What is Stockholm Syndrome?
Stockholm Syndrome is a psychological term used to describe the paradoxical phenomenon of the relationship that develops between a captor and its hostage. In such a relationship, to the amazement of onlookers, the hostage expresses empathy and positive feelings towards their abusive captor, and often they will display a desire to defend them.
Seen through the lens of the psychoanalytic view, Stockholm syndrome is not a new phenomenon, it is in fact the same principle that can be witnessed in the developing infant. When a baby is born, they come into the world pre-programmed to bond with their significant carer, usually their mother. This instinctual bonding is the baby’s first emotional attachment bond with someone who displays power, compassion, comfort, security and safety; everything that maximizes the infant’s survival. So putting it simply, every infant experiences Stockholm Syndrome as a defense mechanism against its own annihilation, and it remains primed and ready to be triggered whenever there is a primal desire to survive trauma at any stage of life thereafter. When Stockholm syndrome is experienced as a result of narcissistic abuse, the victim, in effect, is regressing to a state of infantile dependence, and the infantile survival mechanism is likely to kick in involuntarily.
Understanding Stockholm Syndrome:
The psychological term, Stockholm Syndrome was coined by the criminologist and psychiatrist Nils Bejerot in 1973, after he assisted the police during a bank robbery in Stockholm in which four employees (3 female and 1 male) were held hostage by two captors for six days. During this relatively short time it was noted that the hostages had managed to develop a strong emotional attachment to their captors. It would seem that the hostage’s empathic feelings toward their captors were due to acts of kindness they had been shown during their ordeal. Unbelievably, these small acts of kindness seemed to negate the fact that their lives had been threatened, and even after several months after being released, some of the hostages still wanted to defend their captors. In fact, so strong were their feelings, that amazingly, two of the women demonstrated how much they had bonded; one woman became engaged to one of her captives, while another raised legal funds to aid their defense.
The Stockholm episode sparked off great interest and research into the phenomenon of emotional bonding between captors and captives, (abusers and victims). Psychology wanted to know if what was witnessed in the Stockholm Bank incident was a unique occurrence, or was it more common than was thought. Since then, studies have revealed that this behaviour (positive attachment) in the captives does indeed occur in many situations, for example; narcissistic abuse, battering (men and women), abused children, incest victims, rape victims, cult members, prison camps, pimp-procured prostitutes, prisoners of war, etc.
Stockholm Syndrome knows no bounds, it can be found in all kinds of interpersonal relationships in the context of social, cultural and other influences; For example, families, intimate relationships, friendships, marriage, parent-child, the workplace, social clubs, associations, schools, Churches, Cults etc. That means that the abuser can be anybody from: a father or mother, a brother or sister, a husband or wife, a son or daughter, boyfriend or girlfriend, a boss and employee, or indeed, any role in which the abuser is in a position of control or authority. This phenomenon is so wide-spread, that in fact, virtually anyone can become a victim of Stockholm Syndrome, it seems that all that is required is the four following conditions be present:-
1. That there is a perceived threat to the captive’s existence, and they fervently believe that the captor will carry out that threat.
2. That the captive experiences small kindnesses from their captor within a context of terror.
3. That the captive is isolated from any other perspectives other than those of their captor.
4. That the captive perceives they have an inability to escape.
It is vital to understand that the bonding behaviours detected in Stockholm Syndrome are notable examples of “emotional bonding and defending” (Stockholm Syndrome) are to be found in many instances that made news headlines over the decades. For example:-
• the cases of 25 year old Mary McElroy in 1933, who was kidnapped for a ransom, and held for twenty-nine hours in captivity;
• 19 year old Heiress Patty Hearst who was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974;
• The passengers of the flight TWA 847 that was hijacked in Athens in 1985;
• Jaycee Lee Dugard’s abduction in 1991 and held for 18 years by her captor;
• 10 year old Austrian girl Natascha Kampusch abducted in 1998, and held for eight years in a windowless cellar.
• 11 year old Shawn Hornbeck kidnapped and held for over four years in 2002;
There are many other cases, but in all of these cases, Stockholm Syndrome provided each of the victims with the necessary psychological shift that was necessary to survive their ordeal until such time that they were rescued.
The Part of Stockholm Syndrome in Narcissistic Victim Abuse:
So what does Stockholm Syndrome have to do with a client presenting with Narcissistic Victim Syndrome as a result of narcissistic abuse? The short answer is “a lot”. For that reason, it is important for a therapist to understand and recognize the components of Stockholm Syndrome. Without this understanding it is hard to fathom out why a victim stays under the control of the narcissist abuser for so long. A common question many therapists ask the victim, especially if it is an abused and battered women, is, “Why did you stay so long in that abusive relationship?” More often than not, the answer is, “Because I loved him”. This may be your first clue to being in the presence of a victim who is showing signs of Stockholm Syndrome. Aware of the strong bond between herself and the narcissistic abuser, she internalizes this feeling as being “in love” with him (or her). Your client is totally unaware of the dynamics involved in the bonding process that occurs with abuse and prolonged trauma. What she is trying to do is to describe the feelings for the narcissist in the only way that she knows how. Desperate to be understood, she may even try to defend her feelings by saying something like, “I know it doesn’t make sense, but I just love him”. The truth of the situation is that she has no idea that she is the victim of narcissistic abuse, neither is she aware that she is suffering the effects of Stockholm Syndrome, therefore, she does not have the necessary information to make sense of the dynamics created by the bonding process. From the many case studies of hostages, we can see that the bonding can occur within a matter of hours, however, in the case of domestic narcissistic abuse, you are more likely dealing with a victim who has been held in a hostage situation with their narcissistic abuser for many years without any intervention (especially a child who had the misfortune to having a narcissistic parent). Trying to exist while living within a spiral of behaviour that includes the extremes of constant threats and kindness (intermittent good-bad treatment); the victim goes through a process of feeling loved, while at the same time they are having their self-esteem shredded. These two elements together cause a power imbalance that can create the phenomenon of Trauma Bonding.
Living within a narcissistic environment there is a need for the organism to protect itself. As you can see, the victim has indeed been living like hostages in a war-zone for a prolonged time. They have been deeply submerged into a hostile environment, an environment where they live with the constant threat to their survival on all levels of the self (physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually). One component of the Stockholm Syndrome is the belief that their abuser will harm or kill them if they don’t comply. They have learned this lesson the hard way by oppressive behaviour and possibly severe beatings, and the constant threat that there is worse to come if they don’t tow the line (i.e. having witnessed extreme violence themselves, or witnessing it happening to another family member). With no perceived safe way of escaping, the victim responds with an adaptive behaviour called Cognitive Dissonance in order to reduce their anxiety.
Stockholm Syndrome as an adaptive behaviour to narcissistic abuse:
What happens in Stockholm Syndrome is that a primitive survival instinct takes over in the victim as a threat to life becomes imminent. It is a complicated process that helps them to tolerate the indescribable narcissistic abuse they are being subjected to on a daily basis. Even when things are going well, the victim is controlled by fear that things can change in an instant. In their survival mode, the victim gets to see the world from the narcissistic abuser’s perspective, and they begin to focus on their needs (rather than their own) in order to buy some safety. Because of the real dangers involved, the victim gives up any hope of escaping, and dissociation becomes a comforting friend. Unable to take “flight or fight” from their detestable life, the victim goes into a “freeze” response (where they become immobilized). Interestingly enough, this freeze response can be seen in animals that are under the threat of death by a predator. The animal feigns death by playing “dead”, ordinarily the predator will lose interest in its prey if it is not moving (not showing fear). Like the narcissist, there is no fun in a kill without a chase, and perhaps the victim knows, (somewhere in their reptilian brain) how to repel the narcissistic “stress monster”. Over time, the victim becomes grateful for small mercies from their abuser, and they perceive any show of kindness or affection from them to mean that the danger has passed (for the moment at least); and for a while they can relax from their high arousal state of anxiety. Indebted to their benefactor for that reprieve, they convince themselves that their captor is really a “good guy”, and a pathological transference is established. As a result, a very profound behavioral and attitudinal reaction occurs within the victim in which they feel that they are both loved by, and in love with the narcissist; that way they can reciprocate with kindness and affection when really they are seething with anger (survival mechanism). This keeps the victim safe in that it represses their anger, thus staving off the narcissist’s reactions to rejection and abandonment that would be triggered if met with hostility. Often, in fact, the victim will put themselves in such a self hypnotic trance of being in love with the abuser that they will defend their narcissistic persecutor to the outside world, and will even fight off attempts by others to rescue them. This makes it difficult for extended family to intervene, as it causes great confusion, and the family member may even become fearful that the victim will bring the wrath of the narcissist upon them. The victim also has a tendency to adopt a “pleaser stance”, which any therapist can easily detect. This pleasing behaviour is another strategy born out of a need for “keeping safe”; It is through the pleasing stance that the victim achieves a state whereby they can manage to comply with the abusers demands, give them what they need, and appear to always “go with the flow”. By being the pleaser, the victim manages to keep themselves safe from the inexplicable narcissistic raging attacks that come out of the blue when their narcissistic supply (the victim) fails to take part in the narcissist’s convoluted dance.
