How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Can Save Your Life If You’re A Complex Trauma Survivor

Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Quote Catalog

If you have a history of struggling with self-harm, suicidal ideation, chronic suicide attempts or extreme and overwhelming emotions, you may want to consider speaking to a counselor about Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). It just might save your life, especially if you were the victim of early childhood trauma or abuse.

Read more about dialectical behavior therapy here.

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For All The Women Broken By An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

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I hope you learn to be enthralled by the sound of your own heartbeat. The one that reminds you that you are alive, that your life is meaningful, that you were divinely made, not meant to be mistreated. I hope you learn to fly rather than clinging to the people only interested in clipping your wings. I want you to be the powerful woman they never saw coming. Within you is a light that is brighter than the belittling words of those who are afraid of your potential. Within you is an entire universe, just waiting to be built.

Read the Article Here: For All The Women Broken By An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Featured image by Nicola Fioravanti.

Love or Limerence? 11 Signs Of An Obsessive Fantasy Relationship

limerence

Lovesick. Longing. Limerent. In 1979, psychologist Dorothy Tennov first coined the term “limerence” in her book Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being In Love to describe an involuntary state of deep obsession and infatuation with another person. She interviewed 500 people in the throes of an obsessive love, sometimes on an unhealthy level. Limerence includes a sense of being emotionally dependent on the object of your affections, devastation if these feelings are not reciprocated, and fantasies about the other person which can border on extreme and elaborate.

Note: the concept of limerence should not be applied to relationships with a narcissist, which is more likely to stem from a trauma bond (from the victim’s end) or more accurately described as idealization from the narcissist’s end. 

Read the full article at Thought Catalog.

Featured image by vilson.

The Dark Side Of Being An Empath: 5 Powerful Ways Highly Sensitive People Experience the World Differently

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Empaths are deeply sensitive individuals who are highly attuned to the emotions and energy of others. They can easily take on the emotions of others as their own. This can be a challenge when they have porous boundaries and end up absorbing the pain and stress of others. Empaths are sharply intuitive and are adept at reading people and situations beyond just surface-level impressions. Due to their giving nature as well as their keen insight into the human psyche, they tend to be natural healers.

If you’re an empath, you’ve probably experienced the dark side of being one. Here are five ways empaths and highly sensitive people experience the world differently.

READ THE ARTICLE:

The Dark Side Of Being An Empath: 5 Powerful Ways The Highly Sensitive Experience The World Differently

featured image by Larm Rmah 

Are Narcissists Also Misogynists?

Both men and women can be narcissists. That being said, misogyny tends to be a key trait found in male narcissists (as well as female ones who demonstrate internalized misogyny.)

study suggests that heterosexual narcissistic men tended to lash out more often at heterosexual women than any other group (including homosexual men and women). Dr. Keiller (2010), lead author of the study, writes:

The present study suggests that heterosexual men’s narcissism is linked to an adversarial and angry stance toward heterosexual women more than toward other groups. Although narcissists may want to maintain feelings of superiority and power over all people, narcissistic heterosexual men are particularly invested in subordinating heterosexual women.

While narcissists and their victims can be of any gender and sexual orientation and women can certainly be misogynistic as well, this study does seem to align with the accounts of many female victims of male malignant narcissists. Those who have been victimized by male narcissists have  noted that their abusers tended to demonstrate patriarchal attitudes.

This link between misogyny and narcissism becomes even clearer when we consider that:

  • Misogynistic trolls who target women online are also part of the larger group of narcissists who have been shown to have high levels of psychopathy, sadism and Machiavellianism (Buckels, et. al 2014). This will not come as shocking news to any woman who has been trolled online and been subjected to violent threats, put-downs about her appearance and intelligence if she dares to speak out or basically exist on any online platform. For example, feminist writers and advocates such as Jessica Valenti and Anita Sarkeesian have been subjected to numerous threats over the course of their careers (Goldberg, 2015; Ryan, 2014). As Tory Shepherd writes, “We’re not talking about teen bullies here. We’re talking about grown men getting deviant pleasure from trying to hurt women.”
  • There is an established connection between misogynistic attitudes towards women and homicide against women (Campbell, 1981).
  • Many male mass murderers have also been shown to have a history of domestic violence against women. As Hadley Freeman (2017) writes in The Guardian:
“Paul Gill, a UCL lecturer who studies so-called lone wolf terrorists, told the New York Times last year: “Having a history of violence might help neutralize the natural barriers to committing violence.” In other words, wives and girlfriends make good target practice.”

Elliot Rodger is a prime example of what can happen when malignant narcissism and misogynistic beliefs merge in heinous acts of violence (Broogard, 2014). The 22-year-old created many disturbing videos and an entire manifesto about his entitlement to women’s bodies prior to his murderous rampage.

