How Narcissistic Parents Gaslight Their Children: The Fake Photo On The Mirror Trick

How Narcissistic Parents Gaslight Their Children

“Narcissists don’t see their children as separate people that have a right to experience life from their own angle. There is no option in their heads in which the kids will be in charge of their own lives ‘unaided’ by the narcissist.” ― Diana Macey, Narcissistic Mothers and Covert Emotional Abuse: For Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents

You have unknowingly been manipulated to believe you are the broken and not good enough person that you believe to be true. But it is nothing more than the result of gaslighting parents and narcissistic parents.

SLDs/Codependents will bring forward into their adult relationship the gaslit version of who they are. I call it a gaslit self-narrative.

Instead of having a healthy narrative based upon people that love, respect, and care for you, this narrative about yourself and your self-worth, is based upon what the narcissist needed you to be.

As a child of gaslighting parents, you had to figure out a way to be loved by your narcissistic parent(s). So, you adopted their version of what they needed you to be. You had to find a way to be a ‘trophy’ child.

Because a child’s mind is malleable and vulnerable, you replaced your own version of yourself with the one that your parents needed you to be. For example, maybe you wanted to be an athlete, but your narcissistic parent wanted you to be a musician.

You gave up your after-school sports programs and replaced them with music lessons, to be who your parent wanted you to be. You taped a fake version over the real version of yourself (what a mirror would show) to get the ‘conditional’ love you wanted.

Related: When Parents Offer Gaslighting Instead of Love: Surviving Your Own Mother and Father

The Difference Between A Narcissistic Parent And Normal Parent

If you had what I would call ‘normal parents’, which are parents who make mistakes, who don’t know always the right thing to do, but parents who unconditionally love you, they would have embraced your dreams, tried to introduce some reality, but they would not have erased them.

Your narcissistic parent, in contrast, required you to dispose of your own dreams, narratives, and perceptions of what you wanted, and somehow take on their beliefs, to receive their conditional love.

Why Most Codependents Had Parents Who Gaslit Them

SLDs/Codependents were children who were susceptible to being brainwashed by their narcissistic parents.

All children need unconditional love, respect, and care to develop into healthy adults. The absence of that freezes their healthy development and becomes the basis for future psychological problems, especially codependency.

Children who experienced this, grow up to be adult codependent with a gaslit version of their personality. Who they are, who they want to be, the passions they have, the likes they have, are not really theirs. It is as if someone implanted a version of them and they accepted it and identified with it.

narcissistic parent
How Narcissistic Parents Gaslight Their Children: The Fake Photo On The Mirror Trick

How The Fake Photo Trick Works for Gaslit Adults

I came up with a metaphor and I call it “Taping the Fake Photo on the Mirror Trick”.

It is a wonderful metaphor to explain how codependents, especially in recovery, come to understand who they really are, what makes them happy and feel loved, what they like and don’t like.

They realize that they spent most of their life believing a self-concept, likes, and dislikes, that were not their own. Through this therapy process and this explanation, I help them understand that it was implanted.

It was through a form of gaslighting, a systematic indoctrination of someone else’s beliefs or desires for what they needed you to believe in, to meet their own narcissistic needs.

Related: 25 Signs of A Controlling Parent And How To Cope With Them

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Ross Rosenberg M.Ed., LCPC, CADC

Ross Rosenberg M.Ed., LCPC, CADC, is the owner of Self-Love Recovery Institute. He is a psychotherapist, educator, expert witness, and author. Ross is known globally for his expertise in codependency (Self-Love Deficit Disorder™), Pathological Narcissism, Narcissistic Abuse, and Trauma Treatment. He is a keynote speaker and educator who has presented in 30 States/70 cities and abroad. Ross has been regularly featured on national TV and radio. His “The Human Magnet Syndrome” books sold over 120K copies and are translated into 10 languages. His YouTube Channel has amassed 19 million video views and over 200K subscribers.View Author posts