(Narcissistic, Borderline and Histrionic Personality Disorders all have this in common)
You may know mom drives you crazy but you don’t exactly why acts the way she does.
All you know is that it hurts.
You may know she is narcissistic, borderline, or histrionic but you don’t know exactly why she has to be clingy, needy, or downright mean. It’s as if there is something driving her to be this way.
You nailed it …there IS something driving her to be this way.
And it has been hidden from you.
That is, until now.
Let’s pull back the psychological curtain and see what is happening.
Take a look below-
If you prefer to read
Speaker 1: What does the narcissistic, borderline, and histrionic defense all have in common, if anything? Why should we care?
In order to answer this question, we need to look back in childhood and understand that a mother who develops these personality disorders or has traits of one, or any of them, develops these set of defenses, and that’s what a diagnosis is, a set of defenses in order to counter a deficit.
Speaker 1: When we look at a descriptor of narcissism. We’d say, “Oh, yeah, that’s my mother.”
That’s helpful for recognition, but it doesn’t really talk about or let us know exactly what these disorders are. They are like what a fever is to infection. A fever arises to fight off an infection, but the fever isn’t the streptococcus or the bacterial infection.
Speaker 1: Moms who didn’t get what she needed in development develops this. She doesn’t choose to do so, but the psyche takes care of itself in that it develops a defense against knowing how scary it was to be that kid or empty it was to be that kid. These defenses, well, they work until they don’t work.
Speaker 1: They work to keep mom unaware of this emptiness, of the terror of this emotional pain. When they become rigid enough that they’re what we call intractable and part of a personality it is her personality, but it may not be her essential self.
Speaker 1: Can you change it? Probably not. Can you impact it? Maybe a little bit.
New Speaker: All these disorders are on a spectrum- enough to merit a diagnosis or enough to have traits of it.
Some people ask if mom’s narcissistic or histrionic or borderline will I be too? I would say the main thing you need to know about that is that it requires some kind of reflection. If you’re reflective and you’re like, “Oh, that was kind of narcissistic response,” or had a borderline over the top reaction to something if you’re able to reflect chances are that that defense won’t calcify and you won’t be described as that person, although you were capable of acting, as we all are of acting a little bit off the grid every now and again.
Speaker 1: It’s important to know what these defenses have in common is that they are a reaction to an original deficit.
Knowledge is the first step to freedom.
Can you see beyond your mother’s actions to the underlying hurt? Let me know in the comments.
Mother was a sociopath! How damaged am I ?
We are living in an amazing era where psychological awareness can change everything. Yes, I imagine your mother hurt you deeply but her problems do not determine your fate.
In some ways, if your mother truly had no conscience, there is at least clarity in that. I would encourage you to stay away from labels for yourself like damaged. You have worth and a chance to create your own future beyond your mother’s legacy of hurt.
My mother was 16 when she had me. She treats me like a competitor vs her daughter. She interferes with all my family relationships and never wants to be part of my achievements. Is my mom borderline? Thank you.
It sounds hurtful and frustrating but I can’t be sure what’s behind your mother’s actions. Go here https://katherines-courses.thinkific.com/courses/difficult-momto get my free PDF that should explain the similarities and differences between the personality disorders as well as what they look like and how they got started.
Thank you so much, this makes sense. My 91 yr old mother fits the narcissist to a tee. I have resently figured out that I have Aspergers, we discovered our daughter had aspergers when she was 18 (2012)just before college and my Uncle who died when I was 1( 1961) was autistic- he was considered mentally retarded back then and died in a state hospital. My grandmother often said my mother would hold her breath as a child to get her way. She was the middle child. She never talked about Ray and when I would ask she would say you don’t know how it was … I could never have anyone over… she never extpressesd any love for him and she has always been extremely judgemental of neighbors, co-workers and now other residents at her assisted living.
Thank you Susan for sharing your story. This sounds like a very painful legacy. How fortunate that we have a greater understanding of things like Aspergers these days yet I realize it is too late for your Uncle and compounded with your grandmother’s intolerence for differences. I hope you are able to have people in your life who know can show you love and acceptance. Your daughter is lucky to have a self aware Mom like you.
My 82 year old mother has always had a volatile personality. When I was growing up, she would lock herself in her room and threaten suicide when she became exasperated with my siblings and me. I remember sitting in a tree in our backyard, looking down at her bedroom window and wondering how I was going to find that she killed herself. Would she use a gun, knife, hang herself? A 7-10 year old little girl should not have had to have such wonderings. Last year my mother made a very hurtful comment to me blaming me for something that happened to me in my past. She then denied she said it a and refuses to apologize. She told my father that she absolutely did not say it and he believes her. It is truly a textbook case of gas lighting. She can be very charming but is quick to criticize others’ people’s appearance. She’s very quick to point out his other people are odd. She is very expressive with her face, often rolling her eyes and looking up and waving her arms. She has always been somewhat critical but rarely cruel before the gaslighting. Her lie is more important to her than her relationship with me is. I have three siblings and only one will speak to her on a regular basis. He’s the youngest and a male. I used to think she was normal but as I grew up and got married and had three kids of my own I realized over time that something was just not right with her. I want to honor my mother but find it virtually impossible.
How terrifying for a young child to have to wonder how her grandmother would do herself in. I’m so sorry you had to carry that fear.
And Mom sounds like a tricky character indeed. I hear the hurtful ways she has treated you and with Dad’s enabling to compound the problem.
I would invite you to consider that the way you can honor your mother is to live beyond her limitations! You certainly get 3 chances with your own children.
Best of luck,
When I was growing up, she would lock herself in her room and yeah