Clarifying this subject can accelerate our healing because we often don’t, or can’t identify why we feel the way we do. The confusion and ‘crazy making’ experience is part of the narcissists’ manipulation intended for us to remain powerless. Being Highly Sensitive and in a relationship with a personality disordered person alters our perception of who we are.
NAS is a cluster of symptoms experienced by a person who has been in a relationship with a narcissist. Or, someone who meets the criteria for APD (Antisocial Personality Disorder). A narcissist does not have to display all the symptoms of pathological Narcissistic Personality Disorder to inflict untold damage.
Watch Top 20 Ways HSP Can Recognise Narcissists
All survivors of narc abuse develop a deep psychological wound called Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) It greatly affects our ability to function in the world and we feel like we are no longer the same person.
CPTSD differs from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in that its due to repeated, ongoing, and prolonged exposure to a traumatic event. Whereas PTSD is due to a once off traumatic event. Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome is the result of a perpetual and ongoing psychological trauma.
Being in an unpredictable environment teaches us to live in a hyper-vigilant state as a way to protect ourselves from possible harm. Being a HSP this translates in us being in a continual state of over arousal. Always assessing the other persons energy, mood, and behaviour. Simply because we are living in a threatening environment, we dont feel safe. And HSP do startle easily but this becomes an ‘accelerated startle response’. We feel even more ‘on edge’.
The effects of trauma are far reaching. We may be exhibiting signs of trauma and not know it. For example many HSP may not relate anxiety, depression, phobias, and sleep disorders stemming from a childhood event like living with a narcissistic parent.
Symptoms of NAS
A person experiencing Narcissistic (Victim) Abuse Syndrome will be emotionally dys-regulated. Meaning they will display obsessive behaviours. Such as unrelenting thoughts about the abuser, replaying memories, doubt their ability to make decisions, experience mood swings including feelings of worthlessness, episodes of rage, anxiety, depression, feelings of panic, and paranoia. Feelings of ‘going mad’, even suicidal thoughts.
Changes in appetite, weight fluctuations, weight gain or weight loss. Obsessive thinking related to wanting to make the narcissist happy, gain their favour, or appease the narcissist.
Depending on the stage and awareness, there often is a tendency to excuse or ignore the narcissists abusive actions and even idealisation of the narcissist. This behaviour indicates ‘trauma bonding’ and is often not recognised by the HSP being abused.
There are different stages and it takes a long time for us to confront reality. We feel bound by guilt, obligation and a sense of loyalty.
Narcissistic Abuse Victims have an imbalanced sense of responsibility. Meaning they take full responsibility for the abusive behaviour (which they usually don’t see as being abusive). Narcissistic abuse changes the way we perceive ourselves. There’s a tremendous sense of shame, guilt, inferiority, self blame, and self abandonment.
Fears, phobias and narcissistic abuse
Some HSP may develop phobias around events, dates, anniversaries, birthdays. We may be fearful answering our phone, or leaving oour room. We may avoid certain thoughts, feelings, discussions, and certain people. Anything that could possibly remind us of the narcissist or the traumatic experience. This is how we may be trying to avoid the triggers. We constantly walk on eggshells.
One of the landmark signs is an overwhelming and incapacitating fear. Nightmares, repeated flashbacks where you hear the abusers voice or see images of their face in your mind. Victims of narcissistic abuse can continue to carry a sense of terror long after the traumatic relationship has ended .
Watch; HSP Guide To Identifying Covert Narcissism
Narcissistic abuse, ‘Hyper-sensitivity’ and the HSP
For HSP these relationships will make us even more sensitive. Its like we truly become hypersensitive. We develop an over-sensitivity to any stress, it just feels like we cant cope with life at all.
HSP experiencing Narc Abuse Syndrome will also have a feeling of self condemnation, self disgust, self loathing. It’s an anger directed at yourself.
During the relationship we endure an intense feeling of being alone. The narcissist may be there physically but being a HSP, we feel like they’ve emotionally checked out. Feelings of emptiness and indescribable coldness. Even tho you eat or sleep beside this person, there’s a stark feeling of nobody being there. And this triggers a deep sense of abandonment, of loss, and grief.
Physically a HSP who experiences this will describe their body being revved up, chronically stressed. Cortisol and adrenaline will be raised. Being hyper-adrenalized is our basic emotional state. Its very exhausting.
This constant and repeated state of over-arousal eventually leads to a feeling of numbness, we can’t think or cope with the simplest of things. A HSP going through this, we may also have the feeling that we are the only ones who can truly see the nature of the abuser.
What is Narcissistic Projection
Most often we are oblivious to our own emotional pain and disconnected from own mental anguish. Instead we tend to be obsessed with our own perceived failures, inadequacy, desperately seeking answers on how to solve the flaws the narcissist has identified as being the cause of our misery.
This is called ‘narcissistic projection’ where the narcissist will accuse you of being lazy, selfish, irresponsible, a liar, having anger issues, or being a cheat. When the truth is, they themselves are doing exactly what they’re accusing you of.
All this just keeps your mind constantly spinning, questioning, and confused. It’s meant to distort your sense of reality. It is a form of psychological torture. People who experience CPTSD may become reckless, impulsive, self destructive, or they may start exhibiting psychosomatic illness.
Awareness sets us free!
I personally found that just understanding what has happened gave me a huge sense of relief. Just to finally make sense of things.
Relationships with narcissists are very destructive in more ways than one. It takes time, patience, and self love and self care to heal. You must move on from feeling like victim of narcissistic abuse, to a survivor. Don’t get fixated on what happened, this can perpetuate the abuse and keep us stuck. Moving on with your life is something that only you can do for yourself. Its a process. It takes time.
Moving on is the ultimate act of self love and empowerment. It involves grieving our many losses. And Ill talk about this and other aspects related to the subject of narcissism and HSP in a future blog and video. With loving support and education we can replenish and re-nourish our self worth. This experience can propel our life in a positive way.