When you embark on a journey in your life and break out of status quo, people will take note, and it’s not always in a positive, supportive way. Sometimes, people will outright criticize any efforts you make to expand or self-actualize. Sadly,this is a part of being human.
Disapproval can feel upsetting and even threatening to our sense of self. But what if, today you decide that their approval no longer matters to you? Imagine how freeing this would feel!
A wise person once said, “Other people’s opinions of you are none of your business.” It’s true. You do you. I’ll do me. I’m living my life on my terms. And the only person I need approval from, is me.
Do you neglect your own needs to avoid feeling “selfish” or “lazy”?
Do you feel guilty for taking care of yourself or doing things for yourself? Do you feel uncomfortable when you have “me” time? Do you only have a sense of worth if you are being productive or doing things?
It could be that you have been trained from an early age, probably by parents, caregivers, or educators, that taking care of yourself or having leisure time and allowing yourself to rest is lazy, self-centered, and must be absolutely 100 percent avoided at all cost.
Related: How We Fool Ourselves Into Thinking We Need To Stay With Toxic Partners
5. Are you a people pleaser?
Does it bother you when other people think poorly of you? Some people believe that it is a requirement to have people like them and they are willing to do almost anything to gain approval from others.
Some people are overly concerned about offending or hurting people’s feelings and as a result, become “people pleasers” who overlook their own needs in favor of someone else’s.
When you are a people-pleaser, you’re more likely to put up with inappropriate, hurtful, and toxic behavior from a partner. You don’t want your special guy to feel too guilty about his bad behavior toward you, so you say, “It’s okay. I’m fine. Don’t worry. We’re fine.”
6. Have you experienced rejection, abandonment, shame, betrayal, and/or unfairness?
Have you been a victim of some form of abuse in your past? Did you feel invalidated by a parent, like you weren’t entitled to your feelings, or your feelings were wrong or selfish? Some caregivers raise children with an incredible dose of shame as a way to control their behavior.
They may use guilt trips to make you feel guilty for having feelings because they were hurt that you expressed them. Perhaps you were criticized as a child and felt as though you couldn’t do anything right? Maybe they gave you the message that you could never achieve their approval and that their love and acceptance were conditional on being a “good girl”.
When a parent uses shame or guilt, it’s actually a form of manipulation. Since this is what you are raised with, it will lead you to be susceptible to being manipulated as an adult, especially in an intimate relationship.
7. Do you feel worthless and fear being alone?
Do you beat yourself up and criticize yourself for your failures? Do you fear being single? Do you berate your weaknesses and hate yourself for them? Perhaps you feel as though you are unlovable, unworthy, and flawed, and don’t feel worthy of love?
It’s perfectly normal for you to want security in your life, but some people’s internal shame and sense of unworthiness leads them to a willingness to do everything in their power to ensure their own security. Even if it means they have to make excuses for others, fix their errors, or protect them.
If you are afraid of being alone, it is far more likely you will willingly overlook a problem in order to maintain security and protect yourself from being lonely.
Related : 7 Science-Backed Reasons Why Spending Time Alone Makes You More Successful
8. Are you goal-oriented and persevere, no matter what?
Do you set goals and know you will always achieve them? Do you feel your value in life is based on what goals you achieve? Do you feel unworthy if you fail to meet your goals?
Some people are so committed to their “never give up or give in,” attitude that they end up overlooking terrible behavior by a partner, with the misguided idea that they can’t give up on the relationship because it will be seen as a failure.
Sometimes people are so perseverant that they end up over-functioning and doing everything for everyone, resulting in them getting completely walked on. You might even hate relying on other people for help and choose to do everything yourself. If you do, it’s time to reconsider the consequences of being so focused on avoiding failure.
Related: 5 Red Flags That Signal Your Relationship is Toxic
You can go through this experience of taking responsibility for your healing, knowing that it is going to be difficult and take time but that you will emerge on the other side so strong and healthy you will absolutely exude empowerment.
