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Registered: 11-2008
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Narcissistic Mothers and Biracial Daughters



Interview granted by Sam Vaknin to Johanna Workman, a psychology doctoral student in San Diego, CA

Q. Narcissistic mothers view the daughter an an extension of her. A biracial daughter will have a body that probably will vary on some or all of these aspects from the mother: thicker/courser hair, darker hair, darker skin tone than the mother, darker eyes (probably not blue or green), more volume and curves that appear around adolescence around the hips, thighs, and buttocks, bigger nose, thicker lips. Given those differences, how would a narcissistic mother respond/mirror those differences? And how would that affect the daughter? For example, would the mother not "see" those differences and mirror back only what is the same? Or would she see those differences as a narcissistic injury?

A. One cannot generalize. The mother's reactions depend, to a large extent on her self-perception, personal myth/narrative, and on her triggers of narcissistic supply.

Some narcissistic mothers would take pride (narcissistic supply) in having a biracial daughter: it would make them appear special, unique and burnish their credentials as liberal, progressive, not prejudiced, etc. Such a mother would leverage the daughter's biracialism to obtain narcissistic supply (attention, adulation, admiration, sympathy).

Other narcissistic mothers would use the daughter's appearance - if it diverges from their own - to taunt and torment her sadistically. Narcissists are frequently sadistic, but they always rationalize, intellectualize and strive to maintain and be seen to maintain the higher moral ground. Having a biracial daughter is a perfect pretext and excuse to keep all the dysfunctional, abusive,and pathological mother-daughter dynamics going: over-protectiveness, exerting control, emotional blackmail, inflicting hurt and pain, etc. even as the mother extracts from her human milieu sympathy for her predicament and attention to her plight. This is akin to the psychodynamics of Munchhausen by Proxy!

Q. A daughter's task is to idealize and identify with her mother. Since that mother probably looks different than she, how would that affect the daughter's self-esteem and body image? Would she idealize the mother, but not identify and thus have problems with her identity?

A. Identity problems are inevitable not only owing to the thwarted relationships within the mother-daughter dyad but also because of social pressures and reactions. At different stages of development - as delineated in object relations theories - the daughter is likely to react differently. Yet, idealization is more likely to be disrupted by the overt and cruel "bad object" or "bad breast" conduct of the mother than by any racial tension. See: Narcissistic and Psychopathic Parents and Their Children.

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Encyclopedia of Narcissism and Psychopathy

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Sep/8/2010, 7:26 am Link to this post  
 


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