NPD – Emotional Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy

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What is Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy?

MSBP is defined as a mental health problem in which a caregiver makes up or causes an illness or injury in a person under his or her care, such as a child, an elderly adult, or a person who has a disability.

The aim of the person with MSBP appears to be to obtain attention, sympathy and in some cases, money. A parent with MSBP can cause their children to come physically close to death, or to actually die.

How is a Parent with MSBP Similar to a Parent with NPD?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be likened to Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy but with the difference that people with MSBP cause physical illness in others and people with NPD cause ‘mental illness’ in others. The similarity is in the intentional harming of a vulnerable other to meet their own needs.

A parent with NPD will cause incredible mental stress in their children which can lead to the creation of personality disorders, addictions, suicidal ideation, panic disorders, depression, anxiety and Complex PTSD among other conditions.

The behaviours of parents with NPD can cause their children to feel suicidal, to attempt suicide or to commit a ‘slow suicide’ in terms of self-destructive behaviours like drug and alcohol addictions.

Children from parents with MSBP are also left with these psychological consequences in adulthood as well as a lot of physical damage if they survive.

Common Behaviours

A parent with MSBP will gain attention from their child’s physical illness. A parent with NPD will use the stressed (traumatised) behaviours of their child against them and will often tell other people in the family or outside of the family that their child has ‘mental health problems’ whilst feigning sympathy.

Parents with NPD will often play their child’s problems for sympathy and portray themselves as the hapless victims of circumstance when they are largely (if not solely) responsible for their child’s mental ‘ill health’ (or rather – their child’s behavioural adaptations to their living circumstances).

There is victimisation of all of their children at different times but most specifically and consistently of their ‘scapegoat’ children. These are the children onto whom they project all their negative feelings and choose to blame for everything that they feel is wrong as people with NPD avoid taking personal responsibility for anything. The scapegoat child may be the child who suffers most obviously.

There is a lot of psychological pressure for the children of MSBP and NPD parents to buy into their parents’ version of reality. The version of reality provided for them is ever changing from moment to moment which makes their actual reality something intangible and difficult to make sense of. If a child does not buy into their MSBP/NPD parent’s version of reality, there are serious consequences for them, they are given the silent treatment for hours or days, they are criticised, rejected or otherwise emotionally or physically hurt.

People with MSBP and NPD lie and exaggerate, are very manipulative and are emotionally unstable.

A child of someone with MSBP has to either go along with or does come to believe that they are physically ill and a scapegoat child of someone with NPD will often believe that they are crazy, mentally unstable and that there is something wrong with them. They will often repeatedly be told this by their parent.

Both disorders have a sadistic aspect.

Munchausen’s Syndrome and NPD

According to the NHS’s (National Health Service) UK website – Munchausen’s Syndrome (which is causing illness to oneself) can be seen in the following 3 Cluster B personality disorders:

Different personality disorders thought to be linked with Munchausen’s syndrome include:

  • antisocial personality disorder – where a person may take pleasure in manipulating and deceiving doctors, giving them a sense of power and control
  • borderline personality disorder – where a person struggles to control their feelings and often swings between positive and negative views of others
  • narcissistic personality disorder – where a person often swings between seeing themselves as special and fearing they’re worthless

It could be that the person has an unstable sense of their own identity and also has difficulty forming meaningful relationships with others. Playing the “sick role” allows them to adopt an identity that brings support and acceptance from others with it.”

Childhood Roots

Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy is thought to have its roots in childhood abuse/trauma.

There are many theories of how NPD is caused. Please see Theories of Narcissistic Personality Disorder here.

In my personal view, NPD can be seen as a dissociative disorder and people with NPD are born with certain inherent characteristics, but they have also been traumatised, usually by a parent with NPD and it is the result of the cycle of intergenerational trauma.

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This Post Has 30 Comments

  1. Kathy

    This sums up most of my life. I decided my mother was intentionally inflicting mental illness on me for attention seeking… munchausen by proxy but mental illness instead of injuries. According to this, it was NPD. The lying, telling people I was crazy for the “awww poor Diane” feedback from friends and family, everyone around me thinking the worst of me…. All of it, this has been my life. It’s taken my whole life to get over it.

