Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers Suffer Maternal Deprivation—The Void I Feel Inside

Narcissistic maternal deprivation is difficult for most people to understand because it cannot usually be seen as bruises or welts or scratches. It is both a psychological wound and a void that the daughter of a narcissistic mother feels inside herself. This pain is the absence of nurturing, of loving care, of affection, of emotional and physical closeness, of hugs never given, of sweet glances from mother to daughter and back again. These daughters never experience the loving physical, emotional and psychological presence of their mother. If mom is physically there, she is either distracted and not paying attention or she is berating her daughter, criticizing her, humiliating her, blaming her for everything that went wrong in the narcissistic mother’s life. 

The child takes this upon herself and internalizes the absence of positive feelings toward her. She is neglected and because she must survive she is not capable of knowing that this is true–that she is not wanted, respected, cherished. Narcissistic mothers often push their own daughters out of their way and are envious of them. They do everything they can to create emotional chaos in their lives. Some of the most profound wounds are the absence of attention. Some narcissistic mothers are like automatons, going about their days in a frenzy of work, social activities, shopping sprees, talking with friends, arranging parties, even going on trips–leaving their daughters alone to fend for themselves. I have heard of daughters as young as five who had to find a way to take care of themselves while mother partied throughout long weekends with boyfriends. Sometimes the party is carried on in the home and the young daughter is subjected to drunken scenes where sexual activity is taking place impulsively and wildly. The young daughter is shocked by these activities. In some cases the men who are there come on to the daughter sexually and she is terrified.

Some daughters of narcissistic mothers feel an emotional void inside of them. They  long for and miss what they never had. Often they cannot define it but know they are in emotional pain. Many of them seek to find the answers and to heal. Some daughters of narcissistic mothers benefit from excellent psychotherapy as well as learning to nurture themselves and to become receptive to the love and warmth that they have always deserved. I speak to those daughters now and say: You are so dear and lovely–You are whole–You are loving, kind, steady and strong. I celebrate you and your lives.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

2 thoughts on “Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers Suffer Maternal Deprivation—The Void I Feel Inside”

  1. Comment: Anna
    Linda thank you sooooooo much, this is the article that I have been waiting so long to read, that I needed to read, that I needed like a balm to my scars and that’s how it felt to read it. It’s so validating, supportive, liberating and gentle.
    Eek, tears.. x

  2. Comment: From Lily
    Its always better to know. Im in my late 40’s and only recently discovered this truth behind my life. At least I now know that its not and never was me. I had thought as I was told that I was the problem. Its so unjust bc the course of my life was almost destroyed. Why? Because I tried to better my relationship with my mom by telling her details of my life. Wrong! Knowing so much about me only enabled her to sabotage my life that much more. Im no contact now for 6 months. Its a financial struggle as I too was becoming more and more financially dependent on her which Im thinking was what she wanted even though she would complain about it. What saved me? Googling on the internet. I began to ask myself the right questions and look for the answers.


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