An Engulfing Mother is one whose Narcissistic Personality Disorder manifests itself in her allowing no boundary to exist between herself and her daughter.
She somehow views her daughter as being an extension of herself, rather than seeing her as a separate person.
This can work fine when the daughter is a baby or toddler – a very young infant sees no boundary between herself and her mother either, and this leads to the mutual love affair we see between mothers and their babies, and that’s right and normal, and very important for bonding.
It’s sad but quite often the daughter doesn’t realise that this is going on, and
continues to be emmeshed with her mother. How can she know it? She doesn’t know any better.
The Engulfing Mother will use tactics like Parentification and/or Infantalisation to keep her daughter bound to her. She may use
Triangulation between family members to keep people off-balance, and hence more dependant on her.
She’ll certainly ignore natural boundaries between people – so she’ll feel free to read her daughter’s letters or e-mail, to ask her daughter overly personal and intrusive questions, to barge into the bathroom when the daughter is bathing or even is on the toilet.
It makes for very a very uncomfortable childhood to say the least. A big part of the problem for Daughters of Engulfing Mothers is in figuring out their own identity.
The difficulty arises when the daughter quite normally and naturally wants to become her own person in due course, and become separate.
The Engulfing Mother isn’t able for this.
She may manifest Narcissistic Rage at attempts by the daughter to separate.
The problem persists into adulthood too. The Engulfing Mother might try to be overly involved in her daughter’s marriage, for example, asking inappropriate questions about her daughter’s sex life! Or running down her daughter’s husband, trying to make the daughter unhappy with him.
Another issue with an Engulfing Mother is that she’ll often make it very difficult if you try to enforce No Contact. She just won’t take no for an answer. I know of many women who had to get a legal barring order on her mother before she’d leave her alone. It is not a nice situation to be in, to phone the police on your mother.
The only way to deal with an Engulfing Narcissistic Mother is to set strict boundaries. No, she will not like it. But you don’t like the current situation, and far better that you be happy.