In other words, what the victim of narcissistic abuse feels and thinks about herself, life and the narcissist, in most areas, is mirrors to some or greater extent what the narcissist wants her to think, believe, feel.
This is what “emotional manipulation” is, and really looks like. The term needs to be reserved for narcissistic abuse, as it is distinct from the use of language, such as guilting, threats, name calling, shaming, etc., that, while emotionally abusive, most persons use (to include victims of narcissists) to some degree, and most have experienced firsthand in childhood (these practices are unfortunately still widely considered normal in child rearing). Whereas emotional manipulation has aggressive aims to take another’s mind and will captive, emotionally abusive language (also harmful!), is rooted in automatic reactivity that is primarily defensive and protective.
This distinction is also important to disarm the tactics of narcissists who strategizes, covertly and overtly, to hide and blame-shift the labels of “narcissist” and “emotionally manipulative” onto their victims.
Narcissist abuse syndrome exhibits many of the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), to include:
- Intrusive thoughts or memories
- Physical-emotional reactions to reminders of trauma
- Nightmares and flashbacks (feeling as if event is happening again)
- Avoidance thoughts, people or situations associated with the trauma
- Negative thoughts about self and world
- Distorted sense of blame related to trauma
- Sense of detachment or isolation from other people
- Difficulty concentrating and, or sleeping
- Hyper-vigilance, irritability, easily startled
The nature and effects of narcissistic abuse
If you’ve experienced narcissistic abuse, understanding the nature of narcissistic abuse, its effects and narcissistic abuse syndrome is critical to healing and restoring your ability to engage in self-care.
The main difference between an NPD and APD is a line the NPD doesn’t cross. Both exhibit no remorse for exploiting and hurting another, however, unlike a narcissist, a sociopath crosses the line from lawful to unlawful exploitation of the other, i.e., physical abuse, financial exploitation, and so on.
In their mind, those in status positions are supposed to prove they’re calloused, show no empathy. In a couple relationship, inflicting pain is regarded a ritual right by both NPDs and APDs alike, akin to hazing practices in exclusive groups for men, i.e., fraternities, secret societies, sports teams.
Both take pleasure in hurting and exploiting others for their own gain — with no remorse. No remorse comes with the territory. Remorse and empathy are for weak, inferior, low status persons.
A narcissist remains weak and fragile, and hooked on proving human love and mutual caring are phony, to the extent that he refuses to acknowledge that he’s human, and every human being is fully equipped with resources and intelligence — and that it’s impossible to control another human being, even children, without high cost to self.
The human brain has mirror neurons. To the extent one feels scorn, hatred, disdain for another, one’s body produces the neurochemical states of mind and body inside themselves. It’s impossible for a human being to seek to intentionally hurt another without hurting themselves.
And staying numb inside is not really living at all. It’s merely existing.
Oddly, in a paradoxical way, the codependent remains similarly hooked, to being treated like a drug, to the extent that she refuses to see what can bring her out of the fog and illusions, that: the narcissist she loved willfully never had a conscience or human feelings, and willfully sought to drain the life from her heart, mind and soul.
Nothing is more important than coming out of the fog and illusions … to feel alive again.