One in 200. That is the prevalence of narcissistic personality disorder distribution across the population. That might not seem like much, but after doing some math, we find out that it’s 0.5% of the population. Let’s take the good old US of A as an example. There are roughly 331 million Americans, which means that 1.6 million of them have a narcissistic personality disorder.
Now, not everybody who’s a narcissist has an NPD; narcissism is more of a spectrum and often accompanies other personality disorders. But when Narcissism itself is so extreme that it hinders one’s chance of having a healthy life, that’s when one might have an NPD. This means that there are more than enough parents with an NPD that we can identify their common behavior.
Thus, we will discuss a few signs that will hit very close to home if you were raised by narcissists. While all the signs are equally valid, number one is by far the most telling, so stick around to find out what it is.
Number 5: Conditional love.
If you were raised by a narcissist, you’ve likely had the feeling that the relationship between you and your parent was transactional; meaning that the love which must be unconditional in any family was non-existent. Instead, the love they gave you was dependent on whether you fulfilled certain criteria they had set up. If the child manages to succeed, as in, make their parents feel special, important, or good about themselves, then the child will get all the love in the world, for a time.
But as soon as that feeling of being special or important decreases, that love will decrease with it. You’d think that in a reverse situation, the child must do something wrong to get the reverse of love from their parents, but that is not necessarily the case. If they are feeling bad, for whatever reason, that love can disappear instantly.
Narcissists worship only one god, themselves. And if that god is not worshiped by others as well, it could get bad very quickly. We’ll touch on that in the next segment, but before that, we have to point out one more thing. To a narcissist, everything is about themselves. In a blink of an eye, even the thing that is supposed to be about you, like a birthday, for example, might turn into their glory hour. “Because narcissists operate in an ‘all about me’ fashion, the world revolves around them, their needs and desires. They continue to be selfish and expect others, including their children, to cater to them.
So, when their child does well, they take credit and brag about the child, and when the child struggles, they blame the child or others for it. They are controlling and they readily induce guilt in their children. They tend not to offer much by way of emotional support and validation, and the child quickly learns that the parent’s goals are important whereas their own goals are not.
This is frequently because the parent is living their own lives through the child and the child’s accomplishments.” states Dr. Amy Brunell, Professor of Psychology at Ohio State University. They took credit for everything good that you did and blamed everything bad on you. They often manufactured a conflict to draw attention to themselves and you were used as a tool during it. And they tried to compete with you and “one-up” your every achievement. If any of that sounds familiar to you, welcome to the narcissistic parents’ club.
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Number 4: Sunken relationships.
The second and equally as common sign that your parents had NPD was the absolute carnage that was any relationship they had. As we mentioned already, narcissists don’t have the capacity to build healthy and long-lasting relationships. That often happens because people in their lives are used as just another tool that they can use to feel better about themselves and be at the center of attention. But that will likely lead to a broken relationship because they can’t do their job which is to care for others and their needs.
If many people come to mind when you think about your parent’s friends and relatives who are not on very good terms with them, that is a good sign that they are narcissists. And that is not the only sign. Even if they still manage to have something resembling a relationship with people, they might say horrible things about them to you or others. Your parents can’t take even the slightest criticism from anybody and they can get aggressive in those situations.
On top of that, manipulating people daily to further their goal of being the center of attention might’ve been commonplace. And if they were not jealous of your achievements, they might have been jealous of other people’s. That’s another sign that they were not the humblest of people.
Number 3: Displeasing them was not an option.
If you worried a lot about displeasing your parents, there is a good chance they have NPD. Normally, every child wants to please their parents, but in a narcissistic household, that can be much harder than building an Iron Man suit out of a box of scraps in a cave. Many times you’ve seen what happens to the people who upset your parents and you don’t want that to happen to you. Or even worse, that might have already happened to you and that’s why you dread messing things up again.
Ever-shifting goalposts are another good sign which will lead to this fear. If something one day pleased them, that thing could be taken to a ridiculous extreme the next day. Meaning, that it was hard to understand what would make them feel good. Thus, you didn’t know what would displease them, and you were terrified of making a mistake. If you can’t recall feeling this feeling, you might have a hard time understanding yourself, because you were forcing yourself to suppress your feelings to not displease your parents.
Not easily understanding how and what you are feeling might mean that you were not raised by a parent that supported you emotionally. Since narcissists only care about themselves and their emotions, they tend to disregard others’. If you were raised by a narcissist, you’d learn at a young age that stating your feelings and “bothering” them with your problems was not a good idea and could often lead to many bad outcomes.
Narcissists crave validation and admiration. Being bullied about your appearance and performance in school, being punished for embarrassing them, wanting you to be just successful enough to brag about you, but not so successful that you are making them jealous, are a few other good situations that can prove that they had NPD.
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Number 2: Honesty – what’s that?
One of the founding pillars of any relationship is the mutual support of each other. Since we already mentioned that narcissists can’t do that very well, let’s discuss the second and equally important pillar of any relationship, which is honesty.
We are all humans, and one of the defining traits of every human being is their vast amount of shortcomings. In a healthy relationship, people can and should tell others the truth, and together they can tackle those shortcomings and mitigate their effects. Working out what is wrong with you and then trying to change that is the reason for most types of relationships. But do you know when you can’t change yourself for the better?
When you don’t even admit that you have any shortcomings. What’s the first step of overcoming any problem? Acknowledging that you have a shortcoming. And guess who can’t do that? That’s right, people with NPD can’t do that.
Admitting their flaws is just one side of this problem. Since truth is often bitter, narcissists prefer to lie and avoid that bitterness for as long as they can. If your parents were lying a lot, even when it came to seemingly menial things, that is a very good sign that they had a hard time acknowledging the truth, and that itself is a good sign that they were narcissists.
Number 1: They did nothing wrong.
We’ve talked a lot about what narcissists want and what they might do to get what they want. But there is another question: what are they afraid of? Why are they seeking validation all the time? Well, the main aspect of narcissistic personality disorder is the sense of shame or inadequacy, usually both, which fuels their every action.
When we pointed out the fact that your every achievement was because of them, and every struggle was just your fault in your eyes, that is not where that stops. If they mess up something, that is also other people’s fault, and it doesn’t matter that every time they mess up it’s never their fault. Denying their mistakes, blaming other people, and sometimes lashing out to stop the situation that’s making them uncomfortable. What this means is the simple fact that people with NPD will never admit that they did anything wrong.
This also includes acknowledging their shortcomings when it comes to parenting, and what it means is that your parent didn’t try to become better at being a parent. Letting them know that they treated you unfairly will likely not affect them since they did nothing wrong.
Read More: 10 Mental Illnesses You Get From Narcissists.
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