The Narcissistic Mother – Maternal Shackling & Enmeshment

The Narcissistic Mother - Maternal Shackling & Enmeshment

The Narcissistic Mother – Maternal Shackling & Enmeshment

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the dangers of maternal shackling and enmeshment – when a narcissistic mother shackles herself emotionally and psychologically to her son or daughter.

First a quick update:

“Chris Brown – Toxic Friends”
The latest legal trouble for singer Chris Brown is yet another striking example of what happens when you hang out with toxic people. Like many young celebrities who get caught up in the glamour of parties and entourages, Chris Brown still hasn’t learned that who you hang out with can affect you positively or infect you. Even the woman who claims Brown threatened her with a gun is a person who has been publicly lying about her title as Miss Regional California 2016 and lying that she is the 2016 Miss California USA Ambassador.

“Food – The Sixth Language Of Love – Audio Interview”
Marilyn Monroe sang, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” and yet that isn’t the answer to love or feeling loved. There are 5 languages of love as identified by Gary Chapman and I teach that there is a sixth language of love – food! Listen as I explain how food communicates love!

Are you a victim of emotional incest? –
Emotional Incest (also known as Covert Incest or Psychic Incest) – what is it and how does it damage children when they become adults? Whenever a parent expects a child to play or substitute the role of a spouse and expects the child to feed the parent emotionally, the parent is engaging in damaging and harmful Emotional Incest. Watch the video! 

Now, let’s talk about the dangers of maternal shackling and enmeshment – when a narcissistic mother shackles herself emotionally and psychologically to her son or daughter.

Do you feel guilty when you think about doing something for yourself – living your own dreams?
Do you have your own thoughts, feelings, emotions, beliefs and life?
Was your mother narcissistic, controlling and manipulative?
Did she control you using guilt, dependence or explicit demands?
Did she talk more about herself than about you?
Did she always make everything about her? I.e. you would be sick, but she would talk about her own pains; you would have success but she would seek praise from you instead of praising you?
Did she turn to you for emotional support, listening, counseling or compassion?
Did she turn to you or expect you to fulfill her emotional needs?
Were you afraid to stand up to her?
Do you as an adult feel emotionally trapped to her?
Does your mother still control you?
Do you feel or believe that you don’t have your own identity and boundaries?
Do you feel emotionally or psychologically chained or shackled to your mother?

If you answered ‘yes’ to the majority of the above questions, then you most likely have a narcissistic mother who created enmeshment with you and shackled herself to you.

A narcissist is a person who outwardly displays signs of self-love and inwardly hates him/herself and is empty thereby trying to fill the emptiness with arrogance, extreme selfishness, entitlement, lack of empathy, grandiose sense of self-importance, constant obsessive need for excessive admiration and praise, ‘violent’ reaction to criticism, manipulative behavior (guilt throwing), and preoccupations of fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance or beauty.

A narcissistic mother who engages in enmeshment is a woman who displays all the signs of a narcissist and uses her son or daughter as the primary source to fill her emotional and psychological emptiness.

A shackle is a metal link that can be used to chain a person such as shackling wrists or ankles together.

The narcissistic mother who engages in what I refer to as “Maternal Shackling” chains herself to the son or daughter and thereby the son or daughter is also chained or shackled to the mother; the mother and child are now shackled to each other.

Once the shackling occurs, the boundaries between the mother and child are erased and enmeshment occurs.

The erasing of the boundaries infers that the mother expects the child to be the source, cause and disruption of the mother’s happiness.

