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The Emotional Torment Caused by a Psychopathic Mother

The role of envy in a psychopathic mother’s relationship with her children

One of the first utterances for virtually every child is “mama,” a word that is packed with meaning and emotion. All recognize the primal importance of this bond as a means of survival and endearment. But what about when “mama” is heavily endowed with psychopathic characteristics? What then? Can a psychopathic mother destroy her child? Of course, the answer is yes –sometimes in a physical sense, always emotionally. I personally experienced such emotional torment throughout my childhood and adult life.

Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels
Source: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

Psychopathic Mothers Destroy Their Children’s Joy

Not everyone is fortunate to have a loving mother – a mother who wishes to see her children thrive and live happily. Psychopathic mothers spoil their children’s joy, their happiness, their self-esteem, and even their lives. They often set up roadblocks for their children to fail, so they can belittle them when the inevitable happens. “Psychopaths act on others to derogate, devalue, dismiss, and, in some cases destroy.” 1

The Role that Envy Plays

You may be celebrating a special occasion which incites envy in your mother who delights in diminishing your joy. In the subconscious, the psychopath seethes with envy. "Behind the envy is the rage ... .” 2 Perhaps she insults you in front of someone, or she deliberately ignores you, or even uses the event to besmirch you. While you may feel ill at ease by your mother’s attitude and behavior toward you, you have no idea to what length she will go to harm your good name. You feel powerless and wonder why she does what she does.

Fueled by envy, your mother will no doubt try to manipulate and control you, and when she cannot, you will have a power struggle. You know that your mother is difficult, but you choose to accept it and go on with your life, living it as a caring, loving person. This will clash with your mother who cannot love and cares for no one. Since she cannot mold you the way she desires, you become her target.

A Psychopathic Mother’s Emotional Disconnect

When your mother is a psychopath, there is a longing deep in your soul for her that is never satisfied. There is constant tension of you pulling toward her for affection, and her moving away. You keep hoping for time alone with her, but she finds other things to do. You do her special favors, but she is never appreciative. You dress up for a happy occasion and instead of noticing you, she points out other girls around you. You seek moments to talk with her, but she chooses to talk to someone else instead. You go out of your way to buy her a gift, and she is ungrateful. You have a happy occasion, and she dismisses it. She does not wish to participate in your joy because she has no joy. You find out she had a party, and you were not invited. You tell her that you love her, and she does not answer. You try to help her, and she finds fault with you. When you get upset, she gives you a mocking stare that says “at last you are miserable.” You simply cannot please her and never will. When something wonderful happens to you and you sense her envy … you feel at a loss for words.

Why Do Psychopathic Mothers Act Like This?

What is going on with this type of mother? According to forensic psychologist, J. Reid Meloy, “Psychopaths do not experience pleasure by empathically responding to the joy in others. Their perception of others’ pleasure arouses only envy and greed in themselves.” 3 Meloy notes that the "evil" of a psychopath is “his wish to destroy goodness.” 4

What do you do when your mother gloats over your misfortune or your misery? Seek help from a competent psychologist. You may be living with a psychopath.


1. Meloy, J. Reid. The Mark of Cain: Psychoanalytic Insight and the Psychopath (Hillsdale: The Analytic Press, 2001) 12-13.

2. Meloy, J. Reid. The Psychopathic Mind: Origins, Dynamics and Treatment (Northvale: Jason Aronson Inc., 2002) 105.

3. Meloy, J. Reid. The Psychopathi Mind. 76

4. Meloy, J. Reid. The Mark of Cain. 172.