An Engulfing Mother is one whose Narcissistic Personality Disorder manifests itself in
her allowing no boundary to exist between herself and her daughter. She somehow views
her daughter as being an extension of herself, rather than seeing her as a separate person.
This can work fine when the daughter is a baby or toddler - a very young infant sees no boundary
between herself and her mother either, and this leads to the mutual love affair we see between mothers and their
babies, and that's right and normal, and very important for bonding.
It's sad but quite often the daughter doesn't realise that this is going on, and continues to be
emmeshed with her mother. How can she know it? She doesn't know any better.
The Engulfing Mother will use tactics like Parentification
and/or Infantalisation to keep her daughter bound to her. She may use
Triangulation between family members to keep people off-balance, and hence more
dependant on her.
She'll certainly ignore natural boundaries between people - so she'll feel free to read her
daughter's letters or e-mail, to ask her daughter overly personal and intrusive questions, to barge into the
bathroom when the daughter is bathing or even is on the toilet.
At the same time there's all the other Narcissisism Traits
going on too, such as gaslighting and invalidating
and so on.
It makes for very a very uncomfortable childhood to say the least. A big part of the problem for
Daughters of Engulfing Mothers is in figuring out their own identity.
The difficulty arises when the daughter quite normally and naturally wants to become her own
person in due course, and become separate.
The Engulfing Mother isn't able for this.
She may manifest Narcissistic Rage at attempts by the daughter
The problem persists into adulthood too. The Engulfing Mother might try to be overly
involved in her daughter's marriage, for example, asking inappropriate questions about her daughter's sex life! Or
running down her daughter's husband, trying to make the daughter unhappy with him.
Another issue with an Engulfing Mother is that she'll often make it very difficult if you try to
enforce No Contact. She just won't take no for an answer. I know at least one woman who had to get a legal barring
order on her mother before she'd leave her alone. It is not a nice situation to be in, to phone the
police on your mother.
The tactics for dealing with an Engulfing Mother are the same as for dealing with other narcissists. You just have to be much, much firmer and
more persistent about it. There's a whole section giving advice and suggestions for setting boundaries in my book
You're Not Crazy - It's Your Mother which is available as part of
the Narcissistic Parent Survival Kit. And here's an EFT video to help you get your head around the concept.
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