Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sons of Narcissistic Personality Disordered Mothers

This is in honor of my late brother, the son of a narcissistic personality disordered mother.  It is in honor of his memory, as well as to inform those who so easily dismiss sons of narcissistic mothers as not enduring the wrath of a narcissist mother as severely as daughters do.  I beg to differ with you.

My brother had a heart of gold and deeply loved his family.  He was the kind of man who would give you the shirt off of his back if you needed it.  He was known for his heart of gold.  It was his biggest asset.  It may also have been his biggest downfall, second only to his own mother. 

My late brother was taken from us only months after our narcissistic mother died.  Their deaths stand in as stark of contrast as their hearts.  She was completely self-centered, immature, manipulative and dishonest, but masqueraded as a selfless saint.  He was known for his heart of gold, but ostracized and disrespected by his entire extended family of origins based on her slander.

She was terminally ill, surrounded by family and friends the last years of her life.  In true narcissist style, she demanded 24/7 care from her adult daughters while refusing to allow the assistance of hospice.  When he attempted to visit his dying mother, her flying monkey relatives harassed him.  Some so ignorant or deceived as to actually say to a man watching his mother die that his tears must be because he is consumed with guilt over the way he treated her.*  Only weeks before her death, his own mother told him to go home if he was going to cry at her bedside.  He died a few months later in extreme emotional torment, ostracized as a result of her slander.

A few months after her death his marriage of more than a decade ended.  He was not invited to what would be his last family Thanksgiving because the golden child youngest son would not attend if he attended.  I am sure I do not need to explain to anyone reading this blog how that came about between two sons of a narcissistic mother - a scapegoat older brother who stood up to his mother's deceit and a golden child younger brother who has no idea he lives in the narcissist's rabbit hole.

She went to extraordinary lengths to divide her five adult children between the oldest scapegoat children who had sought therapy and saw through her and the younger children who still believed the facade.  Of course, the younger adult sons and daughters believe it is all the older scapegoated siblings and would certainly never entertain the idea that their mother was mentally ill.

Revenge of a Narcissist

I was raised in some strange combination of the hero and the scapegoat of my dysfunctional family of origin, but definitely became the scapegoat when I revealed the sexual abuse shortly after leaving home.  However, my brother became a scapegoat as the result of confronting our mother.  He saw through her before anyone else did and he called her on it when he was 19 years old.  It was then that I entered sexual abuse therapy and the abuse became known outside of the family.  He told her he knew she knew, but did not protect me.  That confrontation was 20 years prior to the year they both passed away.

He would also confront her when she was rude to his wife, caught her in a lie, etc.  She literally spent the next 20 years, right up until her death, taking him down.  She never physically harmed him.  She destroyed him with invalidation, gaslighting, slanderous gossip - playing the victim while vilifying the true victimBy the time she died she had everyone in the entire extended family believing she was trying to help him but he was crazy and treated her so badly.  He treated her so badly, but she hung in there because that's just the kind of selfless, martyred mother she was!  Nothing could be further from the truth.


Healing for Sons of Narcissistic Mothers

I am uncertain where this idea came from that narcissistic mothers are not as abusive to the sons as they are the daughters, but some of this is further alienating the sons in the process.  My late brother passed before his 40th birthday, alone and ostracized.  He had a therapist and firm boundaries, too.  However, narcissistic mothers will destroy anyone who gets in their way.  The sex of the child matters not to the predatory, destructive narcissistic mother in her seething revenge or abuse tactics. 

The mother may not be jealous of the son, physically comparing him to herself as she might a daughter.  Just don't let that fool you into thinking the sons necessarily have it easier.  A narcissistic mother has many, many other things to be jealous of or enraged about besides just physical looks as compared to her daughter, jealousy regarding the father-daughter relationship, etc. 

In addition, be it societal norms or a stereotype, overall it still seems to me that it is more difficult for a man to reach out for help than it is a woman.  I certainly would not want a son of a narcissistic mother to attempt to reach out only to be met with the attitude that he has not really suffered as much as his sisters!

