How to recognize Narcissistic Victim Syndrome:

Every therapist has had their share of clients suffering with emotional problems such as distress, anxiety, depression, weight problems, panic attacks, self-harming behaviors, and suicide.  And as we have seen, many of these clients are overwhelmed with feelings of guilt, shame, doom and gloom, and feelings of hopelessness.  However, until recently there was very little research done to diagnose why anybody would be suffering from these types of symptoms, especially when they were presented in a cluster of symptoms such as those mentioned above.  It is vital for a therapist to be able to distinguish between domestic abuse and narcissistic victim syndrome.  Although there are similarities between all abuse, it is important to realize that there are also huge differences between the degree of  abuse the victim of a narcissist has suffered.  These victims experience abuse on every level of the self, the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual.  A great many suffer from Complex Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, Stockholm Syndrome, Infantile Regression, Soul Rape, and other symptoms that need to be attended to.

Researchers were baffled as to why so many clients coming from the general public were presenting themselves in therapy with such a wide cluster of symptoms being present.   They began to ask questions, such as “What have these clients got in common, and what is the cause of such distress?”   To add to the conundrum, these clients were also showing signs of emotional and psychological trauma, which every therapist knows is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter a person’s sense of security, making them feel helpless and vulnerable.  However, these clients did not report having knowledge of being through a trauma of such magnitude.  It was through researchers, and the asking of questions specifically aimed at finding out what was happening in these clients environment that finally a solution was found.  The data revealed that the people who are presenting with these cluster of symptoms did in fact have one thing in common, they were all victims of narcissistic abuse somewhere in their lives, especially as children (usually a narcissistic parent, or significant other).

Up to now, little or nothing has been written in the medical literature regarding the victims who are exposed to those suffering with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and the consequences of that abuse on those individuals.  To-day we are experiencing a narcissistic epidemic, and through lack of training on Psychotherapy Courses, most therapists, through no fault of their own, have had little or no training in this area.  This must be addressed now, because whereas those clients who are suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder are most likely to be seen by psychiatrists in mental health services,   it is those clients who have been victims of narcissistic abuse, (those who may be suffering from Narcissistic Victim Syndrome) that are the people most likely to turn up in your practice looking for a therapist to help them take back control of their lives.

As a therapist, before you can fully assist a victim recover after an encounter with a grossly narcissistic personality, it is imperative that you be informed fully about the insidious narcissistic behaviour the victim may have experienced, and also understand the effects of that behaviour on that victim.  If you, as a therapist do not take the time to become informed about the two faces of the narcissist (Dr. Jackal and Mr. Hyde), you will not be effective working with the victims.  You also need to understand the insidious behaviour of the narcissist, and the long term effects of that behaviour on the victim.  Familiarize yourself with what narcissistic rage is, what causes it, and its relation to the narcissists shameful feelings.  Understanding the extent of the narcissists rage will prepare you to understand the level of control they had over the victim.   It is also important to be able to distinguish between the different types of  narcissist behaviour, namely the overt and covert narcissist.  The destruction of the gaslighting behaviour on the victim, and their cogtnitive dissonance as a result of the abuse.  In order to provide you with some of those insights, I shall be putting up free articles about the Narcissistic Personality from time to time, but I also recommend that you broaden your sights by also researching this subject through the many articles written, and through other informative sites on the internet.

Follow me
Christine is a Psychotherapist, Educator, Author and Supervisor of mental health professionals for over 28 years. She was part of a team in the Trauma Unit of St. Brendan’s Psychiatric Hospital, Dublin, and has worked specifically with victims of pathological narcissistic abuse in her private practice for many years.
Her books, “The Three Faces of Evil: Unmasking the Full Spectrum of Narcissistic Abuse” and “When Shame Begets Shame: How Narcissists hurt and shame their victims” set out to to help those who have been affected by a narcissist and also to address the shortfalls in a therapist’s education, so that they become better equipped to work with survivors of narcissistic abuse.Much of her knowledge has come from her post-grad studies in Criminology and Forensic Psychology, and it is through these disciplines that she has gained her understanding of “The Dark Triad”, (Narcissism, Machiavellianism and Psychopathy).
These three faces of evil are vital information for understanding the full spectrum of narcissistic abuse and the dire effects on the victims.It is her vision that narcissistic abuse becomes part of the curriculum of all Mental Health clinicians.
Follow me