How To Understand & Identify Narcissistic Abuse

Tamara Low

- Accredited EFT
- Pranic Healer -Author

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In, “What is Narcissism?”, I explore Narcissistic Personality Disorder, how it develops, some of the core traits, characteristics, and tactics that they use to control and manipulate people.

Narcissistic abuse is a form of psychological and emotional abuse experienced by so many. My goal in this article is to expand on the last and to address narcissistic injury, defence mechanisms, narcissistic supply, and the impact of their tactics and abusive behaviour. Dr Ramani Durvasula describes them as “wolves in sheep’s clothing” and says, if they did not masquerade in this way, they could not do the damage they do. It serves them. I believe that knowledge and understanding is power and the more powerful and aware that we are, the easier it is to identify, spot, and make sense of this type of person and then to be able to decipher the next steps to take in our lives and our personal healing. This type of abuse, deception and manipulation can be very difficult to spot and make sense of! It can be experienced in relationships, among parents, caregivers, relatives, friends, bosses, co-workers, etc. 

Defense Mechanisms 

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is tied to narcissistic injury, which results from early inner wounding; which causes deep internal shame. As a result, the wounded ego works tirelessly to protect and prevent this shame from coming to light and consuming them.  Multiple defence mechanisms, such as lying, deflecting, gaslighting, denial, projecting, creating drama, etc. are firmly in place to ensure that they do not have to experience the deep emotional pain stored in their minds and bodies. Susan Forward says that in relationships with them, these defence mechanisms are a “crazy-making, guilt-inducing combination that guarantees that it will be extremely difficult to express your differences—or stand up for yourself.”

Narcissistic Supply 

Narcissistic supply is the energetic food that sustains them- it’s their insatiable need to be fed by others admiration, attention, validation and praise. This is how they regulate their self-esteem, says Dr Ramani Durvasula. They need others outside of themselves to accomplish this; they cannot get it or regulate it on their own. Lisa Romano refers to, narcissistic supply as being like a drug for someone with narcissistic traits, “it acts like a stage for them to act out their false identities and characteristics. Whether you are praising or condemning them, both sides of the ego coin are being fed. When you praise them, you are feeding their sense of superiority over others. When you condemn them, you fuel the other side of their fragile personality, which insists they are victims.”

Joanna Kujath says, “Narcissists do not value you, and they don’t care about what you have to say unless it relates to them and their narcissistic supply.” This is extremely difficult to make sense of and understand when the truth of this comes to light. 

Abusive Behaviour and Strategies that Pathological Narcissists use (not a complete list):

They use manipulation and control to attempt to have power over you.

They use manipulation and control to attempt to have power over you.

Some ways of accomplishing this are criticizing you, belittling you, confusing you, brainwashing you, and trampling on your boundaries. They need you to believe that they are good, kind, righteous, honest, trustworthy, etc. so they will do whatever they can to accomplish this. They do this for multiple reasons, one being, “in the event you ever begin to question who they really are, they have created a mental schema of who they want you to believe they are. In doing this, when you catch them in a lie or if they hurt you, your mind may immediately turn the notion down (Lisa Romano).” This creates two conflicting realities resulting in an extreme amount of inner tension and confusion (cognitive dissonance) in the person experiencing it.

They groom you to be dependent on them, compliant, and to fear them

“It is important to know that the condition you to seek their approval and fear their disapproval; to fear to dare to oppose the grandiose facade of a self they have worked methodically to construct and to brainwash you to believe in, says Lisa Romano. If you disagree with them or express an opinion different from theirs, some tactics that they use (to try and get you back in their control) might be to stonewall, ignore you, give you the silent treatment, and maybe even rage. Another tactic often used is to belittle or devalue your opinion and tell you repeatedly that what you say is not right, correct, valid- they are right.

They need to always be correct. They will appear to be loving and kind, your best friend and supporter until you disagree with them, question them or set a boundary. You quickly learn that this is not something you are to do (with this person, that is!). It is also a form of control. As mentioned earlier, other people are their “supply”, so they do not accept others as individuals with separate wants, needs, desires and feelings.

In relationships with a Pathological Narcissist there is a predictable cycle of abuse.

They groom you to become the perfect partner. It begins with “idealization” or “love bombing”, moving to devaluing you, and then discarding you (if you do not end it first). Jackson Mackenzie says this cycle involves, “gleefully and systematically wiping out the identity of an unsuspecting victim.”

