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1.16 Narcissism and Understanding The Golden and The Hero Child

Living in a narcissistic family system means that you likely had a role placed on you by your narcissistic parent.

The roles can be projected by the narcissist onto one sibling then the next and the roles can last for moments or years.  Or, depending on circumstances, the roles may have been switched around. In any case, this role has carried on with you throughout your life and has influenced you in ways you may not have ever known. It's likely shaped your business relationships, your romantic relationships, and your friendships. Ameé and Michelle Piper get together again to discuss in this episode who the Golden Child and the Hero Child were and what challenges these children have as adults



*May contain grammatical errors

Ameé Quiriconi: 00:47 Okay, today I have back on One Broken Mom, Michelle Piper. Michelle is a marriage and family therapists based out of San Diego and she has both a personal and professional interest in the adult children of narcissistic mothers. She has a website called narcissistic where she provides just a plethora of valuable resources for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Welcome back, Michelle.

Michelle Piper: 01:10 Thank you so much. Good to be back.

Ameé Quiriconi: 01:12 Yes, I am excited. What a lot of people don't know is at the conclusion of the last episode that we did where we introduced a type of broken mom called the narcissistic mom. You and I kind of talked offline a little bit about, you know, some other possibilities. I ask all my guests like, hey, how did it go and do you have any ideas for some other topics? Did we cover everything? And you had suggested that we talk more about each of the roles that the narcissistic mom kind of assigns to their kids and then a puppet masters with them. And so we decided we'd come back and we'd start off with the first one, which is the golden child or the hero.

Michelle Piper: 01:49 Great.

Ameé Quiriconi: 01:49 So, um, first maybe we didn't really get into this on the last episode, but why is it narcissistic? Mom can just have kids to begin with.

Michelle Piper: 01:59 You know, many people don't consciously choose whether or not they're going to have children. It's not a planned event. And then there's other people that feel a child can solve problems for them perhaps to complete a part of them that feels broken or missing or make life more rewarding. And so when we asked specifically what is a narcissistic mother have children, I think she has children for the same reasons everybody else does. What the issue becomes is that where it becomes problematic is that unfortunately, as she's raising the child, she's unable to give them everything that they need to be the good enough mother

Ameé Quiriconi: 02:47 And then they go through, like I said, what we're talking about today, once they have multiples or even one, then they end up in order to manage it. I guess this is how feels is like in order to manage the household, it's necessary for these roles to be put on kids because it's at a level they can understand and deal with. Is that, is that fair? Or am I wrong?

Michelle Piper: 03:10 Uh, so with the narcissistic mother, when the roles develop, um, largely that's because they're splitting off parts of themselves to cope with their, uh, their own emotional distress. So you know, narcissists are emotionally immature and that emotional immaturity then lends them to what is called splitting behavior where they split off parts of themselves and see it in other people and that's why they also do a lot of projection onto other people where they see in the other person qualities of themselves that they either really like or dislike. And so it's easiest to do that with children because they're one around the person the most. And the mom is often - any mothers often stressed by raising children and so it puts both mother and child in a vulnerable position to do this behavior and if there's only one child in the family, that child sometimes ends up playing many roles at different times depending on the stress level of the mother and the unresolved issues that the mother has experienced.

Ameé Quiriconi: 04:26 Wow. And I'm sure that that's just maddening for, you know, for a kid to never know who they are that day or who, how mom sees them that day. You know, you said something about projection and, and I, you know, I don't want to go off tangent here, but I think that is an important piece because people that are around narcissists, that's one of the ways they just get driven mad is by having somebody looking at them and telling them all the things that's wrong with them or what they're doing and you're staring back at this person going, you're describing yourself to me and then you start questioning yourself. And so that's, that's typical with narcissistic people that. And so, um, so narcissistic mom is, is sometimes projecting onto you what might actually be really bothering them in some capacity. So the golden child or, or the hero kicks this off, what is this? What does this person, what is this kid and his family.

