Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome is a condition born out of extended time spent in a relationship with a Narcissist. The relationship does not have to be romantic. It could be with a family member, colleague, or friend. And because the narcissist can be toxic in relationships, they may leave people with post-traumatic symptoms that will negatively affect their interpersonal relationships in the future, and the current relationship people have with themselves.
There are several ways to tell if you are suffering from Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome (NAS); and the range from personal criticism to withdrawing from family and friends, and an addiction to the narcissist.
Signs of NAS
Narcissists use language in a manipulative way. They will passively cause you to doubt yourself and depend on their opinions. Personal criticism is one symptom of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome. If you notice your self-esteem has plummeted or are constantly apologizing to people for no reason, or you are overly criticizing yourself, it may be because of the narcissistic brainwashing you have suffered.
Withdrawal is another sign of narcissistic abuse. The narcissist must be the center of attention, therefore you may feel guilty for spending time with other friends, getting alone time, or engaging in a hobby. They will accuse you of not loving them, being selfish, or they may do something petty like say, “okay, well when you want to go out with me, I’m going to be busy too.” These type of passive-aggressive approaches will confuse their victim and may even cause them to feel upset with themselves or that they are indeed a problem. Even after the relationship ends, you may still not be confident enough to re-engage with other family members and friends so you will remain distant.
Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome is not limited to the way you interact with a narcissist, but also the clarity of your personal identity. A person suffering from NAS will question their beliefs and value, lose hope and drive in their purpose or passion, and waiver on boundaries and principles. Having a lack of motivation to pursue your dreams or being unable to find inspiration and positive energy may be the result of being emotionally abused for so long. Another tactic used by Narcissists is creating an emotional rollercoaster; they may really cater to you and adore you at one point, and later turn really cold or aggressive. If you feel your emotions are unstable because of narcissist treatment, you may be suffering from NAS.
Addicted to a Narcissist
You may struggle cutting ties with a narcissistic abuser like any other abuser. You will be on a self-inflicted emotional rollercoaster. You will miss the narcissist and feel the need to contact the abuser or go searching for accountability. However, a conversation with a narcissist rarely brings closure, as previously stated, their language is abusive in one of the most detrimental ways because sometimes you don’t even notice. PsychCentral wrote “narcissistic abuse is a form of thought control, a specific use of language, designed to emotionally manipulate another person…” the article discusses narcissistic abuse syndrome and several intentions of narcissistic language; among the list is — to make the victim feel abandoned, as if only the narcissist cares; to devalue their victim’s contributions; to make their victim obsess over how to make the narcissist happy, and so on. If you leave the conversation feeling worthless, but are still thinking of ways to try to make it better, you are suffering from NAS.
The truth is your health and energy are at risk. Several illnesses that are associated with NAS specifically. According to PsychCentral, illnesses include fibromyalgia, alopecia, insomnia, and anxiety among other chronic health issues.
Remember to do what is best for yourself and your health if you believe you have NAS or have been a victim to any degree. Ross Rosenberg coined an amazing term to remember when combating NAS” “Observe – Don’t Absorb.” What Rosenberg means by this is to separate yourself from the accusations and insults of the narcissist to avoid fighting a losing fight. Realize arguing back and forth, or going tit for tat is feeding into their thirst for attention and giving in to what they want. While fighting to be heard, the abused is inadvertently participating in the dysfunction and it is counterproductive. Don’t keep secrets either. Secrecy about being abused only protects the abuser, not you. Even if you tell your therapist, telling someone about what you are experiencing will help you to make rational choices. Lastly, prepare your exit strategy. Whether you are dealing with a parent, a romantic partner, or close friend you will need to identify a safe way to put an end to this relationship. A domestic violence support line, a counselor, or trusted friend can assist with developing your plan. It is important to be reminded, the earlier you address trauma, the shorter the effects will be.