Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the Movie ‘Tangled’: Mother Does Not Know Best

Editor’s Note: Upon reading this post, some readers may say, “Oh, ‘Tangled‘ is just a movie!” Indeed, “Tangled” is a movie, but not just one. Stories, whether in books or movies or television programs, teach us about ourselves, about what we value, about what we love, about what we hate. No “real-life Rapunzel” or “real-life Mother Gothel” may have existed, but for the myriad daughters with NPD mothers, the story itself is not too unlike their own stories.

* * *

Quick, name the cruelest Disney villain… Did you name Mother Gothel? As a parental figure with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), Mother Gothel rates high on the list for her twisted, abusive and relentless treatment of her “adopted” daughter, Rapunzel.

I recently re-watched “Tangled” and took note of the destructive NPD characteristics demonstrated by Mother Gothel. (Spoilers abound from this point on.)

19 NPD Traits of Mother Gothel

From the back story narration at the start of the film, the viewer learns that an ancient woman named “Gothel” has been using a magical plant’s restorative powers to maintain her beauty and youth. When the infant princess in the kingdom where Mother Gothel dwells is dying, the castle guards retrieve the legendary plant to heal the princess, and it does.

1. Mother Gothel isolates her child

Movie: When Mother Gothel finds out the plant is gone, she sneaks into the castle tower to steal the plant. Not finding it, she kidnaps Rapunzel (whose hair has the same restorative powers when a spell-song is sung) and whisks her away to a tower.

Flash-forward to the present… Now, Rapunzel is a teenager. She has spent her entire life so far in isolation. Mother Gothel comes and goes from the castle as she wishes (though uses Rapunzel’s hair like a fire-escape rope through the tower window to do so), but Rapunzel cannot. She must never leave the tower. No family. No friends. No one else in her world except her so-called mother and a chameleon pet that she has anthropomorphized.

Real-life equivalent: NPD parents make it difficult for their children to form bonds outside the family unit (and often even within members of the immediate family). They do not put the time, effort, and energy required to take their children to sports practices, school events, or play dates, all of which make forming friendships exceedingly difficult for their children.

NPD parents want to be the sun to their children, so any outside influence is banned or severely limited. If the child manages to make a friend, a NPD parent will make fun of the friend, mock the friend, twist the child’s image of the friend, all in small phrases here and there in time, so the child will find him/herself either giving up the friendship or maintaining a secret one.

2. She presents a false image of herself

Movie: Mother Gothel assumes the role of a mother (albeit an abusive one), never letting Rapunzel know that she is the lost princess. Mother Gothel pretends to care about Rapunzel’s well-being; she only keeps her hidden because bad people will want to steal her magic hair!

Mother Gothel pretends to be a loving mother, but she insults her daughter, does not listen to her, keeps her isolated, does not properly clothe or feed her, keeps her intellectually starved (the poor kid has three books on her bookshelf), lies to her, berates her, mocks her, and so forth.

Her real self is cruel, self-centered, violent, destructive, vain, and scheming. Rapunzel sees all that in flashes, but having been brought up in isolation, she has no basis for comparison to truly loving behavior.

Real-life equivalent: NPD parents are not the same in public as they are in private. They often portray themselves as loving, caring, and concerned parents to people that they know.

In some cases, they talk about their children in glowing terms, so that all who hear assume the parents talk to their children in the same loving way. (They are wrong; NPD parents will shred their children’s self-esteem in private though they praise the children in public.)

In other cases, NPD parents talk about how concerned they are about their children’s depression, moodiness, etc., setting up the parent as a martyr while casting the child as troubled or disturbed. (That will come in handy when the adult child decides to break free the NPD parents; the NPD parent can then say the child has always been troubled and disturbed. Poor parent!)

The NPD parent is a master of manipulation and wearer of many masks. Only the scapegoat child knows the naked truth.

3. She presents a false view of the world

Movie: In the song “Mother Knows Best,” Mother Gothel presents a frightening view of the world:

Real-life equivalent: The child of NPD parents is taught that the outside world is scary, cold, and hate-filled. To go into the world and try to make friends, be educated, get a job, have a romantic relationship, and so forth is to risk doom. Only by following the family’s code of behavior will the child be “safe.”

If the child or adult child does manage any achievements outside the home, the NPD parent will be sure to attribute the success to good parenting or to spoil it by making fun of it or adding so much pressure that the child grows weary and exhausted by his/her efforts and abandons it.

4. She plays the martyr

Movie: In the above song, Mother Gothel rattles off a dozen things then says, “Stop, you’ll just upset me” even though the whole song is her trying to frighten Rapunzel.

