Understanding Today's Narcissist
Understanding Today's Narcissist

Episode 43 · 4 years ago

Trauma Bonding

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Christine covers trauma bonds, what they are, how to identify them,  and how they can effect us in a relationship with a narcissist.

 

www.growwithchristine.com

This is understanding. Today's narcissist brought to you in part by Psych Centralcom and now here's your host, Christine Hammond. Today we're going to talk about a difficult subject called trauma bonding, and I want to explain to you just how a narcissist ensnares a person through what is known as a trauma bond. And the reason this is so difficult to hear is because for a long time, when you are the victim of some type of abuse, at some level, you believed that it's your fault and you've made excuses. You have believe that you are a person who couldn't be caught an abuse. There's an ego that's kind of attached to it, and so, as we identified before, the different ways that a narcissist can actually abuse you, coming into the reality that there's a trauma bond that has formed as a result of abuse can be very overwhelming. So I encourage you to really take this kind of slow and I'm going to give you a little story and then I'm going to explain the different ways that this actually happens to people, that they get caught and ensnared by a trauma bond. But feel free to like pause it, come back to it a mode a little bit, because it's going to be hard when you start to realize and you start to come out of it. And the next episode that I'll talk about is going to be how to come out of the abuse fog, and that will be very helpful in particular because we'll talk more about just what that winds up looking like. But for today let's focus on a trauma bond and how that actually ensnares a person together and keeps them from...

...really leaving when they know that they probably should, or they might not even realize it at the time. So I'm Gona tell you the story. This person's name is Katrina, and she had a friend, a really close girlfriend that she had most of her life, and she was out with her girlfriend and her husband to dinner and it was the four of them hanging out. They were having a really good time and she started to notice that our friend was just really demanding towards her husband. He was control, she was controlling, she was domineering, she was belittling, she was unrelenting, very sarcastic and just really unnecessarily rude, to the point that Katrina was just super uncomfortable, and so she had suspect it for a while that our friend might be narcissistic, but after that dinner she was fairly confident that that's what she was dealing with, and the reason she didn't see it before was because, like I said, they were childhood friends and she wasn't like this when they were growing up, but eventually she became more and more like this, which I've explained to you that narcissism really isn't set in stone until eighteen, even though we have years of history of this kind of behavior prior to it. That's why some of your old friends from school might you might remember them as being one way, but then when they become adults they become completely different. So, feeling really bad, Katrina decided that she was going to confront her friend's husband. So she gently talked to him and said that she didn't really agree with what her friend was saying about him, and much to her surprise, her friend's husband just minimized the whole event. He said that the comments weren't that humiliating, that it was no big deal, that she was only joking, and he also made like a little side comment that there are times when she's just so much worse, and this is nothing in comparison to other times.

So his response was really confusing for Katrina because she thought that she was going to be able to kind of come alongside. So she decided to just kind of like hang out and watch and wait and just give it some more time and space. Maybe she overread something, maybe she was overthinking it. So she waited. In a couple months later she had an opportunity and they again went out to dinner and so at while they were at a friend's house. And so they were at a friend's house for a dinner, she noticed that her friend actually threw an object at her husband and then twisted the truth to make her husband look really bad and then even called him a name in front of a whole bunch of other people. And so she actually noticed this time that the husband was kind of like had this dismayed look on his face, like he was upset by which she had actually set. So kntrina again confronted him, but again he defended his wife. So what on Earth is going on with this? Well, Katrina was super confused. Didn't know what was happening. So she went to the Internet and what she found was this term called trauma bonding, and we're going to explain a little bit more about what this is. Basically, it is loyalty and continued commitment to an abusive person, despite the intolerable treatment that they might be receiving. So in the case of being trauma bonded to a narcissist, there tends to be a persistent denial of the problem, even when others bring evidence to light. So how in the world does a person get caught up in this? And I want to remind you that abuse is prevalent in every single back ground. So this it does not necessarily pertain to one stereotype, but in this case we're going to talk about how a narcissist and snares another person into this trauma bonding to the point that they actually deny that there is any form of abuse whatsoever,...

...even though others can see it and have called it out and identified it. So the first thing that happens is for the victim, there is some level of ignorance of what an abusive tactic even looks like. Most people are conditioned to believe that abuse requires some sort of a physical mark and only happens to uneducated people. But there are seven categories of abuse, and we've talked about this and if you haven't gone through it, I really encourage you to go back and look them up. So there's physical, emotional, verbal, mental, sexual, financial and even spiritual and in most all case studies they have shown that abuse is prevalent in every single socio economic group, in every culture, at every intelligent level and, unfortunately, at every age, because the elderly can be abused just as easily as a young child can be abused. So thinking that it can't happen to me is, quite frankly, the easiest way for a person to fall prey to an abusive person. The other easy way to fall prey to an abuse of person is to think that that you would never stand for something like this, that you would never tolerate it, when all along you are actually tolerating things and behaviors that are completely and totally unacceptable because you're not aware of what actual abuse looks like. So again I would encourage you to go back and listen to those other podcasts that I did on abuse so you're not ignorant of what those tactics are. The next thing that usually happens. So the first one is ignorance of abuse tactics. The second one is the abuser is very attractive, and so narcissists are really famous for looking good and having this kind of perfection about them. They're very charming,...

