Danu Morrigan has written two books about being the daughter of a narcissistic mother. Her first – ‘You’re Not Crazy – It’s Your Mother’ was published in 2012 and was featured in the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph. Her second book, which has just been published, is called ‘Dear Daughter of a Narcissistic Mother’. Today she tells us things we might not know about Narcissistic Personality Disorder to mark its release.
NPD is not just vanity. Most people think NPD is about vanity, and that makes sense as even the name comes from the legend of Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection. But while NPD can definitely include vanity, either about looks or intelligence, and with little or no justification in each case, it is far, far more than that.
For narcissists, everything is all about them. Their broken fingernail is more important to them than your cancer diagnosis. Or your cancer diagnosis is only important to them for the drama and attention (from others) they can drag out of it, and this is because:
They need attention like we need air. Admiration is of course their preferred form of attention, but failing that then being feared is good too, and failing that even pity is acceptable. This is why narcissists can go from “Look at me, I’m wonderful,” to “Fear me or I’ll hurt you,” to “Pity me, I’m just a victim,” with dizzying speed.
Narcissism is a personality disorder, not a mental illness. They are fully sane. They could behave differently; they just don’t see why they should.
Narcissists will never admit they’re wrong, and will never change. The logic is this: because they’re perfect, if they’re doing it, then by definition it’s the right thing to do, so why would they do differently? Also, they don’t care enough about anyone else to treat them better.
Narcissists comprise about 0.6-1% of the population. But the havoc they reach is disproportional to this. A single narcissist can make the life of dozens of people miserable: family, colleagues, neighbours.
Narcissists are perpetual toddlers.
Narcissists are emotional toddlers, literally. They are as self-centred and selfish and capricious and short-term thinking as toddlers. But whereas it is appropriate for toddlers to be like this, and they will grow out of it, and are limited in the havoc and destruction they can cause, none of those applies to narcissists. It is not appropriate behaviour for an adult, and they do not grow out of it, and their destructive capabilities are enormous. Think of having a toddler in charge – in charge of a family, or a business, or a country – and shudder.
Narcissists do a trick called gaslighting. Like toddlers, narcissists think reality should conform to them, not them conform to reality. Because of this they are insistent that their version of reality is the one that applies, and they will gaslight you to make sure you agree with their reality, not real-reality. They do this by insisting your memories, perceptions, or reactions are wrong. And they’re very plausible, and often scary, so their victims can end up believing it.
Narcissists are abusers. Make no mistake. For a narcissist to get the attention and the version of reality they insist upon, they will psychologically and emotionally abuse those in their sphere.
Worse, it is a hidden abuse.
The narcissist doesn’t acknowledge to themselves they’re abusing anyone (being perfect’n’all) and often the victim doesn’t realise they’re abused because of all the gaslighting. This makes it all very difficult to escape from.