Sanctuary for the Abused

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Narcissism Victim Syndrome

A new diagnosis?

Do you see a preponderance of middle aged women in your practices with no particular physical disease process, yet a variety of physical and/or emotional complaints, including: insomnia, weight loss or gain, depression, anxiety, phobias, (sometimes but not always, also: broken bones, lacerations, or bruises)? Some may report an overwhelming feeling of emptiness, self-hate or doom. Others may talk about or attempt suicide.

These patients 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.

In extreme cases they may describe sudden outbursts of rage with accompanying violence. They may have even been arrested for assault on their spouse. A few of them are men.

Who are these patients and how did they get this way? While there may be many situations with similar symptoms, it is important to recognize these may be "Victims of Narcissists" and they need your help. While narcissism itself has been a diagnosis in the DSM - IV, psychiatry's complete reference, little to nothing has been written in the medical literature surrounding those who live with the narcissist … and the torturous lives they live. And there are many of them out there.

Narcissism is a broad spectrum of behaviors. On a scale of 1 - 10, Healthy Narcissism is a one, and Pathological Narcissism, or Narcissistic Personality Disorder, (NPD) is a 10.

Healthy Narcissism is something we all can use. It's having a healthy self-esteem. It's what makes us pick ourselves up after experiencing failure and going on towards the next goal. It's what gives us the ability to help each other, and to love someone - as we already know how to love ourselves.

Yet, Pathological Narcissism is an ironic twist of this healthy state. Outwardly, it appears that these people love themselves too much - to the exclusion of anyone else. It is as if they are God himself and those around them must recognize their omnipotence, supreme knowledge, and absolute entitlement and power. Rules don't apply to them. They have an unrealistic and overblown sense of self, often without the credentials to match, as well as fantasies of unlimited power, success, and/or brilliance. They are interpersonally exploitive and have absolutely no understanding of empathy or compassion.

They are neither kind nor benevolent gods. And those who live with them end up paying the price.

While there is a range of narcissistic behaviors lying between level 1 and 10 on this scale, one doesn't need to have full-blown NPD to do incredible damage to those in the inner circle.

While victims of Narcissists are generally codependents, most have no idea how they got in this situation, because in the early stages of the relationship the Narcissistic person can be the most charming, Academy Award winning actor or actress (according to the DSM-IV, 50-75% of narcissists are men), of the century.

The early days of the dating is fast, furious, and vastly romantic. Oftentimes marriage proposals come within a few weeks. The "victim" sees the narcissist as the "Perfect Partner". She's never met someone so wonderful in her lifetime and falls head-over-heels in love. The two go on to live happily ever after - or so she thinks - until the "real" partner surfaces. The once wonderful Dr. Jekyll turns into the dangerous Mr. Hyde who quickly instills fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and total confusion to the relationship.

The change can be quick and powerful or slow and insidious.

We are all way too familiar with overt narcissists: those abusive husbands who send thousands of battered women to the emergency room each year. They feel it is their God-given right to beat, abuse, and otherwise threat their partner in whatever method they deem necessary and no one can tell them otherwise.

Then there is the verbally abusive and controlling narcissist … the one who uses emotional abuse as his weapon of choice. He tells his victim who she can see, what time she needs to be home, and when she can go to bed. Or in the case of Jamie, whose husband makes her recite every day, "I'm only worth 29 cents - the price of a bullet," he erodes her self-worth to nothing to keep her under his control.

Who else could possible want such a worthless woman as she? With that belief, she will never leave him for good, although she makes many brief attempts to do so. She always returns. The brainwashing that continues day after day is emotionally exhausting, draining, and vastly unhealthy.

Yet almost worse is the "Stealth Narcissist," so sinister and silent in his ability to drive his partner crazy that she doesn't suspect anything bad is happening until it's too late. He is the master of the little digs … "Honey, why on earth would you cook eggs in butter? NO ONE does it that way. What's wrong with you?" Or, "If you'd only do what I say then we'd both be happy."

He issues the "silent treatment" when he is slighted, punishing his family by ignoring them for hours, leaving them wondering what they did "wrong" to make him act this way. He may "forget" birthday or Christmas presents, year after year. He may show up hours late and his partner is just supposed to understand, with no explanation even offered. He may have another woman on the side and feel quite entitled to do so.

