Sadistic Narcissism

Sadistic Narcissism

While not all narcissists can be described as sadists, narcissism and sadism go hand in hand. Let’s explore the relationship between sadism and narcissism, as well as the psychology of sadistic narcissists.

How is sadism different than narcissism?

Once you begin to learn the traits of a sadist, you might have trouble distinguishing them from people who have narcissistic personality disorder. Both are manipulative, arrogant, disdainful, indifferent, critical of others, controlling of others, and lacking in empathy. Both will seek to isolate their targets through the use of contempt to encourage social alienation.

What is sadism?

Sadism is the enjoyment of cruelty in others, including in oneself. To be titled a sadist, this enjoyment must be intentional, not accidental. The term is derived from the name of Marquis de Sade, an 18th-century philosopher, and writer who got pleasure from inflicting pain on others.

The diagnostic criteria of the DSM-IV-TR, a catalog of distinctive symptoms used by mental health professionals to categorize psychological conditions, lists sadism as a potential symptom of certain personalities. In particular, it is considered a symptom of antisocial personality disorder, psychopathy, and paranoid personality disorder. In the context of BDSM, the term “sadomasochism” is used.

What are the traits of a sadist?

  • Sadists are known for their aggressive or dominant behavior that stems from a desire to impose their will on others, whether they be friends or strangers.
  • Sadists often portray themselves as victims of circumstances beyond their control.
  • Sadists are people who have a strong interest in inflicting pain on others, especially if they derive pleasure from the suffering of others. That sounds like a lot of online commenters, doesn’t it?
  • A sadist is someone who takes pleasure in pain, malice, or suffering.
  • They don’t care about their partners, their children or even themselves.
  • They often make you feel like an object without a past or a future or a reason to exist.
  • They can be charming at first but eventually, they reveal their true nature and make you feel small, insignificant, and worthless.

What is narcissism?

Narcissism is a deeply rooted personality trait whose roots may be traced to childhood experiences. For the most part, when we’re referring to narcissism, we’re talking about the kind that might also be a personality disorder – usually a cluster B personality disorder. When we say “narcissist” what we really mean is someone who is a malignant narcissist or pathological narcissist.

What are the traits of a narcissist?

  • Extreme lack of emotional and compassionate empathy for other people
  • May or may not be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
  • Has an extremely inflated sense of self-importance.
  • They may engage in grandiose fantasies.
  • Feels that they are special and unique
  • Feels they should have special privileges and allowances of every kind
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Thinks that only they are acceptable and deserving of love
  • Bragging/requiring admiration for their accomplishments and attributes

How are narcissism and sadism connected?

  • Sadism is one of the dark triad traits, along with narcissism and psychopathy.
  • More than a third of people who are diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder reportedly have a sadistic side.
  • Narcissists tend to be self-absorbed and self-centered. They often have no empathy for others and have difficulty identifying with the feelings or feelings of others – which leads to a lack of concern for their well-being and safety.
  • A sadist enjoys inflicting pain on others or being the cause of others’ pain. This may include aggression, cruelty, lack of empathy, and indifference to victimization. In other words, people who exhibit these character traits tend to derive pleasure from the suffering of others.
  • Sadistic narcissists combine these two personality traits into one very dangerous combination: they enjoy inflicting pain on others and enjoy seeing others hurt as well.

What is sadistic narcissism?

If sadism is to love (and/or lust after) another person’s pain, then it certainly can coexist with narcissism. Sadistic narcissism seems to be almost ingrained into the person displaying it, which is sort of possible since it most often begins to develop as early as infancy and is dependent on how the mother bonded with the child, or not. It is often also the result of being controlled, ignored, over-controlled, and/or otherwise traumatized later in childhood during important developmental years. People who become sadistic narcissists often use their lack of empathy and cunning nature to get ahead in business (ethically or otherwise) and to attract the partners they want, who will often later become their victims.

What are the traits of a sadistic narcissist?

A narcissistic sadist is someone who has both a sadistic personality and a tendency toward narcissism. The narcissist-sadist combo is especially dangerous because it can create intimidation and fear in their victims, making them more vulnerable to further abuse.

  • Feel superior to others.
  • Can be shockingly cold to people, and also irresistibly kind and warm if and when it suits them.
  • Indifferent to punishment (which allows them to get away with things they wouldn’t otherwise be able to)
  • Lack empathy.
  • Highly manipulative
  • Use their knowledge of others’ weaknesses to control them.
  • Find pleasure in the suffering of others and in treating others as objects – in other words, they treat people like things.
  • Take pleasure in hurting others by inflicting pain or humiliation, or by taunting them with cruel jibes.

.How do you deal with a sadistic narcissist?

There are several steps you can take to deal with a sadistic narcissist.

