© by Gail Meyers
The death of a parent can be one of life's most traumatic events. It is a difficult time no matter what your age or your relationship with the dying parent. If the dying parent suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder you can find yourself in an even more overwhelming, confusing and painful situation.
Whether you have been no contact with the dying narcissistic personality disordered parent or you interact with the narcissist parent on a daily basis, your emotions, friends, family and even your pastor may tell you to rush to the bedside of this parent.
That is a choice each of us must make on our own. These people may have good intentions, but the average person can not even begin to fathom the situation. It is common for those around the narcissistic personality disordered or malignant narcissist's scapegoat to give such advice, which is part of what kept me trapped in a cycle for so many years.
Before anything else, know that there is support out there. Even if you have felt alone and like no one understands, there are hundreds of people who have experienced a parent with narcissistic personality disorder. That validation alone can be healing.
There are many grief counselors and support groups, as well as DONM (daughter of narcissist mother) groups. Many of these groups are also online on social media sites, including mine - Narcissistic Personality Disorder Mother Facebook Resource Page.
There are open and closed groups. In an open group or on an open blog, everyone can see what you type. A closed group is generally for only those dealing with this particular issue and your comments will not go down your feed. So no one except the group members are generally able to see what you type. However, social media is constantly changing, so be sure to check with your group administrator. There are a list of resources to get you started in the right margin of this site.
The Sacred Role of Mother
The sacred belief that the mother is nurturer, defender and greatest ally to her children is deeply ingrained in most of us. It is so contrary to nature and society for a mother to behave in any other way toward her offspring many simply assume these qualities in a mother. Just as this idea has likely worked against you long and hard, it only escalates when a mother with narcissistic personality disorder becomes terminally ill. The average person can not begin to grasp the idea that a mother is intentionally destroying her own child, especially if she masquerades as a "selfless saint." They have never witnessed just how fast the angel mask comes off or even dream of what is truly under the mask. A narcissist personality disordered mother uses this sacred belief of mother to her full advantage.
The Flying Monkeys of a Terminally Ill NarcissistJust like the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz sent her flying monkeys after Dorothy, the narcissistic personality disordered mother will send her flying monkeys after you. Expect nothing less during a terminal illness of a narcissistic mother than for her to continue to use them to manipulate and punish. If anything, and as pathetic as it may sound, a narcissist will likely use the highly charged emotions of the dying process in several ways.
Highly emotionally charged people are much more easily manipulated, so look out for the flying monkeys. Flying monkeys being a term taken from The Wizard of Oz to describe those the narcissist manipulates into doing their dirty work, usually in the form of abuse by proxy.
If anything, the manipulation with guilt and pity greatly increase during the stress of terminal illness and death. Narcissists are extremely jealous people, but they believe others are jealous of them. The jealousy can also increase during this time because now in addition to whatever else they were jealous about, they are now jealous of others being healthy.
Whatever trauma, suffering or pain they have caused you or anyone else for decades is irrelevant. The whole world now needs to stop, take note and offer admiration, time, money, etc., for the narcissist who is now suffering.
Keep in mind that to the narcissist, this is their final grand performance. She became more brazen and more abusive when terminally ill. That is counter-intuitive to what normal, healthy human beings would do or contemplate another human being doing during this time. However, I literally saw her instantaneously change characters several times depending on who just walked in or out of the room. So be warned if you are the scapegoat.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder Mother Hallmarks: No Remorse, No Empathy, No RegretsIt is my opinion my narcissist mother was a dangerous person. That is true even with her facade of the "sweet little old lady down the street." In my experience a narcissistic personality disordered person is only bound by what they believe they can get away with, so terminal illness may actually bring out more aggression.
A narcissistic personality disordered parent lacks empathy. So while you as the grown child may be filled with empathy for this dying parent, realize that human qualities such as empathy, compassion and remorse do not suddenly materialize during the malignant narcissist's dying process. A narcissist is only bound by what they believe they can get away with without being caught or exposed. If this changed at all on the deathbed, she only became more dangerous. So do not expect any genuine remorse, empathy or compassion to suddenly materialize.
