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Toxic Mother: Why is it sometimes necessary to cut ties?



“Allowing yourself to be the main subject of your own thoughts and actions allows you to evolve,” explains Anne Laure Buffet, therapist and author of the book. Mothers who hurt (Eyrolles editions) ). Being able to say to yourself: “I want, I wish, I decide, I like it…”, is to flourish in your adult life. However, some mothers prevent this crucial step in the development of her son, who, despite the passing of the years, is unable to repress this intrusive questioning: “What will my mother think of this?”

When the mother-son relationship creates too much discomfort for the child who has become an adult and prevents him from living his life, cutting ties is sometimes the only solution.

The toxicity of the mother as the origin of this decision

When an adult decides to cut ties with his mother, it is often because the foundation of the mother-child relationship is lacking. This weakness is sometimes due to the mother’s toxic behavior towards her child. What characterizes a Toxic mother, explains Anne Laure Buffet, is “her attitude, her behaviour, her personality and the way she interacts with her child”. preventing him from being autonomous and empowered.”

  • If the adult grew up with a possessive, controlling and omnipresent mother:

As a child he was not considered as an individual in his own right but because of what he brings or should bring to the mother. His judgment on him continues as the boy becomes an adult. The mother presents herself as “possessing knowledge and refuses any questioning.” For example, she prohibits any secret garden because everything that does not correspond to the determined framework is judged as lacking. This toxic behavior makes the person “incapable of establishing an affectionate and loving relationship with anyone else in his adult life, since he remains attached to his mother as if her life depended on it.” In this situation, the mother’s presence ends up becoming oppressive, which can push the adult, wanting to free himself and live his own life, to disengage.

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The mother’s omnipresence can also turn into intrusive behavior that she justifies by an “overflow of affection”, as Brigitte Allain-Dupré, psychoanalyst and author of the book, points out. Healing of his mother (Eyrolles editions). For example, the mother intervenes in the professional, private, friendly, romantic, and sometimes intimate life of her son.

  • If the adult grew up with an abusive mother

“Until I was 40 years old, I was afraid of my mother, her judgment, her words and her mood swings. It was both bipolar and wickedly narcissistic to me,” says Nathalie, 52. His mother’s behavior pushed him to leave the family nest at the age of 20 and to completely break the paternal bond more than twenty years later, noticing despite the years and the distance that his mother had not changed. She remembers: “After another event where my mother was hateful to me on a social network, I decided to stop everything. She tried to contact me twice, playing on my heartstrings, but when I didn’t respond, her true face appeared.

“This maternal toxicity, notes Anne-Laure Buffet, can result in a desire to harm or harm through physical and/or psychological abuse.” When this violence is expressed physically, it can take the form of slapping, spanking, hitting (physical violence against children is prohibited and punishable by the law since July 10, 2019). When it is psychological and affective, violence implies permanent criticism, humiliation, degrading comments or even insults. This behavior can be explained by the envious and jealous character of the mother. A woman is more likely to look down on her child, especially if she is a girl, if she envies her physical assets or her success.

  • If the adult grew up with a deficient mother:
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In such a situation, the child often grows up “too fast” and does not know a period of frankness and peace because he finds himself very young in the care of his brothers or sisters, or assuming the role of messenger between parents. It also happens that he must receive confidences from his mother, on an affective, romantic and sometimes sexual level. The mother-son relationship is reversed, explains Brigitte Allain-Dupré: “The mother turns the child into her confidant, on whom she discharges her parental responsibilities and her duties. She can’t play the role of mother because she is raising her own child”.

  • If the adult grew up with a cold mother:

When the mother is not emotionally present enough and is always cold with her child, it is likely that the latter suffers from emotional deprivation and develops insecurities such as fear of abandonment.

This toxic behavior may be due to “a lack of ‘positive maternal madness’ at the time of the child’s birth,” says Brigitte Allain-Dupré, who refers by this to a mother’s awe of her baby and her devotion to curing and curing him. . she understands it.

When their child is born, some women do not feel these emotions and find it difficult to bond. The psychoanalyst recalls the story of a patient: “She told me that as soon as her daughter came out of her womb, she knew that he was not going to get along with her because the little girl did not have the same eyes as hers. other daughters. This woman was going through a difficult time professionally and she wanted a child to make up for her difficulties in her job. After this false start, she struggled to breastfeed and developed a toxic relationship with her daughter.

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When do you realize that your mother is toxic and that you have to leave?

