Narcissistic parents cause enormous harm to their children. When grown, these victims of narcissistic abuse face seemingly insurmountable problems, including the formation of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD).
This article shall examine narcissistic abuse, narcissistic personality disorder, and their effect on the children of narcissism.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is one of many diagnosable conditions for those who are narcissists mentioned in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on Mental Disorders, edition five (DSM-5). The DSM-5 classifies NPD as a personality disorder and is an accurate diagnosis. Up to 6.2% of the general population have narcissistic personality disorder (Miller, Widiger, & Campbell, 2010).
People who have NPD have damaged self-esteem that is easily harmed by even small criticisms. They are continually looking to shore up their weak areas of self-opinion. To accomplish this need for self-preservation, they abuse and use other people, including, unfortunately, their own children.
The following are characteristics are usually found in someone who has narcissistic personality disorder:
- A sense of uniqueness
- Boastful behavior
- Exaggeration of their talents
- Grandiose fantasies
- A sense of superiority
- Self-centered behavior
- Self-referential behavior
- A deep need for attention and admiration
(Ronningstam & Gunderson, 1990)
People living with narcissistic personality disorder are both male and female. These men and women are entirely responsible for their actions regardless of the existence of a diagnosis.
A malignant narcissist is capable of destroying families, including their own. Malignant narcissism is a mix of narcissistic disorder and antisocial disorder, a rude and harmful combination.
The behavior of a malignant narcissist is dangerous because they use personal information to harm others who love and depend upon them. They know their victim’s likes, dislikes, and weaknesses to manipulate them into fulfilling their needs. There is little to no empathy or acknowledgment on the part of the malignant narcissist that what they are doing is wrong in any way (Glad, 2002).
Malignant narcissists cause others in their lives to “walk on egg-shells” to minimize the frequency of the narcissist’s impulsive, unstable, or aggressive behaviors. Malignant narcissists will lash out and humiliate their children.
Malignant narcissists will often employ several tricks, including gaslighting their families into doing what they want. Gaslighting is a form of abuse where the narcissist undermines their child’s reality by denying facts and their child’s feelings. Targets of someone who gaslights will feel manipulated and turn against their own emotions and who they are as a person (Stern, 2018).
Malignant narcissists commit abuse using verbal and non-verbal cues to force their children to feel inferior, cheap, and used.
Narcissistic abuse is defined as abuse, where the parent or parents use emotional abandonment, withholding affection, manipulation, and uncaring against their children to promote themselves. Narcissistic abuse might include silent treatment or include a parent raging, attacking, and lying. It may also involve blaming to shame and build guilt into their offspring to force them to fulfill their own needs (Arabi, 2017).
Victims of narcissistic abuse syndrome have many of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, including but not limited to, the following:
- Flashbacks and nightmares. Reliving the trauma from narcissistic abuse.
- Being on-alert 24/7 waiting for the other shoe to drop.
- Easily startled. Loud or unexpected noises make one jump.
- Feeling detached from one’s emotions or body.
- Avoidance behavior. Avoiding situations like large crowds or anything that reminds one of the abuse.
- Avoiding intimate relationships. Not being able to trust others or believing others to be dangerous hampers any form of intimacy.
- Lack of emotional regulation. Having uncontrollable emotions such as chronic sadness or anger.
- An inaccurate perception of the narcissist. Being preoccupied with the relationship between the victim and the narcissist or continuously thinking of revenge.
- An overwhelming sense of guilt or shame. Feeling utterly different from other people and not worthy of life.
Although other symptoms of complex post-traumatic stress disorder are caused by narcissistic abuse, the above list is enough to tell the horrific story of those who fall victim to narcissistic abuse.
Overt Versus Covert Narcissistic Abuse
Overt narcissists are easily identifiable because they are loud, incentive, and arrogant. They are oblivious and disregarding the needs of others and are always looking for a compliment from others. Overt narcissists are easily noticed as their behavior is grandiose, and they fill a room with their presence.
On the other hand, covert is much harder to identify as this type of narcissist appears shy and anxious about what others think of them. However, covert narcissists are dangerous because of how they hide their real identity as one who will abuse their children because they crave admiration and importance.
Both types of narcissists form unhealthy relationships, but covert narcissists can commit crimes against their children, including Narcissism and Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy.
Narcissism by Proxy
Narcissism by proxy occurs when a narcissist uses those around them to express their own feelings of inadequacy and fear. They do this by inciting their emotions in their children by using manipulative behaviors and cause mental harm to those around them (Zaslav, 2018).
Another way of stating the above is to say that narcissists, especially malignant, covert narcissists, use the faults and weaknesses of those around them to control and manipulate them. They do this to hide or relieve their own feelings of weakness.
Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome
Perhaps one of the most insidious and most dangerous of all the behavior a narcissist can exhibit is Munchausen by proxy syndrome. This crime includes the narcissist causing or making up illnesses and injuries in their children. They do this to appear as the victim and hero in other people’s eyes (Vaknin, 2015).
The narcissistic parent appears to be kind, gentle, loving, and above all, self-sacrificing at the expense of their children’s mental health. They seem dedicated to the welfare of their children while lying about their tortured offspring who are desperate to be seen and rescued.
No one knows how many professionals have been duped by this type of malignant narcissist. Still, the number of children who have died as a result must be enormous.
Narcissistic Parents and the Formation of CPTSD
It is not hard to see why children of narcissistic parents often form complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD). These kids are subjected to repeated and horrific abuse at the hands of people they should be able to count on for their care.
CPTSD forms as a response to chronic traumatization that lasts for months or years. The traumatization includes physical, sexual, and for our needs in this article, emotional abuse. Unfortunately, narcissistic parents might be part of human trafficking or another ring of abuse and use their children for their financial gain.
Malignant narcissistic parents attempt to destroy the lives of their children, causing them to exhibit all the signs of someone who has CPTSD.
Ending Our Time Together
Narcissism is a treatable disorder but seldom do narcissists admit they have a problem with their behavior, let alone seek help. It is easily seen how narcissistic abuse by parents damages their children and, unless the child finds support as an adult, can ruin their lives.
In the next article, we shall explore the neuroscience behind not only the effects of narcissistic abuse on the brains of children but also what is going on in the brains of the narcissist.
“When you’re different, sometimes you don’t see the millions of people who accept you for what you are. All you notice is the person who doesn’t.” ~ Jodi Picoult,
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit” ~ E.E. Cummings
If you or a loved one are living in the despair and isolation that comes with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, please, come to us for help. The CPTSD Foundation offers a wide range of services including:
- Daily Calls
- The Healing Book Club
- Mindfulness, Prayer, and Meditation Circle
- Support Groups
- Our Blog
- The Trauma-Informed Newsletter
- Daily Encouragement Texts
All our services are reasonably priced, and some are even free. So, to gain more insight into how complex post-traumatic stress disorder is altering your life and how you can overcome it, sign-up, we will be glad to help you.
Arabi, S., (2017). What it’s like to be a complex trauma survivor of narcissistic abuse. Psychcentral.com. Retrieved from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/recovering-narcissist/2017/10/what-its-like-to-be-a-complex-trauma-survivor-of-narcissistic-abuse/
Glad, B. (2002). Why tyrants go too far: Malignant narcissism and absolute power. Political Psychology, 23(1), 1-2.
Miller, J. D., Widiger, T. A., & Campbell, W. K. (2010). Narcissistic personality disorder and the DSM-V. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 119(4), 640.
Ronningstam, E., & Gunderson, J. G., (1990). Identifying criteria for narcissistic personality disorder. The American Journal of Psychiatry.
Stern, R. (2018). The Gaslight Effect: How to spot and survive the hidden manipulation others use to control your life. Harmony.
