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

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

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

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

What is an INFJ Personality?

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

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

Quick Facts on the INFJ Personality

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

Why are INFJs the majority of narcissistic abuse survivors?

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

INFJs are externally focused.

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

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

INFJs are sensitive and intuitive.

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

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

INFJs struggle with seeing their own value.

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

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

How can INFJs recover from narcissistic abuse?

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

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

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

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

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

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

INFJs: Questions to Ask Yourself After Narcissistic Abuse

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

Can an INFJ be a narcissist?

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

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

Communication Struggles for INFJs After Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

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

INFJs are silent perfectionists.

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

INFJs might neglect phone calls.

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

INFJs prefer to fly solo.

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

INFJs are overwhelmed and exhausted by large groups.

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

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

INFJs can feel lonely in a crowded room.

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

INFJs CAN Recover From Narcissistic Abuse

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

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

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

Get help with narcissistic abuse recovery right now.

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

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

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

See part 2 of the Ross Rosenberg interview on YouTube.

Why are narcissists and codependents attracted to one another?

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

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

How does attachment theory relate to the Human Magnet Syndrome?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why did Ross Rosenberg create the term human magnet syndrome?

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

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

What is the narcissist/codependent relationship template?

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

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

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

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

Codependents, Pathological Narcissists and Chemistry

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

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

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

Are codependents (SLDs) blameless victims of pathological narcissists?

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

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

Are all codependents empaths?

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

What is empathy?

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

What is codependency?

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

Rosenberg on Codependency vs. Empathy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question of the Day

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

Get help with narcissistic abuse recovery right now.

 

Narcissism – Are The Parents Always To Blame?

Narcissism – Are The Parents Always To Blame?

Is toxic narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder always caused by bad parenting? Is it possible that a person raised by healthy, loving parents in a good, decent home could become a narcissist? Could someone turn into a narcissist as an adult? I’ll answer all of your questions in this video.

If you are in any way related to or otherwise involved with a narcissist, you’ve probably asked yourself at one time or another how they got that way, right? What made them a narcissist? How did they GET LIKE THIS?

And, if you’re like me, you needed to know in order to heal. So, you did your research and you found out that in most cases, it is related to their parents – and sadly, most often, to their mothers or primary caregivers and their attachment styles. That’s why, when you think of any narcissist, the first thing that likely goes through your mind is how badly their parents messed them up.

Because of the fact that most narcissists seem to stop developing emotionally when they are toddlers or middle schoolers at best, and because most research points to the fact that their parents did not give them the love and attention they needed in order to evolve, which led to their emotional immaturity, it’s easy to blame their mothers or parents in general.

But if you’re the parent or sibling of someone who might be a narcissist, and you know for sure that these issues don’t apply to them, you might doubt this theory and find yourself digging for an alternative possibility. And what about those families that have more than one child, and only one turned out to be a toxic narcissist? Or what about people who had good families and didn’t suffer any trauma in childhood?

You want to know if it’s ALWAYS the fault of the parents, right? Well, let’s talk about it.

Are parents always at fault when someone develops narcissistic traits?

Even though more often than not narcissism is the result of the fact that those who turned out that way were neglected or abused by their parents, that is not always the case.

Published research studies tell us that the area of the brain that controls emotional empathy and compassion is thinner in those who have NPD than in those who don’t. So, neurology as well as genetic predisposition will have an effect on how a person’s personality turns out.

And then you have situations where their parents who really did their absolute best to raise their children right, but due to their jobs or other responsibilities, might inadvertently neglect their emotional needs, which leads to their child developing a narcissistic personality.  They may be clothed and fed well and taken care of when they are sick, and they may have all of the material things in the world – but the parents may not have given them the love and attention they felt they needed.

In these cases, the parents were clearly not in any way abusive. It may have been due to the fact that they had other kids, or they had a sick parent to take care of, or they had a demanding job that was necessary to support the family.

Of course, there are also times when narcissists end up becoming that way because of parents who were, believe it or not, overly validating (such as praising a child when the child may not have deserved it) and overly permissive. These parents may have not provided enough limits or discipline for their kids. And while some kids will sort of naturally self-limit, others won’t, and in some cases, they may become narcissists themselves as a result.