Michelle Piper: 05:22 So the golden child is somebody who is always treated with the projections of the mother, of being kind of the person who's going to represent the family well, who represents everything in herself that she had hoped she could be, is a representation of, you know, what her potential was. And with the hero child that slightly different. There's a price to pay beyond the golden. Um the hero child is expected also to be problem solving and championing championing for the family, so golden often is the most enmeshed because that person doesn't have a lot of discomfort that they're conscious of growing up. It's a pretty comfortable role growing up. There's not much asked of the golden child. They're adored. The hero child often is confused because they they'll, they're told by others that they were the golden child, that mom put them on the pedestal, but they knew there was a price.

Michelle Piper: 06:34 They knew that behind the scene, you know behind the public face they were getting lectured on how to appear to the public or how to represent well, and they were often confided in while they were growing up to be the person that mom could lean on and so a hero carries more of a sense of responsibility at a young age. Then does the golden, but from the outside for the people in the other siblings or other people in the family or close to the narcissistic mother, they tend to confuse the two and not. They may not be aware that a golden something, someone that appears golden is actually being treated as a hero. That's a very painful place for the child because they're being treated with all the jealousy. But it often happens when a golden is involved in a family system. They have a big price they're paying.

Ameé Quiriconi: 07:36 Well, and I remember one of the common things that you know, you hear growing up is, you know, from, from siblings or from cousins or whatever is, this accusation that you, you know, is the child think you're too good for everyone else because there's that constant, that constant praise that's placed on you and maybe you're, you know, you're even getting attention from other adults, more so. And it does, it just spurs on this jealousy and you know, and then it's being directed at a kid and a kid who's like, I don't know why. That's not what I saying. I don't actually think I'm better than you are just this is me. Kind of like having all this happened to me.

Michelle Piper: 08:15 Yeah. And it was the position you were assigned. So you, you feel very much in a double bind because you're being criticized for doing a role that your mother has praised you for being in.

Ameé Quiriconi: 08:27 Yeah. Yeah. And then I, I think it's compounded to then if you have a child who is not outspoken necessarily more introverted than stuff, then that silence also seems like they're, you know, uh, they seem stuck up and I am speaking from experience here. You know, somebody that's not going to say much out there. Um, you know, ironically for having a podcast show. But, you know, as a kid I was actually very quiet and very shy. Uh, you know, that accusation was like, I just felt like I can't defend myself

Michelle Piper: 08:57 Right, because you would most likely get accused of being snobbish or aloof or that you thought you were better than simply because you were quiet and placed in the role of either golden or hero.

Ameé Quiriconi: 09:08 Yeah. Now it's not. When it comes to like the Golden, and I think you've touched on this because I was wondering like, it's not always about achievements, but that added parental responsibility that gets placed on these kids. Have you know, picking up some of the baggage or um, maybe, you know, taking on bigger roles are more adult roles in the family kind of lands on and now you're saying that's actually the hero child that gets that.

Michelle Piper: 09:32 Yeah. So golden is the one that, you know, is the one that is put in a position where they're adored and they are enmeshed and engulfed and that is extremely, um, it impairs that person to become an emotionally immature adult. The hero is a parentified early or has to take on adult roles early. The golden does not. I guess that's probably the biggest distinction between the two. Um, from the outside, they both look like favorites, but internally the hero is going to feel the weight of having this feeling like they were maybe put as a substitute parent know, put in the absent father role or put in the absolute best friend role for the mom.

Ameé Quiriconi: 10:24 Yeah. Now and you. And so you talked about, this is a piece in, this is a term that comes up, and I did want to talk about this because I'm like, as you described it, it has some, some inflammation to it, but yet it is a way of describing this surrogacy that these kids get placed into and the word, the term is called emotional incest and it becomes a part of the, of this particular role playing. But can you define that for everybody? So they know what it means?