...they have very attractive physical appearance. They go out of their way to look a certain way, to draw other people in and to not suspect that anything could be harmful about them. So during the initial engagement with a narcissist, the narcissist tends to become everything that the victim is looking for in a partner, so absolutely everything that you want. They kind of transform and mold themselves into it. They love bomb a person with generous amounts of affection, attention and gifts. So the perspective partner actually believes that this is the real person, that the narcissist is going to be like this all the time and their relationship is going to constantly look like this. But that's not the case. This is usually just a shell game and the shell game can only last so long. So with most narcissists I have found that at last anywhere between three to six months. Only really experienced ones can last as long as a year, and some of them have some sociopathic tendencies with that. So that's the reason why they have to move very quickly into the relationship, making it something more permanent so that the person doesn't leave. So we have a victim who is ignorant of abuse tactics and now we have a very attractive abuser, and now we have successfully set the stage for the next phase, which is the initial angry outbursts. So in the beginning, when the narcissist explodes, it seems to like be so out of character correct because they've been love bombing and they've been giving gifts and they're so nice and generous all the time that this is just so weird. So the partner easily accepts the narcissistic explanation of blame shifting, which is usually their favorite tactic, as an excuse for their behavior. Slowly, the narcissist starts to criticize their partner by saying things like you made me so mad. If you didn't do then I wouldn't have to.

I only react this way because of you. The partner desperately wants to go back to that cute little love bombing phase, so they actually take the feedback and they try to mold themselves into whatever the narcissists claims that they need, because they want to go back there. Unfortunately, one transformation is never enough for a narcissist and they quickly begin to demand more and more. So now the beginning of trauma bonding has started, which is the initial angry outburst. This is where things take an interesting turn. The next phase is that it almost becomes addictive. So the harder it is to please the narcissist, the harder the partner actually tries. Achieving some small token of gratification from the narcissist becomes this drug of sorts, because the narcissist is so difficult to please that when you do obtain some kind of gratification, it becomes addictive. The partner actually gets a high out of obtaining even small amounts of the love bombing from before. They doesn't even have to be at the same level. This really is no different than an addiction to a drug. So thinking about a drug when you first take it, in your first trip on a drug, is usually the best, but every single time you use the drug afterwards it fails by comparison to the first time. So a person constantly continues to use a drug over and over again because they're trying to get back to the very first experience. That's how you become addicted. That's what's happening in this scenario. The partner becomes unable to see their own downward fall in this spiral because...

...they are trying so badly to get back to the initial love bombing. Okay, hold on, I know this is hard, so let's get to the next one. Stay with me if you can. Addictions have rewards and consequences. So this is all part of the addictive phase. So the reward of an addiction, in this case it's pleasing the narcissist, is a release of the happy hormone dopamine. This feeling of euphoria can make a person feel as if they can do absolutely anything. Now, by contrast, the consequence of an addiction, when the narcissist becomes abusive, is a flooding of the stressed hormone of quarterisol this puts a person in survival mode, which is fight, flight, freeze or feint mode. As soon as that happens, it diminishes a person's ability to think straight, the executive functioning part of the brain does not operate properly in survival mode and it actually takes a good thirty six to seventy two hours for a person to fully recover from the effects of too much quarterisol in their body, of the flooding of Cortisol. So now I have an addiction that is started in trying to please the narcissist. Now I have the body's own hormonal chemistry is now both rewarding and giving consequences for the addiction. So next we'll talk about what happened from them in this process. Because the partner is not taking a drug, it's very hard to even identify that they are caught up in an addictive cycle. This is why the abuse fog...

...becomes so incredibly dense and the person is unable to see what is happening right before their eyes. Others can often see it, but the person who's in it cannot. Even when confronted by others outside of the relationship, they still struggle to see it. Plus, the narcissist has this tendency to isolate their partner from anybody who might be trying to help them or assist them through this, and anyone the narcissist feels as a threat to them or their influence or power or control. This makes leaving even more difficult. The next phase of all of this is there's an inability to detach. So even when a partner starts to wake up and tries to leave, the narcissist will pull them back with promises of returning to things of their former existence. It's going to be like the way it was. They may even start love bombing again. They'll go out of their way to reinforce the concept that it's going to be just the way it was, an even better than before. Because the narcissist has this intense fear of abandonment. They cannot allow a person close to them to leave, so they work even harder at it than ever before. They will do, say and fake anything they need to just to keep their partner in their relationship. The mask of the narcissis former self comes out again, but once again it is short lived. As soon as the partner has returned, the mask is smashed this time and the partner is even more ensnared. So that is what trauma bond does. You're stuck in this kind of cycle. The worst part is that the victim. The partner is usually addicted to the mask of the narcissist. So even when times get bad, the addiction to...

...the mask of the narcissist is so strong now, after all of the reinforcement that has happened, the fear that life can never be as good without the mask of the narcissist traps the partner into staying. Just the thought of leaving again causes panic attacks, depression and, sadly, suicidal thoughts and even sometimes attempts. The darker a person gets, the harder it is for them to take action to leave, which is exactly what bonds them to the narcissist. And then they're stuck. So this is what the trauma bonding does, and that's how a narcissist actually ensnares a person into a trauma bond. Going back to my story, once Katrina started to understand what was happening to her friend's husband, she went about a very different strategy. Instead of trying to wake him up, she came alongside him and offered friendship to him instead of to his wife. This allowed him to feel more comfortable with her and eventually he confessed his frustration. When Katrina revealed to him her discovery of the trauma bonding. He finally took action and began to see a counselor, and that's when it all began to change for him. So I want to really encourage you. You might need to listen to this again if you've been in a trauma bond with a narcissist. The information I shared with you today can be very overwhelming. Please take it slow, pay attention to it. Ask a friend if this is what they are seeing inside your relationship. Somebody that's close to you. Talk to a counselor a therapist who's familiar with this concept, who understands what this looks like. Get a different perspective from somebody else. Don't trust your perspective inside the middle of a narcissistic relationship. Thanks for listening to...

...understanding. Today's narcissist with Christine Hammond brought to you in part by Psyche Centralcom. For more information, visits grow with Christine dotcom.

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