Liars, hypocrites, emotional manipulators. Learn more about them to defend yourselves!
Pathological narcissism and narcissistic wound in love vampirism
(Written by Pier Pietro Brunelli, translated by Valeria Orecchia)
Reading this contribution can be very useful both for yourselves and for other people; you can also post comments on it, but the following warning is necessary – Therefore I kindly ask you to make good use of the information provided here; do not draw hasty conclusions, do not make inconsiderate decisions, do not judge anybody and do not feel judged. For any crucial question, please turn to a specialist or ask for personalized consultation.
Liars, hypocrites, love manipulators, love killers, sexual and emotional vampires… scientifically called pathological narcissists (… pathological but also pathogenic)
In this study, the diagnostic psychiatric labels “pathological narcissism” (as disordered trait or behaviour) and “narcissistic personality disorder” (which affects the whole character structure) should be considered as a reference framework. In this field, labels are never definite and, even though they try to group large categories of people under the same mental disorder, they are doomed to cause misunderstandings and extremisms; this is particularly true with regard to pathological narcissism, which is causing downright clinical-diagnostic upheaval in the U.S.A., due to extreme conflict between psychiatric and psychodynamic diagnoses. When we mention pathological narcissism or NPD, we conform to the diagnostic psychiatric criteria that have been adopted for decades, even though we prefer the Jungian archetypal image of the VAMPIRE, which can have several interpretations (in legends and tales can be found hundreds of types and everybody knows that the possible vampire they became entangled with has definite characteristics of his/her own and therefore it is necessary to examine them through a specific (psychoanalytic) analysis in order to get free; however, this study can offer an outline of the psychiatric labels and general psychodynamic concepts, with particular reference to the Jungian theory).
IN CASE THIS ARTICLE SHOULD DISTURB YOU BECAUSE YOU THINK YOU ARE NOT VICTIMS OF PATHOLOGICAL NARCISSISM BUT YOU RECOGNIZE YOURSELVES, TO SOME EXTENT, AS PATHOLOGICAL NARCISSISTS, IF YOU WISH TO GO ON READING, REMEMBER THAT WE HAVE NO INTENTION OF DEMONIZING YOU; THE NEGATIVE CHARACTERISTICS ARE REFERRED TO THE DISORDER (SIN) NOT TO THE DISORDERED PERSON (SINNER). HERE WE DEAL WITH THE PEOPLE WHO SUFFER EMOTIONAL ABUSE AT THE HANDS OF NARCISSISTIC PARTNERS WHO ARE NOT FULLY AWARE OF THEIR DISORDER. IT HAPPENS IN LIFE THAT WE FEEL COMPELLED TO LIE AND EVEN TO MANIPULATE BECAUSE WE ARE WEAK AND CONFUSED. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT WE SUFFER FROM PATHOLOGICAL NARCISSISM; IN ADDITION, UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES, WE POSSIBLY BEHAVE LIKE NARCISSISTS, THAT IS TO SAY IN A NEGATIVE, SELFISH AND OPPORTUNISTIC WAY, BUT, EVEN SO, IT DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN THAT WE SUFFER FROM A PERSONALITY DISORDER. IF YOU ACKNOWLEDGE YOU ARE PATHOLOGICAL NARCISSISTS AND YOU NOT ONLY FEEL COMPREHENSIBLE ANGER BUT ALSO SENSE OF GUILT, IT IS GOOD NEWS, YOU WILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY OF DISPELLING YOUR DOUBTS ON THE BASIS OF CORRECT INFORMATION AND POSSIBLY WITH THE HELP OF A PSYCHOTHERAPIST.
