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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INFJs are the majority of narcissistic abuse survivors – WHY and what you can do to heal

INFJs are the majority of narcissistic abuse survivors – WHY and what you can do to heal

Did you know that a large percentage of narcissistic abuse survivors happen to resonate with the INFJ personality type (from the Myers-Briggs Personality Test)? Based on several polls and a lot of research I did back in 2020, I can tell you it’s true.

Are you an INFJ who has been traumatized by a narcissist and you don’t know how to recover from the abuse? INFJs are highly intuitive and empathetic creatures which makes them prime targets for narcissistic abuse. INFJs have a tendency to ignore their own feelings as well as put other people’s needs above their own. We live in a world that praises selflessness and can make you feel bad if you place your needs first, and INFJs are especially sensitive to this.

What is an INFJ Personality?

The INFJ personality is known to be a compassionate, intuitive leader and is considered one of the rarest Myers-Briggs personality types. But when this highly sensitive and creative personality becomes a victim of narcissistic abuse, the devastation can be enormous.

According to 16Personalities.com, “An Advocate (INFJ) is someone with the Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judging personality traits. They tend to approach life with deep thoughtfulness and imagination. Their inner vision, personal values, and a quiet, principled version of humanism guide them in all things.”

Quick Facts on the INFJ Personality

  • They are genuinely good-hearted people who connect quickly with others.
  • They often find interest and support in helping other people more than themselves.
  • They want to help and make a difference, which makes them an ideal target for manipulation.
  • INFJs value deep, heartfelt relationships.
  • They focus on a few special people in their lives and are intensely loyal and protective of them.
  • INFJs great strength lies in the intensity of their feelings, which they use intuitively to understand other people.
  • Their unique combination of traits makes INFJs natural advisors or counselors.
  • People value their insight and willingness to listen to others.

Why are INFJs the majority of narcissistic abuse survivors?

While every single personality type is susceptible to being a victim of narcissistic abuse, the most common profile of narcissistic abuse victims is INFJ. But why? For one, INFJs are givers by their very nature, and when they fall in love with someone (or are infatuated), their first instinct is to give everything they have to make that person happy.

INFJs are externally focused.

INFJs are wired to respond instantly and to take swift action to soothe any sort of negative emotion the narcissist may show – their goal is to prevent the narcissist (or anyone else they interact with) from feeling uncomfortable or unhappy in any way.

They will bend over backward to ensure the emotional safety of anyone they love. This makes them prime targets for narcissistic abusers, who are known to lack empathy and only concern themselves with their own emotions and needs. Plus, many INFJs may have develoed this particular personality type due to their own childhood trauma.

INFJs are sensitive and intuitive.

INFJs are highly intuitive, which is an asset in many situations. It’s often the quality that leads them to choose counseling as a career. But it’s also the quality that’s most likely to lead them into abusive relationships. INFJs are so attuned to other people’s feelings that they’re often taken advantage of by narcissists and sociopaths.

They can be easy targets for emotional predators because INFJs tend to trust people too easily and believe that everyone has good intentions. This tendency toward being trusting and giving isn’t a character flaw — it’s just part of being an INFJ personality type. And it can be a trap if you don’t learn how to navigate relationships more effectively.

INFJs struggle with seeing their own value.

INFJs are not always good at taking care of themselves. They can be overwhelmed by their own pain and are so used to putting other people first that they have a hard time letting themselves take a front seat in their own lives. So when an INFJ endures narcissistic abuse, it can really knock them down hard. The self esteem of an INFJ can take a real hit after being treated so poorly.

Many INFJs describe narcissistic abuse as having the rug pulled out from under them in some way. The dream they had for their life is shattered and they find themselves lost and confused with no idea where to turn next. Even if you’re familiar with personality disorders, the effects of narcissistic abuse on an INFJ can still be devastating because it attacks their very core being – everything that makes them who they are as a person. It’s like a parasite that burrows into your brain and takes over your mind, convincing you that you will never, ever be enough.

How can INFJs recover from narcissistic abuse?

When an INFJ is dealing with narcissistic abuse, it can be extremely damaging to their self-esteem and confidence. The narcissist has spent months or years filling their head with negative thoughts, telling them that they are bad, unworthy, and need to be fixed.

As outlined in my DUO Method, the first step in treatment is to recognize that there is a problem. There may be some denial involved because the INFJ has been subjected to constant criticism and manipulation by this person. When the INFJ realizees that they are being abused and that the abuser has no regard for their feelings or their needs, they’ve already taken the first step toward narcissistic abuse recovery.

The next step involves learning how the abuser thinks and operates so that they can spot the red flags before they get into another toxic relationship, as well as learning how you got into the relationship in the first place and what you can do in the future to protect yourself from similar situations.