My brother suffered enormously!  He struggled with many adult child issues, including panic attacks mediated with massive doses of Xanax, marijuana and alcohol addictions, fibromyalgia, and anger control issues.  She had everyone convinced she was trying to help him while she was actually destroying him.  She pulled the same routine on me regarding my sexual abuse.  In addition to the extended family flying monkeys, he was the oldest son, but the golden child youngest son was raised to loathe and disrespect him lest the golden boy ever learn the truth about his mother.

Virtually everything written on this blog as a daughter of a narcissistic mother, with the exception of the gender specific jealousy, can also apply to the son of a narcissistic mother.  I strongly encourage other adult daughter bloggers, as well as the profession as a whole, to reach out to the sons too!  These men in no way emerge unscathed from the abuse of a narcissistic personality disordered mother!

*It has been my experience that flying monkeys often have a vested interest in being flying monkeys - abusers themselves, narcissistic traits or behaviors of their own, fear of being ostracized if they stand up for the truth, weak character unable to stand against the herd mentality, still in denial themselves, etc.  Then, I think there are flying monkeys who are truly deceived by the narcissist and have no idea of the harm they are inflicting. 


  1. Every flying monkey I have ever known was/is abusers themselves. These weak characters have spent enough time with the MN to know what they do. They are collaborators, living in the MN world of "let's pretend".

  2. Anonymous, it seems to be a rare case that a flying monkey does so completely in ignorance, but it does happen. However, the opinion you expressed lines up with my experience the vast majority of the time. It sounds like you learned it the hard way, too. Thank you for reading and expressing your thoughts.

  3. Thank you for writing this. My husband is the scapegoat son of a NM. We are in our 60's now, and 10-12 years ago began to limit contact, once our kids were grown and on their own. His mother recently had a short terminal illness and died. Right before her death his sister asked him as if scripted, "Is there something I have done? Why won't you stay at their house?" This after 10 or more years of us staying in a hotel. His answer: "They are in their 90's and we don't want to cause them extra work." The brother asked "Did I do something? Why did you stop getting together with me? Why didn't you answer my emails?" My husband initiated ALL contact with him and invited him to do things, footing the bill EVERY time. Thirteen years ago the brother declined the invitation, and my husband quit asking. There was one email, and it did not require a response, since it was informational. He did tell his brother (golden child) that he did not appreciate that his mother had always celebrated GC's child's birthday (even on her deathbed) but never once remembered our kids' birthdays and that we felt like outsiders. The excuses and attempts to turn the tables began, including "but you didn't NEED anything."

    Now she is dead, the father has dementia (he was an accessory to the emotional, physical, and mental abuse), and the family home must be dealt with. The siblings are in charge, letting their brother know nothing, and today we got an email from an attorney to "X family member"! They want a form notarized and signed to change the executor from the sister to the brother. No heads up, no communication but the attorney email, not even acknowledging who it is to.

    We know that things will never change and that everything is exacerbated by the death of the all-controlling matriarch. I don't know if they are deceived or just N's themselves and think that is the way to be, but other than (maybe) attending the funeral for the father, we will be no contact. The flying monkeys are doubling down now. It is incredibly painful to experience.

    Thanks for a place to vent!

    1. Thanks for sharing this. If you have children, and a spouse then please focus only on them and know that you never had a family. You had people who were too damaged to be a family. Make yourself whole. Enjoy your life. Make new friends. I read about how to make friends, how to choose friends, as if I were a child with a learning disability. They need to be shown how to choose the right friends and so do I. I am planning to distance myself for ever from both my parents. My sisters and their husbands and children will not even know I am gone. They don't care. I am the first born too. Golden child has been made power of attorney. She will retaliate on me once my parents are gone so I want to become as strong and self-confident and happy in who I am and what I do in my life. I am 52 and unmarried with no children but finally making friends who are emotionally supportive and reciprocate and my family by blood never could nor will. So be it. This Christmas, I will be alone....and my parent "Ms Osage County" will never learn how to be a mother, so why bring myself to give to her what she will never reciprocate.

  4. Choosing to take a stand for morality and right relationship can be extremely painful. It definitely is a lonely suffering but it is always the right and only choice because then there is no need then to ever have to defend your position to those who simply do not care. You care, those who love you care. Those that do the hurting do not.

