Experts estimate that as many as 158 million Americans have been affected by narcissistic abuse, a number that clearly indicates how vast this problem is. Yet despite the large number of victims, few truly understand the impact that this abuse has on those who live through it.
For those that are picking up the pieces after a life, it’s anything but easy. Faced with years of emotional and psychological turmoil, the toxic impact of a narcissist can change your life for years after the actual encounter. Some may even suffer a more severe form of psychological damage known as Post Narcissist Stress Disorder (PNSD).
Similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PNSD is an ongoing condition that occurs as a result of trauma experienced in one’s life, in this case, the impact of being in a close relationship with a narcissist. It has the ability to impact every area of your life, causing ongoing pain and suffering.
Are you suffering from Post Narcissist Stress Disorder? Watch for These 5 Signs:
#1 – Difficulty Returning to Life Before the Abuse
Before you met the narcissist, you had a whole life, complete with hobbies, friends and your own personality. When a narcissist takes control of their victim, however, they slowly strip away everything that they once held to be important in their life. Narcissists rob the joy from their victims’ lives, causing them to lose interest in things they once enjoyed. At the same time, they isolate their victims from friends, family and loved ones. When the victim finally breaks free from their control, they often feel like a shell of who they once were. This can make it incredibly difficult to transition back into their regular life.
#2 – Self-Blame and Poor Self-Worth
Spending a significant period of their time being manipulated by a Narcissist to believe they are responsible for every failure that occurs will eventually take a toll on one’s self-worth and feelings of value in the world. One of the ways that narcissists maintain control is by making you feel worthless and breaking free from them doesn’t mean that you leave this destructive thought pattern behind. Often those with PNSD will go to great lengths to try to be perfect at everything they do, constantly ‘making up’ for their failures and shortcomings. They fail to see the value that they bring to the world around them, instead only seeing their mistakes, errors, and weaknesses.
#3 – Numbness or Dissociation
While there may be some victims that experience extreme or intense emotions, either regularly or in isolated moments, others will experience exactly the opposite. Faced with overwhelming stress and intense emotions during their trauma, many respond by disconnecting from their feelings and emotions, or even dissociation entirely from their physical self. This can lead to feelings of numbness, temporary amnesia, or complete disengagement from one’s life.
#4 – Painful Memorise and Flashbacks
As with other forms of PTSD, those suffering from PNSD will experience flashbacks to this traumatic time in their lives. Re-living this over and over again can be incredibly harming, as it brings back the thoughts, feelings, anxiety, and stress of that time in their life. This may come in the form of daytime flashbacks, interrupting your daily activities, or nightmares. These flashbacks may come with little or no warning, disrupting your job, your relationships and all other areas of our lives.
#5 – Avoidance and Difficulty Making Decisions
Not only do victims experience self-blame and poor self-worth, but the constant degradation, judgment, and manipulation of a narcissist can also take a significant toll on the self-confidence of their victims. They will go to great lengths to avoid any situations of conflict, questioning their ability to handle their own. Furthermore, they will second-guess every thought, idea, and decision that they make. This will, inevitably, lead to difficulty in making even the easiest of decisions. Due to the manipulation of the narcissist, they will fear that every situation will be wrong, causing pain and upset to those around them.
Image via Grim’s Crypt