It is important for INFJs to develop a strong support system during this time and seek out other people who understand what they are going through. Therapy and narcissistic abuse recovery coaching can also be helpful in teaching them how to set boundaries without feeling guilty or ashamed of themselves.

Recovery from narcissistic abuse really sort of begins when you stop blaming yourself for what happened. You may feel that the narcissist was right about you all along, but when you’ve finished the second phase in recovery, you’ll understand the psychlogy of what happened and you’ll see the patterns around them.

Finally, the INFJ will overcome narcissistic abuse by ending or minimizing the relationship in their lives before evolving into the best possible version of themselves.

INFJs: Questions to Ask Yourself After Narcissistic Abuse

  • What are your personality strengths and how do they relate to narcissism?
  • When you were being abused by a narcissist did you get caught up in the narcissist’s web of lies and manipulation? If so, what did it feel like?
  • How did you deal with the narcissist’s flow of constant criticism during the relationship and now that it is over?
  • How do you handle working through your feelings of self-blame, guilt, shame, and not feeling good enough?

Can an INFJ be a narcissist?

Can an INFJ be a narcissist? It’s possible, though unlikely, that an INFJ personality type can be a narcissist.  First, we have to consider this: Since Narcissists really haven’t manifested any original, true identity (and since they tend to lie to even themselves), any Myers-Briggs Personality Test result would (or at the very least) could be false. Narcissists won’t or can’t see any true insight into their false selves.

The truth is that their actual identity is comprised of “borrowed” personality traits, hobbies, choices, and frustrations from other people in their lives. There’s not a lot of substance. Narcissists usually aren’t capable of self-reflection – and don’t forget: they lie – to themselves and everyone else. With all of that being said, here is what you’d see if narcissism manifested in each of the 16 personality types – watch this video.

Communication Struggles for INFJs After Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Many INFJs find themselves struggling with communication folloing narcissistic abuse. Part of this is because they might be (or have become) more introverted due to their abuse. Some of the issues that introverts have when communicating with others are due to the very definition of being an introvert.

INFJs are silent perfectionists.

Due to perfectionistic tendencies, introverts frequently don’t speak up, even when they have something to say because they fear it won’t be insightful enough or it will come out all wrong.

INFJs might neglect phone calls.

You much prefer to text or email because you can skip the small talk and it’s socially acceptable with those forms of communication. But phone calls… shudder! You find yourself procrastinating making important phone calls or returning calls, even to those you love. You have to feel energized enough to be an enthusiastic participant in the conversation, which can cause you to put off making calls, even if they are vital.

INFJs prefer to fly solo.

Because you need to think before you speak and because you need to have silence while you ponder, you find it challenging to participate in the conversation when there are comments and ideas flying everywhere. You may feel like you can’t gather your thoughts well enough to contribute to the conversation.

INFJs are overwhelmed and exhausted by large groups.

When you have to be around a lot of people, especially if you don’t know them, you feel exhausted fast. One reason for this is because it involves a lot of small-talk, which doesn’t come naturally to introverts. Putting out that much effort wears you out.

In fact, working in groups can be even worse for an introvert than small-talk. When you must rely on others to communicate in ways that aren’t comfortable or understandable to you, it’s a real challenge to complete the project. There’s also the issue of your perfectionism too. Because of your practice of thinking through every possible issue and solution, you are committed to only turning out perfection… but others in the group don’t often care as much about this as completion, or they have a very different perception of what “perfection” is.

INFJs can feel lonely in a crowded room.

Introverts often feel left out of a rapid conversation, whether it’s at a party or a work conference. This often occurs because, by the time you determine what you want to say and the best way to say it, the group has moved onto a new topic. You can easily feel left out and lonely during these discussions – more so than if you were actually alone.

INFJs CAN Recover From Narcissistic Abuse

Many INFJs are able to rebound from abuse and go on to have happy and fulfilling lives; however, there is no “road map” for recovery. Abuse is difficult for everyone, and for INFJs it can be especially hard because of their tendency to overlook their personal needs in favor of being selfless and accommodating.

The key to understanding the process for INFJs is realizing that we are dealing with an abuse of power. It is because of immature, unfulfilled expectations of what romantic relationships should be that the narcissist tries to take control. Whether it’s because they were not treated with the love they expected when they were younger, or whether they are simply incapable of truly loving anyone else, the narcissist is only capable of meeting their own needs.

What’s important to remember is that you are not alone, and that you can work through your pain. The first step is recognizing the abuse for what it is. From there, you need to learn how to love yourself again. Below are some additional resources to help you get started on your narcissistic abuse recovery.

Get help with narcissistic abuse recovery right now.

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,

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