Stockholm Syndrome: A regressive mode of adaption to narcissistic trauma.
In the past, one of the problems of not identifying narcissistic victim abuse arose because, when it came to domestic violence, there was no understanding about the victim’s attachment to the abuser. Domestic violence historically was treated as a “private matter”, therefore it was viewed as a misdemeanor offense by the police and criminal judicial system. Police were reluctant to make arrests in these instances, however, when they did, they became very frustrated when the victims (mostly women) would drop the charges against the offenders. As a result these victims were viewed by the police (and families) as having some form of pathology that was somehow creating the domestic abuse in the first place. Confused and abandoned (by their own self and society) the only safe place the victim could turn to was possibly their family physician. Time and time again the doctor would see these broken victims come into the surgery. Oblivious of the aggressor bonding that is taking place, all the compassionate doctor could do was to put a temporary sticking plaster over the physical wounds of the victim until the next incident occurred.
The importance of trauma bonding has been under-represented in research, very few professionals are aware of it, even professional psychotherapists. What confounds most people is how (or why) this “Trauma Bonding” can actually happen. If we were to apply logic to the situation regarding the victim’s attachment to the abuser, then most of us would say that using fear and threat with anybody is not a good strategy for gaining their co-operation and loyalty. Yet what I am about to reveal is that actually fear and threat, in a perverse way, is a very successful strategy indeed, because ironically, research shows that fear immobilizes and deepens attachment. As far back as Freud, it has been known that victims, in order to survive, would resort to a psychological process known as identification or interojection. Identification with the aggressor is a version of introjection that is found in Stockholm Syndrome. In Stockholm Syndrome, the victim adapts to the traumatic situation by unconsciously going into a regressive mode, essentially you can say, that they flip over and return to childish infantile patterns of behaviour. This regressive mode models their earlier experiences (as a child) when they first learned to identify with their first aggressor (usually the Mother) and form an emotional tie in order to reduce their stress and anxiety whenever they experienced fear. By regression I mean, that the victim makes a backward movement in psychological time to their earliest experiences of “bonding with the enemy” in order to manage their stress whenever they were afraid (part of the phase in the development of the super-ego functioning). No matter what age we are, when we are distressed we find ourselves becoming primitive or childlike, we return to our childish infantile patterns, and we retreat back into our old tried and trusted preliminary stages of defense (as seen in Stockholm Syndrome).
Living in the environment where there is narcissistic abuse, the victim in effect is living like a hostage under threat with their captor; this causes them to regress back to a time when they felt both helpless and extremely dependant on another for survival. Under these conditions both Cognitive Dissonance (a discomfort caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously), and Stockholm Syndrome (the return to childish or infantile patterns) develop on an involuntary basis. In Stockholm Syndrome, what occurs is the same principle that is seen in the developing infant. In order to survive, the child needs to develop an emotional attachment to a care-giver that displays power and compassion; usually this is the domain of the mother or primary care-giver.
In Stockholm Syndrome, we witness the emotional attachment (Trauma Bonding) that has developed incomprehensible between the victim and their narcissistic abuser. Most people find it hard to believe that this can happen, so how does it happen? It is easier to accept that this can happen when we understand that, right from the very beginning of life, the human condition has a biological need for attachment in order to survive, especially during times of stress and danger. The child paradoxically is in a dilemma; both terrified of his new world, yet desperately in need of a caregiver for survival, the child takes “flight” into a dissociative response that allows it to maintain an idealised attachment relationship with that care-giver for their survival. Bonding with a care-giver (usually mother) creates connection and safety, and provides a familiar face that either justifies or soothes their fear away. How the infant bonds is imperative, because it is the blueprint for all future relationships. As adults, this biological need that is seen in the child does not change or go away with time. It seems that we are always at the mercy of looking for emotional attachment, especially when embroiled in dangerous narcissistic abusive relationships in which we are rendered helpless. Those same hyper-active responses seen in the child can be triggered later in life if the adult is in a similar threatening abusive relationship where they can be literally annihilated. Under such threat, the individual regresses to an infantile state. It is this traumatic psychological infantilism that becomes responsible for creating an inner drive in the victim to cling to the narcissist. Captivity makes the victim so infantile and so frightened, by the time the trauma bond is created between the victim and narcissist, the regressive state renders the victim to become placid and compliant in their behaviour with their hostage (like a child with its mother when they are in trouble). So rather than “aggressor bonding” being a mad behaviour, I see it as a very intelligent behaviour that aids survival. Unfortunately, the downside is that it also prevents many victims from leaving their violent partners. In Stockholm Syndrome, traumatic bonding is especially likely to happen if two specific structural features present in the abusive relationship: 1. There is an existence in the power imbalances and 2. There is intermittent good-bad treatment (Dutton & Painter).
1. Power Imbalance with the Narcissist:
If you are the victim of Narcissistic Victim Syndrome, from the very beginning of the relationship there would always have been a power imbalance, and that would have become magnified with time as the narcissist controlled the dyadic relationship. While the narcissist grows in power, and develops an inflated sense of self where they become omnipotence; the victim, on the other hand, becomes almost powerless, they lose self-esteem, their judgments become impaired, and increasingly they become more dependent on their narcissistic abuser. At this point the effective bond is forged. However, in order to keep the power balance, the narcissist must keep absolute control over the dyadic relationship, this is achieved using a strategy of fear and threat to maintain the power differential.
2. Intermittent good-bad treatment:
The second feature of traumatic bonding is that the narcissist uses “good and bad treatment” intermittently. At times the abuser maltreat the victim to the point of terrorizing them, and then at other times they show them acts of kindness; showering the victim with love, care and attention, even promising to never abuse them again. This has the effect of subjecting the victim to alternating states of emotions where they go through periods of aversive/negative arousal, and the relief/release associated with aversive arousal (Dutton/Painter), thus, alternating between good and bad conditions. This triggers the victim into a regressive mode, and they return to childish infantile patterns of behaviour of bonding with the aggressor.
• Stockholm Syndrome is the emotional trauma bonding of the victim with their narcissist abuser in order to survive their ordeal of living like a hostage under threat.
• Under these conditions both Cognitive Dissonance (a discomfort caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously), and Stockholm Syndrome (the return to childish or infantile patterns) develop on an involuntary basis.
• In Stockholm Syndrome, what occurs in the victim is the same principle that is seen in the developing infant. Both infant and victim are in a fearful world. In order to survive, both need to develop an emotional attachment to a care-giver that displays power and compassion. The child turns to their care-giver for bonding, where they get a mix of discipline and loving; While the victim turns to their narcissistic abuser (through the Trauma Bonding), where they experience the power imbalance and intermittent good–bad treatment.
• It is the psychological infantilism in the victim that becomes responsible for creating an inner drive in the victim to cling to the narcissist, and resent police or family from rescue attempts.
• This results in the victim seeing from the perspective of the abuser, putting them first, settling for small kindnesses and losing their sense of self.
• This surrendering of the self to the narcissist results in the victim being totally dependant upon their abuser.
• The narcissist abuser takes on the role of the parent, while the narcissistic victim is denigrated to that of a child.
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Does anyone who is in a relationship with someone who has NPD feel like they are the abuser or have NPD themselves although it’s not evident with other relationships and it is evident with them and their relationships that they have NPD?
My I guess person that abused me makes out I am being abusive towards them. All very confusing. They also said they have stockholm sydrome towards me – but I feel like it’s the other way around. I never mentioned stockholm sydrome they did. It’s very confusing. They are 12 years older than me but I suppose age doesn’t always define power dynamics in the relationship.
I am just going through this at the moment , as a Man it’s very difficult to accept that this has been my life for over 25 years, my mother was crazy at times as is my Wife abusing me and controlling me. I was a strong able Tradesman and financially ok when young then as the years rolled by I have been crushed to death almost by this stuff….how to get my life back is the big question
I’m writing a book about it as a follow up to my book “Surviving Narcissism: how to keep your sanity while escaping tyranny” and it should be available on Google Play Books next month.