You will never again accept substandard behavior. You will repel toxic, abusive, and parasitic men with narcissistic personality traits and only attract high-quality individuals into your life.
Trust me, and trust yourself. You can unquestionably do this and live the life of truth, respect, and dignity you deserve.
The more you learn about people with narcissistic personality traits, the easier it is to see why so many of us fall in love with the charming and magnetic, yet highly toxic people who possess them, especially when they've aimed their razor-focused attention directly at ensnaring you into their trap.
Sadly, by the time you figure out just how toxic the narcissist you're dating is, it's highly likely they've manipulated you into having intense feelings for them, as well as into feeling emotionally stuck, as though you simply cannot break free.
That feeling isn't your fault. It's the direct result of a process known as trauma bonding, and understanding this is a crucial step toward setting yourself free.
What is trauma bonding?
Trauma bonding is the phenomenon that "occurs as the result of ongoing cycles of abuse in which the intermittent reinforcement of reward and punishment creates powerful emotional bonds that are resistant to change."
It is characterized by strong emotional ties that develop between two people when one of them is intermittently cruel, threatening or intimidating, while at other times treating their partner like 24 karat gold.
Trauma bonding develops over the course of this two-step process:
Step 1: Love Bombing
"Love bombing" is the practice of attempting to accelerate feelings of romantic love by using a number of behavioral tactics to overwhelm the target with displays of intense adoration and attraction.
At this stage, you'll hear them saying things like:
Narcissists and social predators are always on the lookout for someone to manipulate, and these flattering compliments, excessive praise, gifts, and loving and doting texts are all part of their love bombing strategy. These techniques increase in frequency and fervor in order to create that highly addictive feeling of infatuation, which can result in disturbing levels of devotion and adoration to the narcissist.
What makes it even more unsettling is that as you spend more time with the narcissist, you spend less time with others, which serves to keep you isolated, enhancing their ability to indoctrinate you into their version of reality.
Step 2: Cruelty
This step is where the narcissist gets downright mean.
You're likely to hear them say thing like:
Combined with the intermittent reinforcement of love-bombing behaviors, this up and down rhythm causes a psychological "addiction" to the unpredictable cycle of abuse.
While it may seem obvious to an outsider that these behaviors are relationship deal-breakers, but it's rarely that straightforward. Due to the cunning and highly manipulative nature of narcissistic abuse, they are able to spin the truth so that you feel confused and unsure of yourself.
It's critical to understand that trauma bonding affects the neurochemistry of your brain.The powerful hormones adrenaline, oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine, and cortisol all get involved, creating a powerful biochemical reaction in the brain, which continues fluctuating wildly through each phase of abuse.
The initial high you experience when falling in love creates a dizzying, euphoric state in the brain, setting the bar in the relationship. Afterward, you may feel a constant need to reach those same levels of intense exhilaration — over and over again.
Harsh, insensitive behavior is followed by "hearts and flowers" to keep you unsettled, confused and off-balance. Your toxic partner attempts to make up for their poor behavior by sucking up, pleading forgiveness and showering you with affection, fancy meals and gifts as a way to prove how truly sorry they are.
However, this is usually short-lived, as toxic personalities can rarely maintain this behavior for very long. Soon, you come to realize that it is an emotionally abusive cycle, and you are spinning right in the middle of it.
Helplessness and hopelessness often follow, and you feel unable to escape this unsafe and emotionally abusive relationship.
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This results in feelings of cognitive dissonance, where you have contradictory thoughts and feelings about the abusive person, i.e., who you want to believe they are versus who they truly are. Your version of reality and the actual truth stand in total opposition to one another, leading you to feel disoriented, as though you are looking at the world through a veil to protect yourself from the reality.You may then become increasingly ashamed of your situation and choose to further isolate yourself from others, no longer able to receive their support, as it only deepens your shame.
Oddly, you may also find yourself identifying with your abusive partner.
The human mind has powerful survival instincts and, by identifying with an abuser, the ego protects itself. When a victim holds the same beliefs and values as the abuser, the abuser feels like less of a threat.