Vaknin, S., (2015). The narcissist’s seriously ill child and Munchausen by proxy syndrome. LinkedIn. Retrieved from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/narcissists-seriously-ill-child-munchausen-proxy-syndrome-sam-vaknin/
Zaslav, M., (2018). Committing Narcissism by Proxy. Psychologytoday.com. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/shame-guilt-and-their-defenses/201812/committing-narcissism-proxy
My name is Shirley Davis and I am a freelance writer with over 40-years- experience writing short stories and poetry. Living as I do among the corn and bean fields of Illinois (USA), working from home using the Internet has become the best way to communicate with the world. My interests are wide and varied. I love any kind of science and read several research papers per week to satisfy my curiosity. I have earned an Associate Degree in Psychology and enjoy writing books on the subjects that most interest me.
I have suffered with NPTSD for 45 years initially due to verbal abuse from my alcoholic father, secondly from my first husband and then lastly from my second husband. I am having trouble moving forward from the abuse of my second husband & need treatment . Where can I find treatment?
It sounds like you need the help of a therapist to get through the pain. You can also take advantage of the services offered here on the CPTSD Foundation website. If you can’t afford them we have scholarships. I hope this was helpful.shirley
It is possible to recognize what we are (narcissists) and feel remorse about how we have hurt the ones we love. The guilt of all the things I have done haunt me every minute of every hour of every day. My wife who I have hurt many times over presented me with reads on this terrible disorder and I have become obsessed with learning everything there is to know about this disorder. I did not deny that this is what I am but have accepted it and choose to rid myself of this demon that causes my family such pain. Although my journey is far from over I am grateful that my wife has chose to stay by my side and help me even though I have broken her down into more pieces than she is made of. For years I blamed my father for this inherited behavior and accepted it as just that, thinking I had no choice but to be what I was to be. My wife had said something about how she lived through a rough childhood caused by her parents die to drugs and alcohol and said she didn’t want that life for herself and made the choice to not live that way. That hit me hard and gave me hope that maybe I’m not stuck in this way of life and since have chosen not to live like this any longer. I decided to change myself not only for the sake of my wife and children but for myself as well. I don’t know if this makes me unique but I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my heart, a weight that only allowed my heart to beat for the sake of living and not for the sake of enjoying all that God has given to me and blessed me with (a beautiful loving wife and 5 beautiful kids). After coming to this realization I now feel cheated because I have missed so much that I only took for granted for years. I will never get those years back, I can never take away the effects of what I have done to my wife and kids. I believe that there is hope, I believe this disorder can be controlled without the use of a drug. I believe the key is acceptance, I have accepted that this is what I am, I believe that if I continue on this path I can be reborn into the Husband my wife needs and the Father my children desperately need. I believe that from there we can move onto the marriage we both have needed and the family we all have needed to be. I believe that within every seed there is the promise of a flower. My recognition of this disorder within myself is the seed and my transformation into this person my family needs is that flower that the seed has promised. To anyone who reads this that has been affected by a spouse or significant other living with this disorder, all I can say is don’t lose hope. Hope is a beautiful thing, it’s what we fight for when all else is lost. I was fortunate enough to have a wife that never lost hope even when she should have rightfully given up on me. This one act has made me hell bent on catering to her every need, her every want. My purpose in this life is to make her happy and guide my children on to be the most they can be. Don’t give up… You are strong, you are worth more than you have been made out to be. And that is coming from someone who lives with this disorder. It can be fought, it can be conquered. Happiness is still possible. Don’t lose hope.
John, I would say you are a very rare NPD person. In my experience, a person with NPD will get very angry when confronted with their illness, and have no interest in getting well. I wouldn’t advise revealing this illness to an NPD individual, as it can provoke them to extreme anger and violence. My ex-husband not only didn’t appreciate my revelation, but got even more aggressive and abusive when I brought it up. I always hoped for an outcome like yours, but never experienced it.
I think the important thing is that it was ultimately his decision to make changes. I believe only the strongest people are able to overcome it.
I as well. I was made out to be the abuser, and saddled with fictitious charges of domestic violence. The only mistake I kept repeating was trying to hold her accountable.
Bless you for this. Thank you for sharing.
This was truly great to hear. I have heavy Narc traits and always considered them to be parts of me that I hide from others at all costs.. but still used on others. Once that was impossible to hide, everyone learned who I actually was. There is beauty in the person you can become after your reputation has utterly collapsed and fallen. To be put on blast for the person I had acted as (even though i swore i was different deep down) really cleared up some cognitive dissonance and allowed me to begin the very painful healing process. I hate what I have done to others, but I have taught others 10 fold on what to watch out for and when my narc senses really like someone, I tell them to be aware of people like me attracted to them.
I went to you tube and found first Anna Runkles and listened to her videos, then I went to an expert in the field, a narcissist himself, Dr Sal Vaknin videos. Most helpful thing ever. 8 mental health provider neglected to point me in any good direction. A psychological assessment said I suffered from CPTSD. That’s when my search began.
I was in a pretty bad state, I couldn’t make myself a meal, all alone couldn’t make sense of what had just happened. I kept going to my abuser for help not realising I had been abused. 6 months of 2 sessions a week of EMDR and I have cleared and reprocessed 95% of the memories that I was stuck on and released my fear of abandonment. Still have to clear the trauma bond and confusion from believing 2 realities which will be huge when I do, it stops you from focusing on anything, taking things in when you read, feels like a big fog blocking the front of the brain. Im hoping EMDR fixes this too or I’ve read writiing the real story down over and over not the lies we believed
Dr. Jay Reid is professionally educated accredited psychologist on YouTube. He is excellent. I’ve seen very few YouTube channels with real professionals. It makes such a huge difference. Good luck!
https://cptsdfoundation.org/safe-support-groups/ Finding a support group would be a great step to find people to support you unconditionally and validate your experiences and providing you with a sense of belonging. You’ve got this!
Where are there complex ptsd support groups especially in Vermont mainly Burlington, South Burlington. I am really motivated to help myself.
One way to find support groups in your area is to contact your nearest NAMI affiliate or state NAMI office. They have a huge resource of places you may be able to find help. Seeing a therapist is also an option. You can find one by going to psychology today’s find a therapist website. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists?search=vermont
Good luck on your healing journey! Shirley
Thank you. All my partner does especially lately and re finances is lie .lie lie. He fails to remember that I know. He has told and shown me the money and when I ask why he hasn’t paid last year’s overdue taxes (which he would promise he was going to do every single day) are now in demand by Assessor and once again I’m in fear of losing my house. He hasn’t paid any taxes this year either. Daily he promises to do so but if I bring it up he lies and tells me there’s no money. He’billy’s me screams makes angry animal fierce faces at me etc. I’m much older I. 69 and fell prey to him 6 years ago. After he moved in apps 6 mos later he pulled away from. Me citing c PTSD and did. It’s been a sexless relationship for 6 yrs. I’ve tried everything in my power believe me as. Former psych major I’d never heard of these dx so I’ve been reading up ever since. There’s nothing dve not done except leave. It’s my house. He’d kill me.
