Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Narcissism-Psychological aspects, Parent and child, Children of parents with mental disabilities-Psychology, Parental rejection-Psychological aspects, Self-esteem, Qualitative


Very little research directly addresses the question of how a parent's narcissistic traits affect the development of their children into adulthood. In this qualitative study, 9 adults were interviewed to explore how they experienced the effects of a parent's narcissism, especially in relation to their understanding of their own self-esteem in adulthood. All 9 participants identified these parental traits as having an impact on their self-esteem, and nearly all of them (n=8) felt these experiences significantly affected their lives as adults. Many participants described needing external support or validation from others to feel competent or worthy, and some reported feeling as if their entire sense of self was based on how "successful" they felt in terms of their physical appearance, social life, or educational or career achievements. Participants reported that these effects shaped their relationships with friends or romantic partners in adulthood, and one expressed worrying about the potential impact on her children. Future research should identify factors that mediate the effect of parental narcissism on a child's development in order to provide the most effective interventions.




iv, 56 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 38-39)

Limited Access until August 2019