What a scary thought!
All of these things play a part in preventing you from finding the internal and external resources necessary to leave the relationship. You may also be tethered to your abuser by money, children or fear of being subjected to a smear campaign, all of which are valid and understandable concerns.
If you want to free yourself from an emotionally abusive relationship, there are two things you must do in order to break the manipulative trance of trauma bonding.
1. Disengage. It's imperative to detach from the toxic person for a period of time in order to fully see the destruction they have caused in your life.
The cycle of trauma bonding has to be halted through a period of “detox”, during which you have no contact with your narcissistic partner.
2. Forgive yourself. You must forgive yourself in order to move forward in your healing journey.
This means letting go of self-critical thoughts about why you didn't leave or see the truth sooner, and why you didn't do a better job of protecting yourself.
You will undoubtedly struggle with these thoughts, but please know it is critical for you to come to the point of self-forgiveness and self-compassion.
You didn’t know then what you know now. You did the best you could with the knowledge you had at the time. You’ve been told you were nuts, losing your mind, and behaving ridiculously. You’ve been told your version of events is untrue and that your reality is false. You’ve been told you have a mental disorder and that your emotional reactions were overblown.
You’re not crazy; this is psychological abuse.
The truth is that you are reacting normally to an abnormal situation.
Anybody who is mistreated, demeaned and abused will lose patience, have emotional reactions, and stand up for themselves.
Abusers will use anything and everything they can against you, including using your perfectly normal reactions as evidence that you are the problem, not them.
The moment they realize you see them for what they are, they feel threatened. To combat this, they up the ante with all of their manipulation techniques and abuse in an effort to keep you under their thumb.
The toxic person needs to hurt others in order to feel significant — to control, demean, humiliate, and hurt you, when all you wanted was to be loving and caring, and to receive the same in return.
But you are healthy and normal.
The more you are aware of the process of trauma bonding, the more quickly you can identify it in your own relationship and avoid falling into another narcissist's trap.
Psychological Abusers hone the skill of inflicting emotional destruction on their chosen victims with such subtlety it is often difficult to detect. Their cunning ability to manipulate other people’s beliefs, perceptions and feelings leaves a trail of human destruction in the dust behind them.
People who are psychological abusers may see the agony and misery of their victims of proof of their God-like power over other people. It is the ultimate example of a heartless human with a highly sadistic character.
In abuser-parented families, the legacy is continual pain and turmoil.
That’s because the abuser will use any means necessary to get what they want and will stop nothing short of deceiving, manipulating, gaslighting and bullying. Even of their own spouse and children.
So, what happens when a child’s parent is a n abuser? They live in a warped version of reality, thanks to the extensive gaslighting and manipulation of their predatory parent.
Having an abusive parent means that the child experiences emotional neglect, cruelty and psychological abandonment, and are gaslit to believe it isn’t even happening. As a result, there is no room for respectful, open, honest, loving relationships where everybody’s needs are validated and met.
The children must learn to maneuver the injustice, the cruelty and dysfunction of this complex family system in order to survive.
Let’s look at three examples of how emotionally abusive parents hurt their children:
1. Unconditional love is never truly possible.
Psychologically abusive individuals teach their children very early on that they have to behave in certain ways to get the parent’s love and attention. Sadly, these expectations are temporary and ever-shifting, so there is no true way the child can achieve this standard. The goal posts are constantly moving. They child is continually correcting, to try to adjust for this unclear goal.
The awful truth is that the parent is intentionally shifting the bar because they don’t want the child to reach it. They want the child to be in a lifelong struggle of trying to please their parent. This reinforces the parent's need for feeling omnipotent and all-powerful.
The true horror is in how this plays out. From the very beginning the child learns that if they do something wrong, a so called “loving” parent can abuse them. They find out that their individuality is something the parent wants to control, that their personality is something the parent wants to mold, and that their true self is never, ever good enough. Having a psychological abuser as a parents means continual rejection, dictatorial practices, and oppression for the child.
