When the Narcissist Threatens Suicide: Will they really follow through?

When the Narcissist Threatens Suicide: Will they really follow through?

Leaving a narcissist is never easy – and it almost always comes with repercussions. There are a lot of typical behaviors demonstrated by a narcissist after you end a toxic relationship with them. For example, they’ll nearly always try, at one point or another, to hoover you back in – as in to get you to reconnect, either to get back into the relationship – or to get a little narcissistic supply from you. They will also likely run a smear campaign against you, among other miserable manipulation tactics

But many survivors don’t expect the narcissist to threaten suicide if they won’t come back or do what they want. This is one of the most egregious ways a narcissist can emotionally blackmail you. That could be why the biggest question I hear from survivors who have had a narcissist threaten suicide is, “would they really do it, or are they just manipulating me?”. 

Do narcissists commit suicide?

The short answer is yes, but probably not. Let me explain. There is a long-lasting debate on whether NPD is associated with suicide or not. It’s important to remember that narcissistic personality disorder is not a mental health issue but a personality disorder. It is an enduring pattern of maladaptive behavior and traits that can coexist with other mental health issues such as depression, bipolar, or substance abuse. 

I’ve had a few clients over the years who were dealing with the confusing emotions about a narcissist who had taken their own lives. That said, it’s a relatively rare occurrence. For the most part, narcissists are afraid of death. On some level, the more grandiose types seem to believe they are immortal, especially in their youth. Most cannot imagine the possibility of their own death.

In at least a couple of the cases I dealt with my clients on, it seemed that the narcissist had committed suicide almost to spite or hurt their partners. In contrast, it appeared the narcissist had done it in one case because he’d come to the end of the road with his lies and manipulation and would be held legally accountable otherwise. In all cases, it was clear that they never once concerned themselves with how this would affect their partners long-term.

Are narcissists more likely than others to commit suicide?

Research tells us that people who suffer from narcissism are no more likely to commit suicide than anyone else. But, unfortunately, while they’re less likely to have a failed attempt, they’re more likely to succeed if and when they try.

“While there was no bivariate relationship of NPD on suicide attempt, in the logistic regression patients with NPD were 2.4 times less likely to make a suicide attempt, compared with non-NPD patients and controlling for possible confounding variables,” study authors said, adding that, while the topic is understudied, “The modest body of existing research suggests that NPD is protective against non-fatal suicide attempts, but is associated with high lethality attempts.”

 And, according to one research paper, when a narcissist has collapsed or is dealing with depression, their risk of suicide can be increased.

“Another study found that depressed older adults with narcissistic personalities were at increased suicide risk (Heisel et al., 2007). It has been observed that patients with NPD can be at elevated suicide risk not only during periods when they are depressed but also during periods when they are not suffering from depression (Ronningstam & Maltsberger 1998).”

Are some narcissists at a higher risk for suicide than others?

Among the narcissistic personality disorder-affected study subjects, the researchers noted that those who attempted or succeeded in suicide were “more likely to be male, to have a substance use disorder, and to have high aggression and hostility scores…The lower impulsivity of NPD patients and less severe personality pathology relative to other personality disorders may contribute to this effect.”

So, men who have NPD along with a drug or alcohol addiction who are also aggressive and hostile toward the people in their lives are MORE likely to commit suicide than other narcissists. 

What causes narcissists to commit suicide?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder that causes people to have an inflated sense of their importance and a deep need for admiration and validation. This means that narcissists can become highly vulnerable to painful feelings of shame, humiliation, and defeat when criticized or rejected. This shame, along with the underdeveloped self-esteem that narcissists possess, can lead them to suicidal threats and even suicide attempts when they are let down or even when they are being humiliated in front of others.

There are many other causes of suicide, and some of them are related to mental health problems like depression or bipolar disorder. However, there are also other psychological factors involved in this phenomenon, such as low self-esteem, history of suicide attempts, and family history of suicide.

