10 Symptoms of Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers

10 Symptoms of Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers

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Narcissistic mothers are overly critical and extremely self-centred whereby ‘love’ is delivered and taken away with many terms and conditions. They do not have the ability to care for their daughters in the same loving way that a healthy mother can.

Some of the results of such a traumatic childhood include anxious or avoidant attachment styles, extremely low self-worth, depression, anxiety and more.

As the daughter of a narcissistic mother, I can resonate with how damaging the long-term effects are. Not only do you grow into adulthood with crippling emotional issues, you’re much more likely to perpetuate the cycle through adult narcissistically abusive relationships.

Let’s explore the 10 symptoms of daughters of narcissistic mothers and what has caused them.

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Who is the Narcissistic Mother?

Narcissistic Mother

When the narcissistic mother was a child, traumatic circumstances caused her to be left with intense feelings of shame, unworthiness and self-loathing. Ultimately, as a child she could not bear to feel those things, as it was just too painful.

Then came the split in her psyche where she unconsciously chose to cut off the part of herself that was responsible for having to feel her wounds. This was the moment she severed the connection with her True Self.

By no longer having access to her True Self, she cut off the ability to feel all of the things that make us intrinsically human – empathy, compassion, unconditional love and kindness.

However, what has been left in the wake of her True Self is an empty black hole, filled with utter despair. She didn’t account for this and needed to somehow stop herself from being sucked into that black hole.

This is where the ego took over and created a False Self. The ego is responsible for creating an entirely inverted reality where the narcissist is led to believe that she is amazing, perfect, flawless and the centre of all things.

However, for her fantasy reality to remain ‘real’ to her, it needs constant feedback from the outside world that this is true. Without that validation, the fantasy will fade away to nothing and all she’ll be left with is the black hole.

This is why the False Self was created, because the narcissist needed some type of front that she could display to the world that would support her delusion. The only way to keep feeding her False Self and fantasy reality is by gaining constant attention.

Now the narcissist is doomed to a life of searching for life force energy to fill her empty black hole, where their True Self used to sit. This is the only way to keep the utter despair and self-loathing at bay and stop her from falling into herself.

The narcissistic mother’s constant need for attention, whether good or bad, is how she is able to manipulate others into handing over their energy, which tops her back up.

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How Do Narcissistic Mothers Destroy Their Daughters?

Guilt, Remorse, Regret

It’s important to understand that the narcissistic mother’s ego cannot accept any truth outside of, “I am perfect, I am superior, I am a Goddess.”

Whenever any evidence comes in from the outside world that threatens her false truth, she will immediately project it back out onto the world around her.

Sadly daughters of narcissistic mothers are often the number one target for these projections.

The narcissistic mother will dump her own flaws and failings onto her daughter. Then the narcissistic mother’s ego will seek to destroy the flaw, because it cannot have it existing in its reality. By this point, the narc mother actually views the daughter as the one with the flaw and will attack her for it, working to annihilate the flaw from existence.

It’s self-avoidance to the extreme.

Here’s how narcissistic mothers destroy their daughters:

  • Gaslighting – manipulating her daughter’s reality to suit her agenda
  • Extremely controlling – she needs to be orchestrating her daughter’s entire life
  • Denial & invalidation of emotional needs – emotions are nothing but an inconvenience to her
  • Objectification – she sees her daughter as an object to acquire narcissistic supply
  • Unrealistic expectations – her daughter must be perfect & compliant
  • Inconsistency – with rules, love, support and boundaries
  • Conditional love – ‘love’ is only given when the mother approves of her daughter
  • Zero accountability – she’ll never apologise & will actively blame her daughter
  • Guilt tripping – playing the victim to get what she wants
  • Invalidation – tearing her daughter down so she doesn’t rise above her
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10 Symptoms of Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers

Low Self-esteem

Having low self-esteem is right at the top of the list of the 10 symptoms of daughters of narcissistic mothers. From the early years, right through into adulthood, the daughter will have received a heartbreaking amount of being shamed, criticised, devalued and gaslit.

The narcissistic mother sees her daughter as an extension of herself and a tool to be used to get what she wants (attention and adoration).

If the daughter isn’t acting the way that the narcissistic mother sees fit, she will shame and belittle her. If the narcissistic mother has a narcissistic injury (triggering of her own inadequacies), she will dump her unhealed wounds right onto her daughter to carry around for her.

Essentially, the unconscious program for the daughter of the narcissistic mother is that she is unlovable, unworthy and defective. These are in fact all of the narcissistic mother’s deep inner wounds, which she disowned a very long time ago.

So, when those flaws are presented to her, she simply cannot accept them into her reality and projects them onto her daughter. Now the narcissistic mother truly does believe that it’s the daughter who is exhibiting those traits and the mother cannot stand having her wounds mirrored back to her, so she tries to shame them out of her.

