What’s the Connection Between Parental Alienation and Narcissism?

Narcissism is one of 10 personality disorders, and up to 5% of Americans suffer from it. Most people think narcissism is when someone loves himself more than another person, and they’re not entirely wrong, but there is a bigger picture to paint.

If narcissism reveals its ugly head during a divorce, it has little to do with love and more to do with parental alienation.

What is Narcissism?

Narcissism comes from the Greek myth about Narcissus, who drowned himself because he couldn’t stop looking at his reflection in the water. Because of this origin story, many people assume that self-love is narcissistic, but narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) goes much deeper than that.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-5 and Mayo Clinic, NPD is a real personality disorder that has several signs, like:

  • An overinflated sense of self-importance.
  • Constant thoughts about being more successful, influential, intelligent, loved, or attractive than others.

  • Feelings of superiority and desire to only associate with high-status people.
  • Seek excessive admiration.
  • Sense of entitlement.
  • Willingness to take advantage of others to achieve goals.
  • Lack of understanding and consideration for other people’s feelings and needs.
  • Arrogant or snobby behaviors and attitudes.

However, to receive an NPD diagnosis, a person must show at least five of these symptoms. When looking through these symptoms, it’s clear how a person displaying these symptoms can cause a troubling divorce process.

How Does Narcissism Manifest Itself in a Divorce?

Sometimes mental disorders, like NPD, manifest themselves in a divorce. A narcissistic person will make the divorce process all about them and how the other person is wronging them. Unfortunately, this behavior won’t disappear after the divorce process, especially in a child custody case.

How Does Narcissism Affect Children?

If one parent displays NPD, the child(ren) is most affected and doesn’t realize it. When a child spends time with their narcissistic parent, they will show signs. Unfortunately, the symptoms of this psychological manipulation include distrust and fear of the alienated parent.

Why does Narcissism Lead to Parental Alienation?

When a child suffers from parental alienation syndrome and child, anger and resentment are the first signs. Narcissism leads to parental alienation by:

  • Teaching a child to behave a particular way when with the co-parent
  • Insulting the other parent in front of the child and encouraging the child to do the same
  • Changing history–how things happened
  • Sharing information about the marriage or divorce that isn’t appropriate for children
  • Showing a lack of empathy and appreciation for the child’s love
  • Threatening the child

When a child learns these behaviors in the home, it’s dangerous to their well-being. It would be best to have a lawyer help you and a medical professional resolve narcissistic personality disorders in your ex.


Narcissistic parental alienation is a serious matter and can lead to irreversible damage. If you and your child suffer from an alienating parent with a psychological personality disorder, look for the symptoms listed above and prepare to find a lawyer.

If you’re in Northern Arkansas, you don’t have to look very far–Hickey and Hull Law Partners are right around the corner and ready to assist you. We have years of experience helping alienated parents work through problems like these. Contact us today to start changing your future.