What do you do if a narcissist threatens suicide?

Sometimes, narcissists make threats of suicide as a scare tactic. It’s a way for them to further manipulate the people around them. In this situation, it’s essential not to take the threats lightly, but it’s also crucial not to be intimidated by them. For the sake of your well-being and safety, it is best to stay calm and disengaged when your narcissist threatens suicide. Either way, remember that even if they attempt to kill themselves, they are still actively trying to manipulate you. 

Stay Calm and Assess the Situation

You have a few options when dealing with a narcissist’s suicide threat. First, if it’s clear that the person intends to take their own life and can follow through, consider contacting the police immediately.

First, take a deep breath and ask yourself how capable the narcissist is of killing themselves – do they have the means and ability to take such a significant action? Remember that narcissists are excellent at making threats but not at following through. That said, remember too that it’s entirely possible that the narcissist might actually attempt suicide and that if they succeed, you might end up (unfairly) blaming yourself.

Contact the Authorities

My suggestion is to go ahead and contact the police and let them know what the narcissist is saying. Then, they can go over and do a wellness check on the narcissist. While this might feel extreme, it can not only prevent suicide but also remove any responsibility you may feel you have. You can also, if appropriate, tell the narcissist you’re sending the authorities – but please consider this carefully as it may cause them to expedite any efforts toward suicide. 

Give the Narcissist Resources and Information

You can offer the narcissist the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.*

Say something like, “I’m sorry you’re struggling, but I am not sure I’m qualified to help you. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately at 1-800-273-8255. They’re available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and their services are free. If your life is in imminent danger, call 911 or go directly to an emergency room.”

Bear in mind that narcissists are good at manipulating others, so there’s no guarantee that they’ll listen to reason from someone else either – but you should also remember that they are no longer your responsibility and that their behavior is NOT your fault – no matter how much they try to make you take responsibility for it. 

Other options include encouraging them to seek psychiatric help or getting them to agree to stay with a family member or friend until they feel better. If you know them well, you could even contact the narcissist’s friend or family member and let them take it from there. 

In any case, please do NOT risk your safety (mental or physical) by going back to the narcissist to prevent their suicide. This can not only endanger you, but it might be nearly impossible to get away from them again – especially once they know that this kind of exploitative emotional blackmail has been an effective way to manipulate YOU. 

Narcissists and Suicide: Resources & Information

Get Help With Your Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

 

Your Brain on Narcissistic Abuse: Cognitive Dissonance, Trauma Bonding & Healing in Recovery

Your Brain on Narcissistic Abuse: Cognitive Dissonance, Trauma Bonding & Healing in Recovery

As a survivor of narcissistic abuse, I know how hard it can be to believe you could have been abused by someone you thought loved you. It’s not just that they were charming, seductive, and desirable. It’s also that they seemed to care about you. You may have even felt loved – at least on some level. It’s hard to imagine that everything you thought was true about your relationship might have been a lie. This is one way you can deal with serious cognitive dissonance. And don’t worry – you’re not alone here. This happens to nearly every narcissistic abuse survivor somewhere along the way. You might also be living with a form of post-traumatic stress disorder that significantly affects your everyday reality.

What is cognitive dissonance?

Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (disagreeing cognitions) we experience when we encounter information that contradicts our existing set of beliefs or knowledge. In other words, when we experience cognitive dissonance, we feel anxious because part of us wants to reject new information because it is threatening to our established beliefs – but another part of us knows that the new information may be true and is demanding that we accept it as such. This internal tension can cause stress and anxiety – especially if we are unaware of its source. 

Did you know that your brain betrays you in narcissistic relationships?

It’s true! The chemicals oxytocin, which encourages bonding, endogenous opioids – responsible for pleasure, pain, withdrawal, dependence; a corticotropin-releasing factor which involves withdrawal, and stress; and dopamine which is connected to the craving, seeking, wanting the narcissist back, even when they’ve caused you extreme emotional stress and pain. Toxic relationships and narcissistic abuse lead your neurochemistry to fall into dysregulated states, which makes it really hard to leave a narcissist and even harder to finally get over a toxic relationship. Take Dr. Daniel Amen’s free Brain Health Assessment to discover your Brain Type and your Brain Fit Score!