Rapunzel initiated a conversation with her mother to discuss what Rapunzel would like to do for her birthday. However, the entire conversation is derailed by Mother Gothel who turns it into a song about how scary the world is and how all Mother Gothel wants to do is protect her daughter from it.

When Rapunzel tries to steer the conversation back to the original point, Mother Gothel gets all self-pitying. “Oh, now, I’m the bad guy… sniffle.”

Yes, Mother Gothel is.

Real-life equivalent: Any action that an NPD parent does is an act of great sacrifice. Made dinner for the child? The poor parent had no energy and no desire to do so yet somehow struggled in an act of great love to make it so just to feed the child! Gone to work? The poor parent had a headache or hates his/her job or would rather be home, and yet somehow managed, out of great and tremendous love, to go to work all for the child!

NPD parents make everything they do “for the child” a huge deal.

Also, any attempt by the child to forge an existence outside the parent is seen as an act of rebellion or an act of condemnation against the parent… after all the poor parent has done! The parent has “sacrificed” so much for the child. Everyone knows so!

5. She threatens her daughter

Movie: Mother Gothel sings a threat that is bone-chilling: “Don’t forget it; you’ll regret it.”

Real-life equivalent: The child of an NPD parent is conditioned to do what the parent wants or ELSE. The “or else” can be the withdrawal of affection, the silent treatment, grounding, physical abuse, or very often, more emotional abuse (so much that an act of perceived rebellion will not be worth even attempting).

6. She views Rapunzel only as an instrument for her personal use, not as a person

Movie: She calls Rapunzel “my flower” because that’s all she sees in Rapunzel: the magic, healing flower, not the person she is.

When she kisses Rapunzel, she kisses her hair.

When she touches Rapunzel, she touches her hair.

The only thing that Mother Gothel sees when she looks at Rapunzel is her hair.

An NPD parent does not see her daughter for who she really is; that’s apparent from the “Mother Knows Best Song.” She considers Rapunzel chubby, vague, naive, clumsy, fragile as a flower, etc. As demonstrated by the rest of the film, none of those labels are true. Rapunzel is pretty, resourceful, smart, strong, and graceful.

But Mother Gothel has never cared enough to listen to her child. When Rapunzel talks, Mother Gothel does this:

Real-life equivalent: An NPD parent does not know his or her child, whether the child is still young or an adult child. The NPD parent may be able to rattle off facts about the child (such as the kid likes a show, the adult child is a dentist, etc.), but the parent will not know the child. The child may have a keen intelligence, a wonderful sense of humor, a fondness for growing flowers, a generous heart, etc… but the NPD parent will not acknowledge or even register mentally who the child is.

NPD parents cannot see beyond themselves to see their children nor can NPD parents see beyond who they want their children to be.

7. She puts down her daughter’s looks, personality, and abilities

Movie: Mother Gothel sings about how Rapunzel is ill-equipped to deal with the difficulties of life: “fragile as a flower,” “still a little sapling, just a sprout,””sloppy,” “underdressed,” “immature,” “clumsy,” “they’ll eat you up alive,” “gullible, naive, positively grubby, ditzy and a bit vague,” and “you’re getting kind of chubby.”

Other insults are scattered throughout the film.

Real-life equivalent: Same. Without the singing.

8. She pretends that love is making her sound critical when the opposite is true

Movie: Mother Gothel says the reason she rattles off all those perceived traits is “I’m just saying ’cause I wuv you.”

Real-life equivalent: For the most part, the slights and insults from an NPD parent to a child are subtle… and they work together, one cut at a time, to bleed the child’s heart dry. However, sometimes (and later in life, the NPD parents grow more obvious and rougher in their comments as they age), the insults are obvious.

The NPD parent will always say that the comment comes “from love.” The comments are not meant to hurt the child, but to let the child know the truth of the matter. An NPD parent will say such things as: “I’m only saying this so you know the truth,” “I’m telling you this because I love you,” “I just want you to know what everyone is thinking,” and “I don’t think this, but other people do.”

“Love” is the NPD parents excuse for being hateful towards their children. But love is not like that. Love is gentle, love is kind. Remember that.

9. She prevents her daughter from sharing her gift with others

Movie: Because of Rapunzel’s gift (when Rapunzel sings a certain song, her hair glows and magically restores youth and vitality to people who are old and injured and in contact with her hair), she could work wonders for the people in the kingdom.

Judging from the horses and clothing of the movie, this takes place during the medieval period, the medicine and understanding of the human body was limited, so any illness must have been devastating. Rapunzel’s gift of healing could have saved myriad people in the kingdom, but, because of Mother Gothel’s self-centeredness, Rapunzel was unable to use her gift for others.