Research on How People Who Weren’t Abused or Neglected by Parents Can Become Narcissists

A 2015 study points to the fact that some parents might have overly praised their kids when they might not deserve it, or have always focused on how much “better” their kids were than other kids. And in some cases, they might have simply given too much attention and indulgence and not enough discipline.

“Loving your child is healthy and good,” as one of the study authors, Brad Bushman, a psychology professor at Ohio State University points out, “but thinking your child is better than other children can lead to narcissism, and there is nothing healthy about narcissism.”

In these situations, kids will often develop an overblown sense of entitlement, which they carry into adulthood. In many cases, they were also not required to show any empathy, nor were they asked to check their egos at the door.

This can happen in a number of situations, for example, being overly permissive with and over-praising children are often reported with only children. Please note that this isn’t always the case and that in fact, it is relatively rare. In some cases, though definitely not all, it can be a bigger issue when parents have struggled to get pregnant or when they’re adopted after a long struggle with infertility, or when they are born prematurely or with other issues that caused their parents to fear for their lives .among others.

And of course, in both the case of the adopted child who is older than newborn at the time of adoption and in the case of the premature or otherwise sick child who spends weeks or months in the hospital after birth, their attachment styles can be affected. That’s because parents aren’t able to connect on the same level as they would normally, so they develop a less healthy attachment style, which goes back to the original theory of the attachment style predicting narcissism.

Sometimes, people become narcissistic that has nothing to do with the parents at all. For example, if a child was ruthlessly bullied at school, or if someone else in their lives caused trauma in any way for them. In these cases, while their parents could have been loving and caring, the trauma they experienced at the hands of bullies or other outsiders could certainly have also been a risk factor for them becoming narcissistic.

And then there are those who end up with something we call acquired situational narcissism.

What Is Acquired Situational Narcissism?

So, we know that it might be possible that someone who was raised in a relatively healthy home by decent parents, but who had other traumas and issues, to become a narcissist. But what other situations could lead to toxic narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder?

And if so, what other types of situations and factors can play into it? Let’s talk about it.

Research on Acquired Situational Narcissism

Research published back in 1996 points to a condition that is referred to as transient, temporary, or short-term narcissism.  And even before 1996, psychologists often recognized something they called “reactive narcissistic regression,” which meant that when someone was dealing with a big life crisis, they might end up going through a sort of temporary narcissistic phase where they’d behave like a toxic narcissist until the crisis was over.

And, according to what I’ve found in this and other published research papers, these types of temporary narcissism can also be triggered by medical conditions and even injuries. For example, traumatic brain injury (TBI) has often been linked to narcissistic behaviors and antisocial traits in people who had not previously displayed them.

How to Identify Acquired Situational Narcissism

So what does acquired situational narcissism (ASN) look like in real life? Well, do you know someone who is normally quite humble, but who ended up getting a high-end job and makes a lot of money, or who suddenly ranks high socially, or who ends up gaining celebrity status out of the blue? In these situations, many people are able to keep their heads on straight, but others will seem to sort of lose their humility.

In fact, according to Robert B. Millman, a professor of psychiatry at Cornell Medical School, this is what acquired situational narcissism looks like. He points to known narcissists who are among the billionaires, people who become suddenly famous or who manage to rise to aspirational levels in their careers who develop narcissism in adulthood.

Millman adds that celebrities and other suddenly wealthy people will often have lives that are outside of what we’d consider typical. Plus, they might be surrounded by “yes men,” who will ensure that they are given filtered feedback, excessive admiration and are never told “no” for any reason. Plus, anytime someone is a celebrity or a CEO or otherwise wealthy, they might be sought after in ways that will cause them to feel more important or better than others. All of this is like narcissistic supply on steroids if you think about it.

And, let’s not forget celebrities and other public figures might feel a certain amount of pressure from the public – fans and haters alike – to present a certain image and to live a certain lifestyle.

An Example of Acquired Situational Narcissism

A good example of this is the guy you grew up with who was considered a nerd and who was often picked on, but who grew up and invented some big app, or he created a YouTube channel that somehow got a bazillion subscribers and brought him fame, or he became an actor or singer – or who otherwise found himself a celebrity. In any case, this formerly geeky guy managed to attain success to the point he began to be recognized in public, or he suddenly became a member of the social elite for whatever reason.

