Raging narcissist mother.

Here’s a great scene from the 1983 movie, “Terms of Endearment” that paints a portrait of a narcissistic mother as well as Ordinary People did with Mary Tyler Moore playing a very malignant narcissist to her scapegoat son.

In this movie, Aurora (Shirley Maclaine) is very possessive of her only daughter, Emma (Debra Winger) and treats her like an object or extension of herself throughout her childhood and adolescence, though she does seem to love her in that overbearing way some narcissists have (if you can call that “love,” I’m not sure). I don’t think Aurora was as malignant as Mary Tyler Moore’s character in “Ordinary People,” but she is clearly a narcissist.

In many ways, I found this movie, which was released approximately the same time as “Ordinary People” (early ’80s) just as triggering. First of all, the child in this movie is a daughter, portraying a girl around the same age I was at the time this movie was released, and my mother was like a perfect cross between Aurora (a somatic narcissist) and Mary Tyler Moore’s very malignant Beth Jarrett (with a little “Mommie Dearest” thrown in to spice things up).

In this scene, Emma announces her pregnancy. Watch Aurora’s reaction. So typical of N-moms, especially the somatic type.

This is from the comments under the video and explains exactly what is going on here.  I think this person nailed it.

Shirley portrays narcissism perfectly and by the numbers. 1) Daughter’s wonderful news news eclipsed by mother’s preoccupation with aging. 2) Mother calculates her plan (watch her eyes) 3) The trigger is delivered: “I don’t understand.” (bullshit) 4) Daughter takes the bait and calls her mother out. 4) Success! Mom’s got a handle on the daughter and attacks her for making her feel old (because it’s all about her of course). 5) Son-in-law isn’t buying it (awesome by the way) 6) So mom feigns tears to regain moral high ground and walk away with it.

One thing that wasn’t very realistic about this movie was the way Aurora’s personality seemed to change at the end of the movie and she wound up doing the loving, unselfish thing many normal mothers would do (I can’t say more without spoiling the end). But it’s a movie and real life isn’t usually like the movies.

I also don’t think it’s spoiling anything to mention that Flap (Emma’s husband) turned out to be as narcissistic and selfish as Aurora. She never liked him and in many ways was right about him. That reminds me of my mother’s warnings about my malignant N ex.


7 thoughts on “Raging narcissist mother.

    • That isn’t my mother, but this scene reminded me a lot of my mother (although my mother’s reaction to my pregnancies wasn’t as obvious as this and in fact she seemed pretty happy about it after the news sunk in)


      • LOL i know its not your mom .. i saw the movie.. i imagined it was somebody similar to your mom..in reacting similarly … good that she was happy at becoming a grandmother 👵 Hope you are feeling better. Hugs

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  1. Well, when my middle daughter told me she was pregnant, I didn’t react quite that badly, but I did nearly keel over from the shock. This daughter was the one who had always, from early childhood, sworn up and down that she would never, ever, under any circumstances, EVER have kids. People who know me and know how much I love babies and little kids always assumed that I was eager to be a grandmother, but nothing could have been farther from the truth. I had four adult kids, three of whom were not married, and the one who was married was the one who never wanted to have kids. Under those circumstances I really couldn’t imagine any scenario under which it would be good news that I was going to be a grandmother. So I did not react well to the news. Fortunately, the story ends happily, because my daughter completely changed her attitude about motherhood and has turned out to be an excellent mother. And of course my grandson (who will be two years old next month!) is perfectly adorable. 🙂

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    • Happy (early) birthday to your sweet grandson! I’m certainly in no rush to have grandkids, and probably won’t for a few years. It is funny how sometims the people who swear they never want kids and seem to dislike them actually turn out to be the best parents. Maybe that’s because by the time they do have them, they have really thought it over and are ready. I don’t think most people are really ready to have kids but have them anyway because they think they’re supposed to or whatever. My son used to swear he hated little kids and would never have any but lately he’s been admitting he enjoys his partner’s little nephews and nieces and says one day he might look into adopting a child.

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      • My grandson was an “oops” baby. My daughter and her husband had no plans of being parents, ever… but since my daughter was only 20 years old when they got married, the odds of her getting through the 25 – 30 years between marriage and menopause without any surprises were not good. After five years of marriage, the surprise happened. While I was still in shock, my daughter asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital with her for her first ultrasound. I went a little reluctantly (since my memories of my own ultrasounds were not happy ones), but when I saw that little baby swimming around, my attitude started to change. My daughter, God bless her, had already changed her attitude and was positively happy about this unanticipated turn of events. She had an uneventful pregnancy (don’t know how she did that — all my pregnancies were horrible), and she had a home birth (something I’d always wanted, but was never able to have). She and her husband both love their little boy to pieces — not bad for two people who had never wanted to be parents in the first place!

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