Are you dating a misogynistic narcissist? What to look out for:

Given the overlap between misogyny and narcissism, there are red flags that can point to the fact that you may be dating someone on the narcissistic spectrum. Common signs include:

1. An unwavering sense of sexual entitlement.

Since male narcissists have been shown by Keiller’s study to have hostility towards women due to them being “sexual gatekeepers,” it is unsurprising that many male narcissists also display a sense of sexual entitlement as well. They feel entitled to women’s bodies and these are often the types to pressure, coerce or covertly manipulate women into fast-forwarding the physical aspects of the relationship early on and showing resentment, cold withdrawal or even forceful attempts when their advances are rejected.

TIP: Be wary of any dating partners who pressure you to get intimate with them early on. While this sense of entitlement may be more common than ever in today’s modern hookup culture, a refusal to respect your boundaries when you’ve communicated them is a sure red flag you’re dealing with someone toxic.

2. Stalking, rage and harassment, especially in the face of rejection.

All narcissists, regardless of gender, are capable of stalking and harassing their victims. This is because any form of rejection, even if it’s simply due to incompatibility, causes what is called a “narcissistic injury” which results in narcissistic rage. You will find that male narcissists especially like to insult the women who reject them by degrading their physical attributes and sexual desirability.

Websites like Tinder Nightmares and Stop Street Harassment catalog what happens when women reject men and it seems that women disproportionately face certain types of harassment on social media, such as cyberbullying and revenge porn (Angus Reid Institute, 2016).  If a woman “dares” to refuse a second date with a narcissistic man, she will be on the receiving end of his rage or multiple attempts to change her mind.

TIP: When dating someone new, never reveal your address and avoid using your real phone number if you can. Use a Google voice number instead or message primarily through another text messaging app until you’ve met. It’s important to get a sense of who a person is before you give them full access to where you are and how you can be reached. Many stalkers take advantage of any personal information you give them to harass their victims after they’ve been rejected.

3. Deep-seated and harmful patriarchal beliefs that remain unquestioned.

While it’s normal that both men and women have internalized gender roles to some extent in a patriarchal society, be on the lookout for harmful beliefs that any dating partners seem all too invested in defending and reinforcing. This can be overt, like a dating partner who believes women shouldn’t work or becomes enraged if you assert yourself. However, it can also be covert. Some abusive males mask themselves as feminists and “nice guys” when they are in reality simply looking to convince you of their credibility.

TIP: Rely on actions more than words. How does your dating partner react when you assert your boundaries and differing beliefs? Does he validate you or does he become contemptuous? How does he handle rejection? Does he often brag about what a “nice guy” he is and rant or rave about women who rejected him in the past or does he seem to take it in stride?

4. Responding to a woman’s accomplishments with rage, disdain and contempt.

Pathologically envious narcissists are often jealous of their partner’s achievements because it threatens their sense of superiority and their sense of control over you. Misogynistic male narcissists take it one step further: they feel deeply emasculated when they see their female partners accomplishing goals because it disrupts their stereotype of the “submissive woman.”

As a result of their envy and feelings of being threatened by a powerful woman, they decide to lash out and criticize her, treating her condescendingly even though her accomplishments and assets may surpass theirs.

Such an attitude is not limited to narcissists alone: it has been shown as sadly common, even among highly educated men who may not be aware of these subconscious attitudes (Fisman et. al, 2006; Park et. al, 2015).

5. Approaches social justice issues related to women with a dismissive attitude.

 Does he dismiss or minimize the plight of women by claiming that men suffer equally or even worse horrendous treatment? It’s one thing to address the issues in society that affect men (such as expectations of toxic masculinity) but a whole other affair to continue to invalidate the systemic inequalities and realities that women worldwide face every day (everything from street harassment to honor killings). A man (or even woman) who refuses to acknowledge the unequal treatment of women in society is probably not one you will be compatible with in the long run regardless.

Narcissism isn’t exclusive to any gender, but it’s important to note that misogyny can be a trait of narcissism. It would be interesting for future research to also explore whether female narcissists possess misogynistic attitudes as well.

This article was first published on Psych Central as “Are Male Narcissists Also Misogynists?” 


References

Angus Reid Institute (2016). Trolls and tribulations: One-in-four Canadians say they’re being harassed on social media (Rep.). Retrieved September 25, 2017.

Brogaard, B. (2014, June 04). Elliot Rodger’s Narcissism.  Psychology Today. Retrieved September 25, 2017.