Low Boundaries

Narcissist Discard, No Closure

When growing up with a narcissistic mother, boundaries do not exist. As far as the narc mother is concerned, you are her tool to push around and manipulate as she sees fit.

The lack of boundaries can range from having her barge into your bedroom without knocking, to not being able to say ‘no’ when you need to.

Having good boundaries is a way for us to make sure that our needs are being seen, heard and met on a personal level. It’s a healthy way to be able to put ourselves first as an individual.

Daughters of narcissistic mothers are not allowed to have boundaries, because the mother doesn’t see the daughter as an autonomous human being. She sees her daughter as a chess piece that she can move around for her own personal gain.

The daughter learns pretty early on that saying ‘no’ or setting a personal boundary results in rage, belittling, shaming and guilt-tripping from her mother. It simply isn’t safe.

“How dare you set a boundary against me!”

What daughters of narcissistic mothers inherently learn is that to set a boundary is entirely selfish.

Basically, the narcissistic mother does not like boundaries as she feels entitled to say and do as she pleases and those boundaries would stop her from being able to do so.

So, the daughter goes into adult life with incredibly low boundary function, feeling like an awful person if she ever tries to set them along the way. This inevitably leads her into relationships where she gets taken advantage of because she lacks the ability to speak her needs.


The narcissistic mother is regularly, yet inconsistently berating the daughter for not doing the right thing, not being good enough or not doing enough. As a result the daughter ends up striving for perfectionism as a means of survival.

“If I just do things perfectly, then she won’t have a reason to yell at me.”

It’s a learnt behaviour to try and keep her surroundings as peaceful as she’s able to. With the narcissistic mother walking around like a ticking time bomb, the daughter never knows when she might flip out.

Perfectionism is also a symptom of daughters of narcissistic mothers because their childhood was filled with feeling like they were never enough.

The mother’s love was completely conditional on how the daughter acted and presented herself. The subconscious programming leaves the daughter feeling as though she’s defective and must be ‘perfect’ in order to be lovable.

Perfectionism in adulthood can manifest as workaholism and constantly striving to over-achieve in many areas of their lives. The grown daughters feel that to be seen and heard in life, they must be perfect.


The crux of codependency is where you look outside of yourself for safety, security, survival and love. You rely on others giving them to you instead of being able to meet those needs yourself.

Due to such unstable childhoods, daughters of narcissistic mothers end up being codependent because the mother was so controlling of their entire lives, including their emotional state.

The daughter was never encouraged or supported in a way that would allow her to build confidence and healthy boundaries. Instead, she was programmed to always put her mother’s needs first even if it was to the detriment of herself. She learnt that to have her basic needs met, she must please and carry the emotional burdens of her mother.

In other words, her sources of safety, security, survival and love could only ever be met by someone outside of herself… if she made them happy first.


Following on from codependency is the people-pleasing symptom of daughters of narcissistic mothers.

The daughter has learned through negative reinforcement that for her to be worthy of acceptance, she must put everybody else’s needs before her own. This can play out in relationships, work environments and even friendships.

I can see so clearly that in my own childhood, my narcissistic mother’s needs always came before the entire household. My father actively enabled her behaviour because appeasing her demands inevitably made all of out lives easier.

So what myself and my siblings all learnt as children was that Mum’s needs always came first, even if it was unfair. It was never spoken out loud, but we all knew where we stood.

Suppressing Emotions

Standing up to Narcissistic Mother

Another of the 10 symptoms of daughters of narcissistic mothers is the suppression of emotions or inability to identify them in a healthy way.

Narcissistic mothers tend to treat their daughter’s emotional needs with a big fat eye-roll. They aren’t truly able to empathise with their daughters’ emotions because they amputated the part of themselves that could experience authentic compassion, love and kindness.

To the narcissistic mother, her daughter’s emotions are an inconvenience and don’t serve her in any way.

On top of that, when a narcissist cries, they only do so in order to guilt those around them. So, sometimes when their daughter cries or gets really upset, they tend to think it’s just a manipulation tactic, because after all, that’s what they would do.

The narcissistic mother will work to suppress her daughter’s emotions because they’re irrelevant to her. The daughter of the narcissistic mother never learns how to healthily express emotions and is taught that they’re not even safe to have.

As the daughter grows older, she’s so used to suppressing her emotions out of safety and survival, that it becomes normal.

READ: When a Narc Sees You Cry

Feeling Invisible

It’s easy to see that a symptom of daughters of narcissistic mothers is to grow up feeling completely invisible. After all, that was the feedback they spent their entire childhoods receiving.

The narcissistic mother made it clear, time and time again, that her needs were the most important. She also reinforced that the daughter’s role was to do as her mother expected even to the detriment of her own mental health.

This can sometimes manifest as echoism, which is the complete opposite of narcissism.

  • Narcissism – “My needs are the only ones that are important because I am superior.”
  • Echoism – “My needs are completely unimportant. To have needs would make me unlovable.”

