The first stage of growth in the attachment of the newborn to the mother. D.W. Winncott the great psychoanalyst calls this phase the mother’s “preoccupation” with her baby. This is an essential process in the baby’s secure attachment to mother. The “good enough mother” as he describes it , for this period of time is constantly thinking, feeling and acting through the days and night about her baby. The earliest weeks and months are critical to the babies’ physical, mental, and psychological development. There is a special relationship that develops between the two. The father is a vital part of this process. Cuddling, calming, speaking softly, caressing a crying baby, soothing a frightened child is all part of this period. The baby has left the dark safety of the womb and is now exposed to an unknown world filled with sounds, colors, forms, scents, touch—all of this is new to his world. Mother is the one through her attachment to the baby, creates a safe psychological bridge for living in the world.
Children raised by a narcissistic mother don’t have this experience. Mother is incapable of attaching to her baby. She may pretend convincingly to others but she has no real feeling. Narcissistic mothers believe they are great mothers and that they can do it all. They count the days when they can return from maternity leave and work during times when their baby needs them desperately.
Some women must work to keep their families together. There is no father. They are the ones who are raising the children, paying the bills and putting food on the table. This is another situation and these women deserve our praise.
The narcissistic mother ignores and neglects her child. Her main focus is on herself. She spends inordinate amount of time on how she looks which has to be “perfect.” Many of these mothers are highly materialistic. What they wear, their external image, their home surroundings–all add up to a perfect image. Narcissistic others are bored with their children. They make no psychological connection with them and discard them.
They pawn them off on baby sitters. Some of them have 24/7 help for their children because they are too busy to take care of them. Children raised in this way do not attach to the mother and have a difficult time attaching to another person. Fortunately, there are instances in which a grand parent or other family member who steps into the mothering role. This can make all the difference.
Some children raise themselves. Some brothers and sisters form their own families and take care of one another. Some children go their own way and survive despite all of the emotional pain and maternal deprivation. Adult children of narcissistic mothers benefit from excellent psychotherapy and other healing modalities—gentle yoga, meditation, cardiovascular exercise. Remember, having a narcissistic mother is not your fault. You are a separate individual and deserve to lead your life in freedom and creativity. Visit my website: thenarcissistinyourlife.com
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
Telephone Consultation: United States and International
Book: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life