Narcissistic Abuse 101 – What Is It & Why Don’t More People Know About It

In our October 16th post entitled “What The Heck Is A ‘Narcissist’?” we defined what a narcissist is and covered eight key characteristics of their narcissistic personality.  I even shared specific, real life examples from my own relationship.

This post is going to pick up where we left off and dive deeper into what “narcissistic abuse” is in a relationship. While most people have heard the word “narcissist,” it still amazes me how few have heard the term “narcissistic abuse.” I think you’d be surprised at how many people this affects in the United States alone!

According to PsychCentral®, Narcissistic abuse affects over 158 million people in the United States. It defines narcissistic abuse as “a form of emotional and psychological abuse, primarily inflicted by people who have either narcissistic personality disorder (NPD, characterized by a lack of empathy), or antisocial personality disorder (ASPD, also known as sociopaths or psychopaths), and is associated with the absence of conscience.” The numbers are actually even more staggering in the article, but what’s crazy is that narcissistic abuse negatively affects more people than depression (approximately 80.8 million people). Yet, the public awareness about it is virtually non-existent and as invisible as the wounds of those abused.

So why hasn’t narcissistic abuse received the public attention, education and funding that it so deserves? Well, that’s easy…for one it’s INVISIBLE to the naked eye! Unlike physical abuse, it doesn’t leave any visible marks, bruises or lead to broken bones. It’s also the reason why so many people don’t even realize that they are actually being abused—and that it has an actual name (“Narcissistic Abuse”)—until the abuse has done its damage. Another possible reason is since it’s invisible it’s hard to prove what you can’t see. The emotional damage caused by narcissistic abuse is also cumulative – it happens in small, innocent-looking instances over a long period of time. The lack of public awareness and education blinds us from seeing pieces of our self-esteem and identity slowing being destroyed by a narcissist. This very reason sparked an awareness campaign recently by the hashtag #IfMyWoundsWereVisible.

Narcissistic abuse is covert and usually disguised by lots of charm, charisma, love and care. It’s not a single act of cruelty. It’s a treacherous, gradual and intentional erosion of a person’s self-worth. It’s both emotional and psychological abuse focused on undermining a person’s identity for the sole purpose of obtaining control for personal gain. It can involve patterns and cycles of dominance, manipulation, intimidation, emotional bullying, withholding, dishonesty, extreme selfishness, guilt mongering, rejection, abandonment, silent treatment, stonewalling, gaslighting, financial abuse, jealously, and possessiveness – just to name a few. Narcissistic abuse can even happen WITHOUT the use of anger, yelling, or name calling. HOW can that be, you ask?

Lundy Bancroft, author of Why Does He Do That?, provides an unsettling description of how abuse can be inflicted. His example shows it can cause great psychological harm, without the use of anger, yelling, or name calling: ‘’He (or she) can assault his partner psychologically without even raising his voice. He tends to stay calm in arguments, using his own evenness as a weapon to push her over the edge. He often has a superior or contemptuous grin on his face, smug and self-assured. He uses a repertoire of aggressive conversational tactics at low volume, including sarcasm, derision—such as openly laughing at her—mimicking her voice, and cruel cutting remarks. Like Mr. Right, he tends to take things she has said and twist them beyond recognition to make her appear absurd, perhaps, especially in front of other people. He gets to his partner through a slow but steady stream of low level assaults…” 

Another factor in the public awareness crusade is the fact that it’s challenging enough to describe what narcissistic abuse is, much less get people who’ve never experienced it to pay attention and care about it.  Like I did at one time, many feel that they are too smart and too strong to ever be a victim of narcissistic abuse, or be impacted by it in any way. One commonly held misconception is the belief that only weak-minded, fragile, co-dependent types are vulnerable to being abused.

Why should YOU care about narcissistic abuse even if you’ve never experienced it? The damage it causes is not just limited to the individual victim. Whether you know it or now, its effects impact ALL of us! I’m positive you know someone in your family, friends or professional network who is directly affected by this form of abuse.  Please don’t look the other way or stick your head in the sand because you think or feel it’s not your problem. It’s ALL of our problem!  Sometimes a victim just needs to vent. Sometimes they need help – a place to stay, knowing local resources to go to, a good referral to a professional  (therapist, lawyer, etc.), or just affirmation and encouragement.  You could be their lifeline of “hope” that they can survive.

