Abuse is not necessarily what you think…
Many of you might be saying, I wasn’t abuse. Nobody hit me, or sexually assaulted me. Abuse comes in many forms, some abuse doesn’t leave any physical scars.
What is narcissistic abuse?
Narcissistic Abuse is was originally just defined as a specific form of emotional abuse of children by narcissistic parents, where parents who require the child to give up their own wants and feelings in order to serve the parent’s needs for esteem. But Narcissistic Abuse is not just limited to Narcissistic Parents, it can be abuse from someone you love, a husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend. Typically what happens is children who grew up with a narcissistic parent subconsciously seek a parter who has the same/similar traits as there narcissistic caregiver did. This can turn into years and years of emotional abuse, starting from childhood (parent) and continuing into adulthood (partner). Enduring a life long sentence of narcissistic abuse is what has happened to most victims of depersonalization – very common.
Who is a narcissist?
A narcissist is a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves. They can be a mother, father, sister, brother, lover and friend.
Typically tho, narcissistic abuse refers to emotional abuse endured by someone close, usually a parent or a spouse.
General Characteristics of a Narcissist:
1. One sided conversations, only wants to talk about things that interest him or her.
2. Doesn’t listen or interrupts.
4. Grandiose Personality
5. Puts on fake personality masks around other people
7. Obsessed with self image and reputation
9. Emotional Manipulator
10. Unstable / unpredictable mood swings
11. Emotional Vampire
13. Lacks empathy
14. Emotionally Unavailable
15. Cannot tolerate criticism
16. Everything is personal
Here are some ways that a narcissist covertly abuse you:
Emotional Invalidation is when a person is rejected or judged for their feelings and personal experiences. This is a very serious but subtle form or emotional abuse. It can be especially distressful to someone who is sensitive by nature. Emotional Invalidation leads to suppression of feelings and rejection of the self, which in turn leads to feeling sad, scared and confused. People who were emotionally invalidated as children suffer from self esteem issues as adults. There has been research conducted on the relationship between emotional invalidation and depersonalization, to read the article click here
Emotional invalidation by others makes self acceptance particularly hard and can cause much confusion in the psyche which leads to depression, anxiety and depersonalization.
How is Emotional Invalidation connected to Depersonalization?
Emotional Invalidation can lead to depersonalization due to the severity of the emotional turmoil it can cause an individual, especially if it has been happening for a long time (chronic)
Many times people don’t even realize they are being emotionally invalidated. Why? Because its subtle, but the effects of it are severe. An example of emotional invalidation would be a partner saying to you “Come on it’s not so bad” after you shared some deep feelings of sadness. Even though they might be saying that to you because they want to make you feel better, they are in fact emotionally invalidating your feelings. An example of what the right thing to say would be something “I am sorry that you feel that way, is there anything I can do to make it better?”
Emotional Invalidation can be in the form of blaming. An example would be when your partner or caregiver blames you for your own feelings. They will say something like “you’re such a drama queen” or “you’re always crying about something” “get over it”
Judging as a form of emotional invalidation sounds something like “why are you so sensitive” “you shouldn’t be so effected by this”
Emotional invalidation by denying is telling the other person they aren’t feeling what they are feeling. “You’re not hungry, you just ate” “You don’t know what you want” “you’re not tired, you haven’t done anything all day”
“Don’t worry, its not that bad. Don’t waste anymore time worries about it”
Nonverbal emotional invalidation is when someone rolls their eyes at you, walks away from you mid conversation, taps their fingers while you are talking, says “uh huh”, interrupts you mid sentence, is preoccupied with other things instead of paying attention to you when you are sharing your thoughts and feelings.
Nonverbal self-invalidation is when you ignore your pain, or feelings. This can happen if you have been emotionally invalidated by either your spouse or your parents, you start minimizing your own needs eventually as well. Examples would be: not eating when hungry, not going to sleep when tired, denying your pain by saying “you’re fine, stop being such a baby” or denying your own happiness/joy by saying “what are you so happy about, stop it!”
How does Narcissistic Abuse cause depersonalization?
