Mirror Mirror: The Narcisisstic Alienator

Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all……..

The Narcissistic Alienator is a difficult character to cope with.  Difficult because when you are being alienated from your children by a Narcissist you no longer really exist in their world and character because what they are is a player in a movie all of their own making.

No-one really exists in the Narcissists world, not you, not the children and certainely not they.  What exists is merely a projection, a mask and howling black void of need which is the key driver in the world that you find yourself in.  Let me explain just briefly.

Narcissistic wounding is a complex personality problem in which the growing child has failed to receive the loving attention that builds a sense of self and a personality which is integrated.  To become whole a child must have positive reflections from the adults around him all through his life and he must feel that his needs come before others for significant periods and that his needs are legitimate.  The Narcissist is unable to provide that for her children and so they often grow like her, hungry for the approval and attention that they can obtain but unable to do very much with it when they get it other than see it as currency (sometimes called supply) with which to convince themselves that they are good people.  The more they get the better they feel.  Unfortunately, very quickly, when you are giving a Narcissist the currency they need from you, you are diminishing your worth to them.  As Groucho Marx famously said ‘I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member’ and so it is with a Narcissist who is unable to love anyone who gives them the love that they demand from them.

Narcissists have a pattern of behaviour which is quite distinct.  They cut off from people very quickly and switch their attention elsewhere.  They may disappear out of your life only to return when their latest supply of attention runs out or displeases them.  When they return they will focus on you for a while, you will do because you are a source of supply even if an old and outworn one.  When they find a new source they will disappear again.

Narcissists do not really exist when they are on their own.  That is because the mask that they wear (false personality) is kept in place by the supply that they gain from other people.  Mirror Mirror on the wall, so long as someone is telling them they are the fairest of them all, they exist.  When there is no-one there, the mask is at risk of slipping and the howling black void behind it begins to make itself known.  Somehow Narcissists know that their personality is not solid, not real and being social butterflies flitting here and there helps them to keep the mask in place.  Pity them but do not be taken in by them, these people are as cold as ice when they want to be and they can act without compassion.  They do so because they have not learned the critical human relationship skill called empathy.  They do not understand that other people have feelings, only their own desperate driver for supply is worthy of any consideration in their mind.

Narcisstic parents risk bringing up Narcissistic children and if they achieve their summary dismissal of you through alienation when they decide you are no longer useful, your children are in danger.  Children of Narcissistic parents are especially at risk because the alienation reaction over empowers a child and corrupts the hierachy of relationships, convincing them they are better than you and therefore able to dismiss you.  This mirrors perfectly the Narcissist who diminishes and dismisses anyone who is no longer useful for Narcissistic supply.  Fighting alienation in children where they are being parented by a Narcissist is essential to protect them from developing similar traits.

As always I word this with caution.  You are not a Psychologist or a Pstchiatrist and neither am I.  Diagnosing Narcissism is not useful unless it is being done by professionals as part of your court case.  Telling someone that they are a Narcissist or trying to convince your family court professional of the same is not going to get you anywhere.  But if you recognise these traits you can do things to protect yourself and your children.

Protect you first of all.  This is because the Narcissist alienates the children by isolating you and placing you at distance.  Do not ever expect to be able to win over a Narcissist who has dismissed you and do not expect either to understand them.  There is no way of understanding them other than as people who will use you and dismiss you if you let them.  So do not let them.  Make sure that in everything that you do you keep clear blue water between you and that person.  Respond formally to their overtures, in writing so that you have copies for the court case.  Do not expect to appeal to their empathic side, they do not have one.  Do not expect favours unless it is to help them.  And most of all, recognise that what they do to you they are also going to do to their children.  Narcissistic parents cannot love their children in any normal way.  They cannot see themselves as separate from their children or responsible for their children.  Role reversal, in which the child is responsible for the parent’s wellbeing is common with Narcissistic parents because the only purpose the child has on the planet is to reflect back to the parent their worth.  This is why Narcissistic parents are at risk of creating Narcissistic children, their children learn from the earliest ages possible that to get any of their needs met they must first please the parent. That becomes part of the fabric of their learning about relationships, that one must demand to have ones needs met first before ever considering meeting anyone else’s needs.

When you protect you first you being to build a psychological moat around you which cannot be crossed by the Narcissist. When you do this you are more able to make strategic attempts to rescue your children.  More than any of the other groups of alienating parents however, you are likely to find your children dumped on your doorstep one morning because the Narcissist has had enough of them.  Remember, what they do to you they will do to their children, they do it because they cannot help it.  When the children get older and can no longer provide sufficient supply, they risk being unceremoniously ejected from the Narcissistic parent’s life, which can leave them bewildered and terrified.  If you open the door one morning and find them there on the doorstep, bring them in and warm them up and provide for them the consistent responding to their needs that they are desperate for.  A lifetime of being pulled close and then rejected takes it’s toll and you can provide for them something that they desperately need.

