PsychopathologyNarcissism, Abuse and Pathological Love Relationships
To the Clinicians:
What is Intimate Partner Betrayal Trauma:
Betrayal trauma theory seeks to understand how we interpret any behaviors regarding infidelity and betrayal and then how it is stored in your memory. This theory predicts that the more necessary that person is in your life, the more likely there will be an “unawareness” or “blindness” to that betrayal. Third party observers are often left wondering, “How can they not see what is happening? In order to cope, a survivor blocks out painful information so their brain can focus on more basic needs of survival and attachment. This is called betrayal blindness—it’s how we cannot know what is right in front of our faces. This in part explains why someone stays in an abusive relationship or a narcissistic relationship.
Betrayal Trauma is essence is brainwashing. Betrayal trauma alters the mind and body. A person can suffer from betrayal trauma and not yet be aware of the betrayal. That nagging sense that something is off in the relationship, that something isn’t quite right, your gut is telling you but you do not understand why, you just know something is wrong.
Here are some betrayal trauma symptoms:
- Alexithymia: being unable difficult to recognize your own emotions
- Physical symptoms: in his book The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel van der Kolk expounds upon how trauma can have significant physiological impacts on the brain and body. The trauma is stored in the body, the body remembers. This may manifest as headaches, stomach aches, chronic fatigue, obesity, gastrointestinal issues, sleep issues, laryngitis, a weakened immune system, chronic fatigue, etc.
- Increased dissociation: the feeling of being “in a fog,” loss of concentration and focus.
- Anxiety and Depression: this can be related to the betrayal or just chronic anxiety/panic attacks. The depression can be the inability to get out of bed to just the weight/heaviness of what you are emotionally dealing with.
This trauma can have long-term damaging effects on your psychological and physical health, to name a few: trust issues, hypervigilance, profound emotional dysregulation, difficulty concentrating and the inability to even articulate what has happened to you. And this emotional dysregulation may be experienced daily, hourly, and minute by minute. At the same time you are grieving this loss. It is natural to feel sadness with loss of any kind, and the reality is that your relationship, as you believed it to be, is over. Your brain tries to catch up with the trauma; the term cognitive dissonance which is a mental conflict of realizing the person that you married and trusted never existed in the first place. The loss of the relationship, the loss of the family, the loss of the future, the loss of dreams, real financial losses, the loss of your home and so forth. Complicated grief. Once a betrayal is discovered, both partners and their relationship are forever changed. Your sense of being able to trust yourself is also shaken, such that you may second guess all of your decisions. Because your feelings are "all over the place," like wanting to end the relationship one moment and desperate to save it the next, it is hard to know how to move forward. This stage is not linear. Medication to deal with the anxiety, depression and grief should be considered.
Narcissistic Abuse Cycle:
The cycle, how you fell victim to their web of deceit. DO NOT WASTE TIME BLAMING YOURSELF FOR FALLING IN LOVE WITH YOUR NARCISSIST. Show yourself compassion.
The cycle of Narcissism: This may sound familiar!
- The Lovebombing Phase: Idealized phase, you are the supply. The amazing boyfriend phase, the brain chemistry, this is where it all starts and mistake red flags for green. The truth, the reality, this is the lying phase. This is the brainwashing phase. If you could turn back the clock in real time; what would you see? This is the covert phase of lying that he likes you, adores you, and respects your boundaries. In this phase, you will take an overdose of empty promises; he feels like your soulmate and no other person has ever made you feel this way. Sound familiar? He will also work his way into your family and friends and present as this amazing guy.
- The DeValuing or also known as the Bullying Phase: The narc needs positive supply, he needs the rush where everything is perfect, and he can’t handle criticism, abandonment or rejection. In a marriage, you are giving, giving and they are taking, taking. Except you don’t really recognize this pattern, but you might feel tired, overwhelmed, anxious, confused and depressed. The narc will use fear, obligation, guilt, stonewalling, be inconsiderate, hypocritical..do as I say/not as I do, people are there to be used, lying, talk down to others, make fun of others. They are never content, always bored and often envious of others. The narc will need constant praise and approval and if he doesn’t get it, he will be full of rage, have meltdowns, start fights for no reason, gaslight you etc.
