The Secondary Roles Taken by the Children
1. The Hero/Responsible Child –
Most of the time this is the older sibling, but not always. This child takes on a perfectionist nature at a very young age and develops a “responsible parent” role. She is a true mask of a narcissistic family. She suppresses her emotions until she cannot feel them at all, she is extremely insecure, and she drives herself compulsively from one achievement to the next.
2. The Caretaker/Placater –
She is the emotional rescuer of the family. She manages and shuffles around the ever changing moods of the family by listening, supporting, nurturing, and counseling. She is a very sensitive creature, calm, and understanding in nature. Although she tries to fix everyone around her, she seeks no emotional support for herself. She doesn’t know how to take care of herself, she only knows how to focus on everyone else. She is a people pleaser.
Her self-worth is defined by what she can do for others. She gives love but she doesn’t know how to receive it back. She is only comfortable giving she is not comfortable receiving and as a result she will push away love. As she grows into adulthood she finds that her job is to fix and save people from themselves. She turns into a ‘grade A’ codependent person, whose relationships become one-sided, toxic, and abusive. She becomes a doormat for people and will usually choose a career in the caring profession.
3. The Mascot/Clown –
This role is usually adopted by the youngest member of the family. He is responsible for the emotional well-being of the family but through the use of humor as opposed to care taking. He puts on a comedy show to divert the pain in the family. He is usually a happy-go-lucky person and a very likable individual who can make others laugh but who finds it difficult to make himself genuinely happy. He will usually suffer from depression. Because he is constantly putting on a show he doesn’t really develop any sense of authentic self and he struggles with feelings of emptiness and loneliness.
4. The Mastermind/Manipulator –
He is sinister, selfish, and abusive. Paired with the golden child the role, the mastermind and manipulator will turn into a narcissist. He is driven by entitlement and coerces people through manipulation. He is sneaky enough to operate just below the radar and he uses the dysfunction and the rest of the family to his own benefit. He intentionally creates conflict among family members to get what he needs and what he wants. He knows how to put on the charms and can manipulate even the adults in the family. He can also take on the quality of a sinister jokester, echoing the words “What’s the matter? Can’t you take a joke?”
“The Narcissist’s Family”
My piece is called “The Narcissist’s Family” and it was important to me to try to capture the feeling of being a game piece in a narcissistic family unit.
Children will grow up not being able to measure feelings in a healthy manner, or they develop a numb persona. Sadness and depression will develop later when they are aware enough to piece the abusive puzzle together.
The golden child is brought into the limelight alongside the narcissist, with help from the enabler whose eyes are finally starting to see the truth of her lifestyle and her role in the abuse. She wonders if it is too late. She wonders what will happen to her children and to herself. She wonders if there is any hope for healing and happiness. The rest of her children will shuffle around in the shadows and wait for the beckoning calls of the game-keeper narcissist that shift at a moment’s notice.