When I was younger, I had a thing for a certain type of guy. I was seriously into these “dark and disturbed” types. The rebel without a cause. The guy who wrote poetry, who was probably a starving artist of some kind, and who hated the whole world and like 99 percent of the people in it. He would always have some cause he was super passionate about, and often called people “zombies” or “sheep.” He wasn’t super friendly and being the codependent I was, I would take pleasure in finding this kind of guy in dark corners of parties or other gatherings, and sort making it my mission to get inside his head and make him like me. We would end up having these deep, intellectual, and philosophical conversations that left me feeling like I’d had some sort of religious experience. I’d always be all googly-eyed, thinking that he “saw me” and that we were connecting on some deep level. The only thing was that after an initial couple of meetings, I’d always be left feeling like I’d been duped, but I couldn’t quite figure out why.
Do you know a covert narcissist?
Can you relate? Let me ask you: Have you ever met someone who seemed to be sort of an introvert – they might have been a little shy, and might have even talked about how they were a highly sensitive person or even an empath, but the more you got to know them, they also seemed to kind of show a weird sense of selfishness and low-key egocentricity?
If so, you might have been dealing with a covert narcissist. This is what we call someone who is sort of an “incognito” narcissist. They might act like an introvert as far as most people can tell. People who don’t live with them might even assume they ARE an introvert – just a little shy, maybe a bit too sensitive.
So, how can you tell someone is a covert narcissist? What are the signs and how are they different from introverts and “regular,” more overt narcissists? Do you know how to identify covert narcissism? What are the traits you will see in a covert narcissist?
You might also hear covert narcissists being referred to as vulnerable narcissists, closet narcissists, and introverted narcissists. This is likely due to the fact that they don’t appear to have much self-confidence, as opposed to their overt counterparts. They are the eternal damsel in distress or the martyrs of some oh-so-noble cause.
What is covert narcissism?
Covert narcissism is a term coined by psychotherapist Dr. Karen Horney for individuals who are driven by the desire to be admired. This is a state of being characterized by deep-seated feelings of shame, low self-esteem, and feelings of personal inadequacy. These individuals are often driven by an unconscious fear that they are inadequate or inferior to others. They use charm, manipulation, and intimidation to make themselves feel better, but ultimately they have no real sense of self-worth or unconditional love for themselves, which results in unstable self-concepts and emotional outbursts when frustrated.
What is a Covert Narcissist?
In layman’s terms, a covert narcissist is someone who has narcissistic personality disorder (or might, if they’d ever go see a psychologist for a diagnosis), but who doesn’t seem to have the obvious grandiosity factor. Covert narcissists exhibit 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, perception of entitlement, and a general sentiment of being better than others.
What are the traits of a covert narcissist?
Covert narcissists are known to have an inflated sense of their own self-importance, an extreme need for admiration, and a lack of empathy toward others. Instead of being more concerned with themselves like grandiose narcissists, covert narcissists tend to focus their attention on how other people feel about them.
Covert narcissists often:
1. Are highly sensitive to rejection.
The main trait of a covert narcissist is being highly sensitive to rejection and criticism. This sensitivity leads them to develop a false self, which is used as a shield against potential disapproval and hurt feelings. The false self is easygoing and agreeable but also timid and agreeable — qualities that make others feel safe and secure around them while also making it difficult for them to express their true thoughts or feelings because of fear of rejection.
2. Are great actors.
They can be charming when it suits their needs; this enables them to take advantage of other people without remorse. They can also pretend to be humble and modest when it serves them to do so.
3. Are hypersensitive.
They’re quick to feel slighted or insulted because they hold unrealistic expectations for how others should treat them — as if anyone could ever live up to their grandiose self-image!
4. Are arrogant and boastful.
Their need for adulation prompts them to exaggerate their talents and achievements; they may even lie just to be able to say they’ve done something impressive or noteworthy in their lives. They want to be liked and admired by others, but this desire stems from a belief that they are superior. Covert narcissists believe that they are superior, but they don’t want others to know it.
5. Live with impostor syndrome.
In other words, they fear being exposed as a fraud. As a result, they try to hide their true nature, covering it up with a cloak of meekness and humility. For this reason, it is much easier for other people to take advantage of them than it is with overt narcissists who have no reason or desire to hide their grandiosity.
