Questions & Answers about Narcissistic Abuse
Q. What is Narcissistic Abuse?
A. Narcissistic abuse is a psychological and emotional form of abuse with particular characteristics. It is often referred to as 'invisible abuse' due to it's subtleties. You can find out more about the characteristics of narcissistic abuse HERE
Q. What makes somebody narcissistic?
A. Narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder is thought to be formed early on in life. Research indicates significant early childhood neglect or abuse as associated with adult narcissism. Other factors include family history, parenting styles and life experiences, Narcissistic personality lies on a scale. At the extreme end is extreme personality disordered and sociopathic traits, whilst at the other end of the spectrum may be somebody with some narcissistic defences.
Q. Can I ever have a healthy relationship with a Narcissist?
A. No. More to the point, why would you want to? A real narcissist is somebody with early and therefore deep emotional damage. This makes it very difficult for them to experience genuine empathy or connections in the same way other people do.
Q. Can a narcissist change?
A. It is very unlikely. Narcissism is one of the most difficult psychological issues to address and treat. One of the reasons for this is due to the range of narcissistic psychological defences interfering with ones ability to be honest, to self-reflect or to experience a genuine sense of accountability. As far as a narcissist is concerned, any issues are somebody else's fault and therefore somebody else's responsibility. Somebody with narcissistic tendencies may possibly be helped by a specialist if they are highly committed, motivated and willing and able for change, but even then it would likely take a long, long time.
Q. How can I get my narcissist partner to talk things through?
A. You can't. It is much more helpful for your life and your sanity to work on letting go of your need to control or to get the narcissist to talk or anything else. You are responsible for what you do and how you communicate. That is your business and what you do is within your control. What the narcissist does or doesn't do is not. You simply cannot control the narcissist. The safest thing to do for yourself is to let go of any fight to do so.
Q. I have to deal with my narcissistic ex sometimes and it always makes me anxious when I hear from him. What can I do?
A. Using mindfulness and grounding techniques may help you to feel stronger in yourself so you don't feel so rattled by his contact. It may also be helpful to consider what thoughts go through your mind when you hear from him and explore if your thoughts or interpretations are fuelling how you feel? If so, you can work on modifying your thinking or interpretation of the situation to see if that can help you manage your anxiety. Otherwise, if you feel like you are very unsettled or troubled by his contact, and your reaction feels above and beyond what the current situation warrants, it may be that some reminder of an earlier situation or experience is being triggered. It may be that there is some sense of trauma held in the body and is being triggered by something in his contact. If so, again, mindfulness and grounding techniques can help manage this in the moment, although you may find it helpful to discuss this with a trauma therapist. EMDR therapy can help process any unprocessed trauma relatively quickly and gently and relieve associated symptoms. You may find this helps with feeling less anxious when you have to deal with him. Working on your boundaries and communication can also help this to feel more manageable.
Q. Can you heal and recover from narcissistic abuse?
A. Absolutely. The book Never Again... moving on from narcissistic abuse and other toxic relationships outlines a number of tools and aspects that are useful for healing and recovering from narcissistic abuse. Gaining information is useful in the first instance, however many people can become stuck at this stage. To move on and truly recover from narcissistic abuse takes returning the focus to yourself and working on all that is your part in attracting or being attracted to narcissists, emotionally unavailable or abusive partners. This includes considering your relationship and family history, earlier relational dynamics, boundaries, communicational issues, self-esteem and self-care. It may also involve working on issues of guilt, fears or trauma. You can certainly work towards to ending destructive relationship patterns. Working with a professional who understands narcissism and trauma can be a huge help too.