Narcissistic Parent: Collateral Damage Video
The Entitlement of a Narcissistic Personality Disordered Mother Knows No BoundsJust like in life, the entitlement of a terminally ill narcissistic personality disordered mother knows no bounds. During the nearly two year terminal illness her grown children and their families were to support her financially, as well as to provide 24/7 care. If it was not provided, the grown child was accused of not loving their mother. If one of the scapegoat children's families needed to go without utilities in order to support their mother, so be it. If a grown child had young children or a full time job, their 8 hour daily shift of personal care was still demanded. Only one of the two grown scapegoat children questioned this as being unreasonable - me.
It resulted in the grown children fighting amongst themselves under the strain, rather than stand up to the narcissist who flat refused to allow the assistance of hospice. It resulted in a dog pile style mobbing on the vocal scapegoat child (me) by the other grown children and their spouses. How dare anyone question the absurdity of the self proclaimed "selfless saint" mother flat refusing to allow for the assistance of hospice and demanding 24/7 care from her grown children!
So, literally if you are getting ready to drop dead from a lifetime of the narcissist mother's abuse and trying to meet their unreasonable demands, do not think there will be the slightest consideration for you. The same goes for finances. If you need to lose your house in order to buy a dying narcissistic mother's medication, then that is what will be expected.
If the whole family raised by the narcissistic personality disordered parent remains in denial or have not sought recovery, they remain well trained. There is no consideration here except the narcissist's demands, even if it kills everyone else, especially the scapegoats, in the process that is truly of no concern.
The Narcissist's Lies, Gossip, Slander and Flipped TalesA narcissist's weapon of choice is often verbal - slander, lies, playing the victim in flipped tales of who was the victim and who was the abuser, gossip, rage, verbal abuse and intentional infliction of emotional pain. It is a systematic dismantling of another person's relationships, reputation, emotional, physical and spiritual health, life and very soul. This is why narcissists are so often called "emotional vampires."
I would caution someone not to underestimate the cumulative results of this kind of behavior. Again, in my experience the narcissist became even more aggressive during terminal illness. The slander and lies may actually escalate as an effort in the narcissist's mind to ensure that the flying monkeys will never listen to or believe the true victim or scapegoat even after the narcissist's death.
The Projection of the Narcissistic Personality Disordered MotherIf for some unfathomable reason you want to get in a narcissist's head, all you have to do is listen to their accusations. A narcissist is constantly projecting their negative character traits onto others. Did you just catch the narcissist in a lie? You're about to be called a liar. They love to strip the real victim of their virtue and themselves of their abuse with projection and twisted stories. Whatever qualities you value in yourself they are likely targets. You pride yourself on being honest or generous? They will rip you off, then accuse you of being a lying thief.
I honestly do not believe that a narcissistic personality disordered mother is capable of love. A true narcissistic parent sees others, including their own children, as objects based on their usefulness to the narcissist. There may be the appearance of love, but if you look closely, someone such as the golden child for example, is adored not loved, for their usefulness to the narcissist's all important image. If you think you love a narcissist, you more than likely love a person who never existed, a facade.
If the narcissist parent does not love you, you have likely been accused many times of not loving the narcissist. This is projection as well as a way narcissistic parents manipulate their children. So, if you dare not meet the unrealistic and unreasonable demands of the terminally ill narcissistic parent, this will likely be "proof" of your lack of love. Failing to meet ridiculous demands or even questioning a narcissistic parent is a punishable offense.
If the NPD parent is bed ridden, the flying monkeys will be employed to inflict your punishment. How dare you not drop dead from exhaustion or lose your house to take care of your "selfless saint" mother! Of course, even if you do lose your house and collapse from exhaustion, you will still be accused of not loving the narcissist mother. Just realize it is projection.
