“Am I crazy?” “What is WRONG with me?” “I feel empty and worthless!” “I can’t move on and I am stuck in this nothingness and lost the ability to rejoin life!” These are the burning questions, thoughts and comments from many targets, victims and SURVIVORS of this abuse AND basically trauma responses and trauma triggers. This is important because too many targets/victims are not achieving complete recovery and living in total despair.
This is a theory that is an offset of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and that is Post Traumatic Narcissism Syndrome (PTNS) which I am defining in real terms. PTNS is a condition in which the affected person’s memory, emotional, and physical systems have been traumatized just like with PTSD but while STILL being in the relationship with their Narcissist. PTNS is more apt to be described as an ‘ongoing’ or day to day trauma experience from the abuse and not a diagnosis BUT in time will develop into PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder!) For targets/victims still in the abuse cycle, certain flashbacks of the abuse turns up repeatedly with endless variations from so much that has occurred in the past and present. It is personality altering and targets/victims can display many signs of this trauma that can seem as if they are suffering from some sort of disabling psychological issue – WHEN in fact they are showing the signs of the abuse/trauma. A Narcissist will even use this against a target/victim during the discard by pushing them so much so to capitalize on target/victims reactions in a manner to set them up and look like they are angry or raging mad, overemotional, obsessed OR crazy! It helps the already backstabbing Narcissist’s ‘smear campaign’ waged against the target/victim in the end. The truth of course is that the Narcissist has pushed the target/victim to the edge and hoping that they fall off.
There was an old term that described the trauma that soldiers experienced in previous wars called ‘Shell Shock’ that sort of gives a similar representation of what it is like to live in this ongoing war zone with a Narcissist. Shell shock was a term coined to describe the reaction of some soldiers in World War I in response to the trauma of the ongoing battle. It was a reaction to the intensity of the bombardment and fighting that produced a helplessness, panic and being scared, an inability to reason normally, sleep, walk or talk. Being in a psychologically abusive atmosphere like that with a Narcissist is like being in a battle where the target/victim is constantly attacked with ‘psychological bombs.’ The target/victim can only take cover and without the ability to deal with the lateral damage because they are unaware of the real enemy AND when they are going to attack!
Targets/victims tend to remain in a large part totally controlled by the abusive Narcissist, keeping their mind and emotions in bondage because of the psychological bombs the Narcissist uses or how the Narcissist psychologically pounces on their target/victim without warning as if in a war. Unfortunately the target/victim doesn’t realize they are in a war zone though. This elicits a terrible and terrifying combination of helplessness and rage, AND unbearable feelings that had to be suppressed for the target/victim to stay in the relationship. These are the symptoms of PTNS or again the day to day trauma struggles.
Symptoms of Post Traumatic Narcissism Syndrome: Flashbacks or constant awareness of the cruel behavior, lies, manipulation, betrayal, etc. and basically the trauma associated with it all and trying to rationalize all of this as ‘that promised love.’ Hyper-arousal as it concerns the fear of most everything that concerns the relationship AND even personal safety. Fear seems to be all around you as if you can’t trust your own natural instincts to reason why you are feeling this way or why you can’t resolve this constant fear. It can be overwhelming in the sense that it causes such anxiety as it concerns simple things you were able to do so freely prior to the start of the devaluation phase from the abuse. Hypervigilance is a response of the fear you feel, or a type of scanning your immediate environment for constant threats as it concerns life and especially when the Narcissist is in your presence. Irritability that seems to surround so many normal things that are just part of your daily life. Depression and guilt or that feeling of hopelessness and anxiety. Multiple physical complaints like sore muscles/bones, headaches, exhaustion and feeling like you are always coming down with something. Feeling numb like you are physically there in your immediate environment but not actually feeling it. An impaired concentration and memory loss. Forgetting simple everyday things. Avoidance and isolation from family and friends. Disturbed sleep patterns and distressing dreams and exhaustion! Your mind is always in a pattern that is like the ‘fight or flight’ syndrome but you don’t know why! Clinically it is simply described as being in ‘the fog’ but it describes many confusing and fearful experiences directly related to the relationship.
