Narcissists: Troubled Cases of Arrested Child Development Part 2
Continuing with the theme that Narcissists are troubled cases of arrested child development, we have only to close our eyes so that we are not prejudiced by the figure of a grown-up standing there, and we will see the behavior of a six-year-old:
Narcissists have normal, even superior, intellectual development while remaining emotionally and morally immature. Dealing with them can give you the sense of trying to have a reasonable discussion with a very clever six-year-old -- this is an age when normal children are grandiose and exhibitionistic, when they are very resistant to taking the blame for their own misbehavior, when they understand what the rules are (e.g., that lying, cheating, and stealing are prohibited) but are still trying to wriggle out of accepting those rules for themselves. This is the year, by the way, when children were traditionally thought to reach the age of reason and when first communions (and first confessions) were made.
Having a narcissist for a mother is a lot like living under the supervision of a six-year-old. Narcissists are always pretending, and with a narcissistic mother it's a lot like, "Let's play house. I'll pretend to be the mother and you pretend to be the baby," though, as the baby, you'll be expected to act like a doll (keep smiling, no matter what) and you'll be treated like a doll -- as an inanimate object, as a toy to be manipulated, dressed and undressed, walked around and have words put in your mouth; something that can be broken but not hurt, something that will be dropped and forgotten when when something more interesting comes along.
That was Joanna Ashmun. Reading that passage was one of those "Twilight Zone" moments for me, because what Ashmun here says about how a narcissistic mother relates to her "dolly baby" child reverberated in my mind with the memory of an adult narcissistic child of a narcissist I knew. When her narcissistic father suddenly became helpless (upon his wife's death) and dependent on her in his old age, their relationship changed overnight. Now he sucked up to her - all abuse of her instantly stopped. And now that she knew she owned him, she suddenly had never hated him.
Which makes sense. Being a narcissist herself, she knew narcissists are just bullies, that they just hit on people who can't do anything back to them. Besides, he needed a new Mamma, so he would surely suck up for one.
She got the deed to his home and knew that Daddy would be a good boy from now on.
She began pretending that they had (and always had had) a loving relationship. Why? Presumably because her ego needed a doll baby and because then she could go around showing off to everybody how kindly she cared for her aging father. In other words, she just capitalized on the new situation.
Bizarre enough, eh? Which proves what thorough hypocrites narcissists are. But it gets more bizarre. He became her baby, and she became his loving mother. She would even talk baby-talk to him, such as now it was time "for us to go wee-wee." Just way out there in the land of bizarre. He was her doll baby. In fact, at the time even, I was saying that.
Now I read this echo in Ashumun's words.
I am constantly struck by that - how alike narcissists are. Strange, even bizarre behaviors like this that seem to make no sense and seem to be unique are not at all unique. Other people pipe up and say, "Hey! My N did that too!"
The only difference is the circumstances. For example, there is a difference between a narcissistic mother using her child as a doll baby and an adult narcissist using her aged narcissistic father as one. But both need a doll baby.
Ashmun continues with Selected Characteristics of Normal Six-Year-Olds to enumerate the qualities of a six-year-old that persist in an adult narcissist.
narcissistic personality disorder