There is a strong link between psychological and emotional stress and its relationship to increased risk of illness and disease. The prolonged, chronic stress of narcissistic abuse gradually wears our bodies over time. It wreaks havoc on our bodies’ stress response systems, physiology and overall well-being.  Some common illnesses associated with the chronic stress are (but not limited to): heart attack, adrenal fatigue, weight gain or loss, hair loss, insomnia, anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide, PTSD, autoimmune disorders, digestive problems, asthma, migraines, epilepsy, cancer, arthritis, slower wound healing, Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), and increased dependency on alcohol or other substances.

Again, how does this affect you and impact society? Well, many victims of narcissistic abuse end up missing work, have to go on disability or even laid off from their jobs because of missing a lot of work due to their physical, mental and emotional challenges. Some victims are forced to turn to taxpayer funded government and state programs for assistance. The financial costs of narcissistic abuse places on society would be spent more wisely and effectively if it went towards public awareness and education.

As a survivor of narcissistic abuse, I will say this:  I NEVER thought in my entire life I would ever be in this type of relationship. I was in denial that it was “abuse” for about half of the 8 years I was in it.  I would NEVER have survived had it not been for my amazing support network of close friends. They may not have understand the specifics of narcissistic abuse, but they understood that I was in a toxic, unhealthy, abusive marriage. They saw the roller coaster I was on for 8 years and what it was doing to me. My support network, yoga, journaling and God saved my life!

While I’m still in my healing and recovery journey, my poor body is one big mess of health challenges. I will forever be affected by my experience, but I refuse to be defined by it which is why I’m such a passionate advocate on this subject. It is also the impetus for why I created “SpunkyDiva Diaries” because I wanted an online platform where women could feel comfortable sharing their real life stories. I’m committed to education and bringing awareness to Narcissistic Abuse. I wanted to create a virtual sisterhood where we can affirm, support, encourage and inspire one another…in life, in business and as great warrior divas who’ve survived the impossible.

Lorena Moreno Davis

Full article: https://www.spunkydivadiaries.com/home/2017/11/7/narcissistic-abuse-what-is-it-why-you-should-care

10 Things To Keep In Mind When Recovering From Narcissistic Abuse: The process is long but well worth it.

Loving a narcissistic person is one of the easiest things to get sucked into but one of the hardest things to get out of or over. It is a constant process of beating yourself up with blame and self-destructive behaviors. It is taking everything they have ever said and done to you and defining yourself by it. It is looking in the mirror and no longer recognizing who you are and know that there is no love for yourself to be found. If you have already made the step to terminate the relationship, from here it only requires yourself and your ability to move on. Here are 10 things you need to keep in mind when recovering from narcissistic abuse:

1. Just because they always blamed you does not mean everything is your fault

A word often used when talking about narcissistic abuse is deflection. This is when someone is faced with the truth about who they are or something they have done to hurt another individual, and instead of owning up to it, they direct the blame onto the person telling the truth. When dealing with a narcissistic individual, this happens quite often and to the point where you genuinely feel like everything is your fault.

Nothing they did or said was your fault, they just cannot accept the truth about themselves. When moving on you have to remember that their inability to own up to who they are is more about them than it is you. It is time to release the burden of blame that you have been carrying for so long.

2. How you feel has always been and is always rational

One reason why you carry so much blame is because they have told you how you feel is not rational and that you are crazy. Everything you feel is real and rational, don’t belittle your feelings because they did for so long. You feel what you feel for a purpose, don’t ignore that because they turned your problem against you. You were and are the victim, don’t let them take that away from you.

3. Everything you do is good enough

Another reason you blame yourself is because they reminded you that nothing you do is good enough for them or for anyone. Stop thinking that. I know that is easier said than done but the only reason they blamed you is because they don’t know how to blame themselves.