As soon as he found himself outgrowing that geeky, quiet image, he suddenly felt like a whole new person. Maybe he went a little overboard and started to focus too much on his self-image, and on his own needs and wants. This, along with the fact that his life is very different from the average person’s (as the lives of all public figures will be), might cause him to lose any sense of compassion and emotional empathy he once had. That might lead to him being unconcerned with the “little people” to the point that he would end up inadvertently or directly abusing the people closest to him without remorse. So, while his transition wouldn’t happen as a child, he still would essentially have developed his narcissism the same way that any other narcissist did – just not in childhood.

But why does this happen to some people and not others?

Well, according to Millman, while it is possible to develop narcissism in adulthood for these reasons, among others, acquired situational narcissism is most likely to happen when there were already some pre-existing factors that would have led to narcissism under the right circumstances. All of this means that, at least in some cases, narcissism can be developed by people who had good, healthy upbringings – and that it isn’t, in fact, always the fault of the parents.

Question of the Day: What do you think about this? Do you know someone with acquired situational narcissism? Share your thoughts, share your ideas and share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it.

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The Psychology of Toxic Relationships Between Narcissists and Codependents – Trauma Bonding

The Psychology of Toxic Relationships Between Narcissists and Codependents – Trauma Bonding

Let’s dig into the psychology of what happens between a narcissist and a codependent in a toxic relationship. The typical toxic relationship involves trauma bonding. Learn why and how trauma bonding happens in a toxic relationship, plus the psychology of the narcissist as well as the psychology of the codependent during the relationship. And finally, we’ll touch on what it takes to heal after such a relationship.

This video goes into what trauma bonding means in detail. 

What is Trauma Bonding?

Trauma bonding is a common condition among narcissistic abuse survivors and their abusers. Thanks to an ongoing cycle of intermittent reinforcement, many survivors of toxic relationships go through this, much like kidnapping victims and hostages do. Trauma bonding is often a bigger issue for people who also grew up in toxic and abusive homes, partially just because it feels like “normal” to them.

Read more about trauma bonding here. 

What is a Narcissist?

A narcissist, in general,  is someone with a high opinion of him/herself, but when we’re talking about narcissistic abuse, we’re talking about the type of person who is toxic, verbally (and sometimes physically) abusive. They may or may not also be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. For the record, while it is not considered to be a “mental illness,” but a personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder manifests in an inflated sense of importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.

What is Codependency?

Codependency is complex, but a general definition is that it is 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. The term originates from Alcoholics Anonymous but fits toxic relationships surprisingly well.

How do you let go of the narcissist when you’re dealing with trauma bonding?

In this video, I explain exactly what you need to do in order to let go of the narcissist in your life when you’re struggling with being trauma bonded. It’s time to stop allowing the narcissist to live in your head – do this instead! Stop Letting the Narcissist Live In Your Head After Discard: DO THIS! Plus: I’ll teach you how to deal with your toxic anger once it stops being useful in your recovery (to propel you forward) and how to recognize when it’s time to let go, and how to release your anger and heal in the end.

How can you make recovering from narcissistic abuse less painful?

I always say that when you “think like a scientist,” you can significantly reduce the pain – that’s how it worked for me! In this video, I’ll fill you in on exactly what I mean, as well as how you can do it too!

What stage of narcissistic abuse recovery healing are you in?

Knowing your stage of recovery is the best way to know what to do to heal yourself if you are in one of these toxic relationships. Take our self-assessment to find your stage in narcissistic abuse recovery right here, free.

Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Do you think you’re being abused by a narcissist in a toxic relationship? Have you dealt with narcissistic abuse in the past? Are you working on narcissistic abuse recovery? If so, you’ll want to know about these resources.

Helpful Videos

The Narcissist Uses Honesty and Loopholes to Control You – This is How

The Narcissist Uses Honesty and Loopholes to Control You – This is How

(Prefer to watch/listen? See video on YouTube.)
Is there such a thing as an honest narcissist? Or do all narcissists lie? Well, I got a pretty interesting comment on the video I produced last week on identifying covert narcissism in relationships.

The viewer who wanted to know what if the person they were dealing with was very religious and raised to not lie. They noted that everyone says covert narcissists lie a lot. I can only assume they had found that the person they’re dealing with otherwise fit the bill for a covert narcissist.