Buckels, E. E., Trapnell, P. D., & Paulhus, D. L. (2014). Trolls Just Want to Have Fun. Personality and Individual Differences, 67, 97-102. doi:10.1037/e520722015-006

Campbell, J. (1981). The Role of Misogyny in Patterns of Homicide: A Historical Survey Examining the Killing of Women By Men in a Midwestern City (Master’s thesis, 1981) (pp. 67-85). Advances in Nursing Science. Retrieved September 25, 2017.

Fisman, R., Iyengar, S. S., Kamenica, E., & Simonson, I. (2006). Gender Differences in Mate Selection: Evidence From a Speed Dating Experiment. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 121(2), 673-697. doi:10.1162/qjec.2006.121.2.673

Freeman, H. (2017, March 28). What do many lone attackers have in common? Domestic violence | Hadley Freeman. The Guardian. Retrieved September 25, 2017.

Goldberg, M. (2015, February 20). Feminist writers are so besieged by online abuse that some have begun to retire. Washington Post. Retrieved September 25, 2017.

Keiller, S.W. (2010). Male narcissism and attitudes toward heterosexual women and men, lesbian women and gay men: hostility toward heterosexual women most of all. Sex Roles. DOI 10.1007/s11199-010-9837-8

Ryan, M. (2014, October 15). The Threats Against Anita Sarkeesian Expose The Darkest Aspects Of Online Misogyny. Retrieved September 25, 2017.

Shepherd, T. (2016, October 25). Research confirms online trolls are typically sadistic, misogynistic men who hate women. Retrieved September 25, 2017.

Young, A. F., Park, L. E., & Eastwick, P. W. (2015). (Psychological) distance makes the heart grow fonder: Effects of psychological distance and relative intelligence on men’s attraction to women. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41(11), 1459-1473. doi:10.1037/e578192014-596

5 Signs You’re Dealing with a Dangerous Narcissistic “Healer,” Therapist or Guru

Awareness of narcissistic abuse and its effects is quickly becoming more and more widespread. As the survivor community grows online in blogs, forums, Instagram pages, Facebook communities and across real life communities, the number of “healers” and “gurus” who purport to help survivors on their journey continues to expand as well.

While there are many incredible therapists, coaches, spiritual guides, authors, bloggers and advocates in a number of different fields who can provide a great deal of rich wisdom to the survivor community, there are also predators who mask themselves as healers in order to gain narcissistic supply (praise, admiration and/or resources). When consulting these resources, it is important to distinguish between authentic advocates who genuinely want to help and those who are looking to exploit survivors at their most vulnerable stage of the healing journey.

These predatory covert narcissists, like wolves in sheep’s clothing, are incredibly dangerous to the survivor community, because they pose the harm of retraumatizing victims who have already been through the psychological wringer.

Be wary: narcissists come in all shapes and sizes, and can wear many masks, including that of the philanthropist, the spiritual leader and even therapist.

Here are five signs you might be dealing with a narcissistic ‘guru’ or healer.

1. They engage in monopolization and sabotage of any perceived competitors.

Narcissistic gurus and healers feel entitled to be the only source of authority on a certain topic; genuine advocates understand the importance of sharing helpful information, even if it does not come from them. As Dr. Neuharth points out in his article, “14 Ways Narcissists Can Be Like Cult Leaders,” a narcissist ensures that his or her group is in an intellectual bubble of sorts, filtering out any information that threatens to overtake, undermine or compete with the views of the cult leader.

The narcissistic leader or ‘healer’ is not unlike a cult leader who discourages dissent among his or her followers and tries to limit incoming information that could threaten their guru-like status in the community. In this context, he or she attempts to filter out information from the survivor community by disparaging other perspectives and even actively attempting to undermine the credibility of any other healers or advocates who are performing similar work.

Rather than acknowledging that there are multiple voices, perspectives and sources of insight available to the survivor community, narcissistic gurus believe they own the ‘monopoly’ on discussing certain topics or issuing advice.

Many predatory ‘healers’ even go so far as to sabotage anyone they consider to be competition.  This includes therapists who are actually covert narcissists in disguise. Genuine therapists are interested in helping their clients and know they don’t have all the answers. Predatory gurus, on the other hand,  refuse to see the value of the survivor community benefiting from the wisdom and expertise of multiple people from a variety of fields. They are extremely condescending and treat those they deem “below” them with contempt. These frauds aren’t interested in what is best for survivors. They are more interested in building their own reputation and carrying out their own agendas.

You can usually tell you’re dealing with a narcissistic predator masked as advocate when he or she begins undercutting the work of other popular therapists, writers or coaches in an attempt to elevate their own work. Authentic advocates don’t have the time nor the energy to ever consider anyone as “competition” – they focus on their own work and promote the work of others that they also see as valuable, because they know that the more knowledge and awareness spread on the subject of covert abuse, the better.