Psychological abusers sometimes see their partners and children as extensions of themselves, like jewelry. This jewelry has to represent the mask or the “false self” that they have created and maintain for the purpose of conning others. If the child reflects the carefully curated mask, they are safe and shown love. As soon as the child makes an error, the parent is outraged because the child is not reflecting their carefully contrived false identity.
This is intermitted reinforcement, or trauma bonding, at its absolute worst.
2. The parent demands reverence from the family
Psychological abusers must be venerated by others and anything less will be an insult to their person. Normal childhood behaviors of talking back, not doing what they are told or outright rebelling are taken as a personal affront, because they demand the child to worship and obey them above all else.
And because there is an unwritten rule in these families, that nobody’s needs matter (except, of course, for the abuser's needs) all family members learn and internalize that they are unimportant, that their needs are trivial and that they should be ashamed of having needs in the first place.
If the spouse in this family unit does not tow the party line, where the abusive parent is placed and maintained in hero status, to be worshipped, adored and obeyed at every opportunity, the parent will subjugate them and reduce them to a status that is often at the level of the children. Now the children learn that “power over” is normal and that it is acceptable to disrespect their parent, and thus take this learning into their own adult lives with their spouses and families moving forward.
3. Psychologically abusive parents are threatened by individuality
In the mind of a abuser, there is an ideal family, where everyone in the family unit accepts the identity, expectations and belief system assigned to them by the abuser. If someone shows even an ounce of individuality, the abuser is insulted because the person is not obeying them. This "injury" results in the child being emotionally neglected and rejected.
What follows is scorn, subordination and cruelty toward the individual who has not met the abuser's expectations. The child is then subjugated into the role of the family scapegoat, the person in the family that is to blame for everything that is wrong in the family as well as every bad thing that happens. This is psychological annihilation for the scapegoated child.
The reality of being a child of a psychological abuser is stark. Reality is twisted, injustices are overlooked or endorsed, lies, dis-loyalties, double standards and treachery are just typical daily occurrences. If the other parent has even an ounce of conscience, it is likely the child sees that parent get manipulated, dominated and demoralized. How a child turns out after exposure to this kind of prolonged abuse is unpredictable. There are many different types of personalities that come out of living in such a chaotic, dysfunctional family system. If a child experiences this abuse for the duration of their childhood, only time will tell the full extent of the damage.
Survivors of emotional violence will often speak to me about the re-victimization they experience at the hands of family members, friends, legal counsel, law enforcement and even helping professionals. This is a form of societal gaslighting, where the individual’s experience is minimized, invalidated and even been met with victim-blaming statements. This is such a widespread complaint I hear from people that I began to realize it is a much larger than an individual problem. This is a social bias.
My sociology and social work background always has me thinking about the societal underpinnings of individual problems. What this is truly about is power dynamics in our world.
By uncovering the unconscious rules of the power game and the methods by which it attains legitimacy, we are certainly in a position to bring around basic changes. – Alice Miller
Blaming the victim, victim-shaming and backlash against people who have joined the #MeToo movement is a sad reality in our world, and it is easy to see why victims of emotional abuse so readily adopt this view. We see it time and time again when we hear about people who suffer horrific abuse, and the question always lingers: “Why didn’t she just leave?”
We see this in sexual assault cases (what was she wearing?), or how people view those in poverty as lazy, or blaming mentally ill people for poor lifestyle choices. There are cases where some victims are at least partially responsible for their situations, but their personal responsibility is often inflated and the extenuating circumstances are overlooked. Why do people do this?
Blaming the victim has two parts: Avoid responsibility and avoid vulnerability. The world is a scary place and the human psyche fears this truth. Instead of feeling vulnerable, our minds search for evidence for how the world is indeed safe. Victims threaten our need for safety and security. We simply don’t want to believe that bad things happen to good people because in accepting this harsh truth, we acknowledge our vulnerability. Most people cannot accept this terrifying reality.
There is also a belief that leaving an abusive relationship should be simple and straightforward. You and I both know this is an enormous myth.
