Narcissism is gradually becoming a recognized phenomenon, of which a lot is being written, but there is little understanding and mention of what it means to suffer from Narcissistic Victim Syndrome. However, the sad truth is that if you have been exposed to a narcissist for a considerable period of time, you will be faced with a variety of emotional problems and negative psychological patterns that are limiting to you and your ability to enjoy life.
To put it bluntly: having a narcissist in your life, has major negative mental and emotional consequences for you. Within the mental health profession, there is a growing focus on a set of psychological and psychosocial symptoms that recur when you work with victims of narcissists.
It is unfortunate that very few therapists are trained to be able to recognize and understand the connection between a client being in a toxic relationship with a psychopath or narcissist, and the victim's psychological problems.
It is my view, that in order to support a client with this predicament, a therapist needs to understand what being in a relationship with a narcissist, does to the mental and physical health of the client.
Often the client’s many PTSD-like symptoms are overlooked or ignored. The study of how psychopaths, sociopaths, and narcissists affect their family, friends and collages, is not a topic that therapists and other mental health professionals are exposed to in their education. The main focus is usually how to focus on the clients own resources and creating coping strategies. This is all good and well, but when the client is in an important relationship with a narcissist or psychopath, he or she is already an expert in coping -even to the extent becoming completely burnt. I believe that it is crucial for such a client to realize that this type of relationship is not only unhealthy but decidedly dangerous.
Emotional abuse, manipulation and lies do affect you and it is important to understand completely, that being subjected to this type of treatment is NOT your fault! Neither is it your responsibility when the narcissist makes the choice to lie, manipulate or gaslight you. If you have lived in the shadow of the narcissist for an extended period of time, you will most probably be a champion in taking on guilt and shame that really is not yours. You have been indoctrinated by your narcissist to believe that their cruel behavior either didn’t take place (i.e. you are crazy and what you see, hear and feel, is only true if it suits your narcissist) or is your responsibility.
It is therefore hardly surprising that it is the narcissists' victims we meet in the therapy, not the narcissist himself. A person seeking therapy is a person who takes responsibility - and this is something a narcissist will not do.
I think it is important that this type of suffering is recognized and understood so that the victims can have the support and understanding they so desperately need.
If you have been exposed to a narcissist, there are a number of symptoms that typically show up and which together constitute a syndrome that is reminiscent of PTSD: You doubt your perception of reality
You have lost faith in the world
You feel abandoned
You no longer question failure
You feel worthless
You feel neither joy nor pride when your hard work produces results
You have become a master at not feeling your needs
You always put the narcissist's needs and wishes first
You expect to be able to perform perfectly at all times, and become anxious if you are unable
You make excuses for the narcissist
You have flashbacks and nightmares
Your ability to concentrate is impaired
You spend a lot of your energy trying to satisfy the narcissist
You idealize the narcissist
You're exhausted - deadly exhausted
Your mental and physical health have been compromised
Having with Narcissistic Sacrifice Syndrome is tough. Too tough. Yet, the victim often clings to his or her love for the narcissist. Often you have become so accustomed, so confused and so used to not trusting yourself that you have lost the ability to stand up for yourself and choose a different path for yourself.
Perhaps you grew up with one or both of your parents being narcissistic? A child's unconditional love for his caregivers is an innate and biological condition for survival - even if you are subject to abuse and neglect. Perhaps it is your partner or one of your siblings? Whoever it is, ask yourself if you feel loved?
If you are a victim of a narcissist, you may have become as dependent on him or her as an alcoholic is to alcohol. It takes courage to see the situation for what it is. Ask yourself: is your relationship empowering or disempowering? Is this relationship draining the life out of you? Why do you think it is ok for him or her to treat you as a doormat? Remember, it is you and nobody else, who teaches people how to treat you.
Life can get better. Get out of the emotional fog and get your life back, nothing is more important. You can become yourself again. You can choose to love yourself and step away from emotional abuse. This is something I know, and I hope you will too.
Brigitte Escobar Andersen Copenhagentherapy.com