The child of the narcissistic parent has been psychologically abandoned. He/she lives not in a home but a “house of desolation.” This word originates from the twelfth century and essentially means devastation and hopelessness.
The baby and small child needs a deep meaningful and warm connection to the parenting figure to thrive psychologically.
Children of narcissistic parents may have their physical needs met but are starving for warmth, attention, kindness, understanding, positive attachment. Some children suffer from both physical, mental, emotional and financial deprivation. Many were never wanted. Others were created to enhance the narcissist’s false self image and ego supplies for the narcissistic parent.
I hear from children of narcissistic parents. They have been through painful and complex ordeals. They speak of the cold cruelties of the narcissistic mother and/or father. They were exploited and abused, treated like objects, servants to their maternal and fraternal masters.
The house of desolation is not a home. It may have all of the accoutrements: the space, pleasant surroundings, comfortable ambience but beneath the material objects there is no vital core of human warmth or meaning here. Some children are born into impoverished circumstances with narcissistic parents and suffer from many levels of narcissistic abuse and privation.
It is remarkable how these children who grew up in the houses of desolation coped and dealt with the cruel and ugly psychopathology of the narcissistic parent. Many learned how to hide in plain sight, went to Nature as an escape to Beauty, traveled to storied magical places with their imaginations, taught themselves how to paint and draw to create new visions of reality, sought spiritual avenues of meaning and solace, learned that movement and exercise through sports and dance built their stamina and deep inner strength.
Prominent British writer Rudyard Kipling was abandoned at the age of six along with his three year old sister Trix by his parents. Mother and father without the slightest announcement after leaving India on a trip to London left their young children with strangers whom they contacted through a newspaper article. The caretaker was a cruel, cold abusive woman and her disturbed son. For six long years they were left at the mercy of these pathological individuals. The parents returned unexpectedly and gave no explanation for their abandonment, absence or return. Kipling’s mother had relatives in London but chose to put her children in psychological distress with unvetted disturbed strangers. Kipling suffered deeply from this abandonment and betrayal. He used his incredible creativity through writing to survive this horrendous extended traumatic experience of parental abandonment, particularly by his mother.
Are you the child of a narcissistic parent who grew up in A House of Desolation. I give you tremendous credit for your authenticity, integrity, stamina, grit and creativity.
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.