  • First, you’ll need to recognize that the abuse is happening. Maybe that sounds funny to you, but it is really difficult sometimes to even recognize the abuse from a sadistic narcissist, thanks to the extreme mind games they’re prone to play. In fact, many victims will describe their abusive relationships as normal and even good before they realized they were being abused. Narcissistic abuse, in general, can be subtle and sneaky, so don’t beat yourself up if you’ve missed it.
  • After you’ve recognized the abuse and you’ve started to learn about what you’ve been dealing with, you’ll want to know more about both narcissists and about narcissistic abuse. This is normal – take your time and do the research you need to do to fully understand it. But don’t stay stuck in research forever!
  • You’re going to want to assemble a sort of support system to help hold you up during this process. Start by identifying the people closest to you who you can completely trust. Don’t be surprised if this group is very small. You can also look for local support groups if you feel comfortable with in-person support.
  • In any case, connecting with others who have also experienced being victimized by sadistic narcissists can be incredibly validating and can help in your recovery. Whether you’re worried about face-to-face contact because you’re afraid people will find out what you’ve experienced, or because you don’t like crowds, or because you’re struggling with fear or even just social anxiety, you might not love the idea of connecting in person.
  • You might also not know anyone you can trust with this particular problem because those who understand won’t support you, or because no one understands at all. In that case, and even if you just want a little extra support, you can look into online narcissistic abuse recovery support groups, or you can seek help from professionals who can provide support and guidance as you begin the healing process.

Or, you can start your narcissistic abuse recovery right now, right here.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. If you feel you need additional help and support in your narcissistic abuse recovery, look for a trauma-informed professional trained in helping people who are dealing with overcoming narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. Depending on your particular situation, you might benefit from Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching, or you might do better with a therapist. But, first, you have to decide what to do from here – if you’re unsure, start with my free Narcissistic Abuse Recovery quiz. With your results will come recommended resources for your situation. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

Why are narcissists and codependents attracted to one another? Here’s the TRUTH from Ross Rosenberg

Why are narcissists and codependents attracted to one another? Here’s the TRUTH from Ross Rosenberg

This is part two of my interview with Ross Rosenberg. Today we’re talking about how attachment theory and Human Magnet Syndrome go hand in hand, as well as how Rosenberg has redefined codependency and developed a process to help codependents, or SLDs, to heal and resolve their codependency (or self-love deficiency disorder), so they can go on and live the lives they want. See part one here.

See part 2 of the Ross Rosenberg interview on YouTube.

Why are narcissists and codependents attracted to one another?

There IS a toxic and magnetic attraction between narcissists and codependents – but WHY? Ross Rosenberg, the author of The Human Magnet Syndrome, explains the truth about why narcissists and codependents are so attracted to each other and why, if you don’t take the time to heal before getting into another relationship, you’ll end up with another narcissist.

Plus, we’ll talk about the chemical attraction between SLDs and narcissists and why we are so likely to want to stick around, as well as why the words codependent and empath are not synonymous.

How does attachment theory relate to the Human Magnet Syndrome?

Rosenberg said he has an intense fascination with attachment theory and that he uses it to explain why children grow up to become adult codependents, or SLDs, or pathological narcissists.

“I rely on attachment theory in order to explain the process,” he said. “(To put it) simply, attachment theory explains that our psychological health or ill health is caused by the manner in which we were loved, respected, and cared for during our critical ages of development, between birth and up to eight years old.”

“And if we endure psychological harm. abuse, neglect, mental manipulation – or we are deprived or neglected or abandoned, we don’t get to attach to a nurturing parent figure,” Rosenberg continued. “Without that attachment, we don’t develop the potential to be healthy high functioning adults. So if you were raised by a narcissist and loved conditionally and had to mold yourself into the type of trophy the narcissist needed in order to get anything, you will not have experienced positive and nurturing attachment.”

That, he said, will impact your psychological health, while your adulthood experiences would also have an impact on your adult relationship choices.

“So attachment theory explains through my Human Magnet Syndrome book why SLDs or codependents always choose narcissists – because they only experience that type of love,” Rosenberg said, adding that SLDs or codependents tend to respond to and are attracted to people that fit what he calls the relationship template that they experience in their childhood.

“That’s how chemistry is,” he said. “If a child who was brought up by the pathological narcissist and who did not attach in a way that would be healthy is going to find the narcissist as familiar and paradoxically safe because they know and have experienced their whole life living with that person and they know what to do.”

Why did Ross Rosenberg create the term human magnet syndrome?

The book cover on Rosenberg’s The Human Magnet Syndrome is symbolic, he told me, as it features hearts coming together and trapped within barbed wire.

“I came up with the term to explain why codependents or SLDs predictably reflexively fall in love with narcissists,” he said. “Talking about attachment, there it is the matching of relationship templates.”

What is the narcissist/codependent relationship template?

Rosenberg explained that most codependents or SLDs would have an intrinsic understanding that to love someone and to be loved, “you have to be silent, acquiescent, constantly vulnerable, and moldable.”

“You also need to be constantly interested in a person who’s not interested in you,” he said. “That’s just the way you understand relationships.”

“And then a narcissist understands relationships (will believe that) that people want to hear what they have to say. (People want) to enjoy their accomplishments; that they want to be told how great a person is – which of course is not true – but that’s what narcissists think.”