Michelle Piper: 10:51 Yeah. So when you become, when you're put in the role of being a mom's best friend or your putting the role of being a parent in a parental partner with a mom that had term one term for it is emotional incest and other emotional surrogacy. Uh, when people hear the word incest, they start to put sexual connotations on it and um, that can bring up some shame for the person who experienced this engulfment. It doesn't necessarily involve anything sexual. It can, but often the experiences that you're burdened with Moms, um, adult needs. So she isn't getting them met by having a partner that she treats as an equal and treats her as an equal. She isn't able to have friends that she has out of free will. They're mostly coerce to be in her circle and that he or she is coercing her child because a child is much more malleable than adults.

Ameé Quiriconi: 12:08 Now is our golden child and hero child. Are they always the first born in a family?

Michelle Piper: 12:16 They aren't, but they often are and um, and often they're male. So you know, you're, you're kind of in a double threat if you're the first born male, first firstborns are more likely to be placed in this role because they automatically can be of help to mom if another child comes along, you know, helping with some supervision or helping with chores and tasks. And so that person becomes falsely empowered when that becomes, that helped becomes, demanded that a pathological level. So there's an appropriate level of contribution to expect from a sibling. The narcissistic mother is unable to judge what that is and overdoes it and burdens this child. So a hero child could even be the youngest one, you know, in certain families because the oldest actually might have some disabilities or challenges or is somebody who is very independent and the mom can't tolerate it. So she looks to the, you know, another sibling to become this person that she can confide in and manipulate.

Ameé Quiriconi: 13:28 Oh Geez. Um, what are some of the things that narcissistic mom does to the Golden Child? I mean, what are, what are examples of this behavior playing out with kids?

Michelle Piper: 13:39 Well with the golden because they, you know, with hero you're giving them too much responsibility. With golden, you're under giving them too little responsibility, enmeshing them and infant infantilizing them, keeping them younger emotionally than they need to be. And often the golden is going to end up living with mom or financially dependent on mom for the entire lifespan. And that is, that is very painful for the other siblings to see because one, there's a jealousy because money or resources or time is often seen as a way to show love. So you can look at this golden and say ''Oh mom likes the golden better" and the golden's more loved. The golden's actually more trapped and you know, the golden handcuffs, you know, in a, in a very wealthy family that can look really good. Golden still living on the family estate and has a sport scar. And then the scapegoat of lost his waitressing job to go through college. Uh, but it's, it's often the least likely person to get help and become individuated is golden. Now the hero on the other hand is somebody who has responsibilities and often has a lost childhood because. So the golden can stay forever a child in some ways and the hero in many ways never got a childhood because they were the one that was stepping in to make adult decisions far beyond their years.

Ameé Quiriconi: 15:13 Hm. I felt like we were going to talk about like one role, but you were really talking about two different kids here, but it looks the same on the outside that they are because I'm just sitting here scratching my head going, yeah, I know. I've seen. I've seen this. I mean, I think some of us have seen this and that's why we're talking about this as I'm hopeful that someone who's felt like they've been in this dynamic will start to recognize these patterns, you know, in themselves or in the family dynamic around them and stuff. Um, so the, you know, you mentioned this on the last episode about the, what happens to this particular camp of kid, the golden and slash or hero child when they become adults. And you had said that it's likely that they may evolve into narcissist themselves.

Michelle Piper: 15:58 Yeah, and that's sad too. So a lot of times the golden becomes narcissistic because they're so emotionally underdeveloped from not having to deal with normal developmental challenges. Mom has engulfed this golden child and surrounded the golden child really with so many admiring mirrors that there is no way to grow. The feedback is so filtered from the golden. It's a way to keep the child really forever and trapped and being a child. So that's one way that that looks in adulthood is that this golden is not doing problem solving for themselves. They're dependent upon mom or whatever structures mom has set around the golden to make sure that this person stays as much under her control as possible. And then with the hero, the hero child is often the one that people are perceiving gets all the goodies of the Golden, but it comes at a great price. They're usually the ones that are also expected to, uh, care for mom and you know, at an unreasonable level. I had one mother say to her, a hero child, son, well, I don't need to save for retirement because you're going to pay for everything. Then there he was, you know, lady passed in her nineties and on the same day she passed, he found out but he had a terminal illness.