    Now she’s old and lonely, she wants me visiting all the time yet it’s the same bullshit. I just can’t do it. I feel like a horrible person for abandoning her but it drives me to the very edge to spend time with her and listen to her revisionist bullshit. She’s still the same

    1. Anonymous

      Same with my mom…spent last two years of her life caring for her to keep her out of nursing home ….being gaslit until her passing ….theres not enough therapy in the world to help me with the complexity of my grief

    2. Flora

      I share your experience Kathy, and feel for you. My mother is just the same – abused me most of my life and now , old and lonely like yours, wants constant care and attention. I can’t go near her for the reasons you describe – I feel retraumatise d just by hearing her voice or looking at her photo. I keep in touch by sending her kind emails but I ignore any histrionics or abuse , don’t get involved because of her unrelenting violence (to me, the only daughter). I’m afraid I let my brother deal with her as he is her Golden Child. I feel horrible too, who wants such a situation with their own mother? but we have no choice if we want to survive. She seems to have Munchhausen’s as well as narcissism. There is a new illness every week or even every day to get attention, some is real but most exaggerated. She is always in an out of hospital yet strangely seems to survive , as tough as she always was. My brother gets exasperated but panders, doesn’t understand she’s manipulating him . My sister in law understands, and without her I just wouldn’t cope. I’ve been had lifelong problems with anxiety and cptsd because of my mother’s treatment of me. Only now is it beginning to be acknowledged by others ( who didn’t speak up when I was young, and did the old ” aww poor Flora” thing just as happened to you. I know this one so well.) Believe in yourself and your own lovingness and courage that’s brought you this far .It’s the hero’s journey, to survive this stuff . You owe her nothing.

  2. childrenofnarcissists

    Hi Kathy,
    I wonder if the article below might be of help in understanding why you ‘feel like a horrible person.’

    https://childrenofnarcissists.org.uk/guilt/

    It explains how feelings of guilt can drive us to go along the wishes of others when we have come from a narcissistic family.
    Take care and good luck.

  3. Jamiel

    Hello Sara,

    My name is Jamiel. I just came across this article on your site here. I am awakening to my life reality to what happened to me as a child with my narcissistic mother. She is a covert narcissist, very hard for anyone to see.

    It is quite scary to consider the possibility that my mother did this to me. I am 26 years old and a young adult man now and trying to get out of my parents house. I am feeling deeply angry and hateful of her for all of this. I also think i suffer from Complex PTSD as one of many issues. This feels like a deep betrayal and the truth about her is scary, hurts like hell and brings a lot up for me.

    I am considering telling my doctor about this in regards to my mom as I am hoping he can help me deal with this and protect myself from her. She was over involved in my mental healthcare and I believe she caused most if not all my issues now. Not to mention all the gaslighting I enured and still do at times. It’s messed up!!

    Not sure what to do about it right now and looking for answers. I live in USA btw.

    One question I want to ask you here is: will any legal action need to be taken if I tell my doctor since I am an adult now and no longer a child? Or should I just focus on no contact or low contact?

    What will happen if I disclose my suspicions to my doctor?

    Thanks for this informative article.

    1. childrenofnarcissists

      Hi Jamiel,
      I am sorry for what you are going through.
      I can’t really answer your question concerning legal action as I don’t really know anything about this area. I would guess that as an adult, it would be your decision as to whether you wanted to take any legal action.
      There are limited options around having a relationship with a narcissist. You could try the ‘grey rock’ technique or when you move out – limit contact with strong boundaries or go no contact. Please see article on grey rock here:
      https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/toxic-relationships/201911/the-price-and-payoff-gray-rock-strategy

      I wish you all the best in finding your way out of where you are.

  4. Sue

    My mother was a narcissist who ticked all the boxes and additionally, had Münchausen syndrome just to top it all off. I somehow survived but still suffering even though she’s dead. I only put my nightmare into perspective at 61 years of age … wish I could have realised earlier it was “her” with the problem not me. She basically killed my father also, but, according to her, never did anything wrong in her life.
    Also, she was never “really” ill but made everyone else physically sick with serious conditions.
    My hope is that children with narcissistic mothers find out earlier than I did.