  5. Thank you for posting this... I am a son of a NM and just starting therapy. It has been frustrating and demoralizing reading all of the mother daughter stuff on line... It's good to know others see what I know to be true.

  6. Thank you, Gail, for remembering us boys. I use the term because it's what many of us have struggled to overcome on our way to being men. I'll add, fwiw, one thing that has helped me in that journey is recognizing my NM's unending anger towards strong men who rejected her: my father, my stepfather (her second husband),...and me. Yes, I was able to add myself to the list of strong men, the men I respected as I grew up. In ways too numerous to list here, they were men of character. Simply, we walked away from her and her unceasing demands.

    She prefers weaker men such as her third husband of 40 years - I could always see the pain, discomfort and awkwardness in his face - who was fortunately spared knowing the indignity that she was out shopping for tennis shoes while he lay dying in a hospital. Fortunately, my step-sister, a survivor of spousal abuse herself, recognizes this woman's dynamic. I can't say the same for her brother or my drunk maternal cousin, both of whom I'd characterize as the flying monkeys.

    If you recall the movie, "Leave Her to Heaven" - whether physical murder or murder of a soul - that's my mantra about this NM.

  7. Its been a week now since I have awakened. So, I called my brother to tell him of what I know now. He told me 6 months ago that mother hated him.

    I called him and told him mother doesn't hate him anymore than she hates anyone else. She just can't get narcissistic supply from him. He's not about drama never was. So I don't know if she even affected him. She won't see him or talk to him.

    Only my sister she is in contact now. My mentally handicapped sister, who is an emotional wreck now. She also gets supply from the few people she shares a walk with the Heart and Stroke. She told me they can't do without her, or the walk will stop. Everyone turns to her for advice, she says. She has a godlike feeling about herself.

    She was smirky at my other brothers funeral some years ago. I remember that, but I didn't pick up the cues at that time.

    I spent years in counselling trying to get a handle on what was wrong with me. Sick to my stomach, panic attacks, nearly suicidal, couldn't eat, sleep, or work. I was victimized at work all the time. I couldn't hold a job.

    So now I told my brother that I want everyone to leave her alone, and for her to attend counselling, leave her alone and in the hands of God. Lets stop everyone from giving her narcisstic supply. He said good luck with that.

    He believes that she likes negativity. That's all.

  8. Great article. Thank you for the honor for your brother. Your article inspired me, and I sent it to my brother. I too, endured sexual abuse. Except I called my mom out on it and I saw through her first, he still doesn't so I hope this article will help him. Cause deep down he has a big heart. God Bless, M.

  9. I am a 37 year old man who had a narcissist mother. Saying she destroyed me is an understatement. I have never known love and don't expect to.

    1. I feel your pain. I was trapped with my NM for decades. She was disabled at an early age and I was the youngest. The older siblings were all gone by the time I was 9. For the next 28 years, my mother abused me and belittled me even as she forced me to be the parent, to cook and clean and do everything to her exacting standards. Of course nothing was ever good enough. I wasn't allowed to date or go to parties. I had to take care of her and only her. I was trapped. Since she was disabled, it was easy to get everyone on her side. If I tried to stand up for myself I was being the cruel one, yelling at a poor, helpless woman. She turned everyone against me. She destroyed my confidence and my self respect. She tried to twist my hopes and dreams to suit her own, trying to use my desire to write as a way to use me to write her stories and publish them for her so she could make money. It was the one time I stood up to her and she nearly destroyed me for it with years of psychological and emotional abuse. The rest of my family were her flying monkeys. Nobody could say anything wrong about her to them. They never stood up for me. I was alone and still am. I've never known love or had a girlfriend or even a real date. I'm almost 42 years old with less life experience and confidence than most 18-year-olds. Like you, I can't imagine ever knowing love. But I want everyone to know the damage that a narcissistic mother can do to any child's life - son or daughter. I didn't even realize that's what my mom was until earlier this year when someone I met on another site told me about this. I started researching and realized the reason I always hated myself, the reason I never felt worthy. People don't understand because, like many NM's, my mom could appear to be a saint in public. It was only when we were alone that her true nature was revealed. I wish more people knew about this abuse that goes on every day for decades. It may not leave physical scars, but the damage it causes is lifelong and insidious. We are becoming a world of empty, broken people. We need to find a way to stop this from happening. I was abused for nearly 30 years. It's probably too late for me to find love or confidence or happiness. But I hope someone else reads this who is still young, who will recognize their situation in my words, and be able to find help before they end up broken and alone too.