FOR YOUR OWN SAKE, FOR THE SAKE OF THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE AND FOR THE SAKE OF LOVE ITSELF, IF YOU HAVE DOUBTS, LOOK FOR INFORMATION WITH CARE AND WILLINGNESS IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND IN DEPTH. HERE THE DEBATE IS OPEN TO EVERYONE, IF YOU HAVE DOUBTS YOU CAN TAKE PART IN IT, THIS WILL HELP YOU BETTER UNDERSTAND YOUR DIFFICULTIES; HOWEVER IN THIS ARTICLE WE WILL DISCUSS THE SUFFERING, OFTENTIMES TRAGIC, OF THOSE WHO WANT TO STAY CLOSE AND LOVE A PARTNER SHOWING NARCISSISTIC TRAITS DUE TO A PERSONALITY DISORDER OR OTHER CAUSES. THEREFORE, IF YOU SUSPECT OR ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOU ARE OR BEHAVE MORE OR LESS LIKE PATHOLOGICAL NARCISSISTS, YOUR CONTRIBUTION CAN DO GOOD BOTH TO OTHER PEOPLE AND TO YOURSELVES. IN EVERY HUMAN BEING THERE IS GOOD AND EVIL, INDEPENDENTLY FROM THEIR PSYCHOLOGICAL DIFFICULTIES (PSYCHOLOGY AIMS AT EVERYBODY’S WELFARE). WE ARE ALL NAIVE VICTIMS AND, AT THE SAME TIME, WE ARE GUILTY, BOTH WHEN WE UNAWARES ADOPT NARCISSISTIC BEHAVIOR AND WHEN WE ENDURE IT WITHOUT CONSCIOUSNESS (ALSO IN CASES WHEN THE CAUSE IS NOT NARCISSISM BUT SOMETHING ELSE). PSYCHOLOGY IS A PATH TO AWARENESS… ONLY IF WE UNDERSTAND ONE ANOTHER, IN GOOD CONSCIENCE, PEACE AND LOVE WILL PREVAIL OVER HATRED AND WAR, IN INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS AS WELL AS IN SOCIETY AND ALL OVER WORLD.
In addition, I recommend that all those who feel they are victims of a narcissistic or somehow disturbing relationship should avoid branding their partners with psychiatric labels aimed at hurting and offending them. Remember that those who suffer from heartbreak are liable to blame partners for faults they do not actually have; therefore it is absolutely wrong to draw inspiration from this article with the purpose of cultivating a totally negative image of the partner without sharing responsibility. If the partner is a pathological narcissist or suffers from some other disorder affecting relationships (such as borderline personality disorder), it is important to analyze the situation and establish a diagnosis, but the objective should be to understand and make the right choice with self-respect rather than to take revenge or vent anger; these are understandable feelings which nonetheless end up rebounding on those who have been overwhelmed by them.
Here you can find information and discussion to identify a diagnostic framework useful to comprehend specific issues, but every case should be examined in detail. This article should not be an instrument to judge other people and lay the blame on them; on the contrary, it should serve to better understand them without forgetting our own responsibilities; with regard to the wounds we inflict and receive in love relationships, it is essential to remember Jesus’ famous warning: “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”.
First Part – Pathological narcissism: a psychic disorder that kills love
First of all, I suggest taking into consideration pathological liars/emotional manipulators, not only because I am a psychotherapist, but also because I had the misfortune to become entangled with one of these disturbed and disturbing people, therefore I experienced firsthand, through heavy material losses and moral damages, how deceitful, treacherous and hypocritical this person was, certainly the most false and diabolical being I have ever met in all my life. This person joined a social network championing the cause of sincerity and she even adopted it as her slogan to introduce herself during her appearances online (in forums, chats, etc.) and in everyday life. As a matter of fact, pathological liars declare themselves to be absolute supporters of sincerity and its value, only to have the chance to “practice” more cunningly. These people are severely emotionally disordered and, although they appear to be normal on the outside, their disorder can cause heavy consequences for those who are in a love relationship with them. In particular, we will study how, in couples, the narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) of one partner can engender a severe traumatic syndrome in the other partner, who is the victim. People with NPD have no awareness of their disorder, for example they believe that it is right to lie in order to take advantage of other people and defend their own ego, therefore they go so far as to heavily damage those who love them through their ruthlessly manipulative, mendacious and hypocritical behavior. They lie with an Oscar-worthy acting ability, so that they can appear sincere to the most careful observer.