Their tactics condition others to feel ashamed, inadequate, and to cause you to question and doubt yourself. Ross Rosenburg says, “if the Narcissist can get the Co-dependent to turn against themselves, they have control.”

Who Pathological Narcissists are attracted to

Ross Rosenburg, the author of “The Human Magnet Syndrome says:

“They have to find someone that fits their opposite profile; a certain type of Self Love Deficient/Codependent who they feel that there is less of a possibility of being abandoned or neglected, vulnerable, and capable of having their mind manipulated by accepting another person’s reality- theirs, which in turn will create a power and control dynamic”. They seek out the “wounded” and can sense and smell these Codependent traits. 

Debbie Mirza mirrors this saying, “covert narcissists look for people who are kind, authentic, self-reflective, nurturing, loving, and caring people with a conscience. They look for energy supplies, so without these attributes, the narcissist has no use for you, and their manipulative tactics wouldn’t work on you.” Narcissists are not attracted to people that do not like them.

When we begin to question, notice, or become aware of who they truly are; when their facade or mask slips, we will come to realize that we were groomed, manipulated, devalued, and abused by someone who has faked their love, care, kindness, compassion, and consideration. This inevitably brings us SO much DEEP, hurt, pain, confusion, shock, distress, trauma, anger, etc. It is an unimaginable betrayal and cannot be understood unless someone has been through it. On top of this, a severe narcissist is highly unlikely ever to admit being “wrong.” They deny their manipulative, abusive, unkind behaviour. They are unable and unwilling, to be honest, authentic and to self-reflect. They do not recognize the needs and feeling of others. It is extremely crazy-making and piles on more feelings and emotions to the long list of feelings and emotions that are already needing tending to. It is overwhelming. If you are in this place right now, there is hope to get through it!

End Summary 

This person/people/experience sets us on a journey that we likely never anticipated or expected. Diane Kathrine says, in her blog, “Are you a Narcissist Target?”, “The good news is that narcissists can work as a catalyst on an Empath’s journey. Although it will not feel like it at the time, anything that ignites insecurities, emotional injuries, victim mentality or personal challenges, can also push an Empath towards transformation. The darkness reveals the inner light. It encourages us to work on ourselves, which in turn takes us to a higher vantage point. It is often the case that the more challenges an Empath faces, the wiser they become and the greater their understanding of life. I am certainly not suggesting that constant suffering is the perfect formula for enlightenment, but we come to a point when we understand why we have endured such difficulties. We can then see how they shaped us into becoming better people”.

Wishing you deep understanding, self- compassion, and inner peace,

Tamara

You can find my follow up article (to the above) here: “Healing from Narcisstic Abuse

Please see the contact page if you would like to let me know what you thought about this article, or if you are interested in receiving Empathic Heart Healing’s articles/blogs/newsletters or joining the Facebook page. Thank you.

Related Articles

References:

  • Durvasula, Ramani S. “Don’t you know who I am?” How to Stay Sane in an Era of Narcissism, Entitlement, and Incivility (p 31). Post Hill Press. 2019. 
  • Forward, Susan. Mothers Who Can’t Love (29 and 30). Harper. Kindle Edition. 
  • Kujath, Joanna. Journey Thru Wellness. YouTube. 
  • Makenzie, Jackson. Psychopath Free. Berkley Books, New York. 2015. 
  • Miller, Meredith. Inner Integrations. YouTube.
  • Mirza, Debbie. The Covert Passive Aggressive Narcissist: Recognizing the Traits and Finding Healing After Hidden Emotional and Psychological Abuse (p. 10, 14-18, 29). Safe Place Publishing. Kindle Edition. 
  • Northrup, Christiane. Dodging Energy Vampires (p., 69, 81). Hay House. Kindle Edition
  • Romano, Lisa. The Breakthrough Life Coach. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mS7SCAiEZAY
  • Main Reasons Why Narcissists Use Projection as a defence mechanism to 
  • Romano, Lisa. The Breakthrough Life Coach. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mS7SCAiEZAY
  • Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC, CSAT, Ross. The Human Magnet Syndrome: The Codependent Narcissist Trap. Morgan James Publishing. Kindle Edition. 