- The Discard Phase: The Final Phase You will never get closure. This is the understanding that the Narc does not leave a relationship in a healthy way. They don’t care, they don’t care about you, they don’t care about anyone. They just leave and they blame you for the relationship ending even though they were having sex with prostitutes. Stop looking for closure. The game of chess is done. “I want to end this marriage as quickly as possible and I’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.” Game over. If you end the relationship before they are ready, it will send them into a narc collapse, he may fall into a depression temporarily. If you are discarded out of the blue, he will come back for you (please see all info: no contact). When you are discarded first, it is utterly the most painful breakup you will ever experience. It’s the brain chemistry and the trauma bond.
- I’m Devastated and Hurting: Shock You just woke up to the nightmare, the truth. This is the very tough detox stage of being in love with a person who never loved you, the pain and emotion is raw; earth shattering that your world has just become something you can’t recognize. I can’t breath or stop crying, the sadness and depression phase. One day at a time, you will recover. ALL totally normal. This too shall pass. With time and treatment.
- The Hoovering Stage: Yes: they keep your number in their phone or rent a condo down the street Why? Because they think you might answer the phone. NO CONTACT. Hoovering is a manipulation tactic used to “suck” victims back into toxic relationship cycles. Someone who hoovers fears that their target will “get away” from them, so they may engage in love bombing, feigning crises, stalking, or smear campaigns in order to suck up all their target's time, energy, and attention. They can fake cry; it does not mean that they are sad. They don’t have feelings. They are sucking you back into the vortex of the cycle. You have to disconnect from them entirely, all family, all friends, all mutual contacts.
- More Aftermath: This isn’t a stage.. but it is relevant and difficult: If you share children together, how do you communicate when you are divorcing? See the divorce subtopic. The dance of the cycle in the Relationship: He or she chose you, to manipulate and abuse you. It’s abuse like no other; covert narcissism is hidden and insidious. During this cycle, a survivor will have been subjected to all forms of narcissistic abuse. Once the narcissist’s mask of sanity slips and they are exposed: they bombard the victim with constant criticism, double standards, gaslighting, ambient abuse, and coercive control. The victim finds themselves living in a state of confusion and paralysis with a stranger they do not know or understand, this is akin to Intimate Terrorism. When the survivor finally decides to divorce their narcissistic partner, they will need to prepare themselves for a war that will be made up of many battles (i.e. physically, emotionally, psychologically, logistically, financially, spiritually, etc.).
The Recovery and Surviving to Become the Person You were Meant to Be
No Contact and the Grey Rock Method
The only way to escape a Narcissist and Live a Life of Freedom: To “grey rock” a person involves making all interactions with them as uninteresting and unrewarding as possible. In general, this means giving short, straightforward answers to questions and hiding emotional reactions to the things a person says or does. You will use this technique in co-parenting.
If you have done your research, you have read over and over again: Go No contact. Here I’m just going to address the relationships where you can leave the Narcissist and truly have a restart where you never have to communicate with this person again. There are no ties, no children and the relationship married or not, had a beginning and an ending. What is gray rock: Cutting off contact with toxic people is often the only way to keep them from continuing to cause emotional harm. But when this isn’t possible, grey rocking may work as a technique to get the manipulator to lose interest. The hope is that they give up by your boring presence. No contact means just that no contact even through a mutual connection. You have to cut off all those connected to this person. Disconnect, disengage, keep it simple, offer nothing.
YOU CANNOT BEGIN TO HEAL UNTIL THERE IS NO CONTACT.
- Your phone
- ALL email accounts
- ALL social media accounts
- ALL instant messaging
- You remove all: (Stop the Triggers and brain chemistry)
- Cards, Books, gifts
- clothes, anything associated with them, they purchased for you, with them, including all lingerie
- jewelry, exchange the diamonds if you have rings or diamonds from them.
- pictures/videos: off of every computer and every phone
- connections associated with them (no flying monkeys allowed)