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narcissistic victim syndrome

What is Narcissistic Victim Syndrome?

In this video, Dr. David B. Hawkins, Director of The Marriage Recovery Center, a specialist with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, discusses the impact of narcissism on the mate of NPD and explains what is narcissistic victim syndrome. The impact is significant and there is a path to healing, which Dr. Hawkins discusses in this video.

What is Narcissistic Victim Syndrome?

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a complex psychological condition that affects individuals on a continuum, ranging from healthy narcissism to full-blown NPD. This disorder is characterized by traits such as grandiosity, a sense of self-importance, lack of empathy, and a tendency to exploit others. While many people possess narcissistic personality traits to some extent, individuals with NPD display a cluster of these traits, which can have a significant impact on their relationships.

In the realm of relationships, NPD can wreak havoc due to the disruptive nature of even a single problematic trait. Imagine the impact of having multiple traits present in a person’s behavior. However, it is important to note that most individuals with narcissistic personality traits are married or in relationships. These relationships become dysfunctional as a result of the negative effects caused by these traits.

While NPD has received considerable attention, it is equally essential to acknowledge the experiences of the victims involved in these relationships. The term “Narcissistic Victim Syndrome” (NVS) is used to describe individuals who have been adversely affected by being in a relationship with someone on the narcissistic continuum. Although NVS is not a recognized diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), there is growing discussion about its inclusion in future editions.

Symptoms and Traits of Narcissistic Victim Syndrome:

  1. Struggles with Self-Esteem: One of the primary symptoms experienced by victims of NPD is a profound struggle with self-esteem. Constantly being undermined, gaslighted, and told that they are wrong or crazy by the narcissistic individual can erode one’s sense of self-worth and lead to self-doubt.
  2. Questioning Reality: The narcissistic partner often distorts the truth, rewriting history to fit their narrative. Victims may find themselves questioning their own perceptions, losing confidence in their own judgment, and even doubting their sanity.
  3. Traumatic Bonding: Victims of NPD may experience traumatic bonding, a phenomenon in which negative traits and behaviors coexist with positive qualities, creating a strong psychological attachment. This bond can make it difficult for victims to leave the relationship, as they feel emotionally tied to their narcissistic partner.
  4. Anxiety and Depression: The constant stress and emotional abuse experienced in a relationship with an NPD individual can lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression. Victims may struggle with managing their thoughts, experiencing physiological manifestations of anxiety, such as headaches or digestive issues.

Seeking Professional Intervention

Dealing with narcissistic victim syndrome requires professional intervention. Without it, individuals may find themselves in serious trouble, unable to escape the damaging cycle of abuse. Professional help can provide the necessary support, guidance, and tools to break free from the traumatic bond and regain self-esteem.

A comprehensive approach involving individual and couples counseling is recommended. Through depth counseling, both the individual with narcissistic traits and the victim can work towards personal growth and healing. Setting healthy boundaries and demanding appropriate levels of counseling are crucial steps towards breaking free from the damaging effects of NPD.

Moving towards Healing

Healing from narcissistic victim syndrome involves a journey of self-discovery and empowerment. It requires victims to develop a strong sense of self, recognize their own value, and demand a healthy and supportive relationship. By partnering with professionals and engaging in therapeutic processes, individuals can overcome the symptoms of NVS and regain their emotional well-being.


Narcissistic victim syndrome is a psychological condition experienced by individuals who have been in relationships with narcissistic individuals. While narcissism exists on a continuum, it is crucial to acknowledge the impact it can have on the victims. Understanding the symptoms of NVS and seeking professional help are essential steps towards breaking free from the cycle of abuse and achieving personal growth and healing.

Also read: What is Covert Emotional Abuse?

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.


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