Yet, to those outside his inner kingdom he looks like a saint. He probably is president of the Rotary, volunteers at a food bank, and contributes regularly to charity … all to attain the image of being the admired Superman of his community.

No matter which type of narcissist he is, the end result is the same … a slow, insidious, breaking down of the self-esteem of his victims until there's next to nothing left, at which point, the narcissist will frequently throw his partner out in order to look for someone new and full of life to make his next target. Leaving his victim an emotional wreck wondering what she did to destroy their once "perfect" relationship.

The Narcissist himself rarely changes. After all, if you believe you're God-like, you must be perfect. Why should you change your behavior for anyone else? Yet the biggest secret is that deep inside, he loathes himself, and is desperate that no one find out who the "real" person is inside his tough, outer shell.

Victims are not only spouses. They can be coworkers, employees, children, or friends of narcissists. When the narcissist is the victim's mother, it's a difficult spot to be in, as most children (even grown children) find it almost impossible to leave the relationship. And the abuse continues for years.

However, when the narcissist is your patient's boss, coworker, or friend, it may be wise to counsel the victim to seek a new situation elsewhere to best avoid an emotional roller coaster ride that could lead to extreme health issues down the road.

How can you help those with Narcissism Victim Syndrome? First, by asking questions to determine what is going on in their environment. Health care professionals already know the effect that stress has on so many of us, but the added stress of living with a narcissist is rarely understood or recognized by the victims themselves. Knowledge is power and by asking the right questions about their situation, you might be able to help them begin to better recognize their problem and seek help.

You can help them quit being victims, quit blaming themselves for all that's wrong in their relationships, gain knowledge of this disorder, and regain their personal power. Help them to seek counseling from a therapist knowledgeable about narcissism, (not all are, and few fully understand victim issues at all - see, in order to rebuild their shattered self-esteem and stop looking and acting like a caged animal.

Help them find hope, before years of stuffing their anger due to this abusive treatment, leads them to venting in unhealthy ways, sometimes leading to domestic violence and police intervention. Help them to stop looking like the sick one in the relationship and to start down the road of being a survivor and no longer a victim. Help them escape symptoms of depression that may, in some cases, lead to suicide.

Learn all you can about the "Narcissism Victim Syndrome". You might light a glimmer of hope for someone who's just barely hanging on for dear life.

Mary Jo Fay, RN, MSN is a national speaker, author, columnist and survivor of several narcissistic relationships. Her new book, "When Your Perfect Partner Goes Perfectly Wrong - Loving or Leaving the Narcissist in Your Life" is available at or She can be reached at 303-841-7691.

Copyright by Mary Jo Fay, RN, MSN

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shared by Barbara at 12:46 AM




Thanks so much for visting my site and for your support. Your blog is so informative and so helpful.

Hugs right back at ya.

10:43 AM  

Maybe you could read today's post over at, and tell me what you think? I'm not sure what to do.

There's a link to your site and a quote in the post.

"Only connect." E.M. Forster

11:57 PM  


The interview on BlogTalkRadio is awesome! So many people need to hear this. Can I put a link to the interview on my site? I mean as a permanent fixture in the sidebar.

It was so validating to listen to everything you and Lisa had to say. I'm amazed that I still learn more about NPD, even though it seems as if I've been a student for life!

Thank You!

5:11 PM  

Another amazing post. When my narcissistic husband left last year after 20 years of mental and emotional abuse towards me and our two boys, I spent most of that time feeling guilty and just being a wreck.
I'm now getting on with my life and will finally file for divorce next week. Your website has been one of several that has led to my healing, along with a very wise counselor who has helped me sort out my feelings.

12:39 PM  

This post is so validating for me! Thank you!

10:53 AM  

Ifound this so 45yr old son is..and just discovered this after his I did not spoil him rotten like some mother's say is the cause of this illness..We had 4 children the second being 13mo younger than time for spoiling...but after all this I now know what was wrong with my brother who had a terrible relationship with our son has the same affliction..he was out of our lives most of his marriage only to come back for a pity party and some money and kick us to the curb again and tell his son and ex wife to stay away from us...I never realized what was wrong until after counseling myself because of course he wasn't going...nothing wrong with him...but I do have 3 other wonderful children and he is out of our lives for good...he can't drain us financially and mentally any more even if this only took place in a 6 mo time frame...very sick manipulating people...I do think in my case it is hereditary
Thanks so much

1:33 PM  

I am in the midst of a divorce and I have finally came to terms that my soon X Wife is a narcissist.

