Loud noises. Bright lights. Space invaders. Tension. Fights. Flying objects and unexpected change.

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For some people these things are annoying, but for those of us with childhood trauma, they can be overwhelming, bringing on an intense fear response. It’s like living in a war zone where relationships are dangerous and everyday flux is discombobulating.

I thought I was on top of it all.

Ordinary life sometimes tells you that you aren’t like everybody else. That your childhood has control of your body in a way that makes little sense.

Alongside the broken relationships, the self-sabotage regimes and the constant self-doubt, it's the little things that can get you down.

For example, I have a problem with cafes.

I know, I know —…

You know that narcissists don’t listen, don’t you?

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I get that you want vindication. You want acknowledgement. Hell, you want change. A more responsive, reciprocal relationship. But remember who you are dealing with. People who are severely narcissistic don’t appreciate feedback. They don’t like to be challenged. And they sure as hell don’t want to be confronted. Not with their self-centred behaviour or their failure to consider your needs. Or their emotional abuse.

So you’re stuck. You can tell them what is going on for you. You can politely point out that you feel neglected, overlooked, abandoned, discounted.

But will that make them pause and reflect?



Love is just another four-letter word in the narcissist’s universe.

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It’s all going swimmingly.

Romantic dates with roses, chocolates, expensive restaurants and jewellery. Love is in the air. Or so it seems.

Those three little words can mean so much to those who hear them, but what do they really mean in the rise and fall of relationships — especially in a relationship with a narcissist?

Growing up with a narcissistic mother, my experience of love was fraught. I didn’t want to be loved, especially not by her. There were always long, prickly, tangled strings attached. From early on in our relationship, before I had the words to describe it…

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Role reversal doesn’t make children resilient, it creates trauma.

Parentification is a long word for something that’s damaging, and underrecognised.

Going through a painful divorce, losing the affection of your spouse, having a bad patch or just feeling emotionally drained can all be reasons for parents to use their children as emotional props. But that is never an excuse. Children should be protected from the emotional turmoil of divorce and depression, not co-opted into a parent’s pain or used as a pawn in an acrimonious decoupling.

It can be even more damaging when parents globally abdicate from the responsibility that comes with looking after children. When roles in families…

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It sounds like a no-brainer, but the reality is a lot more complex.

So you thought your sister had all the luck. She was the doted on darling who could do no wrong. The centre of attention, looked after, adored and admired.

The resentment is still there. Bubbling away under a pristine surface and draining the facade of those fake happy family get togethers. I got pummelled for staying out late, while she was forgiven for everything….How come she got away with that?

But take it from me, golden children are ultimately the tarnished ones.

Being a golden child is like being the narcissistic parent’s mini me. They aren’t allowed to be themselves…

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I was the family scapegoat and there was no escape.

Growing up, I was the butt of jokes. The youngest by far in a dysfunctional, narcissistic family, I struggled to get the approval of my hypercritical mother.

My siblings viewed me as the “golden child” and vented their jealousy and anger on me with ridicule, derision and cruel pranks. Wherever I turned, I was met with hostility and destructive targeting. Sometimes, the barbs were disguised as jokes or harmless fun.

But they weren’t funny.

I remember spending a lot of time on my bed, staring into the loving brown eyes of my dog, desperate for some kind of acknowledgement or…

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The scars are all on the inside.

As infants we develop in the context of an attachment relationship. Without someone there to help us, we just wouldn’t survive. So nature has designed the attachment system to ensure that we stay in proximity to our parents. From birth we are primed to attach, and infants take an active role in initiating and maintaining the attachment relationship. As we develop, we learn about the world and ourselves from our parents. The social and emotional learning that takes place during this period is vital to our development.

But when our primary caregiver is emotionally unstable, the attachment relationship is fraught…

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You’ve flown the coop, but the legacy is still there.

Narcissistic parents are by definition self-focused. They usually can’t make themselves available to others — emotionally and sometimes physically. For children, the impact is ongoing and painful.

1. Low self-esteem

Your feelings of worthlessness didn’t come from nowhere. Although many children of narcissists don’t consciously experience these difficult feelings, they are still there, running in the background and influencing your everyday life. Your choices, your relationships and your ability to withstand stress are all affected by low self-worth.

Narcissistic parents raise their children to believe that their authentic self is somehow flawed. These parents use shame to try to control their children, forcing…

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Mirroring is essential for early development, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen.

The original Narcissus was a handsome youth who fell in love with his own reflection and died of starvation. Echo, the nymph who loved him, could only parrot his words and also pined away without ever being acknowledged by the man she loved.

This famous Greek myth serves as a reminder of the dangers of trying to relate to a narcissist. They are too busy looking into the mirror to notice us.

Mirrors are important in thinking about narcissism because they symbolise the basic deficit of the narcissist. Narcissists just don’t have a healthy relationship to themselves to provide them…

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It’s different to having a narcissistic boss, boyfriend or neighbour

There’s a lot of talk about trauma nowadays. But when it comes to narcissism and mothers, most people get it wrong. Yes, your adult relationships with narcissists will cause you pain. They might even cause psychological trauma. But realistically, they will not have the same impact as being raised by a narcissistic mother.

In Western societies, mothers are the primary caregivers. They give birth, breastfeed and usually take the lead role in looking after the baby. Of course, fathers are important too. But when it comes to narcissism, a mother’s impact on the development of her child is the lynchpin.

Amanda Robins

Writer, artist, psychotherapist & seeker of the Snitch. Download my free ebook here:

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