How can you re-wire your brain after narcissistic abuse?

Your brain is neuroplastic, meaning it can change and heal in some pretty amazing ways. When you’re dealing with the type of brain damage that is caused by narcissistic abuse, you can sort of re-wire your brain yourself. (Of course, you should always check with your medical professional to ensure there’s not some other underlying reason for brain fog or being forgetful.) Speaking of brain fog, let’s define it. 

What is brain fog? 

Brain Fog is the feeling of dissociation or disconnectedness often experienced during and after narcissistic abuse. It’s a very common symptom of narcissistic abuse-induced C-PTSD. Most survivors report feeling lost like they’re not really there, or like they’re sort of watching life happen through a screen or a bubble.

Self-Help Options for Healing Brain Fog After Narcissistic Abuse

Most memory training techniques involve exercises to improve linking objects to certain items or using numbering systems to stay on top of being forgetful. However, oftentimes the only thing that is needed to keep your mind on track is to get organized and to stay that way! Below are a few good tips that will help you:

Use a filing system effectively

Take the time to think through your filing system. Figure out what organization will work best for you – client files versus project files, color coding, and so on. Once you’ve worked out your system, make sure to use it. File all pertinent information in the appropriate file (not a desk pile). It’s also helpful to attach blank sheets of paper to the inside right back flap of file folders. Then, you can take notes on relevant conversations, memos, and meetings right where you need them. And make sure you put your files away in an organized fashion.

Use a task list for projects

Overwhelmed by a complex project? Think through the project concretely, step by step. Then, make a list of all these steps, or tasks, to help you get them done. Here’s another suggestion: Keep your task list stapled to the inside front cover of your project file. That way you can refer to the task list whenever you work on that project. Personally, I LOVE Bullet Journaling for this kind of stuff.

Avoid paper piles

Are you surrounded by a sea of papers at work? Is your dining-room table so covered with mail that you’re not even sure it’s still there? There are generally two things that happen to information buried in a paper pile – either it is forgotten or it can’t be found when you need it. Paper piles are like the plague – they should be avoided at all costs. When you get a piece of paper, you should do one of three things: file it, write the information down elsewhere (such as in your scheduler) and toss it, or simply toss it.

Un-sticky your life

Avoid constantly putting information on sticky notes and other small pieces of paper: If you need to write something down, put it on your Master Plan or on your to-do list. While it’s okay to use a reminder such as a sticky note every once in a while, using such notes all the time will make them less noticeable and—as a result—less useful.

Don’t overdo it

Organize your day according to your energy level: Most of us are at our best in the morning. Therefore, set aside time in the morning to work on projects that require your full focus and ability. Schedule less important meetings and other tasks for later in the day.

Supplements That May Help With Your Healing

Did you know that there are certain supplements designed to help with healing your brain? Did you also know they can be taken while your brain is still in recovery from trauma bonding in narcissistic abuse? Are you wondering what supplements actually do this and if the claims are true? I’ve compiled a list of supplements that have helped me and others I have coached in recovery. It is based on personal experience, what I have read, and what other people have told me. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but my aim is to help you find some useful information about healing your brain in recovery.

*Please note, I am not a medical professional and nothing on this site should be taken as medical advice. Do not take any supplements without first discussing with your doctor and getting their approval.

