Narcissistic Matriarchs Control Family Members with Iron Fist

A matriarch is “a mother who is head and ruler of her family and descendants.” When you have a narcissistic matriarch in charge, everyone is going to suffer psychologically and emotionally, except those who are chosen as “Golden” and often become narcissistic personalities. Generations of narcissistic matriarchs run through some families.

I hear personal stories of those who have had to survive under the absolute control, manipulation, deceit and chronic criticisms of their narcissistic mothers. After years of horrendous pain they have finally discovered that growing up they were molded by a very pathological mother/matriarch who expected perfection from them. Not once in their lives were they hugged, given positive attention, recognized as valued individuals, given compliments, etc. Their lives were pure hell all the time. Other family members bent under the iron fist of “Mother, the Most Feared.”

Those who have awakened recognize their narcissistic mother’s true nature-her dark cruelty, her capacity to inflict lingering terror in the nervous system. As children they went to other family members for help and were scorned and turned away since aunts, uncles, siblings, etc. didn’t believe them. In fact, children who exposed the truth were savagely punished.

Now as adults many children of narcissistic matriarchs are breaking the bonds of the iron hold of this reign of terror. I hear from those who are in the process of self healing. They have started putting themselves first, to insist that they be treated with respect, that they are entitled to feel calm, to use their many creative gifts and to spread the word that you can be free of your narcissistic matriarch and lead the life that you deserve.

Linda Martine-Lewi, Ph.D.

10 thoughts on “Narcissistic Matriarchs Control Family Members with Iron Fist”

  1. Comment: From Debbie
    I too have a narssistic father. Everyone scared of him. Rules with the iron fist. Now that he is aging, it appears to have grown worse. Cruelty, hate — those words have depth I never knew before. He fears losing the respect he thought he had. I see him very rarely. He is my dad and sometimes I miss him. I go , voluntarily …. And come home in tears every time. It’s incredible how one can be so mean. I’ve bent over backwards for him and mom and neither one could see it. It’s hard to deal with. My brother is the golden child. The difference they make between us sickens me. I use to feel they didn’t like him. They treated him. “Nice”. At the time I believed they couldn’t show true emotions to my brother and were just fake with him. Now I understand that being nice is a good thing. I also have a grandson who taught me that men have feelings too. I’m 52. It’s taken awhile to understand, but it’s going to get better. I don’t HAVE to deal with it. Thank you for the emails. I look forward to reading. I’m sorry anyone else has or had to live like that. Be strong, we deserve peace. We ARE good enough

  2. Comment: From Doug
    I lived under the rule of a narcissistic mother. However it was a bit of a unique dynamic. Three boys, the eldest was mentally handicapped, I was the second. Although my mother had a narcissistic personality, it was covert and because my older brother had mental health issues, things were very different in my family than other families suffering, but also very much the same in many aspects. I think Trudy (mother) was more confined in expressing her true narcissism because my father protected the eldest more than myself. So I received the brunt of her crazy. I was also treated as the golden one, the one she tried to mold into herself, the one who was born with a job. That job being to bolster the ego of Trudy, to meet her unrealistic expectations, to be the caretaker of my older and younger brother, to be perfect. My first recall of something being wrong was when I was 3-4. She was trying to get me into a local nursery school that was full. Later in the year she received a call saying they had an opening and if she could get me there right away, I could be signed up. The frantic fit that followed, as far as I remember, my first exposure to her needing to be perfect and needing me, her 3-4 yr old to be just as perfect. She was rushing around, screaming about how we couldn’t be late, yelling at me how I needed to behave, there was a lot of snow outside and I can recall her almost in the brink of tears that we wouldn’t make it all the while making sure I was going to be perfect so that she appeared perfect, that’s my most vivid feeling…her needing me to be perfect so not to make her look bad. I believe my fate was sealed that morning. I’ve no doubt I picked up on things earlier, but this I remember specifically. I woke up at the age of 48, this year, to what she was. I couldn’t move forward because she had so convincgly brainwashed me into believing I was the one with all the problems and issues. Then I read a blog, this one, that described her perfectly and because I had been going to counseling and heard about narcissists, I was able to make the connection and that was the most important moment of my life. I knew at that moment that it wasn’t my fault, none of it was my fault. Of course I had to take responsibility for my life, but I wasn’t to blame for any of it and THAT simple knowledge freed me. I broke complete ties and haven’t been, or felt better, ever. I do need to be aware all the time because she’ll try to contact me, through friends she’ll try to make me feel bad and before my awakening, I would have taken the bait. No longer. Be aware, don’t let them pull you back in, remember what you’ve read in this blog, be strong, otherwise you’ll find yourself right back in their control, or at the very least, miserable all over again. Unfortunately, this pathology IS INGRAINED FOREVER, you, no one will ever be able to change it, so stop trying, live your live for you, let go of whomever it is and start taking care of you. I know you might tell yourself that you can’t leave your spouse, mother, father, sibling, or family, but for your own well being, you just might have to. I let go of my family and it hurts sometimes, but my mental health, my survival depends on it. Find strength where you can…here is a good place to begin, others may have friends, or a friend that gets it. You’ll find yourself feeling better each day this person isn’t in your life…be strong.
    All my best.