Ameé Quiriconi: 17:32 Oh Geez.

Michelle Piper: 17:34 So, you know, it's just so challenging for the hero. Sometimes they become almost like, feels like they're twinning with the life of an enmeshing parent.

Ameé Quiriconi: 17:45 Yeah. Now, now you said enmeshing, because that's the other thing that was sitting here thinking about is I'm an adult who may have grown up in the hero role. To me, I gravitated towards people that still needed me to be a hero even though I didn't really want that. Like it wasn't until I realized that's what I was doing. Um, but that enmeshment is so familiar that you -

Michelle Piper: 18:11 I'm glad you brought that up. Amee. It's so common that, the hero child is so good at dealing with narcissistic tendencies in people that they ended up being the one, well, okay, you can handle boss x. He or she is such a character, but for some reason she responds well to you. Oh well, because I've had training for 20 years on how to deal with a narcissist. But uh, you know, you might not realize the hero child might not realize what system they came from. A narcissistic family system and that putting up with these charismatic people who seem to be you, who are often quite successful in their careers but destructive at the same time. Those people are surrounded by narcissistic systems as well. And the hero child fits very well into that system. So they know when to dodge the bullets. They know how to deal with that person's coercion. But at the same time, if you're in the system at all, you're still dealing with the shrapnel coming out of all that coercion and all that coercive warfare.

Ameé Quiriconi: 19:16 Yeah. And just getting fatigued by it, you know, just kind of worn out. And so inmeshment describe what a, like an how for somebody to recognize that they have some enmeshment maybe going on in like their, their romantic or personal relationships that kind of grew up in the narcissistic world.

Michelle Piper: 19:35 So somebody who's experiencing enmeshment has a feeling of almost a feeling like, gosh, when I'm around that person, I'm not myself, I tend to say yes to things that I'd usually not say yes to. I'm, my boundaries tend to decay faster. Uh, I don't. I come in with how I'd like to handle a situation and I leave handling it their way instead of my way. And so it is, it's almost like a trance-like effect. You're just like, I am not my best self around this person.

Ameé Quiriconi: 20:07 Right. Right. Now, when you are, I know when we talked about in this last one, like, don't use labels around your family because it'll piss everybody off. So we don't use labels, but I've seen people struggle when they're trying to kind of get through their self awareness and narcissistic mom starts to get really threatened by the change in and starts to interfere. Is there any, any way for someone to. I mean, what's the recommended step for if you, if you're, if you've struggled as hero or golden and you're like, I don't like this anymore, this doesn't feel good. I'm not myself. Um, it's affecting my personal relationships and I to move on. But they, they may still have that, especially as the golden child, that tightly connected relationship with mom.

Michelle Piper: 20:55 Oh yeah, they might still be having to be in charge of mom's accounts or properties or health care. Um, and it is best done very gradually to not inflame the narcissist. Think of the narcissist as almost having a, an allergic reaction to boundaries. And so you kind of want to go slowly and don't be under the illusion that they'll ever be respected. But it's actually you who will find it easier to reinforce them despite how the person reacts to them. So it's also good for you to start at a low weight of boundaries because if you try to do a dramatic boundary like I'm never speaking to you again because you never treat me right, and usually that rebounds and then there's a big drama and the other siblings are the other people in the narcissistic family system.

Michelle Piper: 21:50 Once again, label you as the problem and the mom is the victim and a you may find yourself going back even more compliant than you were when you first tried to set the boundary. So if you're going to set a boundary, set a boundary in a way that you feel respect for yourself afterwards. Some people ended up blurting out a boundary finally because there's just so angry at being, having put up with things for far too long and far too many years. And then the, the boundary might've been said in a abrupt intense way that you never would've spoken to anybody else. So then you look back and go, well, I've too hard on mom and end up apologizing. Um, not for the behavior but for the boundary. And so, you know, try to keep these things small at first and up your self care first, start building your schedule to be too big to accommodate this narcissists all the time.