Worst of all, Mother Gothel makes Rapunzel think that her gift is something that people will hurt her for. Mother Gothel takes something beautiful inherent to Rapunzel and turns it into something shameful.

Real-life equivalent:  The NPD parent’s focus is and will always be him/herself.

Always.

And for the child of an NPD to have any special gift or talent, a lovely personality, a gentle heart, etc. will not be tolerated by the NPD parent. The NPD parent will mock or shame the child for “trying to be special” or for “wanting to stand out.” Or an NPD parent will ground the child for showing such a gift or even take away the child’s art supplies, music, etc. as punishment. Unless the NPD parent can glean some attention from the child’s gift (“Oh, I have such a talented child!”), the parent will not support the talent.

Moreover, an NPD parent will make fun of the gift or belittle it to the child, making the talent, gift, or personality trait something despicable, ridiculous, and insignificant. (“But really, does anyone care about the flute? It doesn’t save lives, does it?” “Oh, so you can do math in your head? Well, can you make money from that?”)

10. She wants to one-up her daughter whenever possible

Mother Gothel presents herself as prettier and smarter than Rapunzel. She looks in the mirror and says, “When I look in the mirror, I see a strong, confident, beautiful young lady…. Oh, look, you’re here, too.” She also cannot let Rapunzel’s declaration of love go without trying to do her one better.

Rapunzel: I love you.
MG: I love you MOST.

Real-life equivalent:  The unspoken rule in the household of an NPD parent is that the NPD parent is the bright shining light. Everyone else must revolve around the parent. No child would dare outshine that parent.

11. She conditions her daughter to serve her

Movie: When Mother Gothel asks Rapunzel to sing for her and then they’ll talk, she is setting conditions for Rapunzel and the exchange that needs to happen for Mother Gothel to pay attention to her. It is suggested that Mother Gothel would not listen to Rapunzel if she did not sing for her.

Mother Gothel wants what she wants FIRST.

Real-life equivalent: The children of NPD parents are conditioned, as infants, to bend their will to the will of their parents. What matters is not the child’s own needs, dreams, hopes, friendships, studies, job, lives… but the parents’. When an NPD parent asks for help, the child will jump to serve. When an NPD parent complains, the child is quick to ease the parent’s suffering. When an NPD parent expresses a desire, the child leaps at the opportunity to fulfill that desire. The child, even long into adulthood, often will not know better, will not know that they have their own person to care for, their own lives to life.

The child has been conditioned to serve and to serve quickly and to serve the NPD parent at whatever cost.

12. She gaslights her daughter

Movie: Every year on Rapunzel’s birthday, candle-lit lanterns are released by everyone in the kingdom as a symbol of hope that the missing princess would return. Rapunzel sees them from her tower, and she mentions wanting to see them to Mother Gothel. Her captor scoffs at her saying they are not lanterns at all.

Real-life equivalent:  An NPD parent plays mind games. (Here’s a deeper look at gaslighting.)

13. She puts her own needs above those of her daughter

Movie: Mother Gothel has fashionable clothes, fantastic make-up, and a life outside the tower, judging from her comings and goings. However, Rapunzel wears clothes that do not fit her and doesn’t even have shoes. She is also ridiculously skinny.

Rapunzel only has three books in her tower. She needs more art supplies (she’s run out of room on the walls). She sews a dress for her chameleon but the material is from dress. She doesn’t have any furniture. Her wardrobe is empty. Her sewing dummy doesn’t have materials.

Real-life equivalent: An NPD parent doesn’t think about the needs of his or her child. NPD parents may maintain the basics (food, shelter, and clothing) but even those may be done poorly. And the child is conditioned to not ask for anything.

14. She neglects the emotional needs of her daughter

Movie: In addition to everything else on this list, Mother Gothel is a soul-killer, for she fails to feed the natural talents and very basic emotional needs Rapunzel has. Mother Gothel is irritated by Rapunzel’s mentioning of her birthday (“I distinctly remember you had a birthday last year.”), ignores Rapunzel’s obvious exciting news when Mother Gothel comes back from getting hazelnuts for that soup, breaks into song about herself rather than focusing on Rapunzel, and abandons the conversation when it no longer suits her. (Considering they are the only two people in the tower, Mother Gothel does precious little to engage in conversation with her daughter, especially after being gone for a long time.)

Real-life equivalent: NPD parents do not build up their children. They neglect to provide the unwavering love that growing children need (or that even adult children need from their parents).  They do not support their children in their endeavors nor understand the difference between encouragement and nagging.

NPD parents do not listen to their children or allow them to express the myriad emotions that make up the human heart.

