The mental and emotional toll of narcissistic personality disorder

The mental and emotional toll of narcissistic personality disorder

According to studies done at the Laboratory of Epidemiology and Biometry and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the lifetime rate of narcissistic personality disorder was 6.2 percent, with rates greater for men than for women. NPD was significantly more prevalent among black men and women, Hispanic women, younger adults and separated divorced or widowed adults. NPD is also associated with substance use, mood and anxiety disorders.

Common characteristics of people with NPD include self-importance and the need to exert power and control in certain relationships. It is very common for a narcissist to be preoccupied with fantasies of power, love and complete dominance over people, places or things.

This disorder can take its toll on the loved ones of the individual with NPD. This is due to the fact that people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) tend to assert their need for control and power onto their family and work relationships.

NPD abusive characteristics

A narcissist’s sense of entitlement will often create very dysfunctional relationships where he or she showers a person with praise and admiration, making his or her victim dependent on admiration, only to withhold the praise in hurtful and abusive ways later on. Exploiting other people’s emotions and characteristics through slander and malicious gossip is a common trait in the relationships that narcissists create. Because of the danger that a relationship with a narcissist can invoke, it’s important to be aware of what the mental and emotional abuse looks like.

Emotional abuse is intentional coercion that can result in severe mental and emotional harm such as post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic depression, anxiety, psychological trauma or poor self-esteem. The constant power struggle that narcissists are preoccupied with are often attributed to the type of victimization that occurs during emotional and mental abuse. Some of the different signs that an individual is inflicting mental and emotional abuse on another include the following:

Abusive anger: Using rage or anger to intentionally cause fear within another person
Verbal threats: Threatening physical harm to self, partner, children or another person’s family member
● Destruction of a person’s belongings
● Forcing isolation from friends and family
Rejecting: Showing overt signs of rejection of another person
● Showing signs of happiness when a person is angry or upset such as laughing when a person is crying or sad
Gaslighting: an extremely effective form of emotional abuse that causes a victim to question his or her own feelings, sanity and instincts
Withholding: a common tactic used among mental abusers of which one person pretends to not understand the situation at hand or flat out denies obvious recurring behaviors
Countering: questioning the accuracy of a person’s memory
Trivializing: Making a person feel as if his or her feelings or thoughts are illegitimate and trivial
Forgetting/denial: The abuser pretends to have forgotten what actually occurred or denies any promises made
Triangulation: bringing the presence of another person into close or romantic relationship dynamics

Cognitive dissonance and NPD

When a person is being coerced, or attempted to be mentally controlled by a narcissist, it is very common for them to experience cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is when a person is experiencing a set of two contradictory thoughts or beliefs. The result of this state of mind is a desire to reduce the overwhelming and unbalanced perception of having two contradictory beliefs. Very often this means that victims of narcissistic abuse will succumb to believing what the abuser wants them to believe about themselves or about their external reality.

If you or a loved one is experiencing mental or emotional abuse, it’s important to explore the dynamic of the relationship before the abuse progresses. For information on how to obtain treatment for NPD or any other mental health issue that you believe may be a result of mental or emotional abuse, you can call the Mental Health Helpline at 855-441-4405.