Deciding to cut ties with your mother takes time, and there is no sudden click. Consciousness begins in a subtle way. “As children, we are equipped to receive kindness and tenderness, so we don’t really realize that our mother is toxic,” says psychoanalyst Brigitte Allain-Dupré. However, even as a child, you can feel a certain discomfort in the relationship you have with your mother and evoke it by rebelling.

Faced with a child who rebels, the mother can understand that this behavior is actually a search for her affection. If the mother can’t read her child’s anguish, she becomes increasingly harsh and toxic.

Adolescence is a strong period during which the child can feel discomfort in the relationship with his mother. The psychoanalyst points out: “The adolescent feels it when he has trouble getting home, when he prefers family over his friends or when he locks himself up in a romantic relationship”. relationship to create a parenthesis that feels good.

But it also happens that a person opens his eyes to the relationship with his mother much later in life. However, it is usually in adulthood when the emotional separation occurs. According to Brigitte Allain-Dupré, “there is an instinctive dimension to the feeling of discomfort, then one day an event occurs and this triggers anguish, sadness or anger. The best thing is to listen to that voice that says ‘save your skin’ and leave”.

References :

Anne Laure Buffet, therapist and author of the book Mothers who hurt (Eyrolles editions)

Brigitte Allain-Dupré, psychoanalyst and author of the book Healing of his mother (Eyrolles editions)


With your mother, are you too fusional?

With your mother, did you find the right distance? To find out where your relationship is, mark, among the following statements, mark the ones that best correspond to you.

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Family / Couple

36 questions to fall in love



The exercise seems a bit magical, not very serious. Actually, this questionnaire, developed twenty years ago by Arthur Aron, an American psychology researcher, to study intimacy, really does have an effect: it ignites (or re-ignites) the flame between hearts, in less than an hour! To be tried to be believed.

Last January, the New York Times published the testimony By Mandy Len Catron. She told how she was I fell in love in a few hours. of one of his university classmates whom he had chosen as a guinea pig, answering with him the questions of the American psychologist Arthur Aron. If Mandy Len Catron and her partner were already in love, neither of them knew it until they reached the thirty-sixth question and looked at each other in silence for four long minutes.

Like many discoveries, the contest of who can make you fall in love It is the result of a happy coincidence. In 1997, Arthur Aron, a professor at Stony Brook University in New York, worked on intimacy and developed a exercise he tries to make it appear between two people who do not know each other. The result exceeded his expectations.

One of the student-guinea pig duos marries six months later. The couple is the first in a long series. Arthur Aron understands that he raised a hare and solved part of the problem mystery of love : Vulnerability and intimate confessions create a propitious climate for love flare. With one detail: the questionnaire only falls in love with those who have already chosen, consciously or not. It’s no surprise, the unconscious smell us, recognize us and choose us; then it remains to open a space for desire becomes feeling.

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To fall in love with someone, do this
The testimony of Mandy Len Catron, on the site of the New York Times.

“A Moment of Self-Truth”

In the course of experiments, Arthur Aron discovered that his questionnaire could also work the role of matchmaker than that of “friends”. And, since the publication of the story of the New York Times, which has been viewed nearly five hundred thousand times on Facebook, testimonials are pouring in. Stories of love, friendship, reconciliation…, to the point that Mandy Len Catron is preparing a book on this subject, The love story project.

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Intrigued, we asked the psychoanalyst Sophie Cadalen, relationship specialist, to give us her opinion. “She was perplexed as she read, she confesses, because she could only give some immediate answers. In fact, it is difficult to answer in a single formula. That’s what made me realize that the strength of this exercise lies in his ability to question us. It makes us hesitate, doubt, choose… However, what defines us as a subject is more our questions than our answers. This process allows us to capture a moment of self truth. »

be vulnerable

So, for the psychoanalystthat here creates intimacy between two peopleit is not so much the fact of exchanging intimate confidences to be shown in one’s own vulnerability. “That’s why,” she continues, this questionnaire also works with a stable partner. Over time, we come to the belief that we know each other perfectly, this kills the feeling of love. The interest of the questions lies in the fact that they arouse the strangeness of the other due to the surprise that their answers, their silences, their emotions can arouse. They put us in a situation of uncertainty, and it is this strangeness that makes us desirable and makes us want again. »

Sophie Cadalen, as Mandy Len Catron, explains that this exercise only awaken a feeling of love, asleep or unconscious, but do not believe it. Fortunately. This alchemy is not developed in laboratories.