15. She attributes great meaning to small matters in her life and little meaning to great matters in her child’s

Movie: Mother Gothel makes a big deal about that hazelnut soup…. but she doesn’t care about Rapunzel’s upcoming birthday. Typical of an NPD parent, she has a distorted view of the importance of events.

Real-life equivalent: A child will seldom know what is a big deal and what isn’t a big deal in the eyes of the NPD parent.  A flicker in the child’s eyes can unhinge an NPD parent. However, anything important in a child’s life will be seen as no big deal. 

16. She abuses her daughter in secret

Movie: Mother Gothel spies on Rapunzel and Flynn in the camp, and in typical NPD fashion, she confronts her daughter in secret rather than in front of others.

Real-life equivalent: NPDs are notorious for showing their true sides to the abused child and hiding all the abuse behind a false pleasant self in front of strangers.

17. She belittles her daughter for wanting to have her own life

Movie: When Mother Gothel speaks to Rapunzel, she belittles her for asserting her independence and mocks her for assuming Rapunzel can decide what is best for herself.

Real-life equivalent: Same thing. An NPD parent cannot handle the idea, let alone the reality, of his or her child having a life that does not revolve around the parent.

18. She makes her daughter feel like no one could possibly love her

Real-life equivalent: The NPD parent will belittle those who love her child. In some cases, the parent may express bewilderment that anyone would love the child. In most cases, the NPD parent is adamant that no one will love their child. “How could anyone love a child who [fill in the blank]?” “Why would anyone love someone who is so [fill in the blank]?” “No one could ever love someone who [fill in the blank]!”

19. She kills what her daughter loves

Movie: She also takes what Rapunzel loves and attempts to ruin it. She mocks Rapunzel’s growing feelings for Flynn (“A wanted criminal? I’m so proud.”) and then sows seeds of disinterest in Rapunzel’s heart. This distrust will lead to the capture of Flynn and an impending execution.

Real-life equivalent: NPD parents will destroy what a child loves or use that loved item or person as a weapon to be wielded against the child. A relationship will be poisoned by the hand of the NPD parent. A task will be tainted by the NPD parent. An item that the child loves will be “accidentally lost” by the NPD parent or withheld as punishment.

This behavior, like all those mentioned on the list, extends from the child’s early years and into the child’s adulthood.

* * *

Watching the movie “Tangled” can be exhausting or triggering for the adult child of emotional child abuse (especially abuse by an NPD parent). Even though the movie is geared towards children, however, much can be learned by those adult survivors:

  • You can escape the tower. Really. You need not be locked up forever by the parent. You’ve always had the ability to escape your enslavement. Take that opportunity now.
  • You will be conflicted once you’ve left… but it’ll be all right. Rapunzel was torn between returning to the tower and her alleged “safe” life and the freedom of life outside the castle. That conflict is normal for adult survivors of emotional child abuse.
  • You are stronger and smarter than you think. Even in captivity, Rapunzel was able to forge some talents and develop her inner strength. You may have been held emotionally captive by your NPD parent, but you can move forward. You are braver, better, stronger, smarter, kinder, and more lovable than you can possibly imagine.
  • You are worthy of love. You really are. You can be loved for who you really are… (Don’t expect that love from NPD parents, though; they can only “love” themselves). But you can be loved by good friends and the new family that you forge from friendships.

Onward.


 

Veronica Jarski is founder and managing editor of The Invisible Scar, a passion project dedicated to raising awareness of emotional child abuse and its effects on adult survivors. She has extensive editorial experience and a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Her work has been featured on myriad publications.

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46 thoughts on “Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the Movie ‘Tangled’: Mother Does Not Know Best

  1. Reblogged this on ChironLightMuse and commented:
    Sons get this too. I am too well aware of how this works , and I have erred surely but to this degree? Not when I have owned who I am , and we ask forgiveness .

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  2. Reblogged this on Bipolar For Life and commented:
    Wow….This is so validating! Thank you, Invisible Scar, once again for a wonderful, healing post. To my wonderful Bloggie Readers, if you grew up (or think you might have) in a home with a Narcissist, I highly recommend The Invisible Scar blog. For me, it’s been highly validating. One of the common signs that we’ve been abused by a Narcissist is that we doubt our own actual experience of our lives, since the narcissist has their own story, which we are told over and over, ever since we were babies unable to talk. Since their story about us differs totally from our own experience, we learn to doubt our own reality to the point where we end up living in a permanent state of dissociation. And then, in my own life, my mother berates me for being “spaced out” all the time. And it seems that my “memory is going,” too, these days. I’d like my memory of HER to go, if the truth be known.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you for the article. I think I’ll avoid watching the movie, as it sounds like it would be “triggering” to me. I went “no contact” this year, and it hasn’t been easy– I’m still vulnerable.

