Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tactics of a Narcissistic Personality Disordered Mother

Photo used with written permission from Artist Sherit Ra via Deviant Art

© by Gail Meyers
This insight into narcissistic personality disorder is offered from the perspective of more than 40 years as the daughter of a late narcissistic personality disordered mother, as well as years of recovery. Reading a list of diagnostic traits of narcissistic personality disorder may be a helpful guide, but this is how some of those traits play out in everyday life. Narcissistic personality disorder is a serious condition that can be especially damaging to the children. It is not just a shallow or self-centered person. It can take decades for the children of a narcissistic personality disordered mother to recognize what the real issue is, many never do.
Gaslighting, forgive and forget, gossiping smear campaigns, and playing the victim while vilifying the true victim, are prevalent maneuvers of the narcissistic mother that will be discussed. These tactics were nearly always effective tools used to manipulate the "flying monkeys," too. Flying monkeys is a term taken from The Wizard of Oz and used to describe the often times willfully ignorant, easily deceived or intentionally abusive friends and family the narcissistic personality disordered mother manipulates into also harming the true victim.  It is abuse by proxy that results from ignorance of the truth, lack of character to stand up for the truth or intentionally targeting a family member. Whether it is directly or indirectly,  physically or emotionally, etc., narcissists use flying monkeys to do  their dirty work.

Even though my narcissistic mother is  deceased, the flying monkeys continue to carry out her pretend world. They do not appreciate when the scapegoat refuses to play along. However, the pretend world of the narcissist, the rabbit hole, is intolerable. It is about like standing on the lawn with someone who has their sunglasses on at high noon on a sunny day. They not only insist it is dark outside and those are not sunglasses, but that you agree with them that it is dark outside and those are not sunglasses. If you refuse to play pretend or state the obvious, then you are accused of being a troublemaker or crazy. Now imagine growing up in the rabbit hole as the narcissistic personality disordered mother's scapegoat.

Gaslighting definition by Dr. Martha Stout
Gaslighting definition by Dr. Martha Stout

What is Gaslighting? 

Gaslighting is a favorite for the narcissistic abusers. What is gaslighting? It is a little known, but insidious form of abuse. The term was taken from the 1944 movie Gas Light, in which a psychopath intentionally tries to drive his wife to insanity. Unbeknownst to his wife, he had previously murdered her aunt, but did not get away with the jewels he wanted. Years later he romances the wife, they marry and he talks her into moving back into the house where he knows the jewels are hidden, and immediately begins isolating her.

While searching for the jewels in the attic, where he believes the jewels are hidden, he uses a gas light. When he uses that gas light it causes the other gas lights to dim. When his wife notices the dimming, he tells her she is imagining things. He moves things and when she can not find them he gives responses designed to cause her to doubt her perception of reality. Then, if that was not enough, he gets the housemaid to join in. So no one validates his wife's perceptions, which are 100% accurate by the way. I do not want to ruin the movie for you, but you get the point. 

Gaslighting can take many forms, but can have the same result. It often causes the target to doubt their own sense of reality. It's what many abusers do when they abuse you, then the next day deny it happened. This can happen to the extent that we question our own perceptions and memories on an increasingly grander scale.

It can become like wearing down a rock over time, especially coupled with the exhaustion that often goes along with dealing with a narcissist. It's psychological abuse. It can dismantle our self-confidence as we begin to question ourselves instead of the abuser. It is especially damaging in severely dysfunctional families where the rest of the family pretends along with the abuser. What is wrong with me? Am I losing my mind? Or, are you being abused with an insidious form of abuse called gaslighting.

In the  movie, he intentionally moved her brooch then pretended he had not when she was looking for it. We would likely say something like, "I could swear I put that in my purse!" Soon you begin to doubt your memory. This is also a variation of the gaslighting the Manson family used breaking into a home, not stealing anything, just rearranging a few things enough  to cause distress. It is the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Think about that for a minute. It would be  very upsetting to come home and find your home had been burglarized, but  you could at least tell yourself they were thieves looking for fast cash. You come home to find your things moved around, but nothing  stolen, there are only a couple of possible conclusions.

You can not comfort yourself with the idea that perhaps it was just a petty thief who violated your home because nothing is actually missing. Your personal belongings have just been moved. Do you doubt your own recollection of how you left things? Do you conclude it is something more sinister and directed personally at you, than thieves just wanting fast cash? It would be very disturbing. In dealing with a gaslighting narcissist, just realizing what is going on, that it is not you and being able to put a name on it can help you keep your sanity!


The Narcissist's Forgive and Forget

In my experience some sick people love to try to beat you half to death with the Bible. Of course, it's usually redefined terms and biblical text taken out of context being used as a pretext. That's what cults do and in my opinion a family led by a narcissistic personality disordered parent is a little cult family. So, I guess it should not be any big surprise.  Forgive and forget must be one of the all time favorites for abusive family members and those who enable them, so I would like to address it.

I  think the Bible is pretty clear that God wants us to forgive, but that does not necessarily mean what you may have been taught. It can easily become the "forgive and forget" that has been handed down in my family for generations, but only to certain members, of course. You are required to "forgive and forget," period. This is usually followed by the implication or suggestion that you return for more abuse in order to "prove" you "forgive and forget." Otherwise, YOU are the one accused of being "mean," "unforgiving," or  "unChristian-like" by the narcissist and her flying monkeys. 

Narcissistic abusers of all kinds, as well as those who enable them, would love for you to believe this is what forgiveness means. Among other things, this confuses the fundamental difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. Forgiveness takes one, you. Reconciliation takes two. However, in some situations such as relationships involving ongoing abuse, reconciliation is not desirable, in which case you can forgive without forgetting or reconciling.     

The Bible provides instructions on forgiveness, reconciliation or, in some cases, parting ways in different situations, such as when there is repentance on the part of the offending fellow believer or when there is not repentance. In  Luke 17:3 it says, "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him." This is to honestly, frankly, politely speak as you tell a person how you feel that he has wronged you. It does not say a thing about stuffing your normal human response of anger, pretending you  forgave, "forgetting" and returning for more abuse.

