What is Narcissistic Abuse?


Narcissistic Abuse (NPD Abuse) is what a targeted person experiences in a relationship with someone who meets the criteria for narcissistic (NPD) or antisocial (APD) personality disorder. The potentially debilitating, life long effects of narcissistic abuse on a target’s mental and physical health form a group of symptoms, not yet included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), known as Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome(NAS) or Narcissistic Victim Syndrome(NVS).

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)is characterized by a long-standing pattern of grandiosity (either in fantasy or actual behavior), an overwhelming need for admiration, and a complete lack of empathy toward others. It is an extreme self-interest with zero real concern for anyone else. 

This self-centeredness results from the total failure in a person’s thinking to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole. The effect is a psychological defense known as “splitting” (black or white thinking, all good or all bad), a term used in psychiatry to describe the inability to hold opposing thoughts, feelings, or beliefs.

Additionally, a person with NPD has an inability to distinguish the self from external objects (lack of whole-object relations) and a lack of understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be seen, touched, or sensed in some way (lack of object constancy). The disorder is  generally considered to be a result of trauma in early childhood (abuse), although genetics may also play a role.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is characterized by overt or covert displays of arrogance, entitlement, exploitative behaviors, grandiosity, an obsession with success and celebrity, an excessive need for admiration, pathological envy and a complete lack of empathy towards others. 

Persons with the disorder (or a likely overlap of other personality disorders including sociopathy and psychopathy) are rarely professionally diagnosed, as they don’t see the lack of moral conscience as an issue and are able to internally justify their actions as a necessary defense. They tend to be highly skilled in impression management and thus difficult to detect, but they operate as dangerous abusers who deliberately wreak havoc in the lives of others, particularly those who are closest to them (friends, family, intimate partners, work colleagues). 

It is important to note that severe NPD (malignant narcissism) resembles APD (sociopathy), and any differences between the two are really irrelevant. 

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