** Warning: This post may be very triggering to the adult
survivors of psychopathic/narcissistic abuse. Please use caution in
While many survivors discover that their partners are
psychopathic/narcissistic, many who come from childhood backgrounds of
pathology, fail to realize that their parent is the foundation of the
original trauma bond. They can leave partners, but continue
to engage with the parent. This leaves the stench of pathology in their
lives, and makes them vulnerable in continuing the bond into the future
with another partner or other people who are pathological.
Psychopathic parents are as toxic, if not more so, than the psychopathic partner.
Trauma bonds to the source of origin (parent) are incredibly
powerful and equally as challenging to break. I have broken the bonds
with my psychopathic father and biological siblings, and without
realizing any of this stuff about trauma bonds, I went no contact with
them about five years ago now. Without the break in this bond, I
undoubtedly would not have been able to heal completely. This bond was
broken just a couple of years prior to my break with the last psychopath
in my life.
The psychopathic parent is a ‘special’ kind of ‘crazy’. It’s amazing to me our perspectives when we see other survivors
just out of relationships with psychopaths and how horrified we are at
the antics of the psychopath when it comes to he and the survivor’s
children, particularly if there are custody issues. We are horrified at
his contempt and lack of empathy when it comes to his children and his
ability to manipulate and/or abuse them. We are appalled at the
terrorist-like attempts of the psychopath to undermine his children’s
relationship with the survivor through triangulation, by hateful
discussion, smear campaigns, triangulations and projections about their
mother or using a new victim to separate mother and child. The list is
long in how he can implement his tactics. While the survivor who sees
these games played out with another survivor’s ex psychopath and
children, even with her own, she fails to see this has also played out
in her childhood and continues to play out with her parent as an adult.
She fails to be as horrified at the antics of her parent upon her, as
she is in witnessing it in others situations.
Her lack of appropriate reaction of horror at the actions of
her parent, is an indication of how strong the trauma bond is. It has
reached a level of extremes in normalizing the highly pathological and
abnormal. The lack of reaction that would mean salvation via no
contact is not even a consideration for many of these survivors. In my
work with survivors of the psychopathic/narcissistic parent, the idea of
no contact when presented to them is often met with a vicious or
contemptuous response, filled with excuse, fear, obligation, guilt and
The survivor with the psychopathic parent will inevitably, in
most cases continue with the bond. The bond is so powerful and so
intense due to a lifetime of cyclical abuse. Some of the very same
abuses upon the survivor of a psychopathic parent, that are visited upon
the survivor as long as there is contact, are the very same visited
upon her in a romantic relationship or what she finds appalling in
others. The psychopathic parent is manipulative, guilt inducing,
degrading, demanding. They triangulate the survivor with siblings and
other family members, creating competitions for the parent’s attention
and love. Each survivor from these families plays a specific role,
which I’ll be discussing in another post, but some of the most familiar
roles are scapegoat, golden child and lost child. The scapegoat is the
child who is often most sensitive to the parent and equally the most
abused. The sins of the psychopathic parent are liberally employed upon
the scapegoat and the roles of other siblings are encouraged (especially
the golden child) to abuse the scapegoat as well. The scapegoat is
usually the most sensitive of the family members and the most intuitive
to the abuse. The psychopathic parent knows this and fears this child
most because this child is the child who understands exactly what is
going on and is most likely to ‘report’ it to others. Ironically, the
scapegoat can be healthiest of the family and the psychopathic parent is
aware of this. This child will be tested most in weighing the
possibilities as to how they can be used by the parent. If the scapegoat
does not go along with the ‘plan’ set up by the psychopathic parent,
this child’s abuse will be the most extreme.
Even when the scapegoat goes along with the plan, the
psychopathic parent still fears this child as the child cannot
‘pretend’ to the psychopathic parents liking, that she doesn’t know
what’s going on. She always sees behind the mask and her pretentiousness
is caught by the parent. Unfortunately, if the scapegoat manages to
survive her childhood, her abuse will be manifested with disorders of
her own, from personality disorders to complex PTSD. For the survivor
who is gifted with awareness into adulthood in that she does not develop
a serious disorder of her own, she will wrestle with her own empathy in
her feelings of compassion for the parent and is the child most likely
to take on care giving responsibilities, as well as continuing to take
the abuse. Her exposure to such intense pathology also makes her
vulnerable to more painful relationships with psychopaths into the
future, from romantic relationships to friendships, the cycles continue,
the desire to ‘repair’ the damage in a repetition complex, compulsive
Survivors who manage to escape psychopathic partners,
initially believe that they have escaped pathology altogether,
separating the parent from the inevitable acting out behavior and
relationship choices she has made. There is no connection for her in
tying her partner selection to the original trauma bond with the parent.
