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.
Narcisstic Abuse is a form of psychological and emotional abuse experienced my 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 in 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.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is tied to narcissistic injury, which is the result of their early inner wounding. This causes deep internal shame. As a result, their wounded ego works tirelessly to protect them and prevent this shame from coming to the light and consuming them. Multiple defense mechanisms, such as, lying, deflecting, gaslighting, denial, projecting, and creating drama, etc. are firmly in place to make sure that they do not have to experience the deep emotional pain that is stored in their mind and body. Susan Forward says that in relationships with them, these defense 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 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.
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 they 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 do disagree with them or express an opinion that is 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 do not agree with them, question them or set a boundary. You quickly learn that this is not something that you are to do (with this person, that is). This 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 up in us SO much DEEP, hurt, pain, confusion, shock, distress, trauma, anger, etc. It is an unimaginable betrayal. This is not something that can be understood unless someone has been through it. On top of this, a severe narcissist is highly unlikely to ever 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 already needing tending to. It is overwhelming, to say the least. If you are in this place right now, I need you to know that there is hope to get through it!
This person/people/experience sets us on a journey- one 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, but 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”.
That feels like the perfect note to end on.
Wishing you deep understanding, self- compassion, and inner peace,
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.
- What is Narcissism? (includes more on Covert Narcissism)
- Healing From Narcissistic Abuse
- How to Understand & Identify Narcissistic Abuse
- What is Pranic Healing?
- What is EFT?
- What is Codependency?
- Healing & Understanding Codependency
- What is an Empath?
- Are you a Highly Sensitive Person?
- 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 defense 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.