It should be noted that all human beings can be inclined to lie and often they do, but their purpose of lying is different from the one of liars/manipulators and it is not so perpetuated. People can lie in the attempt to defend themselves, to hide the bitter truth, or because they feel confused, they are worried or they have bad conscience, and this is the case of “normal” liars… “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”. Moreover, the deeper are the sense of guilt and the regret for having manipulated or lied, the healthier or less pathological is our narcissism. On the contrary, pathological liars, the ones with NPD, do not feel any sense of guilt; when they lie, they do it with the semi-conscious intention of manipulating other people, of “sucking their blood”, in order to obtain benefits for themselves, and they do not care about harming and using others. (IN FACT THEY ARE NOT REALLY EVIL PEOPLE, BUT THEY SUFFER FROM A MENTAL DISORDER THAT PREVENTS THEM FROM REALIZING THAT THEY ARE POSSESSED BY WICKEDNESS). These people are convinced that other people should be treated in this way, because they feel envy of them and their capacity for love, which they do not have; as a consequence, they believe it is right to swindle and hurt other people in order to carry out a sort of “revenge against the world”, which enables them to obtain what they think is due to them and must therefore be achieved even through deception, dissimulation and perpetuated lie, with the further purpose of damaging and hurting. Consequently, if you tell lies or feel confused and, against your will, you find yourselves to be playing a part, but you feel sorry and you also feel guilty, then you absolutely should not identify yourselves with the pathological individuals we are dealing with, that is to say the people suffering from NPD (pathological narcissism that has become a character structure), who lie, to different degrees of malice, in order to follow a manipulative strategy aimed at taking advantage of other people and then psychologically destroying them. This explanation was necessary, otherwise some readers could misunderstand and erroneously feel themselves under accusation, in the dock: no, the accused we are dealing with are definitely others, we could define them “criminals of love” according to a pseudo-judicial metaphor, or vampires according to legend.
Differences between “normal” problems causing heartache in a love relationship and really pathological love relationships mainly due to a partner with NPD or some other disorder
Therefore, we explain further in order to prevent misunderstandings: even the most beautiful love relationships can end and this can cause deep suffering. Lack of understanding and disappointment provoke distress, ambiguity, as well as bad or wrong behavior. In addition, if someone is abandoned, he/she can possibly ascribe to the leaving partner faults and wickedness to a far greater extent than he/she actually deserves. Leaving a person or having a problematic love relationship does not automatically mean being wicked. Therefore I kindly ask the reader not to interpret the information reported in this study in the sense of “generalized victimhood”. It can happen that, for many reasons, love causes painful conflicts and that lovers split up and take separate paths in life; in that moment, they possibly hurt one another due to rage, irritability, inability to dialogue, revenge, etc… But here we are dealing neither with the situations that are quite normal even if they cause pain nor with those that present a pathological shade but are not characterized by the peculiarity of a pathological relationship with a narcissist.
THE WORD “VICTIM” (which is for example used in the U.S.A. in the definition of Narcissistic Victim Syndrome and can be found in some forums) SHOULD BE INTERPRETED ONLY IN A METAPHORICAL SENSE. WE PROPOSE TO CONSIDER OURSELVES NOT AS VICTIMS BUT AS PEOPLE WHO HAVE SUFFERED PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA DUE TO A RELATIONSHIP WITH A PATHOLOGICAL NARCISSIST.
Here we are dealing with a narcissistic relationship where the pathological narcissist, who can present different degrees of severity, pretends and acts deceitfully almost all the time with the aim of manipulating, using and psychologically hurting the person that he has managed to seduce. These are semi-unconscious destructive dynamics people are not fully aware of, which can unfortunately emerge also in relationships that are relatively normal or that show other kinds of issues; but when they characterize the relationship in a consistent, constituent, evident and exaggerated way, they give rise to a typical destructive pattern whose causes are to be ascribed to narcissism.
Therefore, while reading this study, it is essential to distinguish normal disappointment from the pain caused by an unhealthy love relationship with a NPD partner who – partly unaware – has forged such a deceitful and stressful pattern as to induce a Narcissism-related Trauma (NrT) in the other partner. It is important for traumatized people to examine the disorder of the pathological and disturbing partner so that they can to understand what happened to them. In this study, the reader can find a general overview of psychopathological and psychiatric concepts, but then the analysis of the partner with NPD must be made separately for any single case, which means going into detail, because every person affected by NPD is different from the others, even if he/she shows pathological patterns of behavior that can be identified in a general classification. Only at a later stage, after having fully understood the narcissists’ disordered behavior, it will be possible to understand that they managed to seduce and manipulate their victims because of the narcissistic wound these people either neglected or were not aware of (the narcissistic wound consists in a lack or impairment of self-love). On this matter, here the reader can find useful considerations for a general overview of the situation, but at a later stage everyone must succeed in understanding the specificity of his/her own personal history, either on his/her own or with the help of a psychotherapist… it is important to have the clarity of mind and the honesty necessary to understand if one can manage to do it by oneself or if one needs a psychological support and, if so, to what extent. In this study we offer an informative support, but real psychological consultation can be obtained only upon request; in this case information would become personalized and obviously would have different effect.
