Narcissism has become a buzzword these days often “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” to quote Macbeth. But for adult children of narcissists (ACoNs)—those who have lived with the narcissist disordered personality as their primary caretakers—the reality is painfully serious and the health stakes are high.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Parents with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) fundamentally lack empathy and compassion and are incapable of unconditional love. In an effort to scaffold an all-consuming sense of worthlessness formed in early childhood, the narcissist constructs a grandiose self that he continuously asserts and protects with all of his resources. The narcissist’s needs trump everything else, and his children are manipulated within a family system designed to support his ego. A child in a narcissistic family is treated to “normalized” day-to-day psychological and sometimes physical abuse. Such abuse breeds in denial and secrecy, manifesting in families through manipulation, shame, blame, belittlement, rage, and neglect. Narcissists violate boundaries, play family members against one another, refuse accountability, and stop at virtually nothing to maintain control.