Narcissistic Families: Growing Up in the War Zone

This is an interesting article I found on: www.psychcentral.com

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When you are raised in a narcissistic family it can feel like there is no help.

Parents who are narcissistic are often self-focussed. They will relate to their children as “self-adjuncts” serving to support them and their image of themselves.

Do something that reflects well on them and you are suddenly the Golden Child. Make a mistake, ask for help or express your vulnerability, and you are on your own or worse, ridiculed.

Children in this situation learn quickly that their needs are unwelcome. Because they are raised to ignore, undermine or suppress their natural sense of who they are, they become alienated from their authentic selves. It can take a lot of work in therapy to unravel this masking process and reveal the true self.

Often this fragile and undermined true self will be associated with intense shame.

Parents who are narcissistic will normally shame a child for asking for her needs to be met, because they are considered inconvenient. Having an imperfect, needy child can bring the narcissist back in contact with their own denied vulnerability, the unfolding shame causing them to become hostile and shaming towards their child. This temporarily rids them of their shame and puts it into the child, who becomes a convenient long-term container for the parent’s unconscious projections.

This shaming process is intensely destructive for young children — the younger they are, the more damaging it will be. Narcissistic parents often don’t provide the soothing and reassurance needed by the child to cope with the overwhelming emotional states accompanying these shame experiences. A child in this situation will develop their own coping mechanisms, usually leading to the splitting off of traumatic memories around the abuse and sometimes, dissociation.

Shame is the fundamental weak spot for narcissists.

Their vulnerability around shame will make them project it onto others, including their children.

Because they are hardwired for attachment, all children will gravitate towards an attachment figure, working to maintain a relationship with parents and looking for support, soothing, nourishment and validation. But the narcissistic parent is often unable or unwilling to provide the emotional validation needed by the growing child. They will be too caught up in their own needs to be attuned to their child or to provide the sensitive responses which help children learn to understand their own emotions.

In some cases these narcissistic parents will be overwhelmed by their own history of trauma.

Being confronted by the emotional needs of a child can bring up painful, sometimes dissociated memories of their own infancy and childhood. These experiences will be more than enough to prevent them from being able to empathize with their children.

A child in this environment soon learns that their emotions are overwhelming for the parent and will unconsciously lose contact with their genuine responses and feelings, understanding that these are likely to be met with hostility.

Narcissistic families often operate in an atmosphere of enmeshment and secrecy, where there is a lack of healthy boundaries and open dialogue. Communication will be unclear, perhaps tangential. Those who ask for what they want will soon learn that this is not welcome. Emotions will not be verbalized, but will be acted out (or “behaved”) sometimes with violence or verbal abuse. At times, addictive behaviors will be used to mask the pain of underlying feelings, making the parent even less available to their children.

A narcissistic home can at times resemble a war zone, with hidden traps and exploding emotions.

The non-narcissistic parent will be desperate to avoid triggering their partner, hoping that things will be OK, but never really knowing what they will come home to.

Often the non-narcissistic parent will deny their own emotions and dependency needs, tiptoeing around the narcissist in a misguided attempt to manage the destructive anger that can tip over into violence and abuse.

For young children, the unpredictability and unspoken tension of a home like this can be particularly harmful. Most children who experience these environments will develop trauma responses, including the complex trauma response.

As adults, these children will often be unaware of the trauma they experienced. They will be vulnerable to depression and anxiety — and loneliness. Some will find a way to manage their unacknowledged pain through addictions. Others will be left wondering why they find it hard to relate to others — or to trust.

It is only through psychotherapy that these neglected children will come to understand themselves and eventually come to terms with the pain of their past.

Narcissistic Families: Growing Up in the War Zone

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Psychology Around the Net: April 6, 2019

This is an interesting article I found on: www.psychcentral.com

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This week’s Psychology Around the Net dives into how to stop worrying about what other people think of you, ways to defeat procrastination, why pets can help boost physical and mental health (especially in older adults), and more.

Enjoy!

Stop Worrying About What Others Think of You: 7 Tips for Feeling Better: The fear of rejection is at the root of caring what someone thinks of you. Learn how to understand what “rejection” really means, use rejection (when it actually happens) as a brilliant opportunity for growth, how to embrace your individuality, and more to overcome your fear of rejection and truly stop worrying what other people think about you.

How to Defeat Procrastination with the Psychology of Emotional Intelligence: A step-by-step guide to overcoming procrastination by using the psychology of emotion regulation and emotional intelligence, with some extra tips and tricks to boot? Sign me up! (Additionally, you might want to find out how anxiety affects procrastination.)

Here’s One Big Way To Help Working Mothers Thrive: This new study tackles how to reduce a mother’s work-family conflict and employment-related guilt.

Why It’s a Problem If ‘Joker’ Connects Mental Illness to Villainy: While most portrayals of The Joker have involved a character backstory that’s mysterious, if not outright nonexistent, there are hints that this new Joker will include not only a backstory, but a backstory that includes mental illness linked to becoming a violent criminal. However, shouldn’t we pause and determine whether the story links mental illness in general with violent and criminal behavior, or whether the story features one character who has a mental illness that drove him to violent criminal behavior?

Poll: Pets Help Older Adults Cope with Health Issues, Get Active, and Connect with Others: According to a recent national poll, pets can help older adults deal with physical and mental health issues; however, for some (18 percent of participants), pets bring various strains (for example, financial burdens and problems that arise from putting a pet’s needs before your own). Which is it for you?