Accepting that you are not responsible for the abuse you suffered flies in the face of all of the messages we have received in our lives—from friends, family, popular media and society in general. The reality is that you had no control over this person. You must fully embrace this truth.
The abusive person has put you in the position of responsibility for their behavior. They have blamed you for their shortcomings. You have been told you’re not good enough and the abuse you endured seems to prove that this is true. This is wrong. You are not to blame. It is not you who is not good enough. The abuser is the only one responsible for the abuse. They knew what they was doing when they mistreated you and they did it on purpose. Their deliberate abuse highlights that they have a need to hurt others in order to make themselves feel significant and superior. You, on the other hand, already know you are imperfect, and you do not need to hurt someone else to make yourself feel better. Only an individual with a deeply flawed personality would need to do this.
How do we start validating survivors? Understand and make the clear distinction: this is not about a “bad breakup” or being “incompatible”. This is about people who have been incredibly injured by cruel individuals who lack empathy, who are chronic abusers, who lack remorse and have no conscience for their malicious actions.
As one survivor described to me, “Being told by my best friend that he was just going through a ‘rough patch’ and that the way he behaved in the marriage was typical of someone who has fallen out of love was like a kick in the stomach. It was like being told my reality was entirely false. That I must have imagined it, or I was oversensitive, or lacked awareness of normal human behavior. The gaslighting by my best friend only further victimized me. I already thought I was a completely crazy, stupid and hysterical. Then I had my best friend confirming it.”
How Do We Stop This Re-Victimization?
Acknowledge and validate the survivors’ reality. Understand that narcissism, antisocial personalities and psychopathy are real in this world. There are actually people in society, in our workplaces, churches, and families who are cruel, predatory and intentionally seek to destroy others. There are individuals who lack remorse, who behave in inhumane ways and will use emotional, psychological and physical violence to get their way. These are extremely dangerous people and this is gut-check time. Not all individuals in this world are inherently good.
Accept that recovery from a psychologically abusive relationship takes longer. It is also important to understand that friends, family and others do not understand this post-traumatic pain. They will dispense some unhelpful, even harmful advice, such as, “You’re dwelling on the past. You need to move on.” What they don’t know is that survivors are asking themselves a version of that question of themselves.
The difficulty that interferes with healing is the terrible betrayal at this fraudulent love. Narcissistic abuse survivors show many similarities in their recovery journey, due to the tactics used by the abuser. Someone who has undergone repeated gaslighting by a narcissistic abuser will invariably suffer the effects of cognitive dissonance. This is when the survivor is trying to make sense of the abuser’s false image that hooked them to them in the first place, with the abuser’s cruel, mean and disturbing true self.
Due to this cognitive dissonance, survivors will often perseverate on the discrepancy between the charming, over the top, love-bombing person they feel in love with compared to the ugly, malicious person they came to be.
What others see is the survivors constant re-view and attempt to re-assess the memories and resulting thoughts and emotions related to the cognitive dissonance. This is why the re-tell the same stories, over and over, because they are trying to make sense of something that inherently does not make sense.
This process, in and of itself, helps to reduce the cognitive dissonance and address the disconnection that has happened to their memories (survivors often dissociate during trauma and memories, thoughts and feelings become jumbled and elusive - an innate psychological protection). If, during a re-telling of the story, a friend validates, accepts and shows appropriate revulsion about the abusive behavior, it reduces the confusion and begins to allow the person’s reality to become trusted once again.
I hope and believe that as awareness of narcissistic abuse grows, the majority of the socially conscious individuals in this world will transition from victim-blaming to start to demand that responsibility for the abuse be where it should be: on the abuser.
Your dad thinks everything you do is inefficient, incompetent and just plain…wrong. Your aunt wants to gossip about your mother behind her back and pry for information on her sister’s dirty little secrets, your brother insults you with a backhanded compliment, “Gee, nice that you bothered to put some effort into baking this year,” or your cousin one-ups you about pretty much every single thing (you have a BMW? She has a Lamborghini). Or, your uncle is passive aggressive about the gift you bought him, “This looks like a one-click Christmas present.”
