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Narcissistic abuse is a hypernym for the psychological, financial, sexual, and physical abuse of others by someone with narcissistic traits or suffering from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). The term is not formally used in medical teaching or practice.
If someone is in or has been in a relationship with someone who is a narcissist, they may be experiencing something called Narcissistic Victim Syndrome as a result of domestic violence in their relationship. Narcissists often look charming on the outside but commonly cause great pain and trauma for their partner.
"If you've been narcissistically abused, you will recall times when you were shocked to see the narcissist’s eyes become empty and lifeless; their face cold and turned to stone.
You have seen the total lack of compassion that is akin to being confronted with a reptile, devoid of any warmth.
The narcissist is MERCILESS at these times and is a cruel, heartless machine"
If you are involved with a narcissist, it is highly likely that you will be painfully aware of how there always seems to be ‘someone else in the frame’, a ‘rival’ for there affections... It is usually an ex at the beginning of your relationship. Often they will still be sleeping with them, whether you are aware of that or not. They will also make absolutely sure that you know about anyone who shows interest in them, but it will be done in such a way that it can be excused as just ‘being honest’ or ‘inadvertently’ just dropped into conversation... But you will feel the sting and won’t know why.
Narcissists consider apologising a humiliation and as such apologies from a narcissist are rare. On the odd occasion they do occur, they just don’t come across as heartfelt (because they are not).
Are the losses mounting?
Do you have the same relationship with your family that you did when you met the narcissist? Do you have the same best friends?
In most cases, if you are a victim of narcissistic abuse the answer will be no, you will have become estranged from more than one person who was close to you at the outset.
And yet, this was not because of the narcissist…. Or was it?
You will probably have been encouraged by the narcissist to maintain or attempt to heal the relationship in question. Yet if you did, there would have been a tone in the narcissist's voice, a posture, a look, nothing you could really put your finger on but it was there. Or the narcissist's encouragement to restore the relationship will have made you feel defensive of the narcissist and thereby dissuaded you. Either way the relationship with the family member or friend is badly damaged if not lost entirely. Yes, it’s insidious and subtle and make no mistake, it was deliberate. You are being systematically separated from your support network in order to make you more vulnerable and dependent on the narcissist.
You are probably so addicted that you are willing to try and preserve the relationship at ANY cost, the problem is the narcissist knows this and will use it.
Narcissistic behaviour is designed primarily to get attention, the energy which they feed off.
A narcissist would rather be hated than ignored! Whilst positive attention may be preferred, in its absence, provoking you into negative response will suffice. Furthermore this provocation will often be so covert, that to the untrained eye, the narcissist did nothing ‘wrong’.
One of the most insanity provoking traits of the narcissist is ‘selective memory’. On the odd occasion you will feel utter relief that the narcissist ‘finally gets it’. Something you have been trying to explain for a long time about the impact of their behaviour, or the defence of a false accusation, finally seems to have sunk in, you may even get one of those elusive apologies. All the more devastating when hours, days or weeks later it is as if the conversation never took place, the narcissist has literally NO recollection of it and has reverted back to their original position.
This phrase was first coined by B.F. Skinner.
Skinner conducted a famous behavioural experiment with vermin.
Three separate enclosures were set up containing similar vermin. Each had a feeding mechanism that was rigged in a different way.
The feeding mechanism on the first enclosure was left to work in the normal way, in that each time the vermin pecked at the dispensing bar they received a pellet of food.
The feeding mechanism on the second enclosure was rigged so that it was jammed, in that no matter how many times the vermin pecked the bar, they received nothing.
The mechanism on the third enclosure was rigged so that it was random, in that on occasion when the vermin pecked the bar they received a pellet of food but most of the time they received nothing, nor was there any ‘pattern’ to when the mechanism dispensed.
The vermin in the first enclosure soon became ‘lazy’ in that they realised they only needed to peck the bar when hungry. The vermin in the second enclosure became ‘disinterested’ in that they realised no matter how much they pecked they would receive nothing - and so gave up. The vermin in the third enclosure were going crazy, pecking continuously as they never knew when they would receive one of the pellets.
If you are involved with a narcissist, I suspect this 3rd scenario will feel awfully familiar to you, often manifesting in the relationship with constant ‘push/pull’ behaviour. One minute the narcissist will be declaring undying love for you and the next pushing you away and/or engaging in actions that prove the exact opposite. Selective reinforcement is a very powerful psychological principle, exploited mercilessly by narcissists to keep you destabilised and give them power.
Narcissists are in the main pathological liars, in fact their whole life is a lie, a constant act, designed to gain attention and to ensure they always look good to the outside world.
