Mothers knows best – the narcissistic mother
You want to go outside
Look at you, as fragile as a flower
Still a little sapling, just a sprout
These lines suggest Rapunzel that she is weak, she is fallible. This sentence weakens the self-confidence, telling Rapunzel that she is not enough. It is a common narcissistic tool to weaken the self-confidence of the victim, because a weak victim stays longer the victim. With all the diminutive attributives Gothel makes Rapunzel feel smaller and weaker.
You know why we stay up in this tower
(I know but)
That’s right, to keep you safe and sound, dear
Here Gothel reassures that everything happens for Rapunzel’s benefit, for her convenience and protection. She suggests “I take care of you” however all the way through she sings to the hair and not to the girl. Her real intention is to save the hair, the girl is just an attachment.
Guess I always knew this day was coming
Knew that soon you’d want to leave the nest
Soon, but not yet
Shh, trust me, pet
Gothel calls Rapunzel as a pet, stating that the girl is kept like a dog; she must follow her and trust her decisions. She does not regard her as a person, she can do whatever she wants with her. This is degradation and humiliation wrapped up in care. Confusion is what narcissists create, the victim cannot decide if she should be happy to be taken care of, or should be mad to be treated like a pet. Because pets are taken care of also.
Mother knows best
This states Gothel’s unquestionable power over Rapunzel and her life and also gives a hint to Rapunzel not to disobey. In healthy mother-daughter relationships these kind of sentences do not really occur, mothers try to help their daughter to learn as much as possible, not discourage them from knowledge and development. In narcissistic relationships however this is what goes on, with clueless people the life is easier for the abuser.
Mother knows best
Listen to your mother
It’s a scary world out there
Gothel chooses to threaten Rapunzel away from the outside world by making her uncomfortable with the unknown. Her aim is to make Rapunzel want to stay, by any means. Narcissistic people often use this tool to keep their victims at bay. They project dangerous happenings to prevent kids from the adventure. Or for example they threaten the spouse from going to school and study, by projecting failure as a mother. With people with very weak self-confidence it works, and definitely does work with kids.
It also prevents Rapunzel from learning, discovering the real world, to develop, because if she become more open-minded and sees more details of the world, she will definitely become aware of her submissive life. Narcissistic parents often sabotage the development of their children, in order to keep them on a lower mental level, so that they don’t resist the parents’ will. Having only three books suggests that Gothel does not care about Rapunzel’s mental development, she puts no emphasis on bringing a clever daughter up.
Mother knows best
One way or another
Something will go wrong, I swear
Of course something will go wrong (as she swears it) because she will take care of it. She is afraid that Rapunzel is quite committed to her idea of watching the lights and she suggests that she is not afraid to make things wrong, one way or another. She is basically ready for everything. In narcissist relationships something always go wrong, narcissistic people need the drama. One way or another means that she will push through what she wants, regardless the tools she has to use. Only in this song she uses a lot of common narcisistisc tools.
Poison ivy, quicksand
Cannibals and snakes, the plague
Also large bugs
Men with pointy teeth and
Absolute over-exaggeration of the picture, the aim is to threaten Rapunzel away from the real world, where she could meet other people. She would have another picture of life that does not serve Gothel’s purposes. This is called isolation. Making look the world scary brings the children of narcissistic parents closer to their parents, to the home as the place of safety. Later these children will not feel confident in the real world, they will less likely to initiate and they will rely on others.
Stop, no more, you’ll just upset me
It’s the case of scape-goating, a common narcissistic tool. Place the blame on the victim and she will break and obey. Narcissistic people revolve around themselves, everything should serve their life and well-being. This self-centered remark suggests that Rapunzel should think about Gothel first, and then on herself (however in her case that is absolutely not allowed). Narcissistic people go like: think about me! What are you doing to me? What’s gonna happen to me? They have only one point of view, they are in the center and everything swirls around them, and they expect others to see the world the same way, with them in the center. When they think about themselves only, this is what we call lack of empathy. They cannot come from another point of view, they cannot percept the world from another person’s standing point.
Also she uses another popular narcissistic approach, she plays the victim, the victim of Rapunzel’s evil emotional exploiting. I hope you realize the reversed situation. This is a very strong tool to play with the victim, because the victims are empaths, they feel sorry for others with full heart, they would never kick a man on the ground. So narcissistic people play this card often, in this case a child of a narcissistic mother lives her life in guilt. She says sorry in situations where she really should not be, but the other one should.
Another situation where narcissistic people play the victim is when they pick up new victims, however in Rapunzel’s story this is not the case. In a bar for example when two people meet and the narcissist tells the other how badly he is treated by his wife and his life is so miserable. The empath feels sympathy for the person, puts her trust in him and she is one more step closer to be exploited and abused.
Mother‘s right here
Mother will protect you
Again, taking power away from Rapunzel. She does not learn to protect herself, she is not given the opportunity to learn herself more and better, to come to know who she is, what’s her power in real life. This way she stays to rely on Gothel, in a codependent relationship. Later this comes back in the romantic relationships of victims, they end up in codependent relationships where they are not in control, but abused. They learn this in childhood and they copy this in their adult lives. Children of narcissistic parents more often become victims of narcissistic people, because this is what they were taught, trained, learned, socialized.
Darling, here’s what I suggest
Skip the drama
Stay with mama
This idea gives the hint that Rapunzel was asking an outrageously unacceptable thing, creating drama to Gothel. However it is very obvious that Gothel is the drama queen here, and this is a well-shot projection. Gothel puts the responsibility of creating bad moments to her again on Rapunzel. Narcissistic parents often put the blame for their own ridiculous, unacceptable, false behavior on their kids, this way projecting their badness on their children. And again, what are you doing to me? Drama? Gothel thinks about herself again by complaining about the drama.
And very importantly! Stay with mama, because you give me the power. Without you I’m powerless, I have nobody to walk all over on. If you go away, I cannot project my own insecurity, drama and pain on anyone. Narcissists are powerless without their victims, the victims give them the power. There is a well-known and often used proverb on the Internet: don’t feed the troll.
Exactly this is it! Victims feed the narcissist, with the power. Without their victim they are powerless and that’s why they want to keep the victim close and isolated from others, to have the power always around.
