The more I tell my story, the more I find myself answering A LOT of questions about Narcissism and NPD. I thought it might be helpful to put some of the basic info out here on the blog for better understanding.
I had heard the term narcissism and narcissistic before and always took it lightly as someone who was a bit obsessed with themselves. I never realized that Narcissism can be an actual diagnosed personality disorder until I started doing my research on the things that I was experiencing in my relationship with The Narcissist.
The American Psychiatric Association uses a criteria called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM- 5) to diagnose mental conditions. Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is an actually diagnosable personality disorder.
DSM-5 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) include these features:
- Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
- Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
- Exaggerating your achievements and talents
- Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
- Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
- Requiring constant admiration
- Having a sense of entitlement
- Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
- Taking advantage of others to get what you want
- Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
- Being envious of others and believing others envy you
- Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner
NPD is not the same as confidence, it crosses the border of healthy confidence into thinking so highly of yourself that you value yourself more than you value others.
NPD translates into abuse in MANY different ways, shapes and forms. Narcissists can use many forms of control over their significant others including (intimidation, emotional abuse, physical abuse, isolation, financial abuse, sexual abuse, coercion, control, etc.) The Blog After Narcissistic Abuse provides a great summary which you can read in full HERE I have summarized their thoughts below:
Signs that You’ve Been Abused by a Narcissist:
- You Doubt Yourself – you are uncertain of yourself and constantly checking that you haven’t made a mistake.
- Confusion – your idea of reality, boundaries, and borders are completely blurred and gone.
- Feeling Crazy – The Narcissist projects their crazy onto you – making you feel like the crazy person
- Not Being Able to Pinpoint Whats Wrong – You know something is off, you know something feels wrong with how you are being treated but you cant explain it or pinpoint it.
- Dissociation – Symptoms of dissociation resulting from trauma may include depersonalization, (disconnecting your body awareness from your physical self) psychological numbing, disengaged from life and passions, or amnesia regarding the events of the abuse.
- PTSD or C-PTSD – A Cerebral anxiety attack that makes your whole body come alive with palpable fear. The rapid heart beat, the intrusive and spinning thoughts and fears – just like the abuse is currently happening.
Once you have been abused by a Narcissist you can develop a number of side effects which some Psychologists are starting to classify as Narcissistic Victim Syndrome.
Victims can present to a therapist or counselor with some of the following symptoms:
- Emotions of shock, anger, fear, and guilt. The victim often doesn’t realize that they have been living in a situation of Narcissistic abuse.
- Suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; (C-PTSD).
- Re-living (flashbacks, hallucinations, nightmares etc)
- Avoiding (people, places, thoughts, loss of interest etc)
- Increased Arousal (excessive emotions, problems relating, difficulty in sleeping and concentration, outbursts of anger, anxiousness, panic attacks etc).
- Disassociation – They might be compartmentalizing their experience and may seem to be detached from their emotions, body, or immediate surroundings.
- Stockholm Syndrome or Trauma Bonding – Where they emotionally bond with their abuser over their shared traumatic experiences.
In my story, I went to my therapist because I was struggling with sever depression, intense anger, trouble sleeping, and anxiety/panic attacks. I was definitely also experiencing some PTSD symptoms and disassociation as well.
My journey of healing began when I started researching and understanding these topics. It helped me to be able to come out of the fog that the Narcissist had kept me in and see things from another point of view. It gave me the strength to start speaking up about what I was going through, and eventually helped me to leave.