"Forget" does nothing but play into the denial and the rest of the pretend world of the manipulative narcissist. Abusers often gaslight, (see Gaslighting)  and those who do especially like to reinforce this belief because it fits right in with them pretending the abuse did not happen. There is no  mention of repentance on the narcissist's part, but the focus is on your requirement to "forgive and forget." This is a deadly trap in my opinion and one my narcissistic mother had me in for several years as a very young adult. Besides allowing abuse God never intended for us to endure, it can also lead to enormous anger toward God.

"If your brother sins against you, go and show him  his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have  won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two  or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a tax collector." (Matt. 18:15-17) (Tax collectors were hated and  ostracized because they had turned against their own people to collect  the taxes. Secondly, they were despised because they were allowed to add  their own "fees" to the amount collected, but many would demand a much  greater amount. So they were considered traitors and thieves.) 

That certainly does not sound like the "forgive and forget" I was raised to believe God required! It's actually the "forgive and forget" abusers and their enablers promote to knowingly or unknowingly perpetuate the cycle of abuse. While this is an instruction addressing an issue between two believers, even then you are not required to just "forgive and forget" ongoing abuse if you are a Christian and go back for more. Reconciliation without repentance can be dangerous. God  does not want us to continue to be abused! 

"Forgive and forget" also  removes an opportunity for the abuser to be confronted with their actions and repent. Of course, that will never happen with a true  narcissist! Some people never repent, nor are they truly remorseful. However, there are actually certain people the Bible tells us to avoid altogether, which includes a narcissist who masquerades as a "selfless saint." 

Of course, the narcissist never forgives the slightest  infraction - be it real, imagined or completely fabricated. No, "forgive  and forget" is for the victim. If you hurt her feelings or even if she  hurt your feelings viciously, but told everyone you attacked her, she has what any normal person would believe to be a long forgotten small disagreement filed away just waiting for an opportunity to use it against you. Bet on it. She has either actively sought revenge or it is seething just under the surface waiting for the right opportunity. God forbid there was anything more substantial.

On a related note, it can be difficult to grasp that someone in your life is this far gone, let alone the fact that someone is your parent. For years I told myself, "All things are possible with God!" Well, all things are possible with God, but God gave us free will. She did not want to change. It worked for her and it worked well. 

She paraded as a "martyred, selfless saint," and was terminally ill for two years prior to her death. Even as her professed beliefs told her she was getting ready to meet her Maker, there was no making amends. There was no confession of the truth, remorse or apology for the lifetime of  jealous fits, abuse, gaslighting, slander, smear campaigns, broken relationships, damaged reputation, etc.  There were more accusations, lies and manipulation resulting in a dog pile by the flying monkeys as the puppet master's final carefully orchestrated earthly gesture before stepping into eternity.  

Do not  make the mistake of believing there is empathy or remorse in there  somewhere, there is not. See the following on my lessons learned if you  are waiting for an apology or dealing with a terminally ill narcissistic  personality disordered parent:

The Dangers of Expecting a Death-Bed Apology from Your Narcissistic Personality Disordered Mother

The Terminal Illness and Death of a Narcissistic Personality Disordered Mother

If there happens to be some expression presented as an apology to someone, listen to it carefully. Listen for a subtle shifting of blame away from the narcissist, which I like to call a "non-apology." It will never happen spontaneously as you or I would apologize to someone because we are truly sorry. For example, you accidentally step on someone's foot and almost as a reflex  you apologize. It is never like that with a narcissist because not only are they not sorry, but they have been plotting, seething and scheming  to do whatever they did. They are also seething that anyone could think they did anything deserving of an apology.  

If it gives the appearance of an apology, there is an ulterior motive in there if you look for it. For example, the narcissist gives the "apology" not for the benefit of the person on the receiving end, but for the benefit of an audience who happens to be the narcissistic supply and flying monkeys.  Again, they are not truly sorry, but if they do not pretend to be it could cost them in the eyes of their all important narcissistic supply and flying monkeys.

Do you "forgive and forget?" Poll
12% Yes, I forgive and go back for more
31% Yes, I forgive but then I protect myself next time
29% No, I forgive but I never forget.
29% No, I do not forgive or forget
370 people have voted in this poll.  Poll closed.

The Narcissistic Mother's Smear Campaigns

Ideally, if someone has a problem with another person, they go directly to that person to discuss it. However, that's just often not the case in a dysfunctional family. Some people do this without bad  intentions because they have not recognized the habit or if they believe  the person will become angry or violent if they communicate directly.  However, this can be a favorite of manipulative narcissistic mother that can get  you in deep before you even realize what is happening.

Let's use  Daughter, Mother and Aunt as an example. Daughter has done something  Mother does not like, but instead of going to Daughter about it, Mother  tells Aunt about it. Aunt listens to the gossip, then involves herself in the situation, creating the triangulation. The Mother's intentions may or may not be bad. It could be an old habit and she may not realize the damage she is doing unless it is pointed out to her. Daughter then does not have the opportunity to address the issue with Mother, as well  as potentially having her reputation harmed with Aunt.

The Narcissist Plays the Innocent Victim While Vilifying the True Victims 

On the  other hand, Narcissistic Mother does this with evil intent and  it goes something like this. Narcissistic Mother just verbally assaulted Daughter because Daughter confronted Narcissistic Mother about her lying about Daughter. However, when Narcissistic Mother calls Aunt, she tells Aunt that Daughter just verbally assaulted her because she confronted Daughter about her  lying (notice the flip, the projection of the bad behavior onto the  true victim).

Tactics of a Narcissistic Mother Accusations Quote by Gail Meyers

It appears to strip Narcissistic Mother of her wrong and true victim Daughter of her virtue, killing two birds with one stone. Narcissistic personality disordered Mother then appears innocent of the abuse, damages Daughter's reputation with Aunt and an alliance is formed against the true victim. Aunt may very well believe she is doing the right thing and standing up for the innocent person even though she may be unknowingly being deceived, used and manipulated. 