If Rapunzel would ever tell Gothel, to skip the drama, Gothel would probably grow mad. Narcissists have double standards as long as personal boundaries are concerned. They respect no boundaries of the victim, they make remarks on them freely, they controls their relationship with the family, friends and colleagues. They use their belongings as if those would be shared, even if they have separate flats. They have control over the victim’s time and energy, they occupy their mind and thinking. A narcissistic mother might use her daughter’s clothes or make up, claiming that she bought them all, and anyway, she is the mother. But on the other hand the daughter must not use her mother’s clothes. Narcissistic people objectify their victims with all their belongings, they respect no boundaries. In return they defend their own boundaries, they can do all those what is forbidden to the victim, and they call the victim disrespectful if she might cross the boundaries.
Mother knows best
Go ahead, get trampled by a rhino
Go ahead, get mugged and left for dead
Gothel projects sad, painful and deadly future without being disciplined and faithful to the mother. The aim is – again – to threat Rapunzel away from the idea of leaving the tower. It is highly over dramatized especially with the rhino. But not knowing anything about the world, Rapunzel has no idea if rhinos live in the forest. In real life, children of narcissistic parents have also lack of idea of many things. Some parts of the story is always missing, they don’t have a clear picture of the things around them. However in some cases they know too much, when they are made to act as the parents of their own parents. This is parentification, also an abusive form of parenting.
Rapunzel is also parentified, as well emotionally as instrumentally. She takes care of the house and she takes care of Gothel’s needs. No drama, no making her upset. When a child has to suppress her own needs, on one hand she does not learn herself, she does no become confident in being herself. On the other hand she will have problems in having healthy relationships in the future. She cannot connect appropriately to herself, she will try to find this bond in others. There is a very high chance that they become the victims of emotional abusers, narcissists.
And finally, a list of incredible things that could all happen to Rapunzel without having Gothel by the side. Over dramatized example of how useless Rapunzel is without Gothel, however the opposite is true.
Me, I’m just your mother, what do I know?
I only bathed and changed and nursed you
A little guilt tripping, commonly used by narcissists. Gothel is trying to make Rapunzel feel guilty for not showing enough gratitude for all the work she did to the girl. She is shaming her for being selfish and thinking only on herself. She projects her own selfishness on the girl. However asking reward for motherly love is the sign of objectification and it is nothing else but trading love. Narcissistic parents often objectify their children, trade their love for the accomplishments and the performance of the child. Love should be given freely, otherwise it’s not love, but a product.
Kids of such parents will learn to get accepted by service and not by the person who they are. So they will serve other people to be valued.
Go ahead and leave me, I deserve it
Let me die alone here, be my guest
When it’s too late, you’ll see, just wait
Again, shaming for not being faithful and grateful, so basically guilt tripping. It’s a delicate combination of blaming and shaming however, suggesting emotional pain in the future by being such an unfaithful and ungrateful child right now. Guilt tripping, over-dramatizing and again, Gothel is talking about herself.
Mother knows best
Mother knows best
Take it from your mumsy
On your own, you won’t survive
Gothel shreds Rapunzel’s self-confidence down by stating that she is not enough. Sooner or later that will be the case, because Rapunzel cannot grow healthy self-confidence and self-trust, self-acceptance, self-love and self-respect with such an overprotective mother. But Gothel is not afraid of not bringing a mentally and emotionally strong young woman, she is afraid of the opposite. She is afraid that Rapunzel grows into a powerful, strong woman who has a clear vision over her intrigues and leaves her. If Rapunzel leaves, she has no one to get the power from and no one to project all insecurities on.
Gothel is extremely vain, this is the reason why she nurtured the flower and hid it from others. And also stole a baby to keep herself alive and young. The aim here is to humiliate and demolish Rapunzel as a female by shredding the girl’s confidence down. Gothel sees the rival in Rapunzel as she is growing more and more beautiful, pretty and instead of helping her building a strong feminine side, she is about to destroy it. Rivalry between mother and daughter is very improbable to be started by the daughter. It is almost always started by the mother, who is jealous of the youth, the beauty of the daughter and all the possibilities she is about to face. She is jealous of all the things that her daughter could still do, but maybe she cannot. She still has the first love ahead, the first kiss, the proposal, the marriage, all exciting and lovely memories to remember.
Mothers of this kind often ridicule themselves by wearing same style clothes as their daughter. Or even the same clothes. They go out to the same parties with their daughters and they try to hang out with her and her friends. It is embarrassing for the daughter as it is like her mother would try to steal her life, her joy, her friends. The constant competing also does not serve a healthy relationship between the mother and the daughter, but definitely not a healthy relationship between the daughter and her own self. She cannot connect to herself properly, her confidence is in pieces, she feels torn.
Gothel plays with the words brilliantly, because she declares Rapunzel to be immature, however she is immature herself. Narcissistic people get stuck on the emotional level of a 4-7 year old, they cannot take care of emotions of others in a mature way. The fact that Gothel tries, by all means, to destroy Rapunzel’s confidence and personality is to prevent her from growing more mature than Gothel herself. Over-dramatizing is also a childish thing to do, think back to the list of threats that lurk outside according to Gothel; men with pointy teeth.
Please, they’ll eat you up alive
Again – projecting pain and suffering for a disrespectful and disobedient child. Children with full of fear will grow up to be adults with full of fear.
Ditzy and a bit, well, hmm, vague
A row of degrading attributives, systematically shredding Rapunzel’s self confidence down, killing her femininity, distorting her self image. Suffering people are kept under control easily because they expect relief, comfort and help from the outside, they try to rely on the narcissist. In this way they become submissive. Grubby is a very hurtful word with some insidious meaning. On one hand it means dirty, but on the other hand it means to be infected with fly. Gothel cannot change the negative meaning even is she puts “positively” in the front. It stays a very offending statement about a person. This is also an often used element in the narcissistic dictionary. They say something that sounds positive first, but when the person has doubts if she was praised or degraded and analyses the statement, it almost always turns out that it was a negative sentence. I mean something like this: my ex wife had an amazing figure in everything she worn, and Honey, you remind me of her right now, in this wonderful outfit. Oh well, we want to hear we look amazing without being compared to an ex, and also this is praising his ex and then we are the reminiscence of her in the present.
Vague means dim or unclear, in the shadows. Gothel expresses that Rapunzel is naive and foolish, but this is also reference to her situation. Gothel’s favor is to keep Rapunzel in the shadows, not having too many knowledge about the world. As long as Rapunzel acts like the pet, Gothel can take advantage on her.
