5 Books on Trauma That Will Help You Heal

5 Books On Trauma That Will Help You Heal | Alice Nicole

Although a relatively small portion of the population (approximately 5%) are clinically diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder, cases of manipulative and destructive behavior have become more publicly recognized in the past few years. Michelle D. Roberts explains that narcissistic abuse differs from other forms of abuse in such a way that it is characterized by a pattern of manipulative behavior and intentional deception aimed at exploiting the victim. Gaslighting is also typical in narcissistic abuse making the victim question their self-worth and whether or not they deserve abusive behavior. However, it’s important to realize that there’s always a way forward from this type of abuse.

In this list, we discuss 5 books that can help narcissistic abuse victims get back on their feet.

Shame Unmasked: Disarming the Hidden Driver Behind Our Destructive Decisions

Shame Unmasked discusses what it calls the “hidden driver” behind destructive decisions – deep-seated feelings of shame. A self-identified reforming narcissist, Rick Patterson discusses how shame drives and fuels narcissism, racism, and the like. He speaks of how shame, especially when unaddressed, takes full control of our lives. Dr. Patterson also discusses in a previous piece the traits that narcissists look for in a partner, including neediness and vulnerability.

Although originally written to guide narcissists in realizing and acting upon their disorder, this book will also be helpful for victims to understand that the problem does not lie with them. Reassigning accountability for the experience will help the victim move forward.

Writing Into the Wound: Understanding Trauma, Truth, and Language

Writing Into the Wound delves into the necessity of facing trauma head-on by picking up the bits and pieces to make oneself whole again after a bout of extreme suffering. In the book, Roxane Gay masterfully tells us, “To change the world, we need to face what has become of it.” She stresses the importance of understanding the extent of trauma to open up ways to move on and move forward to better versions of ourselves.

Gay’s exploration of trauma is not meant for victims to punish themselves and wallow in misery, but to come out stronger and better through discovering extremely important life lessons and collective healing.

Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents

Narcissistic abuse can also occur between parents and children.  Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents explores the different dimensions of parent-children relationships, which can range from abandonment to outright violent abuse. Lindsay Gibson illustrates how children of emotionally immature parents grow up to be unsure of themselves (and their happiness) and are unable to independently navigate the world in front of them.

Unearthing one’s history of abuse may help them fully understand and place into context why they decide to put up with the situation, even for a prolonged time. Going through that process may unlock key links in breaking vicious cycles of abuse.

It Didn’t Start With You

Mark Wolynn’s book on deeply-ingrained emotional problems speaks in the same vein as Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents in discussing intergenerational family trauma. However, It Didn’t Start With You leans more on how family trauma is passed on from one generation to another, creating a cycle of anxiety, depression and other problems in familial relationships. Complementary to the traditional drugs, psychosocial therapy and other interventions, Wollyn delves deeper into family history to understand how heavy baggage is inherited from our ancestors, what to take away from it, and what to let go of.

Safe People: How to Find Relationships that are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren’t

Safe People takes that extra step in guiding you through your healing process. It covers more than just avoiding “unsafe people” and gives you an idea of what to look for in “safe people”. These are the kind that you want to surround yourself with especially when you are recovering from an extended period of abuse and trauma.

Henry Cloud and John Townsend speak of the important role of positive relationships for victims to regain trust and confidence in themselves and the people around them.

People who have had to stay in abusive relationships, be it platonic or romantic, with narcissists often take some time to heal. This healing process warrants a multitude of approaches and methods. A helpful first step might be recognition that abuse was committed, and nobody deserves that kind of abuse.

What is Pathological Narcissism?

person eye

PATHOLOGICAL NARCISSISM is used to describe an impaired expression of narcissism that disrupts one’s abilities to regulation emotions. It is distinguished by oscillations between the characteristic grandiosity and vulnerability of this personality type. Over time it correlates with emotional dysregulation and diminished interpersonal functioning.

How does pathological narcissism develop?

Pathological narcissism is a construct used to describe a maladaptive and socially destructive form of narcissism. It is understood to develop as a defensive ego structure that protects an wounded true self by shielding it with an omnipotent false self

A fortress for the ego

Pathological narcissism is a post-traumatic stress adaptation that develops to protect an injured psyche. It functions to desensitize the mind to feelings of dread, fragility, and hyper-vigilance by numbing vulnerable parts of the self. While it shields the self, it also results in low empathy for others and an inability to form authentic emotional bonds.

A fragmented self

Highly stressful or traumatic experiences in early life fracture and severe the self from pervasive feelings of shame and humiliation, which remain hidden in the subconscious mind. An all-powerful false self serves to cloak the fragility of a wounded true self.

Characteristics

Some characteristics of pathological narcissism are that it is:

  • Self-love to the exclusion of others
  • Harmful to self and others
  • Dangerous to the mental health of self and others, and
  • Uncompromising

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40% Child/Adolescent-to-Parent Violence and Abuse (CAPVA) Unreported

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MORE THAN 40% of Child/Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse (CAPVA) is never reported to the authorities according to a study commissioned by the Mayor of London’s Violence Reduction Unit.

What is Child/Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse (CAPVA)?

Child/adolescent to parent violence and abuse CAPVA) is a term used to described acts of violence perpetrated by minor-, adolescent-, and adult children against their parents or caregivers.

Violence is any act that uses fear, intimidation, threats and/or harm to cause someone to do something against their will, or prevent them from doing something they want to. Violence can be physical and psychological.

Jane Griffiths of Capa First Response CiC explains how it might show up, “For many families it is their children that are using violent and abusive behavior in the home directed at parents or caregivers. Spitting, hitting, name calling, destroying property, threats of violence […] causing parents to ‘tread on eggshells.” 

What does child-to-parent look like?

According to the study, 89% of the recorded incidents show that CAPVA shows up as:

The study also found that 81% of the perpetrators of child-to-parent violence were adolescent boys acting out against their mothers with physical violence.

Fear of stigma stops parents from reporting

The study looked at pre-pandemic data from 2011 to 2020 and found that 40% of the parents and caregivers experiencing CAPVA did not report because they encountered stigma when they reached out for help.

“Parents feel huge shame around this behaviour; they feel judged and blamed for how their child behaves towards them.” explains Jane Griffiths, “It is a hugely isolating issue, with parents feeling unable to talk about what is happening or seek support.” 

Parents and caregivers in this situation require specialized support, which is available through organizations like the PEGS – Parental Education Growth Support program.

How does the UK plan to address the issue?

CAPVA occurs in approximately 1 in 10 British families and experts say the number increased during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London has suggested taking a multi-agency ‘joined-up approach’ to reducing child/adolescent-to-parent abuse.

He explained that the underlying causes for the aggression were often undiagnosed mental health issues, unidentified disabilities, and unidentified special educational needs. Perpetrators of CAPVA may also be acting out in response to trauma such as exposure to domestic violence and others harms.

For in-depth analysis of this report, read How Coercive Control Perpetuates The Cycle of Violence in Families.


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7 Ways to Fight Mental Health Stigma

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WHILE THE TOPIC of mental health is more widely discussed now than in the past, people experiencing loneliness, depression, anxiety, isolation, and hopelessness often feel judged by others. Unfortunately mental health challenges are as stigmatized now as ever and the consequence is that people who need support are reluctant to reach out for help. As the Chief Executive Officer of Orange County Rehab, part of my work is teaching people how to overcome misconceptions about mental health so that they can get the treatment they need and recover. If this resonates with your experience, here are 7 ways to fight mental health stigma.

1. Seek medical help

Most importantly, you should seek medical attention just as you would if you had a broken limb or were unwell, don’t allow the fear of being diagnosed with a mental health condition keep you or your loved ones from seeking treatment. Treatment is essential to alleviating symptoms that interfere with one’s professional and personal life, as well as delivering relief. Remember to be kind and compassionate to yourself and others while you or they seek therapy. Take courage and remember that you and your loved ones are worth it.

2. Don’t buy into the stigma

Your belief that you or the individual who is suffering from mental illness should be able to manage their condition on your own is a common misconception. As a result of these views, you may treat yourself or others with more harshness. It is important to seek care and support from those with mental illness to obtain a sense of self-worth, perspective and to overcome harmful judgement. As one realises, they aren’t the only one struggling in a certain area, they might begin to understand that they aren’t alone. Seeking assistance is a need.

3. Educate yourself and others

You can only be as powerful as the information you have. Learn as much as you can about your mental health condition, including its signs and symptoms, as well as its causes and remedies. The first step in obtaining the correct therapy for mental well-being is to be educated. Be willing to help people understand that mental health issues are medical conditions that can be treated in the same way that physical ailments are. To dispel some of the myths and misconceptions about mental health diagnoses, provide them with accurate facts.

People are more inclined to change their attitudes about mental health conditions when they have a better understanding of what they are. Remember not to expect folks to immediately grasp what you’re saying. Stigma is a long-term process. As you go through this process, be kind to yourself and others. It is also possible that family therapy might be beneficial, since it provides a neutral setting in which to address hurdles and roadblocks.

4. Choose your words carefully

A mental health diagnosis remains a part of our identity as long as we meet the criteria. Words have the potential to do harm and it is important to be mindful about the language we use to described mental health matters. Practice compassion and keep in mind that each of us has a unique personality that consists of many distinct features.

5. Join a support group

Don’t isolate yourself. No one can assist if you are secretive about your mental health condition. You may find a wide range of activities and services from local and national support organizations. People with mental health issues, family members, friends, and the places they live in may all benefit from these organizations’ efforts to remove stigma and empower those who suffer. A good place to start is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or the Department of Veterans Affairs (if applicable). See what programs are available in your area or online.

6. Empowerment over shame is the way to go

If you’re going through a rough patch, don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Honor and own
your experience. While maintaining healthy boundaries, encourage individuals in need of assistance, hold space for their stories, and provide words of encouragement. Honesty is the best policy when it comes to dealing with those around you.

Final thoughts

Remember that there is more to who you are than a mental health diagnosis. As you share your story and interact with others, remember the full spectrum of who you are and recognize your abilities, talents, and goals. If a loved one is suffering from mental health issues, be sure to do the same for them. How you engage with others may have a significant impact on people’s perceptions of you and your mental health condition. Treat yourself and others around you with compassion. Acceptance is a process that requires time, effort, and patience.


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What is Gaslighting?

elderly woman in eyeglasses telling off blond woman

GASLIGHTING IS A FORM of psychological manipulation that falls under the category of covert psycho-emotional abuse. Its aim is to cause a person to question their sanity. 

What Is The Definition of Gaslighting?

The term comes from the 1938 play Gaslight, about a wife who discovers that her husband is secretly turning down the gaslights in their home in order to make her doubt her reality. Today, gaslighting is a colloquialism that describes a situation where one person manipulates another to think or behave a certain way that causes them to second-guess their own perceptions and beliefs. 

Who is most likely to use the gaslighting tactic?

Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic commonly used by people with malignant personalities, such as the narcissistic- and anti-social personality types. Emotionally sound people are unlikely to gaslight others because they are able to empathize with others and want to avoid causing them distress. People with darker personalities have low empathy and are less likely to care about causing others distress, which makes them more likely to gaslight others. However, not all people with malignant personalities gaslight others.

In what context is gaslighting most likely to occur?

Gaslighting can happen in any type of relationship, including friendships, romantic relationships, and even within the family. It can also occur in the workplace when one person tries to manipulate another into doing something they don’t want to do.

How does one person gaslight another? 

Gaslighting is usually accomplished by creating a false narrative and casting doubt on any facts or evidence that contradicts the false narrative. The perpetrator of the abuse misleads the recipient of the abuse by creating a false reality.

Why do people use the gaslighting tactic?

People who gaslight do so in order to manipulate and control others. The effects of gaslighting often leave the recipient of the abuse feeling powerless, invisible, and unable to influence the relationship.

What are some examples of gaslighting?

Some examples of gaslighting are:

  • When a partner denies having an affair, even when text messages are sent proving otherwise. 
  • When a spouse is criticized for expressing an opinion or feeling, but when their partner expresses the same opinion or feeling, they are commended for being open and honest. 
  • When a parent tells a child they are imagining things even though the child is not.
  • Denying that acts of aggression have taken place even though they have.

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Why It’s So Hard To Prove Coercive or Controlling Behavior

man in green dress shirt holding woman in black dress

IN 2015, A NEW LAW introduced a criminal offence of “controlling or coercive behavior in an intimate or family relationship”. Yet it remains difficult to prove this kind of abuse in court.

freedom of information request made by law firm Simpson Millar found that the new offence was used just 62 times in its first six months between the end of December 2015 and end of June 2016 and, out of 22 police forces in England and Wales, eight have not charged a single person with the offence. This has led to the implementation of a new pilot scheme by the College of Policing to help officers spot the signs of controlling and coercive behaviour.

The new offence looks for “controlling or coercive” behaviour that is engaged in “repeatedly or continuously” by person A and has a “serious effect” on person B. This is either by making them afraid that violence will be used against them, or by causing serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on their usual daily activities.

For traumatized witnesses, the process of giving evidence in court may trigger a traumatic flashback, panic attack or episode of dissociation where the brain becomes foggy, perceptions are distorted and they become confused and disorientated.

Charlotte Bishop, Ph.D.

It’s typical for police investigations into domestic violence cases to face difficulties, and this new offence is no different. The realities of the way evidence and testimony is currently used in court may seriously limit the effectiveness of prosecutions for this offence. 

Recognising Coercive Control

Research conducted by anti-domestic violence campaigner Evan Stark has shown how coercive control, most often perpetrated by a male against his female partner, can be very hard to recognise. This is because it involves micro-regulation of some of the daily activities already commonly associated with women in their “traditional” role as home-makers, mothers and sexual partners.

Given the persistence of such gender-role expectations, it may be difficult to distinguish coercion and control from romantic love. Research has suggested that jealous and possessive behaviours such as restricting what the victim wears, who she sees and where she goes may be interpreted as signs of the abuser’s love and so not recognised as abusive – at least at first. 

A witness is required to provide a coherent account in court, but a traumatic experience commonly cannot be recalled as a cohesive memory due to the impact trauma has on the brain’s memory processes.

Charlotte Bishop, Ph.D.

Unlike in cases of physical violence that can leave external bruising or broken bones, it’s difficult to objectively assess whether coercive control has taken place. The abuser will typically use signals and covert messages to exert and maintain control and often these have meaning only in the context of that particular relationship. For example, the perpetrator may use a specific look, phrase or movement to convey to the victim that they are close to breaking an unspoken “rule”. 

But these signals may be hard to classify as abusive in and of themselves. Compliance with demands about dressing, shopping or cooking in a particular way to avoid repercussions may seem voluntary to an outsider with little or no understanding of the dynamics in the relationship. This makes it very difficult for those involved in the prosecution process to determine, beyond reasonable doubt, that the behaviour was controlling or coercive for purposes of the offence. 

The Crown Prosecution Service has produced guidance on the types of behaviours to look for and how evidence could be gathered in relation to the new offence. These include diaries kept by the victim, text messages and emails, and testimony from friends, family and people living in the area. Yet, these things may not always provide sufficient evidence of the extent of the harm inflicted on the victim. 

Witness Credibility

If a victim of domestic violence appears in court to testify against an abusive partner, this can also create obstacles to successful prosecution. Despite a shift in favour of reliance on evidence other than testimony, such as photographic evidence of the scene or police descriptions of the demeanour of the alleged witness and perpetrator in the immediate aftermath of the incident, oral testimony is still the preferred form of evidence.

But let’s not forgot the trauma these victims have gone through. Any event or set of enduring conditions which overwhelm an individual’s ability to cope can cause psychological trauma. Victims of domestic abuse and coercive control often live in a permanent state of hyper-vigilance where they are constantly trying to do the right thing and second-guess the reactions of an abuser whose expectations may change minute by minute. This results in a continuing state of siege which may cause the victim to experience ongoing symptoms of trauma.

For traumatised witnesses, the process of giving evidence in court may trigger a traumatic flashback, panic attack or episode of dissociation where the brain becomes foggy, perceptions are distorted and they become confused and disorientated. Without information on trauma, the shaking, confusion, disorientation and an inability to maintain eye-contact which often result from these reactions may lead magistrates, judges and the jury to doubt the credibility and veracity of her testimony. The reactions may also be seized upon by the defence barrister and portrayed as suspicious in an attempt to undermine witness credibility. In addition, a witness is required to provide a coherent account in court, but a traumatic experience commonly cannot be recalled as a cohesive memory due to the impact trauma has on the brain’s memory processes. Again, this is likely to affect perceptions of credibility.

In my own research, I’m looking at whether information given to the jury on the possible impacts of trauma on witness testimony would be appropriate to help overcome some of these obstacles. Without appropriate understandings, the impact of trauma may severely undermine perceptions of the credibility and reliability of the witness and so further reduce the likelihood of a conviction.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published at The Conversation and is republished here under Creative Common License.


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Juliette Bryant on Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘Factory’ of Sex Crimes

Juliette Bryant on Jeffrey Epstein's Factory of Sex Crimes

JULIETTE BRYANT DETAILS how Jeffrey Epstein entrapped and exploited her for two years beginning in 2002. In an interview for the BBC2 docu-series, House of Maxwell, Bryant describes how the predator pedophile love bombed her into his notorious sex trafficking scheme. Bryant later filed a lawsuit against the Epstein estate in 2019. 

The “King of America”

Bryant claims that her initial point of contact with the billionaire pedophile was model Naja Hill. In her lawsuit, she alleges that Hill told her she had a friend who was the “King of America” with connections to Victoria’s Secret, who could help Bryant launch her modeling career.

Bryant Describes Epstein’s Love-Bombing Strategy

Bryant claims her first encounter with Epstein took place at a restaurant in Cape Town in 2002. According to the lawsuit, she met Epstein, a “former high-ranking U.S. Government official, a famous actor, and a well-known comedian.” 

New York magazine reports that Epstein visited South Africa in 2002 with actor Kevin Spacey, comedian Chris Tucker, and former US President Bill Clinton. 

Bryant claims that Epstein invited her to attend the former high-ranking politician’s speech the day after their first meeting. She also says Epstein boasted that he was friends with Z-brands impresario Leslie Wesner. She alleges that he instructed her to bring her modeling portfolio to a casting at his hotel after the politician’s speech.

Flattery and Future Faking

At the casting, Bryant claims that the billionaire pedophile flattered her ego, telling her that she “had the most beautiful figure [I have] ever seen in my life.” 

Epstein allegedly announced that he would sponsor Bryant’s work visa and a flight to New York so that she could embark on an international modeling career. 

The promises Bryant is describing are typical of a manipulation tactic called ‘future faking’ commonly used by highly narcissistic people.

“Future faking is when someone uses a detailed vision of the future to facilitate […] bonding and connection.” explains Greg Kushnick, PsyD.

Bryant claims that Epstein went as far as to personally offer reassurances to her mother. According to her lawsuit, Epstein had his assistant organize her trip from South Africa to the United States. 

Bryant Alleges She Was Isolated on Little Saint James

Shortly after she arrived in New York, Bryant alleges that Epstein flew her to his private island Little Saint James. She was led to believe that she was traveling there on a modeling assignment. Instead, her sex trafficking nightmare began.

Bryant recalls that there was a collection of disturbing images decorating the walls of Epstein’s island home, mainly nudes of girls and Ghislaine Maxwell. She also shared a photograph with the BBC showing a disturbing depiction of a giant walrus raping a woman.

This was a foreshadowing of what allegedly awaited Bryant on Little Saint James. The former model describes an incident when she was in Epstein’s private cinema with the billionaire and another girl. Bryant claims she witnessed the other girl performing a sex act on Epstein. She says the experience made her “absolutely petrified” as she had not been exposed to that kind of lewd behavior before.

It was then she says she realized that she was trapped on Little Saint James with no means of escape – a strategy typical of coercive control.

According to Bryant, “I was completely trapped, and there was nothing I could do.”

“He Fed Off The Terror”

Bryant alleges that she was raped by Jeffrey Epstein up to three times a day in his “ice-cold, pitch black” bedroom on Little Saint James.

“He fed off of the terror,” she recalls of the repeated sexual assault she allegedly suffered at the hands of the predator, “There was something about the energy of a girl being scared that he liked.”

She alleges that when Epstein raped her she would dissociate.

‘I just checked out of my body and let him do what he wanted because I didn’t know what else to do,’ Bryant explains, “I tried to escape in my mind, I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening.” 

She is describing a trauma response common to victim-survivors of sexual assault. When faced with an existential threat, the defense mechanisms that emerge are fight, flight, freeze or fawn behaviors.

Threats and Intimidation

To silence her, Bryant says that Epstein threatened her and her family. She claims the combination of being repeatedly raped and terrorized by Epstein destroyed her self-esteem, “I was so broken at that point, I just sort of went along with it. I never felt okay again after that, everything just fell to pieces.”

Bryant says that Epstein used intimidation to influence her decisions. He let Bryant know he was accused of rape by another woman and that he’d managed to have his accuser jailed by planting drugs in her apartment.

She recalls the absolute power Epstein wielded in his social circle which convinced her that he would make good on his threats to harm her and her loved ones.

“I just did as I was told,” Bryant explains, “I was petrified of him, who he was. I knew crossing him would be a very bad idea.”

In this way, she says, Epstein was able to coerce her into remaining in his environs. She recalls, “Nobody disobeyed Epstein.”

Describing the climate of fear he cultivated, Bryant says, “It was just like a factory. [Epstein] was running a machine, and Ghislaine Maxwell was the one operating it. Ghislaine was running the girls and would tell us when we needed to go to his bedroom, you couldn’t say no, there was just no option.”

Surviving Jeffrey Epstein

Bryant says the final straw came when Epstein compelled her to fly out to his ranch in New Mexico. There, she alleges, he attempted to traffick her to another “important government official,” and Bryant resisted.

After the incident, Epstein berated her for not being compliant. Finally, an opportunity came for Bryant to return to her South Africa and she seized it. She says she never saw Epstein or anyone in his cabal again but he continued to harass her. In an e-mail as recently as two months before his alleged suicide, Bryant claims the pedophile sent her a leering message ask her to send him nude photos of herself.

“I’m tired of feeling ashamed,” says Bryant of her torment by Epstein, “I know I’m one of the lucky ones. I know other people have had far worse, and that is who I want to speak for, for the people who can’t talk anymore.”

House of Maxwell airs on BBC 2 on April 1 at 9 pm GMT.

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3 Causes of Parent-Child Estrangement in Narcissistic Abuse with Dr. Michael Kinsey

Adult Child-Parent Estrangement in Narcissistic Abuse

ONE OF THE MOST DEVASTATING aspects of narcissistic abuse in families is that it often leads to estrangement between the recipient of the abuse and their children. To orchestrate parent-child estrangement, narcissists use a manipulation tactic called triangulation. One of the reasons why extreme narcissism is so malignant is because a narcissistic person is prone to objectifying others and, therefore, has no qualms about weaponizing their children in order to exercise abusive power and control over the other parent.

Narcissistic abuse is most effective when the targeted person is isolated, so they excise external influences from the targeted person’s environment that threaten to disturb the narcissist’s narrative. In this way, the perpetrator of the abuse is able to control the targeted person’s perspective and shape the way the individual sees themselves, the narcissist, and the world around them.

In extreme cases of domestic violence, narcissistic triangulation can result in child-to-parent violence with the child mimicking the narcissist’s aggression toward the recipient of the abuse. This shocking behavior is devastating to the targeted parent, who cannot understand why their beloved child is unable to empathize with them or how their children rationalize enabling and sometimes participating in the abuse.

A member of our community who is a survivor of severe long-term narcissistic abuse suffered this cruel fate when they left their abusive partner and refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement after they were divorced. They wrote:

I am a survivor of narcissistic abuse and the atmosphere between my adult children and narcissist ex is cult-like. The children participated in the abuse when they were younger and refuse to have contact with me today. I’ve never met my grandchildren.

For answers to this question, we turned to clinical psychologist and parent-child attachment expert, Dr. Michael Kinsey, author of Transcendent Parenting: A Workbook For Parents Sharing Children With Narcissists, for his analysis.

1. Narcissists See The World Through A Binary Lens

An important factor in understanding the behavior of children in the context of parent-child estrangement is the awareness that narcissists view the world around them through a binary lens. Dr. Kinsey explains:

“The context that I would give people who are estranged from their children or who are caught up in the narcissist’s version of reality [is] to understand is the nature of the narcissist’s defensive structure. The world to a narcissist is divided into good and bad and the narcissist distances himself or herself from the bad as much as possible. There is intense profound disgust for the bad and the bad always has to be outside of the narcissistic personality and that means that there are scapegoats, demons, devils, and people who are completely unworthy of association.”

2. Children Often Identify With The Same Sex Parent

Another aspects as to why parent-child estrangement can occur is because the identity of the child may be in lockstep with the narcissistic parent due to social influences, such as gender.

“An identification often develops, especially with the same-sex parent,” says Dr. Kinsey, addressing why some children who grow up the the dysfunction of narcissistic family dynamics may be unwilling to empathize with the recipient of the abuse, “If the same-sex parent is a narcissist then there is a tendency to emulate that way of dealing with problems, difficulties, and emotions. so, functionally, what this means is the bad that exists in everyone and especially exists in the narcissist is displaced or it’s placed into the other parent. Usually, these are things like vulnerability, weakness, and unworthiness can be disowned in that way

3. The Child Prioritizes Their Survival In Power Holder’s Social Circle

Another social aspect of the equation that could impact the child’s behavior is their survival instinct.

“Being within the narcissist-child dyad is, obviously, a very coveted place. You know with both of our parents there is such a deep need to be loved and accepted,” according to Dr. Kinsey, “If a child is forced to choose, they might choose the person that they feel they are most like or they’ll also choose the person who they feel is safer or who they feel is the more desirable one to follow. In the case of the kind of scenario you’re discussing, it’s really a matter of survival. Being in the “in-group” of the narcissist is so essential to survival.”

Final thoughts

If you have been targeted for narcissistic triangulation and are estranged from your child, remember that you are not alone. Up to 45% of domestic violence survivors are targeted for this strain of post-separation abusive power and control. As distressing as the situation is, bear in mind that your children are secondary victims to intimate partner violence.

Focus on what you can influence and practice radical acceptance of the things you cannot control. Recognize that the aim of narcissistic tribulation between a parent and this child is to psychologically destabilize you, so it is especially important to practice emotional hygiene.

If you feel that you or a loved one could benefit from additional support with parent-child estrangement, reach out to Dr. Kinsey at Mindsplain

Watch Episode 1 of Co-Parenting with a Narcissist with Dr. Michael Kinsey.


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What is Covert Narcissism?

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COVERT NARCISSISM is synonymous with vulnerable narcissism and introverted narcissism. All three refer to a subtype of narcissistic personality disorder that manifests as extensive maladaptive and rigid sensitivity to criticism and defeat.

Normal or healthy narcissism is a personality trait all people possess that is necessary for our wellbeing. However, excessive narcissism can lead to narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), a protective ego structure that hides of a failed self within a false self.

There are two subtypes of NPD:

  • Overt narcissism (also known as grandiose narcissism), and
  • Covert narcissism (also known as vulnerable or introverted narcissism).

1. Fragility

Due to its fragile nature, covert narcissism leads to recurring narcissistic injuries in the form of pervasive feelings of humiliation and emptiness. These show up as contempt, vengeance, and a yearning for retribution.

2. Toxic Shame

Chronic shame and an inner dialogue characterized by self-criticism lead to psychological torment and anguish. For this reason, this strain of disordered narcissism is often comorbid with depression, dysthymia, or major de­pressive disorder.

Social Withdrawal

Social withdrawal is a defense mechanism commonly used by covert narcissists. They do this to protect themselves from feelings of humiliation and their fear of being exposed as anything less than perfection itself.

Covert narcissists do not have abandonment issues and they are not self-destructive.

Inverted Grandiosity

In covert narcissism, the grandiosity that is one of the distinguishing features of narcissistic personality disorder becomes introverted and masked with humility to protect a painfully fragile ego.

Their inverted grandiosity to upholds their perception of themselves as superior. They are happy to forego attention unless it is affirming.

Other difference from grandiose narcissism

One of the affects of covert narcissism being disconnected from one’s own feelings of vulnerability as well as insensitive to these feelings in others.

Though their grandiosity is well hidden, covert narcissists remain superficial and exploitative pragmatists. This variant of excessive narcissism doesn’t always present with the impulsiveness, mendacity and malice commonly seen in overt or grandiose narcissism.

3. Fractured relationships with self and others

Covert narcissism often leads to adverse relationships with self and others due to its characteristic entitlement, insensitivity, and need for admiration.

4. Professional life

Some covert narcissists become very accomplished in their professional life due to their well-masked grandiosity, self-esteem, and soaring ambition. While performance anxiety and sensitivity to criticism and defeat prove formidable obstacles that prevent progress for others.

References

Gore, W. L., & Widiger, T. A. (2016). Fluctuations between grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 7(4), Page 363.


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Why Are We Becoming So Narcissistic? Here’s The Science

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THE SUBJECT OF NARCISSISM has intrigued people for centuries, but social scientists now claim that it has become a modern “epidemic”. So what is it, what has led to its increase, and is there anything we can do about it?

In the beginning

The term narcissism originated more than 2,000 years ago, when Ovid wrote the legend of Narcissus. He tells the story of a beautiful Greek hunter who, one day, happens to see his reflection in a pool of water and falls in love with it. He becomes obsessed with its beauty, and is unable to leave his reflected image until he dies. After his death, the flower narcissus grew where he lay.

The concept of narcissism was popularized by the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud through his work on the ego and its relationship to the outside world; this work became the starting point for many others developing theories on narcissism.

So when does it become a problem?

Narcissism lies on a continuum from healthy to pathological. Healthy narcissism is part of normal human functioning. It can represent healthy self-love and confidence that is based on real achievement, the ability to overcome setbacks and derive the support needed from social ties.

But narcissism becomes a problem when the individual becomes preoccupied with the self, needing excessive admiration and approval from others, while showing disregard for other people’s sensitivities. If the narcissist does not receive the attention desired, substance abuse and major depressive disorder can develop. 

Narcissists often portray an image of grandiosity or overconfidence to the world, but this is only to cover up deep feelings of insecurity and a fragile self-esteem that is easily bruised by the slightest criticism. Because of these traits, narcissists find themselves in shallow relationships that only serve to satisfy their constant need for attention. When narcissistic traits become so pronounced that they lead to impairment this can indicate the presence of narcissistic personality disorder. 

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders describes narcissistic personality disorder as “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy that begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts”. People with narcissistic personality disorder show a grandiose sense of self-importance, are consumed by fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love, and are extremely sensitive to criticism, among other things. 

Younger people and men seem to be most affected. The exact causes of narcissistic personality disorder are unknown, but childhood abuse and neglect may be possible factors involved in its formation. 

What has led to its increase?

In the clinical setting, about 2% to 16% of people suffer from this disorder, while in the general population, less than 1% of people are affected. Some suggest that narcissistic personality disorder is quite rare, but study estimates vary widely depending on sample sizes and the ways that narcissistic traits are assessed.

Others have labelled narcissism a “modern epidemic”, pointing to the rapid change in society that occurred in industrial and post-industrial times as the cause. The past few decades have witnessed a societal shift from a commitment to the collective to a focus on the individual or the self. The self-esteem movement was an important turning point in this. It determined that self-esteem was the key to success in life. Educators and parents started telling their children how special and unique they are to make them feel more confident. Parents tried to “confer” self-esteem upon their children, rather than letting them achieve it through hard work.

The rise of individualism (with its focus on the self and inner feelings) and decline in social norms that accompanied the modernisation of society also meant that the community and the family were no longer able to provide the same support for individuals as they once did. And research has shown that being embedded in social networks – for example, being actively engaged in your community and connected with friends and family – has major health benefits

As the social fabric deteriorated, it became much harder to meet the basic need for meaningful connection. The question moved from what is best for other people and the family to what is best for me. The modernisation of society seemed to prize fame, wealth, celebrity above all else. All this, combined with the breakdown in social ties created an “empty self, shorn of social meaning”.

The rise in technology and the development of hugely popular social networking sites, such as Facebook, further changed the way we spend our free time and communicate. Today, there are nearly 936m active Facebook users each day worldwide. Internet addiction is a new area of study in mental health and recent cross-sectional research shows that addiction to Facebook is strongly linked to narcissistic behaviour and low self-esteem.

So what can we do about it?

Treatment for narcissistic personality disorder exists and this includes pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. Meditation has also been shown to have positive effects on mental health. Further research, however, is needed on the effectiveness of various treatments. 

So what can we do about all this and how can we lead a happy and purposeful life? One of the largest studies on happiness was conducted by a group of Harvard researchers who followed a large cohort of people over a period of 75 years. What they discovered – unsurprisingly – was that fame and money were not the secrets to happiness. Rather, the most important thing in life and the greatest predictor of satisfaction was having strong and supportive relationships – essentially, that “the journey from immaturity to maturity is a sort of movement from narcissism to connection”. 

So maybe it’s time to take a break from that smartphone, shut off your computer and meet up with a friend or two. Maybe, just maybe, you might feel a little better – and boost your self-esteem.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published at The Conversation and is republished here under Creative Common License.


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