Trapped in a False Self? What You Need To Know To Break Free [VIDEO]

Daughters of Narcissistic or difficult mothers often develop in childhood what Alice Miller calls a false self.

This false self develops to cope with the demands of being raised by a mother who needs her daughter to be better than she is. Instead of feeling unconditional acceptance from her mother, the daughter’s false self knows exactly what is expected of her and strives to please mom at the expense of herself. The false self is approval seeking, people pleasing and dangerously detached from the essential/authentic self. To break free, she must first know what purpose the false self serves.

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How people can develop a false self early in childhood and become detached from their authentic feelings.

One concept that comes up a lot when I’m talking to women is Alice Miller’s concept of the “false self.” This is formed in childhood when your authentic needs and impulses are responded to by a lot of upset from a parent. Then a parent, because of their own unmet needs, a need for reassurance and validation, inadvertently many times uses the child to be the reassuring or the performing or reassure the parent that they’re a good parent.

They need the child to be a hyper-adult, to be finished and more advanced than they can be developmentally. Alice Miller calls this a “false self.”

The child develops a people-pleasing false self that looks good on the outside but is really disconnected from the internal developmental needs. A lot of daughters with this false self will be people-pleasers. They will make everybody else happy but not themselves but have a sense of emptiness, of chronic emptiness and disconnection from their real selves.

They’ll be taking care of everybody and wonder along the line, “What about me? I’m doing this for my mother or somebody else, and I know it’s what they want from me, but when’s it gonna be my turn?”

Many things can happen with this chronic feeling of emptiness.

People can drink too much, eat too much, do too much. There are all kinds of offshoots from this disconnect, which is formed in childhood and Alice Miller’s concept of the “false self.” One thing that therapy can certainly do is help get you back in touch with your authentic, real self. You can act from this self more and more and have more satisfying relationships and leave this false self behind. I’m Katherine Fabrizio. Be good to yourself.

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Bio- Katherine Fabrizio, M.A., L.P.C. has treated Adult Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers, Trapped in the Role of the “Good Daughter” for over 30 years. Dedicated to empowering these women, she now offers online help for clients and training (CE’s) for therapists at Her book, Daughters Rising: Rising Above the Shame, Guilt and Self-Doubt Mothers Pass Down to Daughters, is now on Amazon. Katherine lives in Raleigh N.C. where she raised two daughters and still speaks regularly with her mother.

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