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Dogs Living With Narcissists

The older I get, the more I realize how many people I know who have a parent who is a narcissist. All of them are still suffering because of it. I don’t just mean selfish. I mean card-carrying narcissists. Manipulative, dramatic, and (in my opinion) horrible. My friend and colleague Meredith Resnick recently published her third book for people recovering from having a narcissist in their lives. It’s called When Your Parent Is a Narcissist: Uncovering origins, patterns, and unconscious dynamics — to help you grow and let go. It got me thinking that if a narcissist does damage while raising children, then I wonder how dogs living with a narcissist fair.

when your parent is a narcissist by meredith resnick book coverAs Meredith says in the book (just substitute dog for child as you read), “In healthy development, the parent ‘exists’ for the sake of the child. With the narcissistic parent, the child ‘exists’ for the sake of the parent.”

These children and dogs desperately want to love and be loved, but a narcissist is constantly:

  • Causing drama
  • Criticizing
  • Running hot and cold with attention, praise, withdrawal, and anger
  • Using bait-and-switch tactics to draw attention and lay blame

Meredith explains that children raised in such ways are often anxious or hypervigilant — never quite feeling safe, so to speak.

I think dogs would show similar behaviors when being treated so poorly by a narcissist, including generalized anxiety, separation anxiety, needy or attention-seeking behaviors, aggression, etc.

  • Do you agree?
  • If you’ve known a narcissist with dogs, what negative effects did you see?

Of course, I’m NOT saying narcissism is the cause of all these behaviors in all dogs, but in some cases, I can see how it might be.

After reading Meredith’s book and knowing so many friends who still struggle (as adults) with narcissistic parents, it breaks my heart to think about other ways it might affect dogs who have no way to reason their way around or through contact with a narcissistic, erratic person in the home.

After finishing Meredith’s book, I had one question: Why don’t people simply tell the narcissist (parent or not) to (bleep) off?

She answered, “It’s because the dynamic is so ingrained and complete and parasitic,  the non-N individual actually feels the feelings the N has disowned and projected – the lack of self, of a core. So telling the N to f*** off before this is understood is very frightening because the person feels the intense fear of non-being that the N has projected.  Add the parent-child, and it is very difficult.”

Here’s a link to Meredith’s site dedicated to these issues, if you are someone you know would like to learn more about recovering from such abusive relationships:
You and N >> Narcissim: Surviving the Self-Involved

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

RCTN - July 8, 2016

Recently a family member leave our home. She alternated between “loving” our dog Jack … and being mean to him. She would sometimes coo at him, talk to him in a baby voice, and have him sleep on her bet. At other times she would grab him, pet him backwards, hold him upside down or dangerously high, and even spin him around in the air. She would demand that he come sit with her, when he clearly was not interested. When we heard her entering the house, he would move from wherever he was to come sit beside me. Don’t know if she is truly a narcissist (we worry about bpd) … but everyone is enjoying the Peace she left behind … and Jack especially seems truly happy. 🙂

    Roxanne Hawn - July 8, 2016

    Ugh. Sounds terrible. I’m glad this person is gone and that all of you are safe.

Kitty - May 10, 2016

Narcissists rarely enter therapy (they “don’t need it,” right?), so I usually interact with their children.

Meredith’s book is spot on.

I have not given much thought about the dogs of narcissists, but I realize that, like anyone else in the N’s life, it is a horrible position to be in. The “object (spouse, friend, child, etc.)” must be a reflection of the N, or risk what is called “narcissistic injury,” which can lead to verbal or physical violence, at the least. Naturally, a puppy cannot reflect a human of any kind, except in rare conditions. Therefore, they are in great danger of abuse.

My puppy is anything else BUT like me. It is, at times, infuriating, but he is just doing his little puppy job and I need to “human-up” and do my own job….enabling him to be a great canine companion.

Just my thoughts. Others?

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