People unaffected by Parental Alienation are often hard-pressed to understand the toxic relationship between a narcissist parent and a victimized child. In “Tears In The Rain” the relationship between a male and female Anglerfish is used as a metaphor illustrating the dynamic where a child’s essence is fundamentally replaced by the narcissist parent. It’s not a perfect metaphor but I hope it helps affected parents surrounded by disbelievers.
…Staring out from the wall was a creature straight from the mind of H.P. Lovecraft on a bad LSD trip or whoever created the creature in the movie, “Alien.” The fish was dominated by a huge bulbous head with a mouth filled with numerous, murderous, curved thin daggers designed to mercilessly impale victims. They appeared so long they would prevent the fish from closing its mouth. An overly large eye glared back at the observers, needle like spikes extruded from its head and tiny back and its lower jaw extended well below its upper making it look either malformed or as if it had been pulled halfway out of its head. A small tail fin seemed to be directly attached to its head eliminating any space for a body. A long fleshy appendage ending in a small bulbous growth extended from the top of its head.
Bradshaw exclaimed, “Holy shit, is that real?”
Winslow answered, “Well, Ron, you’re not going to see it in the grocery store but, yes, it is real, very real. And, it is even more interesting than it looks.
“The Anglerfish is rare and lives thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface in complete darkness where few creatures can survive and none are concerned about aesthetics. Because life is so scarce the Anglerfish has evolved several weird adaptations that enable the species to survive. Not only does it have the spike teeth and the giant head, but its stomach can swell to twice the size of the fish itself which enables it to capture and swallow prey twice its size. That’s a very useful adaptation since food is so scarce at that depth. The fleshy appendage jutting off the top of its head is essentially a living fishing rod. The bulb at the end is luminescent and lights up to attract curious prey. What a surprise it must be when hungry predators attack the light only to become the Angler’s dinner. But, that’s not why I am showing you this image.”
“This is an extreme example of sexual dimorphism. The female is forty times larger than the male and there is absolutely no physical resemblance. And, they have a very strange relationship.
“Life is so rare at these depths the odds of a male and female encountering each other are extremely remote, similar to the odds of any individual human sperm finding and fertilizing an egg. So, this physical adaptation helps ensure that should a male and female defy the odds and find each other they will remain together the remainder of their lives.
“The male will actually bite the female and lock his jaws in her flesh. Once securely established his head will actually fuse with the female and the remainder of his body will totally disintegrate leaving only his testicles which will fertilize the female’s eggs on demand. What’s left of him derives all its nourishment from the female. You could say he lives but no longer exists. They are two individual organisms that have become one. They are the female.”
“Now, you’re probably asking yourselves what has this to do with narcissism. It is a metaphor, not perfect but it demonstrates how one organism’s life essence can disappear and be totally absorbed by another. Basically, this is what happens in a narcissistic relationship. The narcissist sucks the life out of the victim, leaving him or her alive but with no individual essence. The physical being remains intact but the victim becomes an extension of the narcissist. His or her beliefs, thoughts, loves, hates, and behavior all derive from the will of the narcissist. Victims basically sacrifice their lives and are left with nothing resembling free will. Their own personality disappears and they act totally within the boundaries established by the abuser. This is what happened with Ms. Webster.”
Bradshaw interrupted, “Wait a second. There is a biological connection with the Angler. What you’re talking about here would have to be totally mental.”
“Yes, and no. We’re really talking about an emotional connection. It works very nicely in adult-child relationships. But, the coercive persuasion can assume physical dimensions. Real or threatened physical and sexual abuse are common and often part of the formula.”
“Coercive persuasion?” Bradshaw asked.
Winslow answered, “Yes, coercive persuasion is just one tool in the narcissist’s bag of tricks.”