  • Calm My Brain: Quell your worried mind with this highly effective formula for the relief of anxiousness, featuring the ultimate calming mineral magnesium, the powerful stress-busting herb KSM-66® ashwagandha, and the fast-acting amino acid L-theanine.*
  • Attention Support: Trouble concentrating? Can’t sit still? Attention Support contains natural ingredients selected for their clinically proven benefits to help you relax, stay calm, and increase your attention span.
  • Betaine TMG: Provides the nutrient betaine (trimethylglycine, TMG), which enhances SAMe for healthy mood; provides crucial methyl for DNA, brain neurotransmitters, melatonin, and myelin production; and helps cells regulate their water content.
  • Brain & Body Power: The easiest way to get your daily mind and body essentials – parceled into convenient packets including a brain optimizing multi-vitamin-mineral, and pure omega-3 fish oil capsules.
  • Brain & Body Power Max: The most advanced memory-directed formula – perfectly portioned into convenient daily packets including a multi-vitamin-mineral, maximum memory-boosting nutrients, and omega-3 fish oil for complete daily nutrition.
  • Brain & Memory Power Boost: Our most advanced, best-selling memory formula with a lineup of powerful nutrients clinically proven to help protect circulation in your brain, boost mental connectivity, sharpness, and sustained focus.
  • Brain Boost On-The-Go: Fight brain fatigue and tackle your day with the zero-calorie, caffeine-free, and sugar-free, effervescent berry blend that’s perfect anytime, anywhere. Quick natural energy and hydration to help promote mental clarity. Simply add to water and enjoy.
  • Craving Control: Anyone who has ever tried to make better choices knows all too well how cravings can sabotage the best intentions. Craving Control contains all-natural ingredients that help to calm the craving centers in our brain, balance blood sugar and promotes a positive mood.
  • NeuroLink: Feeling irritable or sad for no reason? NeuroLink helps to balance our emotional ups and downs by delivering an exclusive blend of key nutrients to neurotransmitters in our brain helping us to feel tranquil and clear.
  • BrainMD’s GABA Calming Support: Calm your mind naturally with GABA Calming Support, an exclusive formula that contains clinically studied nutrients that help to calm your brain waves and help act as the biochemical “brakes” your brain needs to slow down your anxious or fretful thoughts.
  • Serotonin Mood Support: Does your mind race with negative thoughts? Try our customer favorite Serotonin Mood Support, which contains a patented form of saffron along with other key nutrients that help to promote calmness, positive mood, serotonin balance, and even healthy weight management.
  • SAMe Mood and Movement 400: SAMe Mood & Movement 400 provides SAMe (S-AdenosylMethionine), a nutrient with very high energy that helps power numerous enzymes important for the brain, joints, liver, muscles, and other organs. SAMe is fundamental to the body’s renewal, repair, and overall well-being.

Going Forward in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Being in a relationship with a narcissistic abuser causes survivors to experience a form of trauma and shock. For this reason, trauma therapy is helpful because it acknowledges that healing is a process and that there is more than one way to move forward.

Trauma therapy is often focused on the past but will also guide you toward future goals and dreams while teaching you how to deal with various triggers. Awareness of cognitive dissonance, trauma bonding & emotional flashbacks can be instrumental in understanding what your inner experience of the relationship was so you can work through it & begin letting go. Find a therapist here. 

You might also want to try narcissistic abuse recovery coaching, or if you’re looking for more of a small group setting with a lower price point, try our small group coaching plan – there are significant benefits to this and the price is significantly less than one-on-one coaching. 

Takeaway

You are not to blame for your traumatic relationship with a narcissist. By understanding what happened to you and having the right support on your healing journey, you can go on to live a happy and meaningful life. After overcoming narcissistic abuse, you may find yourself feeling like a whole new person. If you have found yourself in that stage, take comfort knowing you’re not alone. It is a journey that is as exhilarating as it is exhausting, but the end result is well worth all the effort.

You can recover. You just have to take your time, and you have to trust the process. Give yourself permission to rebuild your life from the ground up. It’s going to be a long and difficult road, but it will be worth it in the end.

Get Help With Your Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Cognitive Dissonance, Trauma Bonding & Healing in Recovery – Here’s the link for your free tools.