Michelle Piper: 22:53 So you've got blocks of time where you simply couldn't see us if you wanted to and allow time to be your friend to kind of push this person's, um, encroachment upon the territory of your adult life, a back so that you can give to the people that do appropriately need your care. So often we accidentally are emotionally fatigued for our own children or a spouse or a love relationship because of how much energy we put into the narcissistic family system. And if you can put yourself in a healthy bind and say, hey, these people, you know, do deserve and have committed to me, um, I need to keep that contract. I can't constantly because they're reasonable from them to give to the unreasonable.

Ameé Quiriconi: 23:48 Yeah. But you can't tell them that. You can't tell the narcissist like, I'm choosing these people because they're nicer to me, or they respect my boundaries. Like you just-

Michelle Piper: 23:55 Only if you want a lot more argument! Narcissists love intensity, so you know, they're addicted to intensity. I wouldn't say love. I think that's the wrong term. It's, they're uncomfortable when it isn't around. So if you're going to offer up something to compete with that's really going to feed their compulsion, it actually strengthens their desire to continue to be intrusive to you.

Ameé Quiriconi: 24:22 Yeah. Yeah. And I've seen that too. You know, it's sometimes, you know, the only way to get a response is if it's just inflamed because gentle conversations, you know, just don't seem to. They're just ignored and heard. But if you say something that gets them riled up, you might be able to, you know, get something going and, and that's, that's a trait that you end up learning, which is sad.

Michelle Piper: 24:45 Right! You sound like a narcissism trainer.

Ameé Quiriconi: 24:46 I think we said in the last episode I've been through bootcamp. Do you have, when you're treating adults that grew up as heroes or golden a golden children, do they ever feel guilt about, you know, that whole, like I felt like I was treated well, they don't have. Do they recognize that they were, that that was mistreatment in some form and kind of say, well, you know, that everyone was really great to me and nice to me and so I feel badly that I, that I'm upset about this or I'm bothered by this.

Michelle Piper: 25:17 Yeah. So the Golden, you know, feels in a victim position, ironically often. Um, and then feels guilty that they have these feelings of dissatisfaction because they've been given more than their siblings. They've been given more often than their mother, spouse and friends. And so then why am I not happy and why am I not normal and why can't I have a good relationships? Um, and then the hero often more is more conscious of a sense of guilt that other family members didn't get what they had. A lot of times hero even will receive gifts from the doting parent and give them, than to the siblings. Try to compensate. Yeah. Which is so sad.

Ameé Quiriconi: 26:09 Right, right. Um, especially if you see around you that, you know, with all the other roles because the other roles that we'll talk about, you know, like the scapegoat and the lost child, I mean, you know, you kind of feel like you're where you're at at the expense of other people in the family. So what have you seen, um, the adult hero children? What are some of the common things that they struggle with in their adult life?

Michelle Piper: 26:36 Uh, with hero children often they are people that have had to live very intensely. As you can imagine, any hero's journey that you watch on television, you know, they're usually doing a great deal and trying to change a lot. They deal often with eating issues because eating is something that isn't acceptable. Food addiction is much more acceptable than other addictions. So in general, hero children are accustomed to a great deal of intensity and intensity couples very well with addictive or compulsive behaviors. So, you know, yes, there's struggles sometimes with alcohol and other substances, but a huge one that I see with the people that actually reached out to the coaching with me are eating issues where they're dealing with struggling with weight or they're dealing with hidden eating issues where that is their reward. That is the place where they go to for solace and it is socially acceptable to have a pantry full of food. It is not socially acceptable, to have a fridge full of vodka.

Michelle Piper: 27:41 Heroes are good at presenting what needs to be presented in order to be successful. Um, but often there is some hidden ways in which they're dealing with that stress. Another thing they deal with as an adult is of course the resentment of the other siblings. They're especially resented by the lost child and by the scapegoat child, um, they often have narcissistic friends as does the Golden. Because I'm they're accustomed to being around narcissist. So you select people who are narcissistic to hang out with or they select you. You kind of have had an emotional posture that allows for that interaction more than certainly more than the scapegoat would. Often. Heroes are unique and have very successful careers. They tend to be the star in things that they do. It is uncomfortable for them to be in a membership role. There's usually striving to find the leadership role because that's where their skill set is at. And they also in the family system were instinctively avoidant of being in any other role than hero because all the other roles were, had less freedom.

