When you separate from a narcissist, you trigger their collapse into dysregulation of their emotions. They fall into anxiety over their own self-inadequacy, fear of being abandoned and they re-enact childhood trauma through the process of the separation.
In order for the parent to prevent this collapse they have to triangulate you and the children into the roles of “abuse parent” and “victimised child” in order for them to be able to take the role of “protective parent”. In this role they are seen as the loving, nurturing parent and you are the inadequate and abusive parent. This protects their fragile ego and also gives them control over the situation.
They systematically then set about conditioning the child to reject you. This will start with small criticisms which the narcissist exaggerates to distort the reality. They will then eject you from the family by getting your child to call you by your first name rather than “mum” or “dad” and saying that you are no longer in “our family”, “they left us” which leaves you as the outsider (ex spouse and ex parent). Finally they “support” the child with their exaggerated criticism by reporting you to services, stopping your contact, and getting the child to say they no longer want to see you. All under the guise of being the “protective parent”.
It is a highly manipulate psychological defence mechanism exhibited by narcissistic personalities to keep the child close and ensure that they become their “regulatory other” whilst assigning roles in accordance with their own protection of self.
Sadly parental alienation is not recognised by many professionals who accept the roles as assigned by the narcissist and leave the child in the hands of a narcissistic parent.
And yet it should be easy to recognise as it contradicts so many of well known and respected child development theories. We know that children form strong attachments to their parents and that this relationship should be nurtured and encouraged. We know the stages of development that children go through. We know that any breaks in the parent-child relationship results in grief and loss trauma. But in parental alienation cases, these theories (the cornerstone of child protection practices) are ignored and overridden.
This can make it a seemingly impossible task to resolve but there is hope. Working with a professional who recognises and understands the attachment-based approach can help you to unpick the case and redirect professionals to a healthier outcome for children.