Narcissism can be a way of protecting one’s self from emotions they would rather not confront. After all, it is easier to avoid taking responsibility for your actions, than to truly enact change within yourself. This is problematic and needs to be addressed if you and your marriage are going to heal. Dr. Hawkins analyzes narcissism as self protection and offers a fresh perspective on this challenging problem.
Narcissism as Self Protection: A New Perspective on Emotional Abuse
Narcissism and emotional abuse are complex issues that affect countless individuals and relationships. Dr. David Hawkins, the director of the Marriage Recovery Center, offers a fresh perspective on this challenging problem. He suggests that perhaps these issues are not as complicated as we think and that they can be better understood when viewed through the lens of “Narcissism as Self-Protection.” In this article, we will delve into this concept and explore how it relates to emotional abuse and narcissistic behavior.
The Role of Emotional Immaturity
Emotional abuse often takes root when individuals, particularly men, are confronted with their immature behavior. The reaction to this confrontation is where problems start to surface. They become thin-skinned, react with anger, and become defensive. This defensiveness is a significant contributor to emotional abuse.
These emotionally immature individuals may not even realize the extent of their defensiveness. They are seldom taught how to handle confrontation and abrasive information, making it difficult for them to accept criticism in a healthy way. This deficiency in emotional resilience plays a crucial role in perpetuating emotional abuse.
DARVO: The Defense Mechanism
To understand the dynamic of defensiveness in narcissistic and emotionally abusive individuals, we can look at a concept called DARVO, which stands for Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offend. When these individuals are confronted with their behavior, they often exhibit little emotional resilience. They react by shifting blame, justifying their actions, defending themselves, getting angry, making excuses, denying the truth, rewriting history, and gaslighting their partners. In essence, they engage in DARVO as a means of self-protection.
The Heart of the Issue: Self-Protection
Dr. David Hawkins introduces the concept of “Narcissism as Self-Protection,” suggesting that it might be more fruitful to focus on teaching these individuals how to sit with uncomfortable feelings and take responsibility for their actions. The key here is not to delve deep into their early childhood experiences but to emphasize the importance of being accountable for their behavior in the present.
Taking responsibility for one’s abusive behavior is a crucial step in breaking the cycle of emotional abuse. It requires the acknowledgment that you are not inherently a bad person, but that you have engaged in harmful actions. Owning up to this fact is essential for personal growth and for creating a safer environment within the relationship.
Sitting with Criticism
Being able to sit with criticism, even when it feels uncomfortable, is a fundamental skill that emotionally abusive individuals need to develop. Instead of reacting with defensiveness, blame-shifting, or aggression, they should learn to reflect on the criticism and consider how they can make positive changes. This ability to withstand criticism without feeling threatened is a sign of emotional maturity.
Conflict Resolution and Personal Growth
Dr. Hawkins suggests that helping these individuals grow through conflict is crucial. Instead of reverting to their defensive mechanisms, they should be encouraged to address conflicts head-on and seek constructive solutions. This is a sign of maturity and an essential aspect of healthy relationships.
Building Safer Relationships
The core idea of “Narcissism as Self-Protection” is to make it safe for partners to approach individuals exhibiting narcissistic and emotionally abusive behaviors with their concerns. In a marriage or any relationship, it is natural for issues to arise. However, both partners should feel comfortable discussing their concerns and working together to find solutions.
It’s important to emphasize that this approach does not dismiss the importance of early childhood development and its impact on an individual’s personality. However, it shifts the focus toward addressing and resolving current issues by promoting emotional growth and maturity. When both partners are equipped with the tools to handle conflict and criticism in a healthy manner, it can lead to healthier, more balanced relationships.
In conclusion, looking at narcissism as self-protection offers a unique and valuable perspective on emotional abuse. It encourages emotionally abusive individuals to develop emotional resilience, take responsibility for their actions, and engage in constructive conflict resolution. By doing so, we can create a safer and more harmonious environment in which relationships can thrive. It may not be a quick fix, but it offers hope and a path towards healing for those dealing with emotional abuse and narcissism.
Also read: Can a Narcissist Really Change?
About Dr. Hawkins:
The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.
Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.
He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.
In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.