Narcissistic families

Some families are unconsciously organized to meet the needs of the parents, not the children.  Called narcissistic families, they typically teach kids that they’re responsible for the parents’ happiness, that their own needs and preferences come second, their feelings are unimportant, emotional honesty is selfish, self-care reflects disloyalty to the family, and that ultimately relationships are not to be trusted.  In short, there’s no more efficient way to confuse a person’s emotional life than raising him/her in a narcissistic family



5 responses to “Narcissistic families

  • Lisa

    I needed this reminder today, this is so very true. I so enjoy your blog. Keep up the great work!

  • Janet

    Wow, does that sound familiar.

  • d00fus

    Steve, my partner came from a family like this, where the father (academic success but professional underachiever and miser) controlled everyone’s behavior through his anger (and the mother responded to me with passive aggressiveness–in the Indian family structure I was the only one she could treat poorly; her husband and son were exempt). Premptivly, mother and son would modulate behavior in anticipation of the father’s anger. I did try to talk about and explore family dynamics with my partner, but he seemed not to get it, or think it was an issue–although he acknowledged situations where he acted differently to escape the wrath of his father. Early on, I hoped that he would respond to and reciprocate my love one day and I vowed never to abandon him. Seven years after, I gave up and had to leave. I feel tremendous guilt at leaving him, particularly because I feel that I could see how he had been hurt and damaged by his family. He distrusted everyone (since his parents did too) and this tured out to be warranted since I turned out to be the same way and left him. On one level, I recognize that leaving was about self-preservation but on the other, I feel real pain about giving up on him.

    • Steve Hauptman

      I’m sorry you feel pain.
      I’m glad you chose to save yourself.
      Your recovery is your responsibility.
      Your partner’s recovery is his.
      As they say in AA, sometimes you have to step over bodies.

  • d00fus

    Thank you for the kind response. It’s sad to see how much destruction can be caused by one pained individual (and propagated over generations). The dad was probably poorly treated by his parents too.

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