Narcissistic abuse is a silent but destructive force that can leave victims questioning their identity and grappling with a sense of loss. Dr. David Hawkins, the director of the Marriage Recovery Center in the Emotional Abuse Institute, sheds light on the profound effects of narcissistic abuse in his discussion on Narcissistic Victim Syndrome. He explains the effects of narcissistic abuse and focuses into the steps for recovering lost parts of oneself.
The Slow Erosion
Living in the shadow of a narcissistic individual, whether it be a boss, spouse, or friend, can result in a gradual erosion of one’s sense of self. The narcissist is often critical, dominating, and dismissive, creating an environment where victims feel compelled to adapt and accommodate. The constant demand for conformity and control can lead victims to lose parts of themselves incrementally. This slow erosion happens over time, and victims may find themselves asking, “What has happened to me?” or “Who am I?”
Effects of Narcissistic Abuse
- Loss of Identity: Narcissistic abuse is synonymous with losing parts of oneself. Victims may feel as though they are living a life dictated by the narcissist, suppressing their true identity in the process. The continuous criticism and dismissiveness can make victims doubt their worth and question their fundamental nature.
- Control and Dominance: Victims of narcissistic abuse often find themselves under the tight control of the narcissist. The imposition of shoulds and shouldn’ts, dictating how one should think, act, and be, can lead to a stifling environment where individuality is squashed in favor of the narcissist’s desires.
- Diminished Personhood: The celebration of individuality and personhood is absent in the presence of a narcissist. Instead of being celebrated, victims may feel diminished, their unique qualities dismissed or criticized. This constant devaluation can leave individuals feeling as if their essence is not worthy of acknowledgment.
Steps Towards Recovery:
- Take Stock of Losses and Grieve: Acknowledge the losses experienced due to narcissistic abuse. Take the time to grieve these losses, recognizing that parts of oneself have been sacrificed. It’s essential to confront the pain and allow yourself to mourn what has been taken away.
- End the Tiptoeing: Make a conscious decision to no longer accommodate, adapt, or tiptoe around the narcissistic individual. Recognize the need to assert your independence and live authentically. Ending the tiptoeing is a crucial step towards reclaiming lost parts of yourself.
- Begin the Recovery Journey: Embark on a journey of self-discovery and recovery. Engage in activities that bring back a sense of joy and fulfillment. Journaling, therapy, and conversations with supportive friends can aid in rediscovering who you were and who you aspire to be.
- Celebrate Your Personhood: Embrace and celebrate your individuality. Determine what makes you unique, and pursue those aspects with enthusiasm. Whether it’s trying new hobbies, reading books, or expressing yourself creatively, celebrating your personhood is a vital component of the recovery process.
Recovering from narcissistic abuse is a challenging yet empowering journey. Dr. David Hawkins’ insights provide a roadmap for victims to reclaim lost parts of themselves and rediscover their authenticity. While it may be difficult with a narcissist in the picture, taking tiny steps towards recovery can lead to profound transformations. By acknowledging the effects of narcissistic abuse and actively pursuing recovery, individuals can emerge stronger, more resilient, and with a renewed sense of self.
Also read: 3 Signs You are With a Narcissist
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.