At Into 5D we offer 1-on-1 Life Coaching that specialises in healing from abusive relationships, particularly Narcissistic Abuse where clients display symptoms of NAS (Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome).
There is much to be understood about the toxic attraction between the narcissist and the victim so we’ll outline some of the characteristics and how they affect the victim. Contact us for an appointment and let’s assess where you’re at and make some recommendations which will most likely include a combination of our available therapies alongside the one-on-one coaching. The collective therapies have been carefully put together to assist you with a faster recovery and bring you back to your former self and surpass the old, while we build the new you.
This type of abuse includes but is not limited to; emotional, psychological, mental, spiritual and physical abuse.
When a man or woman suffers from a condition named Narcissistic Personality Disorder, they display patterns of deviant or abnormal behaviour that is so bad it creates carnage on those people who are unfortunate enough to have a close relationship with them.
One would naturally ask how do intelligent people get sucked into these relationships? Surely they can see the writing on the wall.
The disorder has it’s foundation, roots and backbone in deception so the narcissist lives his/her life working relentlessly to keep the mask in place and will often display different attributes of personality with different people. Having practised since childhood the mask is the false-self, created and tweaked to a point of being fine tuned to perfection, unsuspecting people get duped into believing they are in a loving relationship with a normal and caring human being. Unfortunately the disordered individual has an insatiable need for control of their significant other to the point of obsession and addiction. It’s all about power over people and winning at any cost. Sadly this includes their deliberate destruction of you.
The likelihood of severe emotional and psychological injury in the victim is real and significant.
A relationship with a narcissist – in a nutshell: You will go from being the perfect love of their life and soulmate, to nothing you do is good enough. You will give your everything and they will take it all and give you less and less in return. You will end up depleted emotionally, mentally, spiritually and probably financially… and then get blamed for it!
Before we expand on the above ‘nutshell’ let’s list the commonly used terminology and abbreviations ;
NPD Narcissistic Personality Disorder
NARC Abbreviation for the narcissist
NVS Narcissistic Victim Syndrome
Insidious – definition: Being stealthy or unseen but having harmful effects.
Cycle of Abuse; Idealisation, Devaluation, Discard, Hoover.
LOVEBOMBING – Also known as the golden period, as the word suggests, this is the start where the victim is ‘bombed’ with love ; according to the narc you are the greatest, the funniest, the sexiest, the best lover ever, etc and since the victim’s five senses, sight, sound, touch, smell and taste are responding to this the person (narc) is perceived as real and that their intentions are genuine.
The chemistry is off the charts and this is unlike any other relationship, it’s a magical time that fills your senses.
Narcissist’s Mantra: I am empty. I will show you what you want to see.
YOUR BRAIN What is actually happening during this stage is the creation of a drug addiction in the brain of the victim and it’s this that is used as a trigger throughout the relationship. The victim feels euphoric at the attention and this new person who seems to know exactly what they need to hear, feel and see and that’s because the narcissist does know exactly what the victim needs to hear. This euphoria is the result of the feel-good chemicals in the brain as our perception of the environment responds to the five senses and so Dopamine, Serotonin begin to surge, it feels great and in a short period of time as the narcissist, by way of little tests and sniffing out your vulnerabilities, figures out exactly what you need. Soon the human bonding chemical Oxytocin joins the party and these three chemicals form a highly addictive cocktail equivalent to using cocaine or heroin.
It’s this deliberate deception that sets the pace for the relationship.
Symptoms of Narcissistic Victim Syndrome are;
- C-PTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) that includes Depression, Anxiety, Night Terrors, Insomnia, Chronic Fatigue, Nervousness, Obsessive Thoughts, Paranoia, Lack of Trust, Damaged Self-esteem.
- BRAIN INJURY that can now be seen on modern CAT Scan equipment that shows up as blunt force trauma.
- STOCKHOLM SYNDROME When a victim develops feelings of love and dependence for their abuser.
NO ORDINARY RELATIONSHIP – NO ORDINARY BREAKUP!!
The dysfunctional behaviour involves such callous exploitation of their victims that it has given birth to a new condition known as Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome. While much has been written medically about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), little has been written about Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome (NAS) and it seems there is a global scurry by mental health professionals and therapists learning about the disorder and how to treat the victims simply because there are so many people coming forward now.
