Guilt

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Many children of narcissists may not even be aware that they are usually in service of others and do not really do anything for themselves or consider themselves to be important. If they do anything for themselves or if they actively do not do something others want them to do, they may feel an overwhelming sense of guilt.

In his book the Search for the Real Self, James F. Masterson writes about the difference between our real selves (never accepted/approved of and therefore suppressed) and the false self which we construct as a defence mechanism and present to the world as the ‘real’ us (we may be unsure which parts of us are the real us and which are defence mechanisms).

There is a pervasive dysfunctional guilt often felt by children of narcissists. This is fed by the guilt which was internalised in early childhood because of disapproval expressed by the mother when the child tried to self-actualise (become their real independent self). This is reinforced later in childhood and adolescence.

When the false self is in control, the natural desire for self-expression (of the real self) triggers that internalised voice of the mother which rebukes and criticises and then those natural desires of the real self are suppressed (see How We Become Our Own Abuser).

For people with an impaired real self the guilt can be as paralysing as when they were a small child. This guilt may motivate some to feel they want to cling to their parent or a parent substitute as the only way/strategy to not feel the guilt.

Children of narcissists may often fall apart in adolescence due to their not being permitted to self-actualise (become their real self) which means they have not built up those internal resources to enable them to transition into the adult world and become self-sufficient. They may fall apart and become suicidal.

The false self may cling to someone to take care of it as a strategy to avoid feeling guilty and many children of narcissists will assume that passive role. The false self may ‘play the child’ who needs to be told what to do.

This can look like the child of the narcissist does not want to accept self-responsibility for their life and they may be judged harshly for that.

What you seek is seeking you

Rumi

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Sarah Graham

Sarah Graham

I am a Counsellor, based in the UK, with specialist knowledge of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I am trained in treating Complex Trauma. I work online and am insured to work in most places in the world.

Link to my Counselling Website Here

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