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    • After 40+ years of life with an NPD mother and enabler father, I decided enough was enough. Spent the past few years trying to break free but being a staunch Catholic, I felt tremendous guilt over breaking the 4th Commandment.

      Hence, I spent thousands of hours, struggling and wrestling with the truth I knew (something was very wrong with my relationship with parents and siblings, and I wasn’t to blame) and the reality I did not want to face (Going No Contact and becoming the pariah my mother always said I was).

      Then, one day, exhausted, I told God, “I just want to take care of my parents? Why can’t they just let me?”
      And I heard a still, firm voice reply: There will be other ways to love them.

      From that day on, I began to take baby steps towards ending things with them. I prayed a lot, and wrestled lots with God but I made it this year. My family tried to forcibly reenter my life but I told them politely but in no uncertain terms: If You Love Me That Much, Stay Out Of My Life.

      Now, and only now do I truly understand what it means to Live Life In The Light Of God. I will say a special prayer for you and other sufferers. God bless.

      Liked by 1 person

    • A lot of adult children of narcissists have told me that viewing the movie was a painful experience. So, good call on knowing what may be a trigger!

      Stay strong. Speak the truth. And know you’re not alone.

      Best to you in this first difficult but worthwhile year.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Veronica,
        This is one website that I always leave after a read, feeling strong, calm, clear-minded and positively resolute in building a life close to God. Other places I’ve visited detail emotional abuse and its effects, the ways onward etc…. but there’s a clinical coldness about them. It’s like they give you advice because it’s their job(?) but beyond that, there’s little caring. It leaves you feeling a little bereft.
        But you’re very different. What you’ve done here is a life-saver and hope-giver. You’re a soft light and a warm home in a winter storm. Your words give clarity, much needed perspective and a firm but kindly point in the right direction: Healing and rediscovered wholeness.
        God bless you!

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    • Thank you for saying so.

      I’ve had all the notes down forever, so I was happy to finally be able to formulate a cohesive post. : )

      Like

  4. I remember when I watched the movie I thought, “That’s like my mother and I in many ways.” Although not all 19 traits apply to our relationship, your post surely made things clearer. Thank you.

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    • I’m sorry to hear that, but you’re definitely not alone.

      You’re very welcomed. And thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Like

  5. Wow, I don’t even know what else to say. I know all of these things and yet when I read a description of a childhood with a narc. mother, I can still be taken aback. It is all so familiar and still shocks me to this day. But this is how it was. Heard other comments about this movie, not sure if I want to watch or not……it is too accurate. Fantastic blog by the way! Thanks. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your kind words regarding this blog.

      What’s so interesting is just how common the experiences of adult children of narcissists are. You’d think the narcs read from a handbook and added their own personal spins to the traits. I think it takes us all aback, and the absurdity and cruelty of the behavior always is rather shocking.

      The movie is triggering for many people, so hence the rundown/analysis here.

      Peace & onward!

      Like

    • You’re welcomed…

      Adult survivors of emotional child abuse often feel alone in their realizations, which is one reason I began this blog. It’s a place where folks can talk and say, “Wait, you, too?” or “I’m not the only one who feels this way?” or “Have you ever experienced this?”

      Your hubby sounds wonderfully validating. That’s nice to hear!

      Onward and upward.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a great post, using the movie as an illustration. Thank you for writing it. It’s bookmarked for later reference.

    I estranged myself from my NPD/BPD mother in 2012. I am in therapy to deal with the guilt (this is on top of 15 years of therapy earlier — when I was in my 20s/30s) to try to figure out how to change myself so I could deal with her. Now, nearly 50 years of age, I’ve given up on her ever being able to love anyone.

    This post is timely as I had a therapy session this week in which I had my therapist open a birthday card my mother sent me last spring. The cards are hollow, with no attempt at communication — what I have wanted is some curiosity about the situation, some sign of interest in having an exchange. I haven’t opened the card because getting one of these cards traumatizes me for weeks, usually, throwing me into depression and grief. But I had to open it because I’m afraid that it would be the one in which she expressed something of meaning.

    My therapist opened it and said, “Well, I’ve got bad news for you.” It was the same, vapid, lazy, flowery card. This topped the others, though, because it was actually telling me how I should feel and implying that I’ll be sorry. Classic N move!

    Opening this card and discussing my feelings led to a breakthrough. First, I have been taking on responsibility for my mother’s feelings (meaning worrying about hurting her) all of my life, and she has never even been able to conceive of my having feelings at all, let along being concerned about them. Second, I shouldn’t feel obligated to reconcile if there’s no sign of change in her. What’s the point?