After I published “Surviving Narcissism,” both as a result of my education (as an undergraduate, I majored in Psychology and am a regular contributor to the field) and a four decades long friendship that I finally terminated due to my “friend’s” blatant narcissism.
That “friendship” cost me dearly over the years.
Anyway, I was relieved that I was able to write a guide to help people like myself remove themselves from the situation, but then discovered a completely different dynamic at work- almost like being shackled to it.
I came to see the relationship as similar to the Stockholm Syndrome and, after some research (and pleased that I nailed it), I came across this site. I begin writing in about two weeks.
So please stay tuned- the answer is on the near horizon.
Stumbled across your response and found it to a masterful description of the problem. Cudos to you for sharing it and for your stregth and resolve to live differently. It’s sad and also scary to read an account so very sillier to my own. I am not where you are but hope I can br
How to recover? After such a relationship?
I’m sorry you are going through this. I am curious to learn more about your situation. I believe my 18 yo son just got out of this situation at the hands of his “dad’s, he has had a psychotic episode, struggles with amnesia, relating to false memories of childhood, I am desperate to find sources to help him. I would love to talk with you via email….
Oh my gosh! I cannot believe I stumbled on this page. I cried all the way through this. It is exactly what I am going through. I escaped a year ago. It has been horrible not knowing what was really happening. Hopefully now that I know I can get over this. He is in jail but he is going to get out and kill me if I dont figure out a way to get the judge to believe me.
My father has been in a relationship with an abusive narcissistic woman for 25 years. He has the “pleaser stance” that is mentioned in this article. He tries to be easy going, but he is under constant stress. He is sometimes forced, under duress, to make irrational decisions without giving the matters much thought, but it is a compromise he makes to avoid the threat of a narcissistic rage directed at him by his wife. He seems to be proud of the fact that he can walk such a tightrope and still maintain his marriage that way. He considers himself to be a peacekeeper in the relationship, but ironically there are only brief periods of superficial peace and the rest of it is mostly terror and the feeling that he is walking on eggshells. He seems constantly preoccupied and it is easy to see that he is nervous about every move he makes and every word he utters because he doesn’t want to invoke her wrath. Much of the terror he feels toward his wife has been projected over the years onto his family members who have tried in vain to encourage him to get out of that horrible marriage. It is like watching someone succumb to heroin addition. He worships his captor and is suspicious of anyone who tries to rescue him.
I think he is keenly aware of her narcissistic injury and seems to have somehow taken it upon himself to protect her from further injury, totally unaware that her injury is a self inflicted gaping wound of her own making that will never heal because it is constantly being re-injured.
His own mother was a very kind and loving woman. I wonder if he is projecting her qualities onto his current wife somehow.
But my real concern is how he might react if she were suddenly gone. Victims become addicted to their abusers, and when the abuser disappears the victim has a very hard time coping. Last year, his wife was diagnosed with cancer. At Christmas last year, with a house full of celebrating people and the knowledge that she had a life threatening condition, she probably felt a loss of control in her own house, and she raged at my father and blamed it on the presence of his children. Her loss of control that day contributed to further injury that she then had to project onto others as well. He went into his usual protective mode, trying to prevent any further narcissistic injury to her because he knows what will happen if he doesn’t.
But what if she died? How would he react? Would he gradually recover from the effects of long term abuse and return to the way he used to be? Or would he be left in a perpetual state of feeling like an abandoned child or something like that? Might he project blame for her death onto those who once told him she was a problem in his life?
The reaction of a suddenly abandoned victim reminds me of a story that I believe might have been a real life Stockholm Syndrome situation that ended in a couple of homicides. It is the story of Ed Gein, a guy whose mother was likely a narcissist. This would be the “narcissistic parent” situation, but it lasted well into Ed’s adulthood. Ed never left home, never grew up entirely, never truly matured as a human being. His best, and only, friend was his mother. His father had passed away years earlier. When Ed’s mother finally died Ed went into a period of severe psychological distress. He could not cope with the loss of his narcissistic parent. At that point, Ed lost any ability that he might have ever had to think rationally. By his own account, he decided that the solution to this problem would be to bring his mother back to life, and in order to do this he would need real female human skin. He described going out to the local cemetery late at night. In Ed’s own description his mind was “in a haze” when he made these late night trips to the cemetery. He dug up the bodies of freshly buried women in order to obtain their skin so that he could recreate his mother. But the plan was ill conceived and failed to achieve Ed’s goal. He became desperate and resorted to trying to bring his mother back to life with the skin of living women. Two homicides later the police discovered one of the bodies in Ed’s shed and arrested him. He was too mentally ill to put in prison so he spent the rest of his life in an institution. The movies Psycho and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre were both very loosely based on the story of Ed’s psychological condition. I suspect that his long term relationship with his narcissistic parent and Stockholm Syndrome sent Ed into such a psychological tailspin when his mother died that he could not cope.
What happens to victims of long term abuse when their abusers die, especially when Stockholm Syndrome is a factor?
Wow. Just, wow. Beautiful and perfect.
My heart is feeling your pain and I am so truly sorry that you are in such agony. Please know that you are worthy and Divine. You truly deserve happiness and love. Please do not give up. It is not too late to be happy. Please find someone to support you through your journey to freedom from this painful relationship. If you need help finding free counseling, please reply here. Saying prayers for a miracle to help you♡♡♡
It’s been a year since i was taken away from my ‘abuser’. I met her when i was 14 and she became my best friend, i already had a slew of other very serious mental disorders, she was my rock. She suffered through a trauma similar to what i went through and she took me under her wing. For the first time in my life i felt like i had stability. She was always tearing me down, making me feel inferior to her, but her actions in my mind were just. If i misbehaved i would be punished, and if i was good, then i made her happy. It was such a volatile realationship, my entire life revolved around her, i stopped doing the things that once made me happy bevause she didnt approve of them, i pushed away friends that we didnt share because she didnt like it when i hung out with other people. My sole existence seemed based around what i could provide for her, i wasnt taking care of myself at all. So after three years, my mom moved me to a different state, but i still feel such a loyalty and responsibilty to my abuser. I have constant nightmares where i keep disappointing her, and i wake up feeling worthless. It feels like im nothing without her, i have no idea how to do anything for myself. I can only hope that i can be strong and push through, as i do really hope to get better.
I am the 40 year old grown son of a covert Narcissist. My mother has been in and out of private institutions fro the last 10 years with numerous mental health disorders such as Manic depression, anxiety, panic attacks…….the psychiatrists and doctors have even stated they don’t know what more to do for her as nothing seems to work.
I myself have been subjected to decades of ‘scapegoating’ from my father, something which has now spread through to the rest of my family.
I recently had a brief 12 month love-affair with a woman (who at one point early into our relationship informed me that a few years earlier she been diagnosed as suffering from NPD …..which at the time meant nothing to me?) The relationship ended in an abrupt and psychologically confusing fashion where she basically disassociated from me and disappeared? I should add that we fell in love in the first 24hrs, the sex was out of this world, but the high’s and low’s were extreme and I always knew something wasnt right….but I was infatuated with her and there was no boundary that she did not cross with me.
Like many sufferers of NPD abuse, I began researching online about what had happened throughout our relationship to try and understand what was happening. This was when I was ‘Awakened’ and all of the questions I had were answered in their entirety!
I quickly moved on from the relationship, almost instantly healing……because as I was researching NPD abuse…….for the first time in my life the confusion and never-ending self-doubt of my child-hood all became crystal clear.
The feelings that I have never being good enough for my father, the sadness of feeling like I was never loved, why my younger brother was and still is treated with such admiration whilst never really being anything special, the multiple times throughout my life that I have tried to connect with my father, the re-occurring issues over the years where I had been broken and asked my father why he treated me so poorly…..which only made things worse resulting in the abuse being increased both in frequency and intensity. It wasn’t until I finally snapped……not unlike the cartoons on TV where springs and bolts pop out of the machine to demonstrate that it has broken down.
My fathers relentless pursuit to break me had finally hit its mark and I literally broke. I should add that for the last 7 years I have run the family business, a multinational million dollar enterprise…..this being my second tenure within the business as 18 years earlier I had quit my job with the business after a 5 year stint due to the abuse of my father. I left and spent the next 10 years shooting up the corporate ladder within other organizations, I was happy, content and loving life.
Exactly 10 years after I quit my job within the family business, my father called me one day and ‘Hoovered’ me back with the promise that things would be different this time around and he wanted to retire and hand the business over to me after a brief transition period. I was hesitant….but like all children of an NPD parent, we want to believe that our parents love us and mean well…..so I fell for it.