2. They charge excessive costs in exchange for minimum value.

Don’t get me wrong – everyone should get paid for their work – whether that work happens to be in the arena of alternative healing methods or something more traditional. Yet there’s a difference between paying for value and overpaying for someone’s grandiose sense of entitlement.

Beware of retreats that cost thousands of dollars or expensive “healing” sessions where the practitioner continues to charge for sessions at an excessive rate without providing quality help. Narcissistic gurus do not believe in cost-friendly options. For them, the monetary gain is far more important than the well-being of their clients.

Narcissistic personality clinical expert Dr. Martinez-Lewi calls these money-hungry ‘healers’ “covert narcissists hiding in holiness.” According to her, survivors who are desperate to heal can unwittingly become “victims of some of the worst covert narcissists–those who play the martyr, saintly role masterfully. [These covert narcissists] have been taking advantage of emotionally vulnerable and fragile individuals for decades. They know just how to play them. They look deeply into the spiritual neophyte’s eyes and draw them into their trust. That is the beginning of the hypnotic fusing that takes place.”

As survivors ‘bond’ with covert narcissistic gurus, they may continue to hand over their hard-earned money continually without realizing they’ve been taken in. Authentic advocates who want to help survivors may charge for their services, but they know how to do so in a way that is also efficient for the consumer. For example, an author who is interested in providing his or her readers with the best deal may offer a cost-efficient bundle of books; a life coach may frequently provide discounts on coaching programs or offer a free consultation; a therapist may offer a sliding scale for any clients who may be struggling; a local Reiki healer may offer a Groupon or Yelp deal. There are many ways to offer one’s services while remaining accessible to survivors who need it.

For the genuine advocate, their customer’s needs always come into consideration. For a narcissistic guru, the quality of their services are less prioritized than their potential revenue.

3. They exhibit a “their way or the highway” philosophy rather than the idea that “it takes a village.” 

As mentioned earlier, authentic healers know that they are not the only voice of wisdom. They understand, intuitively, that their particular skill sets, perspectives and methods may not be for everyone and they are able to acknowledge that without being vindictive, envious or threatened by others in their field. In fact, they encourage their clients to consult other valid resources outside of themselves. If there is something they themselves don’t specialize in or don’t have life experience to refer to, they feel absolutely comfortable referring their clients to someone who can help them as supplementary resources.

This applies to communities for spiritual practices as well. If a yoga instructor hears that one of their students attends other yoga studios, that same instructor encourages, rather than discourages this, knowing that the yogi will become even more experienced as a result. If a meditation teacher sees their student dabble in different types of meditation, he or she doesn’t attempt to convince that same student that there is a certain type of meditation that is the “only” path to enlightenment. He or she doesn’t try to persuade the student to only stick with one type of practice or police their spiritual practices outside of their studio.

Truly enlightened people know that there are many paths to inner guidance and that everyone’s journey is different. They are there not to be the sole voice of reason for their clients, but rather to guide their clients to tap into and honor their own inner voice. True “gurus” don’t act like or position themselves as gurus – they invite others to access their own insight.

4. They participate in unethical practices and violation of boundaries.

Building upon this, genuine advocates for survivors know their source of expertise as well as their limitations. They know how to best help others from their own unique perspective. If they are researchers and writers, they focus on research and writing. If they are therapists, their primary focus is providing therapy to clients. If they are coaches, they do not step over into the territory of therapists by ‘treating’ disorders in real life or practicing trauma treatment methods that they would need to be trained in to offer (ex. EMDR). They are mindful of potential triggers and set clear expectations from the get-go.

Good practitioners in any healing field also do not cross the boundaries of their clients or build any inappropriate relationships that cause their clients to become excessively dependent upon them. They do not bully, coerce, invalidate, sexually violate or retraumatize their clients in any way. They do not become enraged if a client chooses to set boundaries with them. They are able to act professionally and mindfully, knowing what they can and cannot do within their particular realm of expertise. They also do not take it upon themselves to impose their own problems onto their clients or make their clients responsible for their own emotional issues. On the other hand, they know when to respectfully terminate or set boundaries in a relationship where the client is becoming excessively dependent or violating their boundaries. 

According to Dr. Disch, “Good, boundaried psychotherapy, pastoral counseling, addiction counseling, bodywork, medical practice, etc. should always be oriented to your emotional and medical needs and not to the emotional needs of the practitioner.”

5. They provide false hope and egregiously improbable promises.

Narcissistic gurus promise miracles that they rarely deliver – lofty claims like the ability to heal medical problems from a distance or heal complex trauma within a matter of minutes. They may attempt to offer programs or books that will help you “fix” an abuser or get them to act in certain ways. They might encourage dangerous forms of spiritual bypassing, shaming victims into forgiving or feeling compassion for their abusers as a way to heal before they’ve even begun processing their emotions. These services are harmful and can be very damaging to the healing survivor, especially if that survivor is looking for false hope that his or her abuser will change or are looking for a “quick fix” for the traumas they’ve experienced.