6. Have fragile egos.
The high standards they set for themselves and others make them prone to feeling humiliated and rejected, so they protect themselves by developing a cold, callous exterior.
Other traits of a covert narcissist include:
A deep need for attention and admiration
Subtly manipulative behaviors and attempts to one-up others
A tendency to display arrogance and a belief that he or she deserves special treatment
An inflated sense of importance, power, and knowledge; exaggerated opinions about their talents and abilities
Why are covert narcissists more difficult to identify?
Someone who is affected by covert narcissism might be harder to detect because they don’t always seem to act as self-important as the more overt or grandiose narcissist. They don’t appear to feel like they’re better than everyone – at least not before you know them well. They appear to be vulnerable and oversensitive, which will often manifest in their behavior as hostility and defensiveness. They will be the one who is quietly looking down their nose at you, judging you and everyone else around them harshly and often unfairly. It might help to understand the similarities and differences between covert narcissists and grandiose or overt narcissists.
Covert Narcissist vs. Grandiose Narcissist: The Similarities
They do have a few things in common with overt narcissists, including:
But how does a covert narcissist differ from an overt narcissist?
Covert Narcissist vs. Grandiose Narcissist: The Differences
Unlike the grandiose narcissist, the covert narcissist will not necessarily display narcissistic behavior that is immediately recognizable. You might even think they’re an empath because they seem so modest, so sensitive and so very unsure of themselves.
While they will have the standard grandiose fantasies for their life – all of which are sure to be unrealistic and self-centered, not to mention ridiculously over-inflated, they will believe that their dreams are unrealistic and unattainable. They will blame the world for somehow holding them back, but secretly believe they are a fraud. You see a lot of “imposter syndrome” in people like this.
Ironically, the covert narcissist will even feel guilty for wanting what they want, and somehow this inner conflict leads them to suppress most of their true feelings.
This leads to the inevitable for a covert narcissist: their inner conflict translates into outer behavior, such as:
Being unacceptably aggressive when it comes to getting what they want
Covert Narcissists and Narcissistic Injury
Ever heard of the “poor me game?” It was likely first played by a covert narcissist. After all, the average covert narcissist spends a lot of time feeling sorry for themselves. They practically invented narcissistic injury. But why do they do this? Why does the “vulnerable narcissist” play the “poor me” game so well?
It all comes down to one thing: covert narcissists hate themselves. In fact, they seem to believe that it is possible to hate yourself BETTER.
Though they continue to demonstrate the behavior they loathe, the covert narcissist is powerless to control their thoughts – and their deep inner conscience is NOT okay with the person they are (or have become).
Covert Narcissists Openly Criticize Themselves
Unlike their more overt counterparts, covert narcissists actually judge themselves more harshly than anyone judges them. And on a deep level, more harshly than they judge other people (at least those outside of his immediate inner circle).
Covert Narcissists Have ‘Quietly High,’ Unreasonable Standards
Either way, while they seem to be outwardly unconcerned with the world, they certainly have quietly high standards for their lives. But these may be outside of “normal” high standards. For example, the covert narcissist might be broke, but he might claim that this is because he doesn’t believe in capitalism, and then he will feel superior to anyone who he considers a sort of “servant to their jobs” or who wants and obtains things of monetary value.
So, they will quietly stick to this unreasonable standard to the best of their abilities, happy to secretly look down their nose at the people they deem “lesser” or otherwise inferior to themselves.
An Example of Typical Covert Narcissistic Behavior
For example, let’s say the covert narcissist is a passionate but broke musician who plays exclusively in basements and backrooms, and who does so because they claim they want to stay true to their art and they don’t want to “sell out.” And one evening after a gig, a record executive comes up to them and asks if they have a demo because they think they might be able to get a recording contract. The covert narcissist at that moment is likely to jump at this opportunity – because who doesn’t want a chance to be rich and famous?
But then, once they take the time to put together a demo and send it to the record exec, the guy either never respond or realizes he was more intoxicated than he thought that night and tells the narcissist that the deal is off. This sends the narcissist into a spiral of self-loathing.