    The unfortunate side of this realization is that I will have to open every card she sends me, looking for a sign of change or awareness. I don’t look forward to that. On the other hand, I was not devastated this time around. It was actually kind of empowering and validating, although I’m still feeling a sense of hopelessness about her ever being able to be a mother in any sense.

    This is a long winded way of saying that being raised by a narcissist is a uniquely lonely and harrowing experience, and the effects last a lifetime (and beyond if we have children before we’ve recovered). The worst part is that we continue to feel obligated to “fix” things because we’ve been trained to play that role. Letting go of expectations — that our N parent will grow into someone who can love, that we’re responsible for making the relationship work or it means we’re terrible people, that we’ll get the nurturing we missed from someone — is the hardest part of healing. However, I believe that shedding these expectations opens the door to stopping the continuing pain we feel (and invite in by attracting and tolerating other dysfunctional people), and finally allowing us to live full lives in which we can exchange love, concern and intimacy with others who are capable of those things.

    Thank you for this blog. It’s a great read, always.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am so sorry that you’ve had the terrible misfortune of having an NPD parent. It’s a unique form of emotional child abuse and such a devastating one.

      In regards to your NPD mother’s cards, do you have to open them? Many therapists would advise to NOT open any communication from an NPD parent. The reason for that is that NPDs rarely show any remorse or understanding of what they do and their need to change. One of the hallmark behaviors of an NPD is that complete lack of self-awareness.

      In your comment, you mention understanding the need to shed your expectation for your mother’s validation or love, etc. That’s good…. NPD parents do not change, will not show remorse, will never own up to what they do… and if they ever do utter such words, it is in a ploy to establish control over the emotionally abused child.

      Please do know that you are not alone. Many ACoNs are out there… And though they all have that gaping hole in their heart, that desire for a parent’s unconditional love and healthy relationships with them, these ACoNs have learned (in time and through prayer and therapy) to come to accept what happened and move onto emotionally healthier lives.

      Peace to you…

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  7. An absolutely brilliant & detailed post. I saw ‘Mother Dearest’ for Halloween (yes 🙂 ) & analysed it in a similar manner for my notes. Though it had a lot of triggers, writing about it was extremely therapeutic.
    Thank you so much for sharing. I can’t wait to see the film now.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You truly have an excellent blog. Great job!

    So very interesting that you posted on the movie “Tangled”. I was going to post on Tangled in my blog, too, but it’s hard for me to do. It’s all just too raw. The first time I watched this movie, I was sitting on the couch with my then 8 year old daughter. I cried through the entire movie. It was so much my life! My daughter, bless her soul, kept bringing me kleenexes and asking me why I was crying. She’s truly precious.

    One connection that I also made in the movie was how Gothel stole Rapunzel from her parents, meaning to me that she stole Rapunzel from the wonderful, nurturing upbringing that she should have had to lock her in a tower and abuse her relentlessly. Rapunzel’s reunification with her parents is like the journey that we ACONs go through to be able to reconnect with the child inside and become whole again.

    It was just so shocking to make the connection that my mother would be portrayed in a Disney movie as evil. Not much better validation to be had, honestly.

    Stephen Bach

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Stephen,

    Thanks!

    I understand. Writing the post took me about five months to get completely written and edited and published here. Five. Months. So, yes, sometimes, it takes a while to get everything out just right in a blog post.

    Sorry to hear about your having an NPD parent but glad that you are in a healthier place. (Your daughter sounds adorable.)

    Validation by Disney… Who knew? ; )

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is excellent! I came across it as a Reblog. Karyl McBride has a book specifically on this topic–helping daughter of narcissistic mothers recover. It is Will I Ever Be Good Enough: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. I use it sometimes in my therapy practice.

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  11. Apparently I’ve watched this movie 2 years ago and would never want to watch it.This is not really because its a bad show or anything but throughout the movie I got so upset at most scenes when Mother Gothel berates Rapunzel which totally reminds me too much on my mom being mean and berating me and my brother,i mean especially me,I was her easy target because I am the eldest in the family and was supposed to do the chores.Sometimes I am either drained out or focused on my college works and she expects me to do so,if not she will shout degrading words like stupid,hopeless,irresponsible ,lazy,slutty and low IQ which the truth is that most people like my closest friends,lecturers and teachers knew I am actually a very intelligent,bright and responsible person.She even portray me to everyone that it is my fault that I am weak and emotionally hurt when actually it is her own doing for making me like that.Whats even worse is that she would never be at my side when I was bullied by some people,making it my fault.

