Is your partner a narcissist? People in relationships with narcissists often endure severe abuse and dysfunctional behavior that can seriously affect them in the long run. Such exploitation can lead to a condition identified as narcissistic abuse syndrome in the victim. Let us take a closer look at the signs and symptoms of this new mental health issue.
What is Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome?
Also known as Narcissistic Victim Syndrome, it refers to a collection of behavioral and psychological symptoms that are observed in victims of narcissistic abuse. Narcissists tend to have an inflated sense of self and are obsessed with themselves. If you have been in a relationship with a narcissist or spend a substantial amount of time with them, then you are probably affected by Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome (NAS). As the narcissist programs the victim through their deviant and abnormal behavior, they become conditioned to feel how the narcissist wants them to feel.
People with this condition lack self-confidence and have high levels of self-doubt. They have a poor sense of self-worth and constantly doubt their sanity. They are intensely anxious and aware of their own mistakes, failures, and imperfections even if these are simply a figment of their own imagination. In most cases, they start believing that they are flawed and deserve to be abused due to the conditioning by their narcissistic partner. The condition is also identified as Post Traumatic Narcissism Syndrome (PTNS) and Trauma-Associated Narcissistic Symptoms (TANS), according to author Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC.
Read also: Are You A Victim Of Narcissistic Abuse?
This is how NAS affects you
Narcissists are masters in playing mind games. They use a wide range of manipulative strategies that stifle their victims, such as gaslighting, triangulation and projection. As victims constantly live in a warzone riddled with landmines of love-bombing, devaluation and abuse, they struggle every moment to hold on to their sanity. In a MedicalNewsToday article, national speaker and author Mary Jo Fay, RN, MSN explains that people with Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome “are frequently rather nervous, with a guilt-ridden, anxious look and effect. They may appear restless, worried, and/or demonstrate a fake laugh that seems to hide something else.” Living with a narcissist in command means opening yourself up to invisible abuse that even you won’t realize at times. Although a narcissist may or may not abuse you physically or sexually, they will launch a barrage of imperceptible assaults on your identity, mind, heart and spirit. Narcissistic abuse often goes unnoticed until the damage is irreparable and extensive.
Although there is a lack of research on Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome, it has been observed that more women than men suffer from this condition. Moreover, women in their 20s, 30s and 40s are more likely to fall victim to narcissistic abuse. If you are suffering from this condition, then it is likely that you will have distorted thinking and feel confused due to constant emotional manipulation and abuse from your partner. You may start to question your reality and may even experience symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You may experience intense stress, severe anxiety, fatigue, depressed mood and even physical pains and aches for unknown reasons.
Read also: Unraveling PTSD after Narcissistic Abuse
Symptoms of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome
Although some of the common symptoms of this condition can be identified easily by most victims of narcissistic abuse, you may not be able to realize certain signs or be willing to notice them while you are conditioned by a narcissist. Moreover, some of these specific elements of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome overlap Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
Some of the common symptoms of NAS may include the following physical and psychological symptoms:
1. Physical symptoms
- Weight loss or gain
- Angry outbursts
- Rapid heart rate
- Muscle aches and pains
- Vomiting and nausea
- Insomnia or frequent nightmares
- Eating disorders
- Stomach pain, upset stomach or gastrointestinal issues
2. Psychological symptoms
- Intense anxiety, nervousness & extreme fear
- Trouble concentrating and impaired memory
- Shame, irritability and guilt
- Panic attacks
- Suicidal behavior
- Obsessive-compulsive behaviors
- Self-criticism and self-blame
- Ruminations or intrusive, repetitive & unwanted thoughts
- Flashbacks of a traumatic or abusive experience
- Physical or emotional triggers
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Avoidance of triggering situations or people
- High alertness or being constantly vigilant
- Seeking help
These symptoms are often caused by the toxic behavior of the narcissist who feeds their own ego by hurting or emotionally damaging the victim.
How to identify Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome
Psychological abuse advocate Jayme Chenoweth of Narcissistic Victim Syndrome explains that this condition “often causes victims to feel defenseless and beaten down.” Narcissistic Victim Syndrome is a serious and debilitating issue that you should not ignore for the sake of your own mental and emotional well-being. Here are a few signs that you need to identify to determine if you are suffering from this condition and need to seek help:
1. You’re unable to make decisions
As you lack self-confidence, have low self-esteem and constantly doubt yourself, you find it difficult to take any decision for yourself. Continuous criticism and devaluation can make you fully dependent on your abuser and make you second-guess yourself over time. As you go through frequent manipulation, domination and absorb constant insults, your decision-making abilities start to become weaker. This can also make it difficult for you to decide whether you should leave your narcissist or tolerate their abuse.