Arthur Aron test for two

wait about an hour in a quiet place. Take turns answering the same question. speak openly, do not take notes, do not comment on your partner’s answers. be the most sincere possible. The questionnaire is divided into three parts, which increase in privacy; you can pause between each one. At the end, take four minutes to look into each other’s eyes.

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Series 1

1. If you could invite someone to dinner (a loved one, the deceased, a relative, a celebrity), who would it be?

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

3. Before calling, do you ever repeat what you are going to say? Because ?

4. What would a “perfect day” look like for you?

5. When was the last time you sang for yourself? And for someone else?

6. If you could live to be 90 and keep your 30-year-old mind or body for the last sixty years of your life, which would you choose?

7. Do you secretly sense how you are going to die?

8. List three things that you and your partner seem to have in common.

9. What in your life makes you feel most grateful?

10 If you had the chance, what would you change about the way you were raised?

eleven Take four minutes and tell your partner the story of your life, giving as much detail as possible.

12 If you could wake up tomorrow having acquired one quality or skill, what would it be?

Series #2

13 If a crystal ball could tell you something, what would you want to know?

14 Is there something you have dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it yet?

fifteen. What have you accomplished the most in your life?

sixteen. What is the most valuable thing about friendship for you?

17 What memory do you treasure most?

18 What is your worst memory?

19 If you knew that you were going to die in a year, how would you change the way you live? Because ?

twenty What does friendship mean to you?

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twenty-one What role do love and affection play in your life?

22 Take turns telling your partner what you consider to be one of their positive traits (exchange five total).

23 Is your family close and warm?

24 How do you feel about the relationship with your mother?

Series #3

25 Make three statements each about the two of you. For example: “The two of us here feel…”

26 Complete this sentence: “I would like to have someone to share…”

27 If you were to become a very close friend with your partner, tell him what you think is important for him to know about you.

28 Tell your partner what you like about him. Be very direct, say things you wouldn’t say to someone you just met.

29 Tell your partner about a situation, a very embarrassing moment in your life.

30 When was the last time you cried in front of someone? And alone?

31 Tell your partner what you already appreciate about him or her.

32. In your opinion, what too serious subject cannot be laughed at?

33. If you died tonight without being able to communicate with anyone, what would you regret not saying? Why didn’t you say it?

3. 4. Your house and everything in it catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you still have time to get something out of the flames. What are you drinking ? Because ?

35. Of all the members of your family, which death would affect you the most? Because ?

36. Present a personal problem to your partner and ask how they would handle it. Also ask him how he perceives his feelings about this problem.

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Family / Couple

Tinker Bell – Tinker Bell Syndrome



Tinker Bell fairies are bright and ambitious women who also happen to be great seductresses and manipulators. Eternally dissatisfied, the Clochettes hide, behind their obsession with appearance and success, great suffering. And they would be more and more numerous in our society. Explanations with psychotherapist Sylvie Tenenbaum.

He receives more and more in his office: brilliant women, who collect successes and professional achievements; hyperactive people who seek to control everything, starting with themselves; The “superwomen” doubled as great seductresses. So much so that Sylvie Tenenbaum, a psychotherapist, called them “Les Clochette”, in reference to the little fairy imagined by the writer James M. Barrie, with whom they share much in common. Starting with great suffering. We knew about the Peter Pan syndrome, or that of Cinderella or that of Sleeping Beauty. Now here is the tinkerbell syndrome.

The Bells are angry

Ambitious, often arrogant, perfectionists… The bells are ready to do anything to achieve their ends. “They are in a form of violence in front of life, because they take a form of revenge, analyzes Sylvie Tenenbaum. It’s also about revenge, in a difficult childhood, where they were often criticized, abused, humiliated, manipulated. During this, they stored a good dose of anger. And anger is energy, which they will later channel towards professional and social success. »

” He symptoms of tinker bell syndrome form a coherent whole, explains Sylvie Tenenbaum. We speak of syndrome when we recognize most of these signs in a single personality. »

The Clochettes are afraid of their emotions.

Tinkerbell fairies are women who have suffered a lot during their childhood. Of toxic fathers, possessive or self-centered mothers, misogynistic or absent fathers… “Most of the time they did not have the same permissions as their brothers, if they did, they did not value them as girls, or they raised them to be the first all. hour. So they told themselves that to be loved, you had to be successful. And above all, that they should not express their emotions. Which constitute, for them, real weaknesses. “They are afraid of them because they think they can take away their strength. And strength, it is true that they have a lot.