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Internal Exploration Questions
General

These questions are just for you to ponder. You can fill it out and save it for your interest if you like. They can help us to get to the root of what is keeping us from TRUE us and our most authentic expression (which can often get buried for many reasons).

Click one of the buttons below and download your fillable PDF to your desktop. You can then fill in the form on your desktop and save it or print it out. If you experience any issues while filling in your form download Abode Acrobat Reader. It is a free software to help you properly use fillable PDF forms.

Internal Exploration Questions
Codependency

These questions are just for you to ponder. You can fill it out and save it for your interest if you like. They can help us to get to the root of what is keeping us from TRUE us and our most authentic expression (which can often get buried for many reasons).

Click the button below and download your fillable PDF to your desktop. You can then fill in the form on your desktop and save it or print it out. If you experience any issues while filling in your form, download Abode Acrobat Reader. It is a free software to help you properly use fillable PDF forms.

Price List

 

*All prices are in Canadian dollars

Codependent Free

A brief summary of Codependency (more in “Education")

Codependency is created by our attachment trauma. During the first 3 years of life, we need to feel safe and secure with our parents or caregivers. Arielle Swartz says, “this allows us to develop a healthy sense of self that forms the foundation for our ability to develop meaningful, healthy relationships with others.” If we experience fear, unpredictability, uncertainty, neglect, rage, indifference, abuse, emotional unavailability, etc., the natural attachment process is disrupted, causing trauma, resulting in deep and lasting challenges for those that have experienced it (until it’s dealt with).

Jason Breyer describes Codependency as “a psychological and behavioural condition based on faulty programming and emotional wounds, which affects someone’s capacity to have healthy, mutually satisfying relationships.” Stacy Hoch describes Codependency as an image disorder built on the idea and belief that you should be more concerned with what others think of you than what you think of you, the idea that I do not exist without others’ validation and trying to fill inner voids vicariously by filling others. She says, for others’ sake, the Codependent harms themselves and Narcissist for the sake of themselves harm other people. If left unchecked, the pattern of Codependency may be passed from one generation to the next. See “What is Codependency?”, and “Healing and Understanding Codependency.”

Codependency Programming (but not limited to):

Codependency programming ensures that our identity, love, validation, approval, peace, and sense of safety is solely reliant on others. We falsely believe that other people and situations are responsible for our happiness or lack thereof. We completely abandon ourselves and our wounded and deeply afraid inner child(ren) for the sake of others. This can feel like an emotional, psychological, and physical prison that may come to feel like this is how things will always be, that it’s somehow our fate. In summary, its:  

-An external dependency on others for acceptance, validation, approval, and to feel good about ourselves. 

-Not having your own solid identity, becoming void of ourselves for the sake of someone else.

How it may show itself- coping mechanisms

-We seek permission from others. 

-Our self-esteem is validated by what we do and by others’ opinions of us. 

-We can struggle to meet our own needs. 

-Asserting oneself is almost impossible.

-We create behaviours that assist in denying, ignoring or preventing difficult emotions. 

-Can be very self-destructive and self-sabotaging as being self-abusive is what we were taught. 

-Codependents often isolate themselves- deep core shame and loneliness is at the heart of this.

Healing

There are many wonderful ways, tools, techniques, books, online videos, classes, therapies, therapists, modalities, support groups, etc. available to assist us in learning and understanding Codependency and to help heal its deep and many layers! The energetic hold of Codependency programming is strong. To heal, attachment trauma needs to be addressed and inner child work (I encourage you to seek out those that specialize in these areas for support) and identify deep unconscious programming, beliefs, behaviours, and thoughts. I believe that this is the level that Energy Psychology (Emotional Freedom Techniques) really shines! I am extremely passionate about assisting others in addressing the deep energetic layers of Codependency.

If you are interested, please click on the link for “Codependent Thoughts and Beliefs to Tap On” (Emotional Freedom Techniques can also be referred to as “Tapping”). 

If  you are interested in more about Narcissism and Narcissistic Abuse, see “What is Narcissism?, “How to Understand and Identify Narcissistic Abuse,” and “Healing from Narcissistic Abuse.

**My writing is geared towards Empaths and Highly Sensitive People, but it is ultimately for anyone desiring to learn, grow, heal and explore.

