How to Spot Narcissistic Abuse and What to do About It

Do you have a narcissist in your life? Would you know if you did?

If you’re not familiar with the different kinds of narcissism, you definitely want to keep reading. This article also tells you how to spot the six signs of narcissistic abuse. And the video at the end goes into detail about narcissism as seen through the Internal Family Systems (IFS) lens plus shares how you can protect yourself from narcissistic abuse.

There are two major categories of narcissism: grandiose and vulnerable. Understanding how to recognize these very different types of narcissism may help you avoid a lot of frustration and emotional pain.

Most of us are familiar with the grandiose narcissist. They shout their accomplishments to anyone who will listen. While they come across as boastful and confident, the reverse is true. Their seeming sense of entitlement hides a lack of self-esteem.

The vulnerable narcissist, also known as a covert narcissist, can be more difficult to spot. They may come across as insecure and introverted. You may even feel sorry for them, but eventually you will probably grow short on patience as you come realize that they are always in need of your validation and praise.

Interestingly, one individual can switch back and forth between grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. And that fact points to an interesting approach to this disorder. Rather than think of it as a disorder, seeing it as a part that is using this behavior to cope with trauma, can be a liberating and powerful shift in perspective. I cover that in the video below when I share the IFS perspective on Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

Becoming familiar with the different forms of Narcissistic Abuse is crucial. If you are experiencing this form of abuse, you are likely feeling confused and exhausted. You may be feeling like you are losing your mind. The sooner you understand what this abuse looks like, the sooner you will be empowered to take steps to protect yourself.

Here are the top six forms of Narcissistic Abuse.

Gaslighting. This tactic is the mainstay of narcissistic abuse and is designed to undermine your sense of reality. The narcissist will try to get you to doubt your perspective, your memory and even your sanity. They often do this by twisting facts or insisting things you remember didn’t actually happen.

Triangulation. If you are resistant to doubting yourself, this tactic may be employed to convince you to adopt the narcissist’s version of reality. By enlisting a third person to endorse their opinion, you may feel outnumbered and begin to doubt yourself.

Hoovering. This tactic involves attempts to reconnect or pull you back into a toxic or abusive relationship with them.

Stonewalling. Narcissists may punish you for refusing to agree with them, trying to hold them accountable or failing to provide them with narcissistic supply (unlimited praise). By refusing to speak with you for a time, the narcissist may hope to regain a sense of control over the relationship and you. In this case, they are purposely ignoring you to control you or make you feel isolated.

Lack of Accountability: Narcissists refuse to take responsibility for their mistakes. They will relentlessly find a way to shift blame to others and most likely you.

Passive Aggressive Behavior. Indirect blame-shifting, sabotage, and sarcasm can all point to covert narcissistic manipulation.

If you are experiencing any of these forms of abuse, it’s important that you get help to regain the safety and control over your circumstances that you need to heal and thrive. That can take the form of therapy and support groups. Videos and podcasts about narcissism can also be very helpful. Be sure to watch the video below for suggestions on what you can do to free yourself from this often confusing form of abuse.

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