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Narcissistic mother: what it is according to the Family Constellation

Dealing with a difficult mother is a problem faced by many people. However, dealing with a narcissistic motherwho has traits or, worse, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, generates traumas that few can overcome alone.

Professional support is necessary because it has important consequences that affect practically all areas of life. In this article, I explain what are the behaviors of a narcissistic mother, its systemic causes, the effects of this on the children, and the ways to overcome it, according to the philosophy of the Family Constellation.

Narcissistic Mother: What Is It?

The term narcissism was used for a long time to refer to those vain and selfish people. But it is only for a few years now that narcissism as a Personality Disorder has been disseminated in Brazil.

Those who have this personality pattern manifest a series of strict behavioral characteristics, but the main ones, based on the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), are:

grandeur: they consider themselves better, special and worthy of privilege. They are extremely critical and disqualify others to feel superior. They do not admit their mistakes or weaknesses and do not apologize;lack of empathy: are not considerate of the other’s needs and pains and therefore don’t mind hurting people. They are terrible listeners and find it very difficult to create deep emotional bonds;Manipulation: they do everything to get what they want and be in control of relationships: they play the victim, lie, distort facts, blame the other for everything that goes wrong;Criticism Intolerance: they may have angry outbursts when they are contradicted, criticized or rejected;I character: they behave abusively inside and outside the home they can be very sociable and generous;Acute jealousy and envy: envy success, happiness, or anything else they don’t have.

Children of Narcissistic Mothers

Children from dysfunctional homes like this one grow up with a strong sense of learned helplessness, inadequacy, guilt and low self-esteem, as they are constantly criticized, invalidated, physically, emotionally and psychologically assaulted.

Female daughters tend to suffer more, as they are treated as scapegoats, blamed for the mother’s unpleasant emotions and for everything that goes wrong in the house. They are also the target of this mother’s envy and competition.

Sons, on the other hand, are often treated as golden children, with explicit predilection. In this context, they are used as trophies, to be shown off to others and to validate this mother as a good mother for society.

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Nor does he have autonomy, as the mother treats him as an extension of herself, projecting all her own qualities and supposed magnificence.

Narcissistic mother: how to deal, according to the Family Constellation?

First, you need to find a distance that is healthy for you. Some specialists defend zero contact, when there is a definitive physical separation, without any kind of communication.

Others speak of physical distancing with few moments of contact — on commemorative dates and family gatherings. What I recommend is that everyone find within themselves, through the signals of their own body, what is the healthy distance for themselves. A good tip is to set a distance that allows you to send loving energy towards your mother.

For those who live with the narcissistic mother or for whatever reason cannot physically distance themselves, the most recommended thing is to establish a psychological distance – known as the gray stone method.

It consists of maintaining a reserved posture, avoiding sharing your points of view, plans, dreams, avoiding any kind of reaction to provocations and unnecessary discussions.

These will only lead to a loss of energy (narcissists feed on conflict, that’s how they get your attention). During socializing at home, avoid the silent treatment, which is also a form of aggression, and always seek a respectful and cordial relationship.

How to overcome narcissistic mothers?

The first step towards the solution is to say “yes” to this mother as she is. This does not mean agreeing with her abusive behavior, but recognizing that she has a personality disorder (rigid and immutable), admitting that she can only be like that and cannot be different.

Seeing this mother as an ordinary woman, as an imperfect human being, will help you let go of your expectations that she is different from what she is. It will also keep you from coming back to this relationship with unrealistic expectations of receiving love, affection, and respect. So, understanding that it is a thorn, you know that the nature of a thorn is to hurt.

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family context

The second step is to look for the family context, that is, to understand your mother’s life history and, mainly, how your relationship with your parents was in early childhood, when Narcissistic Personality Disorder probably originated, which has a strong component environmental. Without this, it is very difficult to resignify her relationship with her.

What I see in my Family Constellation sessions is that the cause of mental disorders and illnesses is usually the exclusion of men in several generations of the family system. Other possible causes are abuse, neglect, and an early childhood bond with a parent—a severe trauma that often recurs generation after generation.

Honor and Respect the Narcissistic Mother

The last, most important (and also the most difficult) step is to take this mother for granted and include her in your heart. It is in this part that victims of narcissistic mothers tend to revolt and reject the Family Constellation. “How am I going to honor and love the one who caused me so much harm?”

And here I make an important caveat: taking the mother (honoring and respecting her) is only possible after having processed all the pain and suffering accumulated over the years of this relationship. It is first necessary to strengthen the Adult Self in order to welcome this wounded internal child or adolescent. It’s our Adult Self that gets to take over the mother, not our wounded parts.

Include the mother in the heart

And why is it so important to take the narcissistic mother for granted, according to the Family Constellation? By including the mother in your heart and conscience, you will avoid creating a dangerous exclusion in your family system, which would only perpetuate that suffering through the repetition of patterns in the family, as a descendant will inevitably imitate the behavior of the excluded person, until someone from the system decides to look at it with love.

At the end of this process, you will know that you have overcome this story when you are finally able to thank her and your existence, which was only possible through this woman, an imperfect human being.

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Recognizing that you are the fruit of this tree will also be liberating, because then you will realize that you also carry many narcissistic traits.

Recognizing this fact, you will also perceive yourself to be imperfect and you will see her with more humanity and respect, not with a judgmental look of those who are superior to her.

After having understood the context, resignified, accepted everything as it was and everyone as they are, it is necessary to move forward, connecting with the life that always leads us to expansion. The best way to honor and respect your mother, in the end, is to do something good with the life she gave you.

Learn more about Family Constellations

Family Constellation is the science of human relationships. Classified as a complementary therapy by the SUS, it works with the spatial representation of these relationships, which allows identifying, in a brief and experiential way, the hidden dynamics that act behind the disorders and conflicts that we experience in the family, business, affective relationships, professional and healthcare.

It helps us to find a new way of looking at and dealing with the issues that bother us and for being able to effectively transform our relationships, the technique has profound therapeutic effects for all members of a system, be it family or organizational.

The Constellation can help to find solutions:

When there are conflicts in relationships When there are traumas and blows of fate in personal life and in the family When parents who separate want to find the right place for their children When historical events have placed a burden on the family In the case of frequent illnesses (physical and mental ) In the case of repetitive personal and transgenerational patterns In cases of bullying and low school performance When there is a loss of motivation In cases of failures and blockages in professional and financial life When there are difficulties in having or maintaining a loving relationship In the case of abusive, toxic relationships or dysfunctional

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