The last five years of our marriage and now in the divorce: false PFA, agreeing on terms with me just to lue in court, telling my kids bad stuff about me, never having the kids call on our agreed upon time.....

I feel like I am no good... A once high self-esteem and confidence is gone... The 6'1" 200lb, Army veteran feels like a nobody, I am no good for anyone let alone another relationship... It's like my masculinity has been stripped, testosterone as been drained from my body.

I know deep down I am a good person, attractive, loving, great dad etc., but deep down does not work... I have been seeing a counselor once a week for 3 years. Can someone give me any insight or advice?

8:10 PM  

Shawn, I was also in the same your same position. My narcissistic x-wife broken me down to feeling the same as you. My salvation came from growing my support network. If you are in the same situation as I was then your x-wife also isolated you from your extended family and friends. Go to them! You are free now! Never spend an evening alone. They will tell you the things you need to hear.

As for your divorce you MUST stand strong against her! She will lie and twist the truth around to make you look like the bad person. As far as custody the courts will most likely rule for the x-wife in the beginning, DON'T let it get you down!!! we men have a uphill battle when it comes to gaining custody of the children. All you need to do is be the kind and loving person you are. The children will gravitate to the most stable and loving parent! ALSO, DEMAND THAT THE CHILDREN ATTEND COUNSELING AND SET A TIME LIMIT FOR THE X-WIFE TO DO IT BY. If it is effecting you then it is also effecting the children. Stand strong and be the source of peace and tranquility for the children! Your narcissistic x-wife will dig her own grave.

I've been separated from my x-wife for one year now. Officially divorced last week. We have three children. In the beginning she was awarded full custody of all three, but as time went by I healed while the x-wife continued down her dark path. I made x-wife feel as though its to her benefit to have the children stay with me. The children found peace and happiness with me. Now I currently have custody of two of the three children and we are getting ready to file a motion to get custody of the third.

I hope this helps,

7:30 AM  

I am looking to chat with other survivors of narcissism. I am currently having a really difficult time dealing with it and he now has a new GF!
Anyone have any info on where the best place to find others to chat with is?

11:55 AM  

I would like to chat - I was in a five year relationship with a narcissist man. It was literally a rollercoaster ride. In year two, I found out he was cheating on me for a long period in the most insidious way. In the last six months of our relationship, the dark side of him became so overpowering. I couldn't give anymore, I was broken and lost and a nervous wreck. One year after our relationship ended, he was already married!!!

6:11 PM  

I don't chat.

You might find helpful.

Glad the information was helpful. Remember it was HIM not you!

3:49 AM  

I am in the same sad, confused, abused, emotionally drained boat. I have been married to a "non-violent narcissistic sociopath" for almost 10 years. He is the stealth variety and malignant.
We have 2 young children (5 & 6) less than 13 months apart. I filed for legal separation - not even after the discovery of the 1st affair - I had NO CLUE as to the deviant other lives he's been creating for the past 5 years.
I felt sick and responsible, thought I was having a nervous breakdown and couldn't "fix" me enough to ever make him happy...turns out I was not the "problem". I was blind to the abuse (which @ times was physical & SO BLATENT), but so very slow and sneaky. It's a slippery slope and I am still a wreck, but awareness, family, friends, reading & therapy are helping.
I found a great forum for victims (and we are - though that is just as tough to take - I was (am) bright, intelligent, strong, vivacious, loving and 10,000 other truly good qualities that he "used up") called Out Of The Fog.
"Talking" (it's a message board) has helped me wrap my brain around HIS pathology - I still sometimes forget (especially when he plays "normal") that it's NOT ME who is the sick one.
I wish you all the best in your recovery. Take back what you know is true and don't "allow" these pathogolical destroyers any more power over your life.
Remember : Forgive & forget is a sentiment penned in hell, not heaven.