They are invariably secretive, and no one, not even their best friend knows the whole story. If their lips are moving they are probably lying.
There is a deep rooted belief which drives most of their disgusting behaviour and that is, if anyone ‘really’ knew the whole story and what they were ‘really’ like they would be rejected and ostracised (which in a narcissist mind is considered a fate worse than death).
A narcissist may well constantly accuse YOU of cheating, despite the fact you probably love them so much you wouldn’t dream of it. This is a projection and/or a cover up technique. Often a narcissist has never been faithful in ANY of their major relationships. The constant accusations keep you so destabilised such that the narcissist gets masses of attention through your attempts to prove your innocence. This also of course ensures you do not have the time or energy to notice any signs that they are in fact the one who is cheating.
Narcissist’s are built on survival mechanisms, the favourite and default defence mechanisms being, Denial, Justification and PROJECTION
Much of the time you will likely be accused of behaviour and intentions of which in fact the narcissist is guilty. This in itself is insanity provoking.
If you point out the projection, the narcissist will invariably project it back on you. If you are quite self-aware and responsible (unlike them), you are likely to become very confused and unsure as to who is projecting what onto whom, it is like being in a hall of mirrors!
Narcissists don’t do emotional vulnerability, to them it is the most frightening scenario imaginable and they will do anything and everything to avoid it.
Touched upon previously and not evidence on its own, but narcissists will have often cheated in numerous if not all previous relationships, and almost certainly are, have or will cheat on you!
Off and On, Off and On....
Do not be surprised if the narcissist breaks up with you on a regular basis, for short periods of time. Often for the most ridiculous and trivial 'reasons'. This behaviour has a dual purpose. Firstly it creates great confusion and emotional upheaval within you, this keeps you destabilised and the narcissist firmly in 'control'. Secondly if you are a little too astute for the narcissist to regularly cheat on you right under your nose, these regular brief 'break ups' provide the narcissist with the perfect opportunity to get away to see their lover(s). If then caught out, they can claim 'but we weren't together'. If you challenge this, the narcissist will invariably 'project' it onto you, but ask yourself, who initiated the break up? Even if it was you that left, the provocation probably left you with no choice, it was the narcissist who INITIATED it!
Narcissists have very little if any integrity, they have no ability to stick to a commitment or promise, they only ‘mean’ it at the time they say it. Consequently nothing they say can be trusted, their promises are meaningless and there can be no stability. The goalposts are constantly moving and you never really know where you are.
Narcissists are abusers and like all abusers they manage to convince themselves, that they are in fact the victims, that’s how abusers live with themselves and continue to do what they do.
All narcissists truly believe that they are NOT narcissists!!!
In some cases they can be great parents (except perhaps when their child embarrasses them)
And because they can feel, can be empathic, can feel guilt, can apologise etc., they reason that the DSM type criteria for narcissism does not apply to them.
The difference is that unlike normal people they are never able to ‘stay’ with such feelings or accept any responsibility for long.
Let’s take guilt as an example, in relation to narcissists, guilt is often really a shame attack and gets suppressed quickly. No narcissist ceases to behave amorally for long because of guilt; they get over it real quick!
Narcissist's struggle with, but can 'feign', empathy. To the point where they can convince themselves (and you) that they have it. Yet they do not really 'feel' it, certainly not for long.
Narcissists are very charming and plausible and one important fact I have not as yet seen any expert point out, is that no-one is 100% narcissist, 100% of the time! There are small ‘windows’ where the ‘real self’ is present, (this of course adds to the victims confusion and makes the abuse harder to spot). Furthermore, if they were 100% narcissistic 100% of the time, there behaviour would be obvious and they couldn’t get away with what they do. They are consummate actors, and need to look good/perfect.
If you are involved with a narcissist, you are not a partner, boyfriend or husband, you are prey!! They are the ultimate predators and again quoting Melanie, “the lioness has to feed her cubs”, you as the wounded gazelle, split off from the herd, are simply collateral damage, it’s not personal (although I know only too well it feels very personal).
Narcissists hand pick their partners, or rather prey. They seek out those who are emotionally wounded (they can sense it in you – they are very perceptive, almost psychic). They target those who will be devoted, dependent, and socially acceptable (to make them look good). Above all they target those who won’t see through them (at least for a long time) and are controllable. They also tend to target those they can control their feelings for. If at any point the narcissist develops any genuine feelings for you (rare but can happen during the ‘windows’ I referred to) and cannot control them, then their ultimate fear of vulnerability kicks in and their behaviour towards you may well graduate from narcissistic to sociopathic.
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