    1. ms

      me too, age 61 now – just discovered this website – nobody seems to want to know the reality – just stay silent – more gaslighting

  5. Mats

    This is so interesting. After having scratched my head during 10 years, wondering what’s wrong about my marriage, about a year ago, by coincidence, I first learned about “vulnerable narcissism”. Boom, bulls eye, a spot on description of my wife and our relationship. I have since studied this relentlessly and I have thought that my wife’s behaviour towards our younger son (10) has been overprotective in an unhealthy way. I have not been able to put my finger on it, but I have (before having found this information) thought that her behaviour towards him, has similarities with Munchaussen by proxy, but not in a physical, but rather psychological manner. He has some of the difficulties that you read about, resulting from an overprotective, “devouring mother”, and she just seems to love to engage herself to “help him” with his difficulties, while at the same time blaming/accusing me for not being involved/engaged in our children (blame shifting, covert narcissist).I have also thought that his difficulties that she’s obsessed about helping him with, is, at least to a degree, is the result of her own overprotective behaviour. Similar to “Munchhaussen by proxy”.

      1. Racquel

        I went through this with my grandmother. My grandmother and biological grandfather had a rough relationship and she took that out on my mom and my aunt through this too. My mom became a drug addict and got clean after she had me. Every single time my mom would my grandma had an argument, she would take me and tell my mom it’s because she believes my mom is on drugs. My grandparents got guardianship over me and did this to me but with mental health. Now I’m 19 and have my own son that I’m afraid she will try and take. I’m currently in a CPS case due to trying to escape her and my exs abuse and she and him planned to go to CPS and once my ex expirenced her abuse for himself he retaliated and went to them himself and lied. A dumb social worker fell for it even though I presented her with evidence. She said in court that her reason for still taking my son is because she didn’t get to give my doctors her perspective. My grandparents are trying to make me believe that my cousin who I’m living with is trying to steal my son. What I don’t get though in regards to my grandparents is that every time they would make me believe I had a mental or physical condition, they never wanted to keep up with it because it wasn’t convenient to them. It was so confusing for me because I always got blamed for it. Doctors would say they thought I was faking issues for attention when I was genuinely feeling’s symptoms, but it was all the medication and treatments I was on that made me feel sick. Wouldn’t people with MSBP do everything they can to get people to believe their narrative whether it was convenient or not?

  6. Hope

    This breaks my heart. I was raised by 2 family trauma therapists. I do wonder if this is what they were doing. I remember one of their work colleagues coming up and telling me to he careful, that she thinks my Mum is manipulating me into being sick. Both mentally and physically. I looked back and realized it started from a young age and continued into adulthood. I stepped back from their lives and then they used agencies to bully me. Child services, calling police etc etc and false claims. They tries to turn my children against me once they could not get to me. I tried to seek help to get them to stop causing harm through their attempts to cause stress and illness. Nothing could be done because it was psychological. They did the same to my eldest child and try with my second child through social media. No matter what, there is always hope that life will get better. I find strength in healing and calm in knowing the truth, no matter how ugly it was and is. We can always rebuild and change the way we do things, it requires relearning. I am so thankful to the people that opened my eyes and who protected me. I now suffer far less with mental health issues and physical struggles and so does my brother. That’s a win in my book ♡

  7. Julie

    I have said for over 30 years that my mother has undiagnosed Munchausen, causing her own physical health issues. I’ve been thankful that wasn’t by Proxy. However, until today, I’ve never thought of it in terms of Emotional Munchausen by Proxy. I have identified my childhood trauma and after a 10 year absence from my mother, see her behavior clearly. Now I get to deal with the trauma I caused to my children because I didn’t know where my own responses were coming from. Today, Mother’s Day in the US, this is my best gift, clarity.

  8. Mirra

    I thought that Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy was a dangerous and questionable diagnosis. It got thrown a lot around, along with Munchausen Syndrome. Narcissistic personality disorder causes severe physical and emotional health issues.

    I notice the stories above all with abusive parents. I don’t know your individual stories, but as a child who was raised by a father who was a narcissist, I have seen a lot of male narcissists. The mom tends to be heavily blamed, but I’ve seen where a lot of this is narc dads and borderline moms. Both are difficult. Having said that, I’m sorry that you all endured the wrath of a parent who does this bs. It’s a disorder and it’s not just socially caused It’s genetic and environmental, and I don’t just mean the family of origin. It isn’t just that which brings this out.