Differences and similarities between NPD and Borderline disorder
The fundamental difference between borderline and narcissistic disorder (NPD) is that the former is egodystonic, that is to say painful for the disordered person that wants to cure it, while the latter is egosyntonic, which means that the individual is not aware of it and benefits from it in the short term. Moreover, the borderline disorder appears more evident not only to the partner but also to the people that are not emotionally involved, while pathological narcissism proves to be evident and harmful (at a certain point of the relationship) almost only to the partner who endures it – whereas other people do not notice it and can even believe that the narcissist is a brilliant, nice, balanced and even genuine person. In fact, his/her disorder affects in a very destructive way the person who loves him/her.
Other clarifications on NPD
On the continuum of psychiatric disorders, pathological narcissists (NPD), who are false/manipulative/destructive, come just before psychopaths, or serial killers, that is to say those disturbed people that not only lie and psychologically abuse without any sense of guilt or pity, but also commit actions of extreme physical cruelty. Narcissists and pathological liars do not go so far, instead they perpetrate psychological abuse through deceptive and manipulative attitude and behavior, and they can – without the least scruple – cause deep suffering to their victims/preys (they consider them in this way) and in some cases they can also go so far as to incite them to suicide.
Unfortunately, given the narcissistic culture we live in, it happens more and more often to meet people who suffer from this severe disorder and have narcissistic psychotic cores that induce them to constantly lie for ruthlessly selfish purposes; with great acting skills (in ancient Greek hypocrite meant actor) and shrewdness, they present themselves as good, honest people, who possibly have a lack of affection or a sense of victimhood that need reassurance… all of this only to be free to lie and con the seduced victim/prey more effectively. Therefore, it is very difficult to identify the pathological narcissists and one can easily fall victim in friendship, work and, above all, love relationships (but it is always better not to consider oneself as a victim but as a person who has suffered a wrong or even a narcissism-related trauma (NrT)).
The pretence of narcissists is different from the one of psychopaths, who pretend to be normal people but are aware of their desire to kill; narcissists make their pretence on the verge between awareness and unawareness; they identify themselves with their super and special persona, they become “possessed” by it and therefore behave, for better or worse, with the conviction that they are right and with a strange and disturbing spontaneity. They do not realize how ambiguous and manipulative their way of behaving can be, therefore the people who are in a love relationship do not understand who they have to deal with… as they discover it, they become more and more traumatized. It is a very deep trauma affecting the emotional sphere, which, despite all evidence, prevents the victims from clearly understanding the “toxicity” of the pathological narcissist upon whom they become terribly emotionally dependent: they feel they love a monster, which is even more traumatic.
Every pathological narcissist is different and it is important to understand his/her peculiarity in order to defend oneself from his/her disturbing behavior. The information given till now provides a general overview, but if you want to examine in depth that particular “pathological narcissist”, you need an appointment with a professional, to whom you can give a detailed report of the ambiguous behavior of your partner and of the psychological abuse you endured.
Every case is different; first it should be described in general terms, and then it should be analyzed by going into detail.
Second part – Narcissism-related Trauma (NrT)
Pathological narcissists: psycho-emotional vampires that cause trauma
All the pathological narcissists are more or less malignant depending on the situation; suffice it to say that they take advantage of the love of other people for selfish and manipulative purposes. Nevertheless, it is necessary to understand that they are semi-unconscious of their malice – see the important warning above. We can all behave in a negative way, sometimes even on purpose, but in so far as we experience sense of guilt and then also repentance, we do not suffer from pathological narcissism (maybe we have other problems, or simply we behaved badly). As demonstrated by Winnicott, the instinctual rather than cultural basis for the subjective healthy development of the human being lies in the ability to feel “sense of guilt”. The less narcissists feel remorse the more they are pathological (malignant), therefore in order to feed their egotism they resort to envy, manipulation and hatred (perversely, towards those who love and trust them). On the other hand, it is worth mentioning that there are disorders or complexes where the sense of guilt is perceived in an exaggerated way or with an unjustified self-blaming attitude, therefore feeling a wrong sense of guilt does not indicate psychological balance, but it simply means that the cause of the mental imbalance is not narcissism.