Plus, I believe
Gettin’ kinda chubby
I’m just saying ’cause I love you
It’s absolutely unfair and manipulative to attack on someone’s confidence and then express “I’m just saying ’cause I love you”. It sounds as if this one sentence absolves all the negative and hurtful remarks that were earlier said, because it suggest that the person, who says that, acts on the victim’s behalf. Gothel suggest by the last line I want the best for you, however in this manner it is strongly unacceptable. Rapunzel could hardly question Gothel’s good intentions and her love, as her mother in the last line said: “I’m just saying ’cause I love you.”
It is like a narcissistic mother says to her daughter: don’t wear those jeans, your butt looks disgusting in it. I’m saying because I love you. The daughter will be ashamed of having a disgusting butt, even if it’s not like that. She could be thankful to her mother from saving her from being ridiculed, but maybe she realizes that her mother has just stated that her butt is disgusting. The mother acts like the savior, the caring mother, however she has just put one awfully degrading remark on her daughter’s body, distorting her self-image.
In narcissistic families a lot of hidden and ambiguous remarks and statements are said in order to confuse each other, and keep each other in the shadows. Oftentimes things are not even said just suggested. It’s not said straight face to face, but with half sentences, with reversed meaning they are planted in the mind of the victim. When the victim does not really know what was said she cannot complain. And if it was suggested, she cannot even draw up or outline it, and even if she tries, the narcissist will absolutely deny, reject and refuse that he has ever said, suggested or done such a thing.
The boundaries of the victim start vanishing, she doesn’t know what she’s doing, who she really is, she questions and doubts her sanity. This is gaslighting. In this case Rapunzel could say to Gothel: why do you call me all these? And Gothel could response: I said I love you my flower, and then she could stay stuck by this defense, strongly claiming that she meant this. And if Gothel stays strong, not admitting that she said a bunch of degrading things to Rapunzel, the girl will believe in Gothel and will second-guess her sanity.
Mother’s here to help you
All I have is one request
Don’t ever ask to leave this tower again
Oh, I love you very much, dear
(I love you more)
I love you most, hmm
Don’t forget it
You’ll regret it
Mother knows best
Narcissistic analysis of Disney ‘Tangled’, and the dynamics of a narcissistic family, relationship
The amazingly well-built pictures show how narcissistic parents objectify their children. By the line that’s right, to keep you safe and sound, dear Gothel sings to the hair and not to the girl. She is not interested in her, just in the hair, but that is attached to Rapunzel. And Rapunzel herself is just an annoying detail here. The main importance is on the hair for Gothel.
Also the scary scenes, created by Gothel during the song, state and show that narcissists do create painful and hurtful situations, where sometimes they show up as saviors. When Gothel pulls Rapunzel’s hair in the dark, Rapunzel almost falls to the ground but suddenly Gothel jumps out and saves her from falling. This is creating false trust in the victim, who will be more submissive this way, and feel indebted to the abuser. Abusers also create painful (emotionally and physically too) situations to state their power over the victim, however in this case Gothel is trying the easy way, only by threatening Rapunzel.
Later on, when the self-confidence of the victim is so low, and she does not trust herself and her mind anymore, in a dangerous situation the savior does not show up and let the victim have a painful experience. Where the abuser was a partner earlier, he stops being a partner. This unpredictable behavior confuses the victim, she doesn’t know when to rely on the other. Keeping the victim in the shadows, tip-toeing in the dark is, again, a common narcissistic tool. Confused victims are powerless and defenseless. And sometimes the narcissist stops being the savior because he no longer cares about seducing the victim. When the victim shows enough signs of commitment and emotions, the narcissist usually finishes the love bombing phase and shows his real side.
All through the song, Gothel creates huge drama over her mother role. This dramatization is also a very common tool for narcissists. They overplay, over-exaggerate their own positive role. But they are also capable of creating useless drama in front of others for more reasons. For example to show others how nice, good, caring and helpful they are, or to show how useless, stupid, naive their victim is.
When Rapunzel lights the candles to have some clear vision over the things around her, Gothel comes immediately to blow all the candles out. Keeping Rapunzel in the shadows means that Gothel can use her for her own purposes for a longer period of time. This is a brilliantly created picture, because this is what narcissists do. They blow out all the candles around the victim to deprive her from visibility, clearness, and common sense. This is the aim here also, Gothel wants to keep Rapunzel in the dark. And keeping her locked up in the tower is also a narcissistic tactic, the separation, isolation. Gothel’s aim is to keep Rapunzel away from others, from the truth, from everything and everybody, not having connection to people who could open her eyes up to see how things are going around her.
In real life narcissistic parents separate their kids from the others. After school they are not allowed to go to play, or they are not allowed to do after school activities, like sports. They are kept at home, under control. Isolated and kept in the dark, Rapunzel does not question Gothel’s control over everything. She accepts that Gothel is in charge, she does not doubt in Gothel, but in herself. Being the only trustful person who understands and saves Rapunzel, Gothel can act like the perfect mother. During the song, when Rapunzel finally sees one clear spot in the dark, Gothel is standing there in the middle of the lights with her arms open. She is the only clear spot in the life of Rapunzel, the girl has no other alternative to go to. So she is willing and relieved to have her mother around, trusting and believing in her undoubtedly. Victims, kept in the dark, have also no other alternatives but to rely on the narcissists and accept their authority as they are in charge for everything and not the victim.
Saying ‘I love you most’ is not for Rapunzel, but for her hair. Gothel strokes her hair and gives a kiss on it.
Later, when Flynn is in the closet captured and unconscious, Gothel arrives back to Rapunzel. The girl wants to show her mother that she is not clumsy and she can save herself outside of the tower, by capturing a foreigner and keeping him locked in the closet.The conversation goes like this:
R: Well mother, there’s something I want to tell you.
G: Oh Rapunzel, you know I hate leaving you after a fight especially when I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong.
Narcissists never take the responsibility for their actions. They are always perfect, everything that happens to be wrong is the fault of others. I have three approaches to this phenomenon:
1. Narcissists use Fake Self, that is created to be the most perfect, powerful, foolproof personality ever. The Fake Self contains everything they ever wanted to be, and of course it doesn’t contain what they want to get rid of in their real life. And as such the Fake Self is unquestionably infallible, cannot be responsible for anything that goes wrong.
