Narcissistic Mother Playing the Victim
First, a brief discussion of manipulation with pity, followed by an example of a pity ploy con for money. Then, a more in-depth discussion of narcissistic mother playing the victim while vilifying true victims, followed by a closer look at what this accomplishes for the narcissist. Finally, learning to recognize narcissistic mother’s victim stunt so you can keep your head out of the washing machine! Truly, it helps so much to recognize the maneuver, which will then allow you to anticipate the moves ahead of time. It is also helpful and healing to be able to not only recognize the tactic of playing the victim while vilifying true victims, but to name it, and be able to articulate it.
Interview with a Psychopath Quote
Narcissistic Emotional Manipulation with Pity
Emotional manipulation with pity and guilt were two of the first narcissistic tactics I learned to recognize and name, as a result of taking a logic class in undergrad. That class on logic is one of the best I have ever taken, and I highly recommend learning logic. It will dramatically aid in recognizing and articulating when and how you are being manipulated. Echo Scapegoat Recovery Tactics actually promotes and lends insight into critical thinking and logic on our Facebook pages.
Plays for pity are a favorite of manipulators. Think about how you react to someone when you pity them. You let your guard down, you probably feel compassion for them, then you may even try to find something you can do or give in order to alleviate the situation. That is also an emotional response, which as it turns out is perfect for Narcissistic Mother’s Emotional Manipulation.
Before we go any further, let’s be clear. The goal here is recognizing when we are being emotionally manipulated in order that we may then make a more informed choice. It is not the goal to decide feeling emotions is a bad thing, or to attempt to become apathetic toward the suffering of true victims. The goal is to start recognizing manipulation on more than just a gut level, learn to recognize manipulation in such a way that it can be named and dissected. As you become more informed you should also be better able to protect yourself from these ploys, including this next one: the pity ploy for money.
Pity and Sympathy Distinctions
Narcissistic Mother's Pity Play Con for Money
This is a real life example of what I repeatedly, although completely inadvertently, caught my narcissistic personality disordered mother doing when I was in my twenties. Poor little narcissistic mother has been saving her pennies in hopes that one day she can buy this garden statue. She loves to garden and after searching and searching, this is the perfect finishing touch. She works so hard (always with the implication that she somehow worked harder than anyone else), but she just has not been able to save enough money for it. She is going to keep saving until one glorious day she is able to buy it.
I was a single mother at the time, but she had her heart set on it. So like a well programmed adult child of narcissists I surprised her by buying it for her even though I really could not afford to. A couple of weeks later, just in the general course of conversation, my Grandmother announced that she gave my mother the money to buy a statue she wanted for her garden. My mother was so excited to finally be able to buy it after saving for it for so long. She works so hard. One would think that is shameless enough behavior, but it did not stop there. A few days later I heard my aunt telling she also bought my mother the exact same statue. She works so hard, but she just could not afford to buy it.
So my narcissistic mother accepted all three gifts without telling anyone the other two had already given her the statue or the money to buy it. Then, before I could even move on from standing there with my jaw on the floor, she was off and running with her smear campaign and abuse by proxy "punishment." The smear campaign and abuse by proxy was "punishment" due to the fact that I had inadvertently discovered her scheme.
This is just one more example of why I am astounded by those who claim narcissists just do not know what they are doing! She knew exactly what she was doing. She was conning people out of money with pity ploys. I discovered her pulling this scheme over the years with various extended family members a number of times, and I was not even trying to catch her doing anything.
My mother then attacked me when she realized I inadvertently discovered her schemes. She orchestrated several nearly unfathomable melodramas in an attempt to convince extended family members and others I was the con artist instead of her. In true narcissistic style, she set out to do her usual preventative lying and smearing of anyone she realized saw through her or one of her schemes, usually accusing them of the very thing she was doing.
Narcissistic Projection - Flipping the Script
Playing the Victim While Vilifying True Victims
My late narcissistic personality disordered mother dearly loved manipulating with pity. She loved pleas for pity, ascending her martyr throne to play the victim, and vilifying the true victims. My late mother could bind several of the manipulation tactics articulated in this series altogether into one mind boggling maneuver that would leave me feeling as if I just pulled my head out of a washing machine.
The destruction these playing the victim while vilifying true victim ploys can inflict is nothing less than astonishing. There is the immediate pain of having your own mother so viciously verbally assault you, but she is off and running before you can even catch your breath. While you may be reeling from the verbal assault, she has already imposed the silent treatment and is vigorously engaging in a smear campaign.
This smear campaign is intended to rally the troops, better known as flying monkeys, and damage your reputation and relationships as much as possible. If she is successful in stirring up the flying monkeys, you may be in for more abuse, this time abuse by proxy - a tongue lashing from a flying monkey.
