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Dear Wendy

How to deal with a narcissit mother who had back surgery.

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  • #871799 Reply

    I have a mother with full NPD who had back surgery and can offer a “trick” that worked amazingly well even if it creeped me out to use it. My mother wants credit for everything she does and wants to be exceptional in all she attempts, a way to compensate for perceived neglect as a child. The key to getting her to do basic things like exercise or wean off pain pills was simply to use the phrase “I’m proud of you”. General praise is nice, but that specific phrase was like magic words to motivate her to continue making progress.

    I don’t want to get into the creepiness of a child having to “be proud of” the parent, nor am I proud of manipulating her during her recovery. The fact is, this worked when nothing else did, maybe it is just the magic phrase for her and not NPD people in general, but why not give it a try?

    #871884 Reply

    Hi all, thank you all very much for your kindness. You´ve all give me some really good advice.

    VentureSis, thank you so much. I´ll try it. So far I was telling her “I´m so happy for you” whenenver she did something right but I´m pretty sure “I´m proud of you” will work better. Thanks!

    About the appointment with the doctor yesterday. It went amazingly well. The guy is not just a great surgeon/doctor, he is a very kind compassionate person, but was very clever in the way he set limits for my mom.

    First he did a checkup, re-confirmed that everything with the surgery went really well. The pain she had in her “muscles” turned out to be a very specifically located focus of pain in her butt. Right side, top. It turned out to be a badly applied inyection, that caused the medication to sort of stuck there in a balloon instead of flowing right away. It caused inflamation and pain. But it wasn´t dangerous, or terrible or had anything to do with the surgery itself.

    And he confirmed that moving and walking , as well as ice and an anti-inflamatory gel would solve the problem in a few days.

    He also saw right through her martyr act, and didnt budge. He very kindly but firmly told her “You should be walking 30 blocks a day by now. That´s the way to rehabilitate your back”.

    He also told her to resume her normal life, to start going out because being at home 24/7 would cause her to overthink and focus on the pain and it would stress her out , causing more pain because of the tension.

    My mom relaxed a lot after having a confirmation that her pain wasn´t a side effect of a mistake with the surgery or anything of the sort. I guess she was very affraid, and that made everything worse.

    You could actually see the aggression and anger fade from her. (It might come back, but it was such a dramatic instant change in her posture, attitude, the way she spoke).

    I paid special attention at the way the doctor talked to her, firm and kind, nont giving her much chance of making excuses, a lot like what one of you suggested (“Stop asking if she did the excercises and start treating her as if she did”).

    I´ll start doing it and keep cool, not engaging.

    Also, about PT, the doctor said it was too early for it, and the walk and excercises are less traumatic and more efficient, giving my mom´s condition (which is that her back doesn´t hurt) but he´ll send her to PT if she doesn´t put on the work in the coming 2 weeks.

    And to finish the consult, when we were leaving he told her “If you keep this up (the not doing the work) your daughter will be right”.

    So I guess he tapped into her pride there 🙂

    I´m feeling much more optimistic going forward.
    Thank you all so so much for your advice, time and attention. I appreciate it all very much.

    #871958 Reply

    That sounds like a really positive appointment, fingers crossed the improvement continues!

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