And, of course, anytime the covert narcissist fails to meet these so-called “standards” and behaves in any way that their inner critic deems bad or not desirable (by, in this case, agreeing to “sell out” and sending the demo, rather than snubbing the commercial industry that they’ve always claimed to hate), they’re back to square one: hating both themselves and the “zombies” or “sheep” who caused them to fall off-track.
Now, they hate the industry, and especially the music executives who they say always want to commercialize everything. They even justify their rejection by saying that the exec in question just didn’t get their music because it is somehow above their level of understanding.
Later, they might even make up stories about how they were offered a record deal and turned it down because they wanted to avoid becoming a sellout.
Why the Covert Narcissist Lives with Self-Hate: Distorted Self-Awareness
It all boils down to one thing: a covert narcissist understands on some level that their self-inflating ideas are not quite realistic – at least on some level. So, though they continue to have narcissistic thoughts and even occasional external behaviors, they are always holding themselves to a very high standard. They spend their lives competing with the one person they’ll never be able to beat: themselves – or some version of that.
At the same time, they are incapable of openly accepting blame or responsibility for anything that isn’t positive, and in fact they relate any such admission to weakness and “badness” of other people – which, most likely, is because of the angry kind of envy that psychologists say is involved in the creation of any narcissistic behavior.
The Covert Narcissist is a Perpetual Victim
The covert narcissist is often mistaken for an introvert or a shy person because to the untrained eye, they appear to be a pushover who is generally unassertive. They see themselves (and others see them) as victims or as people who aren’t able to obtain what they should have or deserve. People who don’t really know them may say things like, “oh, they’re just a big teddy bear” or “oh, their bark is worse than their bite!”
They will also:
Have outrageously adolescent daydreams about being a big famous something-or-other
Have feelings of being worthless, countered by feelings of being different, separate or “better” than other people
Have a somewhat questionable grip on reality, leading to personal guilt and self-hate.
Claim to be “a little OCD”
Call themselves a perfectionist
What do you think? Any of that sound familiar to you?
Are you concerned that you might be a covert narcissist?
Question of the Day: Have you ever met a covert narcissist? How could you tell? What characteristics do you think most clearly identify the covert narc? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section, below this video.
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When you think of the term codependency, you may think about someone who is relying on substance abuse. But that isn’t always the case.
What is Codependency?
Codependencyis 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.
In layman’s terms, codependency is being too dependent on others to the point that they cannot function on their own. It happens often in relationships whereas two people are too invested in one another to the point that the one who is too dependent on the other struggles to be independent.
Contrary to Popular Belief: Codependent and Empath Are Not Synonyms
Are all empaths codependent? Are all codependents empaths? I’m helping to clear up a common misconception in the narcissistic abuse recovery community in this video. See, while some codependents are empaths, not all empaths are codependents. In other words, they are two separate concepts that some people have mistaken for synonyms.
How to Know If You’re Codependent in a Toxic Relationship
So, if you have a codependent personality, you are highly likely to end up with someone who is dominant for that obvious reason. You’ll struggle to think and do things on your own without your partner. Are you codependent? Let’s look at the 5 signs that point to the possibility that you could be.
1. You Don’t Trust Yourself
If you are codependent, you struggle with trusting yourself. You don’t think you can make decisions without someone else backing you up. This is a sign that you have low self-esteem and seriously impaired self-confidence. This combined with the fact that you might not believe in yourself anyway can lead to a lack of trust in your own intuition and even perception of the world. This can lead to learned helplessness that makes you fear taking action without the approval of someone else. This can take you to the point that you have to rely on others to tell you what to do, say think, and feel in extreme cases.
2. You Need Validation: The Approval Of Others Means More Than Your Own
It could devastate you if you did a creative project and worked very hard on it, but you didn’t get the approval from others that you wanted or expected. It’s normal to want others to acknowledge your work, but someone who is not codependent will realize that everyone’s taste will not match their style and the approval of others has no effect on what they do. That is just one common example of codependency. If you don’t value yourself, and you do things to gain the approval of others, you’ve got a problem. Stop being a people-pleaser and try focusing on what really makes YOU happy!
If you are not sure how you are feeling whether you are sad, happy, excited, or bored, that can be a sign of codependency. In other words, your feelings are based on the way that your partner feels. If they are angry, you may be as well, but you will not know why and you will not be able to identify why. You might dissociate from your own feelings and no longer be able to identify them. You might also struggle with regulating your emotions.
