An ACoN is an Adult Child of a Narcissist. One of both of our parents has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
Are you an ACoN?
Does this sound like one or both of your parents?
A person with NPD has an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for attention and admiration, and a strong sense of entitlement. They believe they are superior and have little regard for the feelings of others. They become overly sensitive to narcissistic injury which is any perceived threat (real or imagined) to the narcissist’s self-esteem or self-worth. In order to maintain their illusion and protect their ‘false self’ they seek narcissistic supply from unsuspecting victims.
The narcissist views people as objects which can feed their needs (known as ‘sources of narcissistic supply’). The narcissist will use any tactic, without guilt, empathy or conscience, to make sure they get their narcissistic supply and their needs are met. Narcissistic supply comes from public attention such as fame, celebrity, notoriety, or infamy or private attention such as admiration, flattery, acclaim, fear, or even repulsion.Anything that acts as a status symbol that attracts attention and admiration for the narcissist is narcissistic supply, for example, a flashy car, expensive property, designer clothes, being a member of a church, cult, club, or a business.
With an inflated sense of their own superiority, power and control, the narcissist renders themselves susceptible to all sorts of obsessions, compulsions, and addictions, for example, addiction to: narcissistic supply, grandiosity, control, power, rage, perfectionism, attention, fame etc. Narcissists go to great pains to avoid being observed publicly as being abusive.
Do you suffer from any of the following issues?
Victims present when they feel like they can’t cope. They are unaware that they have been living or working in a war zone. No-one has mentioned Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) or narcissistic abuse to them. Narcissistic abuse victims express feelings of humiliation and shame, and apt to self-blame. They have learned to take responsibility for the narcissist’s behaviour because they are constantly told the problem is their fault. Some victims develop Stockholm Syndrome and want to support, defend, and love the abuser despite what they have gone through.
Victims of narcissistic abuse often appear uncertain of themselves, constantly seeking clarification that they haven’t made a mistake or misheard something. Confidence may be so low that they have trouble making simple decisions. They will not be aware that this is caused by an abusive technique called ‘gaslighting’.
In Narcissistic Victim Syndrome you are looking for a cluster of symptoms to emerge, many are the symptoms of trauma (avoidance behaviour, loss of interest, feeling detached, sense of a limited future, sleeping or eating difficulties, irritability, hyper-vigilance, easily startled, flashbacks, hopelessness, psychosomatic illnesses, self-harming, thoughts of suicide etc)
from: beyond blue online forums. More detail and further examples can be found on this forum
this blog has some brilliant information about ACoNs and NPDs.
Can an ACoN ever be ‘cured’?
Yes. Although made whole and perfect is a more accurate description. In a nutshell, this is the process that seems to be working for me:-
- Forgive your parent(s). About 10 years ago I went to see a therapist because I was behaving strangely and causing problems in my marriage. It was the first step in understanding my parents and I had to accept their behaviour and forgive them. Not easy. Also I uncovered a lot of sadness – that of a small boy’s sorrow at realising there is something wrong with him and his parents cannot love him and it’s his fault and he doesn’t know why. And the mourning for my lost childhood and everything since. That is step 1. It’s a difficult step. My parents remain oblivious to the damage they caused and no amount of talking about it with them makes any difference.
- Keep making improvements and keep looking. Even though I was free of the hatred for my parents I became aware of some ‘interesting’ patterns in my behaviour. I will detail these in a post, but I was caught in the control/release cycle of addiction- addicted to my own self-hatred strangely enough. I found a way of pressing my own release button so I kept doing it until one time I managed to observe my feelings rather than act on them. And that led me to 3 below.
- Discover you are an ACoN. This took me over 10 years from when I first went to a counselor to finally figuring out what was ‘wrong’ with me. I knew my family home had been dysfunctional but it was only when I discovered my parents had NPD and I was an ACoN that my internet search exposed the real issue – I was rejecting (hating) myself.
- Delve into all those childhood memories that are buried out of sight. My two sisters and I all share a collective amnesia over most of our childhood. We can remember most of the basic outline of what we did, and we can even recall a lot of the more absurd things our parents did and said to us. However whenever we have reason to recall that period of our lives it’s like we are only remembering it as a story, without any emotional attachment, and with gaps. I made a conscious effort to find those hidden memories.
- Uncovering the hidden memories exposed the hurt and angry inner child who was locked in there with them. I then had to listen to the child to discover what he was so angry about. He was angry that I was rejecting him just as my father rejected me, and fair enough too. The key was not only that I had to reassure him that I would no longer reject him, and apologise, but I also had to forgive myself for rejecting him. As soon as I did that felt a great pressure lift and fall away and I was reborn as a human being.
- Discover who I am and what being a human being means. It’s a little like being blind and then receiving the gift of sight – A whole new world has opened up but I’m unsure of everything I’m seeing, and distances can be a problem. And it’s the first time I’ve ever seen myself.
Note: Step 5 should have been done with the assistance of a trained therapist. I was totally overwhelmed and unprepared to deal with this inner child and he almost took over my life. Some emotional hurts are locked away for a reason and exposing them can be traumatic. Please have someone nearby to help you expose these emotions safely.