References:

  • BREYER, JASON. Empath – A Highly Sensitive Person – Develop your gift, use emotional intelligence to turn your high sensitivity into a superpower: Overcome negative mindsets and master your social skills . Kindle Edition.
  • Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC, CSAT, Ross. The Human Magnet Syndrome: The Codependent Narcissist Trap . Morgan James Publishing. Kindle Edition. 
  • Schwartz, Arielle Dr. Complex PTSD and Attachment Trauma (article). Oct 2019. 

Areas of Interest, Services and Goals

Areas of Interest and Services:

As an Empath, Highly Sensitive Person, you have a unique soul’s purpose and a unique perspective. You are ‘wired’ differently and are not meant to ‘fit in” to the status quo. It can be very challenging to see/view and feel things differently than most people- but we are not meant to; we are meant to see and feel them from OUR perspective.

It is so important to accept our highly sensitive, empathic nature, heal our hearts and wounding, learn to love, accept who we are at our core, and find and live our unique soul’s purpose, joy, and spark, passion!

You have a huge loving heart and a large capacity to love and care for others, animals, and the planet. LOVE is who we are; it’s our natural state of being! The world needs (more than ever) our gifts, passion, and heart!

I desire to work with self-aware Empaths and HSP’s who are passionate about learning and growing and deeply desire to explore, excavate, and heal their inner worlds, heart places that need healing, care, support, and attention. I hold a safe, non-judgemental space for you, deep presence, and deep intuitive listening. I bring love, warmth, and care to everything that I do. I use:

Emotional Freedom Techniques is a gentle cognitive, somatic (body) and energetic approach to healing. It assists us in looking at the deep unconscious programming, beliefs, behaviours, and thoughts that impact our behaviour or create imbalance. EFT works with the meridian system to shift energetic blocks or disruptions, returning the body’s energy system to balance- helping us to regulate our nervous system.

Pranic Psychotherapy is Pranic Healing applied in energetically addressing, balancing, and preventing psychological ailments, where stress is the root. This is where I like to focus. Pranic Healing works with the chakra system and auric layers.

EFT and Pranic Healing work exceptionally well together!

I am passionate about supporting Empaths and Highly Sensitive People in healing and nurturing their hearts, discovering and living their true heart’s desires, and embodying their unique gifts! More specifically, my focus is on assisting you in uncovering and:

  • healing and processing the emotional pain from heartbreak, heartache (grief, loss, sorrow, sadness).
  • processing eco/environmental sorrow – our feelings around ALL that is happening with/to our planet and all of her inhabitants.
  • clear the blocks to healthy self-love, care and regard (e.g., feelings of unworthiness, e.g., don’t feel worthy of healthy love). 
  • dismantling old limiting patterns and belief systems that keep us stuck, hidden, and in pain.
  • healing the grip and pull of toxic relationship patterns, feelings, and beliefs such as codependency. Codependency profoundly impacts, impedes, affects us, and holds us back in many ways, e.g., keeping us small, hidden, and invisible. For more information, see Codependent-Beliefs-To-Tap-On for an example of such belief systems and what we can do about it.
  • recovering and healing from narcissistic abuse, being manipulated and taken advantage of.
  • celebrating and accepting being an Empath, a Highly Sensitive Person in this world.  Also:
  • to uncover, recover, rediscover, and reconnect with your joy spark, play, unique gifts, purpose, passion, and calling.
  • nurturing our playful heart, our innate play and joy, to find play in purpose.
  • regulating our nervous system.

BIG Whole Hearts unite!

Tamara

Under “About,” see “Internal Exploration Questions- General” and “Internal Exploration Questions -Codependency.”

Goals

Heart healing, heart balancing, heart wholeness.

Developing and cultivating kindness, gentleness, love, and compassion towards ourselves.

Coming to an accepting, peaceful place around our difficult feelings and emotions, e.g., sorrow, sadness, suffering, isolation, heaviness, loneliness, fear.

Clear harmful energies and residue from past relationships.

Healing the patterns that keep us attracting painful relationships.

Feeling worthy of the types of relationships that we desire and authentic connection with someone who also lives from the heart, is kind, can express their feelings, and you can express yours safely. Both people take responsibility for their actions, no games, you deeply care about each other’s happiness and wellbeing.

Healing our faulty internalized beliefs about how we view love and discovering what it truly is/looks like, for us, learning what healthy love is and being open to and attracting (kind, gentle) healthy love in our lives.

Making self-loving decisions about who we let into our hearts and lives.