“So when the two people meet their opposites, one gives away love, respect, and caring. And (the other) one needs all the love, respect, and caring, these two opposites, through this unconscious process – chemistry – come together almost all the time,” Rosenberg said.

Codependents, Pathological Narcissists and Chemistry

“Codependents, SLDs, will almost always be attracted to through chemistry to a narcissist and narcissist to a codependent,” Rosenberg explained.

“That pull is the attraction process of two people feeling so comfortable,” he said. “Like a dance partnership, the leader needs a follower, the follower needs a leader, and the recognition of that on unconscious levels brings them together like two magnets.”

Rosenberg explained that he chose to reconceptualize and then rename codependency in a way that actually makes sense to people who are suffering from it. He wanted to identify the problem (of codependency) so that people could intuitively connect with and understand and offer them direction on what to do to deal with it.

Are codependents (SLDs) blameless victims of pathological narcissists?

“One of the things that sets me apart from most of my contemporaries talking about the subject is (that) I hold SLDs or codependents responsible,” Rosenberg, a former SLD himself, explained, adding that, “You cannot solve a problem if you share the responsibility, don’t know it or are in denial about it, and want to just blame the perpetrator.”

He said that focusing on being a victim is not helpful in recovery, so taking responsibility for your part in the relationship is key.

Are all codependents empaths?

Rosenberg strongly stated that not all codependents are empaths. And that, in fact, there’s no true connection between the two. So to understand the difference between empaths and codependents; first, we need to define empathy and codependency.

What is empathy?

There are three different types of empathy: cognitive, emotional, and compassionate. Emotional and compassionate empathy seem to be intrinsic for most people, and anyone can learn cognitive empathy. So an adult empath would be able to logically understand what a person feels and be emotionally affected by what they feel. That person’s emotions would also move them to take action to help them deal with what they feel.

What is codependency?

Codependency is when you are dependent on another person in unhealthy ways. In most cases, it seems to be affected by some form of trauma that often occurred in childhood; it is considered a behavioral condition as it inhibits your ability to have a healthy and mutually satisfying relationship. A good synonym for codependency might actually be relationship addiction because codependents tend to be perpetually involved in one-sided, emotionally destructive, and/or abusive relationships.

Rosenberg on Codependency vs. Empathy

“I completely do not support the term empaths (in relation to codependency) because it’s a candy-coated term that makes the SLD or codependent feel good about themselves, when in fact SLDs have significant psychological problems. Significant!” Rosenberg said. “Without the resolution of that. they will always choose the narcissist – and they will over and over again.”

“They will almost always stay with the narcissist despite the fact that they’re not happy and they’re being hurt,” he said. “And then if they should leave or should be left, they will then choose another narcissist,” he said.

This is why it is so important to understand that self-love deficit disorder or codependency is a psychological disorder that is motivated through volition, he explained, adding that while there’s absolutely no excuse for abuse, as long as people play the victim card and look to books and videos that focus on demonizing narcissists and glorifying “the sacrificing poor SLD or codependent, no one gets better.”

That’s why people so many people say they find Rosenberg’s material so helpful.

“It holds them accountable in a non-judgmental empathetic, and compassionate way,” he said. “In my book, I explained this is why you are an SLD or codependent. You were hurt badly, and until you saw that trauma that happened when you were a child, you’re going to play out that script for the rest of your life.”

How can you learn more about healing after narcissistic abuse from Ross Rosenberg?

If you’re interested in hearing more about what Ross Rosenberg has to say about healing after narcissistic abuse, please subscribe to this channel and stay tuned for the rest of this series. Of course, you can also visit the Self-Love Institute, get his book, The Human Magnet Syndrome, on Amazon, and attend his upcoming 50 Shades of Pathological Narcissism event.

Question of the Day

Do you see the connection between how you were raised and nurtured as a child and how your adult relationships developed? Please share your thoughts share your ideas, share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it. 

Get help with narcissistic abuse recovery right now.

 

Observe, Don’t Absorb, Self Love Deficit, and Gaslighting

Observe, Don’t Absorb, Self Love Deficit, and Gaslighting


I recently interviewed Ross Rosenberg, one of the pioneers in narcissistic personality disorder, narcissistic abuse recovery, and codependency. See part one of the Rosenberg interview on YouTube.

Who is Ross Rosenberg?

Ross Rosenberg is a psychotherapist and author of The Human Magnet Syndrome. He owns the Self-Love Recovery Institute. He is an expert on narcissism, codependency, and the relationships that happen between the two. He developed a treatment program that solves. if not cures, codependency or self-love deficit disorder. He is one of the pioneers in the field of narcissism and narcissistic abuse recovery. He has taught and spoken all over the world. In fact, he has an informative webinar coming up based on his extensive work in this field.

How did Ross Rosenberg create his Observe, Don’t Absorb Technique?

“The Observe Don’t Absorb technique was created without knowing what I was doing,” Rosenberg told me, adding that it was 30 years ago when he’d been in an extremely abusive relationship. His partner at the time had BPD (borderline personality disorder).

