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The Good Daughter Syndrome
with Katherine Fabrizio, M.A., L.P.C.

How Mom Became Narcissistic- What She Didn’t Get In Childhood

Mom just can’t take criticism.

Regardless of how carefully you put your complaint, mom can’t admit any wrongdoing. No matter what you say, she always has a comeback.

Does she think she is untouchable or perfect?

That would be an easy answer, but you know, that’s not it the whole story.

Despite what looks like arrogance on the outside, you know she is an unhappy person on the inside.

There’s a hard shell, an armor she can’t let anyone see beneath. She needs for everything to look perfect on the outside.

What’s more, she needs for you to look perfect.

That’s why what you do is never good enough for her. Underneath it all, she doesn’t feel good enough about herself. As a result, she needs for you to look good to make her look good.  The technical word for this is “narcissistic extension.”

The daughter trapped in the “good daughter” role may suffer from the good daughter syndrome.

You may have long suspected mom has NPD or is at least is high in Narcissistic traits.

You may wonder what happened to mom in her childhood to make her develop Narcissistic Personality Disorder or have traits of the disorder.

I discuss in this video what it was mom didn’t get in her childhood (that every child needs) to cause her to be narcissistic.



A mother who is narcissistic or has narcissistic traits is someone who didn’t get what we call narcissistic supplies where they were little.

What we mean by that is that when children are very little, if all goes well, they get the idea that their very being brings at least one person delight. We all need this.

Whether there are words of praise, whether there’s just the glimmer in Mom’s eyes and the delight that when baby looks back up at Mom, that enough of the time, not all the time, but enough of the time, what baby sees mirrored back is delight.

It’s preverbal at first. There are just coos and wonderful words, but what the baby takes in is an idea that their very present presence brings another person delight.

If they do not get this, they do not get enough narcissistic supplies, then what can happen is they can spend the rest of their lives trying to get that special feeling, which leads to all kinds of narcissistic defenses, which I’ll talk about in another video.

In summary –

Mothers who didn’t get what they needed at a critical time in development are operating in the red, emotionally as adults.

From the original emotional deficit, destructive psychological consequences can follow.

Specifically, the defenses that help mom survive her childhood wounding take their toll in the ways she relates to herself and others. 

The resulting narcissistic defense that protects her psychologically, work overtime to keep overwhelming feelings of unworthiness at bay.  That is their function.

 It is this core deficit that can set in motion a relentless quest to make up for good feelings later in life.

The narcissistic mother can never feel special enough. 

This quest is off-putting, manipulative and destructive to her subsequent relationships. Those around her are sucked into the bottomless pit of her need for affirmation.  

The final irony is that she can’t take in the affirmation she demands and appropriates from others.

At the narcissistic core is an untouchable emptiness.

Attuned daughters feel this acutely.

What is important to remember is this- you didn’t cause your mothers narcissism, and you can’t cure it. You can have compassion for her while not being sucked into the vortex of her need for control and affirmation.

You can and should stand up for yourself, find your voice and claim your own life.

Once you truly grasp an understanding of her narcissism, you can learn to take care of yourself and live your life on your own terms. 


To find out if you suffer from the good daughter syndrome – go here.

How Mom Became Narcissistic- What She Didn’t Get In Childhood

Katherine Fabrizio

Katherine Fabrizio, M.A., L.P.C. has treated adult daughters of narcissistic mothers, trapped in the role of the Good Daughter for over 30 years. Dedicated to empowering these women, she offers online help for clients and training (CE’s) for therapists at Her book, Daughters Rising: Rising Above the Shame, Guilt and Self-Doubt Mothers Pass Down to Daughters, is available on Amazon. Katherine lives in Raleigh N.C. where she raised two daughters and still speaks regularly with her mother. Do you suffer from the Good Daughter Syndrome? Find out here!

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APA Reference
Fabrizio, K. (2018). How Mom Became Narcissistic- What She Didn’t Get In Childhood. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 9, 2020, from


Last updated: 21 May 2018
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