Fast forward 8 years on, my father did indeed retire after 18 months, but my younger brother (who is the golden child in our defunct family) joined the business not long after I returned and it soon became apparent that even with my skills and experience and no matter mow much I succeeded and the business grew as a result, my brother who has limited responsibility within the business and was failing at even the most basic tasks was instead rewarded for my success and I was somehow allocated the shame of accepting responsibility for his failures? It literally was Crazy-making stuff!
After my breakdown, my father quickly re-framed the incident and 6 months on, I have been made out to be the crazy one, my family have sided with my father and even when I demonstrate that his treatment of me is unacceptable…..they defend him and justify his poor behaviour by reminding me of my own failings which are disproportionate to the issues I have raised?
My mother is without a doubt suffering from Stockholm syndrome and defends him, even though she has been tormented by him for decades to a point where she has had her soul broken in half and her sanity has been compromised because of being constantly told that she is stupid along with the years of gas-lighting that us poor kids witnessed throughout our lives.
Its all very sad……but the thing that drives me and fuels me during this horrible experience is knowing that I am doing what I need to do to ensure my kids grow up feeling unconditionally loved. I have my own ‘learned behaviours’ that I am slowly eradicating from my personality……and each time I grab one of these demons around the throat and rip it from my being, I feel stronger and proud….knowing that my mission here is to be the best person I can be for not only my children, but for their children and their childrens children to come. This is enough for me, and if I am the only person who knows this then that is enough for me.
I will no longer be a victim, nor will I be a survivor.
I will be a good human……as we all can and should be if we choose to be. 🙂
I too was in your shoes. I just left my husband of 16 years. I’d love to talk to you. Because as crazy as it may sound. You can leave and make a life for your self. Be strong listen to your inner voice that what he is doing to you is wrong. You can be happy, independent, you can overcome all the things that he has put in your head. If you would like to talk my email is tradifam @gmail.com.
If it’s any consolation, I am one of the few who knows exactly how you feel. Nine years with someone I deep down consider the devil but sadly and regrettably believe that I love too much to live without. I try everyday to educate myself more on this disorder but sadly I am always still trying to plead with him to understand it as well. Using logic and reason with a man who has nothing inside but games and calculations oh but the times in between. The lovebombing makes me believe and have hope again and again and again despite oh so much to the contrary. How I still can have guilt or question my realities or own actions is honestly an amazing phenomenon. All of it is.
I just resently discovered this type of behavior that l knew nothing about not long ago. Thats what lead me to this. My story is very long but has happen in the process of two and a half years.
Of course! I am a man.
But l discovered it in my newly wife, and l couldn’t make sense of what she was saying sometimes it just didn’t made sense!
Let me explain; l live in the usa and my wife lives in mexico and for visa reasons we live under this arrangements.
One night my wife asked me to call her in the morning (don’t remember for what now) so l did! At 8am l made my first call to her but she was busy at the time she was changing the baby’s diaper so l said let me just call you later and of course she agreed two hours later l called her again but this time her “mother” answer the phone, l asked for her but she was busy at the time (some people where there visiting her) so l told her mother l would be returning the call later on.
Three hours later l called again and again her “mother” answer the phone and made me aware that she was out at the store, so l asked her mother if she could have her return my call.
Now! I am still trying to talk to my wife from what she had asked me to do the previous night.
Two hours later my wife returns my call, right from the getgo she starts to yelling at me! ” what do you think you are calling me allday long checking on me as to see if l am here and making sure l am here as your little prisoner etc” after she stoped yelling at l said ” l am was just trying to talk to you about what you wanted me to call you for”. (needless to say l don’t remember what she wanted to talk to me about anymore cause she never told me)
After she clamed dowm l simple said “let me just call you later”
After l got off the phone l was shocked by that and began to wonder, where did that come from?
Then l realized that the one person that had seen the pattern of the day but had no clue as to what was going on was her “mother”
So by the time my wife called me for the last time that day her “mother” had already poisoned her mind with nonsense.
Thanks to that day l started to noticed how controlling her mother is towards her and me.
When l go visit her mother tells us when to come inside, when to get in the shower, when to eat, when to go to sleep etc.. At first l didn’t pay attention to it but now l realized that she is a very very controlling person. And here lately she makes us fight all the time, l can hear her over the phone telling my wife what to say to me.
I would like to conclude already because its starting to make me feel uncomfortable.
This is a huge problem that is happening in America and Mexico and l am sure in all the world and very few people are aware of this!
I don’t know what my next step is but l can’t just sit here and do nothing my wife and child depend on me doing something
Wish me luck and courage as to see this though.
To all of you especially those of you still trapped in this vicious life. I’m going to tell you what has helped me. Please don’t think I’m trying to sell to you. When I became a network marketer and started reading all of the self improvement and personal growth books that are highly cherished and recommended in the entrepreneurial world, that is when I, little by little, became more and more empowered by truth and with courage. I’m not saying to join an MLM or networking company. But the personal growth literature in this community is phenomenal and the stories of people who have climbed out of oppression and misery are countless. Here are a few of my favorites: The P.I.L.O.T. Method by Elizabeth McCormick, The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale, The Miracle of Mind Dynamics by Joseph Murphy, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl, Better Than Good by Zig Ziggler, Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill-don’t let the title fool you. There are many more I can’t think of. You may be able to listen to some of these on youtube. In a nutshell its all about changing our mindset. It’s work but it’s worth it. Don’t settle and it’s never too late to get up and begin again. If you wish to connect with me i’m on facebook under Marilyn Beggs – public figure. I pray for all of you to find within you the courage to begin the work and journey of becoming who God intended you to be. She’s in there. Go get her.
Yes, no contact with the narcissist and find a therapist that deals with narcissistic personality disorder in a spouse or parent. Good Luck praying for you.
And for the other people going through this, please leave your abuser! You can do it. Praying for you all.
I’m still in one too Tammy. It’s been twenty five years. I’m finally leaving. I’ve made the arrangements. I just hope it sticks this time. Statistics say the average is we leave and come back seven times before we stay gone. I plan on being the exception to the rule. It takes great GREAT COURAGE! Good luck
Maggie, please update your website address. You sound like an excellent resource professional in this area, but the link doesn’t go to anything.
You sound like me laat winter. I didn’t know if I could make it through. I am trying to work on an escape plan but haven’t figured out the financial, etc. You must be in my age bracket. I am 66 and my H is 76, He has some Dementia, Behavior Disorders, with victim mentality. Can be very nice when he is getting what he wants. But, it’s all about him! People that only know him from a distance will never believe how he has damaged my life and my relationships with my children. I had 25 years with a serial cheater and now 16 years with a Narcissist. Can I take care of myself for the rest of my life? I want to believe I can. Have you seen any breakthrough for yourself? Hopeful.
I am a 66 year old woman who is in my second marriage. My first abused me emotionally and was a serial cheater. I stayed because of my children and security and marriage vows. I had no good support. Because of my abuse and vulnerability I remarried a Narcissist. I couldn’t see it for years as I also developed health issues and had to take a lot of medicine which also kept me from seeing the whole picture. The relationship has deteriorated and I want out but I haven’t figured out my financial and life plan yet. Any encouragement would be helpful. He is 76 and has refused personal counsel because of course, “there is nothing wrong with me” he says. I am very tired but also have co-dependency traits. Thanks for your interest.
Tammy, contact your friends and let them help you get out. If you need to get a storage unit for your stuff and stay on someone’s couch until you’re on your feet, do it!!! I’ve been there. More than once, I’m afraid. There’s a book that probably has his photo in it… it’s called “The Verbally Abusive Relationship,” by Patricia Evans. It will explain how everyone thinks he’s a nice guy and the passive-agressive games he plays. Praying for you, dear one. Please get out and start a new life as soon as you can. It’s not ever going to get better.
Tammy… Get support. One step at a time. Know what you are dealing with and make a plan. You are not depressed. You have ptsd. Your life is owned by this man. Find your lost soul pieces that he stole. Do not show him you are getting stronger or it will get worse. Make steps to leave the relationship and find your list self. Look up healing a broken heart meditation on you tube. Find support.
In case we’re allowed to exchange email addresses in our comments… Mine is firstname.lastname@example.org. Anyone else isolated in this hell like I am, who wants to talk to someone who actually understands all of the crap you are feeling, please don’t hesitate to write me! I need ya’ll too!! Please!