    Recently,I did dye my hair in a dip dye mode,my mom was not very happy and throughout the whole day she kept calling me how ugly and awful do I look which actually the people who is around me,my lecturers and coursemates and my friends who i knew were the most sincerest people did complimented me.So you know what she said she would not let me go to any functions and weddings with this type of stupid hair.It was what I wanted to do.To make things worse,she sent that picture to everyone she knows on Whatsapps,even my bloody father was not supportive(i mean he used to be,but he is i think brainwashed by my mom,I think he is trying to get rid of me and my brother and its so obvious as he has another family back then,for your information my parents were separated).She did humiliated me and said that my breath stinks which nobody has ever said that to me.Even said that I wanted to be a singer and she said that my voice is horrible when the truth is that everybody knew it is real good actually.Also she said that because I am “ungrateful” to her,she would make sure that I will not have anything under my name and it was another of my Narcissist cousin who thinks of that too,they are both sick partners in crime and the worst thing is she is the one who is the closest cousin and the one that helped my mom a lot.I was so incredibly hurt prior to the whole thing

    My relationship with my mom has also affected the way I have believed in God and was some of the reasons why I lost desire on the Catholic faith.She kept using,it is God’s teachings for me to do this to you and so and so.Pure narcissist to the point that she would get angry and agitated when you said that what she did was main wrong and instead she wanted to point out that she is a single mom who is loving which the truth is that she is not and she tries to make us feel disabled in some ways or another.

    I don’t know whether God will punish me for writing this on.Also I knew friends,teachers,former classmates and some church members who witness it to the point that someone told me not to listen to my mom because she is “hurt”.My dad even said that my mom even before they got separated,she has an attitude or some mental problems,suspected Narcissistic personality disorder.Even my brother who used to be by her side thinks that she is too overboard.Is it right to leave this house instantly also,should I cut my relationship with her completely.I need help because i’m in a verge of breakdown.This is just getting too much

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  12. Charlotte,

    I am so sorry for all that you have gone through and are going through. I can hear your pain in your sentences, and I am so very sorry for your situation. I hope you are able to create some distance between yourself and your mother and start attending therapy to begin the path toward healing yourself and also separating your identity from your mother’s. (Narc moms tend to enmesh themselves in their children and dominate them.)

    Whether you should cut off the relationship permanently, I am not in the position to say. However, I *****highly****** recommend moving out and taking a very needed break from this relationship to figure out, through therapy, what abuse you have suffered and how to get the skills to begin healing and creating a new, emotionally healthy life for yourself. You must step back, take a deep breath, and survey your life and the relationship with your mother. You have the power and right to say to her, “I need to take a break from this unhealthy relationship. I’ll be in touch when and if I’m reading.” And then GO SILENT. Go “No Contact.”

    You have the right to your own space, to your boundaries, to decide whether and if to have a relationship with her. But you need time to figure out the truth of this relationship and what is best for your emotional well-being.

    As the child of an narc., you definitely need to start going to therapy and begin this process. It’s painful, but it is, oh, so worth it, and you’ll find yourself beginning to breathe again, to live life in the light, to be healthier. It’s a tough journey to healing, but not an impossible one.

    And the journey needs to be taken without the intervention of your abusive mother. So, put that relationship on hold for a while, take a break, create boundaries. You can find articles about that searching here at The Invisible Scar.

    I also highly recommend the books “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and John Townsend and “Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse” by Dr. Jantz. Amazing, helpful, life-changing books, they are.

    Last of all, please keep in mind that the Catholicism that your mother is preaching is NOT what Catholicism really is. It’s your mother’s version of Catholicism and she is wielding it as a weapon. Abusive people will use politics, religion, gender, etc. anything they can to keep their abused children in line.

    God will not punish you for writing about what has happened or what you have suffered. Our God is a God of truth—He will not strike anyone dead for speaking the truth, even though a narc parent will make it seem so. Allegedly “religious” abusers love to make God their personal bodyguard and bouncer, but it is not so. Read the New Testament to understand that God is so much more loving than abusers want to believe…. Jesus is always healing, comforting, reaching out, guiding, reminding people to be loving… And He gets pissed off when people abusive of religion (which is one reason he overturned the money-changer’s tables and drove them out of the temple).

    That said I’m a practicing Catholic, loyal to the Magisterium, and I began this website with the blessing of a Catholic therapist and the guidance of Catholic priests, good ones who understand that emotional abusive is real, it happens, and some parents are toxic.

    Onward and upward, Charlotte. You are in my prayers.

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  13. This is so much like me.