Ameé Quiriconi: 29:05 Wow. That's eye opening and mind blowing right there. Well, so do you, um, do heroes tend to become narcissistic themselves?

Michelle Piper: 29:18 They definitely have narcissistic tendencies then, you know, all have we, all, all of us are human and we all have narcissistic tendencies. We have the healthy ones. And I, you know, the example I always use is four way stop sign, healthy narcissism lets you take your turn. Pathological narcissism has you cause an accident!

Ameé Quiriconi: 29:38 You're next, right, regardless of when you showed up!

Michelle Piper: 29:42 So, um, that is one of the issues of dealing with, um, growing up the way you did is yes, of course there's, there's a tendency to fall into narcissistic behavior is if only an imitation because we tend to follow what we had modeled and it's so embarrassing for the heroes and the golden when they notice that they're doing it because it's an emotional immaturity that wasn't confronted at an age appropriate time. Here they get confronted, some heroes get confronted in the work setting just like, well, who do you think you are and why are you acting like that? And same with golden.

Ameé Quiriconi: 30:25 Yeah. Well, and I actually, I have an episode that I recorded that was something that I had tried to submit. I actually did submit it for a Ted talk. It didn't get picked. And so that's embarrassing to admit that I wasn't good enough for that, but I do it anyways. But it was when you may not be the hero that you thought you were because of the, your, your behavior, your goals, your strive. Like you said, you know, searching for leadership positions, wanting those and doing it with the intent that you're helping other people, but then realizing that at times you are behaving, you know, kind of in an unhealthy realm of narcissism, you know, for me being triggered by another narcissist kind of put me in that defense mode and I, you know, I, you know, recognize that there were moments and times at which I wasn't acting or behaving any better, you know, and, but awareness matters, you know?

Ameé Quiriconi: 31:17 So at the end of the day it's like having the awareness that I was doing, this is where the saving grace is. But it did talk about it, about my own recognition with that, you know, one thing too and I want to ask if this is something that the hero feels. I remember also being really preoccupied and I talked with another girl like last week on my. She's my millennial mom growing up with a, with a narcissistic mother and this preoccupation with love and in finding a loving relationship, a romantic relationship. And, you know, thankfully when I look at my daughter, she seems less preoccupied with it than I was at like 11 and 12 years old, and it felt like wanting to get that source somehow and you know -

Michelle Piper: 32:01 Yeah, you know, if you've lived, grew up in a narcissistic family system, you are seeking, you often have issues sometimes with love addiction where you're seeking this idealistic love because intensity is associated with affection and the narcissistic family system. And so then if you add that to being heroic, you know, as the adjective, the definition is having the characteristics of a hero or heroine, very brave, you know, audacious, dauntless, noble, have a stature larger than life, but not colossal. So if you think of that added to romance. How much expectation you know, wrapped around this partner to feel towards your partner mostly as a hero. How are they supposed to feel towards you? If they don't feel that you are heroic, then are you loved?

Ameé Quiriconi: 33:04 well, or you feel like you have to work harder to earn it.

Michelle Piper: 33:07 Right? And so then you're accidentally selecting somebody who actually wants a hero for a lover. And that's exhausting.

Ameé Quiriconi: 33:15 Yeah. Golden Children. What are some of the things that they, they tend to struggle with,

Michelle Piper: 33:21 uh, the golden wants so badly to maintain his or her identity of being really, really special. That in a relationship golden is the most sensitive to criticism. It's they call that, um, you know, having a weak ego, which is kind of counterintuitive to somebody that you would consider acting narcissistic, but um, they're very easily narcissistically wounded the, if they aren't flattered and praised. And if somebody just as a normal thing like, hey, in the future, could you do x instead of y? That might be taken a great offense as a, you know, as you don't love me instead of. No, I just don't like that behavior. I just really want the garbage taken out. Okay.