I remember in my personal situation that in one breath I was looking forward to us getting together (the anticipation) and even excited, about being together when my Narcissist arrived for the weekend. BUT then I also remember a deep overwhelming feeling of anxiety that would set in too. I accepted and ignored the anxiety as part of the reality of this relationship for some reason. I guess I didn’t know what to do with this feeling because it was tangible to me, but unexplainable as far as any one thing I could put my finger on. If I had to explain it something was terribly wrong but I just couldn’t explain EXACTLY what it was at the time, BUT I took ownership of it. It was the WHOLE RELATIONSHIP and the reason I couldn’t put my finger on it is because I would have needed thousands of fingers to accomplish this task because it was the deep seated psychological abuse that had imprinted itself in my mind and heart and NOW manifested as anxiety. A Target/victim cannot accomplish this with a simple ‘ah ha’ and walk away because by the time they realize the truth it is too late and the abuse has manifested itself and disabled them. They are already in the battle zone experiencing the shellshock and there is no cover for them or way to escape! It is this consistent fear that nothing around me was right, that everything could/would go wrong at any given moment BUT then again maybe not. That is a shrewd and seamless battle plan (manipulation) on the Narcissist’s part like they are playing hide and seek with emotions through this horrendous manipulation so we are never on solid ground. Would it be the ‘love bombing’ or the horrible psychological pounce?
This is that cognitive dissonance – one reality verses the other – the confusion that is ALWAYS there and what debilitates our normal reasoning to see the truth. I would feel anxious around my Narcissist as if any minute something was going to go wrong and it usually did – that was the conditioning that the Narcissist is so adept at. I would feel so alone and as if I was only going through the motions of our time together and almost pretending to be a part of something that was real but then again not real at all – pure CONFUSION. I wasn’t an individual anymore, because my worth was diminished to that of an object or objectified. I was of no more importance than what that Narcissist wanted or needed from me. Just like a car, a washing machine, or whatever, and there were many other objects in this Narcissist’s life as well. We all had our roles and we were none the wiser as far as knowing that this was a huge sham, scam, con job, etc., BUT we were all chained to our roles psychologically.
I felt like I was in front of a judge waiting for my verdict AND with every single thing I tried to do. It wasn’t my insecurities, it was the constant managing down that became a given. What I devised as plans AND before we got together that made me so happy were changed when my Narcissist was there and in front of me. I would just put myself into a task but feeling anxiety and exhausted for some reason. I would even hope at times that there would be an argument so all of this would stop and my Narcissist would leave because it was overwhelming at times. I always knew everything I did would be questioned, made wrong, and turned into something where my motives were questioned. Then there were the out of nowhere arguments that might come up where I was accused of something I didn’t do and then the rage. I could never engage in a personal conversation without feeling like I was being interrogated or led into a situation where I was made to feel insignificant and whatever I took the time to do in good faith was destroyed. I NEVER FELT COMFORTABLE with the person that said they loved me more than life itself. Seriously after my Narcissist left there would be this wave of relief that would flush over me but yet I was right in there trying to get this relationship back on track and working. I would seriously have to take a nap because I was so exhausted after my Narcissist went home! This was an extremely angry person that was seriously scary BUT I tried to be a savior in the name of that once perfect PROMISE of real love. It was so dysfunctional from the get go and it required some amazing psychological magic for this Narcissist to disable me as much as they did to keep me hanging on. Yes I take responsibility for some weaknesses within me but it is not just ME as in my fault, this is why it is called ABUSE. That is why terms like ‘brainwashing’ and ‘gas-lighting’ are used in the clinical definition of this abuse. WE ARE NOT STUPID OR WEAK PEOPLE! We are human beings just like the men/woman that experience trauma from war, or an accident, or a terrorist attack. Trauma is not a normal aspect of life, it is induced upon a person from a terrible event that happens into their life! Nobody wants to be traumatized. Narcissist traumatize to control their target/victims and gain that power they need over people!
Unfortunately what I just wrote is what makes people wonder just why we stayed or allowed this to continue. Well very simply a Narcissist is just shrewd enough to have tricked us into that perfect love first and then dangled it in front of us, giving a little, taking a little, giving a lot and taking a lot. This is emotional and psychological abuse. It was CONDITIONING to keep us in the cycle of abuse, or controlling/conditioning us. They are very good at their ability to con people because it serves them in every way. They harvest people for THEIR needs ONLY, this is their way of life and survival and they have to be this good to live among us. They also have to wage that destructive war to escape responsibility and exposure or they would be cast off forever.
So how does this relate to a Narcissist and abuse? A Narcissist is a person who deprives their partners of the ability to feel joy and love as a separate person in relationships or basically sucks the life out of them. They deliberately attempt to destroy or compromise the separate identity of another person or objectify them. They immobilize their target/victim, numb them or whatever term best describes what they do to break into our hearts and minds, gain our trust, and then extort what they can. The longer the relationship continues, the narcissist not only becomes less considerate, but actively crueler in MANY different subtle to very overt ways. Many victims end up feeling hollow because the narcissist squeezes them like a boa constrictor wrapping itself around its prey. The emotional deprivation, physical and mental torture can result in a type of soul murder. Brainwashing their partners into believing they are the problem keeps the emotional bondage going. The Narcissist conditions the target/victim into this role through constant managing down, punishment tactics, betrayal, manipulation, lies, and a vast arsenal of tools. This leaves survivors not knowing what they want and what they feel, or what they have done and what has been done to them and what they NEED to do.
