The Narcissist’s Family: The Roles Cast by the Narcissist

The Narcissist’s Family: The Roles Cast by the Narcissist

Related: Narcissistic Cult: The Roles We Play In A Narcissist’s Life

There are many cases where a codependent spouse realizes the error of his or her ways after being married to a narcissist for so many years. She comes to a breaking point and realizes the damage that has been done to the children because of her own irresponsibility and her own brokenness. But when that moment of realization hits, she can do nothing but sit back and watch her damaged children perform for her abusive spouse; she can only hope that her children will discover their own brokenness much earlier than she had.

2. The Golden Child –

The Golden Child
The Narcissist’s Family: The Roles Cast by the Narcissist

She is assigned her role according to her gifts and talents. This role could be set aside for the first or second child but as the narcissist’s children are born, or as his children leave the household, the role can shift to other children. This child is given special treatment and the narcissist seems to value this child the most.

He will train this child so that she can act out the perfect masquerade of his perfect parenting. Most of the time the child will become a clone of the narcissist, adopting his beliefs, habits, and if this child stays in this role for their entire adolescence, it is likely that this child will also become a narcissist.

But if the role ever shifts and the golden child is “demoted” (even if she is tossed in and out of the role) it is likely that the child will develop codependency, instead. Because the narcissist and the enabler put this child on a pedestal they also form a different bond with her than with the rest of the children. Her siblings become jealous of the special treatment that she has been given, but in the long run this could be the most damaging role among the children.

Related: The Golden Child: How They Are Created In A Narcissistic Family

It will be harder for her, as an adult, to separate herself and find her true self apart from her parents. She becomes an extension of their relationship and the most puppet-like of the children. Unless she is able to acknowledge the abuse and heal from it she will keep running in unfulfilled abusive circles, searching for love and fulfillment, but always falling short.

3. The Scapegoat –

This child is the one who can do nothing right. They are labeled a “bad seed” and tend to be the most outspoken of the children with a “look at me” persona. The narcissist will use this child as a punching bag, and they will be the recipient of the most abuse among the children. The scapegoat and the golden child seem to be at odds with each other most of the time. The children understand that the narcissist’s affections are given ‘freely’ to the top performing child, so the scapegoat tries to dethrone the golden child in order to win the love and affection of the narcissist, unaware of the toxicity of the coveted role.

The scapegoat is most likely to develop a sense of self and awareness, but it will be damaged. They will probably be successful and independent later on in life, driven by a need to succeed and to prove themselves worthy of love, but they will still need to address the childhood trauma that went on in their household in order to heal from the abuse.

Related: Why Family Scapegoats Become Lifelong Victims.

4. The Lost Child/Invisible Child –

Lost Child
The Narcissist’s Family: The Roles Cast by the Narcissist

He receives no praise and no blame from the narcissist. In the narcissist’s eyes, there is “no use” for him. The lost child becomes very independent, isolated, and lonely. A lot of the time they do become self-sufficient but they fall prey to emotions of unworthiness and they constantly feel unloved throughout their lifetimes. These children are most likely to develop depression or substance abuse addictions.

9 thoughts on “The Narcissist’s Family: The Roles Cast by the Narcissist”

  1. This is a great article that feels incomplete. I used to be that codependent person who has dealt with four of these people who make your life hell. Gave birth to one of them who is JUST LIKE her paternal grandmother. Bothers me how so many still leave out that this is often genetic and not just a lack of nurturing or some type of abuse. My daughter has already started assigning roles and my poor beautiful grandson is the invisible and has developed a stutter. I think maybe how this affects the children long term is the part that is left out here and maybe that’s why it feels incomplete to me but I have been reading and watching videos about this for five years now. If you have lived with one of these people; I am terribly sorry. Thank you for the article and yes the artwork is perfect.

    1. Erika Robertson

      Thank you so much for the compliments. I am so sorry to hear about the family dynamics that you are experiencing and witnessing. It is heart breaking, and thank you for the compliments about my art, as well.

      Regarding the article itself, I am not sure why, but it is not complete, at all (maybe the editor made a mistake during submission?) but here is a link to the original text on my own blog. The article and artwork details are here in their entirety.

  2. Really thought provoking- excellent study of dysfunctional family – portrayed very effectively by the picture.

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