Before talking about Narcissistic Personality Disorder in detail, I need to explain what a Personality Disorder is.
There are many technical explanations which you will be able to find, but at its simplest, somebody with a Personality Disorder is someone whose brain is somehow wired differently from the rest of us, and so they act in ways which are abnormal and dysfunctional by the standards of most humans.
The American Psychiatric Association describes a personality disorder like this:
The essential features of a personality disorder are impairments in personality (self and interpersonal) functioning and the presence of pathological personality traits.
The DSM V (i.e.the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder as a personality disorder.
And the way Narcissistic Personality Disorder causes people to act abnormally and dysfunctionally is explored in the rest of this website, but for now we can just say that it makes them believe they're better, and more important than everyone else. They are the only ones whose needs matter. Indeed, even their wants matter more than another person's needs.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not vanity, as many people think, although vanity can certainly be part of it. But that classic image in the Greek myth of Narcissus gazing into the pool overcome by his own beauty, tells only a tiny part of the story.
Narcissists are NOT insane. They are sane, and fully aware of what they do, and also are probably aware that society does not approve of these actions. But they don't care. They think the rules do not apply to them.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder was only recognised since 1980. And it seems to be very little known - most people have never heard of it. This means that victims of narcissists, both daughters of narcissistic mothers and other victims such as spouses of narcissists, can be living a nightmare without ever realising what's going on. And also even when they do realise what's going on, none of their circle can understand and they get told, "But she's your mother!" This can leave us daughters of narcissistic mothers feeling incredibly isolated.
I have several sections giving information on different aspects of NPD:
You can read about the Definition of Narcissistic Personality Disorder here.
Read about the traits of Narcissists here.
And read about their characteristics here, in other words, how the traits make them act.
There is also a spectrum to Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and you might be able to identify where on it your mother is situated.
I also invite you to read my page on what causes NPD - short answer is that it's possibly genetic.
And after that, read what the consensus is about treating Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Also, very importantly, you'll need to know how to recognise a narcissist in the wild. Unfortunately narcissistic mothers are the least of it - narcissists are everywhere.
And once you've done that, you can learn how to deal with that same narcissist, the safest and easiest way possible.
You can find further information about Narcissistic Personality Disorder in our comprehensive list of recommended books.