Children affected by narcissistic parents or caregivers are often
subjected to years of emotional manipulation, neglect, and abuse which goes
unnoticed by outsiders. These children are often not even aware of the abuse
they are experiencing until it manifest later in life as difficult to diagnose mental
But before we can understand how the narcissistic
caregiver abuses a child, we must first understand what narcissism is and how
the disorder presents.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a
psychological personality disorder, defined by The DSM-5, characterized by an
inflated sense of one’s own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and
admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.
Because we’re not diagnosing anyone in this
blog, we won’t go into the lengthy definition of this disorder. What we want to
focus on, however, are the key traits, because they do an excellent job
illustrating how this disorder applies to the abuse that narcissistic caregivers can cause children.
Lack Of Empathy
probably the single biggest defining trait of a narcissist. The inability to
identify with and/or unwillingness recognize the experiences and feelings of
words. The narcissist neither cares nor wants to understand how other people
Grandiose Sense Of Self-Importance
people exaggerate accomplishments, talents, connections, and experiences. These do not have to be actual experiences.
people often have a preoccupation with fantasies of success, power, brilliance,
beauty, or ideal love. They live in a fantasy world of their own creation. One
where they are the center of attention and the most important person.
belief they are unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with,
other special or high-status people or institutions bleeds into their everyday
interactions with the real world.
Need For Excessive Admiration
people are often covering for some deep emotional wound, and in order to avoid
the pain of it, they constantly need praise and approval to keep their spirits
up. With this trait, the person with NPD will surround themselves with others
who constantly boost their ego. They do not; however, reciprocate.
Sense Of Entitlement
a fantasy world of their own imagining, these people consider themselves to be
special and act accordingly. They expect favorable treatment. Those who do not
meet their expectations are treated with aggression and outrage.
for admiration, coupled with the sense of entitlement, and their inability to
empathize with others, means the person with NPD will only surround themselves
with people who do and say what they want. This becomes their standard. Their
circle exists to serve them, and they do not think twice about using their
people to get what they want.
Envious Of Others
feel threatened whenever they encounter someone who appears to have something
they lack - confidence, popularity, better looks, or possess skills they do not.
Their defense mechanism is contempt. They may patronize or dismiss the value of
others whom they are secretly envious of. Or they attack with insults, bullying,
or other forms of character assassination to neutralize the threat.
Children exposed to
complex trauma, especially when originating from someone they know and trust,
is a risk factor for nearly all behavioral health and substance use disorders.
The impact of childhood trauma, whether single instances or long-term abuse
carries impacts that can last well beyond childhood.
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