The person who suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder finds the aging process more difficult to deal with than the average person. Looks fade, the body no longer responds like that of a young healthy person, and the mind is no longer as sharp as it once was.
All this contributes to an increasing sense of entitlement of the behalf of the narcissist. Entitlement simply means that the person believes that they are entitled to special treatment; in fact, they should get it as a matter of course without having to ask for it. Many teenagers display this trait but happily grow out of it to become mature adults who see that the other person has needs and rights of their own. No so with the narcissist, because in the narcissist’s world, no-one really exists except for them. All others are there to do their biding and those who will not bid accordingly are dismissed, despised and discarded.
It is this latter behavior that is so frightening to a child. The very thought that if they do not go on pleasing the narcissistic parent they will be ignored and therefore unloved is terrifying. Hence the narcissistic parent has a powerful hold on the emotions of their child, even when that child has become an adult with children of their own.
The first step in extricating yourself from the tentacles of an overly demanding narcissistic parent is admitting that your parent suffers from NPD. This is not as easy as it may sound, as many a child of a narcissist will tell you. It is extremely difficult for an adult child to come to grips with the fact that their parent never did, and never will, love them in the way that they needed and wanted to be loved. Of course, this feeling is not exclusive to children of narcissists. It is a process that comes as a by-product of many situations that may be present in childhood.
Once the admission is made and the resultant anger is addressed, practical steps are needed to enable the adult child to successfully live in the same world as their narcissistic parent. You must be aware of your own “hooks”, you must always remember who you are dealing with, and the powerful methods they employ to keep you right where they want you. It is unrealistic to think that you can “be yourself” in the presence of a narcissist and not be engulfed and spat out by them. You need to cultivate psychological armor that you can don each time you have contact with your parent. You must learn a different way of dealing with this person, one that you do not use in dealing with others. Sometimes, it is impossible to adequately do this, and some adult children choose to have no contact at all with their parent.
In coming articles we will look at options for those wishing to remain in contact with these potentially destructive people.
Contact Beth McHugh for further assistance regarding this issue.