2. Narcissists got stuck on the emotional level of a 4-7 year-old child. At this very young age, children just learn to take responsibility over their actions, but in most cases they do not practice it yet. Not taking responsibility is immature, just like in the song ‘Mother knows best’. Gothel projects immaturity on Rapunzel, however in this case, she is immature, by not taking responsibility for their fight. A fight involves two persons, both of them are responsible for it. If not, then it is an attack, not a fight. Stating that for a fight only one of them is responsible, is not real.
3. Narcissists show superiority by degrading the other down. ‘You are fallible, whilst I’m not.’ Repeatedly hearing it the victim starts to believe and learn that.
R: Okay, I’ve been thinking a lot about what you’ve said earlier (and)…
G: I hope you’re not still talking about the stars.
R: ‘Floating Lights’, and, yes, I’m leading up to that, and…
G: Because I really thought we dropped the issue, sweetheart.
R: No, mother, I’m just saying, you think I’m not strong enough to
handle myself out there.
G: Oh darling, I know you’re not strong enough to handle yourself out there.
R: But if you just–
G: Rapunzel, we’re done talking about this–
R: Trust me–
R: I know what I’m saying–[puts hand on chair]
R: Oh, come on–
G: Enough of the lights, Rapunzel! You are not leaving this tower!
[R lifts her hand off the chair.]
G: Ugh, great. Now I’m the bad guy.
Emotionally healthy people try to bring strong, happy and confident children up. Narcissistic people try the opposite. Emotionally healthy people try to increase the self confidence of their kids and decrease their insecurities. Narcissistic people do it the other way around. Gothel says Rapunzel is not ready for the outside world, she is weak and fragile. Increasing insecurity + decreasing self-confidence = narcissistic equation of upbringing.
After this fight, Gothel goes guilt tripping, a common narcissistic tool to make the other feel guilty. She says ‘now, I’m the bad guy’ meaning look what you have done, I became the bad person here. It’s your fault. Rapunzel becomes ashamed of what she had done and again, she feels guilt after this conversation so she changes the topic to a more placid field, talking about her birthday present.
As the above conversation is about to get out of her hands, Gothel becomes louder and louder. Insecure people use volume to settle matters, they think that higher volume represents stronger reasons against the other. They might feel more powerful if they hear their own voice raging all over the place. Gothel puts full stop on the conversation also with volume, leaving Rapunzel with no opportunity to react. Some narcissistic people see strength in loud tone, it silences children and makes them afraid. A loud father, or an always shouting mother is equal to an insecure person.
G: Uh, Rapunzel! How you manage to do that every single day without fail! It looks absolutely exhausting, darling.
R: Oh, it’s nothing.
G: Then I don’t know why it takes so long! Ergh, ho-ho-ho-ho, darling, I’m just teasing.
It seems as if Gothel wants to praise Rapunzel, but that’s not the case. Narcissists often praise if they also want to stab. And it comes right after the favorable answer – why did it take so long then?!
They twist and turn the situation and the words to serve their own favor, in order to have opportunity to lower the victim’s satisfaction, self-esteem and good mood. In this case Gothel suggests also that her time is precious, so Rapunzel shouldn’t waste it. This is letting the others know about the boundaries that the narcissist has. Everybody should respect his strong boundaries, but in return the narcissist walks back and forth on other’s boundaries undisturbed and disrespectfully.
With the “I’m just teasing” Gothel wants to seem nice and friendly, but narcissists never tease, except from the lovebombing phase, only for their own purposes. When she says it’s just a joke, it is really not, she is angry for the waiting. Some narcissists express their devaluing thoughts openly, but some of them try to make it look friendly. This is what’s happening here. Gothel does not want a conflict – we will see it later, she doesn’t want to be the bad guy – but she still wants to express her discontent. This is one kit from the toolbox, they say something unkind, but they try to cut the edge by adding: oh, I’m just joking, don’t take it on yourself, you know I don’t really mean it, you are so touchy. The victim feels confused, but still hurt, because the words that have been said find the target, even if they are tried to be made helpful, friendly and nice. They cannot be wiped out. In a lot of cases even the victim feels discomfort by communicating her resentment. The victim doesn’t want to hurt anyone in their feelings by expressing her own discomfort, so she retreats and does not go further with the situation. However the thorn stays.
G: Rapunzel, look in that mirror. You know what I see? I see a strong, confident, beautiful young lady.
Oh look, you’re here too. Er-ha-ha-ha-ha, I’m just teasing! Stop taking everything so seriously, agh.
It seems again that Gothel is going to praise Rapunzel, but the target is actually herself, she praises herself. Not only she makes Rapunzel feel ugly and insecure, but also she sets up a rivalry, where Rapunzel is less likely to win. This is also common with narcissistic people. They need to be the best, no matter who the opponent is. They have no mercy for their family or young children either. Everybody belongs to their own, personal playground, they use people for their own purposes as kids use the different toys at a playground. Their family serves also some purposes, status for example, the members are the targets to make the life of the narcissist bearable by projecting his shame on them. Or by confusing them they are more easy to use. In this case Gothel uses Rapunzel – not only to stay young by the hair – to set up rivalry on beauty and confidence, the fields where Gothel actually feels insecure. She is vain and she needs to get rid of her fears of getting old. Rapunzel comes handy when Gothel wants to get rid of her fear, she proves herself to be strong, confident, beautiful and young by this twisted manner. And two birds with one stone, this is one hit for herself, but one hit on Rapunzel’s confidence, she will exactly feel less strong, confident, beautiful and maybe young after this remark.
Rivalry is absolutely a common tool in the box. By shredding down the other, defeating her, narcissists gain more power and confidence for themselves. And rivalry between mother and daughter is seriously damaging for the daughter. She has to respect the older, so she has much less privileges and tools to get in the ring. This is an absolutely unfair and unequal rivalry, created by the mother. The ultimate result is that the mother gets stronger at the expense of the daughter and the daughter has less and less confidence and self-trust in herself. The daughter accepts the defeat and superiority of the mother, if not, the rivalry goes on endlessly. She slips into victimhood deeper and deeper and this learned ‘talent’ will stay later in her life, becoming victims of other narcissists.
As we regard the pictures during their particular conversation, we can discover that Gothel does not even look at Rapunzel, not even through the mirror. She keeps focusing on herself.