Many children of Narcissistic parents are rejected in the teenage years when they begin the process of individuation and movement away from dependency on their parents.  This is a normal task and those who have had enough normal interaction with other adults will embark on it unconsciously.  The shock that they receive when their normal efforts to separate are met with catastrophic rejection is wounding in itself and can cause them to abandon all efforts to individuate, conforming instead to the commands of the parent to devote their lives to mirroring them.  A child in these circumstances has lost the opportunity to take their lives into their own hands and is likely to need a great deal of help in future years to build the belief that they have the right to do that.

As the fairy story that warns us of the Narcissistic alienator goes…

Once upon a time there lived a lovely little princess named Snow White. Her vain and wicked stepmother, the Queen, feared that some day Snow White’s beauty would surpass her own. So she dressed the little princess in rags and forced her to work as a scullery maid. Each day the vain queen consulted her magic mirror, “Magic Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?”… and as long as the mirror answered, “You are the fairest of them all,” Snow White was safe from the Queen’s cruel jealousy.

Woe betide the child when the mirror answers otherwise.


  1. this is my story too. my ex was abused by his father that he rejected for over a decade then he became an exagerrated form of him. your so accurate in this essay and i have sent it to several people. i wish i read it earlier in life !! this should be exposed to people in high school, in an ethics class. i am extremely worried about my kids who have been lied to and brainwashed, its terrifying by this. I had no idea this exhisted in the world. its like my greatest nightmare became my life. consequently will make a huge effort to read, exercise, eat great food, be with quality people all day and enjoy the best things in life bc it has been a nightmare in the last 4 years and realizing i was married to a narcissist for 17 years and then it became so extreme. yuckville ! so scarey. young people need to be warned about them, i was so naive for so long, you get stuck and cant put your finger on the problem. many thanks for clarifying this illness. pray for my kids… if i rescue them, we will be going to therapy and i will bring your work to the therapist for sure.


  2. Thank you for yet another articulate and informative post, these traits, and behaviours are so common in our support group we often joke we were all married to the same person! It truly beggars belief that in 2014 it takes CAFCASS et al months if not years to recognise the healthier parent.

    The Narcissists feelings and emotions trump everything else, yours, your side of the family your friends even your children’s feelings are dismissed.

    I Can’t emphasise enough your advice to document everything, texts, letters, emails and phone calls. In my case an abhorrent response to a polite email from me was enough for the courts to see through the lies and manipulation, something else the Narcissist does with impunity.


  3. Sounds like I need to get a sofa bed then, as my child’s turned 13. Abandoned the courts – they found M to be the schizoid and myself as only loving their child ….. then left child & me with no contact. Pathetic. Formally recognising emotional abuse then leaving them isolated with the perpetrator. Negligence should not have judicial immunity from prosecution. Istead judge has fat promotion.
    M behaves just like the woman appeaaring on the 2nd link i sent to you (Dr Phil). Audience calls out mother for what she is in 20 minutes- took our “experts” 5 years.
    Systemic falings, Mr McFarlane [2013] indeed.
    Deliberately so. Hopefully Munby might act on resolving some of what he said in the FnF AGM transcript.


  4. Thanks for this article, it is really helpful… in some ways. Desperately frustrating in others.

    I am one of the many who has experienced this, I eventually identified the traits of the Narcissistic Personality, although there are some traits of the Borderline Personality too. It is worth mentioning that there will likely be negative psychological effects for an adult living for any length of time with someone with these traits, as indeed was the case for me. This made it very difficult for me to create that ‘moat’, and I was lucky to find therapeutic support from a very good counsellor.

    It is a very sad and unfortunate state of affairs that our ‘system’ (family courts, social services, etc) is not in any way able to cope with such matters. In my son’s case, most of the various court reporters failed to recognise (or had not even heard of) Parental Alienation, and even psychologists who claimed to be experts on Personality Disorders (I’d so love to name names here) were so useless they were effectively complicit in the psychological abuse, and really should be struck off. Everyone seems to get pulled-in to the fantasy world of the Narcissistic Personality.

    ‘Woe betide’ is a good term: woe betide the alienated parent who dares to point the finger. S/he will become the accused, and the ‘system’ will act to ‘protect’ the child(ren) from him/her, and keep the child(ren) ‘safe’ with the abuser. And when actors within the system ultimately notice the errors after so much damage has been done, they sweep it under the carpet and deny all knowledge. Or at least, that is my experience.


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