Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a serious mental health condition. Narcissistic abuse is emotionally abusive behavior that may also include sexual or physical abuse – in extreme cases.
Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome
Narcissistic abuse syndrome can manifest itself in those who have been abused by someone with NPD. Since narcissists are often masters of disguise, the condition can be challenging to identify. If you’re in any type of relationship with a narcissist, you may often feel guilty, at fault, trapped, helpless, or responsible for the other person. The abuser can be a partner, spouse, sibling, parent, friend, employer, or other close relation.
Narcissists often gaslight, manipulate, and control people in their lives for their personal gain. They may make you feel like you constantly have to walk on eggshells around them to avoid conflict. They might make you feel like a complete failure. Experiencing narcissistic abuse in relationships can be traumatic and pay a hefty toll on your health and wellbeing.
Signs of Narcissistic Abuse
Someone will generally meet five or more of these criteria to qualify as a narcissist:
- Lack of empathy
- Fantasizes about having unlimited power, brilliance, success, beauty, or ideal love
- An inflated sense of self-importance
- Belief that they’re unique and special and will only be understood by (or should associate with) those who are also exceptional and high-status members of society
- The need for excessive attention and admiration
- A sense of entitlement
- An arrogant and haughty personality
- Interpersonally exploitative
Keep in mind that it may be impossible to spot a true narcissist without a professional diagnosis. Narcissism also falls on a spectrum and can be challenging to identify in many cases.
The Narcissistic Abuse Cycle
Generally, narcissistic abuse follows a pattern. The three main stages are idealization, devaluation, and rejection.
- Idealization: The beginning of the relationship with a narcissist often feels terrific. For example, in a romantic relationship, the emotional high a couple may feel can last weeks, months, or even a year or more. You may feel like you’ve found your soulmate.
- Devaluation: As the relationship eases into a comfortable rhythm, you may begin noticing some red flags in your partner. They may start to devalue you, blame you for their issues, and withdraw.
- Rejection: Eventually, the narcissist might “discard” you from their life. You may try to compromise, ask for your boundaries to be respected, or aim for honest and direct answers. However, at this point, the narcissist may realize their partner is not solely there to stroke their ego. They could disappear suddenly – or become even more emotionally abusive.
Counseling for Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse
If you think you may be in a relationship with a narcissist or know someone who has narcissistic tendencies, consider reaching out to a mental health professional for help. Some of the most empathetic and compassionate people attract NPDs (who lack emotional substance).
Narrative therapy can be a highly effective way to help resolve the trauma or abuse you’ve experienced or may be experiencing currently. You deserve to live a fulfilling life on your terms. Feel free to book a free consultation with me to learn more about counseling and take the first step in your healing journey.
I offer both in-person and online counseling services in Colorado Springs (and surrounding areas), as well as online-only services across the rest of Colorado and Minnesota. Contact me any time to start therapy.