The Human Magnet Syndrome - Excerpts - page 21

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The saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” illustrates both the trans-generational nature and
developmental implications of a child born to a pathologically narcissistic parent. Perhaps a better
question should be, “On what side did that apple fall?” Both the question and its answer account for
the divergent path choices to where attachment traumatized children are assigned. “Gifted” children
are given travel papers that land them where they will become a codependent adult. The
“disappointing” child’s destination is far more bleak and disturbing, as his child-victim self will be
transformed into an adult-narcissistic perpetrator
Sadly, the developmental path of the future
pathological narcissist adult is more traumatic and psychologically damaging than its gifted counterpart.
“The Child Is Bad, Not Me” Narrative
Because children’s temperament is highly influenced by uncontrollable environmental factors as well as
by their genetic makeup, a parent can never know what a child’s personality or temperament will be
like. For the pathological narcissistic parent, getting their good parent narrative, is a risky proposition. A
betting man might place the odds at 3-1, that any given child matches-up with their parent’s
unreasonable and wholly unfair expectations. Since the odds of winning a hand of blackjack are much
higher than having a child that conforms to the narrowly defined parenting fantasy, most of these
children end up being consigned to the alternative “the child is bad, not me” narrative.
Sadly, and unfortunately, normal and healthy children with challenging temperaments or personality
types end up activating their narcissistic parent with a narcissistic injury, which in turn induces anger and
resentment against the child. Possible disappointing scenarios include: “She doesn’t coo and smile like
the babies in the commercials do,” “He looks exactly like his asshole father and nothing like me,” and
“She is so needy, I can’t leave the room without her crying or begging me to hold her.” The narcissistic
parent-child fantasy could have been blown simply because the child was the wrong gender, had the
wrong shade or color of skin or forced the parent to stop their college/career ambitions.
As previously explained, the pathological narcissist unconsciously believes their children are an
extension of themselves.
“In a sense, the narcissist views others and the world around him as an extension of himself,
perhaps as you might view your arm or leg. He unconsciously expects you to conform to his will,
just as his own arm or leg would do. When your behavior deviates from his expectations, he
often becomes as upset with you as he would be if his arm or leg were no longer under his
control (Payson 2002, p.22).”
Pathological narcissist parents react to their bad child as if a horrible trick was played on them, a bait
and switch of sorts. Instead of giving birth to the baby of their dreams, whom they were so sure they
would create, they gave birth to a seemingly damaged, ungrateful, difficult and willful one who seems
hell-bent on preventing them from actualizing their long-held fantasies of parenthood. Their hope that a
beautiful bundle of joy would deliver them from their own personal misery and traumatic past would
most certainly be derailed. The child’s failure to provide their parents with the necessary good parent
narrative, becomes the kiss of emotional death, as she is imprisoned in the attachment trauma
dungeon, without hopes of parole.
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