Narcissists Leave Their Families in Psychological, Emotional and Financial Turmoil

Narcissists live strictly for themselves. They bring individuals into their lives–spouses, ex-spouses, children, siblings, friends, business associates, to play “roles” that build and enhance their grandiose images and masks of their ubiquitous false selves. Narcissists are disingenuous, incapable of being true, real or authentic.

Narcissists create chaos, pain and destruction wherever they go. Those who have grown up as children of a narcissistic mother or father, know this story too well. I hear from so many of these children and the tales are hair-raising. Children are emotionally and psychologically neglected, treated like dirt or in the other extreme–chosen as perfect living replicas of themselves–These are the golden children who are picked from the rest of the pack for their physical beauty or handsomeness, intellectual brightness, athletic potential, social graces–they embellish the narcissist’ self-image. On the opposite end are the children who are treated with derision and scorn, those who are beaten verbally or physically, neglected and cast out as “inferior” from the day they were born. They are the outcasts, the prodigals, the wretched ones of the family. The narcissistic parent has no problem inflicting severe levels of pain since he/she doesn’t have a conscience and no capacity for empathy, compassion or guilt.

During the sickening lengthy divorce battles, narcissists are particularly nasty. They fear that they won’t get everything to which they are entitled. They expect to win over the opposing spouse and if this involves devastating the lives of their children and other family members, this is of no consequence to them. They are in a no-prisoners mode, nothing is going to stop them; they are heavily lawyered up and hell-bent to take everything in reach, even if they are not legally entitled to it. It is important in circumstances like this that the non-narcissist spouse is well prepared with a good lawyer of their own, such as Diamond & Diamond (, for example. It can be a very difficult time and the spouse of a narcissist might find the ordeal too painful and want to give in to the narcissist, but with a good lawyer, the chances of this are slimmer. Custody battles are particularly nasty. Narcissists often drag them out over many years to wear the other party down, manipulate the children to their side and attempt to destroy any positive relationship with the other parent. They play games with the children, ensuring them that they are the good parent, can and will provide the kids with whatever they want and need. This puts the children in a severe psychological bind as they are whipsawed between one parent and the other. Eventually, the formal divorce comes to an end but not without enormous emotional and psychological fallout.

If you are the child of a narcissist, married to or divorcing a narcissist or have any relationship with one of these toxic individuals, your greatest asset is the power of knowledge. The more that you understand the narcissistic personality in-depth, stop blaming yourself for all of the damage and destruction he has caused and learn to appreciate your real self deeply, the sooner you will begin to heal and move forward with the life that you have always deserved.

12 thoughts on “Narcissists Leave Their Families in Psychological, Emotional and Financial Turmoil”

  1. The narcissist hard at work. Charles Dickens nailed it with his character in Oliver Twist names “Fagan,” who was a greedy, ruthless thief who would exploit anyone in the way of his sick agenda. The narcissist rarely earns anything by right of consciousness; that bar is too high for their level of understanding. Oh no, not them. They prefer to sneak around and take everything.

    The greatest mistake anyone involved with a narcissist can make is to give that demon more power than our individual and collective Higher Power itself. We must never place our faith in anything but, and in this way we take comfort in knowing that the stupidity of the narcissist is also his demise, no matter how many lawyers they arm themselves with. Even the most narcissistic of lawyers ends up fleeing the state eventually. Bless their stupidity and see the humor in it because there is the hidden charm. As soon as their stupidity becomes crystal clear their game is over. Then, look out. How dangerous CAN they be? A very frightening prospect considering how dangerous they have proven themselves already to be.

  2. I’m dealing with one right now , for 8 years he has made my life hell. he has everyone telling me I’m crazy and should attend a doctor asap. I’m not crazy, I live in a small town and I cant avoid this guy.

  3. Dear Dr. Linda:

    I always await your posts, as you are the most eloquent, well-versed, well-spoken writer on this subject. I am always amazed at how you are able to seamlessly put together a bunch of information into one subject-matter. You are such a great writer, and easy to understand. I applaud you for your style, thoughtfulness, and consideration of your audience!