You are terrified of being abandoned because you don’t believe you will be able to function on your own. The idea of being abandoned is no different than a part of your body disappearing which can render you not being able to function at all.
It’s important to understand that the fear of abandonment is a normal human fear. Often, narcissistic abuse survivors suffer from emotional abandonment during and after their toxic relationships. Emotional abandonment is an emotional state caused by someone making you feel undesired, left behind, insecure, or discarded.
When you feel emotionally abandoned, you often feel lost. It happens when you are essentially cut off from a crucial source of affection (such as a significant relationship with a parent or spouse), or financial or emotional security that has been withdrawn, either suddenly, or through a process of erosion over time.
You may be in an abusive relationship but you will not think of leaving because you feel like you have to be with that partner, no matter how abusive they are. You cannot fathom the idea of being alone, and you doubt your ability to function alone. Unhealthy relationships may also be referred to as toxic relationships.
You may be dealing with trauma bonding if you’re in a longer-term toxic relationship of any kind. 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. An abusive, toxic relationship often involves resentment, contempt, communication problems, and varying forms of physical, emotional, and psychological abuse.
When you’re in or have recently left a relationship with a narcissist, there are many negative side effects you’ve got to deal with as a result of the gaslighting and manipulation that goes along with it – and one of the most common issues for survivors and victims of narcissistic abuse in relationships is PTSD and C-PTSD.
PTSD has been talked about in the media as a serious problem that affects soldiers returning from traumatic experiences involving combat, but what we don’t talk about as often are people who have been emotionally and mentally abused by narcissists, psychopaths, and other negative people.
That’s why soldiers are what most people think about when they hear that term. The fact about PTSD is that soldiers aren’t the only ones who can be drastically affected by the debilitating reality of traumatic experiences – and it doesn’t have to result from physical combat.
In fact, for those affected by C-PTSD, which occurs when the traumatic event is spread over the course of weeks, months, or years. In these cases, the trauma usually involves some form of emotional and/or psychological trauma, whether or not physical injuries are sustained.
How PTSD is Connected to Narcissistic Abuse
A person who has been in a car accident, storm, plane crash, been raped, or suffered some other type of external trauma can develop emotional illnesses that may morph into depression, and it may also become a form of PTSD. People who have suffered from a variety of types of trauma and abuse over the course of weeks, months, or years through hostage situations, abusive and toxic relationships, sexual abuse, and other forms of domestic violence can be affected by this same type of PTSD. This group, of course, includes people who are suffering from narcissistic abuse.
Victims of narcissistic abuse and other ongoing forms of physical, emotional, and psychological abuse can be affected by a form of PTSD called C-PTSD, or complex post-traumatic stress disorder. This is related to the fact that their trauma was ongoing over the course of weeks, months, years, or even decades in many cases. Conversely, those who experienced one-time or shorter-term trauma may have PTSD that would not be labeled complex.
What is C-PTSD (Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)?
Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is 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.
Some therapists and other mental health professionals 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.
Identifying PTSD or C-PTSD in Yourself or Someone You Love
Those who are experiencing PTSD or C-PTSD often first recognize they are affected by having had a freeze-response or a “fight or flight” response to a traumatic experience. This normal reaction to impending danger is ingrained in our psyche to prevent us from harm, but in PTSD, that natural response may deeply change a person.
Even though the person is out of danger and no longer needs to be afraid, he or she often reacts to non-threatening experiences and events with a “fight or flight” response.
What does PTSD look like?
The three main characteristics you might notice if you are suffering from PTSD experience include the following.
1. Exaggerated emotional and physical responses
A person with PTSD might become frightened from loud noises or being surprised. He or she may begin to shake uncontrollably, shrink from the situation, or leave the premises. Anxiety is always present in the PTSD or C-PTSD affected person.
PTSD may cause a person to frequently recollect the traumatic event. He may become very irrational and emotions may run wild because he’s mentally ‘rewinding’ the event and playing it in his mind over and over.
If you have PTSD, you might have a hard time trusting anyone. You might become suspicious and jealous of people who love you and want the best for you. You might feel angry and depressed and extremely detached from loved ones.