The Aggressive Terminally Ill Narcissistic MotherI sincerely believe and experience has demonstrated to me that a malignant or pathological narcissist can kill as surely as if they shot someone. She nearly took both of her scapegoat children down to the grave with her, so I am not kidding. All the while she had everyone fooled into thinking we were treating her so poorly! So in my opinion, this situation is especially dangerous if you do not realize your mother has narcissistic personality disorder and you continue to attribute human qualities to her while expecting some hint of normal human responses. In my experience,the predatory nature of a narcissist mother continued and escalated on the deathbed.
The distinct difference with the narcissist is if someone shoots you, you have an obvious wound, a weapon and an investigation. You can say the person shot you and here is the bullet wound to prove it. A wrong was clearly done to you by an act of aggression from another person. Even if a narcissist did shoot someone, it would not be their fault according to them. They will play the victim and vilify the true victim.
Here is an example of the more overt aggression. During a visit one of her flying monkeys walked out of the room. She then immediately began to viciously verbally assault me thinking there were no witnesses, as had been her routine many times. She was so drugged up that she did not realize when the flying monkey returned.
In hindsight, it was truly nearly comical how quickly my narcissist mother transformed back into a sweet talking angel upon realizing the narcissistic flying monkey daughter had walked back in. Anyone who believes a pathological narcissist does not know what they are doing has obviously never witnessed the literally instantaneous transformation from hateful monster to sweet talking angel upon the arrival or exit of a flying monkey. Being a well trained flying monkey, this sibling's eyes got as big as saucers when she heard what the narcissist was saying to me. She then quietly turned around and walked out of the room. I have little doubt she would deny it ever happening to this day.
The deceitful maneuvers of the narcissistic personality disordered are rarely so obvious while they are occurring. Especially in the beginning you may have to literally stand back from a situation and analyze exactly what happened. Narcissists are charming, convincing, cunning actors since they have spent their entire lives pretending and their greatest fear is being exposed.
Once you learn about the disorder, if you are able to fully grasp the idea that there are not only people like this walking around on this planet, but one of them is your parent, it is easier to see reality. Initially, while learning about the depth of the disorder, I thought about it as what an evil, self centered six year-old would do. You will soon discover it is much more sinister than that, but that is a good starting point if you are just discovering this disorder.
Underestimating a Narcissistic Personality Disordered MotherThe biggest mistake people make dealing with a clinical narcissists is to UNDERESTIMATE just how evil they truly are. That was exactly my thought when I received such a strong warning, but 25 years later I can honestly say the therapist was not exaggerating. Remember that when even a well meaning flying monkey starts telling you how harsh you are for protecting yourself and your children from a pathologically narcissistic parent. It is not harsh. You should protect yourself and your children from a narcissist just like you would any other predator. The wolf in sheep's clothing may fool some, but it does not make the wolf any less of a wolf.
See a flying monkey for what they usually are. Flying monkeys are often willfully blind, weak in the sense that they lack the backbone to stand up to the narcissist, are easily deceived and manipulated and/or are narcissists themselves. Whatever the reason, the flying monkey has also taken it upon themselves to put their nose where it does not belong - in your personal business. It is always amazing how a flying monkey seems to believe everything is their business, but if you attempted to do the same to them they would cut you off in a heartbeat.
Instead of wasting anymore time, energy and frustration, politely cut them off. Something along the lines of, "You may be right, but I have decided to go no contact. That is my decision and I would like for you to respect that decision." You know they are not right and I am not suggesting you lie. What I am suggesting is a self-respecting, gracious exit out of the conversation.
Those who are truly seeking the truth of a matter inquire. They ask questions instead of making judgments. They listen to both sides. People who truly care about you, respect your feelings and point of view. If the flying monkey is not doing any of those things their motives are not pure or they are intruding in your personal life. A flying monkey who believes you have to agree with them about everyone and everything in order to have a relationship needs to grow up or see a therapist.
ConclusionIf you decide to visit your narcissistic personality disordered or malignant narcissist (malignant narcissism is not a clinical diagnosis) mother be very careful. Narcissistic personality disordered mothers die the same way they lived. The human race may empathize, forgive and make amends, but a malignant narcissist mother does not. Healthy introspection can be difficult for any of us, but I would say it is next to impossible for a narcissistic personality disorder or malignant narcissist mother. So even if they wanted to change, and I have never seen or heard of one who truly did, they are incapable of the introspection the healing process requires.