“I realized had all the power over me if she could trigger me and get me mad, because she, like any person with BPD, would get angry, hurt me, and then cycle back and become in love with me again,” Rosenberg said. “And so the best way that she could feel better is if she could make me as angry as she was.”

Once he realized what was going on, he knew he needed to do something to protect himself.

“So, I developed this technique to safely and in a healthy manner disassociate from the environment and the person trying to trigger me or activate me,” he said, adding that the lesson comes from a George bernard shaw saying that goes, “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”

How does the Observe, Don’t Absorb Technique work?

Rosenberg said that the whole point of the Observe, Don’t Absorb Technique “is the narcissist, when they want power over you, they want to get you into what I call their wrestling ring, and that is where they always are in control, and they have all the power.”

“So once they get a reaction out of you, through many techniques (including induced conversation technique), you lose your power because narcissists know how to fight,” he said. “They know how to manipulate, they know how to guilt and shame; and an SLD or codependent can never stand their own.”

“Essentially, the Observe, Don’t Absorb Technique is a way to safely disassociate from a narcissist who gains power by triggering your emotions and making you fight them in a fight that you can never win,” Rosenberg said.

What is Self-Love Deficicit Disorder?

Rosenberg said he’d never liked the term codependency because “codependency” is antiquated and it doesn’t really mean anything anymore.

“So I decided to come up with a replacement term, and it took me a while to figure out, but ultimately it was Self-Love Deficit Disorder, and that’s the problem,” he said. “And the person (with the problem) is self-love deficient, so SLDD for the problem, SLD for the person.”

He said he came up with these terms to help people understand that “what they’re suffering from not only has a name that fits the problem, but also gives you direction on what to solve in order to not to have that problem anymore.”

Ross Rosenberg’s definition of narcissism

Rosenberg said that as he was writing his book, The Human Magnet Syndrome, it was incredibly important to make specific diagnoses so that people knew what he was talking about.

“There are so many people out there on the internet, Youtube, TikTok, everywhere, that use the term, and they don’t have a mental health background,” he said. “So I don’t use the word narcissism; I use the word pathological narcissism.”

“These individuals have personality disorders as defined in the Diagnostic Statistic Manual used by psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and psychologists,” he said. “So I don’t use the term narcissist to talk about someone because that’s an ex that’s a description of someone is being narcissistic, but when I say pathological narcissist, I am talking about someone with a personality disorder.”

He added that pathological narcissists are harmful to the people around them and unable to understand or know what they’re doing.

“And perhaps they don’t care; they perpetuate harm on others,” he said. “The term pathological narcissist refers to someone with borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, or anti-social personality disorder.”

“So, therefore, when I use the word narcissist, I’m using a term that is a clinical explanation of a mental health disorder.” Rosenberg continued. “So now there’s little dispute on who’s a narcissist or not because therapists, doctors. professionals such as I cannot use a term unless they fit the diagnostic profile.”

Ross Rosenberg on Gaslighting

“Gaslighting is a manipulative ploy used by pathological narcissists who have sociopathic traits,” Rosenberg said. “In other words, they know what they’re doing. They’re not the garden variety narcissist who’s oblivious to their narcissism.”

“Gaslighting is a manipulative, systematically perpetrated strategy that pathological narcissists use to control and often hurt their victims,” he continued, adding that narcissists do this by instilling a narrative about a person that something is wrong with them, when nothing was.

Or, he said, narcissits will manipulate you “with a problem they had that was originally mild, while systematically manipulating the environment to prove their narrative.”

Of course, the victim eventually recognizes this fake narrative and identifies with the problem. And, Rosenberg said, “As the gaslighter manipulates them to identify with the problem,  he then builds a narrative that they are needy, unlikable, and would do better if they isolate.”

The Cherry on Top of the Gaslighting Sundae

“The cherry on top of the gaslighting sundae is then the gaslighter portrays himself as the only one that loves, accepts, and will protect the victim; therefore, the victim has taken on a psychological problem or disorder, feeling broken unlovable, and encouraged to isolate,” he said. “And then picking the person that has designed the whole plan. And then no one in their outside world – friends, family, or loved ones – can get to them to try to bring them back to reality. And therefore, they are trapped – and sometimes forever trapped – by the scheming, sociopathic, gaslighting narcissist.”

Question of the Day

Have you ever heard of the human magnet syndrome before? What about SLDD and SLDs? Have you heard of those, and could you relate to his points about gaslighting? Would you please share your thoughts share your ideas, share your experiences in the comments section below this video and let’s talk about it,

Helpful Links:

Narcissistic Mother Syndrome

Narcissistic Mother Syndrome

While most therapists, coaches, and creators in the narcissistic abuse recovery community mean well, they don’t always do their research before creating content. That’s why there are so many “pseudo-diagnoses” running through the community. One such pseudo-diagnosis is the recently dubbed “narcissistic mother syndrome.” Unfortunately, it has copycat bloggers and creators spreading false, though still potentially useful, information.

