Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Glossary

A comprehensive guide to words and phrases (related to narcissism, NPD and related conditions, narcissistic abuse and narcissistic abuse recovery) that are commonly used in articles, videos and narcissistic abuse recovery support groups. Defined here as specifically how they relate to narcissism, narcissistic abuse and narcissistic abuse recovery, these terms have been developed by psychologists, coaches, therapists and survivors of narcissistic abuse who need a way to understand and overcome the abuse.
Please note: This glossary is copyrighted just like all the other content on this website and you do not have permission to copy it, reproduce it or publish it in any fashion. You may share a link to the page with anyone you like, and you may link directly to it from your own page. 

Written by Angie Atkinson, Certified Life Coach/Copyright Angela Atkinson & BlissFireMedia, LLC


Abandonment – An adult with NPD has a serious fear of abandonment and the same can be said for his or her victim, in many cases. The narcissist is terrified of being found out for what they really are or for what they think they are not. They fear rejection, abandonment and criticism. Their parents or caregivers in childhood abandoned them or rejected them, in reality, or emotionally.

Abuse Amnesia

Abuse Amnesia – Often suffered by survivors of abuse who finally go no contact or leave the narcissist, this is when “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” on a toxic level. You literally sort of “forget” all of the bad stuff and begin to romanticize the reality of your toxic relationship. This is dangerous as it leads to reuniting with your abuser. 


ACONs – An acronym for adult children of narcissists.

Adult Child

Adult Child – The child of a toxic parent who is forced to act like an adult before his or her time.

Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD)

Antisocial Personality Disorder – Considered a “mental health disorder” that is characterized by a blatant disregard for other people.


Anxiety – Often accompanies narcissistic abuse and recovery, this is a nervous disorder that is characterized by excessive uneasiness and apprehension, often with compulsive behavior or panic attacks.

Anxiety Attack

Anxiety Attack – Another word for a panic attack. The abrupt onset of extreme, intense fear and/or discomfort that reaches its pinnacle usually within a few minutes. The anxiety/panic attack must include at least four of the following symptoms: Palpitations, pounding heart or accelerated heart rate. Sweating. Trembling or shaking. Shortness of breath or smothering.

Attachment Theory

Attachment theory – A psychological, evolutionary, and ethological theory concerning relationships between humans. When it comes to narcissistic abuse recovery, the significance of attachment theory and attachment style cannot be overstated. The premise of attachment theory is that, during infancy, children have a deep, intrinsic need to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver (specifically, the mother in most cases) for normal social and emotional development. When this doesn’t happen, the development of the brain and psychology are affected in dramatic ways, leading to unhealthy attachment styles. Certain attachment styles can naturally lead to both narcissism and codependency.

  • Attachment in this case would be defined as a deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space.
  • Attachment theory basically helps us understand that our relationships with our mothers can affect us and our lifelong development (and even our relationships with others) in profound ways.
  • In psychology, attachment theory as we know it today first originated in 1958, when child psychiatrist John Bolby recognized the importance of a child’s relationship with their mother. It turns out, he realized, that our emotional, social, and cognitive development are directly affected by our attachment to our mothers.
  • Along with fellow researcher James Robertson, Bolby found that children who were separated from their mothers experienced extreme distress, which led to anxiety. This, they assumed, could have been related to the idea that their mothers fed and cared for them, but they noticed that the separation anxiety would not diminish even when the kids were fed and cared for by other caregivers.
  • Before this, other researchers had underestimated the bond between a child and its mother and had assumed that it was the feeding of the infant that bonded a mother and child.
  • Bowlby was the first to propose that attachment could be an evolutionary thing – the child’s caregiver obviously is the person who provides safety, security and food. So, he reckoned, being attached to the mother would increase a baby’s chance of survival.

Learn more about attachment styles and how they affect the development of both narcissists and codependents. 


Baiting –  Baiting happens when a toxic person intentionally tries to make you angry, upset or to otherwise get a “rise” of emotion out of you. For example, the narcissist might use this when he or she wants to start an argument.


Bashing – A manipulation tactic in which the narcissist provokes, antagonizes and torments you. They may also belittle and invalidate you during bashing. 


Bi-Polar – A personality disorder that is sometimes confused with NPD, includes manic episodes. Bi-Polar Personality Disorder may also include a wide range of symptoms including excessive energy, reduced need for sleep, and loss of touch with reality. This disorder also includes depressive episodes may include symptoms such as low energy, low motivation, and loss of interest in daily activities.

Black Sheep

Black Sheep – Also known as the scapegoat of the toxic family structure, the black sheep is the one who always gets blamed for everything that goes wrong for everyone, a member of a family or group. The black sheep is usually considered the outcast, the “bad kid” or a straight-up disgrace to the family.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Borderline Personality Disorder – A mental health disorder or personality disorder that manifests in a number of symptoms, including an ongoing pattern of mood swings, distorted self-image, and various behavior issues. While this disorder is sometimes mistaken for narcissistic personality disorder, the two are different in that people with BPD have empathy, and those with NPD do not. Survivors of narcissistic abuse are sometimes misdiagnosed with BPD, and clearly, its symptoms can result in impulsive actions and major problems in relationships.


Boundaries – To establish healthy boundaries, you need to be clear with your partner who you are, what you want, your beliefs and values, and specifically what your limits are. Narcissists do not allow this. They are known for pushing and stepping on boundaries in order to manipulate and control you more easily.

Brain Fog

Brain Fog – The feeling of dissociation or disconnectedness often experienced during and after narcissistic abuse. A symptom of C-PTSD. Feeling lost, like you’re not really there, or like you’re watching your life through a screen or a bubble.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – A complicated and often misunderstood disorder that manifests in extreme fatigue that can’t be explained by any underlying medical condition. Also called systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). Some researchers suggest it can be caused by narcissistic abuse.


