We have all come into contact with a narcissist at some point in our lives. It could be that awful boss who bullied you relentlessly. Or the relative who put you down at every opportunity. Or maybe it was that partner who turned from heaven sent lover into a vitriolic, abusive devil.
However you came into contact with a narcissist, I guarantee that your health will have suffered. And I don’t just mean your mental health.
Narcissists are masters at making us feel uneasy. They seek to control us by being so inconsistent with their affection that we never know what is coming. One minute we are having a perfectly normal conversation, the next they are screaming at us that we are stupid and everything is our fault.
Our bodies natural reaction to this type of stress is to release adrenaline (our fight or flight response). Unfortunately the narcissist has usually taught us that fighting is fruitless, they always win by whatever means necessary (including violence) and flight is impossible because they have made us believe we are unwanted, a burden and insane. Who the hell would want us?!
So we are unable to respond as our bodies have been designed to. We stay and absorb their wrath. But the adrenaline hasn’t gone anywhere. In fact, we live in a constant state of fear, waiting for the next explosion. This can cause extreme anxiety as well as physical ill health. The long term impact of prolonged adrenaline production can be heart attacks, high blood pressure and strokes.
We can live in a state of hyperarousal, always on the look out for a threat. We feel jumpy at all times and this can lead us to being angry and irritable. Which plays into the narcissists hands by “proving” that we are mental.
It also damages our brain. The constant barrage of verbal abuse changes the neural pathways in our brain, distorting memories and beliefs we hold about ourselves. Where we once believed we were attractive, intelligent and sane, new beliefs are created that we are stupid, worthless and ugly.
It is easy now to see why long term exposure to narcissists can result in severe health problems and even death (either directly or indirectly). This is why it is so infuriating that health professionals fail so often to spot the dynamic a narcissist adds to a persons health problems. They are quick to diagnose from past trauma (which I have no doubt plays a part) without considering their present situation. People are being labelled with mental health conditions which only fuels the abusers control and leaves victims even more vulnerable.
Most won’t have the courage or insight to tell their GP the truth. After all the abuser has made them believe they ARE crazy and don’t deserve any help. The abuser doesn’t want the victim to get any assistance because it may expose their behaviour and give their victim more strength – both of which the narcissist will aim to prevent at any cost.
Victims will parrot the reasons for their ill-health just as the narcissist has told them to. And health care professionals take it all at face value. Not seeking to explore the connection between abuse and stress. So the victim goes away believing exactly what the narcissist has told them – that it is their fault and they are broken.
So if you are suffering mentally and physically AND are subjected to narcissistic abuse, step back and take a logical look at what is really going on. The key to good health may not be the stash of pills you have been prescribed but rather making some changes closer to home.
If you would like to talk about any of this in confidence, please do reach out to me. You can contact me at https://www.thenurturingcoach.co.uk/narcissist-abuse-recovery