  3. This article makes me sad. I have a mother that people are terrified of. She is 5′ 1″ and has cold blue eyes that scare people. She is a master of manipulation and money. OH!! how my mother LOVES HER MONEY. weird. I am a serious disappointment to her. My brother looked for her approval, waaaay more than I did. He committed suicide “by cop” when he was 43. She would constantly try to get us to divorce our spouses…because?…she divorced our dad. We should BE LIKE HER!!!! she was such a sever alcoholic, she had to be dried out in detox. SO, since she was an alcoholic. WE WERE ALL ALCOHOLICS!…( I never even drank yet!) Narcissist PROJECT!! I can’t repeat enough. Narcissist project themselves onto you in the most subtle and crazy-making way! I can’t believe I have been able to hang onto myself despite her and many other narcissists and “their opinions” (fuck them and their opinions). Hang onto your self! and ignore their two year old tantrums. “Mommy look at me! Watch me!!! don’t ever look away!!”…fuckers..fuck em

  4. I have just recently discovered that my mean cruel mother was a narcisstic matriarch. I always thought she was borderline but it just didn’t fit. now I know and it fits to a T. I have never had the money for therapy, I don’t think there is enough therapy in the world for me. My brother is the Golden child and yes everyone was mean to me and I was a good kid and a good adult. How anyone can be so mean and cruel is beyond me. God help us all.

  5. Doug, I am the daughter of a covert narcissist mother , the scapegoat. I went no contact with my mother, I hate to even call her a mother, nine years ago after she totally shut me out of my dads death and funeral. She had always been so jealous of our relationship and did everything she could to turn him against me. I can’t remember her ever acting like a mother should towards me but adored my two older brothers. She never came to any school functions, brushed my hair or taught me how to care for myself, she could not be bothered to go to my wedding, birth of my daughter, graduations, nothing! She loves to badmouth me behind my back. I knew at a early age my mom was not like my friends moms. I knew she hated me very early on and I can remember hating her as a very small child. I have been no contact now for 9 years and I hope and pray that I never see her again. Of course everyone thinks I am mistreating my mother by shutting her out of my life but it is for my protection. I know without a doubt that she would hurt me until the day I die and enjoy every minute of it. I have a grown daughter and a grandson and I just can’t imagine ever hurting them. I knew when I held them as babies that my mother never felt the wonderful bond that we had. Each day I also get stronger and something so simple can bring up the memories. I hope one day the sadness and hurt will go away. I like you am better off with out this person in my life. When asked about my parents I say they are both dead, because she is dead to me just as I was dead to her for 50 years. Now when she sends her 2 or 3 cards per year I trash them. The next one I get I am gonna write DECEASED no longer at this address. That will probably stop her from her fake caring. Good luck to you also. We can do it!

  6. Both of my parents are confirmed narcissists, mom is overt and dad is covert. Mom is sadistic and enjoyed my suffering. She was a beloved Montessori teacher in public, but a vicious monster at home. Dad was an architect, always working, very passive.

    I am no contact for 7 months now. I learned at 12 years old from my therapist that my parents had narcissism, and couldn’t love me. It was hard for me to grasp the concept, but finally understood why I could never please her. Both have always been ruthlessly critical but mom was worse because she was very aggressive, bullying and forcing me to think like her. I didnt, and had my own mind, making her hate/tire of me all the more. She raged and caused trouble, then blamed it in me.I was taken from our home at age 16, for my safety.
    As years went by, she was vengeful for being busted for abusing me, made dad take me out of college because I was doing well and was enjoying myself there. She told me I couldn’t live at home because she wanted privacy.
    So I struggled, scraped, took college courses and built my business, fueled by her hope that I would fail. I did trade shows, learned business in my own way and it worked, I am doing fine in that sense.
    All my life, I stayed in therapy to help manage my PTSD, which has kept me functioning despite huge pain. It hurts to know that Those who I wanted to love, just cant. They aren’t wired care. Dad used to help a little to keep me from being homeless in my youth. Money was the only way love was shown.
    Now I am 51, have a house of my own, my business and pets. I have peace and safety, even if I’m all alone. Life is good, though because no one attacks, belittles or throws tantrums at me. It’s my life now, and I am capable of true happiness, when before I wasn’t. You can recover from narc abuse. I will always be in therapy and take meds to calm my extremely jacked up nervous system. But freedom feels great. And I’m alive. Their lives are miserable, karma bit them.. they imploded due to their problems and fakeness. I lead a manageable life within my means. Not perfect but who cares. It works for me. I will never let them hurt me again.

