Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Narcissistic Victim Syndrome

Those of you who read  Letters To Myself will know what Cassie went through during her marriage, or at least at the end of her marriage. Reading her story continuation on this blog you probably understand why she is so ambivalent about what seems to be a great relationship with Matt. I decided to write a blog post to explain what is going on with Cassie. It will be in two parts, today's dealing with what Narcissistic Victim Syndrome is, and tomorrow's going into the syndrome in more depth. 

What Cassie is still dealing with is the aftermath of living with a narcissist as extreme as Nathan, not forgetting his other personality disorders. It changed her, took away her self-confidence and even her sense of identity. It made her unsure of her own mind, still struggling to overcome coping mechanisms such as dissociation from her emotions. It made her indecisive and disbelieving of her own worthiness in terms of personal happiness.

This, sadly, is a common condition in partners of those with narcissistic personality disorder. It has a name, Narcissistic Victim Syndrome. People suffering from this syndrome are diagnosed with depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

Symptoms of CPTSS include:

  • An inability to control emotions

  • Dissociation (cutting off awareness of deeper emotions and feelings)

  • Blanking out or losing memories

  • Difficulties with sense of identity

  • Physical symptoms such as indigestion, palpitations, panic attacks

  • Difficulty in forming new relationships

  • An inability to trust

Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Reliving the traumatic event(s), over and over, through memories and nightmares

  • Sleeping difficulties

  • Lack of concentration

  • Anxious and fearful

  • Avoidance – avoiding places, people, thoughts, feelings, activities and anything else that raises memories of the event(s)

  • Feeling emotionally numb, and dissociation

People with Narcissistic Victim Syndrome typically present with a combination of these symptoms. It takes a lot of work and a long time to recover, a lot of people are never the same again. I would say - and this is my own personal opinion based only on my own experience and that of others I know – that most sufferers are never the same again.

A common group of symptoms in those with Narcissistic Victim Syndrome include:

  • Avoidance

  • Loss of interest

  • Detachment

  • Sense of a limited future

  • Sleeping or eating difficulties

  • Irritability

  • Hyper-vigilance (this comes from studying the narcissist closely to try to predict what behaviour to expect at any given time)

  • Flashbacks

  • Hopelessness

  • Psychosomatic illnesses (such as palpitations, panic attacks, digestion problems)

  • Self-harming and/or thoughts of suicide

Narcissistic abuse victims have learned to believe everything is their fault, and so tend to blame themselves for everything that happens, even post abuse. It is a difficult mind-set to change, once learned.

This is the bare bones of Narcissistic Victim Syndrome. Tomorrow I will go into more detail and also include quotes from other victims, to highlight how common this syndrome is. If you are identifying with any of the above please come back tomorrow to read the rest.

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