A COMMON QUESTION asked by people learning about abusive power and control in interpersonal relationships is whether narcissistic abuse can cause narcissism? The short answer is no. Narcissism is one of many personality traits all people possess that is necessary for healthy human functioning. Given that it is something all people are endowed with, narcissism is not caused by narcissistic abuse.
With that said, let’s look at the question from another angle: can the experience of narcissistic abuse lead to narcissism impairments such as excessive or extreme narcissism? The answer to that question is a definitive yes.
How Might Narcissistic Abuse Cause Excessive Narcissism?
Let’s turn to Dr. Gabor Maté for more insight on this topic. He describes trauma as, “a psychic wound that hardens you psychologically that then interferes with your ability to grow and develop.”
In this sense, excessive or extreme narcissism represent different levels of arrested development, which is why they share the same defense mechanisms seen in early childhood.
Narcissism Impairments As A Traumatic Stress Response
Dr. Maté goes on to explain the affects of trauma, “It pains you and now you’re acting out of pain. It induces fear and now you’re acting out of fear. Trauma is not what happens to you, it’s what happens inside you as a result of what happened to you.”
A great deal of what happens inside of people happens at a subconscious level. In this way, we can think of excessive narcissism as a balm to soothe a wounded ego. However, the effects of trauma are far more pervasive and can lead to a severing of the self. It is in these cases that various manifestations of extreme narcissism occur to protect a fragmented and, in some cases, annihilated ego.
COERCIVE CONTROL LEGISLATION is a cutting edge tool for law enforcement in domestic abuse prevention. Research has shown that coercive control (also known as intimate terrorism) is the high risk marker for domestic homicide, specifically femicide, filicide, and familicide.
More countries around the world are recognizing that to end the scourge of domestic homicide coercive control must be criminalized.
Please consider taking action in your country by reaching out to your local representatives, informing them about coercive control, and asking for this lifesaving legislation.
Central African Republic
Sao Tome and Principe
United Arab Emirates
New South Wales
In development as of February 19, 2020
Although 39 European states have signed the Istanbul Convention, only twenty one (21) have ratified it and only six (6) states are in compliance with Article 33: Psychological Violence: “Parties shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to ensure that the intentional conduct of seriously impairing a person’s psychological integrity through coercion or threats is criminalized.”
Ireland alone has passed legislation using the term coercive control.
In Bill C-247, Member of Parliament for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke Randall Garrison is proposing an amendment to Canada’s Criminal Code “to create an offense of engaging in controlling or coercive conduct that has a significant impact on the person towards whom the conduct is directed, including a fear of violence, a decline in their physical or mental health and a substantial adverse effect on their day-to-day activities.”
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