One of the members of our SPANily support groups asked me to look into this, so I did some digging. After a lot of research, I couldn’t find a legitimate diagnosis called “narcissistic mother syndrome,” so I checked in with my content partner and clinical advisor, Dr. Robin Bryman, a psychologist who specializes in narcissistic abuse recovery, to double-check the facts.

What is Narcissistic Mother Syndrome?

According to Dr. Bryman, the term refers to a mother who has narcissistic personality disorder, briefly defined as a pattern of empathy-deficient, self-centered, egocentric behavior that causes problems in many areas of a person’s life.

Is narcissistic mother syndrome a recognized diagnosis in the psychological community?

Is narcissistic mother syndrome a “real” diagnosis? While psychologists realize that a mother or any person can be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, and while certain qualities are shared by people who happen to be mothers who have this personality disorder, according to Dr. Bryman, isn’t listed in the DSM-V. She adds that narcissistic mother syndrome is a “fall-out of other diagnoses.” In other words, it is not an officially recognized diagnosis.

What is narcissistic personality disorder? 

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), in general, is a personality disorder that manifests in an inflated sense of importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. Learn more about NPD.

How are narcissistic mothers different from other pathological narcissists?

Narcissistic mothers, like most other pathological narcissists, share a single narcissist playbook. While you can’t necessarily pick them out in a crowd, there are certain shared qualities among narcissistic females, and some of these qualities are even specific to narcissistic mothers. For example:

  • Narcissistic mothers seem to have an inability to treat their child as a “whole person,” and instead see them as an extension of themselves.
  • Their inflated sense of entitlement and their exaggerated sense of self-importance can lead to irrational and abusive behavior when these so-called extensions don’t become whatever the narcissistic mother has decided they should be.
  • Narcissistic mothers tend to have a naturally controlling parenting style that is, to put it mildly, stifling to both children and adult children.
  • Narcissistic moms are also known to sometimes lack the ability to separate in a healthy way from their children as they become adults.
  • They have an exaggerated need for attention and praise.
  • A narcissistic mother may feel entitled or self-important, including her role in her children’s lives. For example, they may make their child’s wedding day all about them – or make their child miserable for expecting anything else.
  • She will seek admiration from others and feel dejected and offended if she doesn’t get it.
  • She is likely to believe she is above others and that her opinion is a fact. And if her children disagree with her, she will demonstrate narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury, or she will act as though they are just stupid or have inaccurate opinions.
  • She might appear to be a caregiver-type, allowing her to fly under the radar – but she would use her caregiving as a way to control and manipulate her children. This toxic mother embraces teaching her children to be helpless by not teaching them the basic life skills they need to function. She might also use her “concern” as a way to control her childrens’ every move (feigning worry and upset when she cannot reach them by phone, for example, or stopping by their homes unannounced because they didn’t pick up.)
  • Whether or not she is a caregiver type, a narcissistic mother will lack empathy, even and especially with her children.
  • She has no problem exploiting her children to her advantage (this exploitation will vary in nature and severity depending on how toxic the mother is or where she falls on the “spectrum” of narcissism.
  • Narcissistic mothers often put others down, including and sometimes especially their children.
  • She will be hypersensitive to any form of criticism, even when delivered kindly and constructively.
  • She will believe she deserves special treatment from everyone in her life, often including service people and law enforcement officials.
  • She also might have no idea that she’s causing any damage and might genuinely believe she’s only doing all of this “because she loves you.” For example, one narcissistic mother I knew severely beat her child and claimed it was due to her love for that child. She claimed that if she didn’t care, she wouldn’t want the child to “be better.”

Do you think your mother might be a narcissist? 

If you’re concerned that your mother might be a narcissist, I have a resource for you that can offer some clarity: try this Toxic Mother self-assessment.

Is it dangerous to spread incorrect information to narcissistic abuse survivors? 

I don’t believe that most coaches and creators are trying to hurt anyone by repeating whatever they hear or read around the internet. Still, as a former journalist, I like to share the facts as accurately as possible.

Some of the inaccuracies are simply due to creators making assumptions about terms they hear without researching. For instance, I recently saw someone define narcissistic injury as something a narcissist does to injure another person physically. But in reality, the term refers to a type of behavior a narcissist uses to manipulate their victims. You might know it as the “poor me” act.

Many survivors who start blogs and YouTube channels or Tiktok accounts are still in abusive relationships with narcissists – or just recently out of one. They are still very raw and still learning. As they do, they share their journey. This is great and it can help a survivor feel less alone. The problem is that it is during this time that they’re still trying to figure things out. They have just learned that they might have been dealing with a narcissist, and they’re reading and watching a lot of related content. But since they sound passionate and knowledgeable, new subscribers may not understand that they’re not an authority on the topic – so they may assume that their theories and feelings are facts.

However, while it can be harmless in many cases, false information can be hazardous for vulnerable survivors of narcissistic abuse.