South Africa’s law and judicial system has been expanded to include the above-mentioned abuse types and so our resources include advice and assistance from various organisations who work extensively in this area. One organisation in particular works closely with the N.P.A. (National Prosecuting Authority), DSD’s V.E.P. (Victim Empowerment Program) and various government and other beneficial authorities.
So let’s touch on what what all the hype is because this has become a modern buzz word so it’s important to differentiate between a person who displays narcissistic traits and those who are characteristic of full blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
In recent years this disorder appears to have increased to epidemic proportions with people around the world now coming forward with surprisingly similar stories of emotional and psychological abuse in their relationships. Since it’s only been the last 15 or so years that this has been researched and studied there has been much written about the behaviour patterns of the disordered individual but little about what the victim experiences before during and after becoming entangled with a person displaying destructive behaviours towards the people they claim to love.
It is true that almost every victim of these relationships is probably not qualified to assign an actual diagnosis of this mental condition because yes, we understand this is in the field of psychiatry however let’s not negate or diminish the story told by the victim. Let’s understand at the outset that, once a brutal discard has been affected many victims spend a tremendous amount of time learning about this disorder, to the point of obsession and in a desperate attempt at understanding what had happened in their lives and why they feel the way they do.
SO WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE ?
Narcissistic traits would include any number of the behaviours except an absence of empathy and the ability to switch romantic partners very quickly. The defining factor of the full blown disorder, in my experience, is the absence empathy and the ability to replace intimate partners very quickly.
So the NPD behaviours would include;
An exaggerated sense of self that is completely false.
Arrogance but often covert
Sense of entitlement
… more coming soon …….
911 EMERGENCY – you’ve been discarded!!
WHAT NOW?? WTF JUST HAPPENED??
WHY?? I CAN’T BREATHE!!
IN THE IMMEDIATE AFTERMATH
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What to do about C-PTSD if you’ve got it:
Remove yourself from the situation stemming from the abuse.
Seek therapy. Talk about it. Write about it.
Medication if absolutely necessary, you might need to keep your wits fully about you so be mindful of what meds you’re taking.
Physical Exercise is always a good option.
Meditation. Focus on your breathing and search for some guided meditations on YouTube. They are helpful and comforting.
What NOT to do about it:
- Stay. Hold it in. Bottle it up. Act out. Isolate. Self-abuse. Perpetuate the cycle.
- What to do about it if you know somebody else who has C-PTSD:
Offer sympathy, support, a shoulder to cry on, lend an ear. Speak from experience. Assist with practical resolution when appropriate (guidance towards escape, therapy, etc.) Be patient.
- What not to do about it if you know somebody else who has it:
Do not push your own agenda: proselytise, moralise, speak in absolutes, tell them to “get over it”, or try to force reconciliation with the perpetrator or offer “sure fire” cures.
Little has been done in clinical studies of treatment of C-PTSD. However, in general the following is recommended:
- Removal of and protection from the source of the trauma and/or abuse.
- Removal of all reminders of the relationship. Gifts, photos, etc. Even if just out of sight till a later date.
- Acknowledgement of the trauma as real, important and undeserved.
- Acknowledge that the trauma came from something that was stronger than the victim and therefore could not be avoided.
- Acknowledgement of the “complex” nature of C-PTSD – that responses to earlier traumas may have led to decisions that brought on additional, undeserved trauma.
- Acknowledgement that recovery from the trauma is not trivial and will require significant time and effort.
- Cutting of soul ties. Seek spiritual counsel or look for a guided meditation to take you through the process. Most people say this was a significant step in healing.
- Separation of residual problems into those that the victim can resolve (such as personal improvement goals) and those that the victim cannot resolve (such as the behaviour of a disordered family member)
- Mourning for what has been lost and cannot be recovered.
- Identification of what has been lost and can be recovered.
- Program of recovery with focus on what can be improved in an individual’s life that is under their own control.
- Placement in a supportive environment where the victim can discover they are not alone and can receive validation for their successes and support through their struggles.
- As necessary, personal therapy to promote self-discovery.
- As required, prescription of antidepressant medications.
Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is a condition that results from chronic or long-term exposure to emotional trauma over which a victim has little or no control and from which there is little or no hope of escape, such as in cases of:
- domestic emotional, physical or sexual abuse
- childhood emotional, physical or sexual abuse
- entrapment or kidnapping.
- slavery or enforced labor.
- long term imprisonment and torture
- repeated violations of personal boundaries.
- long-term objectification.
- exposure to gaslighting & false accusations
- long-term exposure to inconsistent, push-pull,splitting or alternating raging & hoovering behaviors.
- long-term taking care of mentally ill or chronically sick family members.
- long term exposure to crisis conditions.
When people have been trapped in a situation over which they had little or no control at the beginning, middle or end, they can carry an intense sense of dread even after that situation is removed. This is because they know how bad things can possibly be. And they know that it could possibly happen again. And they know that if it ever does happen again, it might be worse than before.
The degree of C-PTSD trauma cannot be defined purely in terms of the trauma that a person has experienced. It is important to understand that each person is different and has a different tolerance level to trauma. Therefore, what one person may be able to shake off, another person may not. Therefore more or less exposure to trauma does not necessarily make the C-PTSD any more or less severe.
C-PTSD sufferers may “stuff” or suppress their emotional reaction to traumatic events without resolution either because they believe each event by itself doesn’t seem like such a big deal or because they see no satisfactory resolution opportunity available to them. This suppression of “emotional baggage” can continue for a long time until a “last straw” event occurs, or a safer emotional environment emerges and the dam begins to break.
The “Complex” in Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder describes how one layer after another of trauma can interact with one another. Sometimes, it is mistakenly assumed that the most recent traumatic event in a person’s life is the one that brought them to their knees. However, just addressing that single most-recent event may possibly be an invalidating experience for the C-PTSD sufferer. Therefore, it is important to recognise that those who suffer from C-PTSD may be experiencing feelings from all their traumatic exposure, even as they try to address the most recent traumatic event.
This is what differentiates C-PTSD from the classic PTSD diagnosis – which typically describes an emotional response to a single or to a discrete number of traumatic events.
The difference between C-PTSD & PTSD
Although similar, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) differs slightly from the more commonly understood & diagnosed condition Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in causes and symptoms.
C-PTSD results more from chronic repetitive stress from which there is little chance of escape. PTSD can result from single events, or short term exposure to extreme stress or trauma.
Therefore a soldier returning from intense battle may be likely to show PTSD symptoms, but a kidnapped prisoner of war who was held for several years may show additional symptoms of C-PTSD.
Similarly, a child who witnesses a friend’s death in an accident may exhibit some symptoms of PTSD but a child who grows up in an abusive home may exhibit the additional C-PTSD characteristics shown below:
C-PTSD – What it Feels Like:
People who suffer from C-PTSD may feel un-centered and shaky, as if they are likely to have an embarrassing emotional breakdown or burst into tears at any moment. They may feel unloved – or that nothing they can accomplish is ever going to be “good enough” for others.
People who suffer from C-PTSD may feel compelled to get away from others and be by themselves, so that no-one will witness what may come next. They may feel afraid to form close friendships to prevent possible loss should another catastrophe strike.
People who suffer from C-PTSD may feel that everything is just about to go “out the window” and that they will not be able to handle even the simplest task. They may be too distracted by what is going on at home to focus on being successful at school or in the workplace.
How it can manifest in the victim(s) over time:
Rage turned inward: Eating disorders. Depression. Substance Abuse / Alcoholism. Truancy. Dropping out.
Promiscuity. Co-dependence. Doormat syndrome (choosing poor partners, trying to please someone who can never be pleased, trying to resolve the primal relationship)
Rage turned outward: Theft. Destruction of property. Violence. Becoming a control freak.
Other: Learned hyper vigilance. Clouded perception or blinders about others (especially romantic partners). Seeks positions of power and / or control: choosing occupations or recreational outlets which may put oneself in physical danger. Or choosing to become a “fixer” – Therapist, Mediator, etc.
Avoidance – The practice of withdrawing from relationships with other people as a defensive measure to reduce the risk of rejection….
…. and the list goes on and on.
C-PTSD is caused by a prolonged or sustained exposure to emotional trauma or abuse from which no short-term means of escape is available or apparent to the victim.
The precise neurological damage that exists in C-PTSD victims is not well understood yet.