Once a (insert word) always a …

There is a common misconception that one who has experienced an addiction will always have that illness. I remember reading about anorexia when I was a teenager and all the literature said that the sufferer would always have a tendency towards that disease.

It is true that currently only a small percentage of people who go into recovery actually heal and recover.

In recovery circles, such as addiction programmes, it’s suggested that each member introduces themself as an addict, no matter how long they have been in the group for and how much recovery they have. Through studying Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and the power of language on our mind, I see how harmful it can be to label and identify oneself in this way. It can also be shaming and stigmatising, which we already experts at doing to ourselves if we have complex PTSD!

Someone may call themselves a “love addict”, for example, if they have experienced an addiction to certain people in their lives. However I see this as a coping strategy to avoid the pain, which stems from childhood, of not feeling worthy of being loved. It’s a behaviour, not an identity.

Another reason why people do not recover is because they stuggle with their symptoms, rather than considering what the cause of those symptoms might be.  For example, if a person is addicted to a substance, that person is subconsciously trying to avoid the deep pain in their inner being as a result of previous trauma. That person may be able to achieve some sobriety through a recovery programme.  However the addiction is always in danger of returning if the person has not dealt with the core issue of why they feel the need to avoid their feelings in the first place. Dr Gabor Mate speaks more about trauma being the root cause of addiction. According to him, the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, but connection.

So we CAN heal, but we do need to deal with the root cause of the illness. Many people avoid doing this as it easier in the short term to be in denial of our past traumas.  We are also conditioned by society to find the quick fix.

Narcissistic Defenses

Have you ever tried to confront a narcissist or sociopath? Good luck if you decide to try! Here are some of their most common responses:

  • “You need to get a life”.
  • “You are mentally ill”.
  • “Stop psychoanalysing everyone all of the time”. (exaggerating)
  • Telling you that you are so awful because you are blaming other people for EVERYTHING! (this is projection – it’s the narcissist’s motto that they are perfect and someone else is always to blame)
  • “YOU are the PROBLEM”.
  • Going into victim mode – crocodile tearscrocodile tears
  • Silent treatment
  • Threats to report you / get you sent to the loony bin
  • Telling you that no one else has ever made the complaint that you have just made (as though it is YOU with the problem, and they are perfect)

Hopefully you can see how ridiculous most of these defences are!

What have your experiences of confronting a narcissist been?

Obstacles in Recovery

When we start to recover after narcissistic abuse, there are some potential pitfalls that we need to protect ourselves from:

talking therapy

  1. Not all therapists understand narcissistic abuse. It may not be covered in their training in very much detail. When searching for a therapist, it is essential to ask them what their knowledge of narcissistic abuse and domestic abuse is. If you are invalidated by a therapist, this can causes secondary gaslighting, which can re-traumatise you (know as sanctuary trauma).
  2. Needing to get others to understand and to validate us: It is typical for narcissistic abuse survivors to be invalidated by those who do not understand narcissistic abuse. Although extremely painful at the time, this can force us to learn the essential lesson of how to validate ourselves.
  3. Putting others above us and believing others before our own truth.
  4. Trying to get validation from those who have an agenda not to see us, such as other narcissistic abusers.
  5. Allowing others to be the judge of us.  Not feeling entitled to ask for what we need.
  6. Dealing with symptoms, rather than the cause, and believing that recovery is possible without processing and releasing past traumas.
  7. Being told to forgive and forget.
  8. Being told it is wrong to judge.

Have you managed to break through barriers during recovery? I would love to hear from you in the comments.

Tricks of the Narcissistic Trade

  1. magic tricksGathering information about the victim – staring (commonly known as the “sociopathic stare”) and asking lots of questions (the answers will later be used against you to manipulate and control you)
  2. Playing on the victim’s fears and insecurities (again they will uncover your fears by studying you and asking pertinent questions)
  3. Provocation – narcissists are professional button pushers
  4. Divide and Conquer – telling untruths to turn others against each other so they don’t team up to protect themselves against the abuse. This allows them greater control over others.
  5. Projection – the narcissist projects the characteristics they dislike in themsleves (but are in denial about) onto their victim
  6. Triangulation – making the victim jealous of another so that the victim works hard to gain the narcissist’s approval
  7. Confusion – to distract from what the narcissist is really trying to do. Confusion also ensures that the attention is on the narcissist and this provides them with narcissistic supply
  8. Emotional Dysregulation
  9. Gaslighting

These will all be discussed in greater detail in future posts.  Feel free to add any examples that you have come across in the comments below.