For example:

  • A TikTok creator swears that you can have a successful, healthy relationship with a narcissist if you keep trying.
  • A YouTuber claimed that  narcissistic abuse isn’t “real.”
  • There’s one doctor who “treats” narcissists, but his results are questionable at best – and to maintain them, his patients must stick with him for life.

These statements could be dangerous because they might push a narcissistic abuse victim to stay with their abuser.  But, in general, most narcissistic abuse recovery coaches and creators do mean well.

For example, another pseudo-diagnosis spread like wildfire recently when someone coined the term “narcissistic abuse syndrome,” which refers to C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder). In other words, in most cases, the information that these creators are repeating might be helpful for survivors, and they might just be making it easier to find it by changing the names of these diagnoses.

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support & Resources

If you feel you need additional help and support in your narcissistic abuse recovery, look for a trauma-informed professional trained in helping people who are dealing with overcoming narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. Depending on your particular situation, you might benefit from Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching, or you might do better with a therapist.

You have to decide what to do from here – if you’re not sure, start with my free Narcissistic Abuse Recovery quiz. With your results will come recommended resources for your situation. It’s free. Are you looking for more personal support? You might like to join one of our private small-group coaching sessions, or you might prefer to check out our one-on-one narcissistic abuse recovery counseling and coaching sessions. 

Resources & Support for Adult Children of Narcissists

More on Narcissistic Mothers

More Free, Helpful Information & Resources to Help 

5 Traits Of A Covert Narcissist That You Must Know About

5 Traits Of A Covert Narcissist That You Must Know About

Are you in a relationship with someone who seems to be the shy and quiet type who does not brag about themselves, but who also treats you differently behind closed doors?  Do they, at times, seem to hate themselves? Does this person appear to be an introvert, and despite their apparent lack of empathy, pretend to be overly sensitive and caring?

Are you starting to wonder if you’re crazy because they keep twisting everything you say and do to make it seem like you’re wrong, bad, or otherwise unsavory? Are you feeling confused, lost, or completely alone in the world?

Why do you feel so confused in your relationship? 

It makes total sense that you’re confused here. After all, why would someone who seems so humble and kind be difficult to deal with? They seem so gentle and insecure on the outside, but they somehow make you feel completely miserable. You’re not sure why or how this is happening, but you know that spending time with them makes you feel bad about yourself and your life. Yet, you can’t seem to get away from them somehow. I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is that you’re not crazy. But the bad news is that there is a good chance that you’re dealing with a covert narcissist.

What is a covert narcissist?

In this quick video, I offer a brief definition of a covert narcissist.

@coachangieatkinson##covertnarcissist ##covertnarcissism ##covertnarcissim ##narcissismdefined ##understandingnarcissists ##narcissisticabuserecoverycoaching ##queenbeeing♬ original sound – Angie Atkinson

A covert narcissist is also called an introverted narcissist or a vulnerable narcissist. They exhibit a very subtle, but equally toxic form of narcissism that presents with a more introverted personality. This kind of narcissism is referred to as “vulnerable narcissism,” which might be on the narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) spectrum (a cluster B disorder, according to the DSM). It is characterized by vulnerability and sensitivity, two characteristics that manifest with defensiveness and hostility.  Like grandiose narcissism, covert narcissism will also involve grandiose fantasies and thoughts, an overinflated perception of entitlement, and a general sentiment of being better than others. But there are some subtle differences, in addition to the more obvious ones.

What’s different about the covert narcissist?

As explained above, the covert narcissist’s personality is characterized differently. They are also plagued by constant worry, and they deal with their own inability to function normally in relationships. In addition to ineffective functioning, the covert narcissist actively struggles with unfulfilled expectations (which lead to abuse of their sources of narcissistic supply – also known as the people closest to them). They are can also be extremely vulnerable to the effects of stress, depression, and anxiety.

What are some traits of a covert narcissist? 

1. They Put Themselves Down

Unlike typical narcissists, covert narcissists put themselves down by telling people that they feel they’re not good enough or not smart enough. They may also tell you how terrible their lives are – and in many cases, they will be telling the truth about how terrible they are as a person. Of course, this is at least partially about getting narcissistic supply from you. See, you’ll be inclined to soothe their pain by telling them that they really are good enough and smart enough, and they don’t give themselves enough credit. This is what they want. This is how they manipulate you and reel you in so they can go after other things they want from you.

2. They Are Passive-Aggressive

If they don’t feel they are getting enough of your attention, they will become passive-aggressive in order to get it. For example, they may purposely leave a mess after you ask them kindly to clean up after themselves after dinner. And when you get upset, then they put themselves down because “it’s not their fault they’re a slob,” or whatever excuse they choose to make. This makes you feel sorry for them and backpedal, and maybe even go ahead and clean up the mess yourself. It’s easier than dealing with their drama, and you feel a little sorry for them. This is exactly what they want, of course. It’s all about attention and sympathy – and getting what they want from you.

3. They Are Highly Reserved

Standard, grandiose narcissists are happy to make it known how amazing they are, or how amazing they think they are, anyway. They will brag about anything and everything, no matter how ridiculous. But you will not see this from a covert narcissist. They aren’t known to brag and they never tell anyone that they think they are the greatest, at least not overtly. They act like they’re shy and reserved but if you look closely, they are smug and express their superiority in quiet ways.