  9. September Luketz

    This is my mother to a tee. I went through literal hell with her when she became my “caregiver” and was actually being paid to keep me sick. It was the hardest thing in the world to break free from her tight grip. The part I don’t get though is the psychiatrist who was writing these prescriptions KNEW she has munchousen biproxy and even shared to me that’s what he believed was going on, but he still wrote me enough medication to kill a horse. How is that even ethical on his part?

  10. Jennifer Davis

    This fits my girlfriend’s mom 100%. My gf is 24 and has major depression, anxiety disorder, PTSD, and supposed learning and developmental disabilities. To the point she gets SSI and has a legal guardian through the court and the board of MRDD. Up until recently, her mother was her legal guardian. My gf wrote the court a letter, detailing some of her mom’s verbal, mental, and emotional abuse, and asking that the court remove her as her legal guardian. Which they did, after a court psychiatrist had a meeting with her and agreed that her mother should be removed. But they appointed her someone else to act as guardian because they felt she still needed one. I have been living here with them for over a year now and I see it every day. I have also had long conversations on the topic with my gf’s aunt, who agrees with my thoughts completely. The whole reason she is the way she is is because of her mother. She has had it so ingrained in my gf’s head that she is incapable, her whole life, and has held her down, instead of helping her. She refuses to let her grow up, or try to show the board and the courts she is capable. My gf had difficulty with reading, but instead of doing what the teachers said and trying to help her, she did nothing, and let her believe she was just stupid, to the point that she quit high school. When her mom talks to her, she still refers to herself in the third person as “mom” or even “mommy”. My girlfriend is 24. She is finally seeing the truth and developing some confidence and wanting to try to fight back against the abuse. And it gets really bad. I have heard things come out of her mouth that no parent should ever say to their child. The names she calls her, the way she treats her…and the way she talks about her to others. She acts like she is mentally retarded or something and that is hardly the case. How do you go about proving any of it though? My gf has been smart enough to record a lot of stuff on her phone, so she had some proof of some of the abuse. She and I, and her mother when she actually goes, all go to the same office for counseling. Her and I have both mentioned it to our counselors and case managers. But what can we actually do about it? Her mother is unbearable. And we can’t move out right now. Even when we can, we can’t do anything without the guardians consent. And her mother has her just as convinced as everyone else that she in incapable. Anyway, sorry about the rant, but it is so frustrating to see this all happening, it’s destroying my gf, and there seems to be nothing at all we can do about it. How do you prove something like this? Especially when, of course, the Narcissistic abuser mom refuses to believe there is anything wrong with her behavior.

  11. Guy

    MBP is both, or either, physical and mental imposed sickness on a proxy. It is just MBP research is thin on the imposed mental illness form of the abuse, even though many MBP victims know it.

  12. Anonymous

    Does anyone feel like they know someone going through both but mspd being their self my mother always goes 2 the hospital all the time I feel she has npd for me and my brother but mspd in her self is it possible bc I just feel my mom shouldn’t be going 2 the hospital so much for her self

  13. Amy Winehouse

    When I started researching my family dynamic I noticed right away the similarities between NPD and MBP. My mother is a covert narcissist and everyone thinks she is the most wonderful person ever. There is a very obvious Narcissist mother, Golden child brother and Scapegoat daughter dynamic in my family. At a very early age she told me there was something wrong with me. As I got older she would place blame on me for just about anything she could. My parents failed marriage loosing custody of my brother and myself and just about anything else. I was a chronic underachiever in childhood. I was even told at one point by her that she thought I might be mentally retarded.
    At age 15 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and she was able to gain a lot of sympathy from friends and family due to having a defective child. She has since tarnished my reputation with any and all family members by telling them all of my personal information and medical diagnosis. At age 50 I am completely alienated from extended family because of all of her sympathy seeking and backstabbing.

  14. Nine

    This first occurred to me a while ago but I have never been able to find anything linking it. It’s very sad psychological abuse isn’t taken as or more serious than physical abuse, which I also endured.

