The lack of attention caused Oprah to develop a psychological state that created feelings of being deserted by her very own mother. About this, Oprah has mentioned in her interviews that this neglect made her feel ugly as she was dark colored while Patricia had a lighter skin tone, and therefore her mother made her sleep on the porch on the back of the rooming house, while Patricia slept with her mother in her bedroom. Initially, such problems made Oprah become depressive and weak, but as she grew with this, Oprah sprung love for her own self to compensate the avoidance she had to face from her mother. This love grew with her towards her adult life, and made Oprah a narcissist, i.e. A person who values and loves him or herself more than anyone else.
By the age of eight, life became tougher for little Oprah as she was made to live with her mother at her mother's cousins house. At the age of nine, Oprah became a victim of sexual abuse by one of the men in her family. About the incident, she said, "The guy was a cousin by marriage. I was nine and he was nineteen. Nobody else was home at the time. I didn't know what was happening. I had never seen a man. I may not have even known that boys were different. I knew, though, that it was a bad thing, because it started with him rubbing me and feeling me. I remember it was painful. Afterwards, he took me to the zoo as payment for not telling anyone. I was still hurting and recall bleeding on the way there. That year I found out where babies came from and I lived in absolute horror that at any moment I was going to have a baby. For the entire fifth grade I got these stomach aches during which I would excuse myself to go to the bathroom so I could have the baby there and not tell anyone."
She was further molested by several men of her family during those years. These men were highly trusted in her family and therefore, she did not tell anyone about how they had abused her as she thought that no one would believe her. This sexual abuse did not do well with her mental health as young Oprah became confused amongst the rights and wrongs of the society and started to behave rashly with everyone and in every situation. Her decision making powers became flawed as she tried to cope with the conditions she was surrounded by. This had been evident by the choice of her television show topics as many people criticized that she had not been completely moved on mentally from the events of her childhood and therefore, did not feel remorse for what had happened with her.
At school, the lifestyles of her peers used to rub in her eyes about how poor she was. This forced her to lie and steal from her mother on many occasions to maintain a lifestyle of free-spending and to go out with older boys. Her mother became annoyed by her attitude and eventually sent her back to live with Vernon in Nashville. Although this can be attributed to her change her attitude, on an unconscious level, Oprah had used the idea of projective identification on her mother to convince her to make a decision of sending Oprah back to her father, where her brief period a few years back made her happy and relaxed on a psychological level. This projective identification, a psychological concept developed by Sigmund Freud, actually projected the feelings Oprah had for her mother on to Vernita herself and therefore, made Vernita take such a step due to Oprah's portrayed ill attitude. When she returned to Nashville, Vernon was quite strict and authoritative and made Oprah focus on her academics. The attitude and mental behavior Oprah used to portray back with her mother faded away soon, mostly due to the calmed environment and the strict attitude of her father. This had a positive effect on her as she turned out to be an excellent student and went to the Tennessee State University on by earning full scholarship due to her achievements.