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?