Wow!!! You understand!! I feel EXACTLY THE SAME! any way to exchange contact info here to talk more outside of these comments!? I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m starving for a connection to anyone who actually “gets it” and who I can truly relate to and vice versa!
I am currently still trapped in a relationship with a narcissist. I have been with him for fifteen years now. It’s been a constant up and down roller coaster since the beginning.
The “word games” as I like to call them, where he manipulates words to create later scapegoats for himself… For instance, if I ask him when he will be home. Now, granted there are situations where this question could be difficult to answer, but I have not been given a direct answer to this even ONE time in 15 years. A Direct answer such as “8:00” has never occured… It’s always, “probably around 8:00” or “maybe a few hours” or “a bit” (which one time meant 3 days later)! And his word games apply to every answer I get from him… “Not persay…” “Probably”… “Sure”… All words that are used in non-commitment type responses to things… Ways at which he can switch his standing on something easily and without owning blame for having been two-faced about something. I have needless to say, become hyper-sensitive to the exact words people use… So much so, I am often told I should become a lawyer!
Then there is the fact that for him, the term “fair fighting” is for chumps… As he says, he’s in it to win it” and he uses whatever he feels he can to do just that… Bringing up things he knows that I am especially sensitive about, and that are completely irrelevant to the argument simply to inflict pain and when i am a mess of tears and feeling invalid, his favorite thing to do at that point is invite friends or family over in order to show them “how crazy I am”, which will later come in handy in strengthening his lies to everyone including himself when he discards me and actually has the nerve to play the victim of “a crazy woman who didn’t appreciate all he was trying to do for her”. And this element really is what wrecks me the most… Because he works so hard to set things up so that I will literally be ostracized by everyone I know if I leave… Labeled “crazy” and bear in mind, to those who don’t know the side of him I do… He is just the nicest, most caring individual they know. So I am not only labeled crazy… But I am the bad guy who hurt a sweet innocent and kind human being… I am hated!
Living in constant fear and with constant anxiety u takes its toll… life had even gotten so hard to tolerate but I resorted to drugs as a way to self medicate or at least numb the pain to a somewhat bearable level. I have given up on all of my previous dreams and ambitions. I have lost all hope for my future, and at this point feel like I’m just waiting to die now physically… emotionally, spiritually and psychologically, however, I feel dead already.
I’ve done my research and have educated myself about the type of relationship that I am in. I know without a doubt that he is a covert narcissist, and that I’m a victim of narcissistic abuse.
15 years filled with lies, cheating, devalution, attacks against my self-esteem… I am broken. I feel completely trapped. I know logically I should run the hell away from this and never look back… Yet I can’t understand why this seems to be impossible for me… At this point I have become financially dependent on him, as I have owned under major depression and have been unable to work as a result. But Financial dependence is not my problem with leaving. If I’m honest with myself, even if I had all the money in the world, I doubt that I could bring myself to actually leave him. It’s like being torn apart inside my own brain… What the hell is wrong with me!? Besides everything!? I need help, but have ZERO resources… What can I do to possibly escape this hell I am currently trapped in???
To Alone: I’m in the exact same boat. 30 yrs in an abusive marriage with no hope. I’m 56 with a 37 yr old daughter who couldn’t care less & refused to even give me a place to stay till I could start over. I’m in poor health from yrs of abuse physical & mental. No resources where I live & no job or way to remove myself from here. I don’t resemble who I was 30 yrs ago. I have severe ptsd & a good day is being able to shower. I’ve given up thinking he’ll change & I can get out so the best I can hope for is to accept this, distract myself, go to church, walk & keep it together till god takes me mercifully at last. One thing I do believe is that these people will get it back cuz god doesn’t forget. Peace
Spot on ! I couldn’t have gathered courage enough to address it the way you did. THIS is my first ever attempt tonight to ever write about it on a public page. I discovered this article and your comment moved a part of me which was fearfully asleep and am in tears of realisation that I’ve been through this and it even has a name, and the only difference is that in my case it’s my mom as well whom I had to watch suffer through this too all my life so far…and observing her shaped my responses in a way too…along with direct exposure to abuses at all levels (u could guess who’s the abuser then) and the funny part is that a part of me constantly denied or overlooked the suffering, considering it as part of growing up…knowing myself better through observing etc …so furious at myself!!!!! I commit to rising out of this as much as you do! Seeking professional support soon. Sharing my best wishes with you too. My heart screams for peace and strength for all of the people who have been through similar stuff!!!
I would wish the entire world and its beings to treat each other with respect love and hold safe spaces for each other… in the family at least! It hurts and feels big time unsafe to be not able to have any sense of self worth or confidence in ones own self resulting out of years of abuse.
Wishing you a safe journey towards a fulfilled beautiful life ahead that you would like to create for yourself! ….becoming aware of the problem – that there “is” a problem – in itself is a pointer of a new beginning in my opinion. Sharing part of my feelings here after empathetically connecting with your expressions has given me hope!
Thanks to the writer. Thanks to you for your comment and thanks to this night when I come awake and have strength /understanding to call a spade a spade! Thank you all beautiful people who are reading this article and the comments while seeking guidance and support. Best wishes and forgiveness is what is wish for all….along with strength and conviction to take actions to rise above this all!
We are all capable of immense love- this is what I feel deep in my heart after what seems like hundred lifetimes!
Love and peace for all.
I left my abusive alcoholic narcissistic husband when I was 71 and divorced him. It took a year of prep and planning but I got free. No money from him. I have flashbacks and think it’s PTSD. I’m slowly recovering. It is worth it to know that when I wake up in the morning I no longer have to pray for protection from my abuser. He continues to abuse by spreading false stories about why I divorced him. Of course, I am the one at fault and he did nothing to deserve it, plus I must have left him because he’d had a stroke. I took care of him after his stroke for 3 years until he could manage on his own, enduring more abuse as I slaved to take care of him. It’s over now! I hope this will inspire other victims to know it is never too late to get free of these disgusting jerks.
I am so scared. I’ve been married to one for 37 years. The things he has done against me you couldn’t believe I’m still here. I’m an old woman now with no future in sight except for this maddening life. I pray every day that it will be my last day on this earth.
I am so full of grief for the loss of my life by falling for the lies, the goodness and the hatefulness, the lies, so many lies. It chokes me to even breathe. My depression is lower than it’s ever been and he’s just getting meaner and so very cruel.
I scream inside all the time, I shake and the tears never stop. Please God, put an end to me, I beg You, please kill me.
Peace, Love and Healing be with you all. NPD is highly connected to trauma bonding and Stockholm Syndrome as the authors suggested. This is because the individuals THEY target for their narcissistic supply for attention are exactly what they crave and need: kind, sweet, empathetic, helpful, caring, Giving. Individuals who have NPD are starving for these very qualities so they seek it in others. Studies show that in their childhood they experienced a lack of healthy bonding with their caretakers and they are not able self-love in any way. They basically do not like themselves at all. Every action or word is calculated for an ulterior motive. Remember this is a personality disorder. It can be treated but the individual would first have to admit they have this issue, and then commit to long-term treatment. For the victims, DO NOT blame yourself. This was your learning experience. A Gift from GOD to learn and grow. It’s about YOU not Them. Feel free to reach out to me and check my website. :). Continued healing to us all. Be Well.
Love and Light,
This article truly nails the unfortunate predicament of those of us with Narcissistic Victim Syndrome. Can we heal ever completely? Well, I’m 55 years old and studying psychology. This move alone was the beginning of the war in my world again…..my. I’m was always at war with one of us. With every year of studying that passes, I gain more knowledge and understanding about my mothers’ NPD behavior and the reactions of my siblings. One sibling went NO CONTACT with my mom 17+ years ago. I think I should do the same thing in order to maintain my own relationships. I have a great husband and an awesome son who are aware of my sad history. Once again, knowledge of NPD is healing in itself. When we realize these people act in accordance with their “affliction” –if we can educate young victims sooner–as opposed to in their 40’s, these adults may have a chance at a decent life. Such a challenge to overcome. Such a tough challenge.
So is there a way to reverse the effects of Stockholm Syndrome?? I feel like I may have this problem. My “mother” is a narc and has ruined my entire life she completely destroyed my sense of self and made me completely dependent on her. I cannot escape. My mind works against me and says it’s nice and cozy here, no need to leave, it’s not so bad. But I can’t live like this anymore. I am trying to leave but I don’t want this syndrome in my life anymore either. Can I get rid of it?