PTSD and C-PTSD-affected people sometimes feel like no one understands them, so relationships can be difficult to maintain, especially when they get involved in toxic relationships. Other areas that become problematic for the PTSD or C-PTSD-affected are their job, performing the most basic of daily tasks, and the fact that they can’t comprehend that what they’re afraid of isn’t a real threat at that moment.
This is further exacerbated when a narcissist’s abuse is involved because in this case, the messages are initially coming from OUTSIDE your head – they’re the narcissist’s attempts to slowly and methodically break you down – and they work way too well.
The mental stress of C-PTSD is devastating and can take a toll on your relationships with others and the ability to function if not identified and treated properly. There are certain types of trauma that can typically cause C-PTSD.
Who Can Be Affected by PTSD and C-PTSD?
Besides traumatic combat experiences (such as narcissistic abuse), there are other events that might precipitate PTSD. People of all ages and who have experienced all types of trauma may fall victim to this devastating disorder. Other than combat veterans (mostly men) here are some trauma victims who are more likely to be affected by PTSD during and after toxic relationships than others:
Children are some of the most likely victims to be affected by PTSD and react to it in various ways that could cause mental and physical illnesses.
Events such as car accidents, being bullied at school, violence at home, a loved one’s death or illness, child abuse or a serious accident can precipitate PTSD in children.
Symptoms of PTSD in children include re-living the experience, nightmares, avoiding situations, blocking out his feelings and memory of the event and being easily frightened of events that pose no threat of harm.
If you notice some or all of these symptoms of PTSD in a child who has been through a traumatic event, make sure you seek help immediately from a health care professional.
Women are statistically much more likely than men to develop C-PTSD and the reasons could stem from domestic violence, being neglected or abused as a child, being raped, physically attacked, being in accidents, having a crushing medical diagnosis, or experiencing the loss of a child or other loved one.
Symptoms of C-PTSD in women might include severe depression, abuse of drugs or alcohol, developing an eating disorder, or increasing the risk of heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic pain. Suicidal thoughts or actions and other maladies may also occur.
Treatment for C-PTSD in women might include anti-depressants or anxiety medication prescribed by a health care professional. It may also include coaching or counseling with someone experienced in helping trauma victims.
People who are alone can suffer from C-PTSD and PTSD. Although some people who are alone in life may enjoy it, most of us need a help and support system that we can call on when depressed or medically impaired. Those who have no one to talk to or interact with are much more likely to develop PTSD.
This might include divorced men or women of any age, including but not limited to single parents, whether or not they are primary custodians of their children.
People who are the primary custodians for children may have a more difficult time connecting with a support system due to being solely responsible for most day-to-day parental responsibilities.
Prolonged social isolation, even when related to taking care of others, can increase and magnifiy C-PTSD symptoms signficiantly.
Perhaps a bit ironically, the trauma associated with narcissistic abuse can lead to the desire to avoid social situations and can even cause social anxiety.
The elderly are sometimes at risk for PTSD when they’re abruptly pulled away from their home and placed in a nursing facility. Friends may have passed on and family may live in other areas of the world.
It can be scary for the elderly to be alone, especially when they’re struggling with big personal changes and mental or physical health issues.
Treatment for PTSD and C-PTSD in the elderly can range from medication to counseling and helping the victim join in other activities as much as possible.
The truth is that anyone who has been through a traumatic experience is at risk. Men, women, children and the elderly may all experience PTSD if they’re victims of extreme trauma and/or the mental and emotional abuse that comes along with a toxic relationship with a narcissist.
What types of events lead to PTSD and C-PTSD?
Some events that could produce enough trauma to cause PTSD are sexual molestation, experiencing a threat by someone with a weapon, rape, kidnapping, car accident, devastating illness, natural disaster including hurricanes, tornados, and earthquakes, and civil happenings such as divorce or being sued. Emergency response workers such as firefighters, medics, pilots, and policemen are likely to develop PTSD if they witness or are part of a traumatic event where the loss of life or devastation is involved.
Symptoms & Complications of PTSD
Symptoms of PTSD you should look for are the same as the ones previously mentioned. They may also include life-altering mental, emotional, and physical health complications including suicidal thoughts, alcohol or drug abuse, and depression.
