Some Children of Narcissists are Psychologically More Vulnerable

Dr. Elaine Arons introduced the concept of the highly sensitive person as a result of her extensive clinical research. She tells us that it is vital to understand certain characteristics about these individuals: “Your trait is normal. It is found in 15 to 20% of the population.” “It is innate.” “You are more aware than others of subtleties. This is mainly because your brain processes information and reflects on it more deeply.” “You are also more easily overwhelmed.” “You are naturally going to be overstimulated when things are too intense, complex, chaotic, or novel…”

A highly sensitive child of a narcissistic parent is inclined to have a more difficult and traumatic experience. With a parent who is insensitive to the feelings and perceptions of others, who is emotionally distant, incapable of empathy, highly manipulative, living each day in this psychological environment is extremely challenging and painful. Some sensitive children learn to protect themselves from the narcissistic parent through their deep intuitive sense. They learn to keep a safe emotional distance from this parent and some fortunate children discover that there are others in the family environment from whom they can obtain feelings of security and acceptance. Some children wall themselves off emotionally and use their minds to escape into their private worlds of the imagination. There are children who have no where to go—they feel imprisoned by their narcissistic parent. They become the receptacle of the narcissist’s aggressive, cruel projections. From early childhood they take in these criticisms and humiliations and believe that there is fundamentally flawed deep within them. I hear life stories of many of these adult children of narcissistic parents. Their nightmarish tales wrench your heart. Often their suffering is protracted and continues through much of their adulthood. With many adults of narcissistic parents, there comes a time, often during a time of crisis, when these survivors recognize that they separate human beings who are intrinsically good and worthwhile. Most of all, these children realize that they are neither mother nor father but unique individuals. Many are helped toward healing of these specific childhood wounds through quality psychotherapy, meditation and hatha yoga. They step out of the painful identities imposed on them by the narcissistic parent and reclaim their lives. A new cycle of life has begun for them. We celebrate their tremendous victory. 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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