Authentic healers know their own limitations and understand what they can realistically offer to their clientele within their qualifications. They do not feed their clients false hope in an effort to get more money or clients – instead, they stick to the truth and what will best help their particular clients on their healing journey. They would rather lose out on a potential client if they know that client is better off with a different healer who can best meet their needs. To them, it is not about the quantity of clients – it is about the quality of the connection and services offered.

Be selective and mindful when consulting resources, forums and blogs in the survivor community. Many resources are helpful for the survivor, but others can be retraumatizing depending on the advocates and moderators involved.

It is essential to know the difference between advocates who are ethical, boundaried and have an authentic desire to help and covert narcissists who are looking for narcissistic supply under the guise of being healers.

And remember: a license is never a guarantee that someone is emotionally safe.

References

Disch, E. (2015, January 01). Treatment Abuse Checklist. Retrieved July 8, 2017, from http://www.survivingtherapistabuse.com/treatment-abuse-checklist/

Martinez-Lewi, L. (2013, August 15). Covert narcissists hiding in holiness. Retrieved July 8, 2017, from http://thenarcissistinyourlife.com/covert-narcissists-hiding-in-holiness-yoga-divas-spiritual-gurus/

Neuharth, D. (2017, April 13). 14 ways narcissists can be like cult leaders. Retrieved July 8, 2017, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/narcissism-decoded/2017/03/14-ways-narcissists-can-be-like-cult-leaders/

This article was first published on Psych Central as 5 Signs You’re Dealing With A Narcissistic Guru.


Shahida Arabi is a summa cum laude graduate of Columbia University graduate school, where she studied the effects of bullying across the life-course trajectory. She is the #1 Amazon bestselling author of three books, including Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself, featured as a #1 Amazon Bestseller in three categories and as a #1 Amazon bestseller in personality disorders for twelve consecutive months after its release. Her most recent bookPOWER: Surviving and Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse, was also featured as a #1 Amazon best seller in Applied Psychology.

She is the founder of the popular blog for abuse survivors, Self-Care Haven, which has millions of views from all over the world. Her work has been shared and endorsed by numerous clinicians, mental health advocates, mental health professionals and bestselling authors. For her undergraduate education, Shahida graduated summa cum laude from NYU where she studied English Literature and Psychology. She is passionate about using her knowledge base in psychology, sociology, gender studies and mental health to help survivors empower themselves after emotional abuse and trauma. Her writing has been featured on The National Domestic Violence Hotline, The Huffington Post, MOGUL, The Meadows, Thought Catalog and Harvard-trained psychologist Dr. Monica O’Neal’s website.

5 Signs You’re In A Destructive Trauma Bond With A Narcissist

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A trauma bond is a bond that forms due to intense, emotional experiences, usually with a toxic person. Similar to Stockholm Syndrome, it holds us emotionally captive to a manipulator who keeps us “hostage” – whether that be through physical or emotional abuse.  According to Dr. Patrick Carnes, these types of destructive attachments are known as “betrayal bonds” and can take place in any context where a relationship can be forged. They can occur in romantic relationships, friendships, within the family, and the workplace.

Trauma bonds are rampant in unhealthy, abusive or otherwise toxic relationships. They are usually strengthened by intermittent reinforcement, the periodic love-bombing, false promises or “small kindnesses” that a manipulator throws our way to keep us ensnared to the relationship. They can also be exacerbated by our own abandonment wounds.

Here are five signs you may be in a trauma bond with a toxic person.

READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE: 5 Signs You’re In A Dangerous Trauma Bond With A Toxic Person

Featured photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris.

Get my #1 Amazon Bestselling Book, Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare.how-to-devalue-and-discard-the-narcissist-r2-ebook-cover-3

About Shahida Arabi, Bestselling Author

Shahida Arabi is a summa cum laude graduate of Columbia University graduate school, where she studied the effects of bullying across the life-course trajectory. She is the #1 Amazon bestselling author of three books, including Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself, featured as a #1 Amazon Bestseller in three categories and as a #1 Amazon bestseller in personality disorders for twelve consecutive months after its release. Her most recent bookPOWER: Surviving and Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse, was also featured as a #1 Amazon best seller in Applied Psychology.

She is the founder of the popular blog for abuse survivors, Self-Care Haven, which has millions of views from all over the world. Her work has been shared and endorsed by numerous clinicians, mental health advocates, mental health professionals and bestselling authors.