A target/victim might question whether the abuse really did happen and accept a role as being the source of the problem from all of the blame and managing down by the Narcissist! Acknowledging victimization and being abused is crucially important to the person’s ability to control obsessive thoughts of the past and recover. The survivor can then begin to separate and achieve independence from the Narcissist and release all of the negative messages the Narcissist planted in his/her head, heart and soul.
It is also important that you do not turn this new awareness or acceptance against yourself. For example, “I am SO angry at him/her, but I’m even angrier at myself for putting up with it and how stupid I am for not seeing any of this!” Use self-compassion to forgive yourself. AGAIN this is that message that the Narcissist has tattooed on your head that YOU need to blame yourself and feel worthless for anything and everything. Just practice being alert or aware to self-blaming and change the negative thoughts when you hear them cycling through your head. Tell yourself to stop and say out loud ‘get out of my head.’ Break the thought process with a counter process like voicing the TRUTH to yourself that this was abuse. Similar to this is constantly questioning the Narcissist’s ‘personality disorder’ in a manner that you try to analyze them, their motives, or better yet comparing them to a normal person with healthy personality traits. Trying to figure out why they can’t love or why they ‘faked’ loved, or why they would so overtly abuse your love is futile. Simply put Narcissist’s are disordered and they act out against people AND it is just A FACT OF THEIR LIFE and you can’t change them or heal them. You have to purge all of this out of you and find your “OK” with this even as insurmountable as the task is, or you will be chained to the abuse forever. This is about you and only you now and surviving means that you must rejoin the real world and trust again as well as love again. You do not deserve a prison sentence for life by locking yourself up in your mind that was totally distorted and disabled by what amounts to a not fully functioning human being or better yet a real life monster.
You must break the cycle to completely put yourself in a space to understand that their every motive was to pull you into their negativity and darkness as well as to extort what they could even your goodness. They will string you along with promises to ONLY draw you back in to punch you in the heart and brain one more time, and another time, and as often as you give them the opportunity. They will put bait out there to fool you into believing that they care or love you only to ‘bait and switch’ your thought processes once again to dehumanize you, make you wrong, make you react to them, and hurt you – THEN use it against you. They want the reaction because it keeps you connected to them and processing their abuse. That is their gift to good people – abuse and destruction!
Another step in recovering from this abuse is recognizing that you are angry and admitting it. It is essential to uncover those raw feelings, so you can begin the process of healing. Know where the anger is coming from inside of you. Any emotions that you repress are harmful and will keep you trapped and powerless to face the situation or feel real happiness again. Acknowledging the anger that is usually disguised as depression and anxiety allows you to decide what to do about it (complete awareness of the situation and acceptance,) and then dealing with it by raising your thoughts to a higher plane of knowledge instead of staying within the cycle of emotions that keep you connected at the hip to this Narcissist. The Narcissist accepts all attention as supply – especially the negativity that they have forced onto and into you. This is what powers their omnipotence and gives them substance as well as makes you fear their retribution and helps them escape from being exposed.
Another step is to understand why you are so angry. Are you angry because you have been hurt, used, extorted, is it emotional damage, is it financial damage, etc.? The fact is that a Narcissist has emotionally impoverished and disabled you AND taken whatever else they could get their hands on, they are basically thieves of love and life. Are you resentful because the Narcissist has moved on within a few hours or days of the discard? Are you angry because of the huge ‘smear campaign’ and loss of your good integrity? All of these are valid reasons to be angry BUT this is what this predator does to everyone and you did not sign a contract with them to be abused, they conned you into their derelict lifestyle. You are a victim of this abuse, you didn’t ask to be abused, or knew from the very day you met them that they were a Narcissist or any of the above. Yes it is just so hideous to believe that you could have been conned so completely and lost many years of your life – BUT these creatures are out there looking for their targets because they need people to feed off of to survive. It is wrong without a doubt, but unfortunately until the awareness of this abuse is taken to a higher level and these creatures are made accountable for their actions, they will keep on abusing. They have an edge and advantage by blaming us for their actions and saying WE are the abusers, or crazy and turn the tables around on us to avoid exposure. They have been ten steps ahead of the game like any intuitive career criminal is – they leave no fingerprints!
Remember that that your emotional roller coaster ride and mood swings are/were directly related to the stress of living in a battle always dodging the Narcissist’s land mines which can feel like a mental health disorder. Basically the Narcissist has disabled you AND made you mentally ill with all of their brain washing, gas-lighting, manipulation, conditioning and managing down. That is all real, but YOU have the ability to change and fix all of this with the truth and reality of KNOWING what is fact now. Educate yourself, see the patterns through the voices of other targets/victims and survivors. The trauma is real and also disables you – understanding your enemy shuts the battle down.
