Narcissistic Personality Disorder exists on a continuum.
While some narcissism is healthy, too much leads to an inability to empathize and consider other people’s wants and needs. In a partnership, narcissists are often emotionally abusive, overly critical, and controlling. Narcissists view loved ones as extensions of themselves, often projecting their own negative traits onto their partner. There are no boundaries with narcissists, so victims are not allowed their own individual agency. Children of narcissistic parents often report having low self-worth and difficulty trusting others. These victims tend to be extremely critical of themselves and may go on to choose a narcissistic partner. Whether a friend, family member, or partner, the narcissist will use language designed to get their victim to:
- Doubt their own decision-making ability
- Be overly critical of their own failures or mistakes
- Question their own sanity
- Feel worthless or lazy
- Make excuses for the narcissist’s behavior
- Idealize the narcissist
- Feel overly responsible for the negative dynamics of the relationship
- Focus obsessively on how to make the narcissist happy
- Lose touch with their own personal opinions, needs, goals, and aspirations
Narcissistic Victim Syndrome
Narcissistic Victim Syndrome, or Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome, while not a formal diagnosis, is a constellation of symptoms experienced by the victim of a narcissistic loved one. In Narcissistic Victim Syndrome, the victim has been conditioned to defer their own needs for the needs of the narcissist. They also use several defense mechanisms including gaslighting and circular reasoning to avoid responsibility-taking. Narcissists have the capacity to be very emotionally cruel while using intermittent reinforcement to form an addictive trauma bond with the victim. The victim often becomes codependent on the narcissist and works tirelessly trying to recreate the initial “honeymoon phase” of the relationship. Simultaneously, the narcissist continues to devalue the victim, slowly chipping away at the victim’s self-esteem. Over time, the victim’s personal opinions, convictions, and sense of self are replaced by the narcissist’s preferences.
Narcissistic Victim Syndrome also has elements that overlap with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, including:
- Repetitive thoughts or ruminations
- Dreams and nightmares
- Difficulty concentrating
If you can relate to any of the traits listed above, please know that there is help. Recovery is a process and takes time, but emerging from the “fog” of control is worth it. Narcissists exhibit power over their victims even after the relationship is over, but you don’t have to let a narcissist take your power any longer.
It is possible to regain your sense of self-worth, self-confidence, and personal agency. Please call me to see if I can help.
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