4. They May Be Involved In Helping Non-Profits Or Charities

Covert narcissists are sometimes harder to identify because they seem like such good people. As such, they often want to appear to be heroes and they may seem totally altruistic. That is why they will be involved in charities or non-profits, and they’ll pretend to be very passionate and to care deeply about whatever cause they are focusing on. This allows them to seem important and often gives them feelings of superiority over others. Here’s one way they might not brag, but they’ll definitely make it known that they are doing so much for the “less fortunate,” and they never do anything without strings attached.

5. They Express Envy

While grandiose narcissists feel envy, they do not generally express it to others. They worry that it would make them seem week or vulnerable, and they do not want to be perceived this way. But the covert narcissist will make it known that they are jealous and envious of others, and they really are. This is not an act for a covert narcissist. Remember that they are narcissists who want to be better than everyone else. If they see that someone has more than they do, or that someone is “better” than they are in some way, they don’t take it well.

Guide to Identifying Covert Narcissism

So, how can you tell someone is a covert narcissist?  In this video, I’m explaining exactly how to identify covert narcissism.

Get Support in Healing from Narcissistic Abuse

Do you know a covert narcissist? Take our free covert narcissism test and find out, right now. You’ll be directed to healing resources at the end of your test. If you’re already sure you’re dealing with a narcissist, you can start your narcissistic abuse recovery healing here for free.

Helpful Videos for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors

Narcissistic Abuse Takes You Away…From You (Here’s How)

Narcissistic Abuse Takes You Away…From You (Here’s How)

There was a time in my life when, if you asked me a question about myself, I might not even know WHAT to say, or even if I did, I’d feel awkward saying it and wanted to get the attention off me as soon as possible. And while I feel much more confident about myself these days, I still find myself struggling to say much of anything about myself in conversations – and I feel weird when people try to offer too much praise. And still, when people ask me what I do for a living or anything else about myself, I tend to be brief and quickly change the subject. Can you relate?

What does narcissistic abuse feel like?

If you’ve ever been involved with a narcissist, there’s a point at which you go so deep into your own head that you sort of see the world a little differently than everyone else. It’s that feeling you get when you’re so oppressed in your relationship that most of your dialogue is now internal, so much so that you start to see through it all, and everyone around you seems artificial. When you look at people who aren’t being actively manipulated and controlled by a narcissist, their life problems seem unreal. You almost feel like you’re the narcissist because you’re so deep in your head that you almost can’t find your empathy anymore.
This is the point at which you might find that you’ve forgotten how to even talk about yourself or your interests. And it might be so significant that you actually don’t even know what your interests ARE. This is when you know that the narcissist’s manipulation and control have shut you down – silenced you completely. You only speak as much as absolutely necessary and rarely, if ever, does your conversation involve yourself.
You sit there, still looking perfect on the outside, and you act like nothing is wrong. You keep smiling and pretending that your life is as good as you make it look on social media. You feel like a bit of a fraud as you try to project the image of the life you wish you had, rather than the private hell you’re actually living in.
Meanwhile, you live with constant threats of abandonment, either physically or emotionally. The narcissist says they’ll leave you, or they threaten to stop loving you, or they say if you keep doing (or not doing) whatever they’re complaining about, they’ll just stop caring about you entirely. Or they say you can just move out and go live a separate life.
“See how you like that,” they say.
You might be emotionally drained, exhausted, and pretty much numb at this point, and who could blame you? But you’re asking yourself: how did I get here?

How do narcissists change your personality?

You might have previously been warm, friendly – even extroverted. But after being in this toxic relationship, you’re nowhere near the person you used to be. Is it really possible that the narcissist has changed you so much? What led to you losing yourself and becoming a shell of who you once were?

Narcissists Make Effective Communication Impossible

Communication is incredibly important in any relationship, but when we’ve been involved with narcissists, even the most skilled communicators can feel helpless and handicapped when it comes to being understood – narcissists will inevitably refuse to understand us, especially when what we’re saying is not something like “OMG, you’re so amazing.”

For example, try telling a narcissist exactly how you feel about the way they belittle and invalidate you – and watch how they twist the conversation around. In some of the most extreme cases, you will end up apologizing for not thinking they’re perfect and for having the nerve to even suggest otherwise. I like to call that the “narcissistic flip,” but you might know it as “deflection.”

Either way, when we go through years of this, not to mention that narcissists often isolate their victims from others who might actually offer some support, we sort of forget HOW to communicate – in a way. We stop feeling like we can (or even should) talk about OURSELVES, and we stop trying to make valuable contributions to conversations, in part because we’ve been conditioned to believe that we have nothing of value to say and nothing to offer.

Narcissists Condition You to Believe You Have Nothing of Value to Contribute

You know how I mentioned that I don’t really feel comfortable telling people about myself, and how during my toxic relationship, it was nearly impossible for me? That was the case because the narcissists in my life, starting in childhood, had made it very clear to me that no one wanted to hear about me. In other words, I had been conditioned to think that nothing about me was interesting or even worth hearing about.

