Sunday, 22 May 2011

When Both Parents are Narcissists: A Soul Destroying Duo


If you had a narcissist for a parent, you are probably not afraid of dying and going to hell --- you have already lived hell on earth.”   
                                            Joanna Ashmun


Imagine having two narcissists as parents.  Imagine the twisted family system two disordered individuals would create. Imagine; if you will, the marriage of supreme narcissists: Dorian Gray of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the Evil Queen of the Brothers Grimm, Snow White. Imagine living under the rule of these two noxious pathologicals. Imagine a warped world filled with destruction, distortions, delusions, and denial.
                                                       
The Evil Queen – malignant narcissist
The Queen is a beautiful woman who has a magic looking glass that she speaks to while she gazes at her reflection. The looking glass tells the Queen that she is the fairest in the land. That’s exactly what she needs to hear: that she in number one. Being on top – being the most powerful – means that she is in complete control: that other people don't exist without reference to herself.  When the Queen feels even the slightest threat to her omnipotence she becomes aggravated and needy and turns to the looking-glass for reassurance.
“Who is the fairest of us all?” She asks. 
The looking glass answers, “Queen, you are full fair, ‘tis true, but Snow White fairer is than you.”
“This gives the Queen a great shock, and she becomes yellow and green with envy, and from that hour her heart turns against Snow White, and she hates her. And envy and pride like ill weeds grow in her heart higher every day, until she has no peace day or night.”
The Queen’s absorption in her beauty doesn’t give her much pleasure; she doesn’t desire power through sexual seduction or attractiveness: what are stressed in the Queen's vanity is her pride.  She is driven by anger, fear and envy and the realization that as she and Snow White grow older she will lose and the Queen must never lose.  And, as Snow White grows lovelier and comes into her own as a separate identity, the Queen becomes more hideous and covetous: hating Snow White for becoming her reverse mirror and representing everything she is not.
At last the Queen sends for a huntsman, and commands him, “Take the child out into the woods, so that I may set eyes on her no more. You must put her to death, and bring me her heart for a token.”  
In order for the queen to find peace of mind, she must destroy the object of her interminable frustration – Snow White/her reverse mirror.  Since the huntsman lets Snow White go free,  the odious Queen must patiently and persistently stalks Snow White, never letting up until she brings her to death and has her heart: a symbol of what she lacks. The malignant narcissist is a covetous creature that derives pleasure in taking what she lacks from others. However, she has no interest in having admirable qualities in herself. 

In order to take; the Queen must stalk. It is her predatory nature and the stalking of her targeted prey – Snow White – that earn her the title of malignant which is synonymous with evil.
Dorian Gray - full blown narcissist:
Dorian Gray is a handsome young man who becomes spellbound by his own portrait.  He desires to be forever young and gives up his soul so that the painting may age and his appearance will remain unchanged.
Dorian lives a charmed life of pleasures both good and bad. He’s a seductive presence with the upper crust hedonistic ‘in crowd’ but also enjoys the debauched decadence that the seedy underworld of opium dens brings. 
His good looks and charisma attract many admirers such as Sibyl Vance - a talented actress- who he plans to marry. However, once their love becomes real, Sibyl loses her acting ability, and Dorian cruelly spurns her. She is no longer the trophy wife he had wished for, and as a result, she is devalued and discarded. Sibyl reacts to the rejection by committing suicide and Dorian’s portrait takes on a cruel expression.   
Dorian’s moral corruption increases throughout the story with his true character being inscribed only on the painting. The portrait serves as a reminder to Dorian of each immoral act upon his soul, and each transgression is displayed as a disfigurement of his form, or through a sign of aging.

The deterioration of his portrait enrages Dorian and he blames Basil - the artist of the painting -for the path his life has taken and decides to kill him. Dorian never holds himself accountable for the choices he makes; instead he justifies his actions according to the philosophy of new hedonism. Moreover, Dorian absolves himself of blame for Basil’s death, contending that it was the knife that committed the murder.