Closure – A sense of resolution or conclusion at the end of a relationship, often denied to survivors of narcissistic abuse by their abusers. Survivors often find themselves obsessed with figuring out the details and implications of the relationship as a result of not getting closure, and many are forced to either find their own closure or to spend years trying to heal after a toxic relationship.

Cluster B Personality Disorders

Cluster B personality disorders – A group of personality disorders that manifest in dramatic, overly emotional or unpredictable thinking and behavior. Cluster B includes antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder


Codependency – A toxic emotional and behavioral condition that makes it nearly impossible to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form and stay in relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive.


Codependent – A person in a dysfunctional “helping” relationship, in which one person supports and/or enables the person’s abuse, addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, and/or under-achievement. Often acts like a “people pleaser.”

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance – A form of psychological stress or discomfort that happens when you simultaneously hold two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. Often affects narcissists as well as their victims at different times and for very different reasons.

Cognitive Distortions

Cognitive distortions are defined as  “exaggerated or irrational thought patterns that are believed to perpetuate the effects of psychopathological states, especially depression and anxiety.”  In other words, cognitive distortions are a person’s perspectives that are naturally biased toward their own beliefs and perceptions of the world around them.  Psychologists say they are generally rather irrational thoughts and beliefs that we as humans tend to reinforce over time without realizing it.

Complex Post Traumatic Disorder (CPTSD)

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) – A serious mental health condition affecting a large percentage of victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse. This disorder can take years to treat and many professionals aren’t familiar with its symptoms or misdiagnose it. They may even victim-blame if they aren’t familiar with the subtle tricks of a narcissist. Unfortunately, it can be a lifelong condition, but it can be managed with mindfulness and behavior modification, among other therapies and modalities.

Core Wound

Core Wound – Most people can identify some “core wound” or trauma from childhood that has helped to shape their personality. Narcissists may be aware of theirs, but if they would take the time to actually deal with it, they might be cured. Unfortunately, to date, it hasn’t been demonstrated.

Countering or Countermanipulation

Countering – Also called counter manipulation, this is a controversial tactic used by a victim of a narcissist who has become desperate enough to use the narcissist’s own tricks against him/her. Some would call it simply environmental adaptation.


Counter-Transference – When a therapist becomes personally emotionally involved with a client on an unhealthy level. 

Covert Narcissist

Covert Narcissist – A very subtle, but equally toxic form of narcissism that is exhibited by someone with a more introverted personality. It’s characterized by grandiose fantasies and thoughts, a perception of entitlement, and a general sentiment of being better than others.


Cupcake – A term for one’s “toxic person,” coined by Angie Atkinson during  a YouTube live stream where she was attempting to make a point about how the label of the person doesn’t matter. If the person is toxic for your life, they are someone you need to get away from. Atkinson said, “I don’t care if you call them a narcissist, a jerk or Cupcake, toxic is toxic.” The term was quickly adopted by the SPANily. 

Cycle of Abuse or Narcissistic Abuse Cycle

What is the cycle of narcissistic abuse?

The cycle of narcissistic abuse is a pattern used by a narcissistic personality disorder, psychopathic, or sociopathic person to entrap their victims. For the most part, victims will experience four main phases, including the idealization phase, also known as love bombing, followed by the devaluation and discard phases. After that, the narcissist will often try to bring you back into the relationship, or at least into their “circle of supply,” through a tactic we call the hoover maneuver. The hoover maneuver can involve several different manipulative behaviors designed to get your attention. This cycle will repeat throughout the relationship, whether or not it’s ever officially ended. In many cases, the “final discard” only happens when you choose to end it yourself. This is because the narcissist will continue to use you for narcissistic supply as long as you allow it in most cases.

What are the effects of narcissistic abuse on the victim?

It’s a common red-flag symptom of NPD abuse, and it’s one that many victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse and gaslighting in relationships report: they feel like they don’t matter. They feel like the narcissist made it clear that they aren’t good enough, or at least that they’re not as good as the narcissist.

Dark Triad

Dark Triad – Includes the personality traits of narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. These are known as “dark” because of their malevolent qualities.

Dependent Personality Disorder

According to the Cleveland Clinic, Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD) is an anxious personality disorder. Someone with DPD feels generally helpless, like they can’t take care of themselves at all. There is so much more to learn about dependent personality disorder, but contrary to popular belief, it is not the same as codependency (here’s why).

Here are some resources that might help you. 

Dependent Personality Disorder Resources

Codependency Resources 

Related articles for People Struggling with Codependency


D-Factor – Something seen in the Dark Triad personality traits, this is a high-level dispositional tendency. Recent research states that the D-Factor is can be seen in any specific dark trait and any toxic or malevolent behavior.


Deflection – A manipulation tactic used by a narcissist to take the attention away from something he or she did wrong or did to hurt you. Specifically, used in conversation or an argument to deter you from your intended purpose.


Denial – Often employed by the narcissist and the victim in varying degrees and for different reasons, denial is simply refusing to accept reality as fact, or acting as if a painful event, thought or feeling did not exist. For a victim, denial can manifest when we don’t recognize a terrible situation for what it is, or when we can’t see a negative quality in ourselves that might be causing us to be stuck in a toxic relationship. For a narcissist, it means denying their deep issues or denying things that are true. Psychologists consider denial to be one of the most primitive of the defense mechanisms because it is something that develops in early childhood.


Depression – Often suffered by victims of narcissistic abuse, depression is a mental health disorder that manifests in a persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life.


