NPD family roles: GC, SG, lost child, rescuer, clown

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NPD family roles: GC, SG, lost child, rescuer, clown
« on: April 13, 2019, 08:06:53 PM »
I've been reading more about NPD family dynamics lately, particularly because I've heard so much about the Golden Child and the Scape Goat, but neither fit my role or even my sisters' particularly well.
I've also read a lot about enmeshment and hoovering, but they are so very different to my relationship with my NPD M that it makes me doubt my assessment of her having a PD.

I think because my family is larger (4 daughters, whom I shall call S1, S2, S3 (that's me), and S4), and M is very covert and high-functioning, the dynamics are very subtle.
I read a website that gives a wider range of roles for children with NPD parents:

According to this, there are more roles, including:
1. Golden Child/Hero
2. Scapegoat/Troublemaker
3. Lost Child/Dreamer
4. Class Clown/Mascot
5. Rescuer/Chief Enabler
and one more that I just found:
6. Manipulator - or PD in training, as I consider it

This instantly resonated with me, because I am most definitely the Lost Child (LC). Apparently, M even pointed out to my sisters that I was a dreamer as a child.
The LC avoids conflict wherever possible, can be a peacemaker, hates fighting and backbiting, and often goes Grey Rock automatically to protect themselves.
They often don't speak up and don't have much of a voice. They certainly won't speak up if it creates conflict, and derive a sense of self-esteem from "being no trouble".
Check, check, check and check. That's me, through and through.

GR has saved me and kept something inside me healthy despite all the layers of abuse and hurt, but it has also given me social anxiety and an inability to connect with people. I'm working on it. Since recognising the narcissistic abuse in my family, I've been wondering why I was just that little bit healthier than my sisters; no full-blown addictions like my three sisters (though I dabble, to be sure), managed to move away and get a degree, have developed a wonderful relationship with my boyfriend, and felt terrible survivor's guilt about it all. I think GR saved me by reducing the harmful emotional contact with M, at the expense of not having any close relationships at all. Better to slowly starve than eat poison, right? I've gradually built up relationships although my emotional age is at about 8 when it comes to friendships and workplace/classroom dynamics! The exception is with romantic relationships, where the physical affection (kissing and hugging, not just sex) has enabled me to feel secure and grow, and now I'm getting better at friendships as a knock-on effect of the earned secure attachment from my BF.

So that's me, sister number 3 being the LC. Makes sense as a middle child. So, how about the rest of my family?

In our family, the Golden Child and Scapegoat roles are not permanently assigned roles, but used as tools of triangulation, to divide and conquer.

There is no consistent GC in our family, because that would take attention and "rightness" away from M. What she does do is present one of us as being the GC to the other sisters behind our back, to triangulate and make the other sisters feel smaller, less worthy. It also weakens the relationship between us sisters by making us feel inadequate and jealous, but blaming it on the sister rather than M. Giving approval directly is just too galling for her to do it often!

Scapegoating is used similarly; she also rarely SGs you to your face, because it would make her look bad and create overt conflict and expose her, but she'll do it behind your back. It's another divide and conquer tool; she criticises another sister to you and expects you to nod along, hopefully join in. You feel connected with her, that she's trusting you with this, and you feel like you're "in" and good and the other sister is "out" and bad. I'm afraid I have joined in at times over the years, although generally, it makes me feel uncomfortable to score points at another's expense; I hate favouritism.

According to the website's terminology, this would make our family "Balkanized", with shifting roles and allegiances. It explains why it's so confusing and hard to define.
I think our roles have changed significantly from childhood to adulthood.

In childhood, I think our roles were like this:
S1 - Rescuer/Chief Enabler - completely subscribes to M's world philosophy; might also be on the autistic spectrum; takes being the eldest sibling very seriously! It defines her.
S2 - Scapegoat AND Golden Child (with some Lost Child) - she flip-flopped back and forth these two polar opposites; she was under the most pressure to succeed and was most similar to M's personality, and this led to a breakdown after which she became the SG and a LC, got lots of piercings, shaved her head & dyed it crazy colours, etc and these role-changes enabled her to see M's erratic, criticising behaviour first and be critical of M.
S3 - Lost Child/Dreamer - that's me; I was pressured to be like my older sisters as much as possible because it was less trouble; especially S2.
S4 - Class Clown/Mascot - she was the baby of the family, dearly loved, pushed to be like the rest of us but couldn't because she struggled in school which made her terribly depressed and self-harming from a young age.

We were all pretty brainwashed though, and no-one really spoke out against what was going on. S2 was the most critical; S1 the most positive about the family; us younger 2 didn't really have an opinion.