Dorian also blackmails good friend and fellow decadent Alan Campbell to dispose of Basil’s dead body and Campbell later commits suicide.  Eventually, Dorian can't bare the look of cynicism, cruelty and morel hypocrisy in the painting. He attempts to slash it and ends up killing himself and the painting returns to its pristine, youthful appearance.
The story questions the authenticity of surface appearance. Even Lord Henry – the smartest man in the book – is blinded by Dorian’s beauty to the extent that he dismisses the suggestion that a man like Dorian could commit murder.  Outwardly, Dorian is youthful and innocent yet his callous indifference wreaks havoc on the lives of everyone around him.  Aside from the murder of Basil – which was not premeditated and more a crime of passion – Dorian doesn't go out of his way to destroy others. He's unconcerned with what others think of him and he has no interest in idle gossip. His aloof nature simply lures others toward him: they find him irresistible and offer themselves up to him as sacrifices.
Dorian is a seducer and exploiter; he is not a predator; his indifference makes him passive; therefore he earns the title of narcissist.
Two styles of narcissism:
If we look at the Evil Queen as a malignant narcissist mother we see that she targets the child that threatens her delusions and embarks on a lifelong campaign to destroy that child. She stalks her young as prey. However, no human being can be in attack mode at all times so her malice is sometimes interspersed with indifference - the malignant narcissist is mainly malevolent and other people are objects of her obsession.
As a full-blown narcissist, Dorian teeters on the edge of malignancy – it resides within him but is usually dormant. In other words, his extreme self-absorption and indifference towards others is sometimes peppered with intermittent outbursts of cruelty - the narcissist is mainly indifferent and other people are merely supply and of little consequence.  
Each narcissist craves different types of supply: the Queen wants total power and control over others – she must be obeyed. Dorian wants to be worshipped and admired by others – he must be desired. The Queen generates her supply from within - her mind: scheming, plotting, head games, etc. Dorian generates his supply outwardly – his body. Ironically, each of the channels the narcissists use to funnel in supply ultimately leads to their undoing. For instance; the Queen's abuse of her mind leads to her madness and Dorian's abuse of his body leads to his ugliness.
(I'm aware of the terms cerebral and somatic narcissist but would rather refer to these narcissists as  predatory and passive).
The Queen’s dark drug of choice is to deliberately cause others harm and feed off their pain. Seeing others suffer acts as an opiate that sooths the malignant narcissist from the discomfort  of her frustrations.
Dorian’s dark drug of choice is to have a large fan base and draw people close and then reject them: having a never ending stream of attention and admiration gives him a huge narcissistic boost and acts as an adrenalin rush – the buzz makes him feel powerful.   
It's as if the predatory/malignant narcissist needs a downer (a pain killer) to quell fear, anger and the agitation caused by envy; while the passive narcissist needs an upper (a stimulant) to jack-up his ego and kick start his confidence.

When it comes right down to it - aside from the different ways these two obtain narcissistic supply - they are essentially the same. In other words, they share all of the same reprehensible narcissistic traits. For example, their outer appearance masks their true nature. Dorian is handsome, smooth and classy on the outside but has a slimy underside that causes ruin in his life and others. The Queen is beautiful, controlled, and noble on the outside but is secretly a crazy, covetous, homicidal maniac. They also both deny reality and any responsibilities for their actions; lack empathy and a conscience; are immature, amoral, cruel, callous, cold, indifferent, grandiose, deluded, selfish, entitled and total frauds etc. etc. 
Unfortunately, the main thing this gruesome twosome has in common is that neither one of them will allow anyone to get close enough to them to access their souls; for they both sold their souls in an effort to preserve their narcissistic image. Sadly, that is precisely why these two narcissists would be drawn to one another. The end result of two amoral, selfish, stunted people coming together to raise a family would be abuse, neglect, abandonment and exploitation of the children - to name a few.

The life of a child under the care of these two classic narcissists would be a horror story not a fairy tale.

11 comments:

  1. wow is this how you grew up?
    i think i am in a similar situation. only i'm an only daughter. hypervigilance and anxiety! girl its in my blood!
    fuck them liars!

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  2. I had two as well. Though I would say the father was not Dorian but a male version of the "Queen" desiring total obedience as well.

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  3. Both my parents were/are Narcissists. My upbringing was a nightmare, and my mother has spent her life trying to undermine/belittle/control/discredit me (I was an only child). I am strong and do not talk to her much anymore because she especially is poison. But on my own, I am at peace, as I do not let either of them attack me anymore. She always loved to kick me when I was down. Success and peace has been the best revenge for me. I am free.