According to different studies, most narcissists are men (therefore most of the victims are women), but when women are affected, the disorder can become even more insidious and malignant (probably because the severely disordered female narcissists harbor deeper envy and vindictive rage due to the legacy of a tradition which disadvantaged the feminine). Nevertheless, both in men and women, there are particularly malignant forms of pathological narcissism that are severely disturbing and traumatizing for the partner. The semi-conscious wickedness that characterizes this disorder affects in particular romantic partners, because pathological narcissists unconsciously harbor the devilish idea that they have the right to take revenge on the lover who has fallen under their sway. Their need for revenge is due to the fact that they believe they have been belittled and disparaged by the family and by the world in general, therefore they feel that life makes them suffer huge injustice; since they feel weak and insecure, they must take revenge on somebody else. Pathological narcissists inflict psychological harm upon the people who have the misfortune to fall in love with them, by causing them repeated “micro-traumas” leading to a real traumatic syndrome that can have severe or even fatal outcome. Also psychopaths, the “serial killers”, harbor deep primary envy and the consequent need to take revenge, but, contrary to narcissists, they resort to physical violence towards people usually belonging to a particular category. Seldom narcissists ask to be treated (if they should it would be good news), unless a deep crisis, caused by a loss or a misfortune, leads them to such a state of depression that they are forced to seek therapy. But at a certain point, the disorder evolves, generally around the third age, causing schizoid, bipolar or anxious and depressive disorders that compel the narcissist to undergo treatment, even if then it is only possible to keep the symptoms under control. It should be considered that for these people, who have caused deep suffering in their love relationships due to their disorder, there will be hell to pay (unless they successfully commit to a healing program that will be long and difficult and will necessarily imply the admission of the damages inflicted upon other people and the desire to apologize in a heartfelt, deep, sincere way, which is however extremely unlikely). The disorder of pathological narcissists affects the people who have emotional relationships with them, inside the couple, inside the family or in friendship. Therefore I suggest that the label “Narcissism-related Trauma” (NrT) should be adopted to indicate the traumatizing effects of the emotional relationship with a pathological narcissist. It is not only a question of giving a label to a syndrome (which is already known even though not deeply explored), but it is about focusing on a new diagnosis in order to implement a successful therapy program.
Popular imagery, which has provided inspiration for artists, writers and directors, describes malignant narcissists as vampires longing for the blood of healthy people; they obtain it by taking advantage of the darkness, which symbolizes a condition of relative blindness of the victims and results from their falling in love with the narcissist who seduced and manipulated them. Pathological narcissists’ victims/preys who suffer from Narcissism-related Trauma can be figuratively represented like victims of a psycho-emotional vampire that sucked their blood.
Pathological narcissists use sexuality but also false and fake tenderness for the purpose of making the victims/preys fall in a state of emotional numbness in order to win their confidence and love (which is blind indeed) so as to feed on them for selfish purposes.
Pathological narcissists love seduction, therefore they use all their skills to this aim and they succeed just because they are able to personify, at least in the beginning, the victim’s “love dream”… a dream that will become a nightmare. In addition, since pathological narcissists cannot love in a normal way, they are so envious of their partner’s capacity for love that they want to destroy him/her; they subtly wear him/her down and, in particular cases, they go so far as to lead him/her to self-destructive behavior or even suicide. Many psychiatry textbooks consider NPD as a severe mental disorder that aims at inducing insanity in other people (it is something devilish that only the victims can comprehend in all its horror).
