7 Little-Mentioned Roles You Might See In A Narcissistic Family

It’s not just the Narcissist, the Enabler, the Golden Child, and the Scapegoat.

Woman constantly on edge, look over shoulder-- after living with a narcissistic family rafafernandezphotos, Chermiti Mohamed | Canva

Lately, I’ve been reading up on the whole world of living with a narcissist, primarily because it’s been helping me understand a lot of what happened to me and others.

As someone who’s dealt with narcissists a bunch, there are certain roles people tend to zero in on.

We all know that the ringleader is the Narcissist.

The person who stays quiet is the Enabler — usually the spouse. The Golden Child is the Narcissist’s favorite who can do no wrong. Then the Black Sheep (or Scapegoat) is the one the Narcissist blames for everything.


But sometimes, we forget other roles that family members can have in a ring of narcissistic abuse. Sometimes, one person can play multiple roles in the same ring of dysfunction.

Depending on the size of your family or the environment, you might have seen these, too…


RELATED: 5 Traits Of Narcissistic Parents — Sound Familiar?

Here are 7 little-mentioned roles you might see in a narcissistic family:

1. The Truth Seer

The number one thing that narcissists hate more than anything else is to have someone realize what they are. They loathe and fear being exposed. That’s why they cannot stand the Truth Seer.

The Truth Seer is the person who sees the Narc for who they are and makes it known that they do. They may do so subtly, like trying to warn others or simply that one little eye-roll when they hear the Narc go off.

In many cases, the Truth Seer is the Black Sheep of the family. Unlike typical Scapegoats, the Truth Seer rarely ever questions if they are at fault for the things they get blamed for. They know they’re innocent.


A typical Truth Seer usually bides their time until they can leave the family. They almost certainly go no contact as soon as they can.

2. The Throwaway

The Throwaway is the opposite of the Truth Seeker. When a Narcissist has drained their child of all they can or decides that the child no longer suits their needs, they may effectively kick them out of the family.

The Throwaway child often self-blames and wonders why they aren’t good enough. They may develop a drinking habit, PTSD, or become borderline. It can take years for them to heal.

Even then, a Narcissist may "hoover" them back in if they get better or suddenly become helpful to the Narcissist.


3. The Forgotten One

Dewey from Malcolm in the Middle is the perfect example of this, though I wouldn’t say his parents are narcissistic. In larger families, particularly with Narcissistic families, there is at least one child who is constantly overlooked.

No matter what this kid does, the Narcissist ignores them and treats them like an afterthought. They usually will start to act out, just to get some kind of attention. Even then, it may be short-lived.

At worst, they may turn into the Scapegoat when the Black Sheep/Scapegoat/Truth Seer leaves. Or, they may eventually leave on their own accord. At best, they may be stuck around the Narcissist as a Flying Monkey.

RELATED: 8 Long-Lasting Effects Of Having Narcissistic Parents


4. The Flying Monkey

This isn’t just a family role per se. If you have been around narcissists, then you know that they love to use other people to attack those they don’t like. The term for this is "Flying Monkey," from The Wizard of Oz.

Some people might end up being a Flying Monkey because the Narcissist feeds them lies that they believe. From what I can tell, that’s usually what happens — at least at first.

Others fall into the Flying Monkey role because they realize if they don’t gang up on that Scapegoat, they’ll become the targets themselves. Oddly enough, this is why Flying Monkeys often turn on each other once the Scapegoat leaves.

Flying Monkeys tend to end up paying for their willingness to attack others. When the Narc gets exposed or the Scapegoat leaves, they end up alienating themselves from everyone. Or, they end up being the new Scapegoat.


If the Flying Monkey falls from grace, they may try to reach out to the Scapegoat and apologize. More often than not, their actions from the past end up destroying any chance of having a healthy relationship with someone from that circle.

5. The Benefactor

I noticed this in rich families quite a bit, especially where the Narcissist is a mom with a rich parent. The rich parent becomes the Benefactor — or the person who the Narcissist lives off of.

The Benefactor is not immune to the Narcissist’s abuse. In fact, they are often blamed for choosing a sibling of the Narcissist over the Narcissist. But, they generally try to not ruffle feathers by casting the Narc out.

Most Benefactors know that they are being taken advantage of, though they may not feel like they have a choice in the matter. They may, low-key, be afraid that the Narcissist will steal from them or try to wrongly claim an inheritance, too.


Though the Benefactor may get abused from time to time, they do have limits. The Narcissist generally knows not to piss off the Benefactor too much. Otherwise? Their fortunes will run out, and Narcs can’t have that because they need shiny new toys!

If the Benefactor decides to drop the Narcissist, they better watch out. Nothing is more vicious than a Narc who just lost their source of money. Weaponizing custody, physical abuse, name-smearing, and long, dragged-out divorces are common.

In really ugly situations, you might end up with a murder case. It’s not unheard of. Benefactors often know when the Narcissist would go to that length. If you’re a Benefactor, please protect yourself.

When Narcissists are the breadwinners, they are not Benefactors. They may pretend to "play the role" for sympathy, but they are not Benefactors. Instead, wealthy Narcs keep golden handcuffs on their victims so they don’t leave.


RELATED: What Family Means To A Narcissist

6. The Surrogate

If you have a narcissistic parent, there will be times when they will not be a parent. Instead, they may end up making kids turn into the parent of the house — a form of abuse called "parentification."

In many cases, the oldest sibling will end up being the Surrogate parent for the younger ones. In some cases, they may have to be a Surrogate parent to their own parents because the Narc is acting like a petulant child.

Surrogates are often tired, wise beyond their years, and quick to walk away from the family dynamic. If they have it in them, they may also try to get other siblings out too.


7. The Mascot

The Mascot is the kid who tends to act like comic relief or who helps bring a lot of clout to the family. They are the ones that the Narcissist approves of because they make the Narcissist look good — even if they are not the ones doing the work.

If you read Jeanette McCurdy’s work, Jeanette was a Mascot for her family. She was famous, which made her narcissistic mom feel famous by proxy. She allowed her mom to dictate everything she did.

The Mascot is just as much in the grips of a Narcissist as the Scapegoat. The difference is that the Mascot will typically act like a puppet or a fluffy pet so that the Narcissist doesn’t lash out. Mascots, too, fear the Narcissist.

I mean…who wouldn’t?


If you think you may be experiencing depression or anxiety as a result of ongoing emotional abuse at the hands of a narcissist, you are not alone.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone and is not a reflection of who you are or anything you've done wrong.

If you feel as though you may be in danger, there is support available 24/7/365 through the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-7233. If you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474, or log onto thehotline.org.

RELATED: The 5 Manipulation Tactics Narcissists Use To Get Inside Your Head

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer whose work has been featured in Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, Newtheory Magazine, and others.