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  4. Anonymous,

    Being strong, free, and at peace from N parents is music to my ears. To survive and thrive is the best revenge ever! I am very happy for you.

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  5. Thank you for this... I didn't think anyone else out there had two N parents. I thought I was crazy for believing I did, but now I know! I have been NC with N-Dad for 25 years. He has been totally indifferent and left me alone, which is the best outcome. My N-Mom is destroying me though. Even my best efforts for very-low-contact have brought about 2 or 3 vicious attacks out of nowhere per year. Now my young children are involved, it is just UGLY. If it weren't for blogs like this I would seriously be questioning my own sanity. Now I see it for what it is.

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  6. Wow. I also am the only child of two Narcissists. My father was a lawyer, worked long hours, was rarely home, and when he was, I was to fear him. He barely even spoke to me except to "correct me." He needed constant attention, adulation, and when my mother began "over-mothering" me, he got jealous, cheated on her with his secretary and divorced her. I had an estranged relationship with him since, and now do not talk to him at all. Once he divorced my Narc mother, it was just me and her--who needed me to fill her every emotional need. (This is called parentification). My emotional needs as a growing adolescent were never met. I was left home alone while she was at her boyfriend's; she invalidated my feelings, did not encourage me to do anything or accomplish anything, gave me no boundaries, security and had very little rules or structure for me to follow. I was mainly her BFF--an extension of herself. I've often thought of my childhood as nothing more than being a dog; a "companion pet." She fed me, pet me every once in awhile, took me to the doctors, took care of my physical needs...but little, if anything, else. Today, I am married to a narcissist. Go figure!!!

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  7. I am also a child of two narcissists. My mother is the more overt type. She has successfully destroyed the life one of her sons--he will be on medication and in a board and care facility for the rest of his life. My other brother has been forced to live with her after not being able to find a job. He knows what kind of person she is. I hopes he gets away soon. My sister developed cancer in her mid-twenties, I believe from the stress of being the only sibling that had to spend her entire childhood with our mother. My mom had a placenta previa pregnancy and blamed me for my brother's premature birth and death. "If only I'd helped out around the house more, I wouldn't have lost the baby." she'd say. I was nine years old!

    She would come into my room suddenly and attack me by trying to smother me with old wigs. When she received the child support money, she would go out and purchase very expensive shoes or other luxury items instead of food. We were hungry a lot! To top it off, she had married a violent paranoid schizophrenic. We were the talk of the apartment complex we lived in.

    My dad was highly self-absorbed. After my mom divorced him, he took up with another narcissist. I severely injured myself at school when I was thirteen. My stepmom drove me to the hospital as I screamed in pain. I'll never forget the look of psychotic glee on her face as she stared at me. When I got home from the hospital I was put into my room and told to be quiet. I was still screaming from the severe second degree burns I had. The morphine at the hospital didn't touch the pain. There was no compassion towards me...nothing but annoyance. My dad would just stand there and let my stepmom verbally abuse me. Often he'd join in. I felt like I was a criminal on a witness stand. I'll never forget his cackling laughter as I cried.

    I was sent to a boarding school in my early teens, which I consider the best thing that ever happened to me. I got a one way ticket out of hell. My teachers really helped me out--they validated my feelings, and after witnessing the things my dad and stepmom would do, told me that they were crazy. My teachers encouraged my development as an independent person, something my parents took as a personal insult. I won a scholarship at this school and my dad wouldn't let me use it. The teachers knew. They were flabbergasted, but I bet my dad wasn't the only narcissistic parent they had encountered! I can't imagine what I'd be like if I hadn't been sent away. Unfortunately, like the commenter above, I married a covert narcissist. I am in the process of extricating myself from the biggest mistake I have ever made.

    Thank you for this website!

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  8. Because of reading this post the other day, I'm now reading "Dorian Gray." I recently bought a copy of all of Oscar Wilde's works, and I had just finished reading Peyton Place, so the timing was perfect! :D

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  9. I thought I was the only one...

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  10. Having two N parents is hard to admit. Dad makes me feel guilty, and mom is angry and controlling...

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