“Will I Ever Be Good Enough?” Say Many Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers

The above title is the name of a book written by Dr. Karyl McBride.  Dr. Mc Bride is a LMFT, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) in Denver. She writes from her personal experience and from “seventeen years of research”. In the book she writes about daughters who have low self esteem and other related problems because they were raised by mothers who were narcissistic.

“Narcissistic” mothers are described as overbearing, insecure, and everything is always about them.  They may exaggerate their accomplishments and importance. They have an enormous sense of entitlement, believing that they deserve special status. They lack empathy, tend to be jealous, and may even compete with their daughters. Narcissistic mothers see their children as extensions of themselves and attack value to them in terms of what they do rather than who they are. How the daughter looks and what she accomplishes determine how much acceptance is given. They do not give unconditional love to their children.

Daughters of narcissistic mothers may end up being overachievers who work themselves into a frenzy trying to live up to an impossible image.  Or, they may end up underachievers, lacking the self confidence to succeed.  They constantly seek approval from their mothers, yearning for those rare moments when everything seems normal. Their deepest wound centers around the belief, sometimes unconscious, “if my own mother cannot love me for who I am, how can anyone else ever do that”.

Narcissism, like any other personality disorder, is on a continuum from mild to severe.  A narcissistic mother may not have all the characteristics described above but still may have enough of this disorder to stifle the personal development of her daughter. (Or sons for that matter).

In my private practice I have heard way too many times “I’m not good enough”. Often this deduction has come from the experience of being the daughter of a narcissistic mother.  This pejorative self description also is a result of a mother who abandoned her daughter, physically or emotionally, or a father who either was too critical or not emotionally present and caring enough.

Daughters who feel they “are not good enough” tend to self destruct in a number of ways. They can grow into angry controllers or emotionally stunted pleasers.  They tend to “dummy down” in terms of romantic relationships which, ultimately, leads to failed relationships.

There is hope, however!  With a qualified therapist this woman can come to see how she got this way, accept it, get past the anger and blame stage, and emotionally grow up and learn to love and accept herself. The damaged emotional “wiring” which was a result of this poor parenting by her mother can be changed because of neuroplasticity of the brain.

It is my hope that this brief description has caught the eye of such a daughter or someone who can pass this knowledge on to such a person so that the appropriate healing of these wounds can take place. This author is grateful for Dr. McBride for sharing her personal experience and research with the public.  If you have further interest in this topic you can visit her web site.  She includes a check list that may further help you understand  this phenomenon.  The appropriate insight and therapy is available!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates

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