Like over-coercion many first as well as only children are particularly influenced by over-submissive parents. Perhaps because they want to create a dominant and successful child, these parents have substituted the more difficult task of providing consistent but firm loving limits with catering to the child’s demands. As a consequence, as these children become adults they equate fulfillment of their desires with love. The over-coerced child often becomes the impulsive and stimulation seeking adult. When others are not catering to their narcissistic demands they feel unloved. But, their strategy of demanding submission from others only insures that want they really seek remains elusive. In the absence of inner stimulation (feelings) they seek external stimulation and drama as substitutes. When they are still and alone they can become aware of the inner deadness which can only be tolerated for brief periods. This intolerable feeling drives them to seek stimulation “in the moment” to ward off the pain of inner numbness. Like adrenaline-rush-seeking-addicts they are driven to act impulsively to feel some of the aliveness that seems to remain elusive in their lives.
Children of over-submissive parents tend to become bright adults who seem to “live for the moment”, and are often warm, engaging, friendly and attractive to others. As leaders they may infringe on the rights of others ignoring their obligation to protect their “tribe” from harm. They can be strong on inspiration and drive and often have impressive careers, but frequently find it difficult to sustain attention towards “much less exciting” long range goals. While it is easy for them to form close relationships and connect with others, it is equally easy for them to disengage when they are no longer exciting. Nothing short of full submission to their demands will ever satisfy them and often only in the moment. In essence, their excesses allow them to “feel alive” but often at too high a cost for them, their families and those entrusted to them at work. Others exist to meet their demands and serve them as their parents once did.
Children interpret limits as love. Unfortunately, the child of over-submissive parents tends to interpret the absence of loving limits as being unloved even while being over-indulged. In essence, they sense that the parent’s stance towards them is leaving some important needs unmet. Their undeveloped brains and perspective leaves them with few options. Perhaps the “best” option at the time is simply not to feel. Somehow they learn to turn down the volume of their feelings early in life. This often means that it takes increasingly higher levels of stimulation to overcome the feeling of inner deadness they experience. This adaptation becomes a biological and psychological habit and they become chronically under-aroused as adults. As a consequence they tend to restrict the broad range of feelings experienced by fully functioning people into two feeling states—anger and depression—both of which are linked to the frustration they experience when others refuse to submits to their demands. While the gratification of their whims and impulses seems to be what the want, and demand on a conscious level, what they really seek is the elusive feeling of being fully alive.
These persons have little tolerance for prolonged discomfort of almost any kind it is often difficult for them to re-discover their inner aliveness in the absence of external stimulation. One thing they could do is to engage in serving others and becoming the parent they needed.