  15. Anonymous

    I do really appreciate that someone finally had a deeper look into the connection between MBP and NPD. I do totally agree on this topic.
    I was raised by a Narcissistic father with additional sadistic and psychotic features. My mother is a top end spectrum MBP example, comorbid with other cluster b related illnesses, just like my father.
    I do agree what others already wrote about NPD, BPD and MBP (cluster B) marriages. And i found a couple of things both share together.
    It appears that MBP Mothers and NPD fathers tend to marry the (toxic) counterpart. MBP Mothers need a partner or a family dynamic to allow the MBP abuse to happen. So does the NPD partner.
    Both share a certain enjoyment or at least tolerance for abuse of others. NPD individuals isolate their targets, as well as MBP mothers do. Both cross every possible boundary, like the right of physical and psychological integrity of a child. The abuse they do, “happens” in a clear state of mind, fully conscious, at least during preparation and doing. They use countertransference for inducing guilt and shame. I also learned something in addition. They behave often like psychopaths (both will have a smirk on their faces by doing torture or abuse). May they share some personality features referred to psychopathy as well? Idk, but it`s the worst part of my memories and flashbacks. The only thing that counts for them is the picture they have created about themself for the surrounding. They want to be seen as sacrificing empathic Mothers and godlike perfect Fathers. They are present in church, work at a hospital, for community services, for child protect services, do adopt or foster children, are employed in kindergarden and so on. They are involved in every possible other community related things. Even in mental health professionals you will find narcissists and also MBP (see the replay from hope). It is their camouflage. Others often see them as the best caregivers, parents and members of the society on this planet. But exactly this is what narcissism is all about. At the time my Mother was gettin caught in the act, she cried horribly like a toddler. It was all about the consequences she faced. She was even telling me that she felt no remorse, cause it was my fault. She asked me what would i tell to other people. She wanted me to feel guilt and shame. Definitely Narcissistic behave.
    You will need to go fully no contact for healing. like i had to. Eventually go to another state or another area in case they have influence on your surrounding. You might loos all friends or relatives during this process, cause they get influenced. Narcissists and MBP people are extreme afraid of you. They would rather destroy you, weather take countability.
    Leave everything behind you can be damn hard, but it`s worth at the end.
    My heart go out to all MBP BPD and NPD abuse sufferers. Be patient with yourself.

  16. Michael

    I’m currently going through a court battle with my son’s mother because she’s doing all of this to him and I need to figure out how to prove that she is a narcissist and that she has Munchausen because my son is showing classic symptoms and nobody’s doing anything about it and I’m trying to pull him out of his mother’s house to give him a better life me and my wife are nothing but supportive but we don’t know what to do because fighting for custody is a very uphill battle because in Utah the fathers tend to be looked down on which is even worse because she told the courts I was dead and here I am yet I’m still the bad parent

  17. Anonymous

    I don’t deserve this

  18. Fighting for my children to be free like me... free from exploitation

    I appreciate your website. I am hoping you might consider adding the information below on the NDP pathogical parent creating a false attachment pathology (a factitious attachment disorder commonly known as parental alienation) and imposing that pathology on the child (or another) for the secondary gain of manipulating the court’s decisions surrounding child custody would represent a DSM-5 diagnosis of 300.19 Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another.

    This is all from Dr. Craig Childress’ website:
    The professional concern with child psychological abuse is the creation of a thought disorder in the child, an induced persecutory delusion, by the aberrant and distorted parenting practices of the allied parent. A delusion is a fixed and false belief that is maintained despite contrary evidence. The type of delusion of concern is a potential persecutory delusion, i.e., a fixed and false belief in supposed “victimization.” The American Psychiatric Association provides the definition of a persecutory delusion:

    From the APA: “Persecutory Type: delusions that the person (or someone to whom the person is close) is being malevolently treated in some way.” (American Psychiatric Association, 2000)

    Creating a shared persecutory delusion with a child that then destroys the child’s attachment bond to the other parent represents a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse. The assessment for thought disorder pathology (delusions) is a Mental Status Exam of thought and perception conducted with the child and allied parent. Obtaining direct observation of the symptoms displayed in the parent-child relationship would confirm the diagnosis from the Mental Status Exam of thought and perception.