I’ve now out of a relationship with a narcissist so have experienced this horrible behaviour. For me the biggest damage caused by narc is the lying, double faced, for example after our engagement I expected the narc to clearly state so to her parents. But she never clearly said it. Or going through a topic and agreeing something, and then a week later it would be as if that discussion didn’t take place. Having read this material I am doubting my own sanity including if I am a narcissist or inverted narcissist. But why is the lying never clearly mentioned in narcissism? I.e. saying / doing things that you yourself would never want someone else say or do onto you
Lying is indeed a trait of some people with narcissism and it is not uncommon to doubt your own sanity when dealing with them. When I write about narcissism again I’ll be sure to include lying. Thank you. Shirley
Hi, I’m a guy, I’m 35. I had my own business since I was in high school up to 28 when I gave in mentally. My dad was a priest and he is very popular, only those who have lived in the house know what it was like to be in our house. My father is a cold and selfish covert malignant narcissist. I felt the abuse the worst between myself and my 3 siblings. I was sexually abused by a lot of people and children since I turned 6. Since around 13 years old I was molested by a 70+ year old pedophile and when I turned14 I was raped by this psychopath and he was my parents friend. This led me to drugs sex and more abuse and rape. I have been spiked at gay clubs too many times. At 15 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and I was even drinking in school, heavily. I broke glass beer bottles and cut my self with it. Since I lost my business at 28 I’m living with my parents again and his narcissistic abuse has no limits. My brother lives here as well and he is also extremely abusive towards me and my mom just like my dad. I’ve been isolated for around 7 years now, no friends, live in hell and I can’t escape. I saw a lot of clinical psychologists and tried hard, reading books and I’m going nowhere. Maybe I’m going to my grave soon. I have no idea how I’m supposed to heal, I can’t work I’m too afraid to get out of this house. I’m going down the drain and I can’t stop it. I live with so much guilt, shame and tremendous pain. I’m suffering! I don’t have any money to get the help I so desperately need. I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to live with this painful situation. I love and care too much for the people that I love to kill myself, but the need to escape the painful existence I’m stuck with starts to overshadow the reason why I should still try to stay alive for the people I love so much. Which loves me too. I can’t see myself getting through this to escape and get as far away from this place as I can and take my mom with me to keep the Narcissists stay behind to abuse each other and not my mom nor me, we don’t deserve to live in fear and abuse. Can you please help me or tell me what to do and how to handle CPTSD symptoms such as I’m totally disconnected from this body, isolation, I hate myself, I’m so f** lonely, I’m having flashbacks, panic attacks and anxiety attacks, and another thousand symptoms and problems. I want to live! I need help but I can’t afford it right now. How am I supposed to do this on my own. I already figured out I’m just not capable doing this on my own
anymore. Thank you.
Hi Renier. Man, I’m sorry you are in such pain right now. I’ve been there and know how much it hurts. Have you tried applying for social security benefits? It takes time but if you can get a psychiatrist or psychologist behind you, you’ll be able to move out of your parent’s home. Malignant narcissists are horrible to live with and can hurt you in ways people who’ve never experienced it could never understand. The fact is that we are hardwired to love our parents regardless of how horrible they may be and that makes standing up to them or escaping their narcissism even harder. I don’t know where you live in the world, but in the U.S. most areas have community mental health facilities that work on a sliding scale. Since you have no income, they wouldn’t charge much at all to see a therapist and perhaps start down the road less taken. You said you’ve done this before but you sound very motivated to get well right now. Reading books isn’t enough to heal. It takes some hard work facing all the parts of yourself and your history straight in the eyes and doing the footwork to heal. I’m not saying you haven’t begun this work because I firmly believe that the moment we walk into our first therapist’s office we have begun our journey to health. Please consider taking up CPTSD Foundation’s advice and join in on the resources offered here. Some of the programs cost, and if you can’t pay there are scholarships. You’ll find a healing organization run by people who have lived through similar childhoods like yours. I hope this helped you. Shirley
You’re so brave and courageous to share your pain and your incredible story. Sounds like the first part of an incredible hero’s journey. I’m so sorry you’ve had to endure a lifetime of pain from the people you expect to Love you so much and be your safety net. You sound so sweet and dear and it hurts to know you’ve been through so much when you try so hard.
I found a series of videos (linked below) a while ago and they helped put words to some of the patterns of behaviors and make sense of the hell a narcissistic family endures. I hope they help bring comfort and empowerment to you on the days you may feel trapped at home. Just know you’re not alone and there is a world out here who’s suffered complex PTSD from ongoing abuse and we made it out the other side. We’re waiting for you and cheering you on to keep going. It’s worth it to go through the process. I’ve found a great deal of success through ACT and CBT as well as EMDR.
Through an intense process of recovery, some days are better than others (two steps forward-one step back seems the pattern in these extreme situations)…but there is help and you deserve that. The world is better with you in it and you deserve to feel whole and know self love.
Possibly online therapy may be available if you don’t have anything local. Pete Walker also has good resource information if you’re looking for a place to start. http://www.pete-walker.com/
Best wishes dearest loved one, Kay
Dr Ramani YouTube
Thank you for your helpful suggestions. I’ll take them to heart. Shirley
Renier I read this and feel such a pain that what’s been inflicted upon you was done before you ever had a safe sense of self. I am sorry that you are hurting, suffering and trapped in perilous circumstances. I am sorry that your mother is hurting and suffering. You must remove yourselves from harms way. You don’t have to die a tragic and lonely soul. Find a way to escape. You need sanctuary to be and become. The neurological pathways embedded throughout your experiences must be certain hell. It’s paramount that you extradite from that and move into freedom from hell. Believe and know if only that and the rest will sure to follow– each and every day after you shall get better and better in each and every way. Be strong and know that you deserve joy and love.
I read your comment and it was like I was reading my own story except I am a woman (28). I have been isolated for about 5 + years because of my narc father… and I too am in a similar situation where I feel terrible about myself because of the guilt and shame he has bread in me through the years. It’s tough because I consider myself to be smart, but getting out of this situation and thriving is something I have failed at. He needs control over me and my decisions… it is extremely scary and I have developed severe anxiety and depression.. and likely CPTSD. I haven’t seen a psychiatrist but I want to. I went to a doctor and began taking an antidepressant, and it helped somewhat but then he started belittling me and degrading me because I take medication so I stopped and now I feel even more depressed. He even calls me “kitten”, which is fucking creepy. My younger sister died in a car accident in 2011, and a few years later my dad was dating a woman and he would get furious with me because I did not feel comfortable calling my step sister “my sister”, even though I was very nice to her.It’s like he tried to completely erase the fact that his daughter, my sister, died a few years ago so he replaced her in his mind with a new daughter who wasn’t even his biological child. He told people that his new girlfriends daughter was his daughter. and her actual father was still very present in her life, which infuriated my father. They are broken up now, and he is onto a new girlfriend and its like all of those years were erased from his memory. He can never apologize for anything. Instead, he pokes at the person he has wronged and finds something negative about them to point out to deflect from the fact that he is the one in the wrong. I feel like such a shell of a person. My mom and my dad divorced when I was very young, and my mom raised me and my sister and brother pretty much on her own until around 2015 when I made the mistake to move into my dads house because he offered me a job at his business. It all went downhill from there and now I am trying to learn how to see the world in a less negative lens. Narcissists fog up our realities so that we see the world as such a dismal dark place. and they use us as their ponds. I don’t trust anyone and haven’t been able to go on a date or even make friends because he controls everything and he makes me scared of everything. Sorry for ranting… I kinda rambled aimlessly here. I hope you are doing okay. I’m here for you.If you ever need someone to talk to, I’m here for you and I can say that I somewhat understand wat you’re going through… not many people can say they understand what it is like. You clearly have been through hell with your dad like I have with mine. Sending you a big air hug. I have hope for us.
Have you tried psychedelic therapy?