Prolonged exposure to trauma both in childhood and adulthood, such as in a relationship with a narcissist, tends to cause a shrinkage in the hippocampus and an enlargement of the amygdala. This is because the brain protects itself from negative memories by discarding them (smaller hippocampus) and instead relegating its energy and resources to keeping us on guard (larger amygdala) in the event we need to fight or flee.
A relationship with a narcissist or a psychopath is one which requires us, whether we are consciously aware of this or not, to dwell in a state of constant vigilance. Children living in abusive homes are especially vulnerable to this. While their young brain develops, it is put under significant stress due to repeated adrenal stimulation.
The distinct feature of abuse is the swing between kindness and cruelty. An abuser can be sweet one moment, only to do a 180 flip and become outright mean the next. The body (unconscious mind) knows this and over time gets used to the idea of having to be on guard 24/7. Even in moments of calm, the brain learns to anticipate the next wave or violence, whether verbal, emotional or physical.
Children who grew up in abusive families, know first-hand the challenge of fighting or fleeing their circumstance. Standing up to the mighty parent-god is out of the question. With one blow, they could crush them into powder. Fleeing is also a bad option.
What option remains? An escape. . . inward.
What is borderline personality disorder?
Borderline personality disorder is similar to narcissistic personality disorder, sharing several of the same characteristics, but Borderline Personality Disorder is more commonly seen in females. Due to it being more prevalent in females it’s common for children to have suffered in the hands of a Borderline Personality Disorder Mother. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental illness that centers around the inability to manage one’s emotions effectively. Borderline personality disorder is a not that commonly known and most people who find out about it are relieved to know the can finally put a name to it.
Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder
- Fear of abandonment
- Unclear or unstable self-image
- Lack of respect for other people’s boundaries
- Impulsive, self-destructive behaviours
- Extreme emotional swings
- Chronic feelings of emptiness
- Explosive anger
- Feeling suspicious of others
- Black and white thinking
Borderline Personality Parent
A borderline personality parent is incapable of showing love, she is cold, angry, controlling, withdrawn, often swinging from the roll of a victim to a queen. Adult children who were raised by borderline personality parents often state that they were emotionally manipulated to feel guilty when they stood up for their feelings and made to feel crazy when the parent denied their version of events.
Growing up with our borderline personality parent:
- did not let you express your emotions, or show anger.
- violated your privacy by opening up your mail or reading your diary
- made you feel guilty for expressing yourself
- reacted to your emotions in negative ways
- was over controlling
- told you she knew you better than you know yourself
- would lash out with rage over minor things
- was very moody
- would withhold love and affection
- could emotionally hurt you in a heartbeat
- would give you the silent treatment
- would become overly dramatic if you expressed your feelings
- made you feel guilty for standing up for yourself
- thinks you are incapable of making decisions for yourself
- blamed you for her sadness and anger, saying “you did this to me”
- did not allow you to be an individual
- made to feel like a “no good child”?
How does having a Borderline Personality Parent affect your mental health?
Growing up with borderline personalty parent might have caused you to question your own sanity for years, and as an adult you may suffer from anxiety, depression and panic disorders. Having a borderline personality parent almost always means you have an anxious/ avoidant childhood attachment style. This means that instead of having a healthy/secure attachment to your mother/father as a child you grew up feeling anxious and avoided showing your feelings. Attachment styles influence our interpersonal relationships, both in childhood and adulthood. Studies have shown that interactions between mothers with BPD and their children are defined by insensitivity, mood swings, lack of comfort or response to infants in distress. These mothers are less likely to engage in healthy infant parenting behaviors, with researchers noting, “Mothers with BPD smiled less, touched and imitated their infants less, and played fewer games with their babies.”[1. http://ebmh.bmj.com/content/18/3/67.full] Borderline personality parents have a hard time identifying and appropriately responding to their children’s emotions. To to this adult children of borderline personality parents grow up with the inability to recognize their own wants and needs, constantly second guessing themselves and their own emotions. It is common for adult children of borderline personality disorder to feel insecure, needy and anxious in relationships with others.
Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder Abuse Victims
- questioning your sanity
- feeling insecure
- people pleasing
- ignoring your own wants and needs
- thinking you are not good enough / low self esteem
- inability to communicate effectively
- emotional immature
- go through waves of anxiety and depression
- afraid of conflict
- easily traumatized
- fear of getting in trouble
- inability to make confident decisions