4. You don’t always have to explain yourself

Something that you had to do for a long time was explaining yourself, and that is not always required of you. You don’t have to explain yourself to any or everyone out of the fear of being tormented if not. Just live your life and do what makes you happy without thinking that your every move needs an explanation. Just because your narcissistic abuser wanted you to explain yourself every time you did anything, doesn’t mean you have to anymore.

5. You are not the mean things that they called you

You are none of the names that they called you and it is going to be a process to love yourself again and know that, but you will get there. Just remind yourself every day that the what they called you was a reflection of how they saw themselves. Simple as that.

6. They cannot be fixed

Narcissists see nothing wrong with what they do or say, so helping them is nearly impossible and pointless. Your love cannot change them for they do not want to be changed or see no reason to change. Let that go.

7. Their lack of love for you does not define what you really deserve

Just because they couldn’t treat you right or love you in ways that you needed, doesn’t mean someone won’t. They were not the person for you and love does not destroy you. Narcissistic people have a good way of making us feel like they are the only ones that can love us and that they are the only ones who “know” us, which is not true. They don’t love you and they only know the you that they have chiseled you into. You are worthy of so much more than that.

8. You will have to move on without an apology

Getting an apology out of a narcissistic individual is like pulling teeth, and I am sorry. You are going to have to suck up the idea that you need closure to let go and move on. You are capable of moving on without an apology, but you have to give that to yourself. They will never be or feel sorry for the pain that they caused you and any time they say that they are sorry, remember, it is a mind game to manipulate you. Narcissists are hardly ever sorry.

9. Your memory is fine, they just have “Toxic Amnesia”

Toxic amnesia is when a “toxic” person pretends to not remember an event that happened or conversation that you two had. As unfortunate as this is, it does happen. It will lead the victim to believing that he/she is crazy or that there is something wrong with their memory. Well, your memory is fine.

10. And yes, it is normal to miss your narcissistic ex-lover

You are probably wondering how and why you miss someone who has destroyed your every being, which is completely normal. You have become unfragmented and no longer a part of who you once were to fit their every need, there are reasons why you would go back to the only person you think could ever love you. But remember that what they were giving you isn’t love and will never be love will always keep you moving forward.

Full article: https://www.google.com/amp/s/swoon.theodysseyonline.com/narcissistic-abuse.amp

Who’s Afraid of BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder)?

If you ask mental health professionals which diagnostic classification they most dread, they won’t generally reply “schizophrenia,” or “bipolar,” or “drug abuse.” More often, they will respond with the disdainful (and amorphous) designation, “borderline.” Indeed, Borderline Personality Disorder frequently refers to demanding, unstable, and difficult individuals. They may idealize beyond measure those whom they will soon come to revile without reason. Lovers become hated. Disappointment slides into litigation. It sometimes seems that everyone’s first wife was a borderline!  Often, BPD becomes a diagnosis of countertransference–the label attributed to a patient who lacks the graciousness to get better, or who just aggravates the doctor.Recent research, however, defies the myths that BPD represents willful spoiled brattiness and never improves. Neurobiological and genetic information demonstrates that DNA vulnerability may combine with environmental circumstance to yield distinctive changes in brain function. In such individuals, those parts of the brain associated with impulsivity and emotionality may be overly stimulated. Specific and directed treatment approaches, such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy among others, have resulted in marked improvement in functioning. Even without any treatment most BPD patients eventually improve significantly.Although the classic stereotype of BPD is the mutating character played by Glenn Close in the film “Fatal Attraction,” less malignant figures fulfill defining characteristics.  Biographers of Princess Diana  reveal that this beloved woman probably suffered from BPD.  Individuals with borderline traits can be attractive, talented people, who, over time, live full and contented lives.Jerold Kresiman MDFull article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/i-hate-you-dont-leave-me/201011/whos-afraid-bpd-borderline-personality-disorder

11 Warning Signs of Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic used to gain power. And it works too well.

Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, in the movie Gaslight(1944), a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind.

People who gaslight typically use the following techniques:

1. They tell blatant lies.

You know it’s an outright lie. Yet they are telling you this lie with a straight face. Why are they so blatant? Because they’re setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you’re not sure if anything they say is true. Keeping you unsteady and off-kilter is the goal.