Once your anger is purged out of you and in the open (or surfaced) it is less likely to cause problems for you. If it stays bottled up inside of you it will keep you in the gravitational pull of the Narcissist. This is ambient abuse where the abuse has found a permanent home in you and will stay there until you evict it once and for all like a deadbeat tenant that doesn’t pay rent and is destroying a rental property. It is necessary for you to make these changes because you are the one who has been disabled, or made sick by the existing situation of this abuse. The Narcissist is not there to help you recover they are the perpetrator. Your ability to live and enjoy what you are doing, reviving your daily living patterns, and your recovery from PTNS and PTSD are constantly influenced by emotions that keep you connected to this Narcissist. Nurturing yourself when you are hurting is imperative. Devote time each day to doing things that make you feel good. Establishing a daily routine is essential to your mental health. Get professional help if needed. Invest in your well-being ALONE so that you can create what you need, deserve, and want in a relationship with yourself. You are recovering from an extremely traumatizing situation that may have been your reality for years. PLEASE invest in yourself because this is your life and you deserve happiness, love and acceptance.
A little bit more to help understand this process! If you overload an electrical system at home by pulling too much energy (or too much stimulation,) the circuit breaker activates and shuts everything down. The human nervous system is also an electrical system, and when it is overloaded with too much stimulation OR too much danger, as in TRAUMA, it also shuts down to just the basics. This is that feeling of numbness, or being in shock or feeling totally empty inside. Targets/victims should see a professional to help with this trauma but that is not always possible.
Most people have not experienced so much primary trauma/psychological abuse (daily) like a target/victim of this abuse does at the hands of a Narcissist. Those that have experienced trauma through a life changing event like a terrible accident, school shooting, etc., see a professional counselor immediately and thoroughly tell their stories and purge out the horrific images. A target/victim of this abuse can partially work through their feelings by involving the people they are close to. They do it by telling their story hundreds and thousands of times and that is how they reach out for help. They need to talk it out and repeat the traumatizing aspects of this complete loss that can involve many years of their life. That is the means by which a target/victim begins to dispel the feelings of distress attached to all of their memories and the deep psychological damage. This trauma includes cognitive dissonance or the polar opposite realities that there was real love, but there wasn’t and this becomes compounded after the discard when the truth unfolds! Just more trauma to deal with!
This is for family and friends! The more that these traumatizing feelings CAN be encouraged to come out the better. Unfortunately the best friend, family member, or whomever the target/victim talks to cannot be there in the capacity that the target/victim needs them. If the target/victim is STILL in the relationship they are living through trauma every day and the person you once knew may seem so different – this is a sign that this person needs your help desperately. It will become overwhelming to hear the stories over and over again. Also if a person has NOT experienced this abuse the stories will sound so incredulous that they may respond negatively to the target/victim in a manner that puts more blame and shame on them. It is a catch twenty-two for the target/victim because there seems to be nowhere to turn and sometimes they become one of the lost that never recover. What may seem like too many complaints from the target/victim and they should ‘just move on’ is a desperate cry for help that gets lost because of the severity of the experience and need to talk. But the reality is that there are therapists that deal with trauma that are available and a good source to seek out. Also there are survivors and other targets/victims on different sites that will help, share, provide guidance, etc. The more you feel and expel the more you heal and move forward. The point here is to purge it all out and then close the door completely to the Narcissist and the abuse and move on to healing, setting boundaries and desensitizing all of the negative messages.
This abuse is so destructive at so many levels. Imagine the child of a Narcissistic parent that grew up with this abuse. The child is reared in a manner that they believe they are worthless, they never had a chance in life to grow up normally with unconditional love and acceptance to walk out into the world and grow or survive without confusion, fear and feeling worthless. The same for the spouse of a Narcissist that stayed in the relationship because of marriage or children and after many years they are discarded, disabled and destroyed by the years of psychological abuse. How do they get back to life after 25 years of marriage with a Narcissist? It doesn’t matter about the length of time because this abuse is universally debilitating. This is a hideous abuse and our voices are imperative in getting a message out to the world that help has to be available to targets/victims. We can’t define or give a prognosis based solely on a definition of what a Narcissist is. There has to be tried and true standards and a methodology set up that is completely about recovery and making life changes. They are predators and abusers period. Energy must be put into recovery methods for the abused! Please start with no/minimum contact and use your voice so the world understands how dangerous and destructive a Narcissist is! Become a survivor that shares your knowledge to help heal others!