However, there are also family members who are willfully ignorant along the lines of being silent partners. Aunt becomes Narcissistic  Mother's flying monkey to do her dirty work and heap more abuse on  Daughter for daring to confront Narcissistic Mother about her lying. If you  choose to confront a narcissist, be prepared for the rage and  revenge.

Narcissistic Mother Playing Concerned Parent While Destroying Relationships

The gossip may also be thinly veiled as fake "concern"  for Daughter, whom the Narcissistic Mother just attacked after Daughter confronted Mother about her lying. In this scenario, the Narcissistic Mother may lie by saying something (usually  dripping with martyrdom), followed by fake concern. "I tried to be a  good mother, but I am so worried about her irrational emotional state."

To  the undiscerning, this sounds like a caring mother expressing concern  about her daughter. It is gossip just the same, directed toward casting  doubt on Daughter's stability. If we stand back and look at it, it is  classic narcissistic behavior. The Narcissistic Mother held herself out as the innocent victim who must endure this  irrational child (who is not being irrational at all, but responding  normally to the verbal attack and abuse) and tarnished the reputation of  true victim Daughter in the mind of Flying Monkey Aunt.

Narcissistic Mother has also "explained" any upset Daughter might display, so that Aunt will automatically attribute it to "irrational behavior" should she see Daughter. If Aunt is a well trained Flying Monkey Aunt, she will often turn around and give true victim Daughter a talk about treating her mother better! (Remember, the reality of what actually happened was Daughter confronted NPD Mother about lying about  her in the first place!)

Flying Monkey with Narcissistic Mother Recruiting Flying Monkeys by Playing the Victim Quote by Gail Meyers
Do Not Become a Narcissist's Flying Monkey Video

Do not underestimate the cumulative damage this can cause to your reputation and other relationships when a slanderous narcissistic mother repeats this stunt over a span of years. A lying, manipulative narcissist can completely destroy your relationships before you even realize what is going on.

Narcissistic Mother May Lie to Both Parties During Triangulation

Another version of this scenario often used by a narcissistic mother  is to lie to BOTH parties about the other one. They use this to divide and conquer, even, or perhaps especially, among their own children. So they lie to Daughter about Son, then to Son about Daughter. If Daughter and Son are not wise to the tactics of Narcissistic Mother, they will each be angry with or dislike the other based on the lie. When Narcissistic Mother does this for months, years or decades it can end up severing the relationship between Daughter and Son.

This is  exactly what Narcissistic Mother wants. She wants to be the hub in the middle, the one each child goes to and she certainly does not want them comparing notes. This also allows her to further punish a scapegoat child by manipulating and deceiving the other child or children. Remember dysfunctional families have scapegoats, but a scapegoat is not required unless someone is chronically refusing to take responsibility for their behavior as narcissists are notoriously known for doing.

In my experience as the oldest of five children, with the two oldest children being wise to the tactics to  some degree, a narcissistic mother will go to extraordinary lengths to divide the knowing from the deceived children. Make no mistake about it, all of the children are being used and manipulated.

While it may appear the narcissistic personality disordered mother loves one child more than the other, in reality it is just that in their current deceived state they are more useful to the narcissist. A narcissist greatly fears being exposed for one  thing and the deceived children serve as narcissistic supply as well as  flying monkeys - as long as they are deceived, easily manipulated or willing to continue playing the narcissist's let's pretend games.

In  my experience, the narcissist was a prolific gossip (spending hours a day on the telephone gossiping), who triangulated to divide and conquer, manipulate and punish. Watch your  back! The same narcissist who tries to guilt trip you to death  with twisted Scripture will completely overlook what the Good Book has to say about gossip!

Healing from a Narcissistic Personality Disordered Mother
After all of the hurt, anger, pain, frustration, trying, forgiving, trying again, praying, walking away and going back, it did not change anything about my narcissistic mother. It cost me time, money, enormous energy, broken  relationships, trauma, devastation, anger, and nearly my life. She was  my mother and I loved her, but I can honestly say had I fully grasped  what the therapist was telling me decades ago - the true depth - I would have walked away and never looked back.

No contact would have been the healthiest option for me by far. Oh, I did walk away, more than once, but I would have stayed far away and never returned. I do not issue that opinion lightly. True narcissists do not change, they destroy other people, including their own children. The biggest mistake you can make in my opinion is to underestimate a narcissistic personality disordered individual.  

It is important to me to be as transparent as I am able to be in my articles on this topic simply because I know there are many others out there who have dealt with or are dealing with the same situation. The simple fact that you are not alone can aid the healing process.  I was in my 40's before I found so much as one other human being on the planet who had experienced my situation.  It was a very healing experience just to have  someone who truly understood because they have been there!

If this sounds like your mother or father, know you are not alone. Healing is possible after a narcissist, even if the narcissist was or is your mother. Join us at:

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Mother Facebook by Gail Meyers 

Narcissistic Abuse: Echo Recovery is a community page on Google+ by Gail Meyers. 

The Scapegoats of a Narcissistic Mother by Gail Meyer

Also, being around a narcissist was once explained to me in a way I think is good to keep in mind.  Allowing a narcissistic personality disordered or malignant narcissist to stay in your life is like being injected with a steady stream of venom, then wondering why you don't feel so good.  You wonder because you might not be able to put your finger on exactly what  is wrong. It's not you. 

Get the viper out of your life, cut off the flow  of venom, find some healthy support and start the journey toward  healing and wholeness. Healing from a Narcissistic Mother provides some ideas and tips I have learned along the way.

*This article was originally published by Gail Meyers on 
October 15, 2011 under the title of When Your Mother Has Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  It was moved to this blog due to being copied from top to bottom, then the original being targeted in order to remove it from the search results and gain priority over the original.  