    The clinical pathology of concern in the family is for possible unresolved trauma with a parent that then distorts their thinking and perception of situations, and that the parent’s persecutory delusion is then imposed on the child through aberrant and distorted parenting practices, creating a shared persecutory delusion (ICD-10 F24) relative to the other parent.

    An additional clinical concern is that the allied parent is inducing this thought disorder in the child in order to (intentionally?) destroy the child’s attachment bond to the other parent in vengeful retaliation against the targeted parent for the failed marriage and divorce. Using the child as a weapon of spousal emotional and psychological abuse would represent Intimate Partner Violence (IPV; “domestic violence”), and would warrant a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.82 Spouse or Partner Abuse, Psychological.

    Creating a false attachment pathology (a factitious attachment disorder) and imposing that pathology on the child (or another) for the secondary gain of manipulating the court’s decisions surrounding child custody would represent a DSM-5 diagnosis of 300.19 Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another.

    Google factitious: artificially created or developed.

    By weaponizing the child into the spousal conflict, the allied parent creates such significant pathology in the child that it rises to the level of Child Psychological Abuse (DSM-5 V995.51). Spousal emotional and psychological abuse of the targeted parent by the allied parent using the child as the weapon is a second dangerous pathology of concern in the family that warrants a proper risk assessment.

    Attachment pathology is only created by problematic parenting (pathogenic parenting), either from the targeted-rejected parent or from the allied parent. Whenever there is significant attachment pathology displayed by a child surrounding divorce, a proper diagnostic risk assessment needs to be conducted.

    From AFCC & NCJFCJ: “Children are at greater risk..”

    When children are at risk, a proper risk assessment needs to be conducted and psychologists’ duty to protect obligations are active.

    In all cases of a dangerous pathology, including possible psychological child abuse (DSM-5 V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse) and possible spousal emotional and psychological abuse using the child as the weapon (DSM-5 V995.82 Spouse or Partner Abuse, Psychological), a proper risk assessment is required. Mental health professionals have duty to protect obligations.

    The Joint Statement notes the “risk” associated with “parent=child contact problems.” This then clearly requires that a proper risk assessment for possible child abuse be conducted to the differential diagnosis of:

    Possible child abuse by the targeted parent creating the child’s attachment pathology toward that parent (identify it, treat it, resolve it and restore the child’s attachment bond to the parent),
    Possible Child Psychological Abuse (DSM-5 V995.51) by the allied narcissistic-borderline-dark personality parent who is creating a shared persecutory delusion in the child that then destroys the child’s attachment bond to the other parent for the secondary gain of manipulating the court’s decision surrounding child custody – a false attachment pathology imposed on the child – a Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another (DSM-5 300.19)

    Note: “polarization” of perceptions is a psychiatric symptom called “splitting” and it is associated with both borderline and narcissistic personality pathology. (this splitting is transferred to the child who then views the allied pathogenic parent as ‘all good’ and loving targeted parent as ‘all bad, a bad parent who deserves to be rejected (thus allieviating the child’s guilt for betraying a loving parent). The splitting (with emotioinal cut-off)(alienation) is a trauma defense mechanism allowing the child to manage the pain of loss to a once-beloved parent.

    Also, I just wanted to mention that I was scapegoated as a spouse. My son and I both targeted and my son’s twin sister being narcissitcally parentified (her father’s alterEgo ideal). The golden crown passed to her brother whenever she does not comply, which he so desperately wants and jumps at the change to throw her under the bus when he sees the opportunity. It is not their fault. They are surviving. I just hope you could consider adding the facticious

    1. childrenofnarcissists

      Thank you for your comment. These are important concepts to understand for those who have children with people with NPD.
      Here is a link to a YouTube video by Dr. Childress for readers interested in learning more about parental alienation within narcissistic families:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezBJ3954mKw