2. They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof.

You know they said they would do something; you know you heard it. But they out and out deny it. It makes you start questioning your reality—maybe they never said that thing. And the more they do this, the more you question your reality and start accepting theirs.

3. They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition.

They know how important your kids are to you, and they know how important your identity is to you. So those may be one of the first things they attack. If you have kids, they tell you that you should not have had those children. They will tell you’d be a worthy person if only you didn’t have a long list of negative traits. They attack the foundation of your being.

4. They wear you down over time.

This is one of the insidious things about gaslighting—it is done gradually, over time. A lie here, a lie there, a snide comment every so often…and then it starts ramping up. Even the brightest, most self-aware people can be sucked into gaslighting—it is that effective. It’s the “frog in the frying pan” analogy: The heat is turned up slowly, so the frog never realizes what’s happening to it.

5. Their actions do not match their words.

When dealing with a person or entity that gaslights, look at what they are doing rather than what they are saying. What they are saying means nothing; it is just talk. What they are doing is the issue.

6. They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you.

This person or entity that is cutting you down, telling you that you don’t have value, is now praising you for something you did. This adds an additional sense of uneasiness. You think, “Well maybe they aren’t so bad.” Yes, they are. This is a calculated attempt to keep you off-kilter—and again, to question your reality. Also look at what you were praised for; it is probably something that served the gaslighter.

7. They know confusion weakens people.

Gaslighters know that people like having a sense of stability and normalcy. Their goal is to uproot this and make you constantly question everything. And humans’ natural tendency is to look to the person or entity that will help you feel more stable—and that happens to be the gaslighter.

8. They project.

They are a drug user or a cheater, yet they are constantly accusing you of that. This is done so often that you start trying to defend yourself, and are distracted from the gaslighter’s own behavior.

9. They try to align people against you.

Gaslighters are masters at manipulating and finding the people they know will stand by them no matter what—and they use these people against you. They will make comments such as, “This person knows that you’re not right,” or “This person knows you’re useless too.” Keep in mind it does not mean that these people actually said these things. A gaslighter is a constant liar. When the gaslighter uses this tactic it makes you feel like you don’t know who to trust or turn to—and that leads you right back to the gaslighter. And that’s exactly what they want: Isolation gives them more control.

10. They tell you or others that you are crazy.

This is one of the most effective tools of the gaslighter, because it’s dismissive. The gaslighter knows if they question your sanity, people will not believe you when you tell them the gaslighter is abusive or out-of-control. It’s a master technique.

11. They tell you everyone else is a liar.

By telling you that everyone else (your family, the media) is a liar, it again makes you question your reality. You’ve never known someone with the audacity to do this, so they must be telling the truth, right? No. It’s a manipulation technique. It makes people turn to the gaslighter for the “correct” information—which isn’t correct information at all.

The more you are aware of these techniques, the quicker you can identify them and avoid falling into the gaslighter’s trap.

Stephanie A. Sarkis PhD.

The full article can be found at this link:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/201701/11-warning-signs-gaslighting%3famp

Understanding the Mind of a Narcissist

Narcissists are not who they appear to be. They’re both easy and hard to love.

Despite having a seemingly strong personality, narcissists lack a core self. Their self-image and thinking and behavior are other-oriented in order to stabilize and validate their self-esteem and fragile, fragmented self.

The gods sentenced Narcissus to a life without human love. He fell in love with his own reflection in pool of water and died hungering for its response. Like Narcissus, narcissists only “love” themselves as reflected in the eyes of others. It’s a common misconception that they love themselves. They may actually dislike themselves immensely. Their inflated self-flattery, perfectionism, and arrogance are merely covers for the self-loathing they don’t admit — usually even to themselves. Instead, it’s projected outward in their disdain for and criticism of others. They’re too afraid to look at themselves, because they believe the truth would be devastating. Emotionally, they may be dead inside, and hungering to be filled and validated by others. Sadly, they’re unable to appreciate the love they do get and they alienate those who give it.