    She has Dr Jekyl Mr hyde character. Split personality.
    my mother used to make me stay in my room with the door open so I can’t do anything.
    I ended up staring at the walls for days waiting to be scolded by her. Life was constantly walking on eggshells. While sitting in my room I counted everything in my room to make sure my mind is working. I wasn’t allowed to read books. I was going all those chores at home and my mother wouldn’t let any of my siblings talking to me. She always smile when she sees me crying or in pain. Growing up ,Ive never trust anyone. My things were constantly being given away by her. Even I have no bed because she decided to turn my room in a store room to put her stuff. This is just a little, there’s more to it.

    My father saw what she did to me when I was 22 after being hit, kick, and I call my dad crying because I got no choice and was hiding. And now, I finally got a chance to live with my dad after my parents divorce. My mother and siblings cut me off. No contact with them ever since I chose dad. It was the best decision to heal.

    Those of you suffering, I hope u heal. Please read the book, Will I ever be good enough by Dr. Karyl McBride

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  14. We had a discussion about this film on our forum a while ago, there is so much recognision. My favourite (and perhaps must recognisable of all) scene is the “leaving scene”. The extreme ups and downs of that moment you stand up to a Narc Mother… “Yep, been there!” (it is just the first 40 seconds or so of the following clip)

    Now I am happily conquering the world (armed with a metaphorical frying pan)

    xM

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  15. Dear Rehan
    I thought I had it bad. We were blessed with a father who always provided for us…he was very good at that as he owned a textile mill and loved it. And he loved us, but he was a narcissist. Glad you are with your Dad. I think it is worse when women have narcissism, because women are far more ‘clever’ than men and can convince others much more easily of anything they want them to believe.
    My Mom (and perhaps my Dad as well) gave away most of my wardrobe, undoubtedly to my older sister (another narc). SO I can very much relate to that.

    I was on antidepressants and all kinds of other ‘pills’ at age 19 and I realize why now…there was no ‘real’ love in the family. Only a sense of being a possession and not a very treasured one either. I took to my vehicle; went to Canada and far northern places. Met Innuit and Indian people…and a wild French Canadian who had canoed the Yukon River and camped in arctic areas.

    They may have tried hard to destroy/control my spirit, but they did not succeed.

    Putting people into a ‘box’ is what narc mothers do. Try to get out of the box and watch her fever rise and sparks fly. One day I actually came back on her and told her to GROW UP!

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  17. The film made me cry. The leaving scene (Swan Waters, post above) was pivotal, it was absolutely what I was feeling when I split from my NPD mother. For years I couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad would happen to me if I was happy. If I was happy for any reason, a new business venture, a new outfit, just relaxed and happy with my life, I would get a terrible feeling of dread.

    After digging deeper with my counselor it was apparent that I feared losing everything and having to go crawling back to her, for her to say ‘I told you so’. I fear her judgement, and that she maybe right – I fear her being right about me.

    The worst part of the film (I cried), was when rapunzel was reunited with her parents and it dawned on me that this would never happen to me. I would never get to meet my ‘real’ parents who loved me and cherished me. NM is my real parent – she is all I have. That was incredibly painful.

    I’m slowing working through this. Regaining my happiness and losing my fear. I’m slowly making contacts, friends and having my own life is slowly filling the void that my mother should have filled. The only way I can get through it is to think of myself as an orphan – and to think of others that have lost their parents and are able to continue with their lives. I have to believe that while I cannot see them, that someone exists that loves me unconditionally. Sometimes I imagine a deceased relative, sometimes God or spirit, sometimes is a living person I haven’t met yet. It gets me through the tough times, but I wouldn’t wish this abuse on anyone. It is awful. I blame a relative who sexually abused my NM when she was small. I am sorry that she suffered and now I have suffered from her abuse, and I believe my children probably have some effects from this even though I have tried my best to love them and care for them. Abuse devastates families and I couldn’t recommend counseling enough, but it is not easy. I wish there was an easier way to recover.

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  18. Pingback: From the Editor’s Mailbox: Being a Trusted Adult to Your Siblings, Going No Contact, and Why Therapy May Not Work for You | The Invisible Scar

  19. Thank you for this. Well done. I know narcissism exists on a spectrum. One narcissist I know does not isolate his children, but his motivation is to look like “Mr. Dad”. Everything has to serve his purposes.

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  20. My gosh, I quote this: “Real-life equivalent: The child of NPD parents is taught that the outside world is scary, cold, and hate-filled. To go into the world and try to make friends, be educated, get a job, have a romantic relationship, and so forth is to risk doom. Only by following the family’s code of behaviour will the child be “safe.”
    This is a commentary word by word to my parents telling me about the world outside the family. Our “happy family”, as Jean Claude the vampire would say.

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