No. Too honest, I’ve never heard of it. Thanks for your comment. Shirley
I was in a pretty bad state, I couldn’t make myself a meal, all alone couldn’t make sense of what had just happened. I kept going to my abuser for help not realising I had been abused. 6 months of 2 sessions a week of EMDR and I have cleared and reprocessed 95% of the memories that I was stuck on and released my fear of abandonment. Still have to clear the trauma bond and confusion from believing 2 realities which will be huge when I do, it stops you from focusing on anything, taking things in when you read, feels like a big fog blocking the front of the brain. Im hoping EMDR fixes this too or I’ve read writiing the real story down over and over not the lies we believed
Thanks, god I cried putting groceries away and cooking for myself again. It still chokes me up putting food away, her issues with food really did a number on me. I hope things have been getting my better for you. I am so tired of therapy and thinking about the pain all the time. I have dealt with clinical depression my whole life but this broke me too much.. I couldn’t function, I tried for so long to force myself but it wore me out and made everything else so much harder. I’m slowly getting back and making a lot of changes.. I’m considering some new types to therapy to help move past the pain or learn to live with it more, as far as I think I’ve come some days on anniversaries of things I still can’t eat or sleep or live in a way that makes me proud to be alive… I will get by I learned a long time ago to live without hope but I want to be better again.. trying
Childhood and adult abuse
Struggling with the daily steps to change habits
Desire to keep pushing forward
Isolation – trust- really no one
(Especially don’t trust my judgment- after marriage with a true covert narcissist
Survived by becoming very passive aggressive)
forming new Healthy relationships an discovering what I want for my life
Highly Empathetic – entire life
I read everything, it’s the daily implementation to change that makes me fail, because emotions run the show
I’m sorry you are in so much pain. I hope you will take us up on some of our programs. They may help. Regardless, know this, you are not alone. There are many folks here on the CPTSD Foundation website who understand very well what you are going through. Shirley
yes..been tough to find help for this.
It’s so hard to trust now, even the people closest to me… I hate what it’s done to me, the panic the crying fits it’s all gotten more manageable but it ruined my life. Yet she will probably always claim to be the victim of some imagined abuse. I honestly don’t wish her any harm, I don’t wish her well but I hope she can heal… not for herself, I might not yell help if she was about to get hit by a bus lol but for other peoples sake… I’d probably still yell help but she doesn’t deserve it
Hi, I just wanted to say I was in an abusive relationship for 11 years with a narcissist and I know I have PTSD from it. He was so abusive he even took it out on my daughter and son. Wasn’t allowed friends, talking to neighbors, my family or his family. He always wanted all my attention. And stayed up all hours of the night having to listen to him and preform sexual acts. To this day I hate myself, and blame myself for the failed relationship. I’m no longer with him because I finally snapped and left. Told him if he was going to slit my throat like he threatened, that I wasn’t afraid to die anymore. Long story short now I have an OCD because of the stress he has caused me. I also have Atrial fibrillation of my heart, which I believe was caused because of stress from him. Back to my daughter, she relives nightmares with what he put her threw, threatening to take a ball peen hammer to her head, to her always being grounded. Now my son, well his and my son, this man is my son’s father. He doesn’t bother with him right now because our son has Cerebral Palsy. Again, our son was born premature because of all the stress his father caused me. Long story short, how can I if ever, start to love myself ?
You might consider seeing a mental health professional to work through the damages that were done to you and your family. You will begin to love yourself after you have it down deep where it counts that you were a victim of a narcissist. The abuse you endured was not your fault. Get your kids into therapy too if you can, they need to work through their issues as well. Thank you for trusting us with your story. Shirley
Know it isn’t your fault. I have cptsd from living with abuse for a very long time. Really intense abuse. For the longest time I fawned and empathized with abusers in my life. I excused their behaviors because they had trauma and accomplices who encouraged me to stay, or who excused their behavior. One day I realized that I’d still been carrying things as my fault. I screamed and cried and tore any pictures I had of the worst person, and ceremoniously burned them ?
I’ll say, it gets a lot harder before it gets better. Bad self esteem can almost be a defense mechanism to not acknowledge the evil in others, or feel the pain that you were treated in a way that you never deserved and was never okay, and that that still hurts you. That can lead to grief, intense anger, but pain is part of the healing process.
Therapists can be helpful to act as a locked box for things people can’t always get support from their friends and family. Somatic therapists can help to calm the body. EMDR can help relieve the worst memories. Gestalt and trauma informed therapy, art therapy, etc, are also valuable. The most important thing about a therapist is the trust and feeling like you are heard, not the therapy type. That’s been proven over and over. But I find having community with those with lived experience is the most helpful for me. Someone can help you understand, change patterns, and regain trust, but you are the expert on yourself. Lived experience isn’t always as valued as it should be. Someone who gaslights and makes you unsafe can take away your feelings of self worth. But no one isn’t loveable/worthy of love/safety. Reclaiming that though self love (not a list of why you are good, self love is unconditional, self care, and ways to relax, and finding a supportive community has endless value. Therapy is wonderful, but not the only answer. Some cultures dance with their community, play music, and some cannot afford therapy or find a therapist that works for them. There are many valid ways to heal from abuse, and with therapy you may learn self care, coping, and changing behaviors. But a victim of abuse is never at fault. Learning to love yourself and moving into a survivor mentality is the most important thing. If you feel you don’t deserve happiness, there’s no motivation to go after what makes you happy. But nobody doesn’t ? nothing was your fault.
well put Emily..Id like to know more. did you find this in one therapist?
Tammy, I highly recommend that you search You Tube for videos on Narcissistic Personality Disorder, by Dr. Ramani. Once I found them, I binge-watched them, because they answered so many questions, and made me feel less foolish for putting up with my NPD ex husband for so many years (27). He is cunning and evil, but it’s frightening how many people on the ‘outside’ think he’s a great guy.
I admire your strength. I am in a similar situation, and there is nothing scarier in the world. I have a close family member with severe NPD, and my family refuses to acknowledge that there is anything wrong with him. I have been his main target for my entire life, but through all of the emotional and physical abuse, none of them tried to help me. They all saw it and let it happen, regardless of how miserable I was. It makes me feel stuck. I understand what you’re going through.
Me too. I hear you.
Just coming to acceptance that I have this (c-ptsd). I sorta knew it, but now I cannot deny it at 53.
My sister did a discard on me about 2.5 years back. Claims I am the narc and source of all the family problems – along with one other. Told this not by her, but by another minor narc, second-hand. Then he denies ever telling me this.
At first, I actually felt relief that I would not have to deal with her anymore. Always makes me feel like such a low life.
In fact, a lot of key family members do.
Recently received a small group text to both me and the one discarding, plus two others that only look the other way – saying of course we will not interfere in that relationship.
Which is actually fine with me, but what was not okay is getting any texts from the one discarding me. I was extremely triggered when she sent around the prayers hands icon. After all the cruelties and insults and being ignored, it hurts and makes me feel suicidal.
This is the reason I wrote them and asked them not to text us both at once (not mentioning suicide part to not scare them).
Then of course I am once again the bad guy and the problem.
In fact, I did try maintaining low contact with the primary narc in the family. But this sister narc freaked out and interfered with that low contact relationship – as if she were doing me a favor. This ended up hurting my situation in the family a great deal.
After that, I did maintain a great distance with everyone so as not to single anyone out.
I always thought the narc sister would eventually discard me. I think that helped motivate my distancing.
In fact, with that distance, I did not hear from most of my family. It was always one-sided – always felt like the servant in the family. I was always (and still) the one to visit.
Also, I am the one on which all disfunction is projected.
I need to move on. I fight hard to move on.
Thanks for this website.