  19. Priscilla R

    Im a therapist and so is my mother. It took 39 years for me to figure it all out. She was my best friend but I always knew there was something. It was my divorce after a 20 year marriage and her disagreement with that that began my journey. A new person in my life to draw my attention to a lifetime of psychological abuse I’d seen as normal. My mother began doing things to me and never acknowledging them like selling her home and moving without telling me. She was talking to my now ex husband and telling him mistruths. She’s the loving mom who never physically hurt us. But her love served only herself. She turned her back on me and made me “crazy” to everyone. My family and I no longer speak. Siblings that I loved more than anything…I’m nonexistent to now. I chose to confront my mom often about her actions. But she blamed me and played victim to everyone. The more I confronted, the crazier I looked. After years of this and losing who I was, I stopped. My brother went no contact with her years back and is the only family I have. I feel gutted still that I didn’t see all this before I did. In my profession, I still didn’t see it as it was.
    It’s been 4 years with no contact and I don’t want contact any longer. She’s getting older and I always thought I’d be there for her in old age. But I will not allow myself to fall into that ever again. She will find no moral wavering from me or kindness for getting old. I love her but I have to love myself too. Anyone in that situation, please do what’s best for you not for them. I think the next time I see my family will be in a circumstance that brings finality with no closure. I pray for peace for myself everyday and am waiting. I pray for peace for y’all too. This is such a mind f***. Don’t doubt yourself. You’re stronger than anyone walking the planet and we do come to the other side of this where it’s not fear, pain and doubt everyday. Love yourself no matter what happens. Take care!’

  20. D

    Dear Kathy,

    I have recently realised that my mother is a narcissist. I am one of 4 siblings and have personally interchangeably been the “golden child”. I am genuinely shocked that at the age of 40 I have only just come to this realisation that my mother is a narcissist. It is blindingly obvious now!

    I would be really interested in getting some advice or your opinion of what I can do with regards to a situation in my family. My brother is the youngest, only boy and was diagnosed early in his childhood as having ADHD which was later re-diagnosed with Dyspraxia and Asperges. I genuinely now after understanding NPD and MSBY do not know whether he does in fact have these developmental disorders but as an adult he is seriously messed up mentally. I have always known that the way he is, has been caused by the way our mother has raised him but not realising that it was because she is a narcissist and has been manipulating and mentally torturing him his whole life. He also has a son who my mother is using like a puppet to further torture him. I want to get my brother help but I am not sure what I can do and I certainly feel no where near qualified to understand even where to start. He also recently told me that he doesn’t want to live anymore. It is a very dire situation he is in. Any advice would be greatly appreciated

  21. Anon

    These are all interesting stories. It seems that these situations are more common than I thought they were. For me my father was abandoned when he was a small child. Well more estranged from his family because his mom was sixteen and pregnant when he was born. But she ended up loving her future children more and remarrying. So my father is lonely and takes care of his family but does not interact with others. And he doesn’t connect on a personal level but a very nice man. Hardworking career. But it seems he kind of holds back his family and thinks he’s better than everyone as a trauma response to his own family not being there for him. My mom on the other hand was raised by a mom that didn’t necessarily have fictitious but was just very weird. Some questions if she did but she seemed to just more have a combination of severe bipolar and borderline personality disorder as well as possible autism spectrum disorder. Just a very uncomfortable to be around as she was a mystery. And she socially isolated my mother from the world. Created a two against the world strange bond with my mom.