While it is estimated that only 6% of the population actually has narcissistic personality disorder, there are many people who display manipulative, controlling and narcissistic traits, and it’s pretty likely that someone in every family meets part of the criteria for being a narcissist.
You can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family. But don’t worry, here’s how to deal with the dreaded holidays with your narcissistic family member(s):
Let Them Be Right
Whatever you do, don’t fight them. You already know that when you fight back it always makes things worse. Let them win. Let them believe they are superior. At the root of it all, manipulators fear inferiority. "Remember that they're usually driven by an unconscious sense of shame or inferiority," says Joseph Burgo, PhD, author of "The Narcissist You Know: Defending Yourself Against Extreme Narcissists in an All-About-Me Age." Christmas is definitely not the time to dig in your heels, because Christmas might just end with an aunt, mother or brother as an enemy.
So what to do instead? Remember what Bill Eddy, LCSW from the High Conflict Institute does: EAR – Empathy, Attention and Respect. Have empathy for the narcissists complain, listen with your full attention, and respect their opinion. Then leave the discussion. This may mean you end up eating at the kids’ table just to get away from the drama.
Sometimes the cruelty of a manipulator can literally take your breath away. Sometimes it can come from out of the blue and you’re left wondering what the hell just happened? Who knows why, in the middle of a pleasant conversation, a narcissist has to drop a big ball of nasty, but whatever it is, don’t take the bait. Instead, stay calm, neutral and be ready with a quick response. “That's one way of looking at it,” or “I see.” If they keep baiting you, over and over, don’t take it! This way they’ll know their efforts to get you spinning are being wasted.
RELATED: Why are Psychological Abusers So Cruel, Adversarial and Resentful?
Take The High Road
Most of us enjoy Christmas because we want to catch up with our families and reconnect with relatives we don’t see as often as we’d like. Unfortunately, Christmas for a psychologically abusive person can be when their jealous, spiteful traits really come to light. If you notice they are trash-talking your loved ones or running people down when they’re not there to defend themselves, you can always take the high road.
Example, “Did you see how bad aunt ___ looks?!” You can respond with something that shows you are unfettered by their complete rudeness, “No I didn’t. She’s a beautiful person, inside and out.” Then walk away. What can they possible say after that?
Don't JADE – Justify, Argue, Defend, And Explain
Manipulators hold grudges for a very long time, even if the problem is perceived, not real. If you can’t avoid the person who’s mad at you from last Thanksgiving’s perceived rudeness, make sure you turn to the old Al-Anon 12-step slogan JADE that reminds us not to engage in justifying, arguing, defending, and explaining. Instead? Think detach.
Make Them Feel Important
Psychological abusers have issues of feeling inferior at their core. They make up with this dark inner feeling by acting like a huge know-it-all. Give them what they want. Ask them about their important job, their beautiful children, their fast car, their big house and let them beam. For some people, this might chap their ass. In my opinion, making someone feel good is never a bad thing, even if I don't think they deserve it.
RELATED: 9 Signs You're A Victim of Psychological Abuse
Agree to Disagree
It’s okay to stand your ground when you need to. Sometimes they are so foul that it is impossible to give them a pat response. In this case, agree to disagree. “You have your way of doing things that make sense to you, but I would deal with this differently.”
Tip: Do not, under any circumstance, let them get under your skin. If you lose your cool and freak out, you're going to end up looking like the family nut, all the while you'll be scratching your head and thinking, what the hell just happened this time?
What are your thoughts? How do you handle the narcissist at your family gatherings?
Joanne Brothwell, MSW, CLC, is a therapist and author in Saskatoon, Canada with twenty-two years of public and private practice. She is the creator of the Psychological Abuse Recovery Course, a program designed to provide information, powerful techniques and specific healing activities that are crucial to recovery from emotional abuse.
