If you were raised by  narcissistic parents  or one of them was / is, it is likely that your early life was marked by extreme unpredictability. You will not have experienced everyday empathic attunement from your protector and guardian, and this will have a consequence in terms of how you have regulated your emotions, moods, and psychology.

If you had a parent who suffered from undiagnosed narcissistic problems, you probably grew up in a very disturbing home and the symptoms of PTSD are often not easy to identify.

Harm caused by a narcissistic parent

You likely grew up hiding from your parents’ volatile and unpredictable mood swings. His ability to empathize with you frequently and directly will have been prone to sudden, sometimes violent interruptions.

The experience of a child affected by the presence of narcissistic parents reads as follows:

“It’s hard for me to think of my father without tense a bit. He could be so kind and caring, but you never know when his mood would change. It could happen for nothing. I remember one time he got mad at me because he said I was rubbing my eyes too much. I had allergies as a child and I remember being scared one day. Suddenly, he was right in my face screaming like crazy. It was terrifying, I’ve never forgotten it. Now if I rub my eyes, I suddenly think about it and I tense up. “

Direct consequences on the child

  • If you were raised in this type of environment, you probably have trouble relaxing and trusting the world.
  • You may not have been able to trust your parents on a daily basis, consequently your ability to relax, be spontaneous, be creative and play was probably compromised.
  • Relationships are likely to be difficult for you to carry and maintain.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder as a consequence of living with a narcissistic parent is another consequence.
  • When you’ve lived through a childhood that involved these kinds of unpredictable and traumatic outbursts, particularly if there was no one available to help you and share the burden with, then it’s likely caused you significant problems.

Signs of emotional problems

People who have had undiagnosed traumatic experiences like these can develop all kinds of secondary emotional and psychological problems . The most visible symptoms are usually some of the following:

  • anxiety
  • unexplained illnesses
  • trouble sleeping
  • concentration problems
  • addictive behaviors
  • problems in your relationships
  • trouble building a career
  • loneliness and isolation
  • problems with drinks and drugs

It may sound surprising, but many people with these types of problems live with PTSD without realizing it .
If you have, or were raised by, a narcissistic parent who was prone to sudden and unpredictable violent outbursts, or whose own emotional needs took up all the space, it can be difficult to take your own needs seriously. If no one else was there to take care of you and put you first, then you will struggle to do this for yourself.

How to get over it with therapy

Children who have been raised in these kinds of environments can have a hard time continuing to do all kinds of things. But it is possible to recover and repair the damage caused by this type of parenting, although it takes time and commitment.

Part of what makes it so difficult is finding a way to trust a psychotherapist.

Question: You grew up being very careful not to put yourself at risk with other people. How are you supposed to find a way to trust a therapist now?

Answer: There is no quick and easy answer to that question. It takes time during which the therapy will likely go through periods of profound testing.

If you are lucky, you will reach a point in your therapy where you can overcome that barrier of mistrust and discover that trust is possible.

At this point, you will be able to see that the underlying problems in your life have been caused by the traumas of your early experience with a narcissistic parent. And, if you can get to this point with a therapist, you can do it with other people as well.

Don’t let your life remain imprisoned in your past, don’t remain hostage to your narcissistic and traumatizing parents. It’s time for you to break free from that cage and start being the person that you can be.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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