In a very odd way, this makes the separation from the psychopath EASIER
comparatively because she still has access to the familiar, to
If she cannot act out with a partner, the parent will
continue to provide ample opportunity to continue the trauma bond and
addiction to pathology through continued abuse.
There are survivors who have gone no contact with their
parent, such as myself but continued pathology with a romantic partner.
Again, the intensity and addiction to pathology is played out with her
inability to separate from the partner. In these cases, the ‘bond’ to
the partner is even stronger with the loss of the original trauma bond
and the relationship loss can feel very devastating as the last intense
bond is broken.
She can hang on, even though she wants to let go,
eventually because the parent is not there to replace it.
Survivors still tied to the parent are extremely creative
individuals. The excuses to hang onto the parent are wide and varied.
The almost apologetic statements by survivors on behalf of the insidious
and leveling abuse of the parent stands as symbolic to the depth of
their denial. Like any psychopath, the parent knows that they have
control in this child’s life and no matter how awful the abuse, the
child will defend the parent to the detriment of herself and others
around her who continue to see her in pain with each engagement with the
There are not different ‘rules’ with the psychopathic parent,
anymore than there are with the psychopathic partner. The tactics are
the same and just as damaging upon the adult child. The adult child of a
psychopathic parent becomes almost child like in her response to the
parent, the ultimate authority figure in her life. She overlooks the
obvious degradation and the feeling of a knife to her chest with the
painful abuse, is almost cathartic, as it underscores what the parent
has created for her in that she is a failure, that she is worthless. It
is utterly and tragically familiar. The involvement with the parent is
the attempt by the survivor to right the wrongs of the abuse, the
hopeless and yet prayerful power of wishful thinking for change that
will never come.
The adult survivor works every angle, forgives and
forgets, while the trauma continues to build over years, cementing her
obligation to the parent. The survivor, desperate (although rarely
acknowledged) to change the status quo, will often suggest therapy with
the parent, or try to find a way to make contact ‘bearable’ while still
taking the abuse. The excuses a survivor gives for continued contact are
obvious in her inability to let go: “I can’t abandon her/him!”, “There
is no one else who will take care of her/him”, “she/he raised me
alone! No one else was there for me but her/him!”, “She/he would fall
apart without me. I feel sorry for her/him because she/he has no one
else but me.” . . .and on and on the merry go round goes. . .
The problem with this is that much of what the survivor wants
to avoid is abandonment by the parent, or has an exaggerated fear of
what will happen to the parent should they let go, or what will happen
to themselves if they do. They fear the parents rage and anger. They
feel so sorry for the parents disorder that they are compelled to put up
with more abuse. In all of this, the failure to see that no one
deserves abuse, not even from a parent, is a foregone conclusion in
None of what psychopaths are all about and what they
do, apply to the parent as far as this child is concerned. Much of this
is subconscious, a pattern weaved into the adult child over a lifetime
of exposure to pathology and abuse. We automatically act out our roles
and are compelled to engage in them by an unspoken, unacknowledged force
of extreme evil that wages war upon our high levels of sensitivity,
empathy and compassion.
The psychopathic parent is no different than a survivor’s
psychopathic partner. With each engagement the parent knows they have
control over the survivor. They play their adult children like chess
pieces and lack empathy for them as much as they do anyone else, there
are NO EXCEPTIONS.
To the adult child of the psychopath/narcissist: Do you want
to know why you are so afraid to acknowledge the truth about your Mom or
Dad or both? About maybe even your siblings if they are disordered too?
Because you know they don’t love you. This truth is the most
devastating of all. Acknowledging this truth is the most painful
experience you will ever live through. It will call into question your
own person hood, your existence. My psychopathic father never loved me.
Ever. Not from the day I was born, and not up to no contact. I could not
let go because if I acknowledged the truth in that he did not love me,
it meant I was truly lost, it meant that no one else possibly could, if
the person who was my sperm and egg donor did not and could not love me.
It meant I was anchorless, without purpose and direction, as what is
suppose to be the childhood foundations built for us out of LOVE by our
parents. It called into question everything I lived. My entire life was
a lie. A lie that my psychopathic family told about me and to me. I
didn’t exist as a human being to them, worthy of love and respect. My
foundation was built on sands washed away by every abusive tide. What in
God’s name do you do when your foundation was not built on love from
This is what I can share with you. YOU are not the lie. YOUR
existence is meaningful and your soul and spirit full of energy and
love. You were born into a psychopathic family, a tragedy yes, but YOUR
life is NOT. This very knowledge can set your feet upon a path of no
contact and true and genuine healing, through and through. You are of
the most courageous, loving, caring group having survived in a situation
where you were NOT LOVED. Your psychopathic parent removed your choices
that would reflect in adulthood, a healthy human being, a product of
humanity built in a loving home environment. The key to your healing is
no contact. The realization that you have the power of CHOICE as an
adult to stop the abuse. The realization that you are worth more than
continued exploitation by a psychopath.
