This year’s Narcissistic Caregivers Masterclass will be run as an online training as social distancing rules are still in place.
Client Masterclass Narcissistic Caregivers – Managing the legacy of a narcissist. 20th August
Surviving the Impact of growing up with a Narcissistic Caregiver
One of the common struggles facing many of our clients at Birchtree concerns the pitfalls of navigating life with a narcissistic parent. Narcissism is a topic that has risen in focus within public parlance alongside the presidency of self-confessed narcissist Donald Trump. This form of Grandiose Narcissism is the prototype of a narcissist that most people think of when considering this disorder. It is easy to spot these narcissists from a mile away.
Unfortunately, these views do a disservice to those who grew up in a house with a ‘Fragile Narcissist’ as a parent. These parents fluctuate between expressing feelings of superiority and inferiority. While the grandiose narcissist relies on charm to get others to do their bidding, the fragile narcissist uses pity for this purpose, often portraying themselves as the victim. The emotional temperature of the household is controlled by the narcissist – with everyone learning how to duck and weave for cover when the narcissist unleashes.
Life lessons about relationships are imprinted – the child learns…
- If something is wrong, it’s my fault…
- Mum/Dad must be happy for me to be happy…
- I must be grateful for everything I have at all times…
- I am responsible for mum’s happiness and her misery…
- I desperately want mum’s approval…I want her to like me/love me…
- I absorb all the energy around me like a sponge, often leaving me feeling physically ill…
- Be almost as good as mum, but not quite, never better
- Always reflect well on the family and never embarrass them…
The impact of growing up in a family with a narcissistic parent is rarely spoken of as ‘trauma’. This is despite the fact that surviving a childhood of misattunement results in one often reaching adulthood knowing deep down that something is very wrong. Sadly many survivors see themselves as being ‘wrong’ or ‘flawed’, failing to locate the difficulty within their developmental experiences in their family of origin. Many progress through therapies, never being validated for the impact that their narcissistic parent has had on them emotionally, cognitively and somatically.
It is often said that there are three layers of trauma reaped on children who grow up in this environment:
- The behaviour itself – words, actions, emotions, withdrawal and/or rage inflicted on the child
- The denial and subsequent invalidation by the parent (and sometimes siblings and other family members) that anything is wrong at home. This results in Secondary Wounding.
- The denial and resulting invalidation by society at large of the impact of narcissism. This can be seen as Tertiary Wounding.
All these wounds require tender attention, time to be aired and space for healing.
At Birchtree, we come across these traumatic wounds daily. We have been running masterclasses for clinicians on these topics for a few years. Many clients have asked us why we don’t provide evenings for them to learn and explore these domains also.
As such, we are excited to let you know that we have our inaugural Client Masterclass – Surviving the Impact of a Narcissistic Caregiver.
Additional resources, podcasts and books will be provided for those wishing to learn more on the subject
Presented by Birchtree Directors: Jace Cannon-Brookes and Dr Sophie Reid
Location: ONLINE Training
Date and time: Thursday, 20th August 2020, 6:30-8:30pm
Date: August 20, 2020
Start time: 18:30
End time: 20:30
Venue: Online training