Is it normal to fear opening up to your partner?
Do you feel you are a puppet and a prisoner to this person?
Have they made you feel that you are the stem of any issue that arises?
If so, you may be dealing with a Narcissist.
When you hear the word narcissist, what comes to mind? For most, it’s a shrewd, vein, self absorbed, person. However, this term clinically, known as NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), is far more than a mere selfish person. This personality disorder wreaks havoc on families and relationships everywhere, over 158 million in the U.S alone. Many people are unaware of this form of abuse and even those who are aware tend to be too afraid or too beaten down to leave the relationship. However, this abuse doesn’t solely pertain to relationships, it affects families and many children are subdued to the abuse of a narcissistic parent.
What Are The Symptoms /Traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
How do you know you are dealing with a narcissist? Well, the traits of this disorder can vary depending on the severity, however, as a result of the disorder most narcissists refuse or are unable to even acknowledge these symptoms and their behavior in the slightest. Most who suffer from this disorder blame-shift onto the victim, using gaslighting and verbal abuse, thus forcing the other into submission. Most victims have been too coerced to even see the abuse that is happening, that is why it is important to educate yourself and have the ability to recognize the abuse and get help.
- Inflated sense of self (Grandiose) – Now, this is very different from the average vein person. A narcissist puts all others’ needs close to nothing, the only thing that holds importance in their lives is themselves and their facade. Most feel as if they are entitled to anything and everything, and their lack of empathy causes them to never account for another’s feelings when making decisions. Most narcissists will belittle and bully others to feed this inflated sense of self. Moreover,this impacts relationship communication and the sharing or feelings in general
- Lack of empathy – Empathy is the ability to understand and associate with the feelings of others, it also is related to the feeling of wanting to help others. Most people who suffer from NPD do not have the ability to do this, normally they become angry, confused, or cold in situations of sharing feelings. What most narcissists do is mimic the emotions of those around them allowing them to fit into social situations. As a result of their lack of empathy, a narcissist will rarely take accountability or apologize, especially if the feelings of another conflict with their own or damage their sense of self. For instance, if their partner or child were to say to them, “I’m sad” they would be quick to get angry, assuming it is solely about them, they did something to cause it which in turn evokes anger. They fail to acknowledge that something else may be causing the sadness and that the situation is not always about them.
- Gaslighting – This is a form of deception used to instil seeds of doubt in a person’s mind, causing them to question their own memory, credibility, and sanity. The abuser will do this through contradictions, denial, misdirection, projection and blame- shifting. For example, “I never said that, that never happened, well if you didn’t…, you’re imagining things” are common phrases used for coercion. Additionally, they will use confusion by jumping subjects and speaking at excessive volumes in order to wear down the victim to the point of submission. Most people who are gaslit become very wary of their reality, excessively anxious, and mistrust themselves and others.
- Constant need for admiration – The narcissist’s constant need for admiration causes them to have a tendency to belittle others’ successes. When someone takes the attention off of a narcissist, they quickly react by topping or degrading that person. This is caused by the inflated sense of self, they have a vulnerability and weak pride, if anything jeopardizes their “superiority” it is a shot at their pride and they feel the need to prove themselves as better or react with anger. They must constantly feed their ego with the admiration and attention of others.
- Cannot take accountability – It is rare for a narcissist to apologize, unless it is solely for self benefit. Due to their hypersensitivity to judgement a narcissist will quickly defer the blame onto someone else using gaslighting, rage, deception, and projection. When someone attempts a conversation about things their narcissistic partner needs to work on or if they have done something that hurt them, the narcissist will feel personally attacked and react in a tantrum like manner. This is why many victims end up feeling that they should not voice their feelings and that they are the one to blame for all of the issues.
- Excessive anger – People with NPD seem to have a short fuse and become very angry very quickly. This is called Narcissistic Rage, which is another defense mechanism. The 3 main reasons this occurs are, sense of self being questioned, challenging their confidence, or an injury to their self esteem. Although they present themselves as “perfection” they have a very sensitive self esteem and must preserve their facade in doing so they react with extreme levels of anger, and usually verbal abuse.