  1. Great article. Both my parents did this and have destroyed "real" relationships among the four adult children. My mother used and abused "Honor thy mother and father" from scripture. This was used as a cat o' nine tails in to making you feel only for them.

  2. Thank you, AJS. I also had that selective use, or misuse, of Scripture used by my parents. I wrote the posting, "Honor Thy Narcissistic Mother?" articulating how I personally resolved that issue. Attempting to use Scripture to reinforce abuse is reprehensible in my opinion.

    Thank you for reading and taking the time to share your thoughts.

  3. Thank you so much. It is so helpful - it's like reading about my life and understanding about the gaslighting concept is so helpful.

  4. Thank you, Anonymous. Gaslighting is something I think everyone should be aware of and understand.

  5. Okay, I hope typing this time works. Just saying, a person is raised to honor their mother. But what if the mother tells you vile things privately but outwardly "pretends" to be pseudocaring? Makes this daughter feel like she is living in a bizarro world- she sees one side but publicly it cannot be proven.

    1. Anonymous, my mother was covert and that is exactly what she did. As the daughter it definitely feels like she is living in bizarro world.

  6. Oh my God this explained my mother completely. I could never figure out what was wrong with her, why she hated and abused me but loved my brother to no end. The hardest part were all the flying monkeys and people who just could not believe my mom would do the things I was saying. She terrorized me and when I had my first child she used him to drag me through the mud. I no longer have contact with her because in my twenties I did want to get revenge, but now I leave it in Gods hands, she has to answer for all the pain and abuse she caused. Me, I am in therapy dealing with the 30 years of madness from this woman but I am so happy to not have this woman around me and my kids.

    1. Anonymous, I am so glad you and your children are no contact and you are in therapy. I am sorry for the pain your have endured. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  7. There aren't enough words in the English language to say THANK YOU for this information. I am 54, masters degree in music and am just now "seeing the light". I had anxiety and panic attacks for over 20 years and am just now beginning to live my life. It's so very sad to love your Mother and deal with abuse at the same time. I'm still struggling. Thank you a million.

    1. Thank you, Anonymous. Please join us on Facebook if you have not already done so.

    2. Any time you surpass a Narc, there will be hell to pay. This, I think, is why people hide their lamp under a bushel...

  8. WOW....Just Wow....A friend sent this to me....I had just had another meltdown that she listened to a few days ago...AGAIN. I still couldn't understand WHY. WHY she treats me/us the way she does. WHY she can't love me or my family. Why she loves others so easily. I can't do it anymore. I am tired. I don't have it in me anymore. I tried to walk away a few yrs ago..Nearly did it...My dad and niece have made that hard. NO family get togethers anymore...I can't stand her looking at me with dead eyes. I can't stand seeing her light up/smile/talk to others when she wont even say Hi to me. Treats others Better. It got worse a few yrs ago...Partially due to me confronting her. Starting with her flipping over me getting upset over something she had done. The whole situation with my other siblings(Severely disfunctional). MY STEPMOTHER...I so despirately wanted a relationship with her. I am 41 now. IT HAS BEEN OVER 30yrs. I read this with my jaw on the ground...Sounds more and more like her the further down the page I went. Memories come to mind with each section. I often feel like I am too old to be whining, Why can't she love me...No matter how many times I have been told she can't..She never will...Move on...Seeing this...Helps...Thank You

    1. Sandie, I feel for you. Please keep learning about NPD and join us on Facebook. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences.

  9. Nearly 60 years of this insanity - MnM and the flying monkeys - astoundingly accurate !

    Welp, hope she makes good with her source on check out!

    Thank you thank you, Gail!

    1. I would imagine in that period of time you have seen it spiral through generations. Thank you for taking the time to read and share your thoughts.

  10. The (all females) NPDs in My life were: My mother; My sister; and My three ex-wives.

    I was close to loosing My sanity upon loosing My third wife. Thanks to resources on codependency and NPD; I pulled back from insanity in the nick-of-time.

    Thank you Gail.

  11. Deksper, I am glad you are doing better. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  12. Gail, by far, the best article I've read about NPD, thank you! Everyone thinks my mother is so Godly, she has a bible in one hand and a halo above her head, and she talks about God all day and prays all day. She is a malignant narcissist. Your comment about being the "hub" of communication was spot on. Growing up, none of us kids could talk to our dad, we had to talk to her and she would talk to him and then she would tell us what he said. They divorced (he was mental ill as well) and she has been triangulating my brother, sister and I all these years. My sister and brother still talk to my mom, but not to each other. I'm 50 and I'm the scapegoat, and they all walked away from me in an attempt to control me, only I won't let them come back this time. My mother turned it all around, just like you said in the above post, and said "are you going to walk away from me too?" Then when she realized I was NOT going to give in to her, she wrote me a letter saying I'm crazy, begging me to get psychiatric help and saying she would even sell her house to pay for it. I told her that the only time she says I'm "crazy" is when I'm walking away from her abuse, that she is threatening a smear campaign on my good name, and she is trying to bully me into submission. I knew nothing about NPD until after I walked away from her and started reading about it. It's such a relief to finally understand, why I've been so pissed off, stressed out and full of anxiety all these years. I thought it was just my personality!!!

    1. Just know, you are not alone! And you are NOT crazy. Gee, isn't it funny how every time I conflict with her, I am mentally ill. It comes and it goes. She says that is when it is at its worse and if I were on meds, it would stabilize these ups and downs . . . why not just give me a frontal labotomy? but then who would you pick on? Just remember - I'd rather be a scapegoat than a Flying Monkey!!!!!! Be strong, be happy!

    2. Thank you, Kimberly. Please join us on Facebook or Google if you have not already done so. There are hundreds of others dealing with the same or similar situations. The more you read and talk to people, the more you see the patterns emerge. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences.