Hi Marie I am struggling with exactly same things you describe. I have come a long way after 10 years of last abuse, but still there are questions, just like you wrote. It seems healing is a long process, at least in my case, and I have many conflicting feelings inside me – confusion, sadness, anger at myself and the abuser, but there is also faith that one day I’ll understand the craziness. Maybe a simple solution is to recognize that people make mistakes and not dwell on the past, but somehow I am still dwelling. Taking it day by day now. Wishing you and I find answers when the right time comes. You are not alone and I see I am not alone. Thank you for your comment. May God help us in Jesus’ name
Hey did you ever end up leaving ?? I’m in the same exact situation as you, you took the words out of my mouth and I need to know if you are free now and if it’s possible
Really enjoyed reading your articles and listening to your interviews. I am still struggling to understand what has happened to me and why I let it happen. Being in a relationship with a narcissist is so utterly confusing and crazy-making. I don’t recgonize myself. I am filled with anger and sadness;. I feel i am becoming a horrible person because I feel so angry at being treated so unfairly. Is this a normal part of narcissistic abuse syndrome?
Excellent, excellent article. Fortunately, I was able to escape a malignant, lying, cheating, shady, satanic, narcissistic, emotional abuser after three and a half years. But it only happened, as I broke up with him in the presence of our therapist. Otherwise, he would have gotten me back. I know it because I am weak and he knew how to work me. In fact, he pretty much sized me up as a great target the night he met me. Even though it was only 3 1/2 years that I was embroiled in a life with this sick, demonized pup, I feel like the Police Academy should have as part of its curriculum before graduating new cadets, education in narcissistic abuse, trauma bonding, etc. As your article mentioned, many women (in most cases, women), will drop charges of domestic violence (which I am sure include emotional abuse, Stockholm Syndrome, and the like). So who looks like the unstable one? The women, of course, who bring forth charges, only to drop them a week later. What policemen and policewomen don’t understand is the ‘trauma bonding’ that may exist behind the relationship. And so why would a woman want to get her narcissistic man in trouble, as he may now be in a phase of showering her with love, instead of the flip side a week before when he was demonizing her. A better example of this is when I had to report a Brietling watch stolen by my narcissist during the night (and he actually admitted to it). It was a Christmas gift from him months before. He took it and put it in his safe during the night one night because I made him look bad in front of his friends when I told him I would be attending his boat cocktail party. I didn’t want to attend because he demonized me the day before and I wasn’t going to let him treat me this way anymore. Of course he got me back into his good graces after his cocktail party, but then punished me that night by taking the watch. He then held onto it for 4 weeks! When he first took it, I reported it stolen at the Police Station and I reported that he would not allow me to come over that evening to return it. They made a call to his house, and he told the police that he had his two girls with him that night and that he would see me tomorrow (Oh, I didn’t mention….his ex-wife left him too!). After the Police hung up the phone, the officer looked at me like I was the kook! I will never forget the look of disgust that the Officer gave me. Never. Little does he know!!!!
Hi Brenda. You can email me on email@example.com. I’m in Joburg. I was not married to my narc but I have spent months glued to my laptop with hundreds of hours worth of learning about this disorder, the abuse and I’m working on personal breakthrough methods. I’m also writing a book and contributing to an international eBook about this. I’m part of some great support groups so if you’d like to chat drop me an email. Regards, Belinda
Love your post. I so desperately want out!! I feel stuck due to a financial mess he got me in. I don’t have anywhere to go For those who don’t think it will escalate past a certain point, think again! He never hit me in the past, raised his hand, threw stuff intentionally missing me. One would think it would start by pushing, think again, CHOKE HOLD & arm twisted up to my neck! What confuses me about him is that he has taken my role where his son is concerned, does that make sense? As for me 2 nights ago set things into perspective for me. Nothing justifies his behaviour, nothing! The fact that no apology ever came confirms to me that he has some deep serious issues!! I’m aware of the realities, am also aware of the changes in me. I’m drowning but no longer know how to swim!
Lilly, I will give you one advice. If your husband is a narcissist, leave him, no matter how much love or empathy you feel for him. Your life without him will be better. All you have to do is to be warned of people having the same pattern and stay away. I cut them all out of my life, my father, husband, and friends. You need to love yourself and be your number one priority. Please look for the benefit he’s gaining from you. For him, you are a person who always agrees with him and does what he wants. A person in love will not see only the bad in you and keep complaining about it. By the way, the things he is complaining about are your interests and taste of things. These things are what your personality is all about. He wants to confuse you so that you are no longer the person you used to be and at the same time he will raise his standards again and again so that you will always have something wrong he complains about that is nearly impossible to change. A person in love will not want his woman to change her personality. He will encourage her to become a better person by focusing on the good in her and trying to help her improve it. This happens through a warm, loving relationship. He also has the advantage of having you as a continuous threat to his other lovers so that both you and them are afraid to leave him. He does all this to feed his ego.
Please love yourself enough to leave. You don’t love him, you are living in a virtual world. Love is a very different thing.
And yes, you have a way out.
They are not scary as we think they are.
If you want to talk, I’m here.
I have been peeling back the layers of onion and been recovering for the last 28 years. My mother is the inter-generational, verbally and physically abusive narcissist and my dad was the alcoholic in the home that I was raised in. This type of lifestyle is spread throughout my whole extended family also and has caused 3 different suicides in our family(as far as I know-there may be more than just this). I have a niece and also some cousins who also have narcissism being passed down to the next generations in their family too. I’ve known for a long time that I was being held hostage(false imprisonment)by my family, but I never did connect it up to Stockholm Syndrome until now. I just realized within the last year that this hostage taking was from narcissism in our family. But, I finally got tired of the abuse that I was receiving(I just didn’t have any names to apply to all this until the last year)about 11 or 12 years ago when my family wanted me to beat my 4 year old daughter just because she didn’t want pork and beans on her plate at a family dinner, then when I refused to beat her, then they wanted her beat because “she spoke out of turn” by saying that she didn’t want the pork and beans! I still refused, but this also made me realize that they were attempting to set up the next generation of scape goat with my daughter being the next generation and victim of PTSD from my family and it took a couple of years to slowly break off all contact with them! Needless to say, the family hasn’t liked it very much with losing 2 generations of scape goat when we broke away! Without us in the family anymore, they finally realized that they have no one that wants to volunteer for this scape goat position and it has caused them to take more responsibility for what it is that they do! Unfortunately though, it has also created a felony level, stalking and harassment situation(more stuff to feed their drama and controversy addiction)with them spreading lies(slander)about us throughout our community and I’m just about ready to pursue legal charges on them for this to help them once again to take responsibility for what they do and possibly help them with their denial. We have, after all, reached a point in our recovery(me and my immediate family)that some things that my extended family does is just not acceptable behaviors for us anymore! My recovery and how well our immediate, loving family gets along and my growth with rejoining a loving and caring society is not contingent upon how sick my extended family wants to stay! I do know that I am extremely grateful for a couple of 12 step programs for their help with my growth into becoming a better person one day at a time and the realizations of what boundaries are all about!
Thank you for being honest about the cycle. It is hard to define and you have. Its super parisitic in many cases, and subtle in ways that are incomprehensible to to the victims.
Im a male survivor, and can see this process and have played both roles in life, victim and perpetrator, unknowingly.
The difference is in truth and awareness of self, and using tools to break certain cycles of habit.
I pray you are well, and that you have the tools at your disposal to cope and heal as a healthy person can and should be allowed.
A now situation . The narcisist hiding behind, stealing and domestic theft , lying about caretaking, weight, things detremental to this child’s survival. As he has a rare disabling disease If not for the Grandmother who raised them for 9 years …his little brother and school … He would not be here. Before he was9 the childs mother refused to care or bond with him until his Father realized abuse… DYFS cant /will not help because the children wouldnt
Speak up ….. No proof or admission except rage in front of investigator ….it was dismissed even though the mother lied didnt go fcounsel and parents were involved w drugs…. Now 2 years later, father and both children completely cut off from the World, but a couple aquaintences she chose to speak to . Children feel responsible for mother who blames herconsequences on father as if she and they are his hostages. A nine year old parrots her screaming and acusing him… He mostly stays in bed all day… All i can do is Pray and put it in God’s hands ? Watching them die ? Contact dr Phil? The lies I live with …. There must be a way to get help f children /hostages dont even know it now. School is their refuge and she puts on false identity and controls iit all there.