While the late Dr. M. Scott Peck, a practicing psychiatrist for more than 30 years, was best known for his book The Road Less Traveled, he later wrote People of the Lie in the early 1980's. Based on my experience, I believe the late Dr. M. Scott Peck was on the right path with People of the Lie. He documents his belief that malignant narcissism is more than just a personality disorder, it is evil personified. You can go down the list of the evil attributes and they line up with a pathological or malignant narcissist's behavior right down to the parading as "an angel of light."
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*This article was originally published on HubPages on September 18, 2012, prior to being moved to this blog the following comments were made:
This is a great hub. Rings true with everything I know about narcissism.
Thank you, Cathy. Once you have known one you don't soon forget!
Superb hub, this is something I've often wondered about.
I particularly like the bit that says:
"During a visit one of her flying monkeys walked out of the room. She then immediately began to viciously verbally assault me thinking there were no witnesses, as had been her routine many times. She was so drugged up that she did not realize when the flying monkey returned."
It just goes to show how the clues are present but are so rare they can be ignored and attributed to something else. People just don't seem to be able to accept that this 'alien' behavior is actually a lot more common than perceived.
Thank you, Sparkster. Several times I have seen someone claim an NPD does not realize what they are doing. So I wanted to give at least one example as to why I believe they know EXACTLY what they are doing. To me it is clearly evidenced by the instantaneous transformation that occurs when they are in the middle of a rage and a cherished narcissistic supply or flying monkey comes in unexpectedly. If they did not realize what they were doing, why would they hide it? True malignant narcissists also rarely agree to the light of therapy, which again causes me to believe they prefer the darkness because they realize their deeds are evil. If they do go for some reason, they often manipulate and deceive the therapist too! Their intention is not healing or change, they do not want to change. My NM would have nothing to do with therapy, which would have held her accountable and exposed the truth.
I think at times the clues are so subtle and sinister that you would have to be extremely intuitive (and if your gut is telling you there is something wrong, listen!) or completely paranoid to realize you are dealing with such a person.
Then at other stages their behavior is overtly abusive, but never in front of others they have an interest in deceiving. For many years, and often right before the holidays, she would actually go into a rage toward me then turn around and tell everyone I went into a rage with her. She would claim I said the horrific things to her that she had actually said to me. It would ruin the holidays, then we would speak a few months later. When we did she would demand an apology! I mean she would stand there with a straight face telling me I owe her an apology. For her this accomplished causing me pain, concealing her abuse and further damaging my relationships with lies while also gathering support and sympathy from flying monkey family members. That is pretty overt in parts and covert in other parts.
Dr. M. Scott Peck presented the most comprehensive analysis I have seen to date. I do believe this behavior is much more common than we realize, but good and evil have always existed in this world. I know the consensus is there is no cure for NPD, but I also believe an NPD made choices along the way to arrive at such a spiritual state. I do not believe a malignant narcissist just woke up one morning as an evil person with no hope of recovery. This is based on my current knowledge and experience, but I am open to new ideas and learning so I enjoy reading other people's experiences and perspective.
Sounds absolutely spot on, if you have read my hubs you may have noticed that I have come to similar conclusions. I have spent a lot of time with such people and studied the disorder quite extensively, they absolutely know exactly what they are doing and whilst there is no cure I have seen narcissists improve over time... but it takes years.
You're absolutely right about how they literally twist every little thing back onto the victim, confront them and that confrontation even gets twisted back onto the victim. There are a lot of underlying factors that contribute to malignant narcissism over time and these are unique to each and every individual narcissist - there are therefore several different types of narcissist also, although groups of them have very similar traits, values and beliefs.
I have heard over and over when a victim or scapegoat of a malignant narcissist finally discovers this disorder they have an insatiable appetite for learning about the disorder. I was no different and I read everything about it I could get my hands on. It sounds like you have had the same experience! I have read and enjoyed your hubs! You are clearly knowledgeable on the subject and the sometimes difficult topic is well articulated.