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How to manage the hassle?

Sometimes we react inappropriately and negatively when faced with a nuisance. However, it is not always pleasant either for oneself or for those around you.

Clochettes are great seducers

In terms of affective life, the Clochette multiply the encounters and conquests. But they are rarely satisfied. “The men they meet are never good enough. And since they do not have an easy character, at the slightest disappointment they are immediately fired. They have been so frustrated in the past that they cannot bear the slightest annoyance.

In fact, they despise men, having suffered greatly from their father during their childhood. Therefore, they just expect them to be worshipped. But in reality, the Tinkerbell suffers from a form of emotional dependency. “They are still little girls waiting to be loved unconditionally. Very unconsciously, they expect men to repair their psycho-affective life. But it can’t work because nobody can give them what they didn’t receive in childhood”.

The Tinkerbells hurt each other

Their affective, professional and social hyperactivity allows them in any case one thing: not to think about their suffering. Because if the Clochettes seem to succeed at everything, they are actually suffering. Injure. Victims of themselves. “They don’t know who they are. They didn’t even ask the question. They just live to prove that they are the best, the most beautiful, the strongest. They are in a form of intoxication. Most of the time, they realize very late the loneliness in which they are locked up. And then they become aware of their immense sadness for not having been loved enough or badly.

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Childhood stress, difficult to detect and often underestimated

Just like adults, children can become unsettled and stressed by changes in landmarks or unusual events.

The bells hurt

Meanwhile, they do a lot of damage to those around them. For this egocentric womeninsensitive, manipulative, tyrannical and jealous, “others are objects at his service”. They don’t respect them. They would like the world to live just for them. We have been tyrannical with them for so long. Unfortunately, they copied their models. But this damage that they do and that they do to themselves, they don’t even realize.

tinker bells can break free

Fortunately, the Clochettes can change, “live better, have less heartbreak.” On condition of being helped. “It is a difficult path because it generates a lot of awareness. In particular that of having made others suffer. Generally, they are not proud of it. »

The key to transformation? “The repair of the girl that is in them and that she is still waiting for marks of love. It’s time to cultivate it”. Also renounce omnipotence, to meet your own emotions. And above all, “learn to love yourself better, to love yourself better”.

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Family / Couple

Couple: are you in an “invisible divorce”?



Life together is far from being a long and calm river. If some couples end divorce Where break awayOthers stick together, but not always for the right reasons. In a Article From Psychology Today, Barbara Greenberg, Psy.D., explains this new phenomenon she has encountered as a therapist: invisible divorce. Some couples seem to work perfectly on the outside, they look happy on social media and their vacation photos are idyllic. However, under the social veneer, the reality is much less rosy. These couples are nothing more than a partnership that operates almost like a business. Explanations.

The 4 signs of an invisible divorce

We all knew this couple who looked so perfect, to whom everything seemed to succeed. we envy them secretly, wishing they were as happy as they looked. And then what was our surprise when we found out a few years after their separation. The phrase “invisible divorce” might be a good description of what was going on in your privacy : these couples had evolved separately and their union was ultimately just a facade.

the doctor Barbara Greenberg identified some signs that he believes could indicate that a couple is going through a invisible divorce :

  • the couple operates as a business where the main concerns would be children and finances;
  • there is a lack of emotional and physical intimacy between partners;
  • at least one of the two partners feels that their needs are not being met;
  • one and/or the other may go elsewhere to meet their physical or emotional needs.
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These couples would be like “parallel lines, living together but functioning separately”, illustrates the psychologist. So why don’t they break up? He reasons they are extremely diverse and varied according to Greenberg. It may be that one of the two spouses fears the financial consequences After a separation, some remain together for “the good of the children.” Others just aren’t ready to break away and make the decision to stay together even when you are not happy.

A frustrating and toxic married life

“These marriages are emotionally exhausting and frustrating,” adds the psychologist. As good as the reasons that would push you to remain in this type of union may seem, you put endangered his mental health and well-being. These people describe a daily life full of frustrations and disappointments. They feel disconnected from their partner. If you recognized yourself in the signs listed above, have them courage to face the situation, advises the therapist. “Try to renew the dialogue with your partner and restore healthy and harmonious communication. Talk about what worries you and your expectations, being as honest as possible, ”he recommends.

However, yes, the dialogue seems impossible or leads to a dead end, it is better to part when the feelings no longer exist. the invisible divorce it would be “toxic to both partners,” Greenberg concludes.

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