Victims of Narcissistic Personality Disorder may suffer Post Traumatic Stress for a prolonged period of time: Narcissists & Psychopaths Cause PTSD for their Victims by Tim Field Jan 2012

I am sharing an excellent article by Tim Field on Victims of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

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Narcissists & Psychopaths Cause PTSD for their Victims

by Tim Field Jan 2012

How do the PTSD symptoms resulting from a Narcissist or Psychopath’s abuse and bullying meet the criteria in DSM-IV?

A. The prolonged (chronic) negative stress resulting from dealing with a narcissist or psychopath has lead to threat of loss of job, career, health, livelihood, often also resulting in threat to marriage and family life. The family are the unseen victims.

A.1.One of the key symptoms of prolonged negative stress is reactive depression; this causes the balance of the mind to be disturbed, leading first to thoughts of, then attempts at, and ultimately, suicide.

A.2.The target of the narcissist or psychopath may be unaware that they are being exploited, and even when they do realize (there’s usually a moment of enlightenment as the person realizes that the criticisms and tactics of control, etc are invalid) – victims often cannot bring themselves to believe they are dealing with a disordered personality who lacks a conscience and does not share the same moral values as themselves.

Naivety is the great enemy. The target is bewildered, confused, frightened, angry – and after enlightenment, very angry.

B.1. The target experiences regular intrusive violent visualizations and replays of events and conversations; often, the endings of these replays are altered in favour of the target.

B.2. Sleeplessness, nightmares and replays are a common feature.

B.3. The events are constantly relived; night-time and sleep do not bring relief as it becomes impossible to switch the brain off. Such sleep as is achieved is non-restorative and people wake up as tired, and often more tired, than when they went to bed.

B.4. Fear, horror, chronic anxiety, and panic attacks are triggered by any reminder of the experience, e.g.receiving threatening letters or email from the narcissist or psychopath or their friends, their family or attorneys. Additionally postings on online boards or sites about the victim by the abuser (often to try to make the victim look like the abusive one!) can add to these triggers and health related issues tremendously.]

B.5. Panic attacks, palpitations, sweating, trembling, vomitting, binge eating or forgetting to eat, ditto.

Criteria B4 and B5 manifest themselves as immediate physical and mental paralysis in response to any reminder of the narcissist or prospect being forced to take action against the narcissist.

C. Physical numbness (toes, fingertips, lips) is common, as is emotional numbness (especially inability to feel joy). Sufferers report that their spark has gone out and, even years later, find they just cannot get motivated about anything.

C.1. The target tries harder and harder to avoid saying or doing anything which reminds them of the horror of the exploitation.

C.2. Almost all Victims report impaired memory; this may be partly due to suppressing horrific memories, and partly due to damage to the hippocampus, an area of the brain linked to learning and memory.

C.3. the person becomes obsessed with resolving the experience which takes over their life, eclipsing and excluding almost every other interest.

C.4. Feelings of withdrawal and isolation are common; the person just wants to be on their own and solitude is sought.

C.5. Emotional numbness, including inability to feel joy (anhedonia) and deadening of loving feelings towards others are commonly reported. One fears never being able to feel love again.

C.6. The target becomes very gloomy and senses a foreshortened career – usually with justification. Many targets ultimately have severe psychiatric injury, severely impaired health.

D.1. Sleep becomes almost impossible, despite the constant fatigue; such sleep as is obtained tends to be unsatisfying, unrefreshing and non-restorative. On waking, the person often feels more tired than when they went to bed. Depressive feelings are worst early in the morning. Feelings of vulnerability may be heightened overnight.

D.2. The person has an extremely short fuse and is often permanently irritated, especially by small insignificant events. The person frequently visualises a violent solution, e.g. arranging an accident for, or murdering the narcissist; the resultant feelings of guilt tend to hinder progress in recovery.

D.3. Concentration is impaired to the point of precluding preparation for legal action, study, work, or search for work.

D.4. The person is on constant alert because their fight or flight mechanism has become permanently activated.

D.5. The person has become hypersensitized and now unwittingly and inappropriately perceives almost any remark as critical.

E. Recovery from a narcissist experience is measured in years. Some people never fully recover. Long term and repeated damage by disordered persons become C-PTSD.

F. For many, social life ceases and work becomes impossible. Many develop autoimmune diseases such as lupus, fibromyalgia, chronic pain or adrenal fatigue and even become totally disabled.

THERAPY can and does help. But it takes a lot of time and work. The longer you wait to get help & treatment, the deeper the damage and the more difficult to heal or manage. Hang in there!

13 replies
    Shelley-Ann says:

    Steven, I understand exactly what you are going through. I too, have been left an empty shell. It’s been almost 9 months now since I cut off contact and I still cry almost daily. I see no future for myself now, as it’s like I’m damaged goods, and even though I’ve met several interesting people since, I can’t seem to rid myself of the dark cloud of this man and the effect he had on me, and because of that, I feel dead inside and emotionally available to others– it’s like he still owns my soul. I don’t know what to do.

    peggy says:

    so glad for this site I JUST had a very painful surgery
    the same day my bestfriend ended our 6 year relationship
    over the internet and blamed me for it I am just relising
    she was a narcissistic its been 3 weeks and I still feel like
    our friendship was a lie am very depressed and feel like
    I was disposable to her she blames me for everything
    I feel overwhelmed

    Jessica says:

    I’m so incredibly confused and disoriented. I was with my boyfriend for 10 years resulting in the birth or 2 amazing sons. The fighting between us was constant and only resolved with me making fhe amends and the apology. If he apologize (which was rare) it was insincere and usually was more for himself necaua he knew his action made him look very bad. His lack of empathy and acknowledgment towards my feelings have left me feeling like I’m nothing. He has our friends family and others convinced of his superiority while I’m viewed as the culprit.