What We Know and Don’t Know about How Mass Trauma Affects Mental Health: Researchers are working to figure out who is at most risk of suicide and other types of self-harm after mass trauma events such as wars and political violence, natural disasters, and — especially prevalent in today’s troubled climate — mass shootings, including school shootings.

Psychology Around the Net: April 6, 2019

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Pregnancy and Addiction: Overlooked and Undertreated

This is an interesting article I found on: www.psychcentral.com

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If one needs proof that addiction is a disease and not a moral failing, look into the eyes of a woman who knows her behavior is harming her baby but still can’t stop.

With one in three individuals with opioid use disorder passing through the criminal justice system annually, court dockets across the country are overflowing with cases of illegal behavior fueled by addiction. Though such cases wrangle with the complexities of punishing individuals afflicted with what is increasingly seen as a disease that erodes free will, they are the bread and butter of the legal system.

However, the recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court case known as In the Interest of L.J.B. adds another level of intricacy to the court’s decision-making process. The question asked in the case—Does drug use during pregnancy constitute child abuse?—is unpleasant to contemplate, but it is one of absolute importance.

The defendant in the case, a woman referred to as A.A.R., tested positive for illicit opioids, benzodiazepines, and marijuana when she gave birth to her infant, L.J.B., in January 2017. L.J.B. then required 19 days of inpatient treatment for drug withdrawal and was placed in the custody of Children and Youth Services, which alleged that her mother’s drug use during pregnancy was child abuse. On December 28, in a 5-2 decision, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of L.J.B.’s mother, stating that Pennsylvania’s child abuse law clearly excludes fetuses in its definition of a child. While the issue may be settled in Pennsylvania, there is little doubt that similar cases will be heard across the country amidst the opioid epidemic.

Pregnant Women with Opioid Addiction—Overlooked and Undertreated

The case of L.J.B. and her mother has drawn national attention to women who simultaneously carry a child and the burden of an addiction—a group that has often been overlooked or ignored in the national discussions about the opioid epidemic. Few individuals in our society bear such a stigma as these women. As an addiction psychiatrist, I’ve heard harsher judgment passed on these patients—even from fellow healthcare workers—than on any others. This stigma permeates our medical and legal systems, creating dire consequences not only for these women, but also for their unborn children.

Pregnancy is unparalleled in its ability to motivate women towards healthier behavior, but approximately four percent of pregnant women still use addictive drugs. When I’m asked to evaluate a woman who is pregnant, I know her disease is severe before I’ve even laid eyes on her. If one needs proof that addiction is a disease and not a moral failing, look into the eyes of a woman who knows her behavior is harming her baby but still can’t stop. There is no better example of the ability of a chemical to overpower the deepest-rooted human instincts.

A recent report released by the CDC revealed that opioid addiction among women in labor quadrupled from 1999 to 2014, signifying the need for immediate action. Opioid addiction during pregnancy can create many problems for mother and child, including preterm labor, neonatal abstinence syndrome, and even fetal death. Tragically, pregnant women with addictions are less likely to receive prenatal care.

Aware of society’s disdain, many don’t want to be stigmatized at the doctor’s office. Some mothers-to-be can’t even find a physician willing to treat them, and others are afraid of being reported to authorities due to laws that have arisen out of prejudice and misinformation…

Find out more about what Dr. Barnett has to say about how harsh laws can harm the mother and child, how we can help pregnant women with their addictions, and more in the original article Pregnant and Scared to Get Treatment: When Conception Meets Addiction at The Fix.

Pregnancy and Addiction: Overlooked and Undertreated

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Psychology Around the Net: January 26, 2019

This is an interesting article I found on: www.psychcentral.com

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This week’s Psychology Around the Net takes a look at children taking mental health days, the definition of relationship cycling and what it can do to your mental health, career advice for having not only a successful but also a happy career, and more.

Enjoy!

Women Urged to Put Mental Health On Pre–Conception Checklist: Just like a healthy diet and exercise routine, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding smoking and alcohol, addressing her mental health should be on a woman’s pre-conception checklist. Researchers have found that women who have depression before conception are more likely to experience depression after giving birth, which can, according to Dr. Katrina Moss of the University of Queensland School of Public Health, “have a negative influence on parenting” and affect children’s psychosocial outcomes.

I Will Always Let My Kids Take Mental Health Days: Speaking of parenting, here’s one momma’s story about how she discovered that children — just like adults — can benefit from mental health days.

Having Stressed Out Ancestors Improves Immune Response to Stress: A new study suggests that having ancestors who were regularly exposed to stressors could improve your own immune response to stressors, and these results suggest we should consider family history when trying to predict or understand the health implications of stress.

I Felt Something After KonMari-ing My Home—But It Wasn’t Joy: She might not have felt joy, but what she did feel was definitely positive and something we can all benefit from feeling — especially when it doesn’t seem like there’s much else in life giving us that feeling at the moment.

‘Relationship Cycling’ Is Messing With Your Mental Health: According to new research published in the journal Family Relations, people who engage in “relationship cycling” — repeatedly breaking up and getting back together — aren’t doing their mental health any favors. While it might make for entertaining television, movie, or book plots, in real life it causes and/or increases stress, anxiety, and depression and according to the study’s co-author Kale Monk of the University of Missouri-Columbia, the highs and lows aren’t even worth it in the end as relationship cycling was “linked to poor relationship quality, including impairment in satisfaction, commitment and communication.”

What’s the Best Career Advice You’ve Received? Check out some advice these students, employees, and other career professionals have received — and have to give — to help guide you toward a career that brings happiness and fulfillment.

Psychology Around the Net: January 26, 2019

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