September 24, 2012

The Psychosomatic

The psychosomatic mother uses illness and aches and pains to manipulate others, to get her way, and to focus attention on herself. She cares little for those around her, including her daughter, or their needs. If your mother was like this, the only way you were able to get attention from her was to take care of her. If you failed to respond to her, or even rebelled against her behavior, Mom would play the victim by becoming more ill or have an illness-related crisis to redirect your attention and make you feel guilty. I call this the "illness control method." Is very effective. If the daughter does not respond, she looks bad and feels like a loser who can't be nice to her mother. The more important thing to the psychosomatic mother is that her daughter be there to care for her and understand her.

Many times the psychosomatic mother uses her illnesses to escape from her feelings or from having to deal with a difficulty in life. The daughter will commonly hear from her father or other family members, "Don't tell your mother. It will upset her or make her sick." Some daughters learn that being sick themselves brings some attention from their psychosomatic mothers because illness provides a common bond. The mother can relate to illness and is able to communicate about it with the daughter, but the daughter must be careful not to be sicker than her mother is, because then the mother will not feel cared for, which she feels entitled to.

H/T: Karyl McBride, Ph.D.
Will I Ever Be Good Enough?


  1. Thank you. I am 54 and having surgery next week. My mother has been awful and wants to play the "good mom" and is mad because of everything. I wish I had not told her I was having surgery. Now instead of feeling nervous about the hospital. I am really upset with her.

  2. Hi Savannah ~ I’m so sorry you have to deal with your mom’s bad behavior. Narcissistic mother’s have a tendency to make everything about them. You can’t even be sick without them making your illness all about them. I totally get it! I know this is hard on you but try and put your mom out of your mind so you can focus on your upcoming surgery. I hope you have a great support system to rally behind you.

  3. For so many years I have been lost for an explanation as to my mother's behaviour and this is such a spot on description of her. It's an incredible relief to finally realise I'm not mad or selfish... This thing really exists. Thank you so much. At 43 years old, I feel like this could be day one of a better life .

  4. Nope, you’re not mad or selfish. Thanks for your comment. I’m glad this post was helpful. Hope you’re enjoying the new year!

  5. I just broke away from my mother a few weeks ago. She called me on Christmas Eve, while my husband and I were wrapping presents for our kids, and said that she thinks she may need to call the ambulance. I told her that might be a good idea if she felt that bad. I hung up and went back to what I was doing. She legitimately had a kidney infection, but I think she exaggerated her symptoms. Fast forward to after the new year and the hospital was sending her to PT rehabilitation because they felt she needed to gain some strength before she was sent home alone. After a week there she decided she was fine and had me come get her against medical advice. I was angry because she was trying to get me to lie and say that she needed to leave because her brother was dying. It was also a Friday evening at dinner time. The last straw was when I went in to her room and she waved her hand towards the bathroom and said "Don't forget my things in there". I told her that if she was well enough to go home, she was well enough to pack her own stuff. She was very angry and told me that I didn't have a right to talk to her like that. I walked out of the room as a nurse was walking by. The nurse and I talked and for the first time, I was validated in what I knew about my mother. Finally...someone else saw it too. It's been 3 weeks and now she is telling people that I'm only upset because the money that she might have to pay to the rehab for going against medical advice will be money I won't get as inheritance. What the what!?!

  6. Oh boy…your mom sounds like a drama queen. Are you no contact with your mom now? Is there any chance she understands what she is doing? Do you think she is remorseful? Or do you think she behaves this way to get attention or push your buttons? Don’t you just love it when they use inheritance as a punishment? It makes me wonder what happened to her when she was growing up to make her behave this way. Mothers are supposed to love their children without conditions. It’s a very sad pathetic existence, don’t you think?


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