A narcissistic person suffers from a mental disorder that centers around an inflated ego. A narcissistic person always wants to be the center of attention–even at the expense of other’s feelings. Plus they lack any empathy towards other people. So, what is narcissistic abuse?
Narcissists are driven to succeed regardless of whom they hurt, lies they tell or co-workers they step on. They believe they are entitled to the best, given their superior sense of self. Even though the narcissist appears to be self-confident and secure, the opposite is true and a narcissist needs constant praise and affirmation due to a lack of self-esteem.
Given that they feel bad about themselves, they desire to make those around them feel bad too. This leads to narcissistic abuse. The goal with this behavior is to feed the never-ending ego of the narcissist. If you, or someone you love, is in any type of relationship with a narcissist, proceed with extreme caution and prepare yourself.
You may not be able to identify a narcissistic person at first. They are extremely good at manipulation and at covering their true personalities. Only after they lure you into their web of deceit will clues begin to surface. If you suspect someone in your intimate circle is manipulating you, look for signs of narcissism, defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, such as:
- An over-inflated sense of self-worth
- Wanting to be seen as superior-without doing the work to earn it
- Exaggerating abilities
- Over-exaggerating achievements
- A pre-occupation with having the perfect partner, best job, most expensive car or house
- Focused on their own physical characteristics and constantly exercising or dieting to achieve the “perfect” body
- Only wanting to befriend those who are special, successful or superior to others in intelligence, financial wealth or social status
- Needing constant affirmations and compliments
- Pre-occupied with personal problems
- Needs to feel sexually attractive
- A feeling of entitlement
- Wanting to control others behavior to match what they deem appropriate and necessary for their success
- Does not have respect for authority figures
- Taking advantage of other’s generosity, emotions and love
- Has little morals
- Over-sensitive to criticism
- Extremely vain
- Not having any consideration for other’s feelings, wants or needs
- Behaving egotistically or in a conceited manner
- Jealous of others and thinking that others are jealous of them
Narcissistic Abuse Symptoms
The narcissistic personality disorder leads to troubles in relationships, at work, possible depression, chemical dependency or thoughts of suicide. Narcissists are extremely controlling and when something doesn’t go their way, can be critical and negative. Narcissistic abuse occurs when the narcissist takes his feelings of frustration out on others. Narcissistic abuse symptoms include:
- Constant criticisms
- Episodes of rage
- Emotional outbursts
These behaviors are all done in an attempt to make the narcissist feel better. He tries to manipulate and control you so you are confused and begin to doubt reality. Victims of narcissistic abuse are often confused and do not realize they are being abused. To victims, the lies, threats, put-downs, etc., become almost normal behavior.
Narcissists are incapable of forming intimate relationships. They can act the way they see others in relationships act, but they are so focused on themselves, they cannot make an attachment to another person. This includes children.
If your children are being raised in a narcissistic home, often the narcissist will turn to the children to continue to inflate their ego. Children know something is wrong, but do not understand what. They learn to stuff their true feelings to spare the narcissist’s feelings. This is another type of emotional abuse. The child will constantly struggle to gain the unattainable approval of the narcissist parent. Unfortunately, no matter what the child does, it will not be good enough to someone who always expects perfect and superior behavior. Any misbehavior from the child is a reflection of less than ideal parenting and the narcissist cannot be seen as inferior.
Narcissistic personality disorder gets its name from Greek mythology. The story tells that Narcissus rebuked love and was cursed by living alone. He knelt by a pool of water one day and was so enamored with his own reflection that he couldn’t stop looking at it. He died alone and loveless by the pool staring at himself.
If you are in a relationship, but still feel alone and on guard, you may be in a relationship with a narcissist. Does your partner only talk about himself and constantly bring the conversation back to him and his problems? Does he demand the center of attention when you’re around others? Is he not concerned or have any emotional attachment to your feelings? You may be in a one-sided relationship with a narcissist.
Your narcissist may also accuse you of cheating or forming inappropriate relationships. Again, this is all in an attempt to destroy your character and make him feel superior.
If you feel inadequate and constantly put-down, you may want to reconsider your relationship. A narcissist will try to keep you on guard and feeling inferior so that you will not see the mental disorder. In other words, he tries to keep you focused on your “inadequacies” so that you do not see his.
These characteristics don’t apply only to intimate relationships. Your co-worker may be a narcissist and will not take responsibility for anything, or wants to be rewarded for not doing the work. As a child, a narcissist will blame poor grades on teachers who don’t like them, or blame friends for getting into trouble. A narcissist never takes responsibility for anything.
A narcissist only values others when they have something to offer him. If you can constantly inflate his ego with words of praise and affirmation, not question his lies and are strong enough to withstand criticisms and judgments, your narcissist will value you. He may not love you or understand your needs, but he will keep you around to feed his ego and stroke his inflated sense of self-worth.
Recovery from Narcissistic Abuse
Fortunately, you and your children are capable of surviving narcissistic abuse. You may have to call the narcissist out on his lies and bad behavior, especially to protect your children. Confronting a narcissist can be scary, so only do it if you feel you are not in danger of physical abuse.
Look for ways to get out of the relationship and remove yourself from narcissistic emotional abuse. You do not have to remain in an unhealthy relationship, just because it feels comfortable. You deserve more than that and deserve to be treated with respect, kindness and truthfulness.
Healing from narcissistic abuse is not easy, but you are strong enough to do it. Recovering from narcissistic abuse requires steps such as:
- Learning as much as you can about narcissistic personality disorder and getting your partner help, if possible
- Get help yourself and speak to a therapist, counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist
- Talk about your feelings and experiences, or write about them if you’re not ready to admit to another what you’ve been through
- Avoid all contact with the narcissist, even when he tells you you’ll be nothing without him
- Remind yourself that you are whole and perfect, just the way you are. Try to reverse the emotional damage and lies the narcissist told to you.
- Take time to heal and forgive yourself. Release judgment against you or the narcissist and move on with your life.
- Know what to look for and what you want out of your next relationship and if you see any narcissistic signs, think twice before entering the relationship. Remember that confidence is good, but cockiness and an inflated sense of self are not ok.
Most importantly, know that you did nothing wrong. You were lured into a relationship by a great manipulator. Remind yourself of your strengths and your worth. Arm yourself with your knowledge of narcissistic personality disorder so that you know what to look for next time. Your narcissistic abuse recovery path can lead to a brighter future; one in which you feel strong and secure and self-confident.
Talk to a professional until your self-worth is restored. Encourage your partner and your children to do the same. A narcissist may never be cured, but people with this personality disorder can learn to live more meaningful lives. If you are the only suffering from narcissistic personality and have identified any of these characteristics in yourself, seek professional help immediately.