Devaluation – When a narcissist tears you down emotionally, insults you (outright or covertly) and makes you doubt yourself and your self-worth. This is done as part of the cycle of abuse and when effective, it can cause you to believe you don’t have a chance of finding someone better, or that you’re not worthy of love or consideration. The narcissist will often use devaluation to keep you from leaving by implanting such ideas in your head. Alternatively, some narcissists don’t even recognize they’re doing it since it’s part of the standard cycle of abuse. It can happen to a “thing” just as easily as a person, when a narcissist is involved.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) – A type of psychotherapy designed to help people who need to change patterns of behavior that are not helpful, such as self-harm, suicidal ideation, and substance abuse. Also effective with recovery from narcissistic abuse for some people. 


Discard – Either literally or figuratively, the narcissist “throws you away,” or pushes you out of their life. This can happen as part of a rotating cycle of abuse, or it can be a final “break-up” or end of a toxic relationship.


Discounting – A manipulation tactic used by a narcissist to make you feel like you don’t matter, or like your opinion, your thoughts, your beliefs, your ideas aren’t valid. The process of invalidation.

Discovery Phase

Discovery Phase – The first step in Angie Atkinson’s DUO Method, this phase is when you first recognize that you aren’t crazy after all and that you really are dealing with a toxic person. You often feel relief, confusion and overwhelm simultaneously during the discovery phase.


Dissociation – A separation of normally related mental processes. Dissociation manifests as brain fog, or feeling disconnected from reality. Sometimes developed as a trauma response – a way to “get away” in your mind. Dissociation can in extreme cases lead to multiple personality disorder or dissociative identity disorder.

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) – Once called multiple personality disorder, DID is a complex psychological condition that is likely caused by many factors, including severe trauma during early childhood (usually extreme, repetitive physical, sexual or emotional abuse). Survivors of narcissistic abuse may on occasion develop DID.


DoNM – An acronym for daughters of narcissistic mothers.

Double Life

Double Life – When narcissists hide part of their life or personality. Often involves pathological lying and cheating, second families, hidden children.


DSM – The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition is the 2013 update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the taxonomic and diagnostic tool published by the American Psychiatric Association.

DUO Method

DUO Method – Angie Atkinson created this method of healing from narcissistic abuse. The method includes the Discovery, Understanding and Overcoming phases.


Duplicity – A narcissist’s deceitfulness; double-dealing.

Dysfunctional Relationship

Dysfunctional Relationship – A relationship that doesn’t emotionally support one or both of the people involved. Often involves resentment, contempt, communication problems and varying forms of physical, emotional and psychological abuse.

Emotional Abandonment

Emotional Abandonment – An emotional state caused by someone making you feel undesired, left behind, insecure or discarded. It causes you to lost, cut off from a crucial source of affection or security that has been withdrawn, either suddenly, or through a process of erosion.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional Abuse – Also called psychological abuse, this is a form of abuse in which a toxic person subjects or exposes you to repeated behavior that often results in long-term psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or a form of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Emotional Rollercoaster

Emotional Rollercoaster – A ride no one wants to be on, it’s how it feels to be in a relationship with a toxic narcissist.


Empath – Someone who naturally “feels” the emotions of other people and acts in accordance. Empaths are often targets for narcissistic abuse.


Empathy – The ability to understand and share the feelings of another, the lack of which is a defining quality of all toxic narcissists.


Enabler – In the toxic family structure, the parent who is married to a narcissist, or the family member who supports the narcissist’s manipulation and abuse, often as part of a trauma bond or fear of (or to prevent) the narcissist’s reaction to a given issue. In some cases, this can also refer to flying monkeys. People who willingly or otherwise do the narcissist’s bidding and support their agenda.


Enmeshment – In toxic relationships, a condition in which your personal boundaries are permeable and unclear. You may not even realize it’s happening as the narcissist’s manipulation can be pervasive.


Entitlement – The feeling that one should automatically get special privileges, an exaggerated sense of which is almost always felt by narcissists.


Envy – Feelings of extreme jealousy experienced by the narcissist which result in increased abuse to the primary source of narcissistic supply.


Evolution Phase – The point in narcissistic abuse recovery where you’re starting your new life and consider yourself to be “over the narcisisst.” This is the GOOD part.


Evolve – the phase after “overcoming” in the DUO method.


Exploitation – Using someone for your own personal gain or amusement. A typical narcissistic tactic.

False Flattery

False Flattery – Also known as idealization, it’s when a narcissist puts you on a pedestal and makes sure you’re good and confused when he/she knocks you off of it during the devalue phase.

False Self

False Self – The “personality” the narcissist shows “outsiders” and probably showed you when you first met. Also called narcissistic mask, because when it slips, you see the narcissist’s true self, which inevitably traumatizes you. 

False Vulnerability

False Vulnerability – Displayed by a narcissist to gain sympathy, get attention and gain trust. A big part of the covert or vulnerable narcissist’s game

Fake Apology

Fake Apology – Also called fauxpology, the narcissist pretends to genuinely regret his/her actions but secretly does not. A tactic used by a narcissist to manipulate people into trusting them or taking them back after betrayal. Also used to get what they want. 


Fibromyalgia – Suffered by a shockingly large amount of narcissistic abuse survivors, this is a common neurological health issue that manifests in widespread body pain and tenderness (sensitivity to touch). The pain and tenderness tend to come and go and move to different areas the body. Controversial in some circles, fibromyalgia has been linked to narcissistic abuse and other traumatic experiences over a long period of time. 

Financial Abuse

Financial Abuse – A tactic used by a narcissist in which they use money to control and or manipulate you. This can be done by restricting you from accessing family money or by forcing you to provide all of the money, and may involve blatant lying about, theft of and/or hiding of family money, among other forms of manipulation and control. 

Flipping the Script

Flipping the Script – When the narcissist turns a conversation about something they did wrong into a conversation about something you did wrong. Also called narcissistic flip by Angie Atkinson.

Flying Monkeys

Flying monkeys – People who willingly or otherwise do the narcissist’s bidding and support their agenda. Enablers.


F.O.G. – An acronym for fear, obligation and guilt. A manipulation tactic used by a narcissist to keep you spinning and to keep you from leaving or winning anything, ever.


