Posts Tagged ‘lying to children about being ‘loved’.’

“The Courage to Create”, Part II

November 15, 2014


Watercolor,” Dawn Mallards”, 2005, Jane Kohut-Bartels

The Courage to Create, Part II


I came across a part of Rollo May’s book, “The Courage to Create” that had a particular interest to a number of readers who were raised by narcissistic parents. I am posting Dr. May’s words here just for further contemplation and discussion. I find this idea of May to be intriguing and thoughtful.

It is a particular discovery concerning a class difference in the behavior or the result of narcissistic parents on their daughters. In my opinion, it is true and reveals the basis for the misery of many young women from the early teen years but with an interesting class difference. Readers can draw their own conclusions. I think Dr. May revealed something very powerful, insightful.

Dr. May was studying the issue of rejection and anxiety of young women by narcissistic parents, mainly the maternal rejection. (This made it into the book under the section: “Creativity and the Unconscious”) What was surprising to him was what he and other psychologists had assumed to be true, that they would be hardened, apathetic so that they didn’t feel the rejection?


“Where they sociopathetic or psychopathetic types who didn’t feel rejection? (these were young women who were unwed, pregnant and basically thrown out of their birth families, some the victims of incest) No, they weren’t.

As one, named Helen said: “We have troubles but we don’t worry.”

One day I was walking down the street, I was tired, and out of the blue, it struck me that all these women were from the proletarian class. And as quickly as that idea struck me, other ideas poured out.   A whole new hypothesis broke loose in my mind. I realized my entire theory would have to be changed. I saw at that instant that it is not rejection by the mother that is the original trauma which is the source of anxiety (in the daughters…); it is rather rejection that is lied about.

The proletarian mothers rejected their children, but they never made any bones about it. The children knew they were rejected; they went out on the streets and found other companions, (and I believe mother substitutes…JKB) There was never any subterfuge about their situation. They knew their world—bad or good—and they could orient themselves to it. But the middle-class young women were always lied to in their families.   They were rejected by mothers who pretended they loved them. This really the source of their anxiety, not the sheer rejection. I saw in that instantaneous way that characteristics, insights from these deeper sources, that anxiety comes from not being able to know the world you’re in, not being able to orient yourself in your own existence. “

Though Dr. May is talking about how concepts can be overturned, how the unconscious holding to something that might not be true in theory (what he was taught by his professors) there comes a point hopefully, where a radical rupture with what is ‘known’ is overturned and something new, a new development in theory …is formed.

I will just put forth my own speculation, and this is because of my own experience with a narcissistic mother and also from my own class position, or that of my mother. Middle class parents, or upper class parents have a social position to ‘protect’. They would be ‘shamed’ for outright rejection of their children, be ostracized by their peers, social class, IF they were open about their hatred, dislike, contempt, etc. of their children, and especially when the mother is the narcissist and a daughter is her scapegoat. They are protecting themselves, and hence the extended lies about their pretended love of their children. They will talk in ‘glowing terms’ (to outsiders) about the very children they dismiss, demean, abuse privately, but they don’t want to get ‘caught’ doing this by their social ‘club’. That would mean that they failed in some important way as a parent. Within dysfunctional families of a particular class, it’s all about protecting the ‘image’ of the family. Further, it’s all about protecting the narcissist.

I remember an incident in my ex husband’s family. The adult children were heavily involved in drugs. They were a prominent upper class family, with much social connections to protect. One of the sons wrapped his sports car around a telephone pole, and his mother said that “they had enough money to make anything disappear.” Again, it’s all about protecting image.

So, we have discussed this issue before of rejection by narcissistic parents, and our anxiety is never really knowing where we are in the family. We are kept unbalanced, anxious, by the (sometimes sociopathetic) behavior of narcissistic parents. Our anxiety comes from not being able to know the world we are in, not being able to orient ourselves in our own existence. “


And the narcissists in our lives take great sadistic pleasure in doing this, in increasing our confusion, our inability to know our place in the family. They depend upon this. And they up the abuse where they can, even when they are  ‘nearer to their God’. And others in the family fall suit because they are afraid of the Narcissistic Rage that will turn on them if they don’t obey the Chief Narcissist.  They are true slaves, although the ‘favorites’. 



For me, this above relates to what I wrote in the first part of this essay, that our creativity comes from our centeredness, knowing ourselves and believing, taking courage in our abilities regardless what and who are trying to throw us off our mark. When we attain clarity as to the functions of a dysfunctional family, or family member (and there usually isn’t just one….other members are impacted and take on the behavior of the Chief Narcissist) we can put these destructive people behind us and go on to developing our creativity and living a better and fuller life. They are only boulders in the road and we have to go around them.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014






%d bloggers like this: