IN THE LOVE BOMBING PHASE of narcissistic abuse, narcissists have an uncanny ability to disguise themselves as your soulmate. They seem to want to learn everything about you. They study you intently and they mirror your finest qualities back at you, building a false sense of rapport. This is how narcissists groom people.
It can feel a bit like being caught in the high beam of an oncoming vehicle on a dark night. Love bombing is the first instance of gaslighting in the cycle of narcissistic abuse. It deliberately distorts your vision and the euphoria is designed to override your instincts. A love bombing narcissist has an uncanny ability to identify the places in the human spirit that are unnourished. Narcissistic people know that a hungry heart is willing to sacrifice a lot to experience satiety.
To learn more about how extreme narcissism can play out as aggression in the context of romantic relationships, I reached out to Madelaine Claire Weiss. She is a Psychotherapist and Executive Coach trained in Organizational Dynamics at Boston University and Psychodynamics at Harvard University, where she was the Administrative Director of Group Mental Health Practice. She was also the Associate Director of the Anatomical Gift Program at Harvard Medical School. In addition to this, she delivered training programs at the Center for Workplace Learning and Performance.
Understanding narcissistic personality disorder
Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: Please share what you think are the most important things to know about narcissistic personality disorder?
Madelaine Claire Weiss: When we talk about narcissistic personality disorder, we are talking about specific patterns of repetitive behavior that are destructive to self and destructive to the well-being of others. It is a mental condition that presents as:
- An inflated sense of importance,
- A craving for excessive attention and admiration,
- Dysfunctional relationships, and
- Low empathy for others.
Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: Can you describe why people targeted by narcissists may have a blindspot for the manipulation taking place in the early stages of the relationship?
Madelaine Claire Weiss: It starts deliciously! You are certain the universe put this person on this planet just for you. This is the one you have been waiting for forever, who finally gets you like never before.
Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: How do narcissists ingratiate themselves with their targets.
Madelaine Claire Weiss: The narcissist lures and lands the giver of narcissistic supplies with incredible charm.
Narcissists seek supply to stabilize a fragile self
Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: Can you describe how narcissists extract ego boosts or narcissistic supply from the people they target?
Madelaine Claire Weiss: Narcissistic supplies can include attention, admiration, approval, adoration, and other forms of sustenance essential for the narcissist to stabilize the fragile self and fill up the emptiness inside.
Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: What makes someone bright and talented susceptible to the manipulation of a narcissist?
Madelaine Claire Weiss: There may be gifts, endless compliments, so many calls and texts, so much gorgeous attention, that you have no reason not to believe this person isn’t crazy about you. You have finally found your soulmate, and nothing will ever take you apart.
Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: How can someone tell that the person love bombing them is a narcissist?
Madelaine Claire Weiss: It starts to hurt. Little by little, this person invades your life until it shrinks so small you can’t even find yourself in it, let alone the family, friends, outside activities, and interests you used to enjoy.
The aftermath of narcissistic abuse
Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: In your opinion, what is the most harmful aspect of narcissistic abuse?
Madelaine Claire Weiss: Narcissistic abuse becomes a physiological peptide addiction – an addiction that must be broken.
Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: What is your best advice to someone caught in the grip of narcissistic abuse, who is essentially battling an addiction?
Madelaine Claire Weiss: Break the addiction in the best way you can. There are techniques for this. Good health and happiness are waiting for you on the other side.
Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: After narcissistic abuse, people tend to blame themselves. What do you think is the most important thing for them to understand about what happened to them?
Madelaine Claire Weiss: It’s not just you. It happens to many people – up to 158 million Americans.
Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: Is there an empowering central lesson survivors of narcissistic abuse can take away from their experience?
Madelaine Claire Weiss: Know this: the charming narcissist doesn’t target just anyone. Typically, you have to be pretty amazing in some way that the narcissist is not, to make the narcissist look and feel good. So go ahead and be flattered, but know this, too.