Narcissists have a one-way conversation, they hear only themselves and at the same time, they are not interested in what the other wants to say. It’s when you ask million times from someone: are you listening to me at all? Are you paying attention at all? If you ask this from a particular person, you might have the chance that you are trying to talk to a narcissist. They have priority over everything, especially in themselves, they think that they know everything best (mother knows best) the others are puppets to use them, and the narcissist himself wants to decide when to use them, talk to them. Approaching him might be a high risk danger, especially if he is in a high position, then he regards himself as the master of life and death, literally. In Rapunzel’s life Gothel is the absolute and unquestionable master, Rapunzel approaches her with difficulty and fear. It seems she has experience with her mother’s mood.
So all the way through Gothel has her focus on herself only and doesn’t miss an opportunity to pick Rapunzel again and again. Asking Rapunzel not to take things seriously again is a reversed conversation, what Gothel means is not what she says but exactly the opposite. It goes: I tell you shouldn’t take it serious – this means you should, or it was only teasing – however it wasn’t. If I say you should take it serious – you really shouldn’t. And as things are said, even if she tries to hide it behind a joke, the words still remain in the ears of the victim, they cannot be made unsaid.
Gothel’s whole body language expresses superiority, contempt and drama. She does not express dominance only verbally, but also in her appearance and on her face too. She behaves like the queen, and she expects the appropriate treatment: lot of attention and less/no bothering. Her moves and tone are exaggerated, dramatic and feels like we are sitting in a theater watching some serious drama. In a narcissistic family, kids are often involved in an overwhelming amount of drama, even over small or insignificant things. If they do not want confrontation they have to accept to stay away, even by pushing away their own needs or opinion. They grow up to be unseen and unheard, they are less likely to express their discomfort, opinion or objection. They will accept the situations as they are. They are very likely to stay in abusive relationships for a long time, or for a lifetime, as they are socialized to be the silent victim.
G: Okay, Rapunzel, please, stop with the mumbling. You know how I feel about the mumbling–blah-blah-blah-blah, it’s very annoying, I’m just teasing, you’re adorable, I love you so much, darling. Agh.
Gothel is immature by imitating, ridiculing Rapunzel. It’s again, a very common feature of narcissistic people. They are stuck on a very young age emotionally, they tend to behave childishly. However here it is more the ridiculing and caricaturing Rapunzel because of her shy behavior. This really does not help to bring emotionally strong and confident children up. If they are lack of confidence, their good values should be encouraged and praised, not their weak points. Rapunzel is afraid to tell her mother about her wish, but instead of being listened to, she is being ridiculed. Such children will not talk about their wishes later also, they will not express what and how they want things in their lives. They are used to not being listened to anyways. They let others to decide over their lives also. It will be easier to give away the right to decide to someone else than really do it for themselves.
And again, a very confusing situation, when in only one sentence Gothel manages to express three different things. On the first hand she expresses her annoyance about mumbling. Rapunzel must know that she hates mumbling.
Narcissistic people require that others alway must know how they feel about different things. What they like, what they hate. How they like the coffee, how they hate their sandwich. Others must pay attention to their customs and needs. However the feel entitled to change their customs anytime they just feel like it, and expect the others to know about it. And also they do not pay attention to other’s needs and customs in return. They have a strong double standard system, where their needs enjoy priority. On the second hand she expresses that she is just joking again, however the remark on Rapunzel’s behavior stays a remark even if Gothel adds that she is only teasing. This is called the minimizing technique, where the abuser questions the emotional reaction what the victim gives on his former remark. Meaning: after the actual abuse the victim reacts in her defense. The abuser, instead of saying sorry or expressing regret, will say something like this: ‘stop the drama, you know I didn’t mean like that’. Or ‘why do you always make a big fuss about everything’? Or simply: ‘you are too sensitive’. He minimizes the effects of his remark by maximizing the victim’s invalid, incorrect, inappropriate reaction on it. The blame is placed out on the victim, because the narcissist is always right. By minimizing, the narcissist invalidates the victim’s feeling and the victim starts to question her own perception. She loses trust in her own self. And finally, Gothel expresses love. The sentence begins with blame, criticism and deprecation, but by the end it seems to be a positive sentence, however it is sure it did not leave a positive effect on Rapunzel’s heart. It left her in confusion.
When Rapunzel leaves the tower with Flynn, her thoughts are the following (in order)
I can’t believe I did this.
I can’t believe I did this.
I can’t believe I did this! Haha.
Mother would be so furious.
That’s okay! I mean, what she doesn’t know won’t kill her, right?
Oh my gosh, this would kill her.
This is so fun!
*I am a horrible daughter. I’m going back.*
I am never going back! Woo-hoo!
*I am a despicable human being.*
Woo-hoo! Best. Day. Ever!
This huge emotional fluctuation is real in victims also, especially when they are about to break away or they have just done it. Their thoughts and feelings are racing and they are absolutely confused. They make a lot of arguments and counter-arguments why to stay and why to leave. If they listen to their True Self, they want their freedom. But in a lot of cases they find a lot of excuses for the abuser’s behavior and they stay, or they walk back. In this case they are so far away from their True Self that they don’t hear its voice. And the aim of the abuser is to make the gap between the True Self and the person as huge as it’s possible. Even if the freedom tastes wonderful in the very beginning, a lot of victims go back, because they cannot find themselves without the abuser. They are measured and defined by the narcissist, without him they feel alone, useless and unworthy. He gives the meaning of their lives as their True Self seems to be unreachable. They cannot connect to themselves, as earlier in their lives their narcissistic parents just trained them to be the victims. They slowly but steadily separated them from their own True Self, they became serving articles in the hands of abusive people. They have never learned to connect to their True Self as their parents’ aims were to separate them from each other.
When the victims walk back, they usually get the same treatment or in particular cases even worse than before. This overwhelming emotional roller-coaster what takes place in Rapunzel is due to her torn self-confidence, she tends to believe what Gothel always says: you cannot handle yourself out there without me. You are safe here with me.
