Parental Narcissism – Soon-Yi’s Dysfunctional Family Narcissistic parents unleash a lifetime of suffering on their children

Parental Narcissism – Soon-Yi’s Dysfunctional Family

Recently, Soon_Yi Previn eviscerated her adoptive mother Mia Farrow in an interview with the New York Magazine. For the first time, Soon-Yi has given her version of life in her big, multi-cultural, anomalous family. Not surprisingly, this has re-opened the festerings of a very dysfunctional family.

Soon-Yi Previn_Mia Farrow_Children_Woody Allen_Family Dysfunction
Image Source: Daily Mail

Reminding us of the Leo Tolstoy’s quote, ‘...each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Does one ever know what happens behind the closed doors of a home? What family dynamics come into play? Why does one kid hate the parent/s, while another deeply loves them? Is parental love ever equally dispensed?

Contradicting Versions

On one hand, Soon-Yi and her brother Moses Farrow recount the times they were ill-treated by her mother, actress Mia Farrow. Soon-Yi paints a picture of unending misery and abuse. She says her mother threw wooden blocks at her, spanked her with hairbrushes, dumped her in the bath, and emotionally bullied her. Moses concurs with Soon-Yi’s accusations that Mia had a terrifying temper that could be expressed physically. Further, he described Farrow’s parenting style as a ‘total breakdown of your spirit, to ensure that you would do what she wanted you to do.’

While the two other siblings Dylan Farrow and Ronan Farrow denounced Soon-Yi Previn’s interview as ‘disgusting.’

Journalist Ronan Farrow, in his statement released  in response to the Soon-Yi’s claims states, “My mother did an extraordinary job raising us, and none of my siblings with whom I’ve spoken ever witnessed anything but love and care from a single mom who went through hell to keep her kids safe,” 

Dylan the sister who had accused Woody Allen of sexually abusing her reiterates her abuse claim. She stated that Woody Allen molested me when she was seven years old and was not “coached” to accuse Allen.

Whom does one believe? Could Mia have a Jekyll and Hyde personality? Different personas to different people as per her inherent, deep-seated likes and aversions. The picture that emerges is an unstable personality, driven to find that lost piece of herself due to own unfulfilled childhood. needs.

Mia’s History And Need For Being The Savior

As the daughter of two famous film stars, Mia felt less than adequate growing up in Hollywood.  Though she did not lack for anything, life was far from ideal.  The constant comparison and having to live up to her parents’ image was tough. Moreover, if your father was a serial womanizer despite having a beautiful wife, you sure grow up feeling not good enough.

Mia has admitted that she has found it was difficult to find satisfaction in life.

This could have contributed to Mia’s developing a narcissistic personality. What better way to stay in the limelight than become the Heroine, the savior who of the world.

The Narcissist Hero type of personality feels empty inside so craves the glare of publicity to thrive. It is very common to see them involved with charitable organizations, popular causes, churches, and cults.   Being the savior is the easiest way for a narcissist to get her supply of adulation, attention, power, and fame that she needs.

Narcissist Parent and  Family Dysfunction

As a mother of one child, it feels weird how a busy actress-cum-humanitarian can adopt children left right and center. Adopting one child is a tough job but taking in 11 kids from different cultures and special needs is sheer madness. Even if you have the best resources and nannies in the world.

Is that fair on the kids? Piling them into her home one after another without proper consideration for the ones already there.

Can one honestly, care for 14 kids, have a high profile career and jet around playing humanitarian to the world at large. Someone has to suffer. And, it’s definitely the kids, not the narcissistic parent whose only aim is self-aggrandization.

And Mia is not just one isolated case of women or men like that.

My maternal grandmother was one such kind, a savior narcissist. She was the village-healer. Women came to her for local medicine. She enjoyed being known and sought after. However, being an ordinary woman all the housework would be dumped on the older daughters. They disliked her. My mother was one of them.

Growing up I could not understand why Mom and her other sister hated my perfect grandmother.

I learned the truth after my mother died when at 11 when I became the designated helper of this benevolent woman who played the perfect grandmother to my younger cousins.

Though she is dead, I still hate her for dumping her responsibility onto me. To this day everyone considers her a saint.

Similarly, Soon-Yi also says she and her adopted sisters were used as “domestics,” while Farrow kept busy rearranging the furniture, ordering from catalogs, working on her scrapbooks, and talking to her friends on the phone. She reveals that “We did the grocery shopping, starting in third grade, for the entire family,”

Narcissistic Parent, Scapegoats, Golden Child, Lost Child & The Rescuer

Narcissistic parents do not allow their children to be authentically real. The children have to serve the needs of their dysfunctional parent or else they are rejected and cast out.  Survival means taking on the supporting roles in the family dysfunction drama. There is no choice.  The usual roles that come into play are the scapegoat, the golden child, the lost child, and the caretaker/rescuer.

The strong one who rebels becomes the scapegoat or the black sheep, which Soon- Yi took on. Her actions laid bare the truth about her family, though in a twisted way.

The golden child, Ronan Farrow, who lives up to his mother’s ideals, fighting the world with his keyboard, bringing down the perverts of the world. A retribution to his father Woody Allen.

The lost child, Dylan Farrow, who must have had such a confusing childhood. Was she abused by her adoptive father Woody Allen? Till kingdom come, no one will know the truth because she herself does not know or remember what really happened. Like the good daughter, she will repeat her mother’s version.

Moses Farrow, the rescuer is the only child in the family who has publicly corroborated Soon-Yi’s condemnation of her mother. Maybe, that’s why he is now a family therapist. He may not be able to heal his own family but others can sure benefit from his first-hand experience of family strife.

No Redemption Or Healing

In this saga, of truth and lies, there seems to be no redemption for any of the family members. They have publicly washed their dirty linen.

Soon-Yi, the main star of this sordid drama, does seem to have gained some semblance of a normal life. She grabbed her chance to escape with the only available but repugnant choice.  Life and marriage with Woody gave her a real family which she never had with Mia.

While Ronan and his sister Dylan will forever carry the burden of their mother’s narcissistic lies for the rest of their lives. The truth will never be told.

After all, no woman can be a great mother to 14 kids, while being a busy actress and the humanitarian of the world.  Someone or something has to suffer.

Further Reading:

Parents Don’t Always Treat Their Kids Equally

The Four Dysfunctional Family Roles / Lights Blog

40 Undeniable facts about Mia Farrow, her family, and Woody Allen

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