Ameé Quiriconi: 34:12 I'd like it done by the end of the day today doesn't mean it has to be my way or the highway. I just need it done today. So then there's two other roles that we didn't talk about that we'll explain, expand on later, but they're important for people that are listening to this to know what those other, those other dynamics are in this, in this family or possibly in this family. Um, would you mind going over those again?

Michelle Piper: 34:35 Yeah. So scapegoat is a common one and that is the person that's usually the truth teller or the person who's looking desperately for what is wrong with the situation because if you're being treated not well by the family, it's easy, easier to assume that or wonder if the family has a problem. Whereas hero and Golden, this level of, you're often being told you're right or helpful. So why would you then seek information really about the family of the family system. So scapegoats tend to, um, be the split off part of the narcissistic mother that she doesn't like or you are the person that makes the mother feel powerless because you have a, a normal child's will that is saying no and pushing back and you tend to be less compliant and stronger willed. So, you know, a lot of times the scapegoat is the person that I would see the first in the family system. They would be the 14 year old that was drug into therapy and you know, called the problem child. Another person, a role in the family is the lost child that is, of course the lost child gets talked about last. This has, got to change!

Michelle Piper: 35:55 The lost child is somebody who often isn't gonna show difficulties to others until their twenties, if at all. They're good at solving their pain by withdrawing. If you're throwing and not around people, you're not going to get confronted. You're not going to have somebody ask how are you doing? Um, that said lost has some benefits in that often they're very creative. They've developed a world of their own that's very rewarding. They tend to be quite independent. Often they found other families to hang out with while they're growing up or got involved in school activities to stay away from the family system as much as possible. Um, so the lost child is pretty fascinating too because they're often keen observers and they know how to avoid conflict very quickly. They learned that at a very young age.

Ameé Quiriconi: 36:50 Yeah. Now it's possible, um, because we talked about this on this other one that somebody listening to this might actually have played all of these roles at some point in time with a narcissistic family. Is that correct?

Michelle Piper: 37:03 Yes, and I think that's the most confusing thing is that some people though I don't fit any of these roles and it can be because they were actually in all of the roles at different times in some family systems. The, it's a certain age that each child got to give a golden, you know, like three to five when you're just, you know, whatever it is for that mother that felt much more comfortable around the child at that age. But then as you become a teen, you become scapegoated and let's say you go to college and get a scholarship, your heroic, you know, your golden when you're compliant. And so it's very confusing because often someone will come into the coaching situation, say, well, sometimes I was treated like this, but sometimes I was treated like that. So I don't know what role I was. And it is very rare that somebody is constantly in the same role their entire life, usually throughout the lifespan, especially throughout childhood. There's a great deal of shifting from role to role.

Ameé Quiriconi: 38:06 Yeah. Yeah. I, I felt like for, you know, for me it was, hero to scapegoat where it was kind of like, I'm over this, I'm done with this stuff. So I'm mean I'm over this piece of it too. And I do feel as an adult more like a lost child where it was just packed up, left and just went on, you know, and just kind of detached -

Michelle Piper: 38:27 as if you had no more use for the system, kind of like, well-

Ameé Quiriconi: 38:31 And the system had no use for me. You know, um, and we talked earlier before we started recording because I was sharing with you a story of a, um, of someone who listened to our last episode, who, you know, whose life was changed. Um, I'm not gonna mention her name because it's not my story to tell for her, but because she identified with, you know, hearing about this personality type and I want you to talk about why, you know, why is it important to, to learn these pieces and ascribe some words, you know, around these feelings and how does it help somebody, you know, figure out what to do with their lives.