FOO – Acronym for Family of Origin, the family you were born into or grew up with, if you were adopted. 

Future Faking

Future Faking – A manipulation tactic in which the narcissist makes promises to you about an amazing future you’re going to have, but never delivers. Often employed during love bombing and hoovering. 


Gaslighting is a pervasive and highly effective manipulation tactic used by most narcissists, meant to manipulate you by psychological means into questioning your own sanity. It is pure brainwashing. In addition to toxic narcissists, many abusers and cult leaders use this tactic, not to mention dictators. They do it slowly and subtly – so it kind of sneaks up on you before you realize it’s happening.


Ghosting – When the narcissist disappears on you without a word. May reappear at any given time, ready for more narcissistic supply.

Golden Child

Golden Child – In  a toxic family, the child who can do no wrong and who is held up as an example to the other kids.This role can be revolving between kids over days, months and years – even hours sometimes.


Grandiosity – A trait of narcissistic personality disorder, this is an unrealistic sense of superiority, a the opinion that they are better than you. The narcissist sees others with disdain or as inferior, and considers him/herself as unique. Believes that few others have anything in common with oneself and that one can only be understood by special or high-status people. 


Grandstanding – Political and narcissistic manipulation technique that involves  turning up their noses or moral/ethical disapproval. Narcissists will act or speak in a way intended to attract attention and influence the opinion of people watching.

Grey Rock

Grey rock – Also known as Gray Rock, this technique was named and first published by a writer called Skylar, who advises that you act boring and don’t react to the narcissist’s attempts to engage you in drama. The tactic is highly effective but also infuriating for narcissists to experience. Use with caution if you are dealing with any physical abuse as the narcissist may not react well. 

Healthy Narcissism

Healthy Narcissism – Every thinking person has a certain amount of narcissism in his or her personality. It’s simply “self-interest” and it is why we feed ourselves, clothe ourselves and get out and do what we have to do to live. Having a high opinion of yourself doesn’t make you a narcissist, but healthy narcissism does still allow for empathy and concern for others.

Histrionic Personality Disorder

Histrionic personality disorder is a personality disorder characterized by a pattern of excessive attention-seeking behaviors, usually beginning in early childhood. In some cases, someone diagnosed with HPD may be a survivor of sex abuse in childhood, but not always. HPD involves repeated episodes of inappropriate social behaviors, most commonly marked by seduction along with an excessive need for approval from literally almost everyone with whom they come in contact.


Hoovering – Named after the famous vacuum cleaner company, Hoovering is what we call it when the narcissist tries to “suck you back in” after the discard. This can be drama-related or it can be an attempt to reconcile the relationship, or to get you to break no contact. 


Hypervigilance – Often experienced by victims of narcissistic abuse, this is an enhanced state of sensory sensitivity accompanied by intensity and anxiety. Includes excessive snooping, searching and watching of activity. Hypervigilance leads to a state of increased anxiety, making you feel exhausted. Victims of cheating narcissists are especially prone to this state. In some cases, narcissists may develop a sort of hypervigilance that they use to control your behavior and activity.


Idealization – Also called love bombing. This usually happens during the initial stages of a relationship with a narcissist, this is a perception in which the person attributes exaggeratedly positive qualities to the self or others.

Inner Child

We talk often about the inner child in the narcissistic abuse recovery community, but do you really know what it means? On a very basic level, according to psychologists, the “inner child” is simply that part of you that never grows up. It is your inner childlike aspect. It exists within you and seems to only recognize those things you learned as a child before you hit puberty.

It might help you to see it as a separate aspect of your whole self. In analytical psychology, the term inner child refers to a semi-independent sort of subpersonality – an aspect of your self. It is separate from your waking conscious mind, but it directly affects your experiences and your understanding of the world.

Healing your inner child is a big part of the narcissistic abuse recovery process and is used in various psychological and health settings. The inner child concept became popularized by the books of  John Bradshaw.

Intentional Vibration Management

Intentional Vibration Management – A term coined by Angie Atkinson, this is similar to mindfulness but it involves constantly being aware of your thoughts and emotions and choosing to intentionally form an experience both. A healthy way for survivors to take back control of their emotions, minds, experiences and lives. 

Intermittent Reinforcement

Intermittent Reinforcement – Similar to “crumbs” of affection, in the context of a toxic relationship, intermittent reinforcement is when the narcissist offers “rewards” such as affection, approval and validation only some of the time. This keeps the victim hooked on the narcissist because they’re always trying to get those “crumbs” of love, and when they don’t receive any, they try that much harder. Very toxic manipulation tactic. 


Invalidation – A manipulation tactic used by a narcissist to make you feel like you don’t matter, or like your opinion, your thoughts, your beliefs, your ideas aren’t valid.

Inverted Narcissist

Inverted Narcissist – A covert narcissist has an intense need to be in a co-dependent “relationship” with a narcissist.  This person usually attempts to control and manipulate the narcissist. They also enable the narcissist. They can only function with a narcissist so they always act submissive and happily accept their position as a subordinate.


Isolation – Kept away from people in your life. This happens when you get into a relationship with a narcissist, who will isolate you by pushing away anyone who might support you emotionally or otherwise. It makes you more dependent on the narcissist. You may also self-isolate as a result of emotional exhaustion and/or social anxiety developed after or during a relationship with a narcissist. 


Jealousy – When someone feels unhappy or angry because they want to have what someone else has. Also an unhappy or angry feeling caused by the belief that someone you love (such as your husband or wife) likes or is liked by a competitor. 

An often irrational emotion expressed by the narcissist. Also an emotion inflicted upon the victim by the narcissist in order to manipulate and control. 