The narcissistic mother shackles herself to the child and expects her child to:

* Offer counseling and comfort, fulfill the mother’s emotional and psychological needs
* Allow the mother to control the child (friends, thoughts, emotions, choices, etc.)
* Be a ‘mini-me’ or live vicariously through the child’s successes while not actually celebrating those successes
* Be constantly fearful of losing the mother’s approval or love (child learns highly conditional love)
* Experience guilt when the mother isn’t happy (mother says, “It’s your fault I’m miserable…you have done something bad…you are bad”)
* Never expect empathy from the mother
* Accept that only the mother’s needs, thoughts, feelings and emotions count and that the child’s needs, thoughts, feelings and emotions are insignificant (child feels abandoned, neglected, insignificant, and guilty for having any thoughts, emotions or feelings of his/her own)

The child never has the opportunity to form a real identity separate to that of his/her mother’s identity. In other words, the two identities are enmeshed and the child cannot grow up to lead his/her life free of the mother; the adult never feels able or free to have his/her own thoughts, feelings, emotions and life; the adult son/daughter of the narcissistic mother never feels worthy or good enough. Further, the adult son or daughter of a narcissistic mother experiences confusion, anxiety, fear to succeed (fear to outshine narcissistic mother), fear of failure, guilt, shame, lack of self-confidence, and depression.

Below are a few examples.

A client, a teenager (19 actually) had acne on his back. As his mother walked past, she stopped him and she began to squeeze the acne and he told her not to do that, and she replied, “No. It’s my body to do what I want with it.”

Again, she was stating that she was the owner of her son’s body!

Susanna writes:
I ended up in ICU, and my “mother” came to visit me once – she stayed 20 minutes and complained about the distance of her drive, and the parking fees! She spent her time at my bedside putting on a “show” for the nurses who came in and out to check on me – and who showed more concern and compassion for me than she ever did. She didn’t ask the nurses or the doctors about my condition – which at the time was very serious. I’d been diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs) and the doctors were not sure if I would make it through.

Eric writes on my YouTube Channel (video about emotional incest which is connected to enmeshment – parent makes child defacto spouse often with sexual tension):

I’m so glad to know there is an actual name for this! I knew when I was a kid it was wrong for my mother to hold on to me all drunk and rock me back and forth (our knees on the floor) and cry to ME about her love life and say over and over “what do I do”? as she listened to sad songs . I just wanted to get away or not even walk in the door when I heard the loud music as I approached the house.

Another woman writes:
My boyfriend was always on high alert for “the call” that would indicate that his mom was ill. Last fall she became ill, I watched my boyfriend spiral into complete depression and anxiety. We got him on medication and into an out-patient facility with counseling, but he just become worse and worse. He could no longer play in the band he was in for two years, he could no longer work. He withdrew and I couldn’t get him to do any of the things we always enjoyed doing. In January his mother passed, the anxiety diminished somewhat and the depression remained getting worse. A Clinical Psychologist recommended hospitalization…something my boyfriend neglected to tell me. Three days later he took his life. After doing research I realized he was raised by a “narcissistic mother.” I saw all the signs, but never put it all together. He was the “golden boy” and had become so completely and utterly enmeshed with her that he had no identity away from her, and when she passed, he didn’t know what to do, he had lost himself.

If you grew up as the child of maternal shackling and enmeshment with a narcissistic mother, your healing occurs with these goals and objectives:

  1. Accept and embrace that you have a right to and ‘can’ actually have your own identity
  2. Accept and embrace that you are allowed to feel whatever you feel
  3. Accept and embrace that you have the right to your own thoughts
  4. Accept and embrace that you have the right to your own emotions and feelings
  5. Accept and embrace that you have the right to your own beliefs
  6. Accept and embrace that you have the right to your own life; to live the way you want
  7. Accept and embrace that your mother’s feelings are not your feelings and you are not responsible for her happiness (or unhappiness)
  8. Accept and embrace that love is not conditional based upon pleasing the other person and only satisfying their needs

If you need assistance to overcome and heal from enmeshment, a narcissistic mother or maternal shackling, book a one-on-one session with me. 

You can add to the conversation below.

If this newsletter was forwarded to you and would like to receive all of my newsletters please enter your email address on the home page at

I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

Facebook Comments