    3. I am 64 a Vietnam vet I almost 16 when my dad left my mother bankrupt, no support, no nothing. The youngest was 3. I became the substitute dad. I baby sat as early as 4 with a horn I was supposed to blow if my siblings got in trouble. When my dad left we used the money from my part time job to buy groceries and her check to pat off dad's debt. The 3 year old shot himself about 6 years ago. Approx 1985 I got a divorce and she helped take care of the kids. When my brother died I didn't like the reaction of the family, I walked away. She repaid me for helping her raise her kids by using my kids as flying monkeys since 1985. This all started to come together about 2 weeks ago when I joked the my deceased brother was the only sane one in the bunch, sad but true.
      This stuff is no joke and it has cost me dearly. I now can get help and with luck save my kids. My kids of have sided with the Master victim and last Dec. I almost joined my brother. Fortunately, God was with me during my darkest hours. Multiple Thanks

  13. I am on day 5 of being awakened. Still new memories are coming. I'm floored. My mother kept the cleanest house, fixed up and washed all our clothes. Made great meals. Accepted my weeds I called flowers.

    She sang a little song to me. "Turn around when your 2, turn around when your 4, turn around when your a young woman going out my door". I would run to her saying I would never leave, and she said I would. She would get angry if I got scared of something. But would get angry if I wouldn't. She wouldn't let me get dressed or bathe by myself till I was way old enough to do it myself. Would follow me to the bus stop even in high school, and I was getting teased by all the other kids.

    When I got acne as a teenager she teased me about it. She would say the word pimple over and over, interject it in conversations. And more memories are coming.

    I will never see her again. Never call her. Not that she will care, she can't feel. I truly believe my mom has no feelings. I will never see her again. I am not going to her funeral when the time comes. Thus far and no further.

    Thanks to anyone for reading this. I really needed to get it out, thanks again.

    1. Joan, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. My heart goes out to you and I wish you well on your healing journey. I also had repressed memories that came back years ago during sexual abuse therapy. It was a very difficult and exhausting time, but thankfully it did get better as my therapist and I continued to work on it. It was ultimately well worth the work. I hope that is encouraging to you. Please join us on Facebook.

  14. I can't believe I have come across this article. I have the most cold mother on the planet who has manipulated me and now tries to do the same with my children. We moved abroad last year and she has made my life hell. I have come back to visit and now she won't even speak to us. I want to get on the plane back home without making further contact, is that selfish of me? I feel terrible guilt but don't want her to poison my kids like she has done me. I'm really affected by her.

    1. Anonymous, having your children turned against you can be a very real concern with NPD mothers. That is exactly what my mother did. Based on what you described your response sounds like a healthy one to me, as opposed to selfish. Being told you are selfish when drawing a boundary and inducing guilt trips are two things often mentioned in the literature that might be of interest to you.

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences.

  15. Liberating. Pure and simple. Love this blog. The flying monkeys have been at me - having parties without me and my wife, keeping us out of key family events that we included them in (i.e. not having my wife be part of my sister's wedding, although she was part of ours), listening with all-ears to the lies about me and my family - the same lies I listened to my whole life about my aunts and uncles with whom I now have little relationship because they were demonized by my mother. My dad hands over all the communication (enabling father) that I've attempted to have with him one-on-one. There's no solution. Years later, every conversation is about her, nothing asked about me or my family. She doesn't even ask for a photo of my daughters. I've sent some, unsolicited, but they didn't show up anywhere in her house - never mentioned. And yet, she still tries to take my daughters into her "loving" arms and give them treats behind my back. Love this blog. Glad to hear others are out there fighting the good fight. May positivism reign over nastiness.

  16. Years ago, I saw the patterns in my mother. I didn't know what it was, but I knew her behavior along with my brother's, his wife, and my mother's sisters, was all very suspect...and evil. I realized that not one word I uttered could turn their hearts to understanding. Instead, they used my words to contort our good will and intentions into fantastical caricatures. Once this became clear, I walked away to save my wife and kids from any further abuse.

    Reading this article flooded my mind with memories of a childhood that was, well, odd. I've questioned my instincts for so long now, that I truly believed it was just a character flaw. Now I know it has a source. Trusting those instincts led me away from my mother. God bless her. I hope some day she and the rest of the family get help from a mental health professional. Gail, you are the first person to give me something that validates not only the decision I made, but gives meaning behind an evil I didn't understand nor even knew existed.

    Thank you. I can finally live in peace that I chose not the lesser of two evils, but something good and right and just.

    And yet I will still post as Anonymous for fear that these psychopaths will scour the internet looking for me as they have done in the past.

    1. " I hope some day she and the rest of the family get help from a mental health professional."

      Don't waste your hope, Narcs are a lost cause.

  17. I've had to live with my moms disorder since I can remember. Id say around 5 years old. The things I have endured.....nuts! My dad used to beat her. I realize now that she probly drove him to it. He became a different, calmer, more normal person after they divorced when I was about 7. As a child my mother had me help her steal from stores. She has accused me of flirting with her husbands, boyfriends (when I was a child). Screaming and being called a slut and more regularly. Then making me feel like I owed her an apology. Constantly playing the victim by pinning weird stories on people. Constantly badmouthing everyone, even good normal and ordinary people. "Everone is out to get her". There is so much more but I don't have all night. She has always treated my brother who is 13 years younger than me better. I'm a single mom of two kids. Me and their dad are on good terms and she hates it that he knows she crazy. Our teen daughter knows it. She is now the scapegoat. She has suffered severe mental and physical harm at the hand of my mother. My younger son is aware but not as much as my daughter. We are at low to no contact with her. Absolutely not at all without my prescence. I realized before coming accross this page that no meds or counseling will ever fix or minimize her disorder. She keeps so many people blinded. Her sickness is severe so people know by some of expressions and her overly coverig up that somethings wrong with her. But no one knows the extent. God please take away the hate and rage I have inside me. Im smashing this cycle. My kids are my air and they will not suffer at her hands ever again.