The most malignant narcissists can be identified by the fact that they seldom or never weep and, in addition, they sadistically humiliate the partner in various ways, especially when the relationship is near an end, for the purpose of emotionally destroying him/her. As illustrated in the myth of Narcissus, who incited his ex-lovers to suicide, unfortunately malignant narcissists can also go so far as this. Malignancy can result in stalking charges pressed only for the fact that the partner asks for explanation. Malignancy manifests itself also in spreading slander about the partner among friends or even people the partner/victim does not know. It is as if the victims/preys of a narcissist had contracted a psychical virus or had come in contact with a powerful poison, for example asbestos or nuclear waste; as a consequence, they are poisoned. The people that have been infected/poisoned by a malignant and destructive narcissist in a manipulative emotional relationship loose the defenses of the immune system in their weak points, therefore their problems or vulnerabilities, at a psychological and human level, dangerously increase. Also self-esteem collapses, hence victims/preys feel ugly, unfit, insecure, because it seems inconceivable that they could suffer such psychological and emotional abuse at the hands of their partner. They are possessed by a sort of “frenzy of desperation” that makes them feel lost, with no more hope, with no more meaning in life, with a heavy heart. Therefore, when we talk about the pathological narcissist, is it clear who we are referring to? who we have to deal with? Ladies and gentlemen, as it is commonly said, we are talking about a CRAZY PERSON (at least as far as feelings and emotions are concerned)! We have been infected: all we can do is take care of ourselves with patience and self-love. Insanity must not be intended only as the condition of being out of touch with reality, but it must be considered also in its clear-headed manifestations that do not alter the cognitive functions or the perception of reality but are nonetheless dangerous for oneself and for other people. A psychopathic serial killer in the everyday life looks like an absolutely normal people. A malignant narcissist differs from the psychopath, because he/she does not kill and does not use violence directly, nevertheless he/she behaves in such a way as to damage all the people who by mistake trust him/her, in love, friendship and family relationships. It is therefore a sort of insanity that can drive crazy those who come in contact with him/her. Moreover, the one who becomes involved is not necessarily a very simple person, because narcissists as well as psychopaths are so devious that often they are not recognized even by psychotherapists and psychiatrists (except after very careful examination). Therefore it should again be noted that the people more vulnerable and predisposed to be infected by pathological narcissism are those who harbor a “narcissistic wound” that causes them to have less antibodies/defenses and, consequently, lower ability to protect themselves in time, to react and recover. This makes them dangerously vulnerable to being traumatized by pathological narcissism, which infects a pre-existing, hidden wound that has not been healed. If a wound goes septic, there is the risk of the entire organism being infected. In general, to continue the metaphor of physical health, when a wound goes septic, antibodies manage to control infection quite in a natural way, but if the wound is too deep, antibodies are not enough, it is necessary to disinfect and suture it with stitches. If antibodies are weak, also a superficial wound can become dangerous. The psychic infection transmitted by pathological narcissism has two devastating effects: it broadens and deepens the wound and it weakens and confuses antibodies, that is to say the immune defense system, – in this way it causes a sort of psychic immunodeficiency; even if this comparison can seem unfortunate, to some extent it is useful to understand the condition of the traumatized person; nevertheless, people traumatized by pathological narcissism should not be afraid: treatments exist and are effective, but require their commitment and their desire to heal. Above all, it is important to understand that the introjected narcissistic partner (internal object) is an unhealthy “idealized object”. This is why correct information can be considered the beginning of the therapeutic process. Only if we are aware, if we are well-informed, the psyche can react – through antibodies – to the disorder/disease; otherwise, if we suffer from Narcissism-related Trauma, antibodies (always in a metaphorical sense) behave in the wrong way, either against themselves or against others (also close people, friends or therapists) and then even against the pathological narcissist in person (because we either forget or do not want to accept that he/she is a really disordered individual).
Differences and similarities between Abandonment Trauma and Narcissism-related Trauma.