The Letter Exercise by Angie Atkinson

The Letter Exercise by Angie Atkinson

Are you trapped in limbo land between two difficult things: ending your toxic relationship with a high-conflict, abusive narcissist and moving on with your life? If you could just get rid of those feelings about the narcissist, you’d be done. But you find yourself stuck. Why?

You’re reading this because you want to get over your past relationship, right? But not only that, you want to move on in a way that feels right for you. Because the truth is, how you move on is as individual as who you are. It’s about honoring your own needs, desires, and goals (even if they change) during this process. 

Do you feel stuck?

Are you feeling stuck in a mental loop of negative self-doubt and criticisms? Maybe you can’t stop crying about the narcissist, or you can’t accept that you’ve split? Or, you can’t stop wishing you’d have just kept your mouth shut, or that you had any freaking idea what, if anything, would have stopped the narcissist from leaving you, or for doing whatever they did that made you leave them. In any case, you can’t seem to get past it.

Are you ruminating or overthinking? 

Could rumination and/or overthinking be the cause of your angst? Rumination is when the thoughts keep repeating themselves, over and over again – haunting your every waking moment with their incessant whispers. You find yourself orbiting around the same planet of repeated self-talk (I’m no good, I’m boring, I don’t matter). This can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you’ve been trying to break free from your narcissistic abuser for a while.

Are toxic people in your life making you feel this way? 

Narcissists and other toxic people have a way of really making it hard to let go of them. They do this consciously or otherwise with a process called intermittent reinforcement. Over the course of your toxic relationship, you will have become nearly addicted to the narcissist due to this intermittent reinforcement. Closure can be a powerful emotional healing tool that helps to restore our mind and body after being involved with narcissists.

In my work, I use a powerful tool I sort of accidentally created more than 25 years ago to get past these painful feelings. The letter is very specific and crafted to bring any needed closure. One powerful way you can get closure is to write the narcissist a special kind of letter. 

The Letter Exercise: A Powerful Way to Create Your Own Closure

This exercise actually came to me personally in a very strange way. At the age of 20, I found myself ruminating about a painful experience I’d had with a person with whom I’d been involved. While I was, in so many ways, finding peace and happiness after ending that relationship, I could NOT stop thinking about this person and feeling angry about what he had done to me.

One morning, while I was having my coffee and again feeling all this anger, I threw my hands up and screamed at the ceiling, “What do I need to do to get this person out of my head?”

I realized at that moment that I had continued to allow him to control me, even though I was no longer in contact with him. And it was right about then that I thought I was going crazy – because, though I was alone in my apartment, I literally heard someone whisper in my ear. And I mean LITERALLY – audibly.

I was FURIOUS at this mysterious voice and knew for sure it didn’t come out of my own head because it said something absolutely ridiculous – it said, “you have to forgive him!”

Well, after calming myself down and getting my head together, I sat down with a pen and a notebook, and I started writing a letter that would not only help me to create my own closure, but one that would change my life forever in some surprising ways – and I inadvertently created an exercise I have used with my clients over the years.

Step-by-Step Guide to Use the Letter Exercise to Help You Get Un-Stuck After Narcissistic Abuse

If you’ll take a look at this video, I’ll walk you through the process myself.

How to Do the Letter Exercise

Create Your Own Closure After Narcissistic Abuse

Here’s how you can let go of your anger and disconnect yourself from the narcissist’s emotional hold on you. Try writing the narcissist a “special” kind of letter. An important step in overcoming this type of pain is to “give voice” to the hurt you feel. In this particular case, you need to give voice to your anger about how the narcissist treated you by literally writing him or her a letter, using the format below.

What You’ll Need

What You Do

Be sure to have your pen, pencil, or markers and some paper or stationary on hand before you begin. Tip: If you struggle with writing by hand due to some physical issue, then you can type it out on your computer or phone – but if at all possible, I suggest you write with a pen or pencil as it seems to have some additional therapeutic value here.