  18. I'm in this right now at the ripe old age of 50. Trying to raise and shield my 16 yr old daughter from it. I have no car or job .. lost both due to illness which is what wound me back in this hell hole. My daughter has 2 years of school left and refuses to even speak to my NM. If I can just get her grown and on her own, I can live in a tent and get away from this. I'm just thankful mine just comes in spurts and not an every day happening. I'm even more thankful my eyes were opened a long time ago to her disorder so that I know it's HER and not me.

  19. Thankyou Gail so so so much. The more I hear of your past especially on the audio I cannot believe your truthful observations ring so tru for me. One I especially like is that in abusive families the discussion of the abuse is the problem not the abuse itself!! tha is so true on my family. If I discussed the sexual abuse for sure no one of the family would speak to me again! Also I saw the sheer joy in my mothers face the day my son and I had a terrible row that was instilled by her evil..even though he was bleeding and had to be rushed to hospital she couldn't conceal her smile!

  20. If you put up resistance to a malignant narcissist with resorting to rudeness or violence, you'll also get labelled "passive aggressive", if they have any familiarity at all with the term. The best response to that is none at all. It's just an attempt to provoke you into "aggressive aggressive" mode, and make you look like the crazy one.

    I would just continue to leave her out of planned events. If she tries to guilt you about it, just let her know in your own words that she is a troublemaker, and that's why inviting her is not high on your list of priorities.

  21. I had a narcissistic mother as well. When I was younger, she would deliberately provoke me by repeatedly accusing me of something over and over (which in my mind should be very clear that nobody could get it wrong) while I am at peace (e.g. watching TV or reading a book), and finally when I could take it no longer, and getting infuriated at the accusations, I would try and explain to her (which takes me a lot of emotional energy). And at the exact time when I started speaking up and trying to explain (not even trying to accuse her, just trying to explain myself...), my mother would suddenly not listen. It's almost like the words I say go past her ears and she continues doing whatever she was doing, sometimes she continues the accusations without taking into account what I just explained, sometimes she just walked off. But she never stopped to listen. Then I would raise my voice because I was getting agitated and she didn't seem to hear me and was walking away. Then.. ta-da, she would turn to me and look at me, and said "I don't know why you are so agitated, why are you such an angry fellow?"

    There are times when I hide in my room because I just need some peace from her. And she would accuse me of being mental and always hiding in my room and not going out with people.

    Anyway. This is my real mother. She would smear my reputation to all my relatives, while I am still trying to be the good daughter and honor her by keeping quiet about some of the things about her which will spoil her reputation. I mean... who in the family goes out and kill each other's reputation right?

    After I started working, I sometimes try to treat my parents out to a meal at the restaurant. My dad is always ok, but mum always say she prefers to cook her own porridge and eat at home (her own share only!). Usually by then, the whole family decided not to go out after all. I guess another way to control is just by not being co-operative.

    Anyway, I am still trying to recover from all the pain and I still don't understand why my own mother would behave like that to me. I was the scrapgoat daughter and my sis was the Golden Child. Scrapgoat means I am at least twice as successful as my sis in school and at work, but my mother never acknowledged never celebrated any of my successes. Not even a word of acknowledgement. Golden child means my sis is regarded by my mum as smart even when she fails her exams (excuse is she is smart, just lazy), and all her minor successes (even those that dwarf relative to mine) are proudly spoken about to me, over and over again. sometimes I wonder whether it's to provoke a reaction, because I don't feel good about it.

    Now my sis and I are adults. My mum calls my sis weekly to ask her how she is and listen to my sister. My mum only calls me when she wants my help to fix the computer or the toilet is leaking. She never asked me how I am. And she doesn't even wish me happy birthday when I wish her happy birthday every year.

    This is the first year I decided, deliberately, not to wish her happy birthday, on her birthday. I guess it just reached a point, even my Golden Child sister says, don't keep seeking her approval. I don't know whether it's approval I am seeking. I am just hoping for a more 2-way relationship, instead of me always being the one giving, and getting all the crap from her.

    Last year I asked my mother whether she has anything good to say about me at all, since I have been her daughter for 40 years. She just said , "do you want me to lie about it?" I guess that's quite enough. Nowadays, things in the workplace are already quite competitive, I really can't deal with an armour up all the time when dealing with my own mother. Sad. But you can't make someone change right? My mum's 68 already, and she's still the same.

  22. PS

    Dear Gail.
    I am obsessed with the topic of narcissism as I have lived my life surrounded by them. I absorb all the information I can. I thought I was reasonably well versed on the topic until I came across your website. Not only it visibly comforting with beautiful descriptive words, references and pictures but it gives me clarification, especially when the NM dies and how not to except remorse.
    My father was a Narc. He died when I was 20 a great relief, I always wanted to know what was wrong with me. He destroyed my mothers confidence and controlled her ever move. I am now 47, and have come to realise I have narcissists all around me. I seem to attract them. The knowledge I gained and have "their measure" (which they hate) I disengage as much as possible.
    I am keen to spread the word so society become increasingly aware. Of then when I describe Narcs to friends and colleagues they think and want yo know more. I have made my A-Z of what describes Narcs from my own raw experience.

  23. My aunt jean in Florida probably is the worst creature to walk the face of the earth. A bonafide borderline/narcaccist. From the best I can tell she has most people fooled including promising all of
    her children and grandchildren her estate, (which wasn't her's in the first place, she hijacked it from
    her pretend hubby/father to her children, as Florida is not a common law marriage state) Last I spoke to her she has two of her several grandchildren living with her, trys to make them jump through her hoops. It will be a blessing when she passes.

  24. Thank you giving all my years of abuse an actual name. My husband and his mother were/are classic textbook NPDs. Except for the gaslighting, they did everything your article and the other posters have experienced. He now has the possibility of spending the rest of his life behind bars due to it. The judge even saw through his NPD BS and gave me everything including the kids. We actually had a normal Christmas and can move on as well.

