As a victim of narcissistic abuse, it is imperative to educate yourself with as much knowledge as you can about this kind of abuse. Let this complete guide of terms related to narcissistic abuse help you understand and talk about your experience with it.
I became familiar with these terms while being professionally treated for narcissistic abuse syndrome and through resources given to me by my therapist.
The Diverse Terms Of Narcissistic Abuse
1. Adult Children of Narcissists (ACoNs)
You will hear this term, or the acronym, in the narcissism survivor community. This term will relate to those who have a narcissistic parent or guardian. (Remember, narcissistic abuse is not only in the form of a partner or lover. It could be your parent, boss, friend, co-worker, etc.)
2. Cognitive Dissonance
The experience of psychological stress that occurs when a person holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, values, or participates in an action that goes against one of these three. This experience can confuse. An example might be, you know something is wrong but the narcissist in your life makes you believe it’s not wrong. Thereby making you question yourself and your belief. Self-doubt and disassociation are symptoms of cognitive dissonance.
3. Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD)
A condition where you experience the symptoms of PTSD along with additional symptoms, such as: distrustful towards the world, not being able to control your emotions or a general feeling of hostility. This condition allows you to have a distorted perception of the abuser. CPTSD is caused by ongoing neglect and physical, emotional or sexual abuse.
A narcissist thinks or pretends to think that a traumatic event or circumstance does not exist or did not happen, even when presented with evidence to the contrary.
The deliberate reduction of something or someone’s worth. A narcissist will use judgment, belittlement, rage, and abandonment to make the victim feel devalued.
6. Divide and Conquer
This strategy is used by narcissists to gain control by creating divisions among individuals. This tactic makes it easier for the narcissist to manipulate and dominate individuals so they are fighting against one another instead of gathering to fight against the narcissist.
Giving the authority or means to do something. Many times, the partner/spouse/child of a narcissist will “normalize” the narcissist’s behavior. An enabler will absorb the abuse. They often apologize for the behavior. They may even conclude that they are the only ones who can understand the narcissist.
A fake, insincere apology. A narcissist refuses to take responsibility for their actions. If they do apologize, it will come in the form of one that also points out your faults. For example: “I’m sorry you’re so sensitive,” “I’m sorry you think I’m a bad person,” or “I’m sorry you’re so angry.”
9. Flying Monkeys
Have you seen The Wizard of Oz? The Wicked Witch of the West had flying monkeys. She would send them off to do her dirty work. Flying monkeys are the enablers for the narcissist. They are manipulated by the narcissist to believe his or her side of the story. Flying monkeys will target and abuse the victim. They can be the narcissist’s family or closet friends. Sadly, some of them are trying to avoid abuse towards themselves by going along with the narcissistic abuse pattern.
A form of psychological manipulation in which the narcissist sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual. This manipulation will have the victim questioning their perception, memory, judgment, and even their sanity. An example would be: “You’re crazy,” “You’re too sensitive,” or “None of my past relationships acted like you.”
11. Grey Rock Method
A practice where the victim becomes emotionally non-responsive and virtually acts like a rock. This emotional detachment serves to undermine the narcissist’s attempts to manipulate, causing them to become bored. This method can also be used on the narcissist’s flying monkeys and enablers.
A toxic manipulation to suck (like a vacuum) an ex-partner, friend or relative back into the narcissist’s control. They may promise to change their behavior or offer gifts to reel the victim back in.
A state of heightened alertness accompanied by behavior to prevent danger or being in the line of fire. Both the narcissist and the victim suffer this debilitating state. It’s a coping method that can lead to CPTSD.
When a narcissist meets a potential partner, they tend to idealize them as perfect and flawless. The problem is that no one is perfect. The more they get to know the potential partner, the more they become aware of their flaws. A narcissist can’t cope with those flaws as others can. They will begin the devaluing and eventually discard the partner for these flaws. Narcissists see the world in binary terms–good or bad, black or white. Narcissistic parents will do this with children, dubbing one the “golden child” and the other a scapegoat.