This situation is very common for survivors of narcissistic abuse. We believe that we’re not good enough and that no one wants to hear what we have to say anyway. When we do speak up, we tend to keep it short and to the point when it relates to ourselves or our own opinions or beliefs – if we say anything at all.

Narcissistic Abuse Leads to Mental Health Issues

When we go through narcissistic abuse, we might find ourselves dealing with depression. We might also develop other issues – various compulsive behaviors, or an eating disorder, or a substance abuse problem – because sometimes, we try to sort of  ‘self-medicate” to deal with our issues.

We could have flashbacks or panic attacks, and we will most definitely deal with a certain amount of self-doubt. Some of us experience suicidal thoughts – and in the worst cases, some people find themselves seeking or even carrying out the abuse they experienced as a child. On the flip side of that, you may go so far in the other direction that you are a different kind of unhealthy – for example, an abused child who grows up to be a doormat parent (as in, allowing your kids to become spoiled and run the show). It’s a fine line, isn’t it?

Narcissists Actively Trigger Your Trauma Response

The narcissist’s goal is to be in control, and they have no limits to which they will not stoop to get what they want. And since most people who get involved with narcissists report that they’ve had some form of trauma in childhood, whether that’s related to abusive parents or some other kind of trauma, In fact, it’s your history of trauma in relationships that opens you up to being triggered when they start playing their typical mind games.

When you’re actively dealing with the abuse, you might notice that you have heightened reactions to various common relationship issues. That means that you might be triggered over something small, such as an innocently used phrase that used to mean something awful.

For example, as one of my clients explained: her narcissistic mother would always say “Who are you trying to impress?” So when she was later in a relatively healthy relationship, this same phrase uttered by her partner triggered her and caused her to revert for a moment to that little girl who never felt good enough.

We may also withdraw and become unresponsive when triggered by our old issues, which obviously affects our ability to communicate, and we almost always feel a serious aversion to conflict. This can lead to an inability to talk through our issues especially if we feel judged or like the person we’re communicating with is somehow not on our side.

Narcissists Foster Your Self-Doubt

Narcissists have a way of digging deep to find the most painful issues you have, and then they poke at them. This is only part of the reason that most of us end up living with lingering doubt about how people in our lives feel about us. It’s also part of the reason that many of us end up doubting people’s authenticity, especially when the narcissists in our lives include romantic partners in the past. And thanks to the fact that many of us have never felt loved unconditionally, we often find ourselves having difficulty accepting any love at all – we are suspicious of people who try to offer it to us and we often need repeated reassurance of the fact that someone cares about us. This of course can push people away from us and isolate us even further, which will make it even harder to talk about yourself with any confidence.

The narcissist leaves you feeling constantly scattered and confused. This sort of fog you’re living in means that you are easier to control and manipulate. See, due to the stress and the sort of primal mode you are in during the depths of the abuse, you start to feel crazy and begin to doubt your perception once the full effect of the gaslighting kicks in. You might even feel dependent on the narcissist to tell you what you see and think in some cases, and now not only are they controlling your actions but also your thoughts and feelings.

Narcissists Use Your Fears Against You

The narcissist knows what you’re afraid of and they use your fears to maintain full control. They established that you can and will be moved by your fear of losing them or of being alone. Not only is that the most common human fear, but narcissists actively exploit this in most of their romantic relationships. This works especially well on people who also experienced childhood trauma, as we tend to hold on to anyone who claims to love us for dear life.

And, if you’re anything like I was, one of your biggest fears might be that you’ll be the last one to know your relationship is over. You are afraid of being humiliated in a situation where you’re the only one who doesn’t know what’s happening in your own relationship.

What if the narcissist is right about you?

For a lot of us, we also worry that some toxic person in our life was right about us, and we’re actually the complete piece of trash we’ve done our best to avoid being for our whole lives. We wonder if we are doomed to being not good enough (or otherwise deficient) forever.

This leads to something that, if you don’t recognize it, could pretty much keep you stuck forever:

You get deeper and deeper into the trauma bond. You become fully enmeshed with the narcissist. They control you through the active infliction of their own perception. They teach you (and make sure you don’t forget) that their needs are always more important than your own. They make you feel like you’re not a real person and that your feelings and thoughts and ideas aren’t relevant or worth expressing – not to mention worth actually hearing or implementing. That prevents you from ever reaching your true potential as you lose yourself a little more each day.it changes you and could limit you forever if you allow it.

So, how do you find yourself again? How do you remember who you are? Well, I’ve previously covered this in detail, so I’m attaching a portion of a previous video for you here. (I’m sharing a link with you in the description below and the pinned comment to help you do exactly that!).

Question of the Day

Can you relate to the feeling of losing yourself and your voice during a toxic relationship with a narcissist? Did you forget how to talk about yourself, too? Share your thoughts, ideas, and experience in the comments section.

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