A narcissist is descried as a self-centred individual who believes the world revolves around them, their needs, their belief systems, and their desires. Growing up with a narcissistic parent reverses the natural dynamics of child nurturing, the impact of which can be devastating.
Growing up in a family environment in which a child experiences narcissistic abuse in the form of physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse (or a combination of these), can leave the child without a secure sense of safety, emotional stability, identity or love.
In adulthood the child may grow up to experience a range of bewildering symptoms including depression, anxiety, dissociation, numbing, brain fog, emotional dysregulation, flashbacks, and memory or concentration problems.
The part of the brain related to language may shut down in high stress situations, which can render the person speechless, or frustratingly unable to effectively describe their childhood experience or adult symptoms using words.
In recent years a common connection between this disparate range of symptoms has been identified as Complex Trauma or Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). While the negative effects of C-PTSD can be devastating, the good news is that with time, patience, courage, specialist professional support, and effective treatment (such as somatic experiencing or EMDR), symptoms can be significantly reduced or eliminated.
COACHING TO AID RECOVERY FOR ADULT CHILDREN OF NARCISSISTS
The road to effective healing for adult children of narcissists can involve many steps, different support professionals and healing modalities along the way.
In a non-clinical environment I can support your journey to recovery with practical help and targeted coaching interventions:
Pre-therapy: Support with gathering your thoughts in order to find a therapist, approach or treatment that's right for you
During therapy: Practical coaching to work alongside your therapy to aid your ongoing recovery work
You may find the information and links below helpful.
IMPORTANT: If you are experiencing any distressing responses to adverse childhood experiences, you are advised to seek professional help from a clinical specialist in childhood trauma.
INFORMATION AND RESOURCES ON COMPLEX TRAUMA AND NARCISSISM
Complex Post-Traumatic Stress
Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) results from enduring complex trauma. Complex trauma is ongoing or repeated interpersonal trauma over an extended period of time, where the victim is traumatised in captivity from which there is no perceived way to escape. Narcissistic abuse in childhood is classed as captivity abuse because the child cannot escape.
This article lists 12 Life-Impacting Symptoms Complex PTSD Survivors Endure
Narcissism vs Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Everyone displays narcissistic behaviours from time to time, in fact we need a degree of narcissism to have a healthy sense of self. However, high levels of narcissism can be harmful to ourselves, and the people closest to us, especially children. At the extreme end of the spectrum is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), which is a serious personality disorder that often goes undiagnosed due to its very nature.
A highly narcissistic parent does not need to have been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder in order to inflict trauma on their child through narcissistic abuse.
Unpicking the confusion and downright 'craziness' of being parented by a narcissist can be bewildering.
This article contains a comprehensive list of behaviours and traits associated with people who suffer from NPD:
Labelling or putting a name to behaviours that a person may have experienced as a child (and may continue to experience with parents or in re-enactment within current relationships) can be an important first step in recovery from narcissistic abuse.
Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving
Written from the perspective of a C-PTSD survivor who has experienced a great reduction of symptoms over the years. This book is a practical, user-friendly self-help guide to recovering from the lingering effects of childhood trauma, and to achieving a rich and fulfilling life.
Healing the Adult Children of Narcissists: Essays on The Invisible War Zone and Exercises for Recovery
People who have had a narcissistic parent can testify to how damaging it can be to the psyche. Narcissistic parents lack empathy, and often subject their children to neglect, as well as emotional, psychological and physical abuse. Shahida Arabi's insightful essays resonate deeply with those who have been raised by narcissistic parents.