15. Narcissistic Injury
An invalidating emotional injury suffered during the early years of the narcissist’s life. These injuries can typically lead to NPD. This is also an unstable injury that the narcissist’s partner/child will suffer from the reaction of the narcissist when made to feel accountable for their harmful behavior.
16. Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
A personality disorder characterized by an extreme sense of self-importance, the disregard of other’s feelings, exploitative of others, and the inability to gracefully handle criticism. This disorder requires a medical diagnosis. It can be a genetic disposition caused by environmental factors. NPD can not be cured, but talk therapy can help those diagnosed with this disorder.
17. Narcissistic Rage
Narcissistic rage can be defined as intense anger, aggression, or passive-aggression when a narcissist experiences a setback or disappointment, which shatters his (or her) illusions of grandiosity, entitlement, and superiority, and triggers inner inadequacy, shame, and vulnerability.
18. Narcissistic Supply
Anyone a narcissist can manipulate is a potential source of supply. A narcissist is forever in search of a supply of admiration and idealization from others. If a source of supply pulls away, they will either begin to hoover them back or replace it with a new source.
19. Object Constancy
The ability to maintain a positive emotional connection to someone even while you are angry or disappointed with them. Those with NPD suffer from a lack of object constancy. More often than not, a narcissist will be unable to move forward from a past disappointment. This can lead to the abandonment of their supply (partner/child). Which then causes that abandoned person to develop object constancy.
This is a role reversal whereby a parent inappropriately looks to a child, usually the oldest or most capable, to take on parental roles and responsibilities in the family. Narcissists often parentify a child to meet their emotional, physical, and/or sexual needs. Parentification is an extreme violation of children’s boundaries, burdening them with adult responsibilities. A parentified child may be expected to play the role of confidante, therapist, or surrogate spouse, as well as perform adult duties, such as caring for younger siblings, cooking, cleaning, managing finances, or earning money for the family.
A defense mechanism used by narcissists consciously and unconsciously to attribute their own feelings, shortcomings, actions, or traits on to someone else. For example, if they lie to you and you call them out on it, the narcissist will begin to accuse you of a lie, whether you have in the past or not, if they cheat, you made them do it, if they need constant reassurance, you are insecure, and so on.
22. Silent Treatment
A form of emotional abuse by narcissist designed to :
(1) place the abuser in a position of control
(2) silence the target’s attempts at assertion
(3) avoid conflict resolution/personal responsibility/compromise; or (4) punish the target for a perceived ego slight.
Often, the result of the silent treatment is exactly what the person with narcissism wishes to create: a reaction from the target and a sense of control.
23. Smear Campaign
This is the sort of thing you see in political commercials on TV during election times when a politician will smear the reputation or work of their opponent in an attempt to take the focus off of their shortcomings. Narcissists will use their enablers and flying monkeys in the same way. This behavior happens when the narcissist encounters someone who sees through their masks. It’s a calculated move by a narcissist out of jealousy, revenge or resentment to socially isolate or discredit their target.
Triangulation is a common trick used by narcissists to manipulate their victims. In such a scenario, they involve a third person in the relationship in order to maintain control and dominate their target. For example, John and Sue are having a fight, and Sue is the narcissist here. In order to maintain control, she will say, “I talked to Christine about your behavior, and she agreed that you are indeed the problem.” Using a third person to manipulate their target into thinking that they are wrong, is what triangulation is all about.
Narcissistic abuse can have an extremely negative effect on your mental health, and also affect your self-esteem and confidence. However, these terms of narcissistic abuse can help you identify, decipher and counter the abuse thrown at you by narcissists.
If you want to know more about the different terms of narcissistic abuse, check out this video below:
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- What is Narcissistic Abuse: Signs to Identify It and Ways to Protect Yourself
- 6 Signs You Have Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome
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- 5 Types of Narcissistic Blame Shifting