Along with the immediate results is the cumulative damage methodically built upon, brick-by-brick over the years. This is to keep your assigned rigid role in place even if you have long since shed it, sought recovery, and are comfortable in your own skin as you, rather than that tiresome false self projected on you as a child.
Flying Monkey Attack
Flying monkeys is a term from The Wizard of Oz, a movie in which the Wicked Witch sent her flying monkeys after Dorothy. Warning: Some have commented that this scene may actually be triggering.
Narcissists Are Always the Innocent Victims
My mother openly told me she did not feel about me as her child, but as her peer. She would comment that we "grew up together." This on its own is dysfunctional, but my mother did not have peers. My mother had competitors. Due to my childhood sexual abuse by my step-father, my mother also often treated me like the other woman when I was a child and young adult.
Even though numerous friends told me how jealous she acted, I did not even have enough self-esteem at the time to believe anyone could be jealous of me about anything, let alone my own mother. It began to sink in with each person who mentioned it to me, but I think it was just too painful for me to accept at the time. At that age, I desperately needed my mother to be a mother, the adult, the parent. I did not fully realize until years later that in her mind she was competing with me, and at the time I tried my best to ignore or ease it.
So, in true narcissistic style, my mother considered herself the victim when I went to childhood sexual abuse therapy and told the truth of my childhood abuse. I was sexually, emotionally, physically and spiritually abused under her roof as her child by a man she married. Yet, she thought I ruined her life by telling the truth about it! She repeatedly told me how I ruined her life, but only privately.
My mother was mad as hell I exposed the childhood sexual abuse. She was especially angry I told my Grandmother. My narcissistic mother's entire defense was that she did not know, but had I told her of course she would have done something. However, even this feigning innocent while victim blaming was exposed years later upon discovering the true reason she was so focused on me telling my Grandmother. My Grandmother knew my mother had every reason to know all along, so this exposed my mother.
My narcissistic mother was also as mad as hell because revealing the truth forced her to have to leave her pedophile husband and get a job since she could no longer convincingly pretend not to know she was married to a pedophile. Again, in her mind, this was me ruining her life.
Playing the Victim While Vilifying the True Victim
As a child and young adult, I still believed the tall tales that this one or that one attacked my innocent mother because they were jealous of her, but she did not have a jealous bone in her body. In reality, she was perhaps the most jealous person I have ever known. When I was an adolescent my mother's jealous rages took the form of spankings, beatings really, with whatever was handy and wherever she happened to strike. As an adult, my narcissistic mother viciously verbally assaulted me when there were no witnesses, then told everyone I attacked her. She was the aggressor, but played the victim while vilifying the true victim.
When I told my mother about my childhood sexual abuse, I broke the toxic unwritten family rule of never telling the truth about the abuse. In this extremely toxic environment, the abuse is not viewed as the problem, exposing the abuse is considered the problem. It was also against the toxic family rules to seek therapy, allowing new knowledge or information into the closed system.
I realized later that revealing the sexual abuse put me in her highly cherished victim role. I inadvertently knocked her off of her martyr throne, and cast her in a poor light for failing to protect me simply by seeking therapy and healing. She went to great lengths to return to her martyr throne and put me back in my scapegoat role. Thus, even with my childhood sexual abuse my narcissistic mother played the victim while vilifying the true victim.
She did not want me to have any support or compassion from anyone, but in true narcissistic style wanted it all for herself. I later discovered it was also because she had every reason to know my late step-father was a pedophile as early as a few days after their wedding. Hence, it exposed more than I realized at the time, things her mother and extended family members knew that I did not yet know at that time. The truth certainly was not a tale of innocent martyrdom or heroism, but more one of a co-conspirator.
So my mother cast therapy and my excellent therapist as the real issue by telling everyone how I was supposedly attacking her after every therapy session. She used my sexual abuse as the reason for my (her fabricated) attacks on her in order to turn the situation around in the eyes of others.
She considered me telling the truth about the sexual abuse to be me ruining her life. After repeatedly pulling this stunt of falsely claiming I had savagely attacked her when she had in fact attacked me, she eventually declared how she hopes I heal from the sexual abuse. She really does, but she has done all she can. She just cannot handle being attacked all the time. She is a person too, you know.
She pulled this exact same stunt on my late brother after he confronted her. She smeared his name literally for the rest of her days claiming he had irrationally attacked his mother without cause. She often repeated her tale or her heroic escape from her drug crazed, irrational son. This was your queue to pity her and abhor him, immediately and permanently.
Narcissistic Mother's Victim Maneuver
If you are on the receiving end of this psycho maneuver, it can really do a number on you. My mother caused untold damage with this maneuver, yielding both immediate and long-term damage.
- Conceals the narcissist's contemptuous, abusive behavior allowing her to avoid accountability. This is always on a narcissist’s agenda.
