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Four signs you were raised by a narcissist

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Person playing Sony play station inside living room

Person playing Sony play station inside living room

photo by Joao Ferrao

photo by Joao Ferrao

Person playing Sony play station inside living room

by Sydney King, Staff Reporter, Assistant Photographer

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 To outsiders, your dad is a larger-than-life social magnet who attracts people from all walks of life. Or your mom is the perfect woman, always looking to please and juggling everything with ease.

But behind closed doors, all pretense falls away. Only you, their child, knows what it’s like to endure their cold shoulders for days on end over a minor infraction, or bear the brunt of constant, age-inappropriate demands for perfection and strength. You know what it’s like to be parented by a narcissist.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is one of 10 personality disorders described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, an authoritative psychiatric guide. Narcissists tend to have an inflated sense of self-worth and base their identity on the praise and approval of others. Their intimate relationships are superficial and focused mostly on how other people reflect on them, with little to no empathy for the other person’s experience. They genuinely believe that they’re better than other people, but they are also prone to feeling intense shame over critiques they receive or mistakes they make.
  1. When you feel like you’re a complete doormatA narcissistic parent will trample all over their family to address their own desires without giving much thought to what anyone else needs. Because of this, some adult children of narcissists will actually over correct and bend over backwards to make sure no one could ever possibly perceive them this way.
  1. And you are also afraid you might be a narcissist yourselfNot everyone over corrects in reaction to seeing narcissism. Some children see that the only way to avoid ridicule and abuse is to be like the narcissistic parent, and over the years, this survival tactic turns into the way they genuinely see the world.
  1. You start to derive self-worth solely from your achievementsSome children of narcissists figure out that the only way to get along in this world is to do as their parent does and derive their self-worth from production, performance and achievement. While they may not be beset by the perilously low self-esteem and overwhelming sense of shame of a true narcissist, some adult children may take on behaviors like workaholism because their performance is the only way they have been taught.  Now what you can do is try to empathize with your parent. You don’t have to feel sorry for them, but it can be helpful to emotionally inhabit the feelings and choices of another person, to understand their thoughts and decisions, even if you don’t agree with them.
  1. Then you start to have no sense of yourself, your wants, your needs or your goals. A trait of narcissism is grandiosity: thoughts or feelings that one is superior to others, even if one doesn’t have the achievements to justify it.
  • What you can do is consider going low or no-contact with abusive or manipulative parents. Parents with extreme forms of narcissism can leave their adult children feeling like shells of themselves, and sometimes the safest thing for adult children to do is to limit their exposure to these toxic relationships.
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Four signs you were raised by a narcissist