Human connection is important, isn’t it? We all need this as a
life giving source when it is expressed in love and care for one
another. The psychopathic parent teaches us that human connection is
merely for the sake of feeding off of others, to take, not to give. To
act in hate and contempt, not in love. This is not you. This is not who
you are. You are no longer a CHILD. You are NOT obligated to a very
sick, strategically abusive individual. You are the psychopathic parents
favorite target. You are endlessly exploited for the sake of the false
glorification of the parent. You are the number one poison container.
The psychopathic parent REVELS in their ability to hurt you, to get a
rise out of you, any reaction will do. They live to harm you. Your
importance to them is not found in what you want so much to believe in
that you are loved, but rather that you are not. They know exactly what
they are doing.
It is my opinion that a survivor cannot truly heal without
going completely no contact with the parent. It simply is not possible.
The roles we play are automatic, as in flipping a switch. When we are
with them, we are ‘on’. We are not shut off until we are out of range of
their targeting. When we get out of range, we obsess about what they
said and/or did with the last engagement. We sound like gossipy ole
ladies chatting across the fence to anyone who will listen to our martyr
status with our parent. We subject ourselves to enabling others as we
do our parent. Addiction is a very powerful force and you cannot engage
in it in any way and consider yourself completely healed. I would like
you to think about something if you choose to ponder the realities of
this post: When you see another survivor struggling with her ex
psychopath and what he is doing to her children, put yourself in the
View this survivors ex as your parent. It is the SAME.
Ask yourself, why am I appalled by this but not by what my parent is
doing to me? Why am I not horrified by the abuse I have taken and
continue to take? When you see a survivor in pain about what the
psychopath is doing to her child(ren), what makes what your psychopathic
parent is doing to you, so different? What is the cost of your
involvement in being engaged with someone who does not love you, but is
merely using you for their own personal pleasure in causing you further
harm? Can you see what the affects of the psychopathic parents abuse is
having on you, and others around you while you react to them? If you
have children who are exposed to your psychopathic parent, is this what
you want for your children to see in how your parent treats you and in
how you react to it? Obsess about it? What ties can you connect from a
past or current partner to the antics of your parent or anyone else in
your life where enabling is allowed, where you fight with your empathy,
where you fight with those who are manipulative, exploitive and abusive?
Can you feel yourself slipping into the costume of the child in
response to any of this, as you would your parent? Do you suddenly feel
that, while in the presence of those who are abusive or manipulative, no
matter who they are, that you are powerless? Voiceless? Listen to
yourself. . .
I know these are hard questions. I know they will provoke
anger, but for others they will provoke thought, and yet for others, it
will hurt your heart. You are NOT a child any longer. You are NOT
beholden to an abuser who cannot love, no matter who it is.
never have validation from the parent who created your existence
biologically. Ask yourself why you believe this person loves you when
it’s clear every time you engage that they don’t? The SAME principles
apply to the psychopathic parent that they do ALL psychopaths. Your
continued involvement makes you more vulnerable to future psychopaths.
Healing from extreme childhood abuse must commence before any changes
can happen into our future. This IS the original trauma bond. It must be
broken before you can truly heal. The ultimate in re-victimizing
yourself is the continued contact and abuse you take out of this person.
Ask yourself why your psychopathic, ABUSIVE parent is the exception to
Putting into practice our awareness will only go so far while
we still have abuse in our lives, especially from our parent. The
danger in acting out in further relationships is there when we cannot
cut ties to the parent. Engaging with the psychopathic parent is to keep
the ADDICTIVE quality of the abuse GOING. We are literally practicing
our addictions with anyone who is pathological.
Healing from pathology means to remove yourself from it long
enough to see what your own behaviors are and have been in response to
it. It is incredibly difficult, if not possible to change while
engagement is still in active status.
Your psychopathic parent is not ‘different’ than all the
rest. This person is the one who set you up to be abused in other
relationships and to continue to take it from them. They don’t have a
miraculous and just a ‘little bit’ of empathy for you. Hanging onto this
belief, and the refusal to deal with and grieve the reality that this
person does not love you and never could, hurts you more. Their
inability to do so says NOTHING about you as a human being and the gift
you were born with: empathy. Compassion for others.
I’m suggesting that you think about this. You don’t deserve
abuse. Your parent will continue to apply it liberally to you and your
life if you allow it. The no contact rule applies to the psychopathic
partner for obvious reasons, as well as any past friendships, bosses,
coworkers, children. It also applies to the parent.
I understand how painful it feels to integrate the reality of this into your heart. It is a pain like no other.
Your value and worth is not found in abuse, but a future free of it. Even if the abuser is your parent.
Onward and upward.
Note: This article also applies to men who are survivors of psychopathic women.