Rapunzel really wants to chase her dream, but she wants to stay loyal to the person who made her belong and rely on her. The separation from a narcissist is difficult for minimum two reasons. On one hand they define the victim’s personality. Without this definition the victim feels lonely, useless and good for nothing. Even if she is with the narcissist and defined to be bad is better, than being nobody without the narcissist. After separating from a narcissist a lot of people admit that they do not function properly, they do not find their places in the world, they are just existing. They have lost their own definition in the world. And secondly being in an abusive relationship is an addiction for both parties. On one hand it’s codependency, they both feel that without the other they do not survive. On the other hand the victim keeps trying to fix the narcissist into the person he was in the lovebombing phase. Victims see that the other is not happy and they want to give a helping hand. They just don’t want to give up on the other, so it becomes an obsession, an addiction. They don’t want to walk away and leave the other.
In Rapunzel’s case we talk about the mother, who represents an even greater character in the girl’s life, the source of existence. Gothel is in the center of her life, she became mother-centered, thanks to the hard work of Gothel. Without Gothel, Rapunzel is out of balance. Victims are ‘other-centered’, they need a sort of ‘master’ to define them. Rapunzel feels completed together with Gothel, Gothel gives her definition and fills her with worthiness. In this case it is often unworthiness, but unworthiness is also a definition. She’s also addicted to gaining love, addicted to the hope of gaining love. That would comfort the girl, to know and feel that she is lovable, beautiful and worthy, but these statements are actually never said. Victims are often kept hanging on to the vision of a better, more loving future and that makes them stay. A victim is often chained to the abuser by hoping for the one word she wants to hear, the one statement she is longing for, but it is very unlikely to arrive. That would mean defeat for the abuser and victory for the victim from the point of view of a narcissist. If he just hints and makes believe, he can keep the victim longer chained to him.
Rapunzel is addicted also because she lives in codependency and as such, she feels responsible for the other person. She is a true empath, she is touched by the heart when the other suggests that she is a little run-down and she needs comfort, Rapunzel is ready to please her. She puts her own needs behind and this is exactly the same in real life empaths. They placed themselves after others in their childhood, later they can be abused more easily, as they are used to focus on other’s needs instead of their own needs. When Rapunzel faces the fact that her mother will be disappointed and sad about her leaving, she knows that she is going to be the reason. She is utterly disgusted to be the reason of other’s sadness, but this is how she was brought up, this is how children of narcissistic parents grow up. They are often the reason of failure, and narcissists put the blame on them to carry the shame and by this, they will be easily handled to obey.
She is also addicted to the past where everything was picture perfect, she had less resistance to her mother and less emotions also. She believes that she is the reason that things changed, she was bad so she wants to make it good. She longs for the past where things were good, the period of seducing. She hopes to be good enough again to gain all that good times back.
At that level, she focuses on Gothel, not on herself, but when she gets out of the tower, her focus point is about to turn away from Gothel to herself. She doesn’t really know what to start with herself, she doesn’t really know who she is, she doesn’t really know what and how to do. This battle is about: mother or me? Me or mother?
When Gothel finds Rapunzel in the forest
R: But I, I, I, I don’t, uh… How did you find me?
G: Oh, it was easy really. I just listened to the sound of complete and utter betrayal and followed that.
R: [sigh] Mother…
G: We’re going home, Rapunzel. Now.
All responsibility goes on Rapunzel, with a huge amount of shaming, blaming and guilt tripping. Guilt tripping is when the narcissist suggests that the victim behaved very badly, selfishly, unacceptably, so the victim feels bad and stays submissive. Gothel sparkles in the role of the good, projecting the role of the bad on Rapunzel. She creates huge amount of disgrace on her, stating that Rapunzel is absolutely irresponsible, bad-behaving and disloyal to her. She exaggerates and dramatizes how she found Rapunzel, but Gothel is a true narcissist, she makes the most out of a situation, where she can shred the victim’s personality down.
Also Gothel expresses her command of taking Rapunzel home, without expecting opposition. She follows to take all will-power and decision away from Rapunzel, pushing her into submission.
R: …I even met someone.
G: Yes, the wanted thief, I’m so proud. Come on, Rapunzel.
R: Mother, wait. I think…
I think he likes me.
G: Likes you? Please, Rapunzel, that’s demented.
R: But mother, I…
This is why you never should have left
Dear, this whole romance that you’ve invented
Just proves you’re too naive to be here
Why would he like you? Come on now, really.
Look at you! You think that he’s impressed?
Don’t be a dummy, come with mummy.
Irony in the tone when Gothel says that Rapunzel has found someone who likes her. It’s belittling her achievement and degrading her confidence. Mothers should celebrate the successes of their daughters in their love affairs, encourage them, praise them and be pleased with their happy moments. For Gothel, however Flynn is a rival and a threat who can take Rapunzel away. This is the case of two narcissists for one prey. So Gothel tries to demolish his reputation by belittling him too.
When Gothel says: ‘that’s demented’ that actually means: Rapunzel, you are demented. She does not say that Rapunzel is demented, she says that what Rapunzel thinks is demented. However this is the same. It seems like Gothel just innocently sums up what she thinks. The same happens in real life when a teenage girl suggests something to her parents and they respond: ‘this is an unbelievably foolish and childish thing.’ They basically covertly express that the girl is a childish fool.
In this case it is difficult to ask for explanation why the parents call her foolish and childish, because it is very likely that they will use the minimization technique, and/or completely refuse to have said such a thing. It is a situation where the parents are not accountable. Or another example of this when a narcissist says: ‘did you really say this? How incredibly stupid this sounds?!’ He means you are incredibly stupid. And again, killing confidence in Rapunzel through her femininity, and trying to make her sad, because in that case, Gothel would have the chance to support and comfort her. And Rapunzel would find her way back to mummy. Shredding the love story down is also a tool of demolishing Rapunzel’s attempt to get in touch with others, and kill her confidence in her own self. In real life those whose self-image, body-image and inner values were treated poorly at a young age, will have no confidence in doing simple things in life. They will not like to go to the swimming pool or parties not to be seen by others, and they will stay away from opportunities where they would otherwise thrive in success. For example they will sabotage their own career by refusing opportunities to show themselves and show their inventions, developments, experiences, researches and results. Planting bad ideas about her at a young age will prevent a girl to live a free, not self-judgmental, happy life. She will need others to validate her beauty and worthiness, and she is very likely to end up in abusive relationships.
G: No?! Oh. I see how it is.