L.O.V.E. Movement

L.O.V.E. Movement – A movement created by Angie Atkinson. In addition to the mission of empowering survivors of narcissistic abuse to become thrivers and to create the lives they want, has launched a movement to spread awareness and to help survivors create change in their own families and social circles to prevent enabling and creating toxic people in this world.

Lost Child

Lost Child – In the toxic family structure, the lost child is the one who is quiet, doesn’t make any trouble and doesn’t get any attention. 

Love Addiction

Love Addiction – The feeling of not being able to live without the idea of love; a pathological behavior involving the feeling of being in love. Very dangerous for the victims of narcissistic abuse as it makes it even more impossible to leave when trauma bonding is a factor. 

Love Bombing

Love bombing – Also called idealization. This usually happens during the initial stages of a relationship with a narcissist, this is a perception in which the person attributes exaggeratedly positive qualities to the self or others

Low Contact

Low contact – Used when you’re forced to deal with a toxic narcissist due to shared children, business or other obligations, this is a modified form of no-contact where you only deal with the narcissist when and as you are required to do so, and you do not engage emotionally.

Magical Thinking

Magical Thinking –  Commonly used by narcissists, this is the belief that their thoughts, wishes, or desires will magically make everything go the way they want, and will make everyone be the people the narcissist wants them to be. It is also common in very young children.


Marginalization – When a narcissist makes you feel insignificant. They push you out of your social groups and make you feel like you don’t matter. They minimize and invalidate you. 


Mascot – In the toxic family structure, the child who often is one of the youngest in the family and who humor to defend against family pain.

Malignant Narcissist

Malignant NarcissistSomeone who has narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) along with antisocial features, paranoid traits, and ego-driven aggression. They may also exhibit an absence of conscience, a psychological need for power and an inflated sense of self-importance and entitlement.


Mindfulness – In narcissistic abuse recovery, it is 
an intentional focus that you use in a psychological process of bringing your attention to what is happening right now, in this moment. This can be developed by anyone through the practice of meditation and through other training, such as the Intentional Vibration Management technique that Angie Atkinson teaches. 


Mirroring – Sometimes employed by narcissists as a manipulation tactic, this is the usually subconscious replication of another person’s nonverbal signals. 

Moving the Goalposts

Moving the goalposts –  A metaphor for a narcissistic manipulation tactic that means to change the goal while something is already happening, in such a way that the new goal offers the narcissist an intentional advantage and the target an intentional disadvantage.


Narc – Short for narcissist.

Narc Bait

Narc Bait – Someone who has all the qualities a narcissist seeks in a victim. Codependent


Narcissist – In general, someone with a high opinion of him/herself. In narcissistic abuse situations, this refers to a toxic, verbally (and sometimes physically) abusive person who may have narcissistic personality disorder.


Narcissistic Abuse

Narcissistic abuse is a pervasive, covert type of abuse that involves the exploitation and psychological abuse of one partner in a toxic relationship. This kind of abuse can affect a personal connection, such as marriage, partnership, friendship, or family relationships. When you’re dealing with a narcissist in the family, they will often abuse everyone in the household and even affect the extended family members. Even professional relationships and acquaintanceships can be affected by narcissistic abuse.

While narcissistic abuse can result in profound emotional and psychological harm, as well as long-term physical effects, the covert nature can make it difficult to spot and even more challenging to manage. Worse, if you find yourself involved in this kind of relationship, your self-confidence and self-worth are often so low by the time you realize it, you can’t or won’t leave.

Not all abuse involves narcissists, but in a large percentage of abuse cases, a narcissist is involved. Narcissists of the toxic nature are those who have little to no empathy for the people around them and who act from that perspective. That is: they don’t care how you or anyone else feels, and you can tell because of the way they treat the people around them. Narcissistic abuse involves subtle manipulation, pervasive control tactics, gaslighting, and emotional and psychological abuse.  Many narcissistic abusers might be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder – if they actually go to a psychologist for diagnosis, but this rarely happens as narcissists don’t feel that there’s anything with them. They may be overtly narcissistic, or they may be more of a covert narcissist. In either case, anyone in a close relationship with one of these toxic people will be used as a form of narcissistic supply and not treated like an actual person. Sadly, even the most intelligent and educated people can be manipulated and abused by a narcissist.

Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome

Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome – An often-unrecognized disorder that affects victims of narcissistic abuse. 

Narcissistic Filibuster

Narcissistic Filibuster – When a narcissist won’t shut up; used as a way to manipulate you into doing or agreeing to what they want. The narcissist talks in circles, often for hours and hours until you’re practically begging them to do whatever it is (or until you forgive them for their transgressions). Generally, this causes you to give in due to emotional exhaustion. The opposite of the silent treatment. A term coined by Angie Atkinson. 

Narcissistic Fleas

Narcissistic Fleas – Behaviors that victims pick up from narcissists, such as verbal bullying, coldness and an apparent lack of empathy. The good news is these “fleas” can be eradicated with mindfulness and intention.

Narcissistic Flip

Narcissistic Flip – A term coined by Angie Atkinson. When the narcissist turns a conversation about something they did wrong into a conversation about something you did wrong. Also called flipping the script.

Narcissistic FOG

Narcissistic FOG – FOG is an acronym for the Fear, Obligation and Guilt narcissists use to confuse, manipulate and control their victims. 

Narcissistic Harem

Narcissistic Harem – A group of people who are dedicated to giving the narcissist supply. Often, they are unaware that they are part of the group. May include both lovers and platonic/family relationships. 

Narcissistic Injury

Narcissistic Injury – When a narcissist gets upset, hurt or offended about being treated like a normal person, or when they don’t get special treatment or favors, or literally anytime they don’t get what they want. A manipulation tactic often used in combination with narcissistic rage to get what they want from a target. 

Narcissistic Mask

Narcissistic Mask – Also called False Self. The “personality” the narcissist shows “outsiders” and probably showed you when you first met. When it slips, you see the narcissist’s true self, which inevitably traumatizes you. 