Complications of PTSD are varied, including the disruption it can cause in jobs, relationships, and functioning on a daily basis to complete even the most menial tasks or experiencing enjoyment in anything. PTSD shouldn’t be ignored. It won’t go away without treatment.
Symptoms & Complications of C-PTSD
Symptoms of C-PTSD include those seen in PTSD, but they tend to be longer-lasting. C-PTSD will usually also present with added symptoms including the following.
Distorted perceptions of reality, yourself, or your abuser.
Longer-term memory issues around the trauma or traumatic periods in their lives.
Your beliefs and your thoughts might not be in line and you may lose faith in your religion or another long-held belief system.
Certain physical health issues are often also associated with C-PTSD, including but not limited to adrenal fatigue, and various types of autoimmune diseases.
The Best Ways to Treat PTSD & C-PTSD
If you or someone you know falls victim to PTSD, treatment is imperative – and the sooner, the better. Symptoms may occur immediately after a traumatic experience or even months or years later.
One type of treatment doesn’t fit all for those who suffer from PTSD, but there are various ways to get through the disorder and get rid of the symptoms that plague and disrupt your life. These include:
This type of therapy helps a PTSD or C-PTSD affected person to realize that events that took place weren’t his fault and helps alleviate feelings of guilt. A therapist listens to them describe the traumatic event(s) in detail and then helps the person understand the incident and why it happened.
When the person suffering from C-PTSD is otherwise mentally stable, a good narcissistic abuse recovery coach can help them discover the answers they seek and learn new coping techniques for dealing with the issues that come along with it. This can work together with or independently from traditional therapies.
These types of treatments and remedies work because when the PTSD or C-PTSD-affected person demonstrates that they have a good understanding of the event, they then understand that they’ve been suffering stress because of their thoughts about the situation. If this is something you are personally dealing with, it might help you to know how the therapy-focused treatment and guided self-help coaching options work.
In general, you would work with your therapist or coach to develop a plan for your healing or a self-help plan to address the effects of and overcome your issues related to PTSD or C-PTSD.
Change Your Mind to Change Your Life: Reprogramming Your Brain
You know by now that narcissistic abuse and the complications of it, including C-PTSD, changes you. The fact is that a toxic relationship involving a malignant narcissist changes who you become. It changes what might have been a happy, confident, secure person into someone who doubts their worth and their value every day. It takes away your ability to have a healthy, full life and causes you to hyper-focus on it as you try in vain to resolve it, repeatedly, over and over again. What happens during a relationship with a toxic narcissist to lead to these changes?
This video will walk you through some of the most common feelings and experiences that lead to the loss of self in a toxic relationship, plus we will talk about self-help techniques you can use to heal and start to find yourself again.
The next step is to learn to replace the frightening and negative thoughts with less traumatic thoughts and put the incident into perspective. These therapy sessions will help you learn how to cope with fear, anger, and guilt that often plague people after a traumatic experience.
Neuroplasticity and Healing After Narcissistic Abuse-Induced C-PTSD
Did you know that narcissistic abuse causes your brain to literally change its structure? The good news? You can change it back, thanks to a recently-discovered concept called neuroplasticity. Here is an introduction to neuroplasticity that can help. By using this simple sort of “brain training,” you can overcome the effects of abuse – including panic attacks, stress, depression, fear, and more.
Neuroplasticity offers a new kind of 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.
Eliminating fear is one of the goals of exposure therapy and is based on the theory that after a traumatic event happens, a person learns to be afraid of thoughts, feelings, and circumstances that remind him of the traumatic happening. This can work with PTSD, but not generally with C-PTSD.
A therapist can help you control those thoughts and feelings and learn how not to be frightened of the memories associated with the event. If you have PTSD, you might spend a lot of time focusing on memories of the event and reliving it.
Exposure therapy can help “desensitize” your reaction to the memories and replace them with less stressful thoughts. Relaxing is key to successful exposure therapy and the therapist might use breathing exercises to help with this.
A supportive group of people can help PTSD and C-PTSD-affected people overcome their fears and emotions. A group can be family members since they are most affected by the person’s PTSD.
A good therapist will help the PTSD and C-PTSD-affected person and their family communicate with each other and voice concerns. Honesty is paramount in family group therapy and can help mend and foster relationships that are repairable.
