Sociopathic Narcissists Harm Their Children

The sociopathic narcissist appears in innumerable disguises. Since childhood they are been refining a persona that is magnetic, charming and irresistible to others. They study human nature, understand emotional vulnerabilities and know precisely whom and when to attract those individuals who will fulfill their wishes and desires. Early on this child learned directly from the parent, that life was all about winning in all of its forms–money, prestige, praise, fame, material acquisitions, competing and winning at the top tiers of power. There are parents who program their small children to become successful, compete and defeat others who are in their way and teach them to be ruthless and uncaring as long as they reach their goals. Children are taught to take a “no prisoners” attitude about other human beings. If someone cannot perform for you and get you directly to your goal, discard them. If they are in your way, make their life so miserable that they can no longer compete with you. If they persist, find cunning methods to destroy their reputations, financial security and emotional well being. These lessons are taught early and they resonate deeply in the child.

Some children of sociopathic narcissists have access to an inner part of themselves who intuitively knows that what the parent is demanding of them is wrong and inconsistent with their own nature. I have heard many stories of grown children who bucked the narcissistic parent and suffered the consequences. They were quickly discarded psychologically and cut permanently out of the family circle.

The spouse of the sociopathic narcissist is often complicit through her psychological weakness, her addiction to a certain lifestyle and her fear of being cast out of paradise. She is so distressed and feels incapable of leading an independent life, that she colludes with the sociopathic narcissist who controls the family.

Some children in these families become sociopathic narcissists like mom or dad. After all, this is the family tradition and heritage. They often learn to outdo the parent and become even more ruthless, unethical and conniving than their original teacher. Children in these families who do not follow the “winning at any cost” rules are left on their own without support of any kind. Mother or father won’t pay for their educations, demeans them constantly and undermine their individuality and creativity. The pain that these discarded children suffer is extreme. Many of them leave home early in their midteens to look for ways to survive. They are estranged from the siblings that went along with the narcissistic parent, These siblings despise the ones who were cast out and do everything they can to make their lives miserable. There is no opportunity for a “prodigal son or daughter” reunion with the narcissistic parent. The familial doors have been locked and the compound is sealed off.

Those who survive the sociopathic narcissistic parent have a long hard scrabble road ahead of them. I have communicated with these adult children. They endured many psychological and monetary harsh winters of striving to just get the bare necessities. For many, the wounds of childhood are still raw and painful. Others persevere through arduous work and schooling (every cent paid by them alone) to achieve their professional goals. As adults many of these individuals have difficulty finding partners who are supportive and empathic. Some fall in love with narcissists and sociopathic narcissists. They end up repeating the torments of childhood. This demonstrates the depth of pain the child of such parents experienced. They were never protected or cherished or felt special and valued. It is not surprising that they would find partners who would treat them with disrespect, cruelty and contempt.

Some of these adult children break the cycle of self harm and sever their relationship with the sociopathic narcissist. They redefine themselves, develop a sense of self entitlement and renew themselves as individuals who have moved beyond the pain of their family of origin and into a life that they deserve where there is hope, self initiative, inner peace and psychological and emotional freedom. Visit my website:

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
Telephone Consultation: United States and International
Book: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life
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