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

Narcissistic Personality Disorder – Not considered to be a “mental illness,” this 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.

Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI)

Narcissistic Personality Inventory – A test developed in 1979 by Raskin and Hall that is designed to detect the level of narcissism in the subject.

Narcissistic Rage

Narcissistic Rage – Often coupled with narcissistic injury, narcissistic rage is used by a narcissist when they know they’re wrong but won’t admit it, or when they don’t get what they want, or when people don’t treat them different or more special than others, or when their sense of entitlement is threatened – anytime things don’t go their way. This is when narcissists get inconsolably angry in an attempt to bully or coerce you into giving them what they want. 

Narcissistic Supply

Narcissistic supply –  Usually a person, but can also be a pet or group of people, the narcissistic supply is used by the narcissist to get attention, validation, admiration – all the “supply” they need to feed their ego. The narcissist often has a circle of supply or “narcissistic harem.” 

Narcissistic Whirl

Narcissistic Whirl – A typical response by a narcissist when a victim turns the tables and uses gray rock in response to the narcissist’s attempt to gaslight and manipulate him/her. A term coined by Angie Atkinson.

Narcissistic Wound

Narcissistic Wound – Usually in childhood, the narcissist is shamed or disgraced in a way, that causes them to never again feel good about who they are.


Narcula – A term for a narcissist coined by the SPANily during live chats on YouTube. Used instead of the person’s name, for privacy reasons as well as therapeutic ones. 

Neurological Disorders

Neurological Disorders – Disorders and diseases of the brain, spine and the nerves that connect them. There are more than 600 diseases of the nervous system. Many survivors of narcissistic abuse suffer with neurological disorders as a result of CPTSD. 

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) – A way of enhancing communication, personal development and psychotherapy created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in California, United States in the 1970s. Often used to help in healing from narcissistic abuse. 

Neurological Effects

Neurological Effects – Structural, biochemical or electrical abnormalities in the brain, spinal cord or other nerves can result in a range of symptoms. Commonly found in survivors of long-term narcissistic abuse, even when disorders aren’t diagnosed. 


Neuroplasticity –Offering hope for survivors of narcissistic abuse, this is how our brain can “rewire itself” by forming new neural connections throughout life. This means that the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain can compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment. Even better, we can intentionally control this process if we choose to do so. 


Neurotransmitters are essential to brain function. They’re responsible for sending communication from the brain to the rest of the body. It’s important to maintain an adequate supply of these brain chemicals in order to stay sharp and focused. Your supply is not fixed, and there are steps you can take to ensure the connections in your brain are always strong. Click here to take a closer look at neurotransmitters, how they work and what you can do to maintain them.

No Contact (NC)

No Contact – A technique that is practically required to heal after narcissistic abuse. It involves removing yourself from the narcissist’s life. You stop seeing, speaking to and interacting with the narcissist. This allows you to clear your life of the negative energy they bring into every room. 

Object Constancy

Object Constancy – A Freudian concept that essentially means “out of sight, out of mind.” Narcissists have a significant lack of object constancy, which leads to their inability to love someone and be angry at the same time, among other relational issues.

Overcoming Phase

Overcoming Phase – The third phase of Angie Atkinson’s DUO method of healing from narcissistic abuse, this is when you have already discovered the abuse and spent time learning to understand what you’ve been dealing with. This is when you’re ready to start to move forward and away from the toxic people in your life. Often, this is the time when you can truly begin to go no contact with the narcissist.

Panic Attack

Panic Attack – The abrupt onset of extreme, intense fear and/or discomfort that reaches its pinnacle usually within a few minute. The anxiety/panic attack must include at least four of the following symptoms: Palpitations, pounding heart or accelerated heart rate. Sweating. Trembling or shaking. Shortness of breath or smothering.

Parallel Parenting

Parallel Parenting – How you share a child with a narcissist (in a parallel fashion, rather than a joint effort) because it’s not possible to co-parent with a toxic person in a healthy way.

Parental Alienation

Parental Alienation – A process in which toxic narcissists try to push our children away from us. It is a form of psychological manipulation and is used to trick your child into showing unwarranted fear, disrespect or hostility toward you and or other people in your family. 


Parentification – An unfortunate role reversal often employed by toxic parents in which a child is forced to act as parent to their own parent. In extreme cases, the child is used to fill the void of the parent’s emotional life.

Pathological Liar

Pathological Liar – Someone who is in the habit of lying consistently and for no reason other than to hide the truth or manipulate you, even when there’s no personal gain involved. You know these people are lying because they are talking. (Their lips are moving!) A large percentage of toxic narcissists are pathological liars. 

Pathological Narcissist

Pathological Narcissist – Someone who has been or could be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. Might also be called a malignant narcissist or a toxic narcissist

Physical Abuse

Physical Abuse – A type of abuse where the narcissist physically harms you in order to control you, or threatens to physically harm you (and may actually do so) if you don’t follow their rules or wishes. 

People Pleaser

People Pleaser – A person with a codependent personality who wants everyone to like him/her and who avoids conflict to the point it becomes detrimental to him/herself.

Personal Evolution

Personal Evolution – The silver lining of narcissistic abuse recovery, most survivors come out more aware and awake than those who have not had the experience of going through recovery. The fourth step in the DUO method. 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – A disorder often diagnosed in soldiers, as well as in survivors of abuse, in which a person has difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event.


Projection – A defense mechanism in which the human ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others.

Psychological Abuse

 Psychological Abuse – Also called emotional abuse, this is a form of abuse in which a toxic person subjects or exposes you to repeated behavior that often results in long-term psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or a form of post-traumatic stress disorder.


Psychopath – A person who is diagnosed with psychopathy, a personality disorder characterized by persistent antisocial behavior, impaired empathy and remorse, as well as disinhibited and egotistical traits.