You’re going to write a letter to the narcissist who abused you. In the letter, you’re going to write down every single thought, worry, and doubt that keeps you feeling miserable and stuck.

  • Make sure to take your time so you can say ALL the things you wish you had said to them but never did. 
  • Add in the things you needed the narcissist to hear, whether you tried to tell them and they wouldn’t listen.
  • Be sure to take your time, and if you need to, write a little bit at a time, put it up, and then come back to it when you’re ready or when you have time.
  • Put all of your anger, frustration, sadness, disappointment, and any other feelings you have about the narcissist and the way they treated you in the relationship in the letter.
  • You can say all the curse words you want or need to say, and you can scribble all over the paper if you want to – just put all of your feelings into the letter. No thought or feeling is too small to include – think “brain dump” or “soul-cleansing” – so make sure you include any and everything that comes to mind, no matter how petty or unimportant it seems in the moment.

Pause, Steep, Edit

When you’re finished writing, let it sit overnight or for a couple of days. Then, pick up the letter again, and read through it. Add anything you’d like to add, and if you want to, you can rewrite and edit the letter.

The Final Paragraph

This is when you’ll add the final paragraph in the letter, and you’ll want to make it something like this:

And now, though you do not deserve it, I am forgiving you (or releasing you, if forgiveness feels too painful right now), not because you deserve it, but because I no longer want your toxic, negative energy in my space. I trust that you’ll get exactly what you deserve from here on out and I release the need to know what happens for you next. Goodbye, forever. 

Your Final Steps to Emotional Freedom

At this point, you have two choices. You can mail the letter, or not. Personally, I did not need to mail the letter and would not necessarily recommend that you do – because, in reality, the letter is for you, not the narcissist. It’s all about getting the negativity out of your head and out of your life, and it’s an ideal way to start to create your own closure.

I suggest you burn or shred the letter and get it out of your life – and as you do, you imagine the negative energy and anger and all of the other emotions burning away – or being shredded up. Some people like to float their letter down the river or to clip it to a balloon and let it fly away.

Do whatever feels best to you. Heck, you could even just throw it in the trash. But whatever you do, once the letter is written, get it out of your life.

Takeaway

This simple exercise provided me with SO much relief, and many of my clients report the same thing. Have you tried this? Will you give it a shot now? Let me know in the comments section, below this video.

There is additional information on why you feel stuck and how to overcome it in this video.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Did you know? Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

Gaslighting and Revenge in Narcissistic Abuse

Gaslighting and Revenge in Narcissistic Abuse

You’ve probably wondered what a narcissist thinks about – and, if you’re anything like me, who told them they could TREAT PEOPLE THIS WAY! You might wonder if it hurts their feelings when someone corrects them? Or, what your ex was thinking when they started dating you? The fact is that narcissists are relentless liars. And they have no shame. They will take extreme measures to tell you exactly what they want you to hear without any regard for the truth. Their main concern is only getting their desperate need for narcissistic supply met.

What is Narcissistic Abuse?

Narcissistic abuse is a way of relating to others involving the exploitation, blatant manipulation, and control of others in order to meet the abuser’s own needs. It can exist in a relationship between any two people, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or type of relationship.

Narcissistic abusers are often difficult to spot and even harder to leave. Whether or not they have been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder isn’t as important as whether or not they have narcissistic traits and behaviors.

For example, a narcissistic abuser can be charming, charismatic, and fun at times – and they can turn on a dime and become your worst nightmare. However, thanks to their powerful ability to project, deflect and play the victim, narcissists are rarely confronted about their behavior.

Of course, this is possibly due to the fact that they frequently surround themselves with enablers (AKA flying monkeys) who don’t want to believe that anything is wrong. 

The effects of narcissistic abuse can last for years after the relationship has ended and may lead the survivor to develop complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD). C-PTSD from narcissistic abuse differs from PTSD caused by experiences such as car accidents or military combat in that it involves re-living or re-experiencing rather than avoidance or numbing of memories. 

Are You Being Gaslighted?

Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic narcissists use to control someone and make them feel crazy. It doesn’t matter how great a relationship you have with your partner or spouse; as long as there’s abuse and manipulation, your relationship isn’t healthy. Gaslighting occurs when someone tells you that what you’re experiencing isn’t authentic or not genuine, in other words causing the victim to question their feelings, instincts, and sanity. Does this mean that you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship? Not necessarily. You could have a great relationship, but both you and your partner could have issues like low self-esteem or depression that make emotional abuse more likely (and more difficult to spot). Read more in Toxic Narcissism in Relationships: Top 10 Warning Signs You’re Being Gaslighted

Are you worried you’re being gaslighted? Take the Gaslighting Self-Assessment right here and find out for sure. You’ll be directed to resources that will help you in your current situation.

Can’t Go No Contact?

First and foremost, you need to know that nothing you do will force the narcissist to change. They will only change if it benefits them. You must understand that this person does not have the same morals, emotions, or feelings as ordinary people. These men cannot be around a good and decent person or have friends who care about them. They are only after one thing in life, and that is control. They can never be satisfied with what they have accomplished because there will always be someone out there that they think has more than whatever they have at the moment. One way or another, they will get it from you even if you give it to them willingly. Unless that is, you know these 10 Easy Steps to Torture a Narcissist Into Submission.

You Want Revenge on the Narcissist?

Listen, if you were ever to feel like you want revenge on the narcissist in your life, trust me when I tell you that you are FAR from alone. But is it worth the trouble? The truth is that whether or not you’re a narcissist’s target, interacting with them can be exhausting (to put it mildly). That’s why it’s essential to keep the upper hand and ensure that they are the ones chasing you – not the other way around.

It doesn’t even have to be anything drastic – act interested in their lives, but not to the extent that they think they can manipulate you. Narcissists may have many problems, but remembering how to handle them (and how NOT to manage them) can be extremely rewarding—for both parties involved. Read more in How to Play the Narcissist’s Game (And Beat Them At It).

Toxic relationships have a huge effect on survivors’ lives. They affect every aspect of the survivor’s life and can destroy the survivor’s self-esteem, sense of self-worth, confidence, and trust in their own judgment – as well as their ability to relate to other people.

Trust Your Gut

Trust your instincts, always. When it comes to the narcissist, you, unfortunately, need to be on guard at all times. If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, it probably is. Take action: confront the narcissist (if safe to do so), call the authorities, alert family members, tell other people about what’s going on – do whatever it takes to get out. The quicker you can get away from the narcissist, the more easily you can recover from their atrocious abuse. Learn everything you need to know about going no contact at our No Contact Support Center and visit our PLAN (Planning to Leave a Narcissist) Resource Center here.

Want to better understand why narcissists are what they are and what you can expect from them? Learn more about the narcissist’s cycle of abuse.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

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What happens when the narcissist knows you’ve figured them out?

What happens when the narcissist knows you’ve figured them out?

Have you ever felt like you knew too much – that the narcissist’s façade wasn’t as impenetrable as they would have liked it to seem? There comes a time in every narcissist-victim relationship when the victim becomes aware that their partner is not at all who they “signed up for.” That instead of being compassionate and understanding, loving and kind, the narcissist is actually a selfish, deceitful person who is not only a pathological liar but one who lacks emotional and compassionate empathy and operates from that perspective.

If you’ve been through this the way that I and every other survivor of narcissistic abuse have, this realization rips down many layers of your world since until that point everything had been seen with rose-colored glasses. Almost as if someone has awoken from a dream into reality. You end up having to sit down and figure out if you REALLY believe what you think you believe.

What happens when the narcissist knows you’ve figured them out?

If you’re dealing with someone who has narcissistic tendencies, you might suspect they have narcissistic personality disorder. And there might be a big part of you that hopes that if you just TELL the narcissist what you have figured out, they’ll be happy to go to therapy and resolve the issue. Anyone in narcissistic relationship recovery has probably hoped for this at one time or another. But the reality of narcissistic personality disorder is not so simple. In this video, I’ll fill you in on exactly what you can expect when the narcissist learns that you’ve figured them out.

