Why An "Is My Mother A Narcissist" Quiz May Not Be Helpful

Updated September 7, 2023by Regain Editorial Team

Credible online quizzes have proven helpful to many people. The Enneagram and Myers-Briggs tests, for instance, may provide guidance and insight for individuals looking for help with self-discovery, self-mastery, or career direction. Some online quizzes, however, can be harmful. Self-diagnostic tests may exacerbate worries about physical health, for example. Likewise, unqualified psychological tests may imply that individuals have disabilities, disorders, or mental health conditions they do not actually have.

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Narcissism Can Be Toxic

Some of the more problematic online quizzes may be those involving narcissism. Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is more than simply having narcissistic traits. It is a serious mental health disorder that can only be diagnosed by a medical professional. A simple online quiz may be insufficient to quantify the complexity of narcissistic personality disorder. Moreover, it could fall short of accurately assessing the effects that a mother’s narcissistic personality disorder can have on her children.

What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

For someone to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, they must exhibit five or more of the following traits:

  • Preoccupation with success, power, beauty, or love
  • An inflated sense of importance
  • Lack of empathy or consideration for others
  • Conceited conduct and attitude
  • A need for disproportionate admiration
  • Taking advantage of others to achieve personal goals
  • Feelings of entitlement
  • Belief that they are special and should only associate with other special people
  • Envy of others and believing others are envious of them

Narcissism may not show up until adolescence (or even later), but it usually has roots in childhood trauma and neglect. Children who grow up in unstable homes, for instance, may reach adolescence or adulthood feeling as though they need to compensate for feelings of inadequacy or abandonment. Thus, they may start to exhibit symptoms of NPD.

There are varying degrees of NPD, but the most prominent features may include entitlement; a constant need for attention, praise, and validation; exploiting others (seemingly without remorse); and using belittling or degrading language when speaking to others. Entitlement and the need for praise are common ways of maintaining a sense of self-importance, while exploiting and belittling others can be a way of keeping themselves aloft while putting others down.

Narcissistic personality disorder is not something that can be diagnosed via an online quiz. Only a medical professional can properly diagnose narcissistic personality disorder and provide the proper treatment. NPD is a mental health condition that requires intervention, which can include certain types of therapy and medication. Despite many of the symptoms associated with NPD suggesting solidified personality traits, NPD is treatable.

Narcissistic Parents

Narcissism is a disorder that can manifest in families. Because so many of the traits associated with the disorder are readily observed and imitated, children of narcissistic parents may be more prone to developing narcissistic traits or narcissistic personality disorder. Children whose parents constantly seem to see themselves as being “above the law", set apart from the masses, and deserving of unwarranted praise, attention, and reward may be at greater risk to demonstrate these attributes themselves.

Narcissistic parents may also be neglectful and abusive as they may be too self-focused and disconnected from others to adequately provide for a child's emotional needs. A child with a narcissistic parent might not have the unconditional love, support, and care of their parent or caregiver.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any kind of abuse, it’s important to seek help right away. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available to provide support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They can be reached online or by calling 800.799.SAFE (7233).

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Signs Of A Narcissistic Parent

The signs of a narcissistic parent can vary. In some parents, narcissism may manifest in deep depression and intense insecurity. In others, narcissism is demonstrated through emotional distance. These parents may be physically present but might never actually seem to be with their children. Other narcissistic parents may be cold and calculating. They could perceive their children as indicators of their own successes or failures, rather than treating them like independent people. No matter the exact expression of NPD, some traits seem to show themselves consistently in narcissistic parents. These include:

  • Triangulating Children

Many narcissistic parents pit their children against each other, treating one child as though they are wonderful while mocking or deriding another child. Keeping siblings at odds this way may allow the narcissistic parent to remain at the forefront of their children's love and attention. It could also mitigate the risk of children banding together to form support, encouragement, and, potentially, a means of escaping the parent and their behaviors.

  • Controlling Behavior

Insecurity often drives narcissists to attempt to gain as much control as possible. This desire for control may extend to their children. Parents with NPD may try to control everything about their children, including their appearance, hobbies, friends, and finances. This may be a way to manipulate a child's image while making sure that they remain dependent in the relationship.

  • A Fixation On Appearances

Narcissists are often lovers of appearances. People with NPD may get into debt, as they feel they must have the latest in tech gadgets, homes, cars, and more. Many narcissistic parents may dress themselves in high-quality, attractive attire, though they may or may not put as much thought or effort into their children's clothing. They are also likely to purchase brand-name items whenever possible.

Overcoming The Effects Of Narcissism

Overcoming the effects of narcissism may not be simple or easy. Narcissism in a family can create significant emotional distress for an individual, whether through emotional neglect, emotional abuse, or a constant vacillation between excessive praise and criticism.

Because narcissism can instill a sense of instability in children, self-administered healing called "re-parenting" may be useful for some individuals. The idea of re-parenting is to essentially replace a parent’s unhealthy behaviors and attitudes with your own self-nurturing, comfort, and love. 

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Narcissism Can Be Toxic

Therapy may also be helpful when trying to overcome narcissism in a family, as many of the effects are often deep-seated. A fear of making others angry, for instance, might seem like simple people-pleasing to an untrained eye (or an online quiz), but could actually stem from the dramatic ups and downs of a narcissistic parent. A deeply rooted need to be liked and admired may be due to NPD, though it might be mistakenly attributed to ambition or a simple desire to fit in. Therapy may be able to help you identify and address unhealthy habits, behaviors, and patterns in your life and work out ways to overcome those habits or replace them with healthier ones.

Why An "Is My Mother a Narcissist" Quiz May Not Be Helpful

Finding out that your mother is a narcissist—or suspecting she is based on an online quiz—may confirm things you were already aware of. A quiz could also bring to light trauma or troubles from your childhood. If your mother is a narcissist, your steps forward may involve therapy to address trauma, attachment concerns, or conditions like anxiety and depression. The effects of growing up with a narcissistic parent may be wide reaching or quite specific, and they have the potential to crop up in unexpected places. Getting help to re-parent yourself and develop healthier mental and emotional habits may be the first step toward recovery.

Although many online quizzes can be helpful tools, some may cause more harm. More important than determining whether your mother has NPD based on an online quiz may be your ability to assess your own mental health and to determine whether you can benefit from professional help. While knowing your family history may be important, a qualified therapist might be better-equipped to determine the source of your mental health challenges.  

Seeking out therapy for family issues or childhood trauma can be challenging. You may be hesitant to talk about your mother with a stranger, for instance. Online therapy helps some people feel more at ease discussing relationship issues with family members, so it could be a better fit in these circumstances. Online counseling has the added benefit of being more convenient since it can be accessed when and where you prefer. 

Internet-based therapy has also been proven effective and is backed by scientific research. A recent study identified its usefulness in treating not only individuals, but couples and families as well. This study highlighted the unique benefits of videoconferencing technology as a delivery mode for therapeutic treatments. 

Takeaway

If you have mental health-related concerns stemming from a narcissistic parent, you may want to consider counseling. Regain is an online therapy platform that can match you with a licensed professional to best suit your needs. Here, you can find tools and guidance to help you overcome any challenges you may be facing personally or within your family dynamic. Reach out today to begin your journey to a better you. 

Continue reading below to read reviews from people who faced similar challenges:

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