    Kudos to you, Dr. Linda!

    I especially liked reading this post of yours. It strikes me as profoundly true in my heart. Please write more often. I’m sure that many of your readers yearn for more of your insight.

    In kindness and with great appreciation,


  4. Linda, you nailed this topic again. Yes, my husband of 33 years going on 35 until our divorce is final drove us into Chapter 13 bankruptcy. He was always in charge of the checkbook, including doing our taxes every year, but never told me he hadn’t paid the IRS 2 years back taxes. Also,my husband went out on his own and obtained a car title loan on our Lexus in the state of TX where we used to live and if you’ve never heard of an interest rate at 315% -you are hearing it now. Luckily for me, he did this only in his name. We had to then combine both the back IRS owed taxes and the car title loan into our bankruptcy payments. My divorce attorney told me that my husband having bachelors in Business and master’s degrees doesn’t make him smart.Gott that right!

    When my narcissist husband left, he left us in financial ruin,, never looking back, never saying he was sorry, and leaving our sons also in trauma too, As you said in one of your articles. “a marriage with a narcissist is not a true union, but a business deal” and I will do what works for me, until I no longer need you, then I will discard you without notice, which he did.

    During the last 6 months, I obtained my own line of credit, in my name only, and have improved my credit score immensely now. A five year bankruptcy is nothing to sneeze at, but in a few more months, that too will be discharged and I will be free of both him and the BK. I feel more powerful too, because I have so many new things to look forward to

    Our youngest son who is mentally disabled and lives with me is more devastated and hurt by his father lacking any love towards him. He is 24 years old, and cries about this pain, because he is trying to understand how any parent can hurt the ones they are supposed to love but don’t. It breaks my heart when he breaks down and cries about this, but I tell him I love him and that’s all that matters now.

    The narcissists we live with. love, give our heart and soul to, support every goal and dream they have, only to have them treat you like garbage is very upsetting and cannot imagine why we let ourselves not see them earlier on. Wish we could stamp the word “narcissist” on their foreheads to let others know ahead of time— Beware, Danger Ahead!

  5. I’ve been married to a narcissist for 15 years, it is a second marriage for me and I have two daughters from a previous marriage (that I hope forgive me for trying to make it work for so long). We recently moved to the middle of nowhere and the fighting and belittling got to me too much for me and I’ve finally got the courage to get a divorce! I feel great about it, but at the same time I’m a little scared…he wants nothing from the house, he wants me to take everything that we’ve ever bought together (I had to convince him to keep a few things). He says he’s moving back to Ohio in May when his teaching contract is up and doesn’t want to be bothered with any of it. I keep waiting for the other foot to drop…no one we know together knows this is happening. My family does but none of the people we have met here do?? He says so there won’t be any problems with the healthcare we get from his job (which I already know there wouldn’t be any). Am I looking a gift horse in the mouth? Do I wait for the other foot to drop? I have noticed that no one ever texts or calls me anymore, don’t really care about that though. Your thoughts?

  6. The one weapon that a narcissist NEVER suspects and one that can SAVE you alot of grief is a tape recorder APP on an I-phone. It has came in quite handy this year, catching my narcissist sister in a web of lies. I secretly tape-recorded a conversation that I had with my father (regarding his will/assets) knowing full and well, that my sister would try to TWIST the circumstances (his death) to benefit herself. Sure enough, after our father passed, she tried telling HER VERSION of the truth, not knowing what I had done. Thanks to my APP, the TRUTH was preserved and her manipulations didn’t work this time! My siblings finally believed my version of the “truth” and saw through her deceptiveness.

    I would suggest having this ready when interacting with a Narc! Especially, if you are alone with them for any length of time!!!!! It may come in handy DEFENDING your position, especially with ones that are experts in talking in circles, and convincing others of their innocence and good intentions!!!!!