Hello, Shirley – and thank you. Your work and writing make this insidious disorder much easier for a lay-person to understand. I am writing for advice or guidance for my children. My daughter is 19, my son is 18. I divorced their father in 2010, but because I am/was the primary, usually only, financial provider, and my hours as a news anchor required me to work from 2:00 – 10:30, the judge in our divorce granted us joint custody, but gave my narcissistic ex-husband, residential custody. I learned of NPD through a therapist we saw, after I discovered his many affairs. It failed, and we divorced. Now, my children are in college (my son graduated high school early). Sadly, because I ended up having to move five hours away for work, while they began high school, we only got to be together once a month. My ex would not allow us to visit at their home, so we had only a hotel room, or restaurant, or mall, etc. where we could be together. I have seen a marked change in the children as the years passed. When they were young, they would display great distress on Sunday nights when it was time to go back to his house. I am not a professional in the least, but I know my children were terrified of their father’s critical, judgmental and abusive words, especially as they related to me. He remarried right after our divorce, and seems to have “recruited” his wife to believe that I am the problem. To keep this as brief as I can, I’ll flash forward. In 2019, I made a terrible mistake. I had come into a fairly large sum of money, and told the kids (believing it to be true at the time) that I would be able to pay for their college tuition/room and board. I am naive about financial matters, which was exploited by my ex husband. After taxes, debt paid off (for items he charged on my credit, as his was bad), etc., I had to tell the kids that I would only be able to help them, rather than pay in full. My son said, “You have no idea how much hope you gave us. Now you are taking it away.” My children have not spoken to me since, and have blocked my number, blocked me on social media, and can only receive emails from me. A side note: my ex husband held between 10-15 job titles while we were together. He graduated college with a degree in accounting, but hated it. His first wife was in medical school. He quit accounting, and went back to undergrad school, to take pre-med courses. She eventually grew weary of his grandiose ideas and promises, and left him. He met me shortly after they divorced. A year into our marriage, while I was pregnant with our daughter, he announced that he would like to do something else in his career. I asked, curiously, what that would be. He said he would like to become a News Anchor… This was one of many red flags that I ignored partly out of ignorance, and partly out of fear of raising children alone. He used his wonderful grandmother to pay for his second college degree, this one in broadcasting. Needless to say, with no experience, he did not succeed. Before our divorce was final, he met and later married a real estate agent. Now, he is, too, a real estate agent. In brief, because I had to backtrack on my promise to pay for college, and because the majority of our visits involved “money” (restaurants, malls, activities), I have been relegated, likely with encouragement by him, to be viewed as an ATM. Mom equals money. I continue to pay, and they allow me to, for their health insurance. Because of that, I see monthly statements for their doctor visits. Already, in her freshman year, my daughter has had tests for sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy. My son, at 16, attempted suicide, and explained that the “toxic” environment in their home, as a reason. My son had fallen into the wrong crowd, and was arrested for possession of pot paraphrenalia. My ex punished him by grounding him for the entire summer of 2018. No cell phone, no door on his room, no phone calls, no computer, no friends, for three and a half months. His suicide attempt (described by my ex husband as “attention seeking”, came shortly after that, when school started, and he got his phone back, and was inundated with messages by friends). My apologies for rambling now. Can you help me learn where to receive guidance? I have been in therapy for 20-years. Thankfully, my son is in therapy, and is now back in the city where he attends college. My daughter will hopefully return to her college in the fall, but is living right now, with my ex and his wife. Many, many thanks..
Hello, and thank you for your comment. Since you have already been in therapy for 20 years, there isn’t much more I can add except perhaps your therapist isn’t a good fit? Sometimes therapy gets stale and stops helping. Just a suggestion, not an observation. Have you tried any of our programs here on the CPTSD Foundation? They are inexpensive and there are scholarships available if one cannot pay. Sometimes it is just nice to be with others who understand where you are and have been. It eases the loneliness and can give you new insights into your own healing. Receiving guidance is very personal but I’ve relied upon others who live with the same disorder I do to boost me and remind me that I am not alone. Neither are you. Shirley
Thank you for the reply. I should have been more clear. My therapy has been life-changing, and I, personally, am healing from my years with my narcissistic ex husband. What I should have said, is that I am worried for my young adult children. Because they have chosen to live as if I do not exist, I feel powerless to help them through their trauma. I was looking for resources or your thoughts on how a narcissistic parent/father can affect children, who now exhibit symptoms of CPTSD.. I am new to this website, so will check out the services available. Thank you for putting this disorder into the public realm..
I apologize, I didn’t understand. Yes, your children are very much affected by your ex-husband’s narcissism. There are tons of books and websites dedicated to helping adult children of narcissists to heal. We are only one of those sites. For instance, here is a link to one such site. https://pro.psychcentral.com/exhausted-woman/2018/09/how-to-heal-from-a-narcissistic-parent/ However, your children will need the help of a mental health professional which I believe you stated your son is doing if they are to succeed. This because the pain is so great. I wish you and your children well on your quest for healing. I wish I could be more help. Shirley
At some point we need to learn that our children are not only ours – they are also the other parent’s, no matter how bad or good that other parent is. This means that the other parent gets the opportunity to love or hurt our children. Nothing is more painful than seeing our kids abused by a narcissistic ex, and that they learned to hate us. Your children, at this point, are only partially yours – they are mostly their own and their father’s. If they want to hate you for trying to help them, so be it (they could’ve hated their dad for not helping or for making all the CC charges too – but they are afraid of him, so they don’t dare). There’s no law that says they must love you. Some day, if they decide to truly grow up, they may see the truth. If not, not your fault.
An old Chinese saying goes something like this: “Do not run after a horse. If it is yours, it will come of its own accord.”
I feel like another great resource to add would be https://survivingnarcissism.tv
they have really helped me overcome dealing with narcissistic individuals in my family. They are big on YouTube and produce content on their blog often. Laura Charanza is a narcissistic abuse survivor and Dr. Les Carter is a psychotherapist.
Thank you for the resource. Shirley
Hi! I just wanted to thank you for writing and sharing this article. It really helped me understand how narcissism affected me growing up.
I’m 19 and this summer my therapist diagnosed me with C-PTSD due to my panic attacks and dissociation episodes that have popped up since I severed my relationship with my narcissistic father back in 2018. I’m currently practising grounding techniques and practising mindfulness which has been really helpful because part of the psychological abuse he inflicted was hour-long conversations about how I was not actually a person and that I wasn’t real, and that my OCD and anxiety were the cause of evil spirits and also my soul’s fault because I chose to suffer? Because of that, I have really low self-esteem, though I’m working on it, and it has hindered me feeling like I can get close to people or trust others.
Logically I know that his actions shouldn’t have an effect on how I view myself (and that he isn’t deserving of that) and since I recognized that; it should be easy to move past it, but I feel like I’m stuck. I’m constantly afraid that he’s going to find me or hurt my family again, even though I know it’s unlikely. I also know that I do have C-PTSD because I’ve been diagnosed and from all my research each box checks out- but my lizard brain keeps telling me that it wasn’t that bad and that I don’t deserve to associate with the diagnosis or to heal because surely it wasn’t that bad and other’s have had it obviously worse.
Is there a way to make my brain stop it with guilt and shame? Because I know it’s doing it and I know it’s not healthy and not based in logic- but it keeps doing it anyway??
Also, I think I might be relapsing? I know it’s partially because my brother is back in his life which triggers that self-destructive protective sister instinct thing. But my dad keeps appearing in my dreams which I have tried to manage by keeping a dream journal and I keep finding myself preparing for another fight even when there are no signs of danger.
I’m back at university now and I am already seeing how it’s affecting how I view my relationships with my friends and professors. Is there a concrete way on how to manage the effects of gaslighting and the constant fear and dread? I shouldn’t be afraid and I know that I can’t necessarily control it but I’m having difficulty managing it even with therapy, and my medications and research.
Again, my apologies for the info dump. Thank you so much for your time.
