Deborah Ruf, PhD
2 min readJun 6

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I just completed a longitudinal follow-up study of The 5 Levels of Gifted Children Grown Up. It will be available July 18, 2023. E.B. Johnson writes about narcissism and parenting and the damages that can be caused. She admits it varies. Let me add another piece to that.

My parents were narcissistic and I was the golden child. So my confidence, self-esteem and sense of worth have always been good. Honestly, But, what I'd thought of resilience was probably not entirely accurate. A lot of reading Ms. Johnson really helped me to see that.

Although confident in my not-so-personal outer life, the results of my being in a narcissistic family hugely negatively affected my ability to find and work with an intimate partner who was supportive of me. I had no "speaking up" skills in such a relationship. I didn't know my own mind in such a relationship.

While writing my book, which is based on case studies over a twenty year period, I included a chapter on siblings. Having already described parenting styles, personalities, intellectual levels, etc. earlier in the book, I saw a pattern emerge. When I had access to more than one child in the family being interviewed for the book, I could learn their different views and experiences. In every case, the golden child played the role of the superior one and might lord it over siblings, tease or bully siblings, and have a realization as they grew up they maybe they hadn't been the best sibling, maybe they had actually hurt one or more sibling, and like me, regretted it. Sadly, the bullied or overlooked sibling was not able to develop as a child or an adult a sense of worth, acceptance, or of being "okay." The extent to which that emotional damage played out varied.

That siblings chapter was absolutely the hardest chapter for me to write and acknowledge. I hope it helps parents and people in general to see how to recognize and change the paths they are on.

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Deborah Ruf, PhD

High Intelligence Specialist & Writer, Dr. Ruf writes about highly intelligent people from birth to very old age. www.fivelevelsofgifted.com