What happens when a toxic person doesn’t fit every symptom of a narcissist? Does it mean they’re not one, or does it mean something else?

This is what is so perplexing about narcissists in relationships of any kind. Their manipulation and control tactics can be so pervasive and confusing. They are subtle and sort of hard to detect, especially if you have not been taught to watch for this stuff.

If you’re anything like I was when I first recognized that I was dealing with a narcissist in a relationship, it will be kind of a slap in the face. You probably thought you were the problem, thanks to months or years of conditioning from the narcissist telling you that you were always wrong, directly or indirectly.

You may have had a sort of sneaking sensation that something was going on, that something wasn’t right. But you were taught to believe the worst about yourself and taught to see the narcissist as nearly infallible. This is especially true if you’ve been raised by a toxic parent or otherwise closely influenced by a narcissist in childhood.

Since narcissistic abuse can be so hard to detect from the inside, and since gaslighting (the narcissist’s most-often employed manipulation tactic) involves causing you to question your reality and even your own thoughts and perceptions, it makes sense that you might miss it – and that you’d question yourself and the validity of your assessment once you do figure it out.

So this leaves us with the question the viewer asked: Are they still a narcissist if they don’t lie? Well, that’s exactly what we’re talking about today – can someone be a narcissist if they don’t lie, and if they can, how’s that possible and what does that look like? Let’s get started.

Is the Honest Narcissist a Myth?

Is there really such a thing as a narcissist who doesn’t lie? Could there be an honest narcissist? First, it’s important to note that narcissists come in all shapes and sizes. As I explained to the viewer, not every narcissist has every symptom or sign listed in the criteria for the diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder.

Covert narcissists, for example, defy the typical narcissistic profile by appearing to be shy and introverted. And some narcissists don’t cheat. Some narcissists are wealthy, controlling workaholics while others are lazy parasites who seem to do nothing but drain you dry. Some are obsessively clean while others don’t shower for weeks. Some are neat-freaks and others are hoarders.

And despite what most people think, there are some narcissists who don’t seem to be pathological liars.

It doesn’t even seem possible, but very often when you’re dealing with an altruistic narcissist or a communal narcissist, they’ll seem to be very ethical and morally bound. This is especially true when they’re using their religion as part of their plan to control you, but it doesn’t always involve religion.

Still, while these so-called upstanding citizens may seem to be above reproach, they still control, devalue, manipulate, and demoralize the people closest to them. They still seem to suck all the energy and air out of every room, and they could still be called narcissists and abusers.

And it’s true that they may never outright lie to you. However, they do pull a little trick that might be considered dishonest or at least manipulative, sort of like finding their own little “lie loopholes.”

Lie Loopholes: How the narcissist uses honesty to control you

Some narcissists will tell you they’re the most honest person they know and really seem to live up to that claim. You literally can’t think of a single time they lied to you. You trust their word, despite the way they otherwise treat you, and most likely, you blame yourself for anything that goes wrong in the relationship.

But, while that may be technically true, there’s something else going on here. They’re still abusing you on so many levels. Rather than lying, they use a tactic I like to call a “manipulated shift in perception,” meaning that they heavily influence your thoughts and feelings using manipulation and gaslighting.

How Narcissists Can Manipulate Your Perception Without Lying

1. The Brutal Truth Statement

At some point in your relationship, this kind of narcissist makes it clear they don’t lie. They will say it has to do with religious or moral reasons, or they’ll say they were hurt in a previous relationship and they need to be themselves. Or you may have told them in the beginning of your relationship that you were hurt by lying in the past, so they’ll take this as an opportunity to be completely uncensored with you. You may appreciate the honesty at first, or feel like you should, anyway. Or, in some cases, they’ll just straight up tell you they’re brutally honest and if you don’t like it you know where the door is. Now, they feel like they never need to concern themselves with your feelings, and like you’ve given them permission to do so.

2. Implied Permission to Insult and Belittle You

They use this whole brutal honesty thing as an excuse to insult and belittle you. They might tell you that you’re unattractive or that an outfit looks bad on you. They might openly criticize everything from your cooking and housekeeping skills to how you are in bed or how you raise your kids – anything that crosses their mind will come out of their mouths without consideration for how it makes you feel. Not only is their lack of empathy painfully clear, but so is their apparent disdain for everything you are. Then, they wait for your reaction.