The Diagnosis

When we think of narcissists, we usually picture someone with an inflated ego — someone bossy and arrogant, who has to be right. To be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), the person must exhibit grandiosity (if only in fantasy) and lack of empathy, as exhibited by at least five of the following traits:

1 Has a grandiose sense of self-importance and exaggerates achievements and talents.

2Dreams of unlimited power, success, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.

3 Believes he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions.

4 Requires excessive admiration.

5 Unreasonably expects special, favorable treatment or compliance with his or her wishes.

6 Exploits and takes advantage of others to achieve personal ends.

7 Lacks empathy for the feelings and needs of others.

8 Envies others or believes they’re envious of him or her.

9 Has arrogant behaviors or attitudes.

In addition to the grandiose “Exhibitionist Narcissist” described above, James Masterson identified “Closet Narcissists” — those with a deflated, inadequate self-perception, a sense of depression and inner emptiness. (They are also referred to as “Introverted Narcissists.”) They may appear shy, humble, or anxious, because their emotional investment is in the idealized other, which is indirectly gratifying (Masterson, 2004). “Malignant Narcissists” are the most pernicious and hostile type, enacting anti-social behavior. They can be cruel and vindictive when they feel threatened or don’t get what they want.

Early Beginnings

It’s hard to empathize with narcissists, but they didn’t choose to be that way. Their natural development was arrested, often due to faulty, early parenting. Some believe the cause lies in extreme closeness with an indulgent mother; others attribute it to parental harshness or criticalness. Although more research is required, twin studies revealed a 64-percent correlation of narcissistic behaviors, suggesting a genetic component (Livesley, Jang, Jackson, & Vernon, 1993).

Psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut observed that his narcissistic clients suffered from profound alienation, emptiness, powerlessness, and lack of meaning. Beneath a narcissistic façade, they lacked the sufficient internal structures to maintain cohesiveness, stability, and a positive self-image to provide a stable identity. Narcissists are uncertain of the boundaries between themselves and others and vacillate between dissociated states of self-inflation and inferiority. The self, divided by shame, is made up of the superior-acting, grandiose self and the inferior, devalued self. When the devalued self is in the inferior position, shame manifests by idealizing others. When the individual is in the superior position, defending against shame, the grandiose self aligns with the inner critic and devalues others through projection. Both this devaluation and idealization are commensurate with the severity of shame and the associated depression (Lancer, 2014).

Although most people fluctuate in these positions, exhibitionistic and closet narcissists are more or less static in their respective superior and inferior positions, irrespective of reality, making them pathological. Arrogance and contempt, envy, withdrawal, denial and repression (unconscious), aggression and rage, projection (blaming or accusing others of their own flaws or actions), self-pity (especially closet narcissists), and avoidance (e.g., addictive behaviors) are common defenses to shame (Lancer, 2014). Narcissists also defend against shame and fragmentation by feeling special through idealizing or identifying with special or important people.

A Relationship with a Narcissist

At home, narcissists are totally different than their public persona. They may privately denigrate the person they were just entertaining. After an initial romance, they expect appreciation of their specialness and specific responses through demands and criticism in order to manage their internal environment and protect against their high sensitivity to humiliation and shame. Relationships revolve around them, and they experience their mates as extensions of themselves.

Many narcissists are perfectionists.

Nothing that others do is right or appreciated. Their partners are expected to meet their endless needs — for admiration, service, love, or purchases — and are dismissed when they don’t. That their spouse is ill or in pain is inconsequential. Narcissists don’t like to hear “no” and often expect others to know their needs without having to ask. They manipulate to get their way and punish or make partners feel guilty for turning them down.

Trying to please the narcissist is thankless, like trying to fill a bottomless pit. They manage to find fault with your efforts or give back-handed compliments, so that you always feel one down. If they’re momentarily pleased, they’re soon disparaging or asking for more from you. They make their partners experience what it was like having had a cold, invasive, or unavailable narcissistic parent. Anne Rice’s vampire Lestat had just such an emotionally empty mother, who devotedly bonded with him to survive. The deprivation of real nurturing and a lack of boundaries make narcissists dependent on others to feed their insatiable need for validation.

