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How to Identify and Overcome Narcissistic Abuse

My brother has long contended that we were raised by narcissistic parents. He never received any argument from me... we loved them regardless of their toxic parenting. However, the fallout really caused some damage, and we have each spent a lifetime working to undo it. We grew up believing it was us... that we were flawed, no matter what we did to earn their approval.

how to deal with a narcissist

 So, you can imagine when I read Abby Ellin’s recent article in the Washington Post, “‘Narcissistic abuse’ has gone mainstream. But what is it? Skeptics say it’s just a trendy hashtag. Survivors say it describes the unimaginably manipulative relationships they’ve escaped”, it really hit home—home being the operative word!


““Narcissist” is a label that has gained traction over the past decade or so, one that has been liberally applied to everyone from the humblebragger in your book group to former president Donald Trump,” Ellin tells us. “Along with the term’s increased visibility came an interest in the type of damage narcissists can inflict on those around them. Millions of people have characterized themselves as having been victimized by a narcissist, not only by their romantic partners, but family members, friends, bosses or colleagues.”


Victimized, but no longer a victim, my upbringing made me a magnet for attracting narcissists.  From my first husband to a string of bosses, colleagues and a few frenemies over the years, I learned something of value and got stronger from each of these toxic relationships.  Therapy didn’t hurt either! I even explored whether I had any narcissistic tendencies…I mean, how could I not, right?  Somehow, I had escaped that one, thankfully. Whew!


Through Ellin’s article I was introduced to the work of clinical psychologist, Dr. Ramani Durvasula, author of several books including Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving A Relationship with a Narcissist, and “Don’t You Know Who I Am?”: How to Stay Sane in an Era of Narcissism, Entitlement, and Incivility.


“Like so many things, narcissism exists on a spectrum. On one end is mild narcissism, which includes self-centeredness, emotional immaturity and hypersensitivity. While these folks can be challenging to deal with, it’s the malignant narcissists at the spectrum’s other end who are the most deleterious. Many of them, Durvasula said, are likely to meet the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder, or NPD. That’s a clinical diagnosis listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, the guide to officially recognized mental disorders.”

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Healthline defines NPD as “a complex mental health condition typically involving a grandiose or inflated sense of self and an extreme need for admiration and attention, among other symptoms. People with NPD or narcissistic tendencies sometimes show a pattern of manipulative, controlling behavior that involves both verbal abuse and emotional manipulation.”


Have a look at these common types of narcissistic manipulation:

  • Triangulation. Someone using this tactic will try to pull a third person into your conflict, typically to reinforce their own opinion or position.

  • Gaslighting. Someone trying to gaslight you tries to get you to doubt your perspective and reality, often by twisting facts or insisting things you remember didn’t actually happen.

  • Hoovering. This tactic involves attempts to reconnect or pull you back into a toxic or abusive relationship.

  • Silent treatment. This behavior becomes manipulative when someone purposely ignores you to control you or make you feel isolated.

  • Scapegoating. Parents who use narcissistic manipulation may place all the blame on one child they designate as a scapegoat.

  • Passive aggression. Indirect blame-shifting, sabotage, and sarcasm can all point to covert narcissistic manipulation.


These tactics can confuse you, make you question your sense of reality, and damage your self-esteem.  Been there, done that!


That said, Healthline offers up 12 signs that might suggest you’ve experienced narcissistic abuse, plus how to get help.  Well worth checking out if you can relate.


By the way, #Narsissisticabuse has more than 1.4 million posts on Instagram; the phenomenon has become so widely recognized it even has its own day, June 1, World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day.  So you are not alone!


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