7:39 AM  

Im trying to get away from my narsc.wife of 30 years. Just got out of court, responding to a restraining order. I have 2weeks out of last 15 years that i had no protective order against me. I have been arrested a dozen times for d.v. and i dont hit my wife. She is the most EVIL person i have ever know. She has torn to pieces my last 7 bibles. She has beat on me for 25 years. I have heart failure. Pace maker, im on ssdi and today the judge awarded her half my ssdi. She has comitted 38 counts of fraud and forgery in my bank account and i just gave her my only asset. My car. Found out today she filled divorse papers. She has taken my from me. Im handsome, smart, a people person, but i dont know if i can go on like like this. I feel theres no hope. How sad!!!!

9:09 PM  

I am about to move out of my house and away from my NPD wife. She has no idea that there is anything wrong with her and believes that I am the one who is mentally ill, cruel, etc. My adult children are behind me 100% and yet I am feeling empty and alone. I have invested my whole being in trying to make the her world acceptable to her; and now that I am depleted and have no more to offer, I am being tossed out like yesterday's trash. Any resources I can be directed to will be gratly appreciated. I know I am a good person, but being told almost daily for years that I am not worthy has really messed me up.

10:46 PM  


6:01 PM  

Mine is a narcissistic mother, but the signs are the same. But, for the man whose wife committed 38 counts of fraud, I say, get a new lawyer!

2:00 AM  


When we entertain destructive patterns, we allow ourselves to not only look back to the dung, but we are also infusing poison into our blood stream. Our blood supply is what circulates and lets us breathe life in conjunction with our heart. So why would we allow such poison by these NARCS. They do not deserve the right time of day with us. We must take our eyes off of our situation and focus on our recovery. It is so easy to makes excuses as to why he/she did us wrong and constantly want our wounds licked to justify ourselves and to others. But the end result is US looking in the mirror and face the TRUE SELF! Securing our hearts is number one. Some will choose to remain single as others will remarry if they choose to. The ball is now in our court. Some are taking baby steps as others are growing by leaps and bounds. In order to climb to the top of our journey, we must start at the very bottom. At times, we make our situation so much more complex than what it is. Once we defragment every nook and cranny, we then can start illuminating from within and then outwardly. When you start the deep cleaning process, then your house (meaning you) will be in order. No one wants to live a life of disarray. A double-minded person is unstable in all their ways. Don't allow your thoughts of the NARC to resurface. If you want to live a normal and healthy life, you must put in the hard work period. There is no way of going around it. There are no cheat sheets! The mental blueprint is now in our hands to navigate and strategize.

7:59 PM  

Fantastic I have found a story just like mine.
So sorry for you and fully understand.
Not many people seem to believe me. This only makes things worse with my thoughts.
I have been seperated now for a year.

8:37 PM  

I am 3 weeks into my freedom of my narc wife of three years. It was brutal emotinal punishment right after the wedding. Non stop up and down crazy train. Twisting my reality, totally defensive ...being blamed for things she obviously did..ext...she was the stealth type, I'm the only one that sees it..that makes it extremely hard to save your own face. But I'm out and rapidly gaining back all things took from me emotionally. I did cave to her, I wanted to understand her way of thought... I wanted to help, I wanted to the the woman I seen in the never happened. They won't change. I bombarded my self with info. I re-brainwashed myself with the truth of what was happening... Its not me ...its her. I stood up for myself one day (this takes some prep) and told her that I was not putting up with any more punishment from her mouth, nor buying into anything negative she has to say, and I'm not at fault for any of your personality issues...she would always say "you created what I became" nonsense. Get outta there asap. Get your life back.stand up to them and they will fold like clean clothes. God bless good luck...just do it.

12:43 PM  

Being myself a middle aged woman I'm curious about why this article mention them: are middle aged women particularly targeted? Thank you!

