Your job is to not just do the recovery work with them, but also to educate them about the traits and effects of narcissistic abuse. That way you give them back their reality and power, and they will be in a position to be able to recognize the narcissist at work and be equipped to guard themselves against further re-victimization. Don’t underestimate the power of recovery of these people; the fact that they have survived such extreme abuse is a testament to their strength and determination. I never fail to be amazed at the resilience of the human spirit.
How to recognize Narcissistic Victim Syndrome:
Every therapist has had their share of clients suffering from emotional problems such as distress, anxiety, depression, weight problems, panic attacks, self-harming behaviors, and suicide. And as we have seen, many of these clients are overwhelmed with feelings of guilt, shame, doom and gloom, and feelings of hopelessness.
However, until recently there was very little research done to diagnose why anybody would be suffering from these types of symptoms, especially when they were presented in a cluster of symptoms such as those mentioned above. It is vital for a therapist to be able to distinguish between domestic abuse and narcissistic victim syndrome.
Although there are similarities between all abuse, it is important to realize that there are also huge differences between the degree of abuse the victim of a narcissist has suffered. These victims experience abuse on every level of the self, the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. A great many suffer from Complex Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, Stockholm Syndrome, Infantile Regression, Soul Rape, and other symptoms that need to be attended to.
Researchers were baffled as to why so many clients coming from the general public were presenting themselves in therapy with such a wide cluster of symptoms being present. They began to ask questions, such as “What have these clients got in common, and what is the cause of such distress?”
To add to the conundrum, these clients were also showing signs of emotional and psychological trauma, which every therapist knows is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter a person’s sense of security, making them feel helpless and vulnerable. However, these clients did not report having knowledge of being through the trauma of such magnitude.
It was through researchers, and the asking of questions specifically aimed at finding out what was happening in these client’s environments that finally a solution was found. The data revealed that the people who are presenting with these clusters of symptoms did in fact have one thing in common, they were all victims of narcissistic abuse somewhere in their lives, especially as children (usually a narcissistic parent, or significant other).
Up to now, little or nothing has been written in the medical literature regarding the victims who are exposed to those suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and the consequences of that abuse on those individuals.
Today we are experiencing a narcissistic epidemic, and through lack of training on Psychotherapy Courses, most therapists, through no fault of their own, have had little or no training in this area. This must be addressed now because whereas those clients who are suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder are most likely to be seen by psychiatrists in mental health services, it is those clients who have been victims of narcissistic abuse, (those who may be suffering from Narcissistic Victim Syndrome) that are the people most likely to turn up in your practice looking for a therapist to help them take back control of their lives.