Learning to trust ourselves and make kind, loving, safe choices about who we allow into our lives and hearts.

Relationship(s) in your life that nurture you, that are safe, gentle, loving, nurturing and kind.

 The freedom to live and love wholeheartedly.

Thriving after heartbreak, heartache, rejection, loss, abuse, betrayal, narcissistic abuse.

Reclaiming and rediscovering ourselves/who we TRULY are and our true passion and purpose in the process.

To have fun, be joyful, playful, free and to live our hearts desires.

A regulated nervous system, inner peace.

Transforming pain and suffering.

Welcome to Empathic Heart Healing

Empaths and Highly Sensitive People (HSP’s) have unique ways of experiencing, feeling, sensing, observing, perceiving, processing, and absorbing the world. They feel things deeply; including love, beauty and joy, pain, hurt, and sorrow.

Emotional pain or struggle is a block or disruption in our body’s energy system and can stem from countless places, unique to you and your situation. My passion is to assist Empaths and HSP’s in understanding, accessing and releasing the root cause (feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and emotions) of the energy block(s) or disturbances. Codependency is just one manifestation of emotional pain, an example of how our TRUE selves can get buried, hidden (at the beginning of our lives), and stay this way until it is safe to re-emerge.

Other avenues might be narcissistic abuse, heartache/heartbreak, infertility, low self-esteem, rejection (initially from others- and then towards ourselves), neglect, and you can insert your experience(s) here. When we are in emotional pain, there are corresponding feelings such as shame, sadness, grief, guilt, fear, loneliness, anger, isolation, and despair, to name a few. Our body gives us clues through feelings and sensations about what is happening within us and how we feel around others and in certain environments.

Emotional Freedom Techniques, also called EFT, or “Tapping” can assist us in identifying, releasing, clearing, and healing the energetic and emotional blocks, beliefs, fears, and barriers that limit us and keep us stuck, small, and hidden, so that we can access and get re-in touch with our deepest, fullest, truest and most authentic expression- as well as deep inner peace, vibrant health, light-heartedness, joy, play, passion, bliss and vitality.

Every one of us has a unique energy/energy vibration, traits, purpose(s), gifts, talents, abilities, etc. to offer, to offer others, and contribute to the world. We all have unique goals, dreams and desires.  Blocks in our energy system can derail or make difficult, any one of these. My deepest and truest desires for EVERYONE is to live and express themselves in the deepest, truest, freest, and most authentic way possible!!

When we are young, we learn by watching, observing, and adapting to our surroundings. We are often told by our parent(s), caregivers, society, etc. who they think we are, who they think we should be, and who they want us to be, do, say, or act like. As we get older, these adaptations and beliefs can become a hindrance. We can be controlled by a belief that was learned and taught, which does not even have its origins in who we are, and how we desire to live.

As an example, I recently explored an old, worn-out belief of mine with an EFT colleague. That is, “I am only worthy, only if I am productive, and that “play” is a waste of time.” Yikes! This is a belief that I learned and took on as “truth” very early on- a learned family pattern. It was impacting me in numerous ways (which were not in line with TRUE me). This is certainly not a belief that I want to pass on to my son! I LOVE the magic and power of EFT! and Pranic Healing!! My goal is to provide a safe, compassionate, secure, and non-judgemental space for you to peel back the layers of what no longer serves you and holds you back from TRUE you….

This quote from Judith Orloff, the author of “The Empath’s Survival Guide” sums this up perfectly and resonates with me deeply:

“I’ve seen how empaths are often “chosen” to break the generational patterns of negativity in their families. They don’t necessarily volunteer for this role on a conscious level, but it’s nonetheless their destiny to fulfil it. When empaths heal themselves and say “yes” to honouring their sensitivities, they are saying “NO” to patterns of abuse, neglect, and addiction that have been repeated in their relatives. The intergenerational transmission of pain stops with them. Through their recovery and the acceptance of their gifts, empaths are the ones who can repair the greater familial whole. Mindful, conscious people are the most effective agents of change.”

Warmly,

Tamara

If you are familiar with EFT or would like to explore more about EFT, and how it can be used for Codependency, please email me, and I will send you a copy of “Codependent Beliefs, Thoughts, Feelings, and Emotions to Tap on.”

References:

  • Orloff, Judith. The Empath’s Survival Guide (pp. 207-208). Sounds True. Kindle Edition.