Rapunzel knows best
Rapunzel’s so mature now
Such a clever grown-up miss
Rapunzel knows best
This is the ultimate use of reversed psychology, reversed use of words and meaning. Gothel is suddenly struck by Rapunzel’s mature and grown-up way of behavior, who wants to take responsibility for her actions, but Gothel would never admit this. So she expresses exactly the opposite in a context and adds her tone of voice and behavior, where the whole meaning becomes reversed, expressing that Rapunzel is really immature and naive. Her strong irony in her tone suggests that she does not think that Rapunzel is really mature, however this is the obvious truth. Change in the tone is change in the meaning.
Actually Gothel herself is immature, but she projects it on Rapunzel. All narcissists are immature, regarding their tendency not to take responsibility and consequences of their actions, they tend to ridicule others, they lie and play games. All of them are childish features, but kids brought up in the healthy emotional way will grow out of these forms of behavior. Reversed way of talking and projecting is a common tool of narcissists.They say something but also don’t say it straight. Later the victim will not exactly know what was really said, because it was blurry and confusing. No clear reason, no argument. What Rapunzel might think: ‘she says I’m mature’ but her whole body language and tone of her voice says the opposite. Irony and caricature are means of ridiculing the other. By ridiculing the other means expressing superiority over her. And of course the real power of confusing. If a narcissist says after a fight ‘I don’t care’ and ‘its not important’ it means I DO care and it IS important. The aim is to confuse the victim by all means and keep her in the shadows.
The scene when Flynn sails away
Gothel is accompanied by the twins to get Rapunzel back, and toss Flynn away from her. Narcissists like to delegate ‘work’ to a third party, they often use others to do the job together, or make them do that fully for the narcissist. They manipulate not only their ‘own’ victim, but also others to get the result what they want. In this case Gothel cannot deal with Flynn alone, so she manipulates the twins to help her. It’s called triangulation, recruiting a third party or group to settle the matters, reach for the narcissist’s wished goal or express the thoughts of the narcissist towards the victim. The involved parties are also tools in the hands of the narcissist, they are messengers – by expressing thoughts of the narcissist, or instruments of persuasion – acting on behalf of the narcissist.
And by the end of the scene, Rapunzel faces her mother, who is willing to take her back to the tower, where she is safe forever. The narcissist acts like the savior of the day, leaving basically no other option for the victim, just to go back to captivity. Gothel is not hesitating to break Rapunzel’s heart into pieces, by making her believe that Flynn has left her. On one hand she likes the role of the good guy, even if she created the painful situation in which Rapunzel is torn into pieces. It is a real thing that narcissists do create drama and problem to solve them later by themselves, to shine and sparkle in the role of the hero. But the other aim here is to keep the victim in pieces. That’s Gothel’s favor, because if Rapunzel is deeply brokenhearted, then she is more submissive, she focuses on her own pain and she does not care about what Gothel does and says. Narcissistic parents do break the hearts and souls of their children, to make them obey easier.
Back in the tower
G: There. It never happened. Now, wash up for dinner. I’m making hazelnut soup.
[R head low]
G: Huh. I really did try, Rapunzel. I tried to warn you what was out there. The world is dark and selfish and cruel. If it finds even the slightest ray of sunshine, it destroys it.
It never happened – means a sort of attempt to control the past. Declaring that it never happened means that Gothel has absolute no intention to talk it over, help Rapunzel to settle her torn heart. That would come handy for the girl to let the painful feelings go, ease a little of that tension that’s inside of her, but Gothel refuses to take part in the healing. It is absolutely against her intentions. Gothel cannot be an empath as this is something that does not exist in narcissistic persons. They do not care about others’ feelings, and they feel it also bothering to cope with them on the long run.
In a case like this, when we are truly down in our deepest hell, we need some good words to hear, some big hugs to comfort us. We want to be with someone with whom we feel safe to let the big flood burst out and wash away our consciousness by falling asleep. It will not solve our emotional problem, but this is what empaths usually do, they clean their souls through their eyes. But Gothel is not interested in helping Rapunzel to get rid of this huge burden, that’s absolutely not for her favor. For Gothel it is much better if Rapunzel feels deep guilt, shame, pain and disgust for herself. Her personality falls into pieces, she is absolutely humiliated and ashamed of what happened to her and her confidence basically does not exist. Gothel is not going to absolve Rapunzel’s guilt, she will make it deeper and more hurtful, because if Rapunzel feels deep pain, she will concentrate on that and not on her real life. She will be absolutely disconnected from her True Self, she will be Gothel’s puppet. And this is perfect for Gothel, to drag the girl according to her wish.
Our healthy nature is to cheer others up, to make them feel better. Empaths do this, even at the expense of their own well-being, and this is how they become victims. Narcissists don’t do that, their aim is to have a puppet, so broken that they could do with her whatever they want to.
When Gothel starts to list the features of the outside world, she lists her own characteristics; dark, selfish and cruel. ‘If I find the slightest ray of sunshine, I destroy it’. This is projection again, she projects her inner side to the world. We can give to others what we have inside. She has these features inside, she cannot be anyone else but dark, selfish and cruel. And when she finds joy, she destroys it. If we regard that the world is sunny, happy, helpful and amazing, our world will become like this. When we look at the world in a positive way, our life and our world around us will be bright and friendly because we attract these features. Even if some disturbing events happen sometimes, and we see the lesson in it, we still stay on the sunny side and attract wonderful things. But when we believe that the world is an awful place to live, it will definitely become an awful place to live. We will surely attract all bothering, cold and dark, annoying, dreadful events and people into our lives.
G: Rapunzel? [climbs stairs]
Rapunzel, what’s going on up there?
G: Are you all right?
R: I’m the lost princess.
G: Oh, please speak up Rapunzel. You know how I hate the mumbling.
R: I am the lost princess! Aren’t I?
Did I mumble, Mother? Or should I even call you that?
G: Oh Rapunzel, did you even hear yourself? Why would you ask such a ridiculous question?
R: It was you! It was all you!
G: Everything that I did was to protect… you.
R: [pushes away G] Ugh!
R: [descends stairs] I’ve spent my entire life hiding from people who would use me for my power…
R: … but I should have been hiding… from you!
G: Where will you go?
— He won’t be there for you.
R: What did you do to him?
G:— That criminal is to be hanged for his crimes.
R: [gasps] No.
G: Now, Now. It’s all right. Listen to me. Everything is as it should be. [to pat R’s hair]
R: [apprehends G’s hand] No!