I have read extensively about it, but I realize there is a huge debate even among experts in the field. There are also internet pages of people holding themselves out as "experts," but when you read about what they are saying it appears they have only read about it in a book and do not have a true grasp on it. So at this point I am not fully persuaded there are a multitude of different types malignant narcissists except on the spectrum of severity or only to say they lean toward this or that.
There was even a huge debate over NPD being removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists use to diagnose mental illness. I have not followed this debate for the last few months, so I am uncertain where it stands. I believe they decided to leave it in the DSM.
Peck articulates the process by which one becomes a malignant narcissist, just as others have done. So I would be interested in knowing why you state that the underlying factors leading to becoming a narcissist are so unique to each and every narcissist?
A friend of mine recently went through something like this when her father died. I don't know if the term NPD was ever used to describe him, but this sounds all too familiar - the verbal abuse, the guilt, the pitting of one sibling against another. My friend brushed it off as dementia, but it sounded like it had been going on for much of her life. His death came as a relief, which caused her to feel guilty even after he was gone.
Hello Deborah! Based on my own experience and the accounts I have read of other adult children of narcissists (ACON), feelings of relief followed by emotions of guilt for feeling relieved are very common. My heart goes out to your friend. I hope her healing process can now begin.
This is a wonderful fact filled informative hub that is also very entertaining to read....not all hubs can accomplish that so easily...but you have done so. Luckily I have never had to experience this in my life.....but I know realize how lucky I have been....I enjoyed the video you included as well. Job well done...voted up and interesting.
Wonderful article, Gail. I have one abusive parent (who I don't know well enough to decide if he is N) that I don't look forward to going through this process with. Lots of good info here as well as help in knowing what to expect.
Thank you, Cogerson. You are indeed fortunate if you have never experienced a narcissist. Thank you for stopping by and commenting!
Thanks nybride. I think it is a difficult process regardless of the relationship you have or had with the parent. I'm sorry to hear you have an abusive parent. My hope for you is that he is not a narcissist.
wow..right on!!!! My step Mother had traits of this disorder, and although I have forgiven her for turning my teen years into a living purgatory on earth, I can acknowledge experience with everything you've written/awesome.
Wow, I know someone like this, a family member. I thought it was being a sociopath. Could that be true too? I will have to come back and reread this and really look into this, so very interesting!
Jackie, the American Psychiatric Association is in the process of revising the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual used by the profession for diagnosis. It is due out in May of 2013. So there has been a lot of discussion and debate lately in the profession regarding personality disorders.
The term sociopath is not used, but look under Anti Social Personality Disorder. Anti Social Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder are both Cluster B personality disorders. By comparing the two on the American Psychiatric Association's webpage, psych.org, you can see the similarities and differences if you want to look into it.
I am pointing you to the source because I am not a licensed therapist. However, there are some quick distinctions and similarities I have noticed. Neither displays any true remorse, compassion or conscience. An NPD thrives on the validation and admiration of others, but a sociopath does not require such validation. I'm sure there are other similarities and distinctions, but these are the ones I have noticed.
Thank you, GarnetBird! I appreciate you reading, commenting and validating my hub. I am sorry to hear you endured such a step mother. However, I am very glad to hear you were able to move on from it!
Thank you so much, I certainly will look into it. It is a real shame for a mother to do this to her children and I suppose it is not even against the law. Such a waste. Again, thanks.
I really like this article and I know everything you say is spot on. A terminally ill Narcissist has found the ultimate weapon to hold over others and garner sympathy but as you say they cannot change even then and as always there will be a scorpion like sting in the tail for the flying monkeys. Voted up.
All of these articles are excellent, my mother is gravely ill and the prognosis doesn't look good. Everything I have read fits her to a tea,out of the four children I was the scapegoat. I was never good enough no matter what I did. My husband this site to help me to understand what happens when your Narc mother is dying. I am 51 and discovered that my mother was a Narc at 49, I wished I learned this sooner.
