Narcissistic Abuse & PTSD

It is difficult to precisely define personality; this is because the way we feel and behave often varies across different situations. For example, we may behave one way at work, another way with friends, and yet another way with family. However, by about the early twenties, most people have developed a core set of characteristics/personality traits in relation to how s/he thinks, feels and behaves. These attributes and qualities remain fairly consistent over time and can be said to form the basis of personality. If the personality is relatively healthy, it will enable the person to function at least reasonably well in relation to his interaction with others and with the world in general.

PERSONALITY DISORDER :
Unfortunately, however, some people, due to adverse childhood experiences and other factors (such as having a poor social support network) do not develop a healthy personality; the most severely affected of these will, instead, develop a personality disorder. In essence, this means they will have aspects of their personalities which, without therapy, they find extremely difficult to overcome, even when they repeatedly experience these personality characteristics causing significant problems in their own lives as well as in the lives of those with whom they interact.

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A person victimized by narcissistic abuse often comes to counseling, and presents as oblivious and disconnected from her own emotional pain and mental anguish. Unable to feel her own emotions and sense of self, instead she tends to be obsessed with her own failures, inadequacy, desperately seeking answers on how to solve the specific problems and flaws the narcissist has identified as causes for his misery. Effectively, she becomes emotionally numb to her own feelings, preoccupied with pleasing and serving the narcissist. He may even give her a list of the expectations she has not met to take with her to therapy, most of which are centered around her not being attentive enough, or the jealousy and contempt he holds against her for being too attentive to the children or her own family, and not enough fantasy sex.

Narcissistic Personality disorder (NPDs) and Anti Social Personality Disorder (APDs) are masters of disguise, and narcissistic abuse is a form of thought control, by use of emotional manipulation!

 
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In the Greek fable, narcissisus was unable to, and refused to believe there was anybody worthy of him, so naturally all he ever experienced was an echo to his own omnipotence, his own superiority? Everybody in the narcissist world must bow and obey to his commands and must think exactly as the narcissist does. Those who live with the narcissist are held to account and made responsible for the happiness, success and maintaining the perfection of the false mask, that false mask is only able to reveal its true self in the home.

Love is such a difficult emotion to obtain and easily lost and the story of narcissus is a powerful tale of reality and the mirrors what we each interact with on a daily basis. In essence, the narcissist teaches a powerful lesson, in that we must love ourselves first, even if that means breaking our own heart in the process. However, coming to this point takes courage, healing and a whole lot of therapy, undoing the damage that had been twisted, inside the minds of the victims by the damaged narcissist.



Sex plays a huge role in the narcissist’s fantasy and control, and the manipulation tactics used by the narcissist are usually taught to them, by their own parents. Meaning,. the cycle of abuse continues until someone’s steps away and leaves the dysfunctional damaging relationship that this personality type creates. Its designed to destabilise the other person into believing that they are the problem and they must change.

The truth is the Narcissist never loved you in the first instant, because someone who really loves you, wouldn’t ask you or demand that you change. Real love is acceptance, including imperfections and narcissists are unable to accept this about others. Again, this is another concept that is difficult to grasp, when you’ve been strategically brainwashed over a period of time.

The build up to the brainwashing occurs over years of emotional manipulation, where words are used and actions never materialise.

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Narcissist abuse syndrome exhibits many of the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including but not limited to:

Intrusive thoughts or memories
Physical-emotional reactions to reminders of trauma
Nightmares and flashbacks (feeling as if the event is happening again)
Avoidance thoughts, people or situations associated with the trauma
Negative thoughts about self and world
Distorted sense of blame related to trauma
Sense of detachment or isolation from other people
Difficulty concentrating and, or sleeping
Hyper-vigilance, irritability, easily startled

Narcissism can affect both sexes, and its not exclusive to women only, there are men who are affected by a narcissistic spouse or parent, and this is something the men have learnt from their own mothers or fathers, acceptance to this behaviour is something that has been conditioned into the minds of children who are victims of narcissistic parenting.