3. Your Reaction is Rejected

This kind of disrespect and constant unfair criticism upsets and confuses you, as it would anyone. You confront the narcissist or at least question them about what they’ve said to you, about the way they treat you. You’re angry or you’re sad or you’re feeling otherwise negatively, and you ask the narcissist to be nicer to you. You ask them how they’d feel if you spoke to them the way they speak to you. But rather than offer you any validation or reassurance of their love for you, they laugh or scream in your face. They absolutely reject your reaction to their abuse. They say you don’t have the right to be angry. They say you can’t be sad. They say you asked for this honesty or that you knew they were like this from day one.

4. You’re Put in Your Place

The narcissist continues to minimize your feelings and treat you like you’re unimportant. They remind you that your feelings aren’t valid and that you don’t have the right to feel anything about this situation. And, whether directly or indirectly, they communicate that you really shouldn’t feel anything because only the narcissist has feelings that matter. They imply that you’re stupid for not being already aware of this unwritten rule by now.

5. They Justify Their Behavior

“Well,” they’ll say. “You always say you don’t want me to lie to you. You claim you want the truth. But obviously, you are the liar here because you can’t handle the truth.” No matter how horribly they’ve treated you, they will never admit any wrongdoing or take any responsibility for hurting your feelings. Everything they’ve done up to this point, they’ll swear, has been in the name of being honest with you and everyone.

6. They Play on Your Fears to Keep You in Control

This is where it gets really sneaky. See, when you don’t just agree that you’re the total piece of poo that the narcissist wants you to believe that you are, they’ll really dig deep and begin to play on all of your biggest fears. And if you keep feeling upset or angry at them for being so rude and disrespectful to you, or if you refuse to agree with their assessment of you, they’ll start the threats. They’ll say things like,” Well, if you’re going to be mad at me every time I tell you the truth, I might as well just start lying to you.”

7. You Are Triggered Into Submission

This is where the narcissist will exploit your fears and push your buttons to trigger you and get you deeply enmeshed with them and under their control. So, basically, they are manipulating and controlling you by presenting themselves as upfront and brutally honest. If this is a non-parent relationship, you’d have initially found this quite refreshing, since other people in your life have hurt you by lying and playing games.

Your history of trauma in relationships is exactly what makes you vulnerable to being triggered when they threaten to lie. And since your behavior during a trigger moment is less rational and more self-protective, the narcissist accomplishes 3 things that help them get you to submit to them.

  • You’re feeling scattered and confused. This means that you are easier to control and manipulate because of the stress and the sort of primal mode you are in when you feel triggered by one of your biggest fears. You feel crazy and begin to doubt your perception once the full effect of the gaslighting kicks in. You might even feel dependent on the narcissist to tell you what you see and think in some cases, and now not only are they controlling your actions but also your thoughts and feelings.
  • Your fears are used to keep you in place. The narcissist has established that you can and will be moved by your fear of losing them or of being alone. If you’re anything like I was, one of your biggest fears is being the last one to know your relationship is over. You are afraid of being humiliated in a situation where you’re the only one who doesn’t know what’s happening in your own relationship. And another biggest fear is that some toxic person in your life was right and you’re actually doomed to being not good enough (or otherwise deficient) forever. And then there’s the most common human fear that we are all a little embarrassed to talk about out loud – that fear of having no one. The fear of abandonment.
  • You get deeper and deeper into the trauma bond. You’re enmeshed with the narcissist. They control you through the active infliction of their own perception. They teach you and make sure you don’t forget, that their needs are always more important than your own. They make you feel like you’re not a real person and that your feelings and thoughts and ideas aren’t relevant or worth expressing – not to mention worth actually hearing or implementing. That prevents you from ever reaching your true potential as you lose yourself a little more each day.it changes you and could limit you forever if you allow it.

If you’d like to learn more about how trauma bonding works, as well as how you can start to heal, be sure to take a look at these videos.

So, does any of this sound familiar to you? If so, you should definitely take a look at the playlist I’m going to leave for you in the pinned comment and description as it will help you learn how to stand up for yourself and begin the healing process.

Question of the Day: Have you ever met an “honest” narcissist? Could you relate to the discussion today? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, share your experiences in the comments section below this video and let’s talk about it!

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