- Enjoyment from others pain – As said before, when someone takes the attention off a narcissist they react by belittling that person. The reason narcissists behave this way is to fuel their own ego. If they continue to belittle their victims they will always be superior, and their victims will fall into this trap and begin to believe they truly are lesser. In addition to this, their lack of empathy enables this behavior because they do not feel guilt or shame for the pain they are causing others. They do not care for the consequences their behavior has on other peoples’ mental health.
- No respect for boundaries – Boundaries are out of the question when it comes to narcissists, when a partner tries to set boundaries it puts the narcissist’s power and control at risk. The narcissist will feel entitled to you and what you once considered your privacy. Attempting to set boundaries will spark the question “well what are you hiding?” This in turn will result in a rage and an immediate shut down of any idea of boundaries.
- Deceptive and manipulative nature – It is clear to see that narcissists thrive off of manipulating their victims. This is key to maintaining their control and dominance in relationships. All of their defense mechanisms involve deceiving their victims and instilling a false reality in their victims mind, ultimately brainwashing them.
What are Narcissistic Abuse Tactics?
If more people were educated on the tactics and manipulation Narcissists use, it would be much easier to see through the deception and have the confidence and awareness that this is indeed abuse and not brought upon by yourself. People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder tend to augment their victims’ reality in a way that causes them to accept the abuse, believing they “deserve it”. It is important for bystanders to take action and speak up in such cases.
Some tactics include;
- Love bombing – a luring tactic used to create a movie like, over exaggerated love in the beginning, putting you on a pedestal.
- Devaluation – usually comes after the love bombing, the narcissist begins degrading the aspects they once “adored” about you.
- Gaslighting – using manipulation and lies to augment false reality, causing the victim to question their sanity and memories.
- Projection – defense mechanism to deflect one’s own feelings, responsibility, and behavior onto another, “I wouldn’t have done it if you didn’t…, I only did it because you…”
- Blanket Statements – over generalizations, “You are too sensitive, you are never satisfied”, to avoid addressing the real issue.
- Deliberately misinterpreting and twisting your thoughts – this will veer the conversation off track, using confusion to weaken the victim’s point and inevitably cause the victim to give up.
- Belittling and destructive criticism – the narcissist will never praise you for your successes, this would jeopardize their higher ranking, thus they continuously jab at their victims self-esteem in order to keep them below and in submission.
- Changing the subject to evade accountability – This is another use of confusion in order to avoid accountability and disarm the victims point. Jumping subject to subject, bringing up past instances that have no relevance to the topic until the victim is mentally drained.
- Covert and overt threats – ingrians fear in the victim’s head about the consequences of disagreeing with their demands.
- Narcissistic rage – extreme fits of rage, usually entailing screaming, to derail and deflect the point of the conversation.
- Blame- shifting – altering the blame onto the victim using pity, guilt tripping, and coercion.
- Isolation of their victims – Most narcissists will have a conflict with others you are close to, feed you lies about them, and create arguments convincing you to drop them from your life. They cannot have other giving input about the relationship if it contradicts their
Are You a Victim of Narcissistic Abuse?
It can be difficult to come to the realization that you are suffering from narcissistic abuse, whether by parent or partner. f you find yourself feeling as if everything you do is wrong or questioning whether or not your feelings are valid, you may want to take a deeper look into your situation.
Key signs you may be suffering narcissistic abuse
- You have become isolated from your friends and family
- Feeling you have no control or voice
- Fear speaking about your feelings
- Walking on eggshells to avoid arguments
- Your confidence is no longer what it once was
- You put your basic needs and desires aside to serve this person
- Pervasive sense of mistrust
- No longer trusting your own memory
- Low self-esteem
If you fear this may be the situation you are in, do your best to find a way out. Reach out to others and speak up about what you feel is happening. The first step in this process is realization and acceptance, you are good enough and deserving of far more love.