Understanding Today's Narcissist
Understanding Today's Narcissist

Episode 71 · 5 years ago

E02: Narcissistic Cycle of Abuse

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode, you'll discover the narcissist cycle of abuse; what it is and how to deal with it effectively. Learn how to avoid verbal assaults and how the narcissist uses the cycle of abuse for their own benefit. 

To learn more, visit www.growwithchristine.com 

Welcome to understanding today's narcissists, where we will explore how you can better relate and manage the narcissist in your life. I am your host, psychotherapist and author, Christine Hammond. Back in one thousand nine hundred and seventy nine, Leonora Walker Cory concept called the cycle of abuse. And if you can imagine for a second a circle where at the top one, we'll just use a clock for example, where number twelve is the first start of it and then we have three, six and nine and then back around to twelve again. The cycle of abuse that they talked at about was tension building, than acting out, reconciliation and honeymoon calm and then back again to tension building. So that's the cycle of abuse that Leonora Walker came up with. When we're talking...

...about narcissist, however, the cycle of abuse is just slightly different, and so I want to talk about that because this is a pattern that I've seen over and over again in counseling situations and with a lot of my clients who deal with narcissists, and one of the big reasons why I want really this to become a clear understanding is because there is a switch back that occurs when a narcissist is in the middle of their abusive cycle, and if you're not paying attention to it, you wind up getting hurt even more, not because of the verbal assaults, but you wind up getting hurt more because you wind up taking responsibility for things that weren't your responsibility, and that's not a very healthy place to be at some point in time. Even though a narcissist does do some kind of abusive behavior, they have to be held accountable for their behavior. But that's never going to happen as long as people constantly take responsibility, even for a little itty bitty pieces and parts of what the narcissist is claiming. So let me start again and again. Imagine a clock, and...

...so we're going to start at twelve. At twelve o'clock, the very first thing that a narcissist feels is threatened, and then after that, at three o'clock, they will abuse others. At six o'clock they become the victim and at nine o'clock they feel empowered and then they go back to feeling threatened, and so this is a cycle that goes around and around, just like a clock. Over and over again, and a narcissis uses it to a variety of different degrees. Then we'll talk about that in a couple of other sessions later, but for right now I just want to make sure we all really understand what this cycle of abuse actually looks like. So the very first one at twelve o'clock is feeling threatened. So so something happens for which the narcissist feels threatened in some type of way. Now, remember, for a narcissist they feel a sense of superiority all the time. They feel a sense of ideal beauty, love, power, control. These are very important words to them. So if they don't feel that, then that is threatening to them.

So it's not threatening as in what what somebody else might think of threatening. You have come up and you have bullied them or yelled in their face, and narcissist really does not see that as being threatening. What they do see as being threatening as a loss of control, a loss of power, a loss of influence, a loss of intelligence, a loss of superiority in some way. That is what feeling threatened is for a narcissist. So it could even be also rejection. Rejection is big for narcissist. They cannot stand to be rejected. Remember, one of their ultimate fears is to be abandoned or ignored, and so they don't. They avoid that at all costs. So rejection is a big one. Having some type of embarrassment and a social setting that would be horrific for a narcissist. They cannot stand to be embarrassed. Getting some type of level of disapproval at work from somebody that they consider to be important. Now that might not necessarily be an actual boss. It could be somebody else up the chain of command, because a narcissus is very...

...selective about the people that they deem to be worthy of them actually looking up to. It could also be being jealous of somebody else, of somebody else's success, and or it could be as simple as disrespect. So all of those things are are can what cause a narcissist to feel threatened. So the person who's being abused in this situation, if they are aware of the potential threat, and most people who are around the narcissist on a regular basis, if you're married to one, if your parent, if your parent is a narcissist, then you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. You almost see it in their eyes. You see the look. You know that. You know that and you know something abusive is about ready to happen because you can sense it before it happens. They've literally conditioned you to see that ahead of time. So, as the person who's been abused, you know something's about to happen and you start walking around on eggshells around them. Most narcissists get upset...

...repeatedly, get upset over the same underlying issues, whether it is real or imagine. So. So it doesn't even have to be a real thing for a narcissist to feel threatened and, and that's the key, they doesn't have to be a real threat. It could be something so unbelievably minor and it literally sets them off. They also have a tendency to obsess about threats over and over and over again. They think about them constantly. They can't get them out of their head until they've acted out. So that's at twelve o'clock. Remember, feels threatened. So now we move to six o'clock. This is where they start to abuse. So they feel threatened and so now they're starting to engage in some kind of abusive behavior, and the reason they they become abusive is because they're angry, they're pests, they're frustrated, they're upset, they're annoyed. They don't know what to do with that emotion. They don't know what to do with those feelings of insecurity, so they lash out at others very harshly, and this is where they become abusive. The abuse can come in several different forms. It could be physical, it could be...

...mental, it could be verbal, could be sexual, could be financial, spiritual or even emotional. I'm not going to get into the definition of all of those. That will be a whole nother session. I will talk actually much more specifics in one of my future podcasts of every single one of these for you, but for right now just understand those are the seven major ways that a narcissist actually abuses somebody. And this the abuse is usually customized to intimidate the the person, to intimidate you in an area of weakness, especially if that area is one of strength for the narcissist. So so, for instance, if you just lost a job in the narcissists held their job on for a long time. They'll go after the fact that you're incapable of holding down a job. So that's an area of weakness. That may have happened, regardless of whether it had anything to do with your performance. It could be that the company was just having massive layoffs and had nothing to do with you whatsoever. That's irrelevant to a narcissist. Also, a narcisis sometimes uses...

