5.d. The Smear Campaign: Narcissistic Mother's Lies and Gossip

The Smear Campaign: Narcissistic Mother's Lies, Slander and Gossip by Gail Meyers
The Smear Campaign: Narcissistic Mother's Lies and Gossip

Narcissistic mother's smear campaign involves lies, gossip and slander. You can be the target of a narcissist's smear campaign for numerous reasons. It can be anything from her insane jealousy, to her suspecting you see the truth about her, to concealing abuse or even for simply disagreeing with her. 
The Scapegoats of a Narcissistic Mother by Gail Meyers

My narcissistic mother was inordinately concerned about her image, her false image.  So even if you did nothing but cause her to look bad by comparison in any way, even if only in her own eyes, she used the smear campaign. It is just one more form of intimidation and bullying used by abusive, manipulative narcissistic mothers.

Ultimately, the reason for narcissistic mother's smear campaign is she is a narcissist. While the slanderous lies and gossip intensified at times for some of the above reasons, my narcissistic personality disordered mother's smear campaigns never really stopped. It was very much a way of life for someone who spent the vast majority of her day on the telephone gossiping.     

Narcissistic Mothers Are Notorious Liars

Narcissistic personality disordered mothers are notorious liars. She will lie to cause herself to look better. She will lie to cause you to look bad, crazy or unstable. She will lie to you about what others have said about you. She will lie to you about what others have done or put a negative spin on the factual events.  

Narcissistic mothers will lie to others about what you have said.  She will lie about what you have done or put a negative spin on even the kindest of gestures. She will lie to her children about the other children in order to divide and conquer, keeping herself as the hub in the middle who controls the flow of information.  

She will lie to try to convince you no one really likes you, but they all love her.  This is to demoralize you while she works to make it a reality. Of course, everyone loves her.  That is except for anyone who is presently doing anything she does not approve of, in which case you will hear of how they are treating her so poorly for absolutely no reason whatsoever.  The accounts of these unprovoked attacks are often her attempt to control your attitude toward someone else, such as a sibling relationship she is slyly attempting to sever.   

The Smear Campaign to Discredit the Scapegoat

Like all abusers, narcissistic mothers will use a smear campaign for premeditated damage control in anticipation of exposure. My alcoholic pedophile step-father used a smear campaign during the years he sexually abused me, as well as continuing it once I became an adult. My narcissistic mother helped him in mostly covert ways, then continued to build on the false accusations after his death.

His smear campaign was first and foremost to keep me quiet about the abuse. Secondly, it was an attempt to discredit and isolate me so no one would believe me should I decide to tell someone about his abuse. My narcissistic mother did the same thing. 

I recall as a 12 year old child hearing my mother tell my grandmother that I was a liar.  When she realized I heard her she made me leave the room, confused and upset as to why my mother was telling my grandmother such a thing.  

Years later I discovered it was because my grandmother was confronting my mother about her ongoing concerns that my step-father was sexually abusing me.  She wanted to ask me if he was and my mother was telling her it would not matter anyway since I was allegedly a liar.  My mother was running interference for a pedophile.  My grandmother was right, so my mother played the victim while vilifying the true victim to poison the mind's of the younger children against their grandmother.  

My narcissistic personality disordered mother used smear campaigns against her scapegoat children, anyone she was jealous of, anyone who saw her true colors and anyone who attempted to hold her accountable.  

The Triangulation of Gossip

Ideally, when someone has an issue with you, they speak directly to you about it. However, in dysfunctional families and relationships, the person may speak to everyone but you about it. It is speaking to a third-party about something that should be addressed directly with the other person involved.

Some people may do this out of habit or because they never learned healthier ways to communicate. Some may be concerned by the reaction they might get should the issue be addressed directly. Then there are those who do this intentionally for manipulation, character assassination and smear campaigns.

Let's use the example of Grandmother, Mother and Daughter. Daughter did something Mother did not like, but instead of telling Daughter, Mother tells Grandmother about it. This may be an old habit for Mother and she may not have bad intentions by doing it. She may not even realize the damage it can do unless someone points it out to her. However, this triangulation can potentially damage Daughter's reputation in Grandmother's eyes while also never giving Daughter the opportunity to address the issue with Mother.

Narcissistic Mother's Prolific Gossiping

The Oxford Dictionary defines gossip as "casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true." 

Gossip is speaking about someone, including details that are not confirmed to be true, who is not present to defend themselves. Gossip often involves:
  • Slander - lies about a person that cause damage.
  • Secretly telling others personal information that may be true, but was trusted to the gossip as private or confidential.
  • Backbiting - spreading spiteful information without the person being there to defend themselves.
  • Mockery - presenting the gossip in the form of a joke at the expense of the person being discussed.
  • Planting seeds of doubt, distrust or discord with lies, innuendo or implication. 
*Note:  In answer to a question posted in the comments on Facebook, reaching out for help or refusing to keep an abuser's toxic secrets is not gossiping.