- Moves narcissistic mother back to her martyr throne, garnering a surplus of pity for more manipulation.
- Moves everyone back into the role the narcissistic parent assigned – her the innocent martyr and my late brother and I the scapegoats.
- Causes the true victim to be disparaged with false accusations of vicious behavior in the eyes of others.
- Thus, it can deny the true victim any validation or support from others, adding to the invalidation and gaslighting effect.
- There is potential damage to reputation and relationships, which can be infuriating, demoralizing and increase isolation.
- It may result in abuse by proxy from the flying monkeys. The true victim first verbally assaulted by the narcissistic mother may now be abused or punished by proxy for treating his or her mother so poorly!
- It moves the scapegoat closer to being ostracized by others who believe the lies. This damage to reputation is not forgotten. The narcissist will continue to build on it as she destroys as much reputation and as many relationships as she can.
- The other narcissists in an narcissistic extended family (and non-relative narcissists) may also build on the false image a narcissistic mother creates if it suits their purposes.
Playing the Victim While Vilifying True Victims
Recognizing Narcissistic Mother's Victim Stunt
Playing the victim while vilifying the true victim is one hell of a deal for narcissistic mother. Narcissistic mother pulls her well trained children's strings, punishes the scapegoat by proxy using the golden child or her flying monkeys, then plays innocent while even garnering more pity as she proclaims how she must endure these contrary children.
In my experience, all of this can transpire overtly or very subtly and covertly. So you may clearly see what your narcissistic mother is doing or you may not. Our mother was much more dramatic and obvious when we were children, but had honed her acting and manipulation skills by the time we were adults. It is for this very reason my late brother and I often called her Scarlett O'Hara. So you may just know something is wrong, but not be able to put your finger on it. You may not see the absurdity until much later or when you learn about some of the narcissistic mother's nasty maneuvers.
It is essentially taking you down a notch to make toxic mom feel superior and in control while making you feel and look bad. Whatever characteristic you value in yourself, or narcissistic mother envies, are often the target in this scenario. For example, you pride yourself on being a generous person, but narcissist mother is a con artist.
So, narcissistic mother will rip you off, then accuse you of being a money grubbing thief to anyone who will listen - including you. While you are thinking surely her conscience will kick in and she will pull herself back, she is thinking how brilliantly she pulled off her latest stunt.
Things quickly become much clearer when you realize the same behavior you consider immoral and treacherous, she considers a brilliantly executed maneuver she pulled off without being caught. If you watch for it, you may notice the smirk or the glimmer in her eye that will reveal the truth to you.
I like to believe most of us are compassionate human beings, but it is a mistake to assume everyone has a full range of normal human emotions and characteristics. You will never catch on to a narcissist's treacherous stunts until you accept the fact that regardless of the reasons why, some people are consistently treacherous human beings.
There are those walking among us who, for whatever reason, do not possess such human characteristics as compassion, empathy or remorse. In my experience, narcissistic manipulators have no problem using, abusing, conning, lying and slandering even close family members. Actually, they seem to reserve their worst behaviors for those closest to them.
While the following quote pertains to psychopaths, it brings home the point that we are not all the same.
Covert Narcissist Martyr Quote by Dr. Linda Martinez-Lewi
We Are Not All the Same
If you are waiting for validation in the form of an acknowledgement of the abuse, remorse or an apology, you are thinking like a normal human being who is dealing with another normal human being. However, what the narcissist is doing when it is all said and done is feeling smug as she tells herself how superior she is for orchestrating the whole ordeal and getting away with it.
My mother pulled the same stunt with various people in many circumstances. As I look back over the years, I can pretty clearly see who caused her an issue. If you heard a martyr tale about someone attacking her, you could almost be sure they figured her out, she was paying them back for something or she was jealous.
Listen to your instincts! Start recognizing when you are being manipulated, pressured into doing something you would not freely do if you were asked directly with no pressure. Notice your body and listen to your body, when your muscles tighten up. Notice that gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach.
Seek to strike a balance, between being so protective of yourself as to help no one and so easily manipulated that you are easily played with pity ploys. This balance naturally came in time once I began paying attention to when I was being manipulated. For many years now when someone starts manipulating, it feels to me like I walked into a sticky cobweb.
Narcissistic manipulators love to emotionally manipulate with pity. In compassionate people it often invokes them to let their guard down and become helpful, more likely to give the narcissistic mother what she wants. A narcissistic mother may use the maneuver of playing the victim while vilifying true victims to conceal her abuse and inflict abuse by proxy. Stay on the lookout for narcissists playing the victim while vilifying true victims with the potentially accompanying smear campaigns and silent treatment. Learn to recognize this potentially devastating tactic so you are less likely to be blindsided by it in the future.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2018 Gail Meyers