    So my life growing up I’ve had to hear my mom endless traumas and black/white thinking. And it appears that it has caused my mom to come down with fictitious disorder or at least extreme extreme paranoia that she has something wrong with her. It’s so hard to tell because she doesn’t harm us kids physically. But she’s very emotionally aggressive and she doesn’t take care of herself at all. But it’s hard to say if it’s NPD or BPD. and she has grown up with physical deficits and social which could have been from the abuse of her mother who was severely mentally ill. But it’s just really impacted our family negatively because we didn’t get the social development other kids got. So we’re just kind of loners and I got really depressed about it. So now my parents tell everyone I’m disabled and bipolar just like my grandma and will go no where in life. Yet I don’t have any diagnosed disabilities other than one break with reality years ago after many traumatizing life events and was even told by many hospital staff I had severe PTSD and emotional distress that they believed was temporary. But my parents were in denial and started isolating me from the world. Prior to that my parents thought the world of me so it was so weird how they turned on me. But my mom was having trouble holding down jobs and my father was in the middle of a mid life crisis. And I just think they wanted the image we were a picture perfect family even though we were not like most people. Like yes we’re normal people, but psychologically we all believe something is wrong with us. So definitely extreme paranoia and anxiety run in my family. And now that I’ve become an adult and moved out I feel bad starting a social life because my parents are still loners. And I’m concerned about my younger brother because socially and emotionally underdeveloped for his age. He’s about to be 18 but looks like a small child. It seems he was born at the time my parents were the most mentally unstable. And he’s smart and intelligent but my parents are so just so self absorbed. They don’t teach him to drive or really do anything they should be doing for almost being an adult with so much academic talent. And I was severely held back as well. My bf had to teach me how to drive instead of my own parents and when I got in wrecks they told me I had seizure disorders but then why I’d go get it checked out would pretend to others I had a fictitious disorder even though I was actually very confident in myself and was always academic as well. I did go through an illness that’s not necessarily understood. But my parents have used my mental breakdown to gain attention and sympathy from others. And they don’t allow me to pursue careers I’d like and always set me up for failure telling me I am going to get fired. So every time I work a low part time job or a job does let me go then my parents make a mockery of me. So that’s their way of isolating me from others. And my other brother when he was little, my parents claimed he was autistic. My mother refused to teach him how to write. But I found out years later he was not. And they used to do the same to him and claim I was the normal child. But with my youngest brother my parents just more neglect his needs but they cover it by talking highly of him to the community. But I think people know our family is not normal because we don’t ever get invites to hangout with people and my parents decline invites even if someone does give an olive branch out. And I tried to get a social life going in college but other girls thought I was so weird and immature for my age that multiple groups of girls I tried to be roommates with rallied against me and tried to get me kicked out of school. Even tried to get me arrested. They were just so mean to me but all so nice with each other. It just made me realize just how much of a socially isolated life I grew up in. People just either thought I was mentally retarded or way younger than my age. I just never fit in and yet before my parents started psychologically abusing me my peers thought so highly of me. I was well liked and respected. It’s just more like my parents would neglect my health problems. They weren’t parents who inflicted any physical harm but they just severely outcasted me and wanted nothing to do with me after they thought I may have been mentally ill. And I just displayed such a severe lack of confidence that other girls tried to walk all over me. I finally did stand up for myself and tell those girls off in still a nice respectful way. No cursing or yelling. But I did file a disability discrimination case and won. Which was the first step to rebuilding my self confidence and self esteem. Even my parents started believing in me again. And I didn’t get revenge and get any girls kicked out but I just stood up and told only fact. Even confessed when I did say and do things I should not have. Which they were pretty normal things like try to make friends with other girls but other girls would tell me they would never be my friend and would make reports on me if I added people at school at social media that they deemed were there friends only. They made me out to be an insane stalker just for wanting friendships and connections. It was hard and really lonely as I suffered with fear of abandonment because of my family turning on me and knowing how my dads family seemed to want nothing to do with them. I think these girls knew I felt like a nobody so they took advantage of my naive nature. Which I do understand to an extent. It’s human nature for people to judge others. The popular girls def get judged as well.

    But I love my family with all of my heart. I don’t hold grudges. If anything my situation has made me highly empathic. I have been considering some careers in social services. It seems everyone goes through hard life experiences. None of us are perfect. I am sure there are situations that I have judged someone as well or gossiped as well. While I don’t take it as far as other girls anytime I have been mean it was due to my own insecurities. So I’ve just learned to love people for who they are. I wish people would have more grace for others rather than shaming them on the internet. Then maybe less people would have mental illness. But at the same time I know some people do genuinely come from abusive home lives. Many far worst than mine. But I do believe kindness, grace and forgiveness could lead people who make bad choices to change. It’s time to realize we’re all human and let’s come together. I do not necessarily go to church every week but I do pray. And I hold morality to its highest standard regardless of different religions. I don’t even believe you have to be religious to be a good person but you do need to have integrity and honesty with yourself that we all have things to work on with ourselves. We can’t control how other treats us but we can control how we respond. We’re all humans who breathe the same oxygen and need the same things to live. So there’s not one person better than another. But there are some people who make better choices with their lives than others and will still be judged. So just let’s all have grace. Everyone faces rejection and discrimination in life. And hardships. But I just thought I’d share my thoughts on mental and physical health.

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Picture of Sarah Graham

Sarah Graham

I am a Counsellor, based in Bournemouth 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