Echoism is a trauma response, often from prolonged narcissistic abuse, whereby the person sees having their own needs as a bad thing. They believe that to have their own needs and wants would make them narcissistic and that no one would love them if they did.

Anxiety & Depression

Anxiety is a massive symptom for daughters of narcissistic mothers. The constant walking on eggshells and not knowing what’s coming at you from moment to moment keeps the nervous system on edge.

Prolonged anxiety can eventually cause adrenal fatigue. The adrenals release cortisol into our bodies when we need a boost of energy, which is usually in the morning, plus during times of stress. Over time, as your body is receiving more hits of cortisol each day than what is normal, the adrenal system can become fatigued. This will result in extreme exhaustion.

Another very common symptom for daughters of narcissistic mothers is depression. Lacking the autonomy to be an individual being with your own needs, wants, goals, dreams and desires can have a detrimental toll on mental health.

I know all of these symptoms all too well after suffering severe anxiety, depression and adrenal fatigue throughout my entire teenage years. Then I had those same symptoms pop in and out of my adult life due to being married to a covert narcissist.

It wasn’t until I escaped in my late 30s that I was able to start putting myself back together and understand what had been going on all of those years.

READ: Leaving a Covert Narc

Difficulty Trusting

From a childhood of having love and security given to you and taken away at random intervals, daughters of narcissistic mothers tend to have difficulty trusting.

After all, if their main caregiver couldn’t be trusted, how can they trust anybody else?

Even though the daughter doesn’t fully understand that her mother is manipulating and gaslighting her for her own agenda, she can still feel that things are shaky and not right.

Unconsciously, the daughter learns that it’s not safe to trust others because they will twist things around for themselves.

Fear of Abandonment & Rejection

The last of the 10 symptoms of daughters of narcissistic mothers is their underlying fear of abandonment and rejection.

You see, the daughter experienced constant emotional abandonment and rejection from their mother through belittling, devaluation and shaming. Those were the tactics the mother employed to keep her daughter controlled and bending to her will.

As the daughter grows up, she often ends up ignoring her own needs in order to people-please. This is a defence mechanism so that she doesn’t end up being abandoned or rejected in her relationships and friendships.

This is why many daughters of narcissistic mothers end up in toxic and even narcissistic adult relationships. They’ve already been so well programmed to tolerate shitty behaviour. Plus, paired with their desperate need to finally experience the love they never received as a child, they are extremely vulnerable to being used, abused and exploited.

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▶️ VIDEO: 10 Symptoms of Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers

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Healing the Symptoms of Narcissistic Abuse

Calm, At Peace

She’s not going to change

The first step to healing the symptoms of the narcissistic mother’s abuse is to understand that she will never change. Narcissism is for life without years’ worth of intensive therapy.

You cannot appeal to someone’s conscience if they don’t have one.

Cutting or limiting contact

If the relationship with your narcissistic mother is too difficult for you to bear, even as an adult you may decide to walk away from her. Remember, just because she’s your mother, does not mean you need to be subject to her abusive behaviours.

However, it’s still possible to have a relationship with your narcissistic mother, but it’s time for you to set some healthy boundaries. I also recommend limiting the time you spend with her. Small, short visits will be much easier to tolerate and for you to hold your boundaries than if you have longer visits.

Set boundaries

Nope, your mother is not going to like it if you start to set firm boundaries, but tough bickies! You’re a fully-grown adult now and she doesn’t not get to rule your life anymore.

Figure out what her deal-breaker behaviours are for you and pre-prepare what you’ll say in those situations.

“If you continue to put me down, we’ll have to finish this chat another time.”

Don’t call her out as being a narcissist. Trust me, you will not get the desired result you’re looking for. The very nature of narcissism has her disowning her flaws and she will not take kindly to anyone pointing them out.

But, you can still call out behaviour or remarks that don’t sit well with you. She will most likely get defensive and shift the blame back onto you, but you need to hold firm and even agree to disagree.

The point is to let her know that she can’t walk all over you any more, not to change her.

READ: Examples of Shifting Blame

Focus on your healing

After having most of your life revolve around your narcissistic mother, it’s time to actually start focusing on yourself.

Take time out each day for self-care and work on increasing your self-worth. You were never allowed those things growing up, but now you have full permission to give them to yourself.

I highly recommend some type of therapy to help release the trauma from your body so that you don’t end up repeating the same old cycle forever.

For me, energetic healing with a spiritual healer was what worked best (more info below). If that’s not your jam, find a therapist who is an expert in narcissism and can help you move forward into a full and healthy life beyond narcissistic abuse.

READ: Self-care After Narcissism

I hope after reading these 10 symptoms of daughters of narcissistic mothers you can see that none of this was your fault. But, that doesn’t make the symptoms any less crippling. You can go on to live a full and happy life, once you heal and choose yourself.

Selina Hill Energetic Healing

Energetic Healing from
Narcissistic Abuse

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