  7. I am going through an ugly divorce from my narcissistic husband. We have be in a safe house had a restraining order on him and been to a women’s shelter. He went in for back surgery and I made my move. I took our beautiful boy’s and with the help of his sister I got back to Texas. I have been held prisoner with no way to get money and constantly put down, called names, looked at in disgust and screamed at. Always walking on egg shells. I am afraid that one of my boy’s might turn out this way. He is 6 and I am not sure if it his age or his dad in him. Is this terrible disorder passed down or is it learned? We are in counseling and have been in intense therapy while in the shelter and safe house.

    Thank you

  8. All of the above comments have good points that are backed up by experience. We would do well to listen.
    My life has been complicated by toxic people that I know I would have avoided had I been armed with knowledge about NPD and high conflict personalities.
    The latest, and most unexpected event just happened and I am determined to rise above it and move on. But before I do, I’m going to try my best to help others to understand things that I have come to understand. The difference will be that for me, I learned too late.
    My mother and I had a troubled relationship from the start. She scapegoated me my entire life even though I moved as far away as I possibly could the day I graduated from college. I knew there was a better than good chance that she would write me out of her will, but I felt that to do that would say far more about what kind of a person she was. I wasn’t worried. My parents were divorced for 38 years and throughout that period she kept my father within her reach with the hope that she would be able to cash in on his wealth. She succeeded. How?! She did it through my brother, which caught me completely off guard. Even though I talked to my father when he was close to death and warned him about my mother’s intentions, he trusted my brother to carry out his wishes. He gave him POA when he became unable to make decisions for himself anymore and my brother put all of my father’s assets into my mother’s name. She disinherited me.
    My brother, I believe now, is a concealed narcissist which is a different animal altogether. He and my sister and their children have been rolling in my father’s dough, so to speak, while my adult kids and I are left with nothing.
    To achieve justice against their criminal theft, the law requires proof of undue influence, etc etc. All I have is my knowledge that my father wanted his estate to be divided equally among his kids. He never intended my mother to have any of it. He said so in his 1990 will but a 1997 will appeared out of the blue suddenly after my father died. It had my brother written all over it. I believe my father’s initials on a few of the pages are forged but the expense and hassle are prohibitive.
    Had I taped our conversations I would have proof.
    It is sad, but true, that I was caught completely by surprise. And it is also true that the betrayal of a trusting father by his only son is both shocking and unforgivable.

  9. I can sure relate to all of you.

    I thought I had found my prince charming although he is now my worst nightmare.
    His second marriage, my first.
    He had three children from his 1st wife, he threw her out like garbage and left her with nothing but a ton of debt.
    We had 4 children together. I was on 3 months Hospital bed rest with my last daughter, then had my tubes tied. A year later he had an affair moved from Va. To Idaho claimed residency and filed for divorce, then bankruptcy and disposed of all the marital assetts.
    He new because I had four children ages 1, 3, 5 & 6 and no money I couldn’t go to Idaho and fight him. It finally took us 4 years to finalize everything and all I got was the kids which are just a burden to his life and a huge amount of debt. I now owe $125,000 and am filing bankruptcy. I am literally mom and dad to four kids full time, going broke while he makes $500,000-$800,000 that I can’t prove because I can’t afford a financial CPA to track his hidden money.
    He is in politics and is now running for congress as a “true conservative” ha.
    I am at the point of giving him the kids because the stress is to much. If I just had to deal with the kids I could do it, but having him yanking my chain just to support the kids is killing me.
    Like others, forget getting an apology or empathy from him, it’s all my fault for spending money getting the kids the things they need. I make all the sacrifices for the kids while he gets richer and I get poore. Shoot let him have them and I’ll start my career. Will he be a good father, No, will he make them a priority, no. He’ll hire a nanny. So do I live poor living month to month and keep my kids and deny them the life they deserve or do I give them to him so they can have a life and not have to live with a stressed out mom.
    They are my whole world, but I just hate seeing them going without.

  10. Follow up
    Sometimes if you look hard enough and do not give up too soon, you can find what you need. My parents had a “mutual will” which I learned is a contract. It is the exception.
    Also, I learned that in the State where my brother used the POA, the law is clear that my father’s funds were to be used only for his benefit.
    I am glad that I have an opportunity to hold my mother and subs accountable for their betrayal of my father’s trust.

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