  7. When I was young, I thought, “If I’m good, maybe my mom will love me.”

    Then it was, “If I’m really good, maybe she’ll like me.”

    No? Well, “If I’m amazing, maybe she’ll look at me with something other than disgust.”

    Then it was, “If I’m perfect and I’m exactly what she wants me to be at all times and I have no self at all and I’m her little robot, maybe she’ll stop hating me!”

    When I was a senior in high school, I had a moment where I realized I had thrown away my entire childhood trying to please a woman who hated my guts.

    She heard a rumor, not true of course, that I had been seen with a boy. I mean seen. As in, seen standing next to a boy in broad daylight. Nothing else, just two people standing together in a group of people on a sidewalk.

    Of course, not even possible, because I was with my mom at the time of the horrible “sighting” and she knew it. She jumped to the conclusion that being “seen” with the boy meant I was sleeping with said boy and I was then sleeping with EVERY boy. She contacts everyone she knows, no joke, I actually hear her on the phone, and tells them she knows for fact I’m a whore and she’s going to kick me out of the house.

    Straight A+ student. Never asked for anything. Went hungry, never complained. Sick, never complained. No electricity, no indoor plumbing, no heat. Never complained. No boys, ever. Not allowed to leave the house, didn’t complain. Never talked back. So eager to please, I look back now and want to barf. And she was threatening to throw me out for standing next to a boy when I was with her, so it couldn’t even be true!

    Then, it’s shoved in her face by someone that it can’t be true and suddenly, it’s like it didn’t happen. She denies anyone told her anything and she had no idea where this nasty rumor came from.

    I go to take the SAT the next day and I’m sitting there shell shocked. The girl who should have scored an easy 1600 doesn’t even finish the test. And I never retook it. I checked out!

    I just didn’t care anymore. I’m sitting there, my mother always telling me who I should be and now, according to her, I’m a piece of garbage. A whore. So why bother.

    About to turn eighteen and facing the reality that even after all I had done, that’s the way she saw me. I was just a stupid rumor away from being a whore.

    Then years, later, I get married. She tells people I only got married because I was pregnant. Not true! She couldn’t even let me have that!

    The woman is disgusting!

  8. Why do you use the complimentary term “matriarch” for female narcissists and “misogynistic” for the males? These women hate their sons every bit as much as any misogynist hates women. I’m a product of one of these beasts and she hit me over the head with her misandry every day I lived in her house. Men were responsible for all the evils of the world and she made damn sure we paid. She killed two of my brothers by breaking them down until they killed themselves. She came very close to doing it to me. There is no safe place for men like me. Thank you so much for making sure of that fact.

  9. wow! I totally understand, and we know, now, it was not us! Resulting in a messed up nervous system, yes, emotional pain that does not go away, yes, which lead to chronic physical pain. yes. unable or difficult to trust anyone or handle close relationships of any kind. I endured 4 narcissists at same time, livelong – my mother, father, insanely narcissistic older sister and golden boy brother. all sick greedy plotting lying narcissists. I had two younger sisters which is probably how I survived. this should be talked about and exposed. It feels like we are so alone with the worst pain there is. It is destructive from the start- at our birth, it does not stop, and prevents us from ever feeling safe. they crush your self worth, scatter your soul and personality, chronically stuck in flight or fight mode that completely changes our ability to get ahead in life. you go from under reacting to over reacting and usually never find that guidance, care and patience you need to grow and prosper in a healthy life. Many don’t or can’t believe you suffered such bizarre events and don’t know what to do either, except walk away-to have an orphan like existence. The narcissists go on and are somewhat, or very successful with the money they took and trampling ahead on other people without caring one bit. Do I know them well from enduring 4 of them, all of my 59 years of life. yes. I know God knows of their deeds, and that they chose evil, and followed their pure greed. I know the narcissist is more miserable than the people they hurt, but they do not know, blinded by the need for greed. My brother and sister are presently stealing large amounts of money and or getting it handed to them by my mother, while I am sick and very poor with a precious grandchild in my care, in a run down house. It is very hard financially and physically just to live another day…. Love your children unconditionally and your good relatives. Teach respect. Be kind not afraid.
    I would like more lawsuits in court to report and expose the suffering they get away with in secret to defenseless children everywhere because it does affect them-forever! The world may even get better for it! I am sorry to all who experienced this abuse. Be good to yourself, you deserve it.

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