Michelle Piper: 39:09 So when people find out what they experienced, then suddenly they can sort it out for, okay, what was my responsibility as a child? My responsibility as a child was to be perfectly imperfect and vulnerable and need care. And often when we grew up in a narcissistic family system, we are told by behavior or words that our job was to take care of the mother somehow. And our job was to moderate the mood of the home. Our job was to make our mom proud or job. There are all these, like the roles we discussed and also all these expectations are put on the person and you can be. There's plenty of people that write in on my site that are in their sixties, seventies still, you know, just getting words for this and having the words for it help, help you depersonalize it and realize this is a predictable pattern of behavior that you can develop particular skills for in order to have default responses so that it doesn't take up your life's energy.

Michelle Piper: 40:23 So many people say, if only I'd known this decades before in my life would've been so different. I'm exhausted, or I can't believe how many people, how many times I've replicated this situation. So if you can name it, label it to yourself and be able to start to have conscious choice about how you're going to spend your time and energy and suddenly you get to rebuild your sense of self and your self worth and allow yourself to have the grace to give yourself your own time, your own habitat, the basic things that we deserve and why we put an effort into living are to be able to have inner peace and you can't have inner peace if it's always been calibrated off of somebody else. So it has to be calibrated out of your own values.

Ameé Quiriconi: 41:17 Yeah. That's, and that's powerful. And I think that when you grow up with that household, you feel like it's your responsibility to keep it all together and you do neglect yourself tremendously. Um, and don't know why. So I think that's why, you know, these episodes are really resonating with people. So how can someone learn more about getting help, dealing with narcissistic, you know, survival abuse and dealing with other people.

Michelle Piper: 41:40 Uh, there's a lot of resources out there. Your podcast is great. And also on my site I have a bibliography where there's a lot of books that I would recommend for people. I've got a survey on there where you could take it to find out, you know, how much you've suffered from narcissistic abuse. There's a free recovery handbook on there. And then I do coaching for this. There's people out there that also do consultations, there's therapists who do therapy for it. The reason that, even though I'm a therapist, that I, I encourage people to do coaching on this is because there's a huge piece of psychoeducation on this that does not involve therapy that can accelerate. It's like learning a new language. If you can learn all that and carry it with you, that can augment your therapy or you know, some people don't even pursue therapy. It's, it's just so important to get educated on the language and the culture of a narcissistic family systems that you understand where you came from.

Ameé Quiriconi: 42:45 Yeah. Well, and I could see this as equating it to, um, you know, some diseases cannot be cured. You can manage them and when you're dealing with people external to you, you know, your family members or whatever that are narcissists, you can't cure them. And so that- right

Michelle Piper: 43:02 Right - Circle that! If you're taking notes, circle that! Maybe that's the biggest thing we have to accept coming from a narcissistic family system is it's unlikely we're gonna change the system, but we can change how we respond to it.

Ameé Quiriconi: 43:14 Right? Right. So we manage it in the same way we would manage a disease that we can't cure them. So that's, that's good. So that coaching is available and they can get to you through Like I said, I always put the references in the websites on the podcast notes. So for anybody listening there, if you go to the notes, you'll be able to click a link to get through. Well Michelle, this has been another absolutely fabulous hour or time that we've spent talking about this. I'm just so grateful that we are able to do this and to have you on here talking about, like I said, I thought we were talking about one, it turns out we were talking about two people.

Michelle Piper: 43:48 That's why it's so tricky, right?

Ameé Quiriconi: 43:50 Right! So let's, let's take the most, you know, the hardest one and just tackle that. And so we are going to dive into the scapegoat. Um, and then there was another child that you mentioned, um, you know, so we got the lost child and thankfully, but we didn't talk about the mascot, but that'll be another thing that we'll, we'll get into. And so anybody that's listening, if you want to listen to more of the episodes as they come on, Michelle and I will get back together and dig into each of these, these people again so that anybody out there feels that maybe they can find themselves in the midst of if this is the dynamic that they had for themselves and be able to, like you said, put some words and language to this so that when you go into curing healing, reparenting you know the direction that you're going on that horizon to get you to the destination you want, which is an awesome life. Right?

Michelle Piper: 44:37 Yeah. Thanks so much for the work you're doing.

Ameé Quiriconi: 44:40 Thank you. I appreciate that.


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