Jeff asked this question: "if you or your readers have ever discussed in any way a) the act of judging Ns, and/or b) what it does or hopes to do for relatives?
I notice also in the comments on your current post this from Billie:'I struggle with horror at feeling sure I'm being judged no matter what I'm doing or not doing.' Perhaps this phenomenon is related?
I suppose I'm curious about the judgement thing because I'm reading key texts on narcissism and mental health and society in general, which confronts me with what I seek to judge and why, so perhaps it's something I'm attuned to."
I don't think we discussed it.
I've been mulling this one over and I'll be honest...I'm not coming up with any coherent thoughts...it comes to me in bits and pieces.
1. I suspect Billie has developed a fear of being judged because she WAS judged - HARSHLY - by her parents. My mother judged me harshly, too...whenever I disappointed her, which was often, she'd reel off a long list of my faults. I came to believe I was all those things: selfish, cold, selfish, lazy, sneaky....and selfish. (Did I mention selfish? )
2. Admission: I'm a pretty judgmental person. I don't know if I became this way because I saw it modeled for me or what. I don't think this is a very attractive quality and it's something I'm constantly trying to temper.
3. On the "act of judging N's" and what it does for the relatives: Judging our parents may be one of the few things we CAN do in regards to them. We can't change their behavior (only our reactions to them), but we can judge them. It's one of our few options and, since we were judged and labeled by our parents, it's a sort of cosmic tit-for-tat that's rather satisfying. It gives us a little power, a little control...sitting high atop the "judgment seat" for once.
I don't think judging N's has any impact on them...even if they were to know about it. After all, we are the ones who are defective, not them. My mother always used to say, "there's something radically wrong with you,"...implying that she suspected I suffered from a mental illness. I don't remember ever fighting back...except in a passive-aggressive way....or challenging her directly because she would have just stop talking to me (again).
I can recite a long list of perfectly awful reasons why my father became a needy, childlike narcissist and why my mother became self-centered and why she so terribly disappointed when I wasn't the adoring, unquestioning, dutiful daughter she'd longed for. My father expected...demanded...my sympathy for his awful childhood yet had no empathy for me....my adoptive parents - due to their needs - required me to pretend in public that I was their biological child. All I have, in a way, is my ability to judge those acts...which their "backgrounds" does not excuse.
I wonder if judging my parents is my one and only act of revenge.
In the end, does it matter if we judge our n-parents...or not? While judging people we DON'T know well is one thing, it's another to judge those we do know very well...and have harmed us.