For her undergraduate education, Shahida graduated summa cum laude from NYU where she studied English Literature and Psychology. She is passionate about using her knowledge base in psychology, sociology, gender studies and mental health to help survivors empower themselves after emotional abuse and trauma. Her writing has been featured on The National Domestic Violence Hotline,  Salon, The Huffington Post, MOGUL, The Meadows, Thought Catalog and Harvard-trained psychologist Dr. Monica O’Neal’s website.

 

 

What Is Histrionic Personality Disorder? How Does It Differ From Narcissism?

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Have you ever met someone who seemed to be highly emotional, theatrical, dramatic, obsessed with their appearance and overly seductive in their interactions with others? Someone who couldn’t stand not being the center of attention? Someone who would consistently go to extreme lengths just to draw attention back to themselves whenever anyone threatened to take the spotlight from them?  You may have come across someone with the traits of Histrionic Personality Disorder.

I am often asked about the differences between someone with histrionic personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder. There is some overlap, but here are the key criteria you should know.

READ THE ARTICLE: Histrionic Personality Disorder: Drama, Seduction And An Insatiable Desire For Attention

Featured image by Erick Marroquín

Stonewalling And The Silent Treatment: The Narcissist’s Silence As An Abuse Tactic

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Has your partner, friend or family member ever ignored you when you tried to have an important discussion or addressed something significant to them? Have you ever been silenced by a toxic person’s silent treatment? You may have experienced what is known as “stonewalling.”

Stonewalling and the silent treatment are some of the most devastating forms of emotional violence. These abusive behaviors affect the same parts of the brain that register physical pain. Being stonewalled by a toxic narcissist can often times be as injurious to the psyche as physical torment.

To read more about the effects of stonewalling and how it works to undermine the victim, be sure to read my latest article:

Stonewalling And The Silent Treatment: When The Narcissist’s Silence Is Deafening


Get my #1 Amazon Bestselling Book, Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare.how-to-devalue-and-discard-the-narcissist-r2-ebook-cover-3

About Shahida Arabi, Bestselling Author

Shahida Arabi is a summa cum laude graduate of Columbia University graduate school, where she studied the effects of bullying across the life-course trajectory. She is the #1 Amazon bestselling author of three books, including Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself, featured as a #1 Amazon Bestseller in three categories and as a #1 Amazon bestseller in personality disorders for twelve consecutive months after its release. Her most recent bookPOWER: Surviving and Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse, was also featured as a #1 Amazon best seller in Applied Psychology.

She is the founder of the popular blog for abuse survivors, Self-Care Haven, which has millions of views from all over the world. Her work has been shared and endorsed by numerous clinicians, mental health advocates, mental health professionals and bestselling authors.

For her undergraduate education, Shahida graduated summa cum laude from NYU where she studied English Literature and Psychology. She is passionate about using her knowledge base in psychology, sociology, gender studies and mental health to help survivors empower themselves after emotional abuse and trauma. Her writing has been featured on The National Domestic Violence Hotline,  Salon, The Huffington Post, MOGUL, The Meadows, Thought Catalog and Harvard-trained psychologist Dr. Monica O’Neal’s website.

Self-Isolation from Abuse vs. Avoidant Personality Disorder

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A lot of us self-isolate, distrust and suffer from social anxiety after being abused. The effects of this trauma can be severe and debilitating. However, these symptoms can be managed and coped with more effectively over time. Avoidant Personality Disorder is a bit different; it includes hard-wired behavioral patterns that may or may not be caused by trauma. It is a diagnosis that requires a professional’s expert insight. It’s important to remember that when we’re experiencing the effects of trauma that there are a myriad of disorders our symptoms may overlap with. Avoidant PD is one of them.

Here is what to know about Avoidant Personality Disorder and what to know if you think you have it.

Featured image by Anh Nguyen.

Love-Bombing Is Crack Cocaine: The Addictive Cycle of Narcissistic Abuse

This story is brought to you by Thought Catalog and Quote Catalog.

By Shahida Arabi

IDEALIZATION AND LOVE-BOMBING

Highly skilled manipulators know how to seduce their prey – even without ever touching them. They are skilled wordsmiths and psychological puppeteers, pulling the strings each step of the way. They learn your love language and they know how to appeal to what you want to hear. They open doors, they take you out on extravagant dates, they take their time with foreplay – both verbal and physical. Their initial chivalry masks their cruelty.  Their tenderness is a very convincing façade for their chilly interior.

The idealization phase can only be described as pure, unadulterated ecstasy – both for the victim and the predator. Love-bombing – the excessive praise and flattery the predator showers on the prey – might as well be crack cocaine. It is a common manipulation used by cults to control their members – and in a relationship with a narcissist, you become a one-man cult. Your devotion to them becomes servile, disturbingly teetering on the edge of worship. And it’s usually because you’re following their lead.

