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.