  25. I am a 72 year old mother with a narcissist daughter I think I just found out. The table turned, I am the bad one, I was denied my granddaughter, I want do as I am told to do, I want give her control, she just wants control of the money, I could go on and on. But I did learn one thing from this article, I don't need her in my life with all the hurt and anxiety, breaking apart time and time again, better to be alone than have the constant episodes. She will never break me to be dependent on her, I don't trust her, her word is never carried out, I have better treatment from hired help.

  26. I've never posted. How does this work? Will I be anonymous?

  27. Dear Gail,

    Thank you so much for this incredible post! This is one of the most informative articles I have read on the tactics narcissist's use. The hardest for me is when they rewrite history--it's hard to know if they are flat out lying or they truly don't remember. I think it's the former. Your section on forgiveness was especially helpful & your use of the Luke passage. As many of us know, recognition and repentance will never come... I'm curious about your thoughts on "hope" in regard to the N. Hope has always been a challenge for me; I've done better with having no expectations of them.

  28. Wow.... This article was so validating!! I have never read something so spot on about my life and relationship with my mother. I'm 25 and I'm done putting up with my mother's fake apologies just for the sake of telling my whole family that she apologized and has done everything she could. She gossips about me non-stop and pretends to be nice to my face in order to pull information out of me to then gossip about me more. When confronted about her talking behind my back, she pulls the clueless innocent card and then presumes to tell my whole family that I attacked her and treat her horribly. She has ruined my relationship with my father because she blames her physical health onto me, supposedly I make her physically sick and she puts on a show for everybody. It's hard to stand alone in this situation. A few of my siblings understand that what she's doing to me is wrong, but they don't speak up for fear of becoming her target. I had no idea there were others out there struggling just like me, in fact, I didn't even know about narcissistic personality disorder until I read this article. Thanks for validating my feelings and giving me hope.

  29. Hi Gail. I am recovering from long time abuse. I had a extremely abusive mother who tortured me my whole life, terrorized and abused me. From that I suffer from complex ptsd. I am now 24 years old and as I am getting in my life and healing I am suffering from severe anxiety/guilt attacks. Do you have any tips for breaking free from guilt? Thanks.

    1. Hello. I do have a video on this topic, which I am also addressing on The Scapegoats of a Narcissistic Mother blog and in the book by the same name. Additionally, there is an entire folder on the topic on my Narcissistic Personality Disorder Mother Facebook page. You can find the links in the right margin of this page.

      I hope this helps!


    2. Is it possible that the flying monkeys, when they develop npd themselves as a result of having been expertly trained in the art, then use the "original narcissist" as their own flying monkey? Or is this explained by the triangulation process?

  30. I found this interesting, having worked with a colleague like this for 3 years. I have hundreds of examples of her behaviour. When I finally made a formal complaint about her, all hell broke loose!! She would leave her Bible open - pages turned in my direction, so I could not fail to see it, and the relevant passage marked with a post-it note - @ Psalm 120 (emphasis on 'lying tongues'). What is worse is that we were both working in a Church-based environment. I know I didn't help matters by apologising for myself & giving her the ammunition. I loved my job, however, & only left because I had to re-locate. After I left, she picked on my successor, but by then her pattern of behaviour was noted. Sadly though, my successor has also had to re-locate & the woman is still there. :( The problem is, these people are so plausible & you do find yourself doubting your own sanity/abilities/self-belief, etc.

  31. No contact. They can't try the god thing on me as I am an atheist.

  32. Gail. Thank you so much for these articles. I was hoping you could offer some advice. I am married (second wife) to someone with an ex wife as a MN and a 29 year old MN daughter. The ex relationship is just as you describe and highly toxic, and yet we're in the lives of the ex-family that is run by an ongoing procession of narcs handed down from generation to generation. I have been dealing with this for 12 years. At first, I was completely guilty of being a flying monkey. I was co dependent coming into the relationship and I wanted my husband's daughter to like me, so I caved and I was ignorant to what was going on... until it was too late. When his daughter had children, I began seeing how truly abusive the situation really was. And it seems I am the only one that sees this family for what it is. My husband sees the ex wife as highly narcissistic, but he has trouble seeing his daughter for what she is, though he has admitted there has been gross abuse on her part to the eldest son, now 8 years old. She has 2 sons - an 8 year old and a 6 year old. The eldest is the classic scapegoat, while the youngest is the golden child. My husband and I stay in their lives in hopes of helping the 8 year old, but it's so futile and oh, so complicated as you already know. My question is this: is there anything my husband and I can do to help that poor 8 year old boy whose self esteem and worth is repeatedly violated daily? I can already see that the 6 year old will become a narcissist and the 8 year old scapegoat is codependent. It's utterly heartbreaking to watch, but I don't know what to do about it. As you can imagine, any confronting the narcs behavior only results in narc rage in one form or another. We, as grandparents have never even been aloud to baby sit the children. The only way we get to visit is to come and stay with them (and then put up with the narc mom's abuse). We keep doing it in hopes to offer some type of solace to the child, but I fear that all we do is enable the situation and I feel helpless that a child (actually both children) are being abused, manipulated, and used. It's easy to see where this is leading, and I don't know what I can do to make life (or the future) better for the child. As a daughter of a narc, do you have any advice for what someone in my situation could do to help the child as he grows into a teen and adult?

    1. That is definitely something to discuss with a licensed professional familiar with these dynamics.

  33. Hello gail

    This is my mum to a t,

    It's been 6 years since i last seen her always lying blaming me (she was also an alcoholic but not now) for the last 4 years i couldn't remember a thing however last night i could even tell you the whole house, her manipulation, isolation and threatening behavior.