The symptoms of the victims – who suffer from Narcissism-related Trauma (NrT) according to the diagnosis I suggested – can give rise to a syndrome that needs treatment to avoid worsening. When people are abandoned, they can suffer, to various degrees, from Abandonment Trauma, which is in itself already very painful and devastating, but if Narcissism-related Trauma (NrT) is added to it, then their condition becomes even more critical, because narcissists not only leave partners but aim at destroying, humiliating, hurting and offending them. Victims of narcissists can develop a real and specific traumatic syndrome that in the U.S.A. has already been identified some years ago but in Italy is not yet clearly understood (see: Narcissism Victim Syndrome). In practice, psychologists and psychotherapists only think of an Abandonment Trauma aggravated by pre-existing issues and cannot therefore comprehend that in this way victims are misunderstood and wounded, because, in fact, (independently from their possible psychological issues) diagnosis misses the point in that it does not understand that they suffer from something far worse: Narcissism-related Trauma. Unfortunately, people who have been abused and traumatized by pathological narcissism harbor a hidden and uncured wound in their own narcissism (narcissistic wound), that is to say they have a deficiency in the quality and capacity for self-love they are not aware of. Due to this self-love deficiency, victims are liable to fall in love in a blind and very idealized manner, and, in a certain sense, they remain constantly enamored of the partner; as a consequence they fail to recognize and accept the negative and conflicting traits of the other person from a critical and self-protecting point of view. People who harbor a hidden narcissistic wound are more vulnerable to heartbreak in general, but they become easy preys for pathological narcissists. These can be imagined as hyenas or sharks with great ability to scent blood and attack other bleeding animals, human beings included. As the narcissistic wound is bleeding, the pathological narcissist, who can be imagined as a blood-sucking vampire, spots a very desirable prey that can be easily manipulated and exploited (bled). Although victims are good people with a balanced ability to give and receive love, unfortunately they have a hidden wound that prevents them from “loving themselves” (self-esteem) in a sufficiently healthy way. Therefore, people who have been traumatized by pathological narcissism should first be helped overcome trauma and then should be assisted in healing their wound, which was not caused by the vampire; as a matter of fact, it was already there and for the vampire it represented a weak point upon which to play in order to extract blood, metaphorically speaking, that is to say energy and vitality, with the purpose of manipulating and humiliating. During my clinical practice as well as in my personal experience I observed a specific Narcissism-related Trauma (NrT), which needs care, solidarity and comprehension, and whose symptoms are similar to those of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD, which caused permanent destabilization to Vietnam survivors). PTSD causes a post-traumatic syndrome and the inability to overcome trauma (which unfortunately has very disruptive and lasting consequences) for fear of violent and catastrophic events that might endanger the life of the individual, of his/her loved ones or even of other human beings. On the contrary, Narcissism-related Trauma affects the emotional sphere, which is the most sensitive aspect of human experience. In relationships affected by pathological narcissism, NrT results from perpetuated Abandonment Trauma, which is perceived as continual “abandonment threat” followed by a final shock or devastating “hot and cold playing” that destroys emotional and sexual balance.
Victims experience a deep feeling of inner mortification of love… only those who have felt this distressing sensation know how dire the consequences are, namely pain, danger, loneliness, guilty or naive incomprehension of other people, anxiety, depression, shame, ideas of getaway or even of suicide, the attempt to calm down by means of psychiatric drugs, alcohol, opiates, self-harm, the fear of going crazy, the sensation of “living death”… TOWARD HEALING… If Narcissism-related Trauma is understood and treated, wounds heal over, scars remain but they become a mark of strength and knowledge.
I recommend that NrT victims should not abuse psychiatric drugs (or anything else such as alcohol, smoke, drugs, etc.) and should turn to true and sympathetic friends for help (unfortunately these are not always easy to find; in addition they should be able to understand that it is not simply a question of “lovesickness” or exaggerated Abandonment Trauma). I further recommend that victims should not become involved with whomever in the hope of healing, neither should they undertake long journeys on their own nor make radical life changes, which are all escape responses to avoid trauma. Give yourselves time and accept all advice that suits you, with the main purpose of healing trauma. Relaxation techniques, expressive and recreational activities are suitable to express your own suffering in a creative way and to relax in a healthy way. You should remember that trauma makes you feel as if your life had been completely destroyed and your soul had been soiled by an evil power, BUT IT IS NOT SO.
In addition, I suggest that you should gather information, because it is very important to understand narcissistic love patterns.
And remember that there are different kinds of psychotherapy to heal trauma which can suit you (this self-help forum and in particular this study are aimed at providing general information on these techniques, but, since strictly personal matters are involved, tailored psychological assistance and guidance can only be provided through direct consultation and the creation of a therapeutic alliance that should be particularly focused on empathy, solidarity, comprehension and respect for your patience, commitment and courage to overcome NrT). As the healing process goes on, you will understand how much your life awareness has increased; as a consequence, you will feel more independent and more sensitive to other people’s sufferings, you will appreciate the importance of true and reciprocated love, which can be found only after increasing self-comprehension, self-acceptance and self-love. Therefore, Narcissism-related Trauma can become an opportunity to discover, accept and cure the hidden narcissistic wound that was the primary cause of inner turmoil and negativity. Then, the nightmare will come to an end, the “semi-unconscious monster”, both real and internalized, will not be able to hurt you anymore (see: “important warning” in the introduction); the pain suffered will heal the bleeding wounds of which you were not aware and which were inside of you prior to abuse; in this way a process of positive transformation will arise in yourselves and you will really relish the prospect of a better life in the future