A narcissistic family is a bit like being brought up in a war zone. The narcissistic parent(s) have all of the power and money and because the children are hostage to them they have to obey the power source. The parents send their children off to fight amongst each other with a hefty propaganda backing themselves up and perpetually whispering in their ears about suspicion, mistrust and questionable motivation about the behaviour/weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the others.
From a very young age the narcissist parent(s) will indoctrinate their children that collaboration amongst themselves is “bad behaviour” and therefore punishable. All communication must go through HQ (triangulation), in this way all information can be censored and edited according to the needs of the parent(s). As a child of a narcissistic family you are never really sure what your siblings are saying about you, so there is a constant air of suspicion, mistrust and secrecy. It feels like your life is being spied on and that you could easily be double crossed. The narcissistic parent will reward telling tales with praise, a treat or with that rare commodity of a narcissistic parent attention and even superficial affection.
If you do not conform, you will be labelled a rebel or traitor and will have to keep a very low profile to avoid narcissistic rage. Your privileges will be far less than those of the siblings that collude with the parent(s). If you try to move out of your hiding place in the hills, the other siblings will attack to keep you there, they will be determined to keep you in isolation in case you try to “steal” the privileges that have been bestowed upon them. The family unit works as a system and if a scapegoat tries to move out of their role, it would leave it open for another member of the family and none of them want that, they are openly shown what happens if you do not comply to the whims of the parent(s). So the family unit works like a laser treatment (attacking from all sides) to keep the scapegoat in his or her place. The narcissistic parent(s) also have a vested interest in keeping their children in their allocated roles because they have trained them into their “job description” and it would take effort and energy to get another off spring to fulfil this “vocation”..
Essentially if you have grown up in a narcissistic family, danger management feels a lot more comfortable than peace. A narcissistic parent will attack if s/he sees their off spring playing and chatting happily together. They (the parent) didn’t receive any love and they do not like to see their children enjoy each other’s company. Since they think that everything that happens is about them, their level of paranoia is very high if they are not the focus of attention. If their children are getting on and playing/chatting happily together the narcissist sees it in two ways a) they are plotting and planning against the narcissist, b) if the children get on they could gang together and it will be much harder for the narcissist to control. So it gives them pleasure (and a sense of relief) to see the tears well up in the eyes of their children when they pitch their children against each other, break up a fun game and shout abuse, because they have destroyed the comradery and put them back under control. A narcissistic parent will see their children playing happily together as the withholding of narcissistic supply and as something that is being done to deliberately frustrate/exclude them from being the centre of attention and therefore a deliberate injury and a form of disobedience.
It looks like
- You are sent out into the battle field to fight each other, with only the half-truth and lies that HQ has supplied to create the maximum disharmony amongst their off spring.
- We are being spied on by those who you live with and all “information” that has been garnered about you will be relayed to HQ with the sibling’s own twist on their tale telling that serves their purpose the best.
- If you request that your sibling does not inform HQ, it is a good way to make sure that they do it immediately
- There will be a self-policing system within the family that always reports to HQ and strictly adheres to the designated roles in the family (golden child, scapegoat, lost child)
- Children who do not mindlessly agree with HQ (rebels) are pushed out to the periphery, punished or ignored
- The identity of the individuals within the family unit is denied as it is not in the interest of HQ. You will hear things like “We like/don’t like..”, “We always/never”,
- Total indifference to the consequences that this sort of harmful chaos creates to the mental well-being of the individual. You are only programmed to think about the well-being of HQ
- Any dissidence will invite a harder attack.
- Any questioning, confusion or doubt about the “system” will be strongly reprimanded by the “system” and by HQ
- No open negotiation, orders are barked, obedience demanded
- Will put child’s life in physical danger for personal gain if necessary for HQ.