Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Why I am Still a Basket Case

Welcome to part two of this blog on Narcissistic Victim Syndrome. This syndrome is not officially recognised, but many therapists and psychiatrists have patients presenting with the symptoms. 

Narcissistic abuse victims express feelings of humiliation and shame, for a variety of reasons including the things they have done to please the narcissist. Often these things, especially in the narcissist with an underlying condition such as a sex-addiction (in Cassie’s case), are against the nature of the victim and cause cognitive dissonance. Once they break free of the relationship they still have to deal with the feelings of guilt over things they did during the relationship.

Stockholm Syndrome is common in victims of narcissistic abuse. Stockholm Syndrome is where the victim identifies with the abuser and has strong emotional ties to him/her. It occurs in hostage situations, where the hostage is placed in grave danger by the capturer, and then shown small kindnesses over a period of time.

The narcissist controls the victim, essentially building them up and tearing them down again. It is done so often that it causes a complicated co-dependency that is difficult to break. This is why victims keep boomeranging back to the situation they are, at the same time, desperate to be free from. 

In the course of my research I came across an article which cited quotes from people suffering from narcissistic victim syndrome. The quotes were taken from a book entitled Narcissism Book of Quotes: A Selection of Quotes from the Collective Wisdom of over 12 000 Individual Discussions. The book itself came from an online forum. Some of these comments are listed below.

  • "My N husband] is not exactly malicious. He doesn't set out to hurt me just for kicks. . . . He hurts me as little or as much as it takes to achieve his goal: to make me dependent on him . . . obey him, give him all the NS he demands. . . . So, while his primary goal isn't to hurt me, it becomes a goal if that's what it takes to get NS out of me." (NS – Narcissistic Supply)

  • "Narcissists install a mental filter in our heads a little bit at a time. Before we know it, everything we do, say, or think, goes through this filter. 'Will he get upset if I do/say/think this? Will he approve/disapprove? Will he feel hurt by this?" 

  • “They screw up the issues so we get confused. Then they reprioritize everything for us by getting angry, so we have to look at them first, we think and we worry about them first. It becomes all about them. Everything else, especially ourselves and things once important to us, become [secondary].” 

  • "We cannot accurately predict what response we will get on any given day. And without the ability to predict—without a stable system on which we can rely—we wind up tying ourselves into knots trying desperately to please and walking on eggshells hoping to avoid this unpredictable wrath" [and the narcissist's over-reactive rage is a theme prevalent in so many of these comments]. 

  • I learned that 'kicking you when you're down' is a standard characteristic of the N

  • "Why don't we go? For any combination of reasons. Take a look at the 'you' before or at the time you started going out with the N—and the 'you' later on. Never was anyone less equipped to get out by that stage—your self worth is in the gutter, you feel a failure, a deep sense of being a nothing—the things the N said to you, the insidious drip-feed of negatives, their behaviour that says so much about how little they respect or care for you. Then of course we really do have to face some of the nastiest [thoughts]—the what ifs, the depression, the self-hatred (how COULD I have put up with this . . . what must he have thought of me, knowing I allowed him to do these things), the loneliness, sense of failure."

A word from the founder of this forum, a self-confessed narcissist.
(From the article titled The Vampires Bite: Victims Of Narcissists Speak Out) 'The controversial Dr. Sam Vaknin, creator of this forum on narcissism and himself a self-confessed NPD, (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), has written profusely—at times, brilliantly—on the subject. In his article “Pseudologica Fantastica,” he freely admits:'
 "I lie. Compulsively and needlessly. All the time. About everything. And I often contradict myself. Why do I need to do this? To make myself interesting or attractive. In other words, to secure narcissistic supply (attention, admiration, adulation,gossip).”

Living with a narcissist at the extreme end of the spectrum is living in a war zone. The emotional and psychological effects are profound and long lasting. As a personal aside, I suffered a huge dive into the black hole when I returned to Australia after an almost two year absence. It’s why I can’t stay here. Just coming back to the same country threw me into the pit of despair. It took almost two weeks to haul myself out and I hadn’t even returned to the same town, only the same country. I had another mini-breakdown on returning to the same town. I don’t believe I will ever fully get over this. That is how deep the effects are for most victims.

So, to get back to Cassie. Many of the people who have read Letters To Myself are suffering at the hands of a narcissist, or have managed to get free but are still dealing with the after effects. I have had reviews and feedback from these people saying they wish they had found my book sooner. It offers hope, that there is a way out, and it shows that they are not alone. This is why Cassie is staying authentic. As a victim, she is still struggling to move forward, to believe in herself despite all the positive changes she has made in her life.

The end of the relationship is not the end of trauma. If you are a victim of a narcissist do not despair. Be kind to yourself, know that it takes a long time to recover and if you need help ask for it. You are not weak, you are strong, so strong to have come this far. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help even if it is a long time since the break. True strength lies in knowing when help is needed, and asking for it.

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