant by the child ‘becoming an extension of the parent’. Their identity is ignored in preference of the parent’s need of praise and an applauding audience.

So the child becomes an extension or possession of the parent. Here I find myself wanting to refer to the child as ‘it’. By becoming an extension of the parent, the child can even loose their identity.

By trying to control the child and instilling within the child an expectation that the parent comes first, can be very isolating and very claustrophobic for a child.

Summary:

It is not the role of the child to ‘mother’ the parent.

We all can display narcissistic tendencies. We all need attention at times and we all need positive reinforcement. If however our needs begin to supersede those of others and if this habit is getting in the way of you moving forward and building constructive relationships then I urge you to spend some time dissolving this behavioural pattern or habit.

Negative childhood experiences and trauma can result in destructive behavioural habits that don’t serve a purpose any longer. Begin by watching yourself like a hawk. Read my blogs and get to understand my work. Start working at breaking your negative habits (I have blogged about – how to break habits, and I will blog about it again and again). This will help you make better choices to suit your life goals.

And I leave you with this thought – It is quite amazing when you think just how much energy it must take to be a Narcissist and to constantly seek out affirmation! We often tire ourselves out and we get ill without realising that our bodies are trying to tell us something – “Stop, look, I cant do this any more!” This is why I urge you to stop and begin to watch yourself like a hawk. It will do you no harm.

Note: © 2014 Information Copyright Deidré Wallace

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4 Comments

  • Zvonko April 20, 2015 - 7:24 am Reply

    I have doubts about behaviour changes. I know it’s some sort of resistance, too, as habits like eating not enough and smoking and avoidant behaviour are well established and there is fear of doing it otherwise.

    However, I mean it more on the strategic level – those are just symptoms. I avoid people because I feel not important enough, “left out”, “not smart enough”, “not good enough” – all of these. However, thinking about changing those concious habbits is just a concious change. It is just changing the symptom.

    I did start psychoanalysis 2 months ago, but it takes place weekly only, so a lot of hours of psychical symptoms of held down emotions (tightness in stomach (pain), gasses and tightness in chest). I’ve been through a lot, did horrible things to myself, but I have no idea what excatly I’m pushing down. I think it has something to do with guilt, but I’m not sure – I would only intelectulize it. That’s how lost I am …

    What you are trying to change conciously, is just a “fake” thing basicly. I will tell you an example from like seconds ago. My grandma told me “Your telephone is ringing downstairs”. My emotion was anger. My thoughts were “What do you want again, you old bitch?” “It’s just an alarm, it doesn’t mather, anyway” (I thought this one because of the fear of responisbility or something like that, I guess, not sure). However, I DID become aware there is some anger and anger is most of the times unrational so I tried to ignore this part and thought “What is the right answer?” … and replied “Thank you”. But still, I heard myself as I said it – in my emotional tone – there was still this primary response. So I answered “perfectly”, but it was just fake. It feels very depressing how settled all of this is. This rage inside. This hate. Huhh … though at least there is no guilt afterwards, I have to admit. If I would respond in “normal” mather, like “WHAAT?!” … I would feel guilt afterwards.

    What do you think, then? Is basicly this kind of the awareness to see anger and try to act out of the question “What is normal?” a way to learn? You think one may learn more empathy in this way? Or is therapeutic process like psychoanalysis more appropriate, because you built trust and then this kind of reponses are automatic? Or, is it that both ways work as long as you DECIDE to become a better person and stop the karma … ?

    And now I feel like I told everything. This is probably a symptom, too, so you don’t have a lot of things to counter me (meaning, criticize me) – I just try to tell everything I know. 😀 ah… it is not funny, either.

    • Deidré Wallace January 23, 2017 - 6:42 pm Reply

      Dear Zvonko

      I do not offer personal advice on this blog however it sounds like you need to keep up with the psychoanalysis as it will help you in the long run. During your sessions, start a diary or journal as that will help you focus your mind.

      And best wishes as it sounds like you are on the right track.
      Deidré

  • Andrea Barthen December 19, 2016 - 9:07 am Reply

    Thank you for your very professional and helpful advice. I am in a very destructive relationship with a man who was abandoned by his mother at 4 and left in an orphanage. Where you say that a narcissist must have total control even by using entrapment, and has illusions of grandeur about himself and his own son, and reading your other blogs is helping me to leave him. He has been physically abusive, controlling so that I cannot have other friends, almost destroyed my relationship with my daughter thru his jealousy and to make a long story short has been trying to convince me to marry him without him signing a prenuptual agreement which I asked if he would do. At the same time of proposing marriage to me he has been having an affair. He agreed to go to see a therapist with me the last time he hit me, and then once I went back to him he began his arrogant behaviour all over again, saying he was not going to go. I couldn’t put together how he could do the things he does to me, such as shout suddenly, leave, be gone for days, and then come back saying he loves me and acting affectionately. He is really troubled I can finally see because of the information you have put together for people like me. I am so grateful. I want you to know I was praying to god for help, understanding and strength to get out of the relationaship and late last night I found your blog. I am an American living abroad and could not find a good English speaking therapist so this is my lifeline. I am actually really afraid of him now and his son too, who is even worse…..where you say that they have 2 faces….one for the world and one at home is so true. Your knowledge and descriptions are so very accurate. THANK YOU SO MUCH !!!!! Until now I felt so lost and felt I did not know how to cope.

    • Deidré Wallace January 23, 2017 - 6:39 pm Reply

      Dear Andrea

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. I don’t give advice here

      It is my absolute pleasure to have been of help.
      Thank you too for what you wrote, ‘Your knowledge and descriptions are so very accurate. THANK YOU SO MUCH !!!!! Until now I felt so lost and felt I did not know how to cope.

      Keep reading the blogs as there is more to come.

      Best Wishes,
      Deidré

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