Thank-you…I needed the laugh, if he told me the sky is green i’d have to go check it.. I personally started cking out everytime he told me I wasn’t doing something right because there was no right. I would do something the way he told me before but then that wasn’t right.then he would start yelling..I began looking right thru him and become a complete air head and never tried to do anything just waited for him to say it was wrong or change his mind on how to do it.which pissed him off.I would hear his voice saying I was wrong even when I was’nt w him.I broke up a hundred times but always wanted him back..he was a yeller and verbal abuser just like my father except my father was physical..now wait this man always made sure sex was abuse he didn’t know how to love me.when I finally started sticking up for myself and asked him to change I got the silent treatment and it drove him nuts he couldn’t tell me I was stupid.. there was never any chance of winning..he finally broke up w me..13 yrs..and I had stood by him and helped him back on his feet.my fault I needed to be needed..he needed new blood and the rejection has set in ..but Jesus took that rejection to the cross for me and I am healing!!!
It is very real, and yes I am in the is it me… stage… very confusing. And then I find my self over analyzing way too much. And I have to work with my ex, and we have a son together. All too much…
Just wanna say – We can come out very well healed and thriving – and fact: Patty Hearst is alive and well and very happy and happily married. She’s a dear friend of a dear friend.
This reads like biographical inforation on a family member. I have such deep appreciation for the contributors of this article. I am commiting the rest of my life to community and professional awareness of this devistatng phenomenon. Building the language and concepts us essential for understanding.
This explains so very much for me. I will not go into detail because it’s been 6 years with out the constant issues or so I thought, however reading through this, I am realizing all I’ve done is suppressed lots of memories that others remember vividly. I still defend him, I still feel bad that I am not the one for him, it’s been 6 years since I left and divorced him. Why are these feelings still there. Because he was so verbally abusive to me his kids and my daughter, its caused some serious issues. I never talked about what happened with anyone, maybe I should. Dose it hang on forever, will this now have control over me the way he did?
This is one of the best articles I have read!! Thank you so much for this! It summarises what I have already understood via my own research but it also goes much much deeper – to the very bottom of things. It describes precisely and laconically what I personally have been through. I struggled to call my experience of narcissistic abuse (which has been going on for 18 years) just domestic or psychological violence as I have always known that there was something else, something very elusive and impossible to pin down.
Such an amazing article. Truly hit home for me. I was with my narc for 20 years. Right now, I’m in the process of trying to get a divorce after close to 3 years of separation. It’s a constant battle. However, I’m in a much better place than I was while in the relationship. I have to say I feel I am damaged individual now …. low self esteem, fear or flight tendencies… etc. My life is perfectly described as above. I’m still having problems with the emotional abuse that I suffered and changing those patterns. I find myself repeating these patterns out of fear. I guess the good news is I recognize it now. It’s very disheartening and hard on me and the people I love. I hope that I can continue to educate them and myself….. Thanks again.
Hi Brenda, I am so sorry for what is happening for your children, and having to witness that without being able to do anything. I am sorry that I have no idea of whom you could contact in South Africa, I am living in Ireland. However, if there is anybody reading this blog that could help, perhaps you could reply to Brenda. Warmest regards. Christine
Hi , I was married to a narcissistic for 20years , the divorce went on for 2 years, not was my life with him horrible but that 2years was really unbearable! He did everything in his power to take away my two sons age, 13,16 ,now 15,18 , he got them to lie to the children’s court about everything , and now they are living with him in unlivable circumstances,they don’t get food ….and sometimes he keeps them from school, he buys the youngest son presents to keep him from telling me stuff,and the older one is in constant battles with him and the are jealous of each other !! If one of them tell me something, then they don’t speak to me at all after their father finds out they said something to me! What I would like to know is ? Whom can I contact in South Africa someone that knows about this type of abuse? Because no one believes me ………help please!!!!
“So when you feel those things after a relationship, does it really matter if your ex was a psychopath, a sociopath, a narcissist, or a garden-variety jerk? The label doesn’t make your feelings any more or less valid. Your feelings are absolutes.”
I go back to that quote whenever I find myself trying to figure it all out. Is it me? Am I losing it? Or is it him? Or is it even an outside force both of us aren’t aware of? (See the “Dark Side of Cupid” but warning – it’s disturbing)
There is no other relationship I have that causes me to doubt my own sanity. NO one else. All this emotional energy that is produced by my obsessive thoughts is perhaps exactly what he’s trying to manufacture so he can feed on it. See, I feel even crazy for saying that! I can’t imagine someone who used to love me doing that… unless he never really loved me. And then I can’t imagine pretending to love someone that much. I’m just swimming with a shark… not snorkeling with a lover.
If anyone reads this please pray for all of us. It’s so scary and unreal and I want to be free again.
I think I am still in denial. My husband is not physically abusive. I don’t think the word “rage” is one that I would use, although he does raise his voice and pound his fist when he gets irritated with the family discussion at the dinner table.
I defend him all the time even though my friends say I deserve better. I love the man. And now after reading everything here about narcissism, I feel even more sorry for him and just want to take care of him.
All the troubles in our marriage are somehow my fault and the issues that he’s willing to take responsibility for are often set aside. He blames me for being so passive that he’s turning into his mother (whom he has identified as a narcissistic bitch and a father who is a coward and defends her). He blames other people for his being unhappy. No one is as smart as he is. His way of doing things is always the best way.
He is a kind man. He does his share of chores. He takes care of the bills. He’s an intellectual and often says we have nothing in common because I don’t take an interest in his work……or politics…….I don’t read the newspaper or stay in touch with current affairs. I watch too much television. etc etc
I have a therapist who is helping me become stronger. Of course my husband says that he thinks my therapy is taking me away from the marriage.
It’s all so confusing. I sometimes feel like I’m going crazy. Like, if he told me the sky is green I’d have to go check. thanks for listening all.
I need an advocate who will not tell me they are sorry they cannot help me or worse that I do not want help. My situation is unique and complex. Unfortunately those I have contacted have responded as I wrote above. I am not comfortable going into to detail here.
Also one quick question about paragraph 1: In such a relationship, to the amazement of onlookers, the captor expresses empathy and positive feelings towards their abusive captor, and often they will display a desire to defend them.
Shouldn’t it be “the captive expresses empathy and positive feelings towards their abusive captor”? It took me a bit to understand the sentence.
I am a counsellor qualify from Unisa university of Pretoria South-Africa, I work at a Pastoral Care. I would like , if it possible, yo have more information about Stockholm Syndrome, The roots , the attitude , the behaviours, the pay out.
Thank you with gratefulness.
I have a 15 year old step daughter. She is currently imprisoned for two felony acts of assault and battery against her mother. Her mother attest the daughter has a psychotic disorder caused by her father’s abandonment 13 years ago when they were divorced. The ex wife says the daughter will not take her psychotic medicine and now she’s uncontrollable. The ex wife is telling authorities that the daughter is well aware of right and wrong and she made the conscious decision to commit a criminal act and make the mother feel threaten for her life and now the only way she will learn is to serve the consequences of the criminal act she committed. As we went to visitation at the juvenile detention my 15 year old step daughter says “she’s very bad and her mommy loves her so much and knows whats best for her and the only way for her to get better and not be a bad girl is to stay confined until her mommy thinks shes better and she’ll do anything to make her mommy happy” Then my step daughter continues to say she threw a peice of cauliflower at her moms head because she thought it was funny but it was bad because she humiliated her mother so her mother has no choice but to have her arrested and imprisoned. My husband and I have been fighting this battle for six years of constant abuse and this woman calculates her every move so precisely and so exact that she covers her every track. I’ve taped, i’ve recorded, i have journals, text, and now it’s that she’s 15 years old and they can’t help someone that defends their mother and says she’s perfect. The woman has destroyed every relationship around her, everyone in her own family, everyone in our community I just don’t understand why a justice system has such a hard time serving justice to this woman who is extremely abusing this 15 year old girl that doesn’t deserve to be behind bars. It makes me sick and she constantly gets away with abusing and destroying her own daughter.
For anybody who suspects they may be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome the best thing I can suggest is for you to research as much as you can on narcissistic abuse. This will greatly help identify what may have happened to you in a relationship, whether it is in my home, your friendships, your workplace, etc……… the behaviours are pretty much the same, and can have devastating effects on the victim.
You may need to get a therapist to work with who understands narcissistic abuse, or trauma work. Michelle Mallon has set up a facebook page for sharing information on narcissistic victim syndrome, and she has compiled a list of therapists who work in this area of recovery, which you may find useful. Go to Facebook: Narcissistic Victim Syndrome-Hope For Victims And Survivors
Here is the link to Michelles Facebook page: ghttps://www.facebook.com/NarcissisticVictimSyndrome/info/?tab=page_info
Michelle’s list of Mental Health Professionals and Centers Specializing in Narcissistic abuse and Narcissistic Victim Syndrome. If anybody has information of other therapists that they found useful in their recovery, please contact her and add to the list.