  10. Dear Anonymous,
    I'm 37 too (female) with husband and kids. I experience tons of love on a daily basis but still feel extremely unsecure. I used to lay on my bed (as a teenager) and fantasize about a "happy ending" for me. Like as if my life was a movie. The hero (me) had to go through an incredible adventure and then.....happy forever after! I mean I did everything but never made it to the sun. Nothing could fill that big hole within my soul. I'm still working on it but had come to the conclusion that some of our emotions are our enemies. My mom did not wish nothing less than my death. i still can't believe it even though I felt it and knew it and had to run for my life. I must tell myself that i have to love myself though she hated me. I still can't believe it. there is no valuable reason you never experience love. Get rid of those toxic thoughts! The most valuable however is the one you owe to yourself. My own little family saved my life but that's very personal and not necessary. love you!

  11. I have been trying to educate myself on NM since my husband recently suffered a nervous breakdown. I made the mistake of crossing his mother and sister (the golden child). The punishment started and apologies from me only exacerbated the situation. In fact, my apology was more like my giving permission to keep the punishment flowing. They both started a war against me. Had he divorced me, they would have been fine. In reading, I recognized all the classic traits: the guilt/manipulation, her martyrdom and being the victim. Her inability to humble herself, apologize or possibly see any wrongdoing on her part. The remaining family are all siding with her against my husband and me. They are giving the narcissistic supply that she needs. My husband has diminished from the "pedestal" (since he used to be the servant) to the gutter. I'm praying as he learns to recognize the impossibility of reconciliation that he will be able to leave this family without having a second nervous breakdown.

  12. she woke up and found the pan I had forgot to wash. After I had washed her dishes. And told me that I should leave dirty dishes in the sink. I usually don't. But this is hardly an isolated incident. I've lost everything and when I look at it she always comes up. She is dying now drinking herself to death is it really my role to watch her. I don''t need to be here. I could go. I've done all I could. It's been almost two years now. I just need some peace in my life now.

  13. Thank you for your article. I am just starting therapy for my child abuse issues. I didn't know what had happened to me, but I had to end contact with my whole family out of self-defense. I didn't know why my life and sanity were in danger. Thank you so much for providing this article and giving me peace. I am a 49 year old male, eldest son of a narcissistic mother. Now I can have some peace. Oh my God, thank you, Gail.

  14. I have 3 younger brothers. One was diagnosed as NPD, the other is the GC (he literally coddles and protects the NM), and the youngest one goes between both. I was hoping that one of them would at least question my mothers behavior but it seems they are in denial at some level. I'm the scapegoat and I've been in NC and will continue in that status. It angers me to no end that my NPD mother pretends to be a Christian and victim, lies, uses others to do things for her, and seemingly gets away with it usually at my expense, and if not me she is always devaluing someone behind their back.

    Never say never, but I don't have much hope for my brothers. The GC has become just like her.

  15. My oldest brother, Claude, was my mom's first scapegoat. He knew what she some degree...and challenged her often as a teenager. She made his life a living hell. He had a good heart, too. She severely damaged him mentally and emotionally but she couldn't reach his heart. He died in a motorcycle accident in 1993 at the age of 37. I can hardly wait to see him again.

  16. Thank you for writing this. I have also noticed myself that some sites focus on adult children on narcissist in general, while others just focus on daughters of narcissists. I have been a member of AA for many years, and I have just started realizing we extent of the personality disorders that both my parents had. Wow I find the material very helpful, I notice that unlike AA, there seem to be no meetings. It would be helpful if there were meetings, plus in AA any meeting that excluded men or women would be considered a sick meeting. If adult children of narcissists groups do not accept that same philosophy I don't see how they can function fully. Narcissistic mothers hurt their sons as much as their daughters. Feminism should not be allowed to sabotage the recovery of the adult children of Narcissitic parents.