Narcissism develops between the ages of 6 months to 6 years and this is where narcissist behaviour patterns are created and embedded through childhood wounding, including but not exclusive to related traumas, common statements shared by victims of this abuse are where the mirror neurons are used as a tool along with neuro linguistic programming, all designed to manipulate the emotions of the other partner. Simply because the person with NPD was unable to learn a healthy attachment, choosing the repeat or emulate the same behaviours of their parent.

Using emotional manipulation tactics such as gaslighting and word salad on her mind, with intent to distort her reality to impose his own. She seeks therapy seeking an explanation for why the narcissist is so miserable, why he treats her the way he does, why he’s so insecure, why they cannot communicate, why he doesn’t accept and love the person that she is, why she is always responsible for his happiness, misery, jealousy and emotional pain.

Narcissism and PTSD have similarities in presentation, both are affected from childhood programming and both are trauma related. A narcissist is a damaged individual that is attracted to someone who is vulnerable, easily intimidated and has the necessary emotions that can be manipulated for their own benefit, which is why women are often targeted, because of their vulnerability and also their own learnt behaviours and acceptance to how men behave. However, I’m not implying it only affects women, it does affect men too as it’s seen in therapy!

It isn’t fair to say that all abusive relationships are self inflicted, when for hundreds of year now, women have been raised and taught that their position is in the home, supporting their husband or spouse, regardless of how badly, their spouse treats her.

Patriarchy has taught women to be submissive and men are in command, so is it any surprise to learn that women are often the main victims of narcissistic abuse, her emotions or rather abuse of her emotions, are where she pays the price. Secondly, she may have been raised in a patriarchal home, where her own relationship with her father was one where he was absent and/or abusive. So the cycle continues to repeat itself through learnt behaviours.

Unfortunately, not all women grow up in an abusive environment, this is where society becomes the main denominator, which  taught women to be submissive and forgiving. The underlying anima whether this is under developed plays a vital role in how women become a victim to this type of abuse.

People often come to therapy with the misunderstanding that they are the problem in the relationship and that they are fully responsible for the anguish and mind games that they are experiencing. This is the depth of how insidious narcissism can entrench into a person. If the cycle of abuse in the home isn’t recognized and healed, especially for the children, then the cycle continues into adulthood. Which is why this pandemic is growing!

Common threads include;

  • She is a failure and is failing in her capacity to make him/her feel loved and secure.
  • She present as confused and believe she is responsible for the breakdown in the relationship because she can’t figure out how to fix herself to stop upsetting him.
  • Unable to place any responsibility or blame him for interrogating her, being punitive, moping, ignoring her, yelling, name calling, etc.
  • Did things that so crushed him and how he’ll never get over something she said, even though it’s a minor things detail that crushed his fragile self.
  • Doesn’t understand why she resists one or more of his demands, i.e., to agree she’s crazy and needs meds.
  • She is blamed as the cause of his affairs with other women.

In other words, what the victim of narcissistic abuse feels and thinks about herself, life and what her true thoughts are about the narcissist, in most areas, is mirrored to some greater extent to what the narcissist wants her to think, believe and feel. Her whole life is the mirror – in that of being an echo to the narcissist themselves. Telling him what he wants to hear, as opposed to being herself and telling him the truth!

This is what “emotional manipulation” is, and what emotional manipulation really looks like. The term needs to be reserved for narcissistic abuse, as it is distinct from the use of language, such as guilting, threats, name calling, shaming, and most of all, blaming.

While emotionally abusive, most have experienced these behaviours first-hand in childhood, sadly these practices are unfortunately still widely considered normal in child rearing. Emotional manipulation is an aggressive aim to take another’s mind and will captive, emotionally abusive language is harmful for child development and mental wellbeing of the child to adult. Which is why it closely emulates and correlates, to PTSD.

Narcissistic abuse causes trauma, which leaves lasting impressions on the victim towards a diagnosis of PTSD, for children and spouses!

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