Narcissistic personality disorder affects more males than females, and it often begins in the teens or early adulthood. While some teens may show narcissistic traits, it is more likely typical of their age and developmental stage and doesn't mean that they have or will develop Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Teens are in the right in the middle of the process of forming their identities and learning how to maneuver their lives- both their inner and outer lives. When I say they are in the middle, I mean that their personalities are not yet fully formed and are still being developed. Thus, they may exhibit traits associated with narcissism, such as being defensive, hypersensitive, selfish, and oblivious to the feelings of needs of those around them. This is developmentally normal.
Wondering what is narcissism? Here's a reminder of NPD traits:
1. Lacks empathy and is extremely selfish.
2. Arrogant and egotistical.
3. Insatiable need for approval and reverence.
4. Need for power and control.
5. Overinflated sense of entitlement.
6. Resentment and envy at the success of other people.
7. Vindictive, aggressive, and moody.
8. Defensive and hypersensitive.
9. A shifting personality.
What causes NPD? Experts know that genetics, neurobiological factors and personality and temperament play a role and may make an individual more or less vulnerable to the development of NPD. However, we also know that social and environmental factors, such as parent-child relationships can have a huge impact on the development of this disorder, specifically if there is excessive adoration and overprotection, excessive criticism, or severe neglect or abuse may trigger Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
The good news? If you believe you are seeing traits of narcissism in your child, just remember that you still have several years to help guide your child to appropriate thoughts and behavior. Having a strong, loving relationship with your child with clear boundaries and an emphasis on encouragement rather than criticism, and guiding them in the development of their moral compass and decision making will help protect your teenager from having their "normal" teenage narcissism turn into a full-blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Still not sure? If you suspect your teen's narcissitic traits are outside of the norm for an adolescent, seek the help of a qualified therapist.
Last week I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Candice Monson speak on the topic of Evidence-based and Promising Psychotherapies for PTSD. Candice is a professor of Psychology at Ryerson University and is one of the foremost experts on traumatic stress. She is a co-author of the book, Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD: A Comprehensive Manual which is a resource I have been using for mahy years in my clinical practice treating trauma.
Cognitive Processing Therapy addresses the beliefs individuals hold and how they integrate their traumatic experience into pre-existing beliefs and experiences. She spoke of what is known as “Hindsight Bias”, which consists of thoughts:
This type of cognitive therapy is precisely the underpinning of my book, Psychological Abuse Recovery: Healing from Emotional, Psychological And Narcissistic Abuse. This type of therapy can be seen as a reality therapy for trauma, with concrete steps to restructure unhelpful thoughts and beliefs into something more realistic:
However, in my work with trauma, involving family members who are emotionally and psychologically abusive is often more harmful and potentially dangerous. So how does a therapist decide?
Dr. Monson answered this question succinctly: Using an instrument Conflict Tactics Scale, one of the most widely used instrument in research on family violence, the therapist can get a clear picture of the severity of conflict and violence in the relationship. If there is violence, do not proceed with the conjoint therapy.
If there is no violence but the therapist suspects there is emotional and psychological abuse, it’s imperative to specifically ask about the client’s feelings of safety. If one partner feels emotionally unsafe, does the other partner acknowledge their aggression as a problem? If they do acknowledge it is a problem and are genuinely interested in changing, a therapist might consider proceeding. If they do not see it as a problem, Cognitive Behavioral Conjoint Therapy is not the correct course of action.
Getting "Unstuck" Break Free from Narcissistic, Controlling, & Manipulative Relationships - Group Program
Every Wednesday, November 13, 20, 27 & December 4 & 11, from 5:00 - 6:30pm
When people experience trauma from psychological abuse, why does their nervous system sometimes trigger a shutdown response?
That question spurred a whole new way of thinking about trauma treatment. Neuroscientists have been investigating the nervous system and how it can help to explain responses to trauma. Some amazing new discoveries in the treatment of trauma have taken place.
Here’s a look at what’s inside the Psychological Abuse Recovery Course:
It’s available now, for just $46 USD, here’s the link where you can get it.
All the best,
Joanne Brothwell, MSW
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