3:09 AM  

Hi - I just broke off with a narcissist 7 weeks ago - what a revelation - I am sad, confused and wanting to go back but so relieved I discovered it after 1.5 years not 10 years - they are so draining, get worse with time and everyone thinks you making things up when you tell them how he was/is - the sneekiness and lies!! - from Davz

11:07 PM  

Thanks you for your inciteful blog on Entertaining Destructive Patterns. I think it is so easy to fall into the 'poor me', to focus on the past but Know that this is not helpful in my recovery. Yes, youre right, staying focussed on my recovery, building my self esteem and learning to love myself are the way forward. Also knowledge and understanding about NPD and Co dependency is helping. Also the roots of my co dependency (ie. having narcissistic parents...only just realised this and I am the typical middle aged woman mentioned ....just turned 50!)
However, having said all this, I still believe that a little offloading about how awful you have been treated is really important, and even more important to have your pain and suffering acknowledged by someone. There are different stages too to adjust to, i.e. my Narc ex is in a new relationship and introducing her to his family which hurts like hell to know. The pain cuts really deep, so very painful for Victims of Narcs, and non victims don't seem to understand the degree of pain we suffer, to the point where often suicide seems the easier option. This is not ordinary pain of loss, this is far different and is often not acknowledged by others, even therapists.

My heart goes out to all of you who have suffered/are suffering. You are not alone and there is help out there. AND ITS NOT YOU ITS HIM?HER!

5:42 PM  

I'm on week 7 of a 20 year on and off relationship. I seen the signs years ago and didn't understand what they were or why I couldn't stop loving him. The constant confusion and lies were so hard to understand. I'm hoping I will be able to get back to the old me because I am truly damaged.

10:33 PM  

I have been married to a Narcissistic Sociopath for 39 years and in a relationship with another Narcissist for 5 years before that (45 of the 60 years I have been on this earth). I never understood what I was doing wrong. My daughter recently educated me on the fact that I have not been doing anything wrong. The abuse is not my fault. How liberating! I am preparing to separate and have been educating myself on Narcissism and its victims. The site below has been especially helpful in shining a light on my situation and helping me to understand why I feel so lost and helpless... why I have been unable to 'fix' my marriage and how I got caught in the first place. Maybe it will help someone else.

God bless.

4:26 PM  

I know exactly how you feel, and I imagine it's ten times harder for a man to feel this way. Gain support from all the resources you can, friends, church, etc. Start reading about narcissism, and read tons of personal development info. And also, I recommend getting in touch with your spirituality, in any way you like..meditating, reading about spirituality. It saved my life so really give it a genuine effort. Focus on your kids and keep moving, no matter what. Start working out. Help yourself, I believe in you but the one person that can ever help you is yourself. So believe in yourself. Practice positive thinking actively. Good luck you can do it!

8:15 PM  

I sort of had some major denial shattered when my father cheated on his wife while she was in hospice with stage iv cancer and then married the women he cheated with 8 days after the funeral. There had always been signs that he was pretty self absorbed but this took it to a whole new level. I pretty much wrote him off after that.

3:36 AM  

My narcissist was a co-worker that went out of his way to be my "friend".

Finally, I lost three relatives in a short amount of time and my parents began to argue with me a lot. I was starting to feel depressed and a little suicidal but I didn't tell anyone. One day, I went to work in a solemn mood and he asked "are you feeling down, like suicidal, maybe?" I tried not to say anything, but I nearly began to cry and I had to admit it. This was the worst thing that I could have ever done.

From that point onward, he would tell me that he wanted to help me but would turn around and insult me by saying that I needed psychiatric help because "only crazy people want to kill themselves". He would then ask me how I was feeling and if I were doing anything to change my situation. If I weren't doing things his way, he'd say "stay away from me if you don't want to listen to me". I was starting to feel worse due to his advice, but he was acting as if he was helping me. Finally, one day he asked how I was feeling and I said "terrible" and he said "well, don't talk to me and I am never calling you until you submit your crazy self to a psychiatrist as I asked... wait a minute, am I talking to you or your other personality? This is not you... nevermind... you're gone... I don't know who this is." He then abruptly ended the conversation and did not talk to me for days. During those days, with my personal situation, the deaths of relatives, and his efforts to try to make me believe I was crazy had me so suicidal that I had to call one of the emergency counseling numbers!

After that, I felt a lot better and resumed my life reconciling with my parents and moving on by myself. I even met a nice man and entered a relationship. It is important to note that the narcissist is African-American, I identify as African-American, and my boyfriend is Caucasian.

