More and more people have started noticing and paying attention to a mental condition known as narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder. Unlike depression or compulsive disorders, narcissism is a more complicated package of causes, effects, and symptoms. Some people with narcissistic traits can behave very charmingly or even charismatically in front of the public, but in close relationships, narcissism almost always promises toxicity.
What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder is a mental health condition characterized by a heightened sense of self-importance, a deep desire for excessive attention—good or bad—and a lack of empathy for others. It is a highly complex set of behaviors that combine both extreme self-confidence and highly fragile self-esteem.
As with many mental health disorders, the cause of narcissism is complex and multi-layered. There are usually environmental factors—such as parenting and childhood experiences—genetic or inherited traits, and neurological causes to consider. Because everyone’s personal history is different, it is hard to generalize what causes the impairments in areas such as emotional connectedness and empathy in a narcissistic person.
The key to understanding narcissistic personality disorder is that it is a highly complicated and often incomprehensible kind of mental pathology. For example, a narcissistic person may lack empathy, but when your feelings or needs happen to align in some way with their feelings or needs, there may seem to be some emotional investment. This may seem well and good, but the truth is, they may be using you to achieve their own ends. It can be very confusing for someone inside a relationship with a narcissistic person to navigate all the paradoxical dealings with the person with a narcissistic personality disorder.
Why Does Narcissism Lead to Toxic Relationships?
A person with a narcissistic personality disorder may shape their relationships into toxic ones that cause emotional abuse to others. People who have this mental condition tend to think that others are always at fault if something goes wrong, so they seldom reflect on their weaknesses or mistakes; neither do they take ownership of their mistakes. This leads to pointing fingers and victimizing themselves so that people in relationships with them feel as though they can’t make the other person happy or do anything right.
People with narcissistic traits are unlikely to seek treatment. In the rare case that someone with narcissistic personality disorder wishes to start improving interpersonal relationships, a professional therapist will work with that person on a few things, including building more tolerance towards criticisms and failures, regulating moods and emotions, minimizing the desire to attain unrealistic goals, and rebuilding a healthy self-image.
How Do You Recover from Narcissistic Abuse?
If you or a loved one has suffered an abusive relationship caused by narcissistic personality disorder, recovery from the toxicity has many steps. First, you must recognize that it was an unhealthy relationship and break down any denial surrounding it. Allow yourself to grieve the loss of that relationship. The next thing is to rebuild your self-esteem damaged by this relationship. You should rely on a strong support system, which can include family, friends, and mental health professionals. Reach out to experienced therapists who have treated people with similar experiences.
Being in a toxic relationship with a narcissistic person over a long time can be a complex form of trauma. Children in particular who have been in narcissistic abuse situations often experience ongoing and repeated manipulations to their identity and sense of wellness. Treating the symptoms is a necessary step, but there are deeper, root concerns to care for too. It may be beneficial to work with a narcissistic abuse recovery coach who has been trained to provide care specific to these situations.
How Does Trauma-Informed Care Bring About Healing?
While you are recovering from narcissistic abuse, remember to embrace healthy relationships and avoid similarly toxic ones. You should, at this point, have the insight to catch some telltale signs. If not, there is a lot to learn about how to regulate your emotional attachment, as many people in a cycle of abuse tend to struggle with trauma bonding.
You do not have to live with the trauma of narcissistic abuse for the rest of your life. Overcoming this trauma is not to forget or erase it, but to heal from its impact and re-emerge as a more resilient person. One such source of healing can be building healthy relationships in your life. These relationships guided by respect and love can heal your fear, anxiety, and lack of trust from past wounds. They also positively affirm you by placing you in a new system of support.
Narcissism, sometimes referred to as narcissistic personality disorder, is a form of severe emotional abuse that is often found in human social relationships, especially intimate ones. Left untreated, people who have suffered the harm of narcissistic abuse may experience many mental health issues in life. If you’ve experienced emotional abuse at the hands of someone with this disorder, or you believe you may have this disorder, Laguna Shores Recovery can help. The medical community has developed effective ways to help your recovery. At Laguna Shores, our licensed mental healthcare professionals and therapists know how to work alongside you in understanding what narcissistic abuse is and how to recover from its impact. Our complete medical and residential facility offers a range of treatments, including diagnosis, behavioral therapies, 12-step programs, and treatment plans. Early intervention is key and you should not wait another day to reach out for help. Call us at (866) 906-3203. We are committed to helping you recover.