QueenBeeing BEEs

QueenBeeing BEEs – BEEs is an acronym for Boldly Evolving Empaths and refers to a group for survivors who have finished the Discover, Understand and Overcome phases of narcissistic abuse recovery and who are ready to go into the evolution phase. 

Reacting vs. Responding

Reacting vs. responding – A better way of dealing with narcissists. Sort of like gray rock. While a reaction is a quick, instinctive, often tense and aggressive, a response requires you to think before you speak and is usually calmer and not emotionally driven.

Reactive Abuse

Reactive abuse is when you, as someone who is being abused, lash out toward your abuser in response to the abuse to which you’re being subjected. However, the truth is that it is a manipulation tactic that allows the user to shift the blame on to you. s shift blame from themselves onto the victim. You’ll be told that you’re overreacting or being overly dramatic and you’ll be accused of being the abuser yourself.

In other words, reactive abuse refers to what happens when you react in a significant way to a toxic behavior that is repeatedly used to control and manipulate you. Often, it involves a situation in which your reaction confuses or concerns you, and it causes you to begin to wonder if you are in fact the abuser in your relationship. This happens because often, narcissists are so abusive and manipulative that they provoke you into reacting in a way that, out of context, might seem abusive.

Read more about reactive abuse. 

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) – A condition found in kids who were physically and often emotionally neglected in early childhood. They don’t form healthy emotional connections or attachments to their mothers or primary caregivers. This is usually diagnosed before age 5.  This condition leaves the child unable to form normal, loving relationships with others. It is highly difficult to fully treat this condition and some psychologists say it’s impossible.

Real Love

Real Love – A healthy form of human attachment that involves a balanced, equal relationship with normal ebbs and flows where each party gives the other respect, compassion and genuine concern. The opposite of a toxic relationship. 

Reverse Projection

Reverse Projection – A ‘reverse’ form of projection, where you project other people onto yourself. Often used by empaths to attempt to reconcile the narcissist’s behavior (I am good, so they must also be good, for a very high-level example).


Rumination – A common problem for survivors of narcissistic abuse, this is 
when you can’t stop the repeating thoughts in your head, which tend to be sad or dark. This habit can be dangerous to your mental, physical and spiritual health because it prolongs and/or intensifies both depression and your struggle to think and process emotions properly.


Sandbagging – A manipulation tactic that involves sort of “underselling” one’s self in order to impress or shock someone with the truth later. For example, in a game, the sandbagger might pretend to be an amateur but actually be professional. This is used in gambling and games, but also by narcissists for various reasons, including but not limited to getting more narcissistic supply/attention/admiration. 


Scapegoat – Also known as the black sheep, the scapegoat is the person in the toxic family structure who always gets blamed for everything that goes wrong for everyone, a member of a family or group. The black sheep is usually considered the outcast, the “bad kid” or a straight-up disgrace to the family.

Self-Differentiation Process

Self-differentiation process – Being aware of and understanding the ability to separate feelings and thoughts, and the ability to separate your own thoughts and feelings from those of others. 


Self-Esteem – Being aware that you have value, liking yourself, respecting yourself and your own boundaries. Survivors of narcissistic abuse often have very damaged self-esteem. 


Self-Hoovering – A technique named by one of Angie Atkinson’s YouTube viewers, Edward Berry, who says that self-hoovering happens when we “hoover ourselves” back into the relationship with a narcissist out of guilt or due to abuse amnesia.


Self-Worth – The level to which you value yourself. Often this is very low after narcissistic abuse. Similar to self-esteem


Separation-Individuation Process

Separation-Individuation Process – A developmental process that is broken down into four sub-phases: differentiation, practicing, rapprochement, and on the road to object constancy. Psychologists say that separation refers to the process of mentally separating yourself from your mother.  Individuation is about developing your own self-concept.  In toxic families where the mother is a narcissist, this otherwise normal process is often avoided through codependent and controlling behaviors, leaving the child without much self-identity. 



Shaming – A manipulation tactic often employed by narcissists, this involves humiliating you or belittling you, causing you to feel ashamed or inadequate. Often used during smear campaigns.



Shunning – A manipulation tactic in which narcissists reject you and emotionally distance themselves from you in order to get you to do what they want. This can also be seen in smear campaigning, especially where they force friends and family members to “take sides” and leave the victim feeling alone and isolated

Silent Treatment

Silent treatment – A manipulation tactic where narcissists stop talking to you for days, hours, weeks or even months in order to punish you for some perceived slight. It can cause serious emotional and psychological damage if you don’t realize what is happening. 

Smear Campaigns

Smear campaigns – A manipulation tactic where the narcissist spreads rumors and lies about you in order to socially or otherwise isolate you, as well as to get additional narcissistic supply in the form of support or pity from those who are hearing their latest “sob story.”  


Sociopath – A term for someone who has sociopathy, a trauma-based, developed (as opposed to intrinsic) form of 
antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) with symptoms that include a blatant disregard for the feelings or well-being of others.



SPAN – The best narcissistic abuse recovery support group on the web, founded by Angie Atkinson. Offers several subgroups and features a vigilant, compassionate admin team full of trained coaches and survivors, supporting more than 10k members. SPAN is an acronym created by Angie Atkinson that stands for Support for People Affected by Narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. 


SPAN Book Club

SPAN Book Club – Facilitated by long-time SPAN admin and narcissistic abuse survivor Sarah Browne, this club is actively engaged. The group reads and discusses a few books per month together. An amazing community of empathic, intelligent survivors.



SPANily – A nick-name for the communities around QueenBeeing, including our SPAN support groups and Angie Atkinson’s YouTube community, along with the SPANily Home.

“SPANily” is a community-adopted nick-name for the communities around QueenBeeing, including our SPAN support groups and Angie Atkinson’s YouTube community, along with our off-Facebook support site,, and our newly launched Quora Space Decoding Narcissism.