...more than one type of abuse. For instance, the narcissist may begin with the verbal belittling and then and just to kind of wear you down a little bit, and then they will follow by projection of their line about an event, and then and so so they they escalate, so they go from one form of abuse to another form of abuse. So one tactic is usually done to wear you down. The other one is usually just an all out frontal attack. Think of it is like a one, two punch kind of thing, where the one punch is not that hard and so you think, oh, it's not going to be that bad and then POW, they really knock you out with the second punch. So that's the concept behind it. Usually the person who's being abused, if this is you in this case, you get tired of it and so you fight back and and it isn't a I'm going to come after you, fight back and hurt you the way you hurt me. It's a defensive fight back, right. So all the defenses start kicking in and you're like, I'm going to defend myself, I'm not going to take their crap any longer and I'm not going to put up with it anymore. So you start fighting back. Wow, this is when we start...

...to move to the next phase. So this is at six o'clock now, so I think it's six o'clock. The narcissist now becomes the victim. This is when the switch back occurs, and this is what is unique to narcissism. It is different from other types of personality disorders. The Narcissus actually uses the abused behavior as further evidence that they are the ones being abused. So even if you become defensive, even if you defend yourself in some way, they then say that you're the one being abusive and that you are the one that's attacking them. And the narcissis actually believes our own twisted victimization by bringing up past defensive behaviors that the abused has done, as if the abused initiated the abuse. So it's it's almost like they say to you, you are the one that are causing all of this problem and you're the one that has done all of this to me, and I can't believe that you would treat me so badly and say all of those horrible things to me when you really...

...didn't say anything at all. All you did was defend yourself. But they are projecting their own behavior on to you, who is just trying to defend themselves. What winds up happening at that moment is is you wind up feeling guilty because there's a little, t tiny kernel of truth and what the narcissist says. Maybe you did come across snarky, maybe you were kind of like a little overthetop, slightly, nothing in comparison to the Narcissis, mind you, but the NARCISS is then uses that to their advantage, and so you feel remorseful and you feel guilty and then you accept this twisted perception that the narcissist actually has sold you on and then you try to rescue the narcissist. And this is the problem. So now the narcissist has become the victim in the situation. Remember, was the narcissist who felt threatened. It was the narcissists who initiated the abuse. But then when you defended yourself, then the narcissists reacted badly and then they claim that they're actually the victim. And then you, trying to do do the right thing by the whole measure and trying...

...to create a peaceful environment, you actually accept responsibility for your little fair share and try to rescue the narcissist. So this may even include giving into whatever they want, of course, accepting unnecessary responsibility, placating the narcissist in order to keep the peace and agreeing to some of the narcissistic lies, knowingly or unknowingly, all of which will come back to bite you back very badly later if you do this at the very next step. So now we're moving on to the next step. We're going to think of the clock again. So we're at nine o'clock and we're starting to feel empowered. So now the narcissist is like, this is so awesome. You, as the abuse person, has actually given in or given up, and now the narcissists feels empowered. They're you're like, uh, see, I am the victim. See, if I wasn't the victim, then they would have reacted that way. So now I'm entitled to whatever I want, and this is all the justification that the narcissist needs to reaffirm their rightness or their superiority for and when they felt threatened at the very beginning. So you, as the abuse, has unknowingly...

...fed the narcissistic ego in a very unhealthy way and you've actually made it stronger and bolder next time. And and that is the key, that that you gotta understand. If you don't understand this narcissistic abuse cycle, if you constantly react and fall back into this over and over again, if you accept responsibility, play Kate to the narcissist, give them what they want and agree to their lies, you are empowering them to do more, even stronger than next time. It will not go away. That's a lie that is happening in your head. It may be true for other people, but it is not true for the narcissist. So now here's the thing, though, like while the narcissists may feel empowered right now, eventually they'll come right back around to twelve o'clock and they are going to start to feel threatened again, and that is why we wind up with this very bad cycle that goes around over and over again. So the best way to counteract all of this is to begin...

...by coming up with strategies for future confrontations. Use the past confrontations that you have had with the narcissist, now that you can see it from a better perspective, and say, okay, the I'm not going to accept responsibility for them, I'm not going to play Kate, I'm not going to give them what they want. I mean to see it coming, I'm going to acknowledge it and I'm not going to defend myself in such a way so as to insight the victimization that the narcissist does. When you do that, the cycle will actually stop. It won't. It won't be as IMPACTFUL, they won't get what they want out of it. And here's the good part about it. Here's here's the thing. Like, narcissist really do learn because they want something. They want more power and more control, more influenced, remember, they want all of these things. So because they want something, once they learn that the narcissistic cycle of abuse doesn't work, they actually stop doing it, and that's the biggest takeaway I want you to have. Thank you for...

...listening to understanding today's narcissist. If you've enjoyed the episode, please subscribe to the podcast on Itunes to make sure that you don't miss another one. If you'd like to learn more, you can visit us at grow with christinecom thanks so much for listening and we'll be back next time with a new episode.

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