On Dexter

It’s All About Harry

Is the Morgan Family a Narcissistic Family?

By Marisa Mauro

A basic goal for most families is to raise healthy children who will one day become independent adults. In a healthy family, parents work to accomplish this task by assuming responsibility for their children’s emotional and physical needs. Over time, parents gradually teach their children to be independent by allowing them to assume responsibility for meeting their own needs in a developmentally appropriate manner. Thus, the primary work of children is to learn to become independent adults. Along the way, children learn to identify and act on their feelings, wants, and needs.

In some families, however, that basic goal is skewed and the meeting of parental needs becomes of primary importance for the family. These families are called narcissistic families. The term, coined by therapists and authors, Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman and Robert M. Pressman in their text The Narcissistic Family, Diagnosis and Treatment, was derived from the mythological legend of Narcissus and Echo. As the story goes, Narcissus loved himself to the exclusion of others. Echo loved him, but could not profess it; she had lost her own voice and was able only to parrot the words of others. Distraught, she followed Narcissus for some time, hoping to hear him speak affectionate words that she could finally say to him. Then one day it happened. Admiring his reflection in a pool, Narcissus exclaimed to himself, “I love you!” Echo, elated, repeated the words, but they were lost on his inattentive ears. Eventually both died–Narcissus from the self-love that kept him  …

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