Additional Insight Into the Psychology of Narcissistic Abuse 

When it comes to narcissists and the psychology of narcissistic abuse, there is a LOT to unpack. In addition to the codependency factor, it can help to understand the way the narcissist’s mind works as a result of their narcissistic personality disorder or narcissistic tendencies. In addition to the points made in the video, keep the following in mind.

Narcissists Keep You Off-Balance to Control You

Narcissists are experts at keeping you off balance. They do it by going from blissful to angry, from affectionate to critical, from loving to distant – all at the drop of a hat and without warning. Do they do this on purpose, or is something else going on? That will often depend on a couple of factors: where they fall on the so-called Cluster B spectrum, and how intelligent they are. Plus, some studies suggest, how prominent the “dark triad” traits are in their psychological makeup.

In fact, while they do seem to have a common “narcissist playbook,” one of their favorite games to play with their victims is to throw you off balance by intentionally doing what you won’t expect. In other words, you can expect the unexpected from a narcissist.

If the narcissist knows you’ve figured them out, they will likely react in one of two ways:

  • They may try to become even more charming, flattering and seductive than before. The narcissist will be desperate for your attention, for your admiration, and for your love. They want to convince you that nothing has changed even though it is painfully obvious that something has. Narcissists are a lot like drug addicts in this way: when their narcissistic supply is cut off, they’ll do anything to get more.
  • They may try to go back into “stealth” mode and make up for the lost time. They will act like everything is fine and that there’s no need for concern on your part. But this phase won’t last long either because they have left a trail of broken hearts and devastated relationships behind them. If the narcissist tries this tactic, be on high alert for gaslighting and other techniques used to create confusion and doubt about what happened.

Why do narcissists act the way they do?

  • Narcissism is a defense mechanism that is meant to deflect hurt and rejection. It’s a way of saying, “See, look at all these great qualities I have! You should really be glad to be in my presence and love me. So why aren’t you?”
  • Narcissists survive on attention and positive reinforcement from others. They are highly sensitive to criticism of any kind and are unable to cope well with the feelings of shame it creates for them.
  • When a narcissist gets upset, their feelings get hurt quickly and easily because they lack an empathetic inner voice that we all have that helps us regulate negative emotions.
  • They are easily triggered into feeling self-pity or devolve into narcissistic rage (a very intense reaction).
  • Their extreme sensitivity makes them prone to rage when they aren’t getting the attention they desire or aren’t made out to be the center of attention. While at times it may seem as if they are overreacting, this is provoked by a myriad of factors on the inside that we are not privy to – factors like shame, envy, and more. One way of coping is for a narcissist to resort to blame-shifting tactics so that their ego and false self can be preserved.

Behind the Narcissist’s Mask (False Self)

Let’s take a peek at the narcissist’s “true self,” which is usually only revealed to those closest to them and anyone else with whom they have serious conflict.

When the narcissist’s mask falls away, the matrix of mirrors it provided to the outside world disappears. This can mean the narcissist sort of “reverts” and becomes a less evolved version of who they could be.

While the narcissist may seem quite self-assured, the truth is that their own trauma has likely led them to be secretly afraid of their true self being revealed and either attacked – or perhaps more painfully, completely unseen and ignored.

The narcissist has been sort of “feeding off” the emotional energy (and narcissistic supply) of you and anyone else who was unlucky enough to be close to them for so long precisely because they kept everyone at arm’s length while presenting their false persona to those around them.

The minute they felt that you might have the ability to see through their lies, or that their facade started to show cracks, the narcissist realized that in some way, you were the enemy to their false self. This made them feel entitled to actively and regularly dump their emotional garbage on you, which nearly inevitably leads to more intense and painful emotional damage for you.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

 

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