SPAN is an acronym created by Angie Atkinson that stands for Support for People Affected by Narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. The word comes from the letters in the acronym, combined with the word “family.”

A survivor herself, Angie originally coined the phrase during a live stream due to the deep sense of group connectedness, genuinely supportive and caring people who had come together with a shared goal of healing, but who would quickly begin to feel like a kind of “family.”

The community loved and quickly adopted the name and the rest is history.

SPANily Support for Adult Children of Narcissists

SPANily Support for Adult Children of Narcissists – A support group facilitated by Angie Atkinson and Colleen Brosnan specifically designed for adult children of toxic parents.


Splitting –  A defense mechanism that involves “black-and-white thinking” or all-or-nothing thinking, this is the inability or lack of willingness to see that a person can be both good and bad (have both positive and negative qualities) at the same time. 

Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm Syndrome – Similar to trauma bonding, this is a condition that causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity.


Stonewalling – A manipulation tactic often used by narcissists, this is when they refuse to communicate or cooperate with you to resolve an issue. This can be seen in both ignoring you and in body language, and the narcissist may simply refuse to engage in the resolution. 



Supply –  A shortened form of “narcissistic supply,” this is usually a person, but can also be a pet or group of people, the narcissistic supply is used by the narcissist to get attention, validation, admiration – all the “supply” they need to feed their ego. The narcissist often has a circle of supply or “narcissistic harem.” 


Survivor – Someone who has been through narcissistic abuse and is no longer a victim. 



Thriver – Someone who no longer wants to consider him/herself a “survivor” and instead wants to take their life to the next level, and is actively doing so. 


Toxic Family

Toxic Family – A dysfunctional family often lead by a narcissist and/or an enabler. 


Toxic Father

Toxic Father – A father who is neglectful, controllling, abusive or otherwise toxic to his children. 


Toxic Friend

Toxic Friend – A person who is acting like you’re their friend, but who actually only uses you for narcissistic supply


Toxic Mother

Toxic Mother – A mother who is neglectful, controlling, abusive or otherwise toxic to her children. 

Toxic Narcissism

Toxic Narcissism – As opposed to healthy narcissism, this is excessive self-focus that involves a marked lack of empathy for others. 


Toxic People

Toxic People – People who make you feel bad about yourself or your life, who use you as narcissistic supply and who attempt to control and manipulate you to get what they want. 


Toxic Relationship

Toxic Relationship – Similar to a dysfunctional relationship, but less repairable, this kind of relationship involves more negativity than positivity, and it doesn’t emotionally support one or both of the people involved. Often involves resentment, contempt, communication problems and varying forms of physical, emotional and psychological abuse.



Transference – When people redirect their feelings for someone else,
 usually emotions that were originally felt in childhood, to a substitute, often a therapist.



Transform – To intentionally change. After you discover, understand and overcome narcissistic abuse, you begin evolving and eventually, you find yourself transformed or changed into the person you truly want and deserve to be. Part of Angie Atkinson’s DUO Method.


Trauma Bonding

Trauma bonding – Similar to Stockholm Syndrome, this is a condition that causes abuse victims to develop a psychological dependence on the narcissist as a survival strategy during abuse. Also makes recovering from a toxic relationship significantly more difficult. 



Triangulation – A manipulation tactic often employed by narcissists, this is when the narcissist communicates as a third party between two people, but prevents the two from communicating directly through either manipulating or controlling at least one of them. 


Unconditional Self-Acceptance

Unconditional Self-Acceptance – A term used by Angie Atkinson that means to see yourself completely, flaws and all, and to still accept yourself. Part of the self-validation process that can eventually lead to unconditional self-love.


Understanding Phase

Understanding Phase – The third phase in Angie Atkinson’s DUO method, this means to learn about narcissists, narcissism and narcissistic abuse in an intellectual way so that you can eventually get to the overcoming phase, where you can start to move away from the role of survivor and into the role of thriver. 



Validation – Narcissistic abuse survivors often suffer from a lack of it, and abusers often need it to function, this is recognition or affirmation that a person or their feelings, thoughts, ideas and opinions are valid or worthwhile.


Verbal Abuse

Verbal Abuse – An abuse tactic in which the narcissist says horrible, painful things to you that make you doubt your own sanity, worthiness and ability to function as a normal human. Part of psychological abuse and emotional abuse. 


Victim Card

Victim Card – A hypothetical “card” used in victimization; when the narcissist “plays the victim” rather than admitting they are the predator. Often used in smear campaigns.



Victimization – When a narcissist plays the victim. This behavior ends up causing a boost to the narcissist’s ego via the extra attention playing the victim can bring. 


Virtue Signaling

Virtue-Signaling – The narcissist’s attempts to show other people that they are a good person, and often, a superior person, by stating opinions that will be acceptable to them or that will diminish their own. 


Vulnerable Narcissist

Vulnerable Narcissist  –Also Covert Narcissist
A very subtle, but equally toxic form of narcissism that is exhibited by someone with a more introverted personality. It’s characterized by grandiose fantasies and thoughts, a perception of entitlement, and a general sentiment of being better than others.

Word Salad

Word salad – In toxic narcissism, a manipulation tactic that manifests as a confused or unintelligible mixture of seemingly random words and phrases meant to confuse the victim.

World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day

National Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day –World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day (WNAAD) occurs on June 1st every year. Established in 2016,  by psychotherapist and narcissism expert Bree Bonchay, WNAAD is a growing global movement dedicated to raising the profile of narcissistic abuse, providing public pathology education, resources for survivors, and affect policy change. Angie Atkinson has been a proud supporter of this international event that is recognized worldwide since its inception and regularly appears as a featured speaker with Bree Bonchay and Athena Moberg during WNAAD. 

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