Hi, Jenna. It sounds like you have been through a lot. Ending the stinking thinking we find ourselves in after suffering childhood trauma is tough and it normally takes a relationship with a qualified mental health professional. You might discuss your symptoms with your university’s counseling service. I’m not saying you need to tell them what happened, but they may have some suggestions as to who you can go to for help. Please, keep coming back to CPTSD Foundation’s website. If you want, you can take advantage of our programs. If you cannot pay, we have scholarships available. Go to
https://www.cptsdfoundation.org/scholarship. I needed to edit your post for triggering information. Shirley
I’m not sure if this is even the right place to post this; but I’ve been searching and and searching for help for my kids and myself. Mostly to save my kids… at the young age of 6 they realized something wasn’t right with their dad; fear and rejection set in quick, and I was still encouraging them to go for their weekends etc.. i finally got them into therapy; things were getting very bad; I couldn’t get them to go to school… They had their dad figured out before I did, and I was married to him for 10 years.. but in reality the fear and mentality of just trying to not stir waters and tempers was there..still. I didn’t want my kids exposed to it… but too late for that. I have been to court for truency… countless hours spent to try to get them in school kickng and screaming… I had to quit my job twice… CPS was called on him by I still don’t know who… and nobody would do anything; so I did the only thing left… I cut off all contact between them and him…. they began going to school and laughing and playing… and making huge progress in therapy..I took out custody papers and we finally go to court.. he wasn’t willing to accept anything myself or kids talked to him about. he hadn’t done anything, and if he did ; it wasn’t intentional; he was only trying to place structure in their lives. The damage was done. Nobody would help us. Just wanted to teach them how to deal with it. They have stood up to him; at a very young age; they wanted someone to hear them and to save them.. so they demanded to testify in judges chambers. Many instances of abuse and neglect.. so much documentation.. docs and therapists… now in the second session of court ordered family therapy.. and my kids are absolutly falling apart. They haven’t seen him in a year and a half.. and this appears to be more than they can handle. Its brought back so much of what they have worked hard in therapy to try and overcome… they are giving up on themselves..mad..sad..scared… so withdrawn they dont smile anymore, don’t want to see anyone, don’t sleep.. constant nightmares and flashbacks… yet their dad pushes for more interaction; ignores all they are experiencing. How do I save them? Therapy just offers coping skills…they are past coping skills… they get mad at those words anymore..they want answers..someone ot beleive them, do something about it; they know right from wrong, and someone to fix this and save them… I feel like i can’t protect them… I don’t understand why courts don’t take this seriously, young kids can’t make up the things they testified to. (I couldn’t even imagine the things…) but just the sight of him was enough.. they are back to the scared…timid… withdrawn…what does it matter; nobody can save me now…. I don’t know where to turn or what type of help… But at same time… they know as well as I do… now that he is involved…careful what you say.. it will come back around… its more info..more ammo..
I’m so sorry Emily for the hell you and your family are going through. They say that justice is blind but sometimes it is the courts who are instead. Do you need help finding a therapist who can really help you and your kids? CPTSD Foundation can help you with that if you want. No matter what, I want you to know that we believe you and your kids. I personally have suffered at the hands of family members when I was a kid and know how helpless and hopeless your children may be feeling. Please, feel free to reach out to CPTSD Foundation for anything you need. We have programs that might help alleviate some of the pain and suffering you are going through and in that way help your children to cope. I wish I could do more. Shirley
yes please we need help. I made a promise to them to protect and keep them safe, and to not give up. I have one who I’m afraid is just barely hanging on anymore… he’s really questioning who he is.. feeling like he’s becoming someone else.. and no longer can feel … and wants to have feelings again. My kids are scared…I’m scared for them.
CPTSD Foundation offers many programs that could help but we also offer to help you find a therapist. Simply send an email from our contact us page stating what you need and someone will get back to you as soon as possible. We truly care. Shirley
I’m glad you landed on this site. I’m a mom, too, a 19-year old daughter and as of today, Aug. 20, an 18-year old son. I’m not speaking as a professional; simply a mother who has witnessed the psychological torture a parent on the narcissism scale can inflict on the children. My story is similar, in that while in my care, the kids felt emotionally free and loved. We, too, saw the cold reality of the broken court system, that is, in my opinion, structured like a fast-food restaurant, to get couples/families in and out, so the docket does not get backed up too far. There are exceptional people in the system, but they are rare. I don’t believe I saw the current ages of your children..? Or genders? I have a son and a daughter, so I’m seeing the effect of their father’s insidious sickness as it relates to both a same gender child, and my daughter. Both of them are now, for the first time ever, away at college, and therefore geographically removed from his web of controlling influence and covert manipulation.
While I’m no expert, I will say that one comforting thought that helped my children get from one day to the next (I nearly lost my son to suicide), was knowing that 1) they can resolve to wait out the system, because, even if they are forced in the meantime to see and engage with their father, the day is coming when they will be old enough that even a legal justice system can no longer make decisions for them; and 2) they already are old enough to take back their power, to choose how they respond to any situation involving him; not just to use “coping mechanisms”, but choosing to accept what is, while also choosing to remain independent individuals who do NOT have to, and cannot be made to, even pretend to like the situation they are in at the moment. My kids found a new freedom in the simple knowledge that no lawyer/therapist/judge/father can ever force them to FEEL differently than what is authentic to them, as valuable humans with a long life of independence ahead.. Didn’t intend to ramble. Best wishes to all of you..
I preach EMDR, don’t need coping skills when this treatment takes the memory applies the appropriate emotion you experience it as if it’s the first time and then its filed away with no power over you anymore.
I was in a toxic and horrible relationship, my narcissistic husband who always beats me when ever we’re having a little conversation with me about our marriage, my husband cheated 10 times always calling me names I searched for help on how to heal a problematic or toxic relationships, I tried everything possible to make my marriage healthy and happy with my powers all to know avail, not until I meant with The spiritual marriage helper called Dr hope online. Who helped me healed my relationship from been toxic. My narcissistic husband left for another lady for 3 years. Dr hope helped me with some spiritual tips. My husband is back after many years of been toxic. My husband called me to apologize for hurting me. I glad to let you know that this spiritual marriage helper Dr hope have the powers to help and heal from toxic relationship.You can reach him via email [email protected] reach his private WhatsApp number,,+2347062815105..God bless you sir for restoring my marriage back..
Thank you! We’ll add him to our growing list. Shirley
I have finally found out what I think my son is suffering from: cptsd with narcissistic tendencies. He lost his dad when he was five and I was emotionally unavailable to him for years after. He is well into his 30’s now and understanding the damage I have done believe I am the co-dependent in this story. He has struggled with torment for a number of years and I thought it was drugs and would often refuse to help him. Now, with covid 19 and no one else for him to turn to, he has been living in a forest and wants nothing more to do with me. I worry about him constantly and after losing everything financially except my car (to sleep in) and finally ending up on the pension, I have no way of affording him the assistance he deserves. What can I do? Some nights it is zero degrees outside. Please advise me as I cannot comprehend his life choices.
There’s nothing you can do except take good care of yourself. Lead by example and be there for him. I’m sorry you are going through this and hope your situation changes soon. If you can, seek out counseling for yourself to give you a sounding board to help you. I wish I could do more for you. Check out the services here on CPTSD Foundation. There are fees but we have a scholarship program. Go to https://www.cptsdfoundation.org/scholarship
Please, take care of yourself. We sincerely care about you. Shirley
I am a year into a divorce with a covert narcissist. My attorney sees my spouse as sort of unhinged, but also seems to use language to describe me that is coming directly from the CN ex. I am looking for training for my attorney, hopefully online, that is short (I will pay him to do it) and quickly gets him to a place of understanding. Are there any resources you can point me to in order to get my legal team the understanding I need them to have?
I’m sorry you have gone through living with a covert narcissist. I think most people who are narcissists do so privately so that no one outside the family can pinpoint what is going on. I found one resource that has many videos concerning narcissistic abuse however, it costs some to join the organization to watch them.
You can google and find a number of posts about the subject as well. Perhaps you could make a list of the ones you want your lawyer to watch.
