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The behavior of narcissistic mothers towards their daughters can be understood through the lens of narcissistic personality traits and psychodynamics. Narcissism is characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy, and a need for excessive admiration. These traits influence the behavior of narcissistic mothers in several ways:

Seeking Validation:

Narcissistic individuals often seek validation of their self-worth from external sources. In the case of a mother-daughter relationship, the daughter becomes a source of narcissistic supply, a term used to describe the attention, admiration, and affirmation that narcissists seek.

Projection and Envy:

Narcissistic mothers might project their own insecurities and unfulfilled aspirations onto their daughters. This can manifest as envy or competition, particularly if the daughter exhibits qualities or achieves successes that the mother finds threatening to her own sense of superiority.

Control as a Means of Self-Enhancement:

By controlling their daughters, narcissistic mothers may attempt to shape them into extensions of themselves, thereby bolstering their own self-image and perceived societal status.

Fear of Abandonment:

Underlying the narcissistic personality is often a deep-seated fear of abandonment or inadequacy. Exerting control can be a defensive strategy to keep the daughter close and dependent, thereby mitigating these fears.

Origin of Narcissism Theory

 
Pyschoanalytic Roots:

The term “narcissism” originates from the Greek myth of Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection. Sigmund Freud introduced the concept in his paper “On Narcissism: An Introduction” (1914), conceptualizing it as a normal stage of development and a pathological condition. Freud believed that some narcissism is an essential part of all of us from birth.

Further Developments:

Heinz Kohut and Otto Kernberg are two notable figures in the later development of
narcissism theory. Kohut, the founder of Self Psychology, viewed narcissism through the
Narcissistic Mothers and Control over Daughters 3
lens of self-development, suggesting that narcissistic traits are the result of disrupted or unmet developmental needs. Kernberg, on the other hand, approached it from an object relations perspective, emphasizing the role of early relationships in the formation of narcissistic pathology.

Modern Clinical Psychology:

In contemporary psychology, narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a cluster B personality disorder. It is characterized by patterns of grandiosity, a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy.

Application in Clinical Practice:

In the context of psychotherapy and neuropsychology, understanding the dynamics of narcissistic behaviors is crucial. This understanding can inform therapeutic interventions aimed at helping clients who have been impacted by relationships with narcissistic individuals. For those affected, therapy often focuses on building self-esteem, setting boundaries, processing trauma, and developing healthier relational patterns.