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narcissistic victim syndrome

Narcissistic Victim Syndrome: PTSD From Narcissistic Abuse

Friday, August 20, 2021

If you’ve ever had a narcissist in your life, you may have lasting psychological trauma from dealing with their unrealistic demands, manipulative tactics, gaslighting and other abusive behavior. Narcissistic abuse can be insidious, slowly eroding your mental health and self-esteem before you even realize what is happening. Fully healing from narcissistic victim syndrome takes time and effort to rebuild your life and learn to love yourself again. 

Dealing With Narcissistic Behavior

Narcissism is a classic personality disorder that reveals itself in an inflated sense of self-importance, an outsized need for attention and a lack of compassion and empathy for other people. However, beneath the narcissist’s blustery facade lies a weakened self-esteem that is sensitive to the slightest criticism. Often, this combination is a recipe for disaster, as narcissists demand love, respect and admiration without earning it. 

Narcissists can seem charming and polished until you get to know them better and realize that they are typically immature, selfish and disrespectful toward others. While you may initially make excuses for a narcissistic person because you believe their behavior is something they can outgrow or overcome with a bit of compromise, that’s not realistic, because narcissists thrive on their ability to control others.

Signs You Might Have Narcissistic Victim Syndrome

If you’ve ever been in a relationship with a narcissist, the resulting psychological or physical abuse may lead you to develop narcissistic victim syndrome, a form of post-traumatic stress disorder that can compromise your ability to function normally. While everyone’s experiences with trauma are different, here are some warning signs of PTSD from narcissistic abuse. 

  • Isolation: Narcissists must maintain an illusion of perfection to continue earning others’ admiration. In doing so, they may try making you look bad in front of other people or tell them you are unstable. When your loved ones side with your abuser instead of you, you might feel alone and vulnerable. You are more likely to experience self-doubt when you can’t talk to anybody about what you are going through. 
  • Indecision: A pattern of narcissistic abuse can leave you questioning your ability to do anything right. Over time, you may start accepting your abuser’s insults as truth, constantly second-guessing yourself and your abilities. Even after leaving the relationship, you might hang onto the belief you can’t do anything right. When things go wrong in other areas of your life, you might struggle to accept that those issues weren’t your fault.
  • Physical symptoms: Victims of narcissism can experience ongoing anxiety and nervousness that manifest in appetite changes, nausea, muscle aches and weakness, insomnia and fatigue. Using drugs or alcohol may initially seem like a reasonable way to manage these symptoms, only to leave you with other health issues resulting from substance abuse.
  • Trouble setting boundaries: Survivors of narcissistic victim syndrome may struggle to maintain healthy boundaries in their relationships. Years of abuse may compromise your ability to tell when someone is asking too much of you or failing to respect your needs.    

Trauma-Focused Treatment

Any ongoing abuse can take its toll on your mental health. If you feel hopeless or worthless or worry that you’re always at fault for any strife or difficulties that occur in your relationships, trauma-focused treatment can help you overcome these issues and live a healthier, happier life. At Canyon Crossing, we focus on providing dual-diagnosis therapies in a safe, women’s-only environment. When life seems overwhelming, contact us to learn about getting on the road to recovery.

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