In adulthood, I think it's shifted to:
S1 - still a lot of Rescuer/Chief Enabler but I see a lot of Scapegoating behind her back amongst the rest of the family, especially at her wedding - M & F just hated someone else being the centre of attention and whined and criticised her behind her back; never dealt with it directly and respectfully.
S2 - I think she may be becoming a Manipulator - an NPD in training, but I'm just not sure. She reminds me very much of M - she has always been the most similar to M which created the GC/SG role for her as a child - and although she's been getting therapy, I get this controlling vibe from her, like she just doesn't want me to speak. If you asked, she'd probably see herself as a LC. Don't know if I'm being too harsh on her here; there is bad blood between us and I resent being pushed to be a carbon-copy of her for so many years. She treats me like a need-gratifying object, and used and discarded me a few years ago; hence, the bad blood. I feel like perhaps she is the GC now and I am unconsciously competing with her for that.
S3 - Lost Child/Dreamer still; I think Scapegoat behind my back more and more because I've moved away and dared criticise M and fallen out with S2; also, around my family, I often feel petulant and triggered, which is a real Scapegoat role too - dog-whistling, etc, to provoke a reaction. I'm an adult but am not really "allowed" to behave as such - my opinions are very much unwelcome and I'm treated like it's a bad thing to just say what I think. This was probably done to me as a child and the reason why I became the LC in the first place.
Lately, I've been more of a Clown when I meet with family as I use humour now to diffuse tense situations and dismiss M's attempt at criticism. However, I doubt this role will catch on as M doesn't enjoy my humour as it detracts from her criticism, the source of her power, and she displays contempt and amps up the critical attacks to put me back in my place. I don't think you can be a Class Clown if the NPD individual doesn't accept you in this role; I think you are automatically shifted to Scapegoat if the abuser doesn't let you play the clown. I'm very aware that I have the seeds of NPD/BPD in me too, and could grow into a Manipulator if I were not taking responsibility for my flaws. I'm worried that my feelings of blame towards S2 is evidence of this; although, what if I'm right, and it's just my lack of confidence in my judgment that's preventing me form recognising the situation for what it is?
S4 - Rescuer/Chief Enabler - still lives with M & F; is basically their caretaker now; has an intense, enmeshed relationship with M. She is becoming a real Flying Monkey for M - not towards me yet, but I saw her leap into action when M was not getting along with her own sister, our aunt. She completely took M's side and got over-involved. And there's lots of Scapegoating for S4 too, with M complaining that she hasn't left home yet, despite secretly loving having her close.

I think S1 and S4 in particular rarely get GC treatment; aka, the praise and recognition they deserve.

So, that's my family, at least me and my sisters' roles, as I see it.

You may notice that I barely mention F; he is still together with my M but so emotionally distant and neglectful, he barely factors into these relationships.
For a long time, I thought he was a good man, and just didn't get involved. Now I see that negligence is a form of abuse in itself, and I am blown away when I think of some of the cold things he's said to me over the years. It's more emotional cluelessness than actual vindictiveness, but it still harms and hurts.
I think he is probably NPD too, as he often complains about having to do things for us, and has said on several occasions that he never wanted kids and if he'd known his children would have depression, he'd have never had us. He said that to me not long after I'd attempted suicide. Nice one, Dad. Good to know you think my life's not worth living.
Either that, or he's on the autistic spectrum, as I suspect S1 is, and thus so emotionally disconnected that he cannot counteract M's NPD tendencies.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2019, 10:02:46 AM by Oscen »



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Re: NPD family roles: GC, SG, lost child, rescuer, clown
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2019, 05:19:53 PM »
Hi Oscen

The relationship dynamics within your FOO sound complicated and confusing for sure - but it looks like you have a good insight and understanding.  I hope this will help you work out the best way to approach FOO members to benefit yourself, or protect yourself as necessary.

I'm interested to read that you identify with the Lost child/invisible role.  I started researching NPD and family roles way back in 2012 (whist experiencing a particularly horrible time with my NPD mother) and immediately spotted myself as occupying this role from childhood, all a bit weird really isn't it?  So many aspects of this conditioned behaviour I can relate to, even now it's still a job to work out what my 'real' personality is and who is the 'conditioned' me?! 

Also never 'met' another LC/invisC although I have been on a few forums so would be happy to discuss this with you if you wish.

Atm I've only skim read your other posts with regard to your sister.  I'm also struggling to resume some sort of sisterly bond with my GC sister since our NPD mother died. I'm finding it painful and difficult, I phone her once a week for an hour to see if she's ok.  It's 80% talk about her and more of a counselling session (although I'm not a counsellor I find she puts me in that position) and leaves me drained for the rest of the week, but I want to continue even though I don't feel much hope that we'll bond as we did when we were little.  Knowing how hard this is I wish you all the best.



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Re: NPD family roles: GC, SG, lost child, rescuer, clown
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2019, 06:38:00 PM »
Hi Oscen,
I would like to belatedly welcome you to the forum.  I wanted to say how much I've appreciated reading this post you've done about relationship dynamics - I am going to look at the website you mention, as it really looks relevant and interesting.   I am so impressed by your insights and how you describe things - and I wish you the best with everything in your exploration of things.  I relate to the LC/invisC as well - to some degree - but I need to read more about all the roles and hopefully think more.

Wishing you the best with all of this.
Hope  :)



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Re: NPD family roles: GC, SG, lost child, rescuer, clown
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2019, 08:25:06 AM »
Hi guys, thank you for your posts. I appreciate it's a very long piece of writing to trawl through!

snailspace - thanks for your comments. It's nice to meet another LC. Your relationship with your GC sister sounds like the same pattern as mine - though I'm no counsellor either, that's exactly what our conversations were like. It was so emotionally and energetically draining. Now I have basically zero contact, but I haven't freed my mind of the FOG and think of myself from her perspective often (or how I imagine her perspective). This is another massive drain and so I'm trying to root it out.

Hope - thank you also. I'd be interested to hear how much you relate to being a LC and what other dynamics are mixed in with it.