You were wrong about the world.
And you were wrong about me.
And I will never let you use my hair again!
[mirror shatters, G pants, R walks away]
G: You want me to be the bad guy? Fine. Now I’m the bad guy…
When Rapunzel repeats her question, if she the lost princess is, Gothel ridicules the idea immediately. She suggests that Rapunzel is ridiculous herself. When Gothel says that everything she did was to protect Rapunzel, she is trying to make the girl feel her care and love. This is also passing the responsibility for her acts on Rapunzel by saying: “Everything that I did was to protect… you” , Gothel is washing her hands clean. It is commonly heard from narcissistic people: I did everything for you, all I did was to ___________ (help, save) you, or simply, you are the reason that I ____________ (did this, said this). They pass the blame and responsibility on others, waiting the victim to be thankful and forgetful.
When Rapunzel asks Gothel whether she the lost princess is, Gothel does not give a straight answer. A simple YES/NO would do, but avoiding to give the answer – in this case – makes it obvious that the answer is yes. It is rather impossible for narcissistic people to admit that they did any wrong, as they regard themselves to be perfect. So when they need to protect their Fake Self, they reach for some tools in their toolbox. The big gun would be here the gaslighting, when Gothel would absolutely deny all that happened, trying to make Rapunzel question her own perception of the events and her sanity. But Gothel here first tries the diversion by starting to talk about another topic. Diversion is when the narcissists, instead of giving straight answer, tries to steer the conversation to another topic: “Oh, please speak up Rapunzel. You know how I hate the mumbling.” In this case of diverting, Gothel steers the case to a field, where she doesn’t have to answer, but she can pick Rapunzel a bit, referring to her mumbling. The second case she tries diverting the case to a field where she can declare that Rapunzel is ridiculous.
A narcissists asking “did you even hear yourself” is pretty twisted, as narcissists have a one-way attention, they hear only themselves. It’s subconsciously turning her own weapon against herself. But these are very poor attempts from Gothel to skip the case, so after Rapunzel asking her for the second time if she the lost princess is, Gothel tries the evasion tactic. In this case the narcissist does not give a clear answer to the clear question, but she gives vague and irrelevant answer. Seeing that no tactics work, Gothel has to push the button, where she injects pain into Rapunzel, so she diverts the topic again. She let Rapunzel know that Flynn is not going to be there for her to help, because he is about to be hanged. This is literally stabbing Rapunzel on the back, an attempt to weaken her back to puppet-mood. She tries to blame and shame the girl by making her believe that she is going to be the reason of the death of Flynn. But instead of breaking her into pieces, Rapunzel finally awakens.
This awakening gives a little clue what anger or rage victims feel when they realize that they are used. In the first stage it is always anger, but very soon comes the sadness, humiliation, shame and the devastating loneliness. Let’s see what Rapunzel says: “I’ve spent my entire life hiding from people who would use me for my power… but I should have been hiding… from you!” She has come to realize that she was not important as a person, but she was used for Gothel’s own purposes. She realizes her own naivety. She realizes that she was objectified, that she was nothing more to Gothel just The Hair, the tool to stay young. She identified herself as Gothel’s daughter up to this point, but now it became suddenly clear, the Gothel identified her as an object. She realizes that what she thought from the world was wrong, and earlier she blamed herself for being locked up in the tower. She thought that people would attack on her to steal her hair, but now it is also clear that she was not the reason, but Gothel. Her mean and selfish personality that kept her locked up. It is clear for Rapunzel that she has been unconsciously serving bad reasons for 18 years, at her own expense, but for Gothel’s favor. She realized that she had been used and abused. And finally she realizes that her devotion toward her mother was absolutely one-sided, Gothel has no such feelings for her and she never had. These are very powerful statements on narcissism!
Victims are used for their special power, LOVE and CARE! These ARE special for narcissists, because they are unable to generate these two feelings. These are the superpowers what narcissists gain from the victims, but they absorb it all, and cannot reflect it back. This is where these one-sided relationships are doomed to fail.
When Gothel has no other option to stop Rapunzel from leaving, she declares herself to be the bad guy. It’s like giving herself the permission to act badly, after all Rapunzel is the reason that Gothel has to become the bad person. This is enough reason for Gothel to become deadly. This is the beginning of the narcissistic rage and that will escalate further on. In real life narcissists rage only in private, but almost never in public.
Gothel stabs Flynn on the back and says: “Now look what you’ve done, Rapunzel.”
In this one single sentence you can find the essence of narcissism. It suggests a lot what the narcissist thinks of the victim: you are bad, I’m not. You are responsible, I’m not. I’m perfect, you’re not. I’m acting only only on your behalf, I’m your puppet. I make what you make me do.
This shows the twisted, reversed way of thinking what narcissistic people have. In this way it’s impossible to talk to them, try to fix them, or reach to them because they strongly believe that they are the good ones and there’s nothing wrong with them. The other reason why it’s impossible to help them to change is that they have the one-way attention that directs towards themselves.
When Gothel stabs Flynn on the back, she uses guilt tripping and scapegoating. She scapegoats the girl by placing the full blame on her for what Gothel herself has done physically. Gothel regards herself to be perfect, she would never do such a thing, according to her, Rapunzel was the one who brought the situation so far. Gothel suggests that she was only the innocent and naive puppet here, in the evil hands of Rapunzel.
Just like Gothel in the story, narcissists know that if the victim is in emotional pain, she is more vulnerable and more ideal for an abuser. The victim is defenseless and the narcissist can make whatever he wants to her, because the victim stays submissive. Gothel breaks Rapunzel to the ground not only by stabbing Flynn on the back, but by placing the blame on the girl. This is horrifying for the victim to be blamed for such a terrifying act. This is the absolute destruction and demolition of the victim’s identity.
Narcissists also like to play the victim themselves, they like to twist and turn the facts to show how used and abused they actually are. Here Gothel shows what it means for a narcissist to play the victim.
Even when Gothel is about to fall out of the window, Rapunzel makes one less move to save her. A real victim (not the narcissistic faking) does have emotional connection to the abuser, she does feel a sort of addictive love towards the person who does a lot of harm and pain to her. Victims still try to heal the other person, help him to recover and live a full life.
(The song and the pictures from the “Tangled” animated movie used in this analysis are property of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures and are used for educational purposes (fair use and no commercial gain intended).)