Good luck, Shirley
Been Married 15 yrs , to covert narcissist ..I went to a therapist in 2017 by my self , because I was so stressed out…2 sessions in I was told what I was dealing with did not know people like this existed… I let him a month ago..
So happy we have no children…
This site, discovered a long time ago, Dr. Les Carter (see above comments), and more recently, Doctor Ramani on YouTube have really helped me. As well as a few incredible Doctors and my trauma therapist. I consider myself lucky at this point.
I’m at the end of an an ongoing struggle to rebuild my life, after my mNarc mother tried to end it in 2017. I’m a shell of my former self, having gone grey-rock on her for 17 years prior to that, albeit the continual psychological and also financial abuse she subjected me to at a distance, which is too embarrassing, and possibly illegal, to explain here. And though I had high honors in college (at 30, since she basically kidnapped me to a foreign country when I was 13) half a world away, and was learning all sorts of things about the mind and philosophy, the therapy I had was inadequate, to say the least. And as an only child, with no family of my own, I was coerced into agreeing to return to her and take care of her in her old age at 47.
See, I learned at age 35, after my step-grandfather died, that he had sexually molested her from age 8-18. I was so ANGRY! She knew that I would have confronted him and asked him if it was true. She KNEW that. So, she waited… and then her personality started to change. And she became increasingly physically violent towards me, until … and I thought totally innocently, that I could rebuild my relationship with her, having nearly cut her off for several years by that point, and finally help give her the best years of her life. I was sincerely willing to do whatever it took to heal her from that abuse! … she had other plans. And I soon learned them, after giving up my career, my home, my savings, leaving enormous unpaid debts behind, as well as some of the most incredible people I am honored to be friends with after so many years, still.
All I can say, is that we must all stand together to teach society, that people who abuse people, cause so much unnecessary pain and suffering in the world. So many beautiful, talented, and insanely intelligent people, but also all the empaths, and compassionate, innocent souls out there, lost forever, because we’re used as emotional punching bags, abused, neglected, mistreated, malnourished, violated sexually, or tossed aside or traded.
What is it, that we have to do to get that across to the rest of the world? To those people, too fragile to even read descriptions of some of the things that we’ve gone through. And don’t get me wrong! I have deepest empathy for the damaged narcissists in my life. You bet I do. But it all comes down to their response to the abuse or mental illness they’ve had to endure. Why is it that they were prey, and we… well, we weren’t. But, as they do, they “fix” that. Don’t they. Either consciously or unconsciously. It doesn’t matter.
Why is it that they get to abuse everyone around them (even their “beloved” flying-monkeys aren’t spared) and some of us chose not to do that, and if we catch ourselves doing it (out of habit? After all, we mostly learn how to “behave” in the world based on what we witnessed at home, especially, if what’s happening there is vile and terrifying, which stuns most of us into silence) we try to not behave that way again… we make an effort. We go to therapy… or we dive into addiction and pain relief and eventually kill ourselves. Not to mention the toll our suffering has on our ability to function in the world, or maintain, or obtain decent employment. Not many of us survivors thrive and succeed.
No, we need to educate the world and then we need to set strict boundaries. And we need to intervene when parents are abusing their children, even psychologically. To that end, and the end of my rant here, here’s a link to a video Conducting a Quick Screen for Trauma – Child Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKTYOAI65zE
We should make sure that every child has access to social workers and therapists. But also make sure those people aren’t narcissists themselves. It’s only fair they also be given a psychological screening after all. We need to ensure the children’s safety! And we should all want to strive to rid society of abuse and violence on its weakest members.
Thank you for your comment. I agree, we must teach the world about the damages that abusive people do to the people around them. Shirley
Reply to Ms Jay,
Your story, like so many of the others, is beyond heartbreaking. It’s an example of what I find so tragic about someone with NPD, especially a parent. They operate on such a seemingly normal level in society, and are so clever at manipulation, that an outsider, even a mandated-reporter, such as a teacher, doesn’t see the horrific psychological abuse happening in the home. Physical abuse, hopefully, but not always. You bring up two excellent points. 1) If no one outside the parent-child relationship is aware of what narcissism is, and the child only knows their version of “normal”, how can intervention occur early on, before the child is damaged into young adulthood. And 2) your last remark is one that I find THE most frustrating. When a non-NPD co-parent can finally drag the other parent into a therapist, too often the adept chameleon narcissist convinces said therapist, that there’s nothing wrong with them, but rather the other parent who is “crazy”.
We owe it to ourselves and future generations of humans, to better educate the therapeutic community on how to detect, diagnose, and not be fooled by, a narcissist.
I’m not an expert, only a mom whose two young adult children have an off the charts father. I have searched and searched for a psychiatrist, psychologist, or LCSW in our state, who has some experience with NPD, to no avail. The kids are now 18 and 20, and in college, so geographically away from him now. One is in therapy, the other is struggling.
Wishing you the very best in your journey…
I’m so terribly sorry for you. I don’t even know you and I care about you and are in my thoughts. You are brave and know a hell that most could not imagine. I hope you find your way and your answers very soon. Please stay strong ?
I’m 20 years old and I have a roommate who is experiencing all of these things from her mother and doesn’t realize it. Her only friends were me and my other 2 roommates, we were like sisters, never had a real fight, and lived together. Out of absolutely no where she decided she didn’t want to be friends any more and left, unwilling to even have a conversation as to why. All she said was that she has been feeling anxious lately. Her mother texted my mother saying that I need to stop trying to speak to her and “cut ties”. She had serious health issues as a child so I fear her mother might have some type of PTSD and that’s why she is sheltering her. I am having a hard time understanding why someone struggling with their mental health would be encouraged by their mother to drop all of their friends.
If your friend’s mother is a narcissist and your friend does not realize it or will not face it there is nothing you can do except hope that someday she will wake up to what her mother is doing and get help from a mental health professional. I’m sorry you’ve lost a friend. Don’t try to understand it, just accept it. Shirley
@Kat I left the house of cowell because I wasn’t used to living in a deprived area full of muggings and violence on the streets. It scared me to see my half sister mugged on the streets having been beaten up for a bottle of whiskey she had bought and I felt unsafe in the area. I was always on guard wondering if myself and my sister would be alive the next week! I moved to a better part of town which then the South African, Johannes, whom the house share top kat, told lies about me and the house and owners verbally abused me for being a home bird and uneasy about leaving home. On his dying bed, he apologized for his behaviour towards me. I moved 4 times in that year because I was constantly getting abused. People would steal my food, steal my gifts I bought for family, call me a horder for having lots of clothes and accessories and shoes because they were jealous of my upbringing and decorum, steal my records, cassette tapes, demand I buy my own iron, kettle even though there was one in the house and demand that the landlord throw me on to the streets for being a friendly homegrown Sandra Dee who was educated and intelligent! I often tried to make friends at work and my boyfriend would block me from seeing them because he had had previous relationships with them.
I wanted to return to normality of my family but my career came too much of a priority. I realize now, I have never established boundaries and that’s why people tend to always overstep the boundary and abuse me. I took on a controlling relationship of someone older because I felt they could look after me and protect me. I now realise the years of lying about not having many relationships, abuse of my other half sister Andrea and lying about not being married to Angela Christine when we met, and him wanting me to give up my friends and family to be exclusively with him and never would allow me to have friendships with other couples like my mum and dad’s culture was all controlling passive aggressive behaviour.
I cried a lot that first year away from home. I am not sure why my mother called my half sisters mother Eva? Maybe she was in fear of my sister being hurt?