The target is groomed to become addicted to the narcissist’s loving words and caring actions – not knowing they are hollow. We begin to invest in the predator as they seem to invest in us. They mirror our deepest needs and desires; they even mirror our interests, hobbies, and viewpoints. They tantalize us with the promise of a brighter future, a relationship where we are deeply validated and taken care of. We get used to the daily praise and laser-focused attention. Sex with the narcissist during the idealization phase is explosive – filled with just the right amount of tenderness and aggression – the narcissist knows exactly how to bring us to greater heights. It’s because they’ve studied what we like and have learned to mimic it. Little do we know, sex will later be used as ammunition.

During idealization and love-bombing, our place on the pedestal is secure and complete. We become the center of the narcissist’s world – or so we think. Really, they become the center of ours as we strive to measure up to the ideal image they have of us. They make us feel like God, only to cater to their own God complex.

Along the way, we deepen our investment because the bond feels so special and unique. We feel we’ve met our soulmate, our other half, our “twin flame.” What we’ve really met is someone who would burn us to ashes without a second glance if it meant getting what they wanted. This connection is heightened in a way that demands our attention on a physical, spiritual and even biochemical level – and before we know it, we begin to rely on this new person for survival. And that is when the danger begins.

Within even the most perfect period of idealization, there are tiny moments of recognition and fleeting red flags. Predators will always ‘test’ the boundaries of their victims early on – with provocative comments designed to make the victim doubt their perceptions. There will always be slippings of the mask where we get a terrifying view of the true self.

Yet these are so scarce during this phase that we are led to doubt whether we’ve seen anything at all. During love-bombing, the luckiest of survivors pick up on the cracks in the narcissist’s mask and see the empty shell beneath – and they do not attempt to rationalize or fix the fractured pieces. They are able to depart with their savings and sanity intact – they are able to leave, still whole. The rest move onto the devaluation phase, to be tattered and broken.

DEVALUATION

An adept emotional predator knows how to exploit a target’s strengths as well as his or her weaknesses. From the very beginning of the relationship, they’re taking an inventory of the qualities you possess that would enable them to exploit you. That means that they’re not only zooming in on your vulnerability, they’re also preying on your resilience and empathy – your ability to bounce back and your capacity to sympathize with their excuses for bad behavior.

When devaluation begins, it’s not always sudden. In fact, it can be like a gunshot in the dark or a quiet murmur in the corner. You just ‘feel’ that something has shifted, but you’re not sure why, how, where, or when. Your lover stops taking your calls. They withdraw without an explanation. You see them interacting with others in a playful, flirtatious way – in the same way they used to act with you. They praise others the way they used to praise you. The once coveted partnership you two used to share seems to have been displaced onto another replacement target (or multiple targets) – someone who is now on the receiving end of the flattery and attention you once cherished.

Meanwhile, you seem to be on the receiving end of their criticism, their harsh insults, their never-ending rage attacks.  The number of disappearances, discrepancies and marked evidence of infidelity start to climb. When they pull away, they pull away with full force – and they enjoy seeing your humiliation when you pine for them. They enjoy actively provoking you to respond, making you out to be the crazy one. And they love bringing in others into the dynamic of the relationship – whether they be friend, foe, ex, or stranger.

Then there is the stone-cold silence after stonewalling you during arguments. The narcissist’s silent treatment is deafening – and it hurts, literally. You feel an invisible, solid wall placed between you two – it’s an inexplicable feeling of being trapped yet tethered. You ache for the person you had constructed in your mind – a person he or she was all too happy to portray for a short period of time.

But the man or woman you love does not exist. And this is a painful reality for anyone – let alone someone who has a high level of investment in the relationship – to swallow.

Targets who are devalued are torn to shreds by the verbal and emotional battery inflicted by their narcissistic partners. Their psyche is infiltrated with disempowering belief systems and messages about their worthiness. They live day-to-day in a perpetual battle – a power struggle that never seems to end. They try not to internalize the criticism and blame, but they feel ashamed about being treated so viciously. This is not a shame that is theirs to carry – it belongs to their perpetrators. Yet they feel it deep down to their bones. It burdens them on sleepless nights and through countless weary days. Throughout the vicious cycle, pain is periodically mixed with pleasure. Victims are overjoyed at receiving crumbs of attention from their abusers – only to be devastated by blow after blow.

Those who are able to survive the devaluation phase unfortunately move onto the final phase (although, to be fair, there is no such thing as a ‘final’ phase to a narcissist, who never seems to let his or her victims go).

THE DISCARD

Those who are able to escape and ‘discard’ the perpetrator first do not really escape, as they tend to be stalked and harassed even years later by the vindictive narcissist.