    I've only started looking into it again due to her wanting to see my 5 yr old son

    thank you


  34. Gail, I am 52 years old and my eyes are finally open to my mother's NP. I have spent the past 4 years being abused by her and the Golden Child who had been mostly absent from our lives for more than 20 years. I have been the target of their character assassination and lies. It causes me immense pain to realize that I have been lied to and how easily I was manipulated all of my life by her only to have her completely yank the rug out from under me in my 50s. When the GC re-entered the picture 5 years ago, and both of their masks (the GC is also a N and a violent convicted criminal) started slipping in front of me and my husband and kids all Hell was rained down on me. I do not know what to do to try to start healing myself. I tried cutting off contact which lead to the smear campaign both by way of gossip AND publicly via social media. I only recently realized that she had cycled/manipulated me from being the GC from ages birth to 6, then to scapegoat until age 18, then back to GC, and now I am again the scapegoat in my 50s. I don't feel I can go into a therapists office and say, "Hey, I have been victimized by my N mother and her GC, fix me." I wouldn't even know where to begin the whole story of my life. Any advice? And no, there has been no contact in 2 years, but I found out she has cut me out of her estate and given it to the criminal GC.

  35. Thank you so much for this article. It has helped me so much. I am 53 and just gaining my freedom from my Narc mother. My whole life has been a living nightmare, but the past 3 years have been the worst thus far. The ups and downs. My mother was diagnosed with cancer 3 years ago and her abuse has really escalated since now she has an excuse for being mean to me. I am currently serving time in her silent treatment camp once again because I dared to ask why I was not invited to her birthday party. She made it a point to tell me that her cake was absolutely delicious and everyone was there. I said no, not everyone was there, my daughter and I were not nor were we invited. She just cut me off right then and there. The sad part is that she pulled this silent treatment 3 years ago with my brother and she did not speak with him for over a year. Unfortunately, my brother had passed away during her silent treatment to him. I ask myself, did she not learn from my brother's death and her silent treatment? After my brother passed, she was upset that she did not speak with him. I told her on many occasions that she should call him and she never did. Well, as far as I was concerned, I did not want to hear it that she did not have a chance to talk with him, it was her fault and then she said it was his fault too for not calling her. Anyway, not being invited to her party was retaliation for not going for Easter dinner this year. I told her for months that my husband had planned on taking me away for Easter this year. He wanted to do something special for me since it was our anniversary and he does not get much time away from work. He works 10 to 12 hours per day with only vacation time off. I don't get to see him that much at all. She tried to guilt trip me into saying that this could be her last Easter, I told her it could be my last too, who knows and I told her I was going on our vacation. I texted her on Easter and wished her a Happy Easter. She replied to me are you at home? She knew I wasn't. She was just trying to start something and ruin my vacation. She told everyone that she didn't believe that I was away and told my sister (the Golden Child) that I lied about being away. Now my sister and the rest of the family won't talk with me either. I tried to talk with them and they just ignore me. I am through with all of them once an for all. I have been through so many emotions this last month that I thought I was going to go out of my mind, but right now I am enjoying the peace of being away from all the drama. I actually like this no contact idea. For the first time in 50 some years, I am actually getting to know what true happiness is all about. As far as her funeral, I am almost 100% positive that I will not be attending. I am walking away from all of them and not looking back, not even for one second.

  36. Thank you so much! I am ashamed to say I have been suffering from NPD mum for about 11 years, but I had no idea what it was. I truly thought I was an awful daughter, that I was doing things wrong, at times I thought I was going mad. I left home to live and study in London and my contact with parents was infrequent. Then my dad died and I asked my mum to move in with me and my husband and our small daughter, because I did not want her to suffer on her own. One of the things she has done was accuse my husband of drug taking - so successfully, that I started doubting him myself - needless to say, he is not a drug user. I was convinced though, that she was right. It is only when she started saying he is also drinking behind the wheel, that I realised the extent of her lies - I knew for a fact, that he would never risk losing the license - and then my eyes opened - constant attention-seeking, talking about herself only, interfering in everything, lying about people, even lying about the content of the political show on the TV - after I re-played it to her on the Internet, she refused to admit she was wrong. Constant imagined insults to her, and illusions of grandeur. Horrendous for a parent - I think an alcoholic parent is better than a narcissist. Thank you so much for your wonderful work. Elena

  37. Thanks for posting this! This fits my mother. I love my her, but all these years, I have been hurt because of the way she treats me. For her, it's always been my brother and I should be the one will carry major responsibilities. Even I was young, I had to endure her words to me like I'm not loved by her or I'm not her daughter. However, I don't want to say many words against her because afterall, she's still my mum and I better do something not to let her make feel down anymore.

  38. I'll be reading this long page over and over until I feel finished. Came out of the "fog" at 35 discovering and naming Malignant Narcissism as the best description with Munchausen by Proxy a close win. (My mother) ... and family including my twin. Sad. Would appreciate being in contact with others who have been victim's of this. I'm very isolated but all the same I'm appreciating the evolutionary process of growth, clear view seeking, and development. The more I see the more I am able to drop the judgements of myself and others... thank goodness. Thank Goodness...

  39. Hi Gail

    Thank you for all your posts. It has helped me to help my husband by revealling the characteristic npd traits of his mother and the way his family operates. We have taken full control of our own lives and emotions and have cut them off. Our marriage is stronger than ever.


  40. It's like we have the same family. Thank you for your help. ♥

  41. When I stumbled upon this information it was the millionth time I went through the cycle of trying to understand what my mother did to me my entire life and I was vacillating between feelings of hatred towards her and pity. How was I to refuse her love when mothers are supposed to be the ones to protect their children. My mother has never been a mother. She is too much of a narcissist to do that. I thought she was honest when she was killing me inside, putting me down, physically assaulting me and the like. And then my divorce and illness happened. I was left with nothing and she would call me and ask me to tell her over and again the reasons I left my ex husbands house, laughing and smirking and belittling me all in exchange for some rent money since I was out of work. After that I got addmitted into a mental health institution with amnesia and depression. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder brought on by the severe abuse I had endured since childhood. My psychiatrist called her to his practice to find out what were the family dynamics and was appalled to hear that SHE was blaming ME for hurting HER because I was not firing in all cylinders. She was accusing me as a difficult person who deserved her illness and was hiding behind it. Needless to say I went no contact after that.