Countries are listed in alphabetical order
Tania Cusack: Hands Full of Hope: http://handsfullofhope.com/narcissistic-abuse/
The Hart Centre: http://thehartcentre.com.au/relationship/what-is-narcissism-and-what-is-narcissistic-behaviour/
Christine Louis de Canonville, B.A. Hons; MIACP ; MTCI ; MPN LP, CMH; CHyp: https://narcissisticbehavior.net/category/narcissistic-victim-syndrome-a-new-diagnosis/
Paul M Collins, MIACP: firstname.lastname@example.org (Shankill, South County Dublin)
Dr. Paolo Molino: http://www.paolomolino.com/
Parental Alienation Legal Resources & Support:
Linda Martinez-Lewi, PhD: http://thenarcissistinyourlife.com/ (confirming state location)
Sandra Brown, M.A.: http://www.psychologytoday.com/experts/sandra-brown-ma (confirming state location)
Andrea Schneider, LPC: http://www.andreaschneiderlcsw.com/
Fiona E. Steele, LMFT: http://www.fionasteelelmft.com/AboutMe.en.html
Alan Rappoport, PhD: Redwood City, San Francisco-Tel: 650-556-9500,Fax: 650-599-9802, email: http://alanrappoport.com/contact.shtml
Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT: http://darlenelancer.com/index.php
Karyl McBride, PhD, PC: http://www.karylmcbridephd.com/
-She also has a website devoted to supporting survivors of parental Narcissism: http://www.willieverbegoodenough.com/workshop-overview-healing-the-daughters-of-narcissistic-mothers/
-She also maintains a database of mental health professionals who are experienced in the area of parental Narcissism: http://www.willieverbegoodenough.com/resources/find-a-therapist/
Royal Oak, MI
Eleanor Payson, LMSW, ACSW, LMFT: (248) 548-0306 and http://eleanorpayson.com/ Important note: Eleanor does not do phone consultations with clients out of state (in-state as well) unless they are willing to attend a face-to-face session first – so that she can conduct a full evaluation regarding the appropriateness for phone coaching support.
Wendy Behary, LCSW: (973) 218-1776 x807
John Gasiewski, PhD, LCSW: email@example.com, (973) 671-8025
Carolee Kallmann, LPC: (973) 993-3193
Robin Spiro, LCSW: (973) 218-1776 x875
Harriet Achtentuch, LCSW: (973) 378-5804
Judy Margolin, PsyD: (609) 658-2536
Elizabeth Lacy, LCSW: http://www.elizabethlacy.com
John Gasiewski, PhD, LCSW: firstname.lastname@example.org, (973) 671-8025
Patricia McDonald, PhD: email@example.com, (212)-746-5684
Jeannine Vegh, M.A., I.M.F.T. http://jkvegh.com/ Important Note: Jeannine requests that only potential clients who are able to meet with her for face to face counseling reach out to her.
Christa Alexander, LPC: http://www.heartthyself.com/
Shannon Thomas, LCSW-S: http://southlakecounseling.org/when-a-christian-meets-a-sociopath/
Les Carter, PhD: http://www.drlescarter.com/
Seattle Area-Dr. David B. Hawkins, Director, MarriageRecovery Center firstname.lastname@example.org 360.490.5446
Evan Kimble, MA, LMHC: http://www.safepassagetherapy.com/index.htm
I hope this gives you a starting point to work from. Regards. Christine
Christine where do we find the tools to undue or recover from Stockholm Syndrome?
You have described my husband to a t. My children and I are not his family. We are his prisoners. Prisoners of his pathology. No one would believe the absolute chaos he engineers on a daily basis. I keep a journal. It reads like a horror story.
No one comes near and that’s by design. This house is a complete embarrassment and that’s done on purpose. Outsiders might see the abuses he inflicts on us. Niether me or my sons would ever invite anyone over.
He micromanages everything we do. Especially my sons. When and what they eat. What they wear. Where they go and when. The boys ha
ve to beg for clothes and school supplies. And when he does by them clothes they are embarrassing to the boys. Not age appropriate.
My boys are 16 and 14. He addresses them as “honey”. This was cute when they were small but now they are young men. He’s purposely stunting their emotional growth to keep them like little
Young men with their own ideas are too much of a threat. Competition. They are sick of his toxic projections to the point of calling police. He’ll be good for five minutes but then back to the crazy raging. I feel guilty and sick to my stomach for not being able to protect them. Nothing is worse than to look in your child’s eyes hearing “help me”.
The light at the end of this tunnel is I have inheritance money coming. He’s taken away every last resource I have.no car no access to bank account no friends or family. Trying to force me into a psychotic break. He knows the minute this money hits my hands I’m out.saying things like oh we can get that new house you always wanted and so on.
I love this information. Need it so badly. To the rest of you fight for your lives. God created you. NO OTHER human has the right to destroy what GOD GAVE TO YOU. Love to you all
Oh my, I didn’t think I would survive. Decades with the most expertise abusive narrsissit. I got in when I was 17. I couple yrs ago, I started having flash backs to the obscene physical violence I had experienced. I hid it from my own conscious ness, and I had to children, who as adults suffer also, my crime, I blame myself for not seeing all this sooner. Thank God my sons dont blame me, forgiving me when I asked, telling me it was not my fault. For me reading going on 2 yrs everything on what I didn’t know, forgiving myself, getting stronger, counsling, praying, thank you for this article, thank you for the posts
I am sorry this happened to you–too. Once I received professional counseling–and even without the syndrome being identified–I recovered. I could live for myself, not for the approval of someone else. It is a very liberating feeling, and I hope you experience the same freedom, after you’ve seen a good psychiatrist, as I did. He never explained to me what I’d been suffering from (for many years), but somehow in talk therapy he helped my problems evaporate. Best wishes to you and your future of freedom.
I am in the same spot as you. I am hoping you have gotten to a better place. It is difficult for me to speak about my life at all, I am so shut down. No one can understand who hasn’t lived it. Please post back to let me know how you are now.
2 years ago my daughter suddenly announced that she was moving to the most dangerous part of Columbia with a man she hardly knew, who was 13 years her senior. I went to visit her there, in a town surrounded by the FARC on the list of the no- travel zone of most embassies It was so dangerous that we were not allowed to go out on our own and I never spent a minute alone with her while I was there Since then, they have moved back to Spain where I live, but little by little, she has alienated all of us: her parents and her 4 siblings . She doesn’t answer our calls and has blocked us on all the social networks . The man she is with, who I am convinced is a narcissist has put her through one dangerous situation after another . They are always in dire straits.They have borrowed money from all of us which they never paid back and they have broken into our second home to take furniture and household necessities. My daughter was almost charged with visa fraud by the US government and they have run up , on her name , all sorts of debt because he is in default with the Social Security , bank loans, taxes and who-knows- what -else and has put everything in my daughter’s name. I could go on for pages about his criminal behavior which my daughter willingly participants in.
I wish there was something I could do to help her.
Love this…trying to explain to my therapist,everything that has happened to me by the narcissist for 36 years.just got divorced 8 March-15But still have to live in the same home till it is sold,no money to move anywhere and no one from my entire family talk to me.hell on earth.Petrified of where to go and live as no one is interested.I need to get this to the therapist.I don’t think they understand the dynamics that narcissists use in order to control the victim….this is my life.And yes I go back to when I was 7-8 years old,when my stepfather was a violent drunk who came home one early evening.I was sitting on the sofa with my doll just playing with its hair.He snatched the doll from my hands and pulled it to pieces…I remember looking at him in terror..not knowing whether I had to smile or not.I remember the intense fear of not knowing how to react to the situation.I was frozen with fear.Then when I met my husband(narcissist) I revert back to that time to cope not just with him but with others where I have become compliant to save my fear and abandonment.I do not speak to the man and have not since June 4 2013.I emotionally detached to save myself.but he has tortured me emotionally,used gaslighting methods.I have had everything including extreme physical abuse up until 2013.Now its emotional,getting up in the night to creep around the house,switching freezers off so my food goes of,cutting telephone wires,taking all the light bulbs so have no light at night,no heating.When I go to my bed I take food,laptop,router,telephone,remote control to the tv.I am very tired and exhausted.I suffer from severe panic attacks and it wont get better till I can leave.But he will never see the trauma he causes me.I wont allow that….ever.it is happening as i am typing,but i ignore him and will carry on doing so because if I give him any attention..its 100x worse.