What the Bible Says about Gossip

The Bible has much to say about gossiping. Since many narcissistic mothers masquerade as Christians, this is a brief survey of what it says.   Other terms in the Bible for gossipers include: backbiter, busybody, slanderer, secrets, talebearer and whisperers. 

A biblical definition of gossip would be to spread rumors or secrets, speak about someone maliciously behind their back or repeat something about someone else that you have no right to repeat.

Here is a sampling of the verses:
  • A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends. Proverbs 16:28
  • There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. Proverbs 6:16-19
  • Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Psalms 34:13
  • Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure. Psalm 101:5
  • They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips. Romans 1:29
  • As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him. Titus 3:10
Next, are some of the ways my narcissistic personality disordered mother used the smear campaign. Often these dirty manipulative stunts are used together making them less distinguishable than they are on paper. However, it is important that you learn to recognize and name these behaviors. 

The Smear Campaign Wrapped in Fake Concern

Many of us have had the infuriating experience of trying to defend ourselves only to be told how our narcissistic mothers always speak well of us. Nothing could be further from the truth, but when wrapped in fake concern many people do not realize the malicious intent. 

Then, instead of appearing to defend yourself, you are made to look like the malicious backstabber attacking poor narcissistic mother. The narcissistic mother may even be perceived as a concerned, caring parent. This is especially true with the automatic assumptions society grants to mothers.  

This is how she gossips without appearing to be slandering anyone, which can result in these comments. Narcissistic Mother again talks to Grandmother about Daughter. This time Narcissistic Mother expresses her great concern to Grandmother about Daughter's fragile emotional state.  Narcissistic mothers dearly love to tell anyone who will listen how certain they are of the scapegoat's emotional instability. 

In reality, Narcissistic Mother is being abusive and Daughter is responding to the abuse, but Narcissistic Mother is using the normal frustrated, angry or depressed response as proof of instability. So in a very real sense, the narcissistic mother uses your reactions to her abuse to cause you to look crazy to other people. 

The Smear Campaign While Playing the Victim

One of my narcissistic personality disordered mother's favorite maneuvers was to verbally assault me, scapegoat by telling everyone I verbally assaulted her, and wrap the whole maneuver in fake concern. This was her concealing her abuse by playing the victim while vilifying the true victim

She then gave an award winning performance during her smear campaign while telling everyone who would listen how she was verbally assaulted. In her distress she then imposed the silent treatment on me. This psycho stunt continued whenever we spoke next by her gaslighting me as she rewrote history right to my face while demanding an apology for the way I had attacked her

Using a Smear Campaign to Inflict Abuse By Proxy

This is crazymaking galore and how she kept everyone in their assigned roles, concealed her abuse, destroyed relationships, garnered pity, and rallied the flying monkeys for abuse by proxy. 

During the period of the silent treatment Narcissistic Mother calls her flying monkeys to tell them this slanderous tale. Then, just as the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz went after Dorothy before the Wicked Witch even got the command out of her mouth, Narcissistic Mother's flying monkeys attack. In other words, she intentionally triangulates with an agenda of deceptive, abusive intentions.

Responding to a Smear Campaign

These are some suggestions to consider when you are the target of a smear campaign:
  • Learn to recognize the traits of narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths, including the high conflict cluster B personality disorders. Some of these personalities are known to fool even therapists, but arming yourself with this information is still empowering. The sooner you are able to spot red flags, the better.
  • Learn the common manipulation tactics of narcissists. There may be a nearly infinite number of manipulation tactics, but learning at least the most commonly used ones is empowering. Just being aware of some of the manipulation tactics can make them less effective, as well as greatly reducing the potential confusion they can otherwise cause. 

    Document, document, document.
  • No contact is usually the best way to deal with a high spectrum narcissist, even if the narcissist is your mother.
  • If you maintain contact with a narcissist, realize you may be two very different human beings. Stop sharing the intimate details of your life and thoughts, which will be twisted for inclusion in the smear campaign.
  • Do not be alone with anyone who is directing a smear campaign toward you, at all.
  • Some advise others to confront a narcissist with the misinformation, while others advise taking the high road by ignoring it. 

    • Personally, I corrected the information whenever I became aware of it. 
    • I also confronted my narcissistic personality disordered mother, which always ended in her raging and plotting revenge. So be prepared for that reaction should you decide to confront a narcissist. 
    • If you confront the lies with third parties, do so in a calm, rational manner. Outbursts and emotional displays are often used by the narcissist to convince others the person they are targeting with their smear campaign is unstable or mentally ill.

  • That being said, there was a time I spent my time and energy attempting to convince flying monkey extended family members of the truth. 

    • It was a total waste of my time and energy. It nearly always ended in more frustration, gaslighting and invalidation. 
    • Those who love you will love you regardless of what a narcissist tells them. 
    • Those interested in the truth will usually inquire rather than accuse. 
    • There are good reasons why the flying monkeys in my extended family were flying monkeys in the first place. I consider it a reflection on them, not me and I have never regretted going no contact with them.