Thank you for providing these insights. Connecting with others is enormously helpful. Recovering from a relationship with a personality disordered person feels so lonely. For all your friends and family who try to understand, you know they cannot unless they also have been sucked into a relationship with a person who seems barely a person at all.
I recently realized I may have been thrown into an involuntary relationship with a malignant narcissist (my daughters' stepmother)after barely escaping marriage to a sociopath with my life.
That is exactly how it went with my NPD mother, thewritingowl. Thank you for stopping by and commenting!
Thank you, Latonia. No matter when we learn about it, I think most of us wish we had learned earlier. I can understand feeling that way, but consider that many NEVER realize what they real issue is but believe there is something wrong with them instead of the NPD. I wish you well on your journey to healing and wholeness.
Thank you for your comments, TruthForCourage. I think isolation so often plays a role in the lives of the scapegoats of narcissists, that I also believe connecting with others is enormously helpful. I think it can really aid the healing process. I wish you well in your healing process.
I am just so grateful I have not had this experience in my life. Voted up because it moved me. I am so sorry that parents can inflict such harm.
LongTimeMother, thank you for reading and commenting.
This hub is right on target. People really do underestimate a malignant narcissist, especially when they hide behind the veneer of a helpless little old lady. There is nothing helpless about them. They are rotten, through and through. My grandmother was a malignant narcissist and she had the whole family under her spell, except me, until the day she died.
I was the only one who stood up to her - so died not speaking to me. I removed myself during the last year of her life for my own sanity and safety. Thank you for validating the experience of all of us who have lived with malignant narcissists. Voted up.
Wow Gail, what a heart-wrenching and gut aching read. I could feel your pain but I could also feel your strength as you described your mothers terminal illness. I am so glad that you got help to truly understand who your mother was and how that would play out in her illness. I am truly sorry, no family should have to go through this. You are a great writer and I look forward to being your fan and hopefully your friend also.
Pinned and shared at HP's FB page. Great writing!
macteacher, I read recently that the more truly evil a malignant narcissist is, the more glowing facade they project. I have also read it stated by the time a malignant narcissist is old, they die alone and isolated. I don't know that that is completely consistent with what I have seen. It sounds like your grandmother passed in the same way my mother did. She was puppet master of the whole extended family, except for the two scapegoats who saw through her. She was actively trying to take the two scapegoats to the grave with her during her two year illness prior to passing. So you may very well have done yourself a bigger favor than you realized at the time. I think you should be proud of yourself for having the courage to stand against the narcissist and the flying monkeys to protect yourself.
I had no choice, it was either save myself or go down with a sinking ship. I didn't talk to my parents for two years after tangling with Grandma - they are also narcissists - although my mom is harmless. They now understand that they either respect me or risk no contact. So it's fine for now.
I'm sorry your mom was a malignant narcissist. I think dealing with a mother that is evil is worse than anything else because that is the person who is supposed to care about you the most. It sounds like you've weathered all this pretty well, and knowledge is power. I'm sending you good energy. :-)
Thank you, Dorsi! I was blessed with a therapist who was ahead of her time. I saw her for a couple of years when I was at the ripe old age of 21. She hit the nail on the head telling me it was narcissism.
I do not recall back then that it was called "narcissistic personality disorder," but she gave me M. Scott Peck's book. People of the Lie had not been out for long and it truly horrified me at the time. That was all of the information or support I recall being available back then. Then, of course, dysfunctional families always have the motto of not "airing dirty laundry," i.e., going to therapy (because their skeletons are likely to fall out while you're cleaning the closet).
That is why I am so glad today there is so much information available from professionals, others who have survived an NPD parent, open and closed groups online, etc. Thank you for your thoughtful response.
Macteacher, it truly does come to that point. I am just glad you realized that and had enough self-respect to stand up for yourself before the life was sucked out of you. Please keep an eye on the situation even so.
Thank you for the good energy, reading and sharing your experiences.
The good news is that at around age 60+ NPDs start to change for the better. Whatever happens I don't know.
Lucille, I do not know what you are basing your comment on to state that NPD improves around age 60. However, thank you for reading and commenting.