Partners often doubt the narcissist’s sincerity and question whether it’s really manipulation, pretense, or a manufactured “as-if” personality. They feel tense and drained from unpredictable tantrums, attacks, false accusations, criticism, and unjustified indignation about small or imaginary slights. These partners also lack boundaries and absorb whatever is said about them as truth. In vain attempts to win approval and stay connected, they sacrifice their needs and walk on eggshells, fearful of displeasing the narcissist. They daily risk blame and punishment, love being withheld, or a rupture in the relationship. They worry what their spouses will think or do, and become as preoccupied with the narcissist as they are with themselves.

Partners have to fit into the narcissists’ cold world and get used to living with emotional abandonment. Soon, they begin to doubt themselves and lose confidence and self-worth. Communicating their disappointment gets twisted and is met with defensive blame or further put-downs. The narcissist can dish it out, but not take it. Nevertheless, many partners stay, because periodically the charm, excitement, and loving gestures that first enchanted them return, especially when the narcissist feels threatened that a breakup is imminent. When two narcissists get together, they fight over whose needs come first, blame and push each other away, yet are miserable needing each other.

Often in these relationships, narcissists are the distancers when more than sex is anticipated. Getting emotionally close means giving up power and control. The thought of being dependent is abhorrent. It not only limits their options and makes them feel weak, but also exposes them to rejection and feelings of shame, which they keep from consciousness at all costs (Lancer, 2014). Their anxious partners pursue them, unconsciously replaying emotional abandonment from their past. Underneath they both feel unlovable.

Darlene Lancer JD, LMFT

Full article:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/toxic-relationships/201804/understanding-the-mind-narcissist?utm_source=FacebookPost&utm_medium=FBPost&utm_campaign=FBPost

DYNAMICS OF EMOTIONAL ABUSE IN RELATIONSHIPS, MARRIAGE

Emotional abuse in relationships, marriage, is sneaky because while abuse is taking place, no physical marks or scars ever appear. Often the only sign that something is wrong in emotionally abusive relationships is just a feeling that something is amiss. Often the victim can’t quite put their finger on it, but to outsiders there is often no doubt that emotional abuse is taking place.

Emotional abuse in any relationship, including marriage, has the same dynamic. The perpetrator aims to gain power and control over the victim. The abuser does this though belittling, threatening or manipulative behavior.

BEHAVIOR IN EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS, MARRIAGES

Abusive behavior can be enacted by a female or male and either a female or male can be a victim. (Information About: Emotional Abuse of Men) And it’s important to remember that even though the scars from emotional abuse are not physical, they can be every bit as much permanent and harmful as the scars of physical abuse.

Emotional abuse is designed to chip away at a person’s self-esteem, self-worth, independence and even make them believe that without the abuser they have nothing. Tragically, this keeps victims in emotionally abusive relationships as they feel they have no way out and that they are nothing without their abuser.

Emotional abuse comes in many forms, they include:1

• Financial abuse – the abuser does not allow the victim control over any of the finances

• Yelling

• Name-calling, blaming and shaming – forms of humiliation

• Isolation – controlling access to friends and family

• Threats and intimidation

• Denial and blame – denying or minimizing the abuse or blaming the victim; saying that the victim “made them do it”

These emotionally abusive behaviors seen in relationships, marriages, are all used in an attempt to control the victim.

SIGNS OF EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS

Signs of an emotionally abusive relationship can sometimes be seen more easily from the inside out. Assessing an emotionally abusive relationship may first start with how you feel about the relationship and then move on to actually dissecting the nature of the abuse.

Signs an emotionally abused person in a relationship might notice are:

• Feeling edgy all the time

• Feeling they can’t do anything right

• Feeling afraid of their partner and what they might say or do

• Doing or avoiding certain things in order to make their partner happy

• Feeling they deserve to be hurt by their partner

• Wondering if they’re crazy

• Feeling emotionally numb, helpless or depressed

Natasha Tracy

Full article: https://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/emotional-psychological-abuse/dynamics-of-emotional-abuse-in-relationships-marriage