When the narcissist started to notice me looking refreshed at work, he started trying to re-enter my life as a "friend" again. He asked if I was in a relationship and wanted to know everything about the man, including looks, race, etc. However, he became very upset when he found out that he is Caucasian. At this point, he began to flirt again and try to act as if he wanted me again. I stopped him and told him that it was inappropriate because I belonged to another man. He said "ARE YOU SAYING THAT I AM A THREAT?" This was very arrogant because I would not even consider him over the nice man that I met. This man never played games and the narcissist could never compete.

The more happier I became, the more the narcissist seemed to become angry. I wasn't talking to him as a friend much or anything else because he already pushed me away at my lowest, so I could no longer trust him. He now began to call me ugly and say that "if you gain weight, your White boy will not want you". When I would question him, all of a sudden, he would have no recollection of saying any of these things. He would also invite me to All-Black events and tell me to bring my boyfriend knowing full and well that my White boyfriend would not be able to attend and would be shunned if he tried. He would also reprimand me for any Facebook posts that I make if he didn't like them and would reprimand me for things that I did at work even though he was not my boss.

At the end, he said "I control you" and I said "you are a master of manipulation, but you do not control me". He then went into a rage saying "the whole world is against me, all of you just want to bring a Black man down, everyone is watching what I am doing and talking sideways, all of my friends turn around and judge me, whatever I do is my business, I don't give a ****."

7:51 PM  

Hello, I am new to this so please bare with me. I am looking for advise from anyone that could help. I dont want to bore you all but need to let you know the story to get a true reflection, I need to know firstly was I abused by a NArcissist and how do I cope with getting over this.
I was with my partner for 4 years, engaged and lived together with 2 children from previous relationships.
I had known my ex since he was 5 and we met again 30 years later. He turned up at my door one day having just split up with his ex (that very day) complaining it was all her doing and how she was awful and crazy etc and how he couldnt stop thinking about me after all these years. I SADLY believed this.
So we started a relationship. He put me on a pedal stool and treated me amazing. I was so shocked at how amazing he was. He has a very high profile job and loved my son and I loved his daugther. We had problems like most couples especially with his ex which caused problems. He proposed to me after a year on valentines day and we lived together virtually straight away.
I however finished the relationship after a while due to things not seeming right, I was devastated and so was he apparently, he then told my family that he had slept with someone and regretted it instantly, I was completely in tatters over this as hoped our break would make him see the error of his ways not realising he would sleep with someone virtually straight away! anyway we got back together and this lasted 4 years. we still has problems but we always seemed to work out our issues. whislt with him, he was very protective. Hacked into my accounts and said he felt insecure even though he knew I would never cheat as I am a very loyal and moralled lady. He would always look at my phone or if I wanted to go out somewhere he would start panicking and didnt want me to go. He was never violent at all ( I feel I need to say that). But he changed alot. The attention became less and less. He got bored ever so quickly and always wanted to do different hobbies or go on twitter and wanted to save the world.
Anyway after me thinking that things werent right I called it a dday on the 1st of October 2014. I was in a mess! I really wanted him to see I was serious and change his ways. Well i was wrong. It took him only 4 days to take another women to Paris to meet her parents. He is still with her now, lives with her, is talking of getting engaged and marry and made her daugther meet her after just 1 week!! I am devastated to say the least! He has completely discarded me and my little boy who he had a wonderful relationship with. He claimed he would never want to meet another women if we were to break up, he claimed that he couldnt live without me and attempted suicide on 2 different occassions, he always cried on the occassions I left and said I was his only one true love! Well 3 and a half months later he has never got in touch with me, never apologised as he knows I found out abut this new women who i dont doubt was seeing whislt with me towards the end.He has 100% discarded my son and me and even our dog which we brought together,
I still see his daugther from time to time and the ex wife allows me to see her as we were close. This is hard as i miss her and shamefully miss what we had. But i feel I am normality for his daugther as she has to now live a life with a new step mum. His ex wife was the one who said he was a narcissist and told me that this is what he does. Can someone please help me with this as I am struggling beyond belief to get past this stage.
He also told someone that his new women is everything I wasnt and that has hurt me more then anyting. Thank you in advance.

3:08 PM  

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