Supportive group coaching and/or therapy may also be with those who have experienced the same or similar traumatic experiences. Sharing stories and emotions with others who are in the same boat helps each person build trust and self-confidence and realize that he’s not alone.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a way of enhancing communication, personal development, and psychotherapy created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in California, United States in the 1970s. This is a modality that is often used to help in healing from narcissistic abuse.
There are three main components that create the human experience: neurology, language, and programming.
Our neurological system regulates our basic bodily functions, while our language determines how we interact with the people around us. And then our programming is what helps us to perceive the world – it determines literally what we experience in our lives. So, NLP, or Neuro-Linguistic Programming, basically means using the fundamental dynamics between your mind (neuro) and language (linguistic) and how the combination of those two things affects our body and behavior (programming).
In other words, to use NLP for personal change is to intentionally choose to change your thought patterns and processes in order to achieve the life you really want – and not more of what you don’t. Read more about NLP here.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
An experienced, trauma-informed counselor trained in EMDR can help you change reactions to remembering a traumatic experience by focusing on the memories while performing certain actions.
Actions you might perform could be eye movements, sounds, and tapping.
The documentation isn’t totally clear as to how EMDR works to solve problems, but studies suggest that PTSD and C-PTSD-affected people will often experience fewer symptoms after the therapy.
One of the problems with PTSD and C-PTSD is that sufferers have trouble sleeping. Light therapy has been shown to drastically reduce symptoms of PTSD and C-PTSD and is a very inexpensive method of treatment.
Bright lights affect a person’s internal clock and metabolism and also cause positive reactions to inflammation, the immune system, and stress such as that caused by traumatic experiences.
Depression can also be alleviated with light therapy.
It may seem out of the box, but dog therapy has been found to seriously help those who may be suffering from PTSD. A dog is known as a “soldier’s best friend,” and many dogs have had specific training to help soldiers with PTSD as a result of combat stress and experiences. They can benefit victims of narcissistic abuse the same way.
Dogs can help PTSD and C-PTSD-affected people express and feel love again, they are great companions for those who feel alone and they can help reduce stress, frustration, and feelings of loneliness by encouraging outdoor walks and socialization with new people.
Dog therapy for PTSD and C-PTSD-affected people hasn’t definitely been proven to be an effective treatment for PTSD, but you may talk to your doctor or therapist about acquiring an emotional support dog that has been trained to help provide companionship for the PTSD or C-PSTD-affected person.
Even the military is now using this ancient Eastern practice to treat soldiers with symptoms of PTSD and recognize its ability to help PTSD and C-PTSD-affected people to gain an awareness of their feelings and heal from the experience.
Yoga brings a sense of calm to both the mind and body and those who suffer from PTSD find that it helps them see things differently and recover enough to go on with their lives rather than reliving the past.
Anxiety caused by PTSD can also be relieved by practicing Yoga. The poses, stretching and meditative thoughts soothe mangled nerves and allow the person to calm him or herself without using medication, alcohol, or other means to seek relief.
Recovering from PTSD
Recovery from PTSD can take a long time, depending on how fast it’s recognized in the PTSD or C-PTSD-affected person as a problem, and the treatment is obtained. There are health professionals who specialize in the treatment of PTSD and can diagnose and prescribe the treatment that’s going to be of most help for a child, woman, man, or soldier.
Most types of treatment last from six to twelve weeks, but it could take more time, depending on the severity of the disorder. Even though good and helpful treatments are available, the person with PTSD may not recognize they’re having a problem.
Sometimes PTSD can be treated by an antidepressant medication or SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) that can help with feelings of sadness and worry. Much of what causes PTSD are the chemicals in the brain – and the lack of serotonin – so medications can be used with some success.
If you or a loved one is under treatment for PTSD, make sure you ask the therapist or health care professional how long the treatment may take and what you can expect from it.
It’s very important that loved ones or others close to the PTSD or C-PTSD-affected person and help get them to a therapist as soon as possible. That’s why helping someone realize they’re affected by PTSD or C-PTSD can be so vital.
Due to the importance of treatment, whether the person in your life who might be C-PTSD-affected is yourself or someone you love, it’s important to research and discover all you can about the symptoms of PTSD, treatment, and recovery options.
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