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Kathy Marshack News

15 Indicators that Your Parent May Have Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Wednesday, May 23, 2018


Too often children think the abuse and neglect heaped on them by their narcissistic parents is normal. This list of 15 Indicators that Your Parent Has Narcissistic Personality Disorder sheds light on abnormal “parenting” behavior. When was the last time you experienced someone’s self-centered and self-absorbed behavior? I imagine it was fairly recently, wasn’t it? Of course, it’s normal for a certain amount of selfish behavior, such as when adolescents are becoming independent from their parents. But when narcissistic behaviors are pathological, it’s a severe empathy dysfunction called, Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), 6.2% of the U.S. population has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (7.7% are men and 4.8% are women.) They report that “NPD was significantly more prevalent among black men and women and Hispanic women, younger adults, and separated/divorced/widowed and never married adults.”

But the numbers don’t matter when you’re a child experiencing the brunt of narcissistic behavior. Too often, children begin believing that they deserve it or have caused it in some way. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Because a child’s sense of self can become so distorted by this empathy dysfunction, the first step to recovery is recognizing the inappropriate behavior that triggered self-doubting and self-condemning emotions. Here are fifteen common behaviors displayed by narcissistic parents that a child should not view as normal.

If your parent…

  1. criticizes your choices, minimizes your feelings and ridicules your desires.
  2. gives gifts with strings attached.
  3. punishes you for disagreeing with them.
  4. puts their needs first even when it deprives or hurts you.
  5. uses guilt or pressure to make you put their needs first.
  6. shows “love” erratically – when they want something or it’s convenient.
  7. behaves unpredictably and create drama, often playing the martyr.
  8. is never satisfied, no matter what you do to please.
  9. wants your trust, but they often disappoint you, without compunction.
  10. makes you feel small by blaming, shaming and intimidating.
  11. exploits your vulnerabilities.
  12. needs to be the center of attention, dominating conversations.
  13. acts like a great parent in public but ignores you at home.
  14. ruins happy times with selfish behavior.
  15. lies, holds grudges and rarely apologizes or admits mistakes.

Do you find similarities to what you experienced in your childhood? This list is not meant as a diagnostic tool, but rather as a signal that it may be time to investigate your situation with the help of a mental health professional. You’ll find help in making the connections between their “parenting” and your own undesirable behaviors today. Your past does not have to define your future.

On my Empathy Dysfunction Scale, narcissists are rated as EmD-1. While narcissists may not intend to harm you, they do so anyway, because they feel entitled to do as they please, which makes their children feel trapped, unloved, and hopeless.

I believe that empathy underlies everything we are as human beings. From childhood through adolescence and into young adulthood, empathy is taking shape neurologically, cultivated by a loving family and healthy social interactions. It’s further refined in adulthood by meditation, prayer and commitment to living a passionate life.

To love and heal from life’s tribulations requires being highly aware of empathy’s importance. Are you ready to dial up your level of Empathy to the highest level, EmD-5? You can, with conscious effort. My new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS” outlines the warrior skills you’ll need. It’s available on Amazon in paper or Kindle edition. Click here to download the first chapter for free.



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