Those who are discarded suffer a horrific trauma as well – they are pummeled by the narcissist’s cruel and callous indifference as they are seemingly rejected and disposed of by someone who they thought loved them. After having their body, mind and soul violated, used, destroyed, they are then subjected to the ultimate betrayal. They are left in a way that leaves no closure. The discard is staged in a way that is excessively painful and humiliating for the victim. Perhaps it occurs in public, or happens shortly after the narcissist has galivanted off with their new victim. Maybe it is accompanied by a sickening twist of events, an unraveling of shocking truths about the extent of the narcissist’s betrayals or an especially violent rage attack. However it happens, it is merciless and calculated to destroy.

Victims of narcissistic abuse are often brought to their knees and left blindsided by the narcissist’s departure. They are depleted, drained, belittled, diminished. They are left with more questions than answers, more doubt than certainty. Many fall into depression, spells of anxiety, and suffer the symptoms of trauma. In extreme cases, some even commit suicide or get close to the precipice of death. If they are not familiar with or well-versed about the cycle of abuse, they have a tendency to blame themselves for being abused, not realizing that this malignant predator has just sucked them dry.

If the victim survives the discard, the only path left is the long road to healing. That is, unless they become entangled in the narcissist’s games once more and sucked back into the traumatic vortex of the relationship. If so, the cycle just begins again.

Get my #1 Amazon Bestselling Book, Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare.how-to-devalue-and-discard-the-narcissist-r2-ebook-cover-3

About Shahida Arabi, Bestselling Author

Shahida Arabi is a summa cum laude graduate of Columbia University graduate school, where she studied the effects of bullying across the life-course trajectory. She is the #1 Amazon bestselling author of three books, including Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself, featured as a #1 Amazon Bestseller in three categories and as a #1 Amazon bestseller in personality disorders for twelve consecutive months after its release. Her most recent bookPOWER: Surviving and Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse, was also featured as a #1 Amazon best seller in Applied Psychology.

She is the founder of the popular blog for abuse survivors, Self-Care Haven, which has millions of views from all over the world. Her work has been shared and endorsed by numerous clinicians, mental health advocates, mental health professionals and bestselling authors.

For her undergraduate education, Shahida graduated summa cum laude from NYU where she studied English Literature and Psychology. She is passionate about using her knowledge base in psychology, sociology, gender studies and mental health to help survivors empower themselves after emotional abuse and trauma. Her writing has been featured on The National Domestic Violence Hotline,  Salon, The Huffington Post, MOGUL, The Meadows, Thought Catalog and Harvard-trained psychologist Dr. Monica O’Neal’s website.

For The Girls Who Are Not Afraid Of Wolves

When Little Red Riding Hood
Defeats the wolf –
When the lamb becomes the lion –
And the prey becomes the huntress –
Everyone acts surprised.

As if they did not see her coming.
As if they did not place the salt on her wounds.
As if they did not cut her open, open her wide –
Expect her to swallow her defeat.

Read the full poem: For The Girls Who Do Not Fear Wolves

Like this poem? Check out more poems like this in She Who Destroys the Light: Fairy Tales Gone Wrong.

The Narcissistic Conspiracy: Scapegoating, Smear Campaigns And Black Sheep – How Narcissistic Groups Bully Their Targets

When we speak about narcissism, we often focus on the individual. He or she is narcissistic. He or she is a victim of a narcissist. Yet what about those victims who are bullied and targeted by groups filled with narcissistic individuals or in a group where the narcissistic pack leader has toxic enablers? What happens when there is a conspiracy led by an entire group against one individual?

Contrary to popular belief, narcissism can and does run in group dynamics too – it just plays out on an even more massive and destructive scale. Rather than one partner abusing another, there is an entire group working to undermine and plot against a chosen target – whether in the family, the workplace, communities, or friendship circles.

Here’s how it happens and what to know if you’ve ever been persecuted, scapegoated and bullied by a group:

READ: The Narcissistic Conspiracy: Scapegoating, Smear Campaigns And Black Sheep – How Narcissistic Groups Bully Their Chosen Victims


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“You must believe that your quest can be successful, even if no one else does. You can deal with setbacks, misadventures, and even disasters as long as you still believe you can overcome the hardships and see your way to the end.” — Chris Guillebeau

Check out more inspirational quotes to brighten your day!

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“She’s a pure narcissist, so helping her victims is only about gaining their appreciation and dependence.” — Randy Huggins

Like this quote? Check out more quotes from Criminal Minds.

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: The One Thing That Gives Covert Narcissists Away

There is one thing that gives away a covert narcissist – the wolf in sheep’s clothing – even early on. Can you guess what it is?

READ: The Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing: How To Spot A Covert Narcissist And The One Thing That Always Gives Them Away