Narcissistic Abuse

7 November 2017

Despite the term narcissist being portrayed more in media in recent times, little community awareness exists on the catastrophic impact of narcissists’ behavior on other’s lives. There is a formal psychiatric diagnosis known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder, encompassing characteristics such as an inflated sense of self-importance, requiring excessive admiration, sense of entitlement, interpersonally exploitative, lack of empathy, often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him/her and arrogant behaviours.

Narcissism is on a continuum and more prevalent than we realise. At some stage in our lives, most of us are likely to encounter a narcissist; it can be a friend, parent, sibling, partner or boss.

People with narcissistic traits can be very good at playing mind games, including:

• power struggles, deceitfulness

• emotional manipulation, make out they are the victim

• wear different masks, i.e., appear to be very charming.

Narcissistic abuse is a global issue. Signs that a person has been subjected to narcissistic abuse can include self-doubt, severe anxiety and/or depression.

What can be very challenging to a person who has been subjected to the abuse by a narcissist, is that the abuse can start off as very subtle and difficult to identify or articulate. Additionally, narcissists rarely present to therapy, unless for a secondary problem such as depression, as they don’t recognize they have a problem and lack insight into their behaviour. Therefore, in dealing with narcissistic abuse it is important to educate, empower, and heal the person subjected to abuse with the help of a health professional, such as a psychologist.

By Dr Roberta Szekeres, Clinical Psychologist at Seed Psychology

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