Narcissistic Abuse

When we use the word “abuse” we tend to think of overtly damaging, even violent behaviour. While narcissists or people with narcissistic tendencies do sometimes resort to physical aggression, particularly when frustrated or threatened, the abuse they mete out to partners or other family members is generally much more insidious. Nonetheless it can still inflict serious harm. However, this trauma can go unrecognised by others, including the narcissist’s victims themselves. It is a form of torture and it can occur over an extended period in a relationship.

Where does narcissism originate?

While narcissists display different patterns, the psychology behind narcissistic traits or behavior is shown to be a form of self-doubt which often stems from an underlying feeling of guilt. Maybe someone develops a maladapted way to mask personality and physical flaws, or if they feel they can be confined to a difficult situation. The problem of narcissism can sometimes arise during childhood experiences. People with narcissistic parents or who were raised in environments characterized by excessive deviations from ideal rearing often develop a sense of uniqueness and self worth. They tend to feel superior, while believing that other people should bend down or stand up for them because they deserve it more than anyone else does.

Narcissistic control

A narcissist tends to be vain in both senses of that word. Everything has to be about them and that’s because there is an overwhelming emptiness at their psychic core, from which they are largely disconnected. At first narcissistic abusers may appear attractive. They can dazzle and are adept at seducing people into their circle. However, the people close to the narcissist tend to be seen and responded to as mere extensions; they are there only to keep the controlling narcissistic personality. Fail in this and they are likely to be discarded or, if retained, punished in some other way by their narcissistic partner.

Narcissistic abuser doesn’t feel any guilt or remorse for abusing and destroying their victims. The narcissist’s senses of grandiosity are matched by the complete absence of conscience. Narcissists can abuse victims by a variety of means including emotional blackmail or emotional abuse, verbal abuse, psychological abuse, and physical abuse. The sooner a person is able to recognise narcissistic abuse, the worse they are. But oftentimes, victims themselves do not recognise right away the signs of narcissistic abuse.

Narcissists feed on chaos

The narcissist is an extremely skilled and psychical person capable of understanding people. They instinctively detect weaknesses of other people and – because of their lack of empathy and remorse – do not bother exploiting those weaknesses. It is also difficult for people to recognize the fact that narcissists trigger deep emotional wounds and position themselves as someone who is willing to help us out of pain in the same way.

Narcissists project intolerable feelings

If there is anything to be found within the narcissist’s unconscious inner space it will be feelings of self-loathing, insignificance, shame and worthlessness.  These feelings will have to be got rid of or compensated for so will usually be projected onto someone close who is then made to feel the very same things.  On the one hand narcissists employ flattery, praise, bribery and manipulation while on the other scorn, ridicule, contempt, denigration to break down resistance to their control. Narcissists cast themselves in the role of victim, resorting quickly to blame and never taking responsibility for the breakdown of a relationship. They have thin skins, which if punctured, may result in intensely angry reactions.

Victim’s codependency leads to loss of self

Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome happens in people who feel that others have abused them. They cannot anymore separate the thought from the victim’s mind and sometimes don’t understand when their abuser lies to them. Victims learn to automatically agree on a deal without examining and questioning their feelings. When a man is narcissistic he often feels physically drained and mentally ill.

Moreover, in a case of narcissistic abusive relationship, the victim tends to have traits consistent with codependency. They emotionally invest in false promises of fulfillment that usually requires them to contort and distort themselves in order to get what they need from the narcissist. It is a hopeless quest that puts them under great stress. Much of the time they live off emotional scraps, failing to see that they are losing themselves in a struggle in which they cannot succeed. To give up is to invite the conscious experience of pain and grief. But to recover, they must give up their abusive partner.

Effects of Narcissistic Abuse

The effect of narcissists’ abuse is short or long despite the time involved with them. Those types of control and manipulations are subtle and deliberate. As we survived our relationship we destroyed our self esteem and self-esteem. We let the others control ours. The bodies internalize and respond to stress in different ways. Narcissistic abuse is an underlying form of trauma. Some of the most common symptoms may come from feeling anxious or depressed in your stomach. It is a stressor for the mind and the body. Narcissistic abuse can have the following negative and positive impact on one’s life.

Steps to recovery

Recognising narcissistic abuse is the first step to your road to recovery. The patient comes to understand that sustainable recovery from addiction and associated mental disorders is not simply about the absence of symptoms that occasioned the original diagnosis. Rather, they recognise that it involves a commitment to an integrated approach to restoring the wellbeing of the whole system.  Such improved wellbeing in the round will increase resilience. This may mean a radical change in lifestyle and a conscientious increase in attention to self-care.  So, not holistic or integrative; both.

Victims of narcissistic abuse often feel hopelessly trapped. So it is important to reach out as part of forming a plan for recovery.

  • Talk to someone about what you feel even if you doubt its validity. (Narcissists will make you doubt and encourage you to feel guilty)
  • Listen to what your experience is telling you.  Don’t brush it off or try harder.  Write it down in black and white
  • Assert your identity and needs. Build self-esteem
  • Identify and activate ways to improve self-care and nurture

Get in Touch

Clinically Reviewed By


Blog Resources

When to Seek Inpatient Treatment for Anxiety – 7 Signs It’s Time

Living with intense and uncontrollable anxiety can be an overwhelming and isolating experience. For many, traditional outpatient treatments may alleviate symptoms, but in some cases, a higher level of care becomes necessary.  Deciding when to seek inpatient treatment for anxiety can be a complex and highly individualised process, and this blog aims to shed light […]
Read More

5 Warning Signs of Suicide That Can Easily Be Missed

Suicide is a deeply complex and sensitive issue, and recognising the 5 warning signs of suicide can be challenging.  Individuals contemplating suicide often hide their pain, making it vital for us to be vigilant and informed. While we cannot always predict when someone is in crisis, being aware of potential signs and maintaining open communication […]
Read More

How To Raise Awareness for Mental Health

Knowing how to raise awareness for mental health, whether within schools for youth or within workplaces, can be a key factor in maintaining positive wellbeing in your communities. Awareness is crucial in helping people identify warning signs in themselves and others, reducing stigma and shame, and encouraging help seeking behaviours. Here we’ll explore effective strategies […]
Read More

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest news and wellness tips from the team at Clinic Les Alpes
No Fluent Forms Found