    I can’t describe how worthless this man has left me feeling. All the years of unwarranted accusations and isolation. The years of his denial of wrong doings and blame shifting. His one sided views and constant invalidation. His put downs and use of past situations to throw in my (me being adopted saying no wonder my birth mom didn’t want me).
    The worse part is…now he has used me up and abandoned our family..why do I want him back? Why do I yurn for his touch and be in his presence?
    The articles say that the narc doesn’t want to be cut off…be he cut me/us off…so does that mean that I was really the problem? I just can’t come terms with any of this. I feel damaged beyond any repair. I just want to lay in the bed and pass on. My children mean the world to me so I’d never hurt myself but the pain and anguish I feel is beyond overwhelming.

  4. Jeni Mawter says:

    Hi Stephen,
    You are not alone with this. Maybe my Slideshare on Moving on from Narcissistic Abuse may be of help.
    With you on your road to recovery.

  5. Jeni Mawter says:

    Hi Stephen.

    Here’s the links to the three PowerPoints I have compiled on Narcissistic Personality Disorder and the associated condition Narcissistic Victim Syndrome which may be of interest.

    I hope you find these helpful.



    Steven says:

    I thought I was loosing my mind. I have never felt so attached and yet so abandoned at the same time.

    I have been in love with this particular woman ever since Highschool… we have had on and off t9imes ..and all the time I never felt our departures were resolved .

    5 months ago , I kicked her out of my apartment. I could not wrap my mind around the fact she was so distant and so dispassionate and yet wanted to consume my every emotion…

    Its only now in the last month that I am reading so much on Narcssism … starting to understand what happened. although this is her disorder, I am still hurting… greviously.

    This pain I am feeling is even more intense…
    It makes no sense … I can not figure out why I can get past it .

    Its driving me crazy. at this time I feel so lost, so abandoned, so betrayed , so utterly used…. I want to vaporize. I want to feel better. I am so tired too..physically tired

    I want what ever she took from my essence… I want it back…I just dont know how to get it back…

    God… I want help… I need help…
    This is so dibilitating …

    Marie says:

    My sister brought her narcissist into our home. In trying to protect her from him, I ended up becoming one of his targets, and ultimately with symptoms of PTSD. I find that people don’t believe you can be abused by your sister’s boyfriend, but I was. My family is affected by this man also, as he tried his best to sever relationships and manipulate the family. She truly bought his lies and decided the family must hate her, and she lashed out. Him with words, her with fists. It has been years since I had to move away for my own safety, but am still experiencing the effects. He destroyed my nuclear family — there is no cohesion anymore. It’s like a ghost of what it once was. My own mother is on edge all the time, because he still haunts my sister. She had a kid with this guy, so he now takes the narcissism to the courts. It’s never-ending abuse. Thank you for writing so boldly about this disease. I hope many men and women read this and avoid these relationships. They are never worth it.

    Social Anxiety says:

    The second audio system carries programs that speed up the
    child’s process of recovering. In the light of divorce, they require the support of
    family as they experience long-lasting setbacks in interpersonal skills and academic studies.
    There are many factors which are involved in anxiety
    disorders. It’s a good way of controlling any fears or anxieties that you may

    my web site; Social Anxiety

  9. Jeni Mawter says:

    Hi Chad,

    Narcissistic Victim Syndrome is not a medical diagnosis unfortunately. It is a term used to describe a cluster of emotions, thoughts and behaviours that are shared by individuals who have been exposed to someone with NPD in a damaging way. You may be interested in my slideshare on this

    Complex PTSD is a medically recognised disorder and can be diagnosed by medical practitioners and psychologists.

    Wishing you all the best for your journey of healing.


    Chad Barthelemy says:

    Thank you for this post. I am afraid I am in the realm of being one of the victims of a psychopath/narcissist who is disabled from and by the violence. However, I maintain hope in that the perpetual nature of the victimization is because I am adjudicated into this position of perpetual violation via the manipulated alienation between my child and myself. Once he and I are restored and I am liberated from the bullying violence, I still believe that my mind and spirit can heal, especially if I am allowed, at last, to live directly for and with my son.

    Towards this end (of gaining legal liberation), how does one go about getting diagnosed with “narcissistic victim syndrome” and “complex-PTSD”? I live in the Minneapolis area of MN.

    Thank you,
    Chad Barthelemy

  11. Jeni Mawter says:

    Hi Jan,

    I’m so glad this blog resonates with you. After wrestling with NPD myself, I wish I’d been given this information. So much of the struggle is not knowing what you’re up against.

    As NPD so often makes a victim feel disempowered, being able to identify and label behaviours, being able to share stories and insights, and being able to help people to be informed has been really helpful for me.

    Thank you for being one of the sharers!

    Warm wishes to you. I hope one day you resume contact with your grandsons. x

    Jan says:

    Once again, thankyou Jeni for your insightful blog and associated articles. So much of this Tim Field article could be written about me! Discovering through a fantastic councellor that my daughter had NPD was the first step to recovery, but I have gone though so many of the PTSD symptoms. I cried when I read this article because it explains so much of what I have been going through. My ex husband (daughter’s father) I would also strongly believe also has NPD as his behaviour and hers are so similar – the put-downs, their belief that they are/were so far above me, their emotional detachment. Since I decided to cut my daughter out of my life – for self protection – she and her Dad are as thick as thieves. She had told me a few years ago that her Dad was still bitter about our divorce, which was about 28 years ago, so he will be loving the fact that I don’t have contact with my daughter. My two beautiful grandsons are what I miss most and no contact with them tears me apart. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your insightful blog and related articles.

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