  • Always listen to your instincts or gut feeling.
  • Refuse to take part in gossip or be part of a smear campaign toward anyone else. This can be difficult and uncomfortable at first if you have a long history of gossiping or if you are in an unhealthy environment, but it is worth the effort. Rather than gobbling up the juicy little morsels a gossip spreads, asking them if they have spoken directly to the person it is concerning will often shut them down. 


  1. Wow, this is exactly what happened to me. I had an abusive step father and a narcissistic mother. My mother would go always go to my grandmother and tell her how good my step father was to me and how much he love me, etc. In fact my step father hated me and was very physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive. She did the whole concerned thing too, and made my grandmother believe that I was bipolar because she "claimed" my dad side of the family had mental issues. She even got me believing it myself. Once I finally confronted her about the abuse, she rendered a massive smear campaign against me, basically claiming I was the abuser of my step father - I couldn't believe it, she completely flip everything around. I feel like I'm living in the twilight zone. You just feel so discard and unloved. I have chosen to end contact with my mother which ostracize me from the rest of my family who decide to believe her gossip/ smear campaign. Some I believe don't care and are happy to have someone to blame for everything wrong with the family.

  2. Excellent post. I have a similar background irt my mother. I've also found that trying to defend your innocence (to relatives/old friends/neighbors/anyone) is counterproductive. But the suffering/ostracization I've experienced has and continues to be profound. Would you recommend I explain/defend my innocence to anyone...either as individuals or publicly? If not do you have any tips on handling ongoing ostracization/apparent rumor-spreading? I keep fearing I will lose my business over this not to mention it is painful to have nearly everyone you know hating you and gossiping you. I have no idea what has been said.

    1. I think that if the slander is affecting your business, you might consider taking legal action. These people who do things like this are truly evil. They feel entitled to abuse, and they're honestly entitled to nothing.

  3. So helpful to know I am not alone, but still...what kind of mother spreads such evil lies about their child? Besides what I've done for her, I'm a really good person, good wife, good mother, good job, everything you'd think, and even more I realize how important this is to me, is because I grew up in that wicked home and still managed to get on my feet and recover. I want to confront, but I know it won't do any good. just amazes me though, how can she do that? how sick is that

  4. This is such an excellent post. Thank you for writing this. I feel validated even though we do not know each other personally. I too have lost family members in the wake of my mother. I have not had any contact with her for about 3 years and my father has stopped contact and my sister and her family has stopped contact with me as well. I too do not know the lies that have been told and I only know a few. I don't know how to make her stop. I thought that not having contact with her would be the answer to me at least looking sane but it has just made it worse because I responded to her at every emotional turn making me look like I am crazy and I feel like such an idiot for not seeing it sooner.

    1. You're not an idiot. She's your mother and as children we look to our parents for love, validation, support. Our parents shape how we see ourselves and the world. They form out first trust bonds. How could you see what she was doing?

      Be kind to yourself.

      I have no contact with my mother or my 3 siblings. It has been freeing, but it takes getting used to. I'm ostracized by some extended family members (her brothers and their children) and that's actually a gift, too.

      We are conditioned to believe that blood is thicker than water, family the strongest bond. I've learned that family doesn't have to be a chain to my destruction and that, often, our carefully chosen, healthy friend relationships are more like true familial relationships than the ones into which we're born.

      I hope you find peace in the no contact and can build yourself up. It really doesn't matter what they say about you. You know the truth. Believe in yourself, your strength, and your worthiness. Build a relationship with yourself, build happiness within you, and love yourself. You deserve it.

  5. So good to know we are not alone..

  6. This was my life with my mother with whom I've had no contact since 1993. It has been, recently, my life with my stalker, a woman I've never met, but whose identity I discovered. You have described both women as if you've met them...and the information you've just given me has been immensely helpful and strengthening. Thank you.

  7. I am in a mirrored situation to yours. I too became placed into a situation where my own Mother, went out of her way to spread nasty rumours about me and actively pursued my Sister and brother with gossip and lies in an attempt to ensure they severed ties with me. I never knew what was said, I only heard rumours from other members of the family. The best thing I ever did was stop all contact. The emotional rollercoaster of dealing with her all my life completely stopped. She could no longer hurt me. I had my own loving husband and family and that was enough for me.

    Her problem I think.... she reacted very badly with the fact that she no longer had any control over me. I had a stronger relationship with my Father whom she is divorced from, as a result. I found out how loving and decent my Father was after being told for so long from her that he wasn't.

    Confronting her was never an option as it only gave her more stories to spin to others. I accepted she wasn't going to stop and I let it all go - It took a very long time but I got there.

    I agree with Corinne - you know the truth and I hope you find peace too. I now have a happier life without her in it. Take care and much love.

  8. So glad I am not alone. Just had another friend of my mothers berating me for falling out with my mother. I did not. A year ago I had a cancer scare and and was very Ill. My mother never phoned or visited to see if I was OK. I finally decided not to go running back to her years of abuse. At 54 I am now free but still get people saying your mums an getting old etc. She left when I was 11 and put another man before her 4 kids. She did not want custody but told everyone my Dad was the bad one etc. I really don't like her now and don't want her in my life.


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