I am so very sorry you have been through so much. Perhaps others would have some helpful suggestions for you. All I can offer is a shoulder to cry on and ears to listen with to calm your broken heart. Shirley
I’m less than 24 hours out of the worst 6 years of my life if 44years. She was my dream gurk, she write I Live You in big letters in the sand at the beach nearby, and walked me there after a few weeks. Ni one had ever done something so significant I was speechless. Charisma, intelligence, wit, charm, sex appeal, and flirtatious. That first few months I thought was the best time of my life, now it’s totally tainted by the most soul shattering realisations that my brain is incapable of computing. She has changed my understanding of what human beings can be capable of. Her cruelty, callous heartless indifference, or malicious salacious and humiliating fabrications and manipulations that she crafted and used to split me from everyone. She said that her father thought I was capable of murder, she also said her father was going to hire someone to have me taken out. I’m still unsure about what it was that I did other than do anything and everything I could to please her and win her affection to feel that life giving live, that would be ripped away from BC me at any moment and for any reason. I considered myself street smart and osychologucally sophisticated, I have post graduate degrees in clinical psychology, and I’ve worked in the forensic field with diagnosed psychopaths who have committed murder and the full range of sexual and violent crimes against every demographic. She would not be out of place in there. Although I would have some concerns for the well-being and safety of any inmate who fell for her deceptions. I could go on and on, and I still would never be able to articulate and describe what she has done to me. Like the stories above, I’m caught between homicidal and suicidal tendencies, I have control over my actions choices and behaviours and I will not do either. However, I do wish that she suffers and I want her to experience something that devastates her. I knew in my gut that something wasn’t right for some time but the roller coaster of emotional abuse kept me hooked, and when she took the “love” away, the world stopped as my desperation to make things okay makes me feel pathetic. I also feel like I hate myself and i feel worthless and as if I don’t exist. The end began when I discovered she’d been cheating, she doesn’t call it cheating, and she’s the victim and basically described herself as a victim of sexual assault, but quickly back tracked when I endorsed that view and went to call police. Then an amazing text message came through from this poor fool almost verbatim in his word for word description of what happened. My guess is she threatened him and told him what to type. She’s evil she has no conscience, vo empathy, she is delusional, dissociative idientiries and the anxiety that everyone believes she has which is severe only ever appears when I or you ask something of her. I feel like writing this is a waste of time and I don’t know how I’ll ever feel okay again. My life was really good before meeting her. I had 109 grand cash in savings, I weighed 10kg more than now, I didn’t drink to much or smoke, and I had some social support and a good job. That’s all over and I’m barely able to leave the apartment and when I do I’m in this constant state of anticipatory anxious apprehension, it’s like my body is just waiting for something it knows is just about to happen something absolutely terrible. My body knows that it is but consciously I can’t work it out. I hate her so much. All I did to trigger the barrage of daily abuse in public and private, the 8 hour stretches from ducks till dawn when she would torture me and torment me with words when I was just trying to get to sleep, she would say something that I can’t for the life of me recall, it’s repressed. I’d become so upset and unable to sleep and the stress is just eating me alive. And she would have the audacity to blame me for keeping her up at night. She plays by different rules, in o e breathe she’ll abuse me for not telling the truth because I did not inform her that someone had called, then when I would inform her, she would abuse me because someone had called. She welould go into a rage if I did anything, then she I. Front of me would run into her ex partners arms, I think he was in fear, and hug him like they’re still livers, or she would flirt and dance and chat up and then write her number on the hand of another man right in front of me and then accuse me for having lunch at work with my team because there was a female in the team. Makes me sick and what’s worse is I want her back, fortunately I e sabotaged it and she refuses to even speak to me, because I trurned the tables somewhat because I had caught her with just to many examples that she could not refute or deny, so she stonewalled completely, it’s beyond human her ability to treat someone that she’s convinced she loves is committed to and can’t live without, to treat me with such ? I don’t have the words, but your brain can not come to terms with completely a opposing sets of info, and luje I said my view of humanity is different. She’s so horrible and I want her so much, it’s just a mind Fuck. I definitely have many ptsd symptoms and I’m not the person I once was, no joy or interests or social support, no money, no home, no job and right when I need her the most she treats me as if I don’t even exist and no matter how much I beg plead cry and anything else to demean myself and humiliate myself and degrade myself she just doesn’t flinch and will not tell me the answer to this question, how can you say you care, when I’m crying for hours and begging you to stop abusing me, how can you care if when I ask you over and over to stop you won’t and don’t. Then when I ask you if you care you say you do. But how can you care when you hurt me so badly that I’m in tears begging you to stop hurting me pkease I beg you please?Please Emma I li e you I’m sorry please stop you’re really me. She won’t stop and if I ask if you dare and I’m asking you to stop what is going on. She just refused without saying a word ive never got a word or anything that acknowledges anything I need. I really hope she suffers. I’ve got to stop now I’m starting to get really angry. I fear for her newborn nephew and believe she’s capable of very sadistic behaviours. She’s so privileged and supported and feared and avoided by her family. Her sister has had to leave the country, she would have been a horrible big sister to have. She is so cruel. Thanks and take care.
I would like to ask permission to repost in FB page. Reading all comments triggered me and made me cry. Thousands or maybe millions are suffering in silence.
Sure you can and while you are at it go to our Facebook page, like it, and follow. https://www.facebook.com/CPTSDfoundation
Good article but one error… Narcissism is not treatable. The core of this personality disorder is that NPD does not see themselves as a problem.
There are treatments but they are not usually very effective.
Thank you so much. This article is very helpful and informative. I’m not sure if you could answer this directly, but I have a question and was hoping you could provide me with some insight into the subject.
-I have a family member with NPD. I have always been his main victim. Although he doesn’t treat anyone with real kindness, he is always openly and intensely abusive towards me in particular. Is it typical of people with this condition to select a main victim? If so, why did he choose me?
It is common for a narcissist to choose one person to release their damage upon however, I do not know why this person chose you. I just want you to know that it is not your fault. You are a victim. If you can, get out of the relationship as soon as you can and seek help to understand yourself better. Just my opinion you understand. Shirle
Thank you so much. Hearing this has put me at ease.
Nowadays this condition is getting very well known across online platforms. i personally know close friends and family members who are having narcissistic traits and after reading many articles about this condition in people i trully understood that this is a real treat when interacting with these type of people. Even if members of familly are having narcissistic traits, we have to learn how to cope with them and their condition. thank you for writting this article.
I’m a retired career woman in my 60s and just working through realizing I am the family scapegoat, and have been for my entire life. My mother is a narcissist and bipolar. My Dad worked hard and wasn’t around much to see her treatment of me as a child (ridicule, neglect, she had me taking care of the kids, cooking, etc. instead of being a kid). My siblings (three brothers and a sister) were treated differently and are aligned with her. My sister has always been close with Mom and gossips about me and sets me up. Most recently my sister told me she thinks Mom pits us against each other. I dropped my guard and shared a podcast about narcissist mothers with her. She turned on me and said she wished I had a better relationship with Mom. Caught again in the trust and hope and discard dance! My brothers are also involved in the scapegoating. The golden child brother didn’t invite me to his son’s wedding using Covid as an excuse though invited a brother who refuses to be vaccinated (I am vaccinated) and my sister. Golden child brother doesn’t communicate with me. Another brother used to stalk me online until I told him to stop.
I know things will never change so am working on low contact or no contact, at least no longer initiating contact. I used to “fawn”, having family gatherings, sending gifts, cards…..I realize now more about that behavior and have stopped except for holiday cards to their families. Now my sister has rented a vacation cottage in my neighborhood for a week this summer without even checking the dates with us to see if we’d be home. I feel quite confused and triggered by that. Thoughts?
First, just because your sister is near you does not mean you are obligated to see her and disrupt your life. You have the right to refuse contact. Sometimes it is necessary to have no contact with a destructive dysfunctional family. I had to stop acknowledging part of my family because they were toxic. I’m sorry you are going through this uncertain and painful decision, but you also have the right to not live in chaos. Those are my thoughts take what you like and leave the rest. Shirley