What is a Narcissistic Abuse Cycle and What Does it Involve?
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental condition in which one possesses an inflated sense of self-importance, an excessive need for attention, admiration, control, and a lack of empathy for others. These individuals typically have very troubled relationships with others, often characterized by narcissistic abuse behaviors, such as isolation, manipulation, gaslighting, lying, isolation, character assassination, and more.
Narcissistic abuse often occurs in a narcissistic abuse cycle, which involves three key phases: idealization, devaluation, and rejection. The intention of this post is to explore these components of the narcissistic abuse cycle, their effects, and how victims of this abuse can break out of that cycle.
Idealization: A Primary Problem At The Start of The Relationship
The beginning of romantic relationships tends to involve a period of great joy and euphoria, frequently referred to as the honeymoon stage. However, within a narcissistic abuse cycle, a narcissist will idealize their partner to an extreme and unhealthy level, essentially putting them on top of a pedestal.
They will often consider their partner to be perfect and shower them with intense levels of affection that go far beyond the narcissist thinking that they’ve finally found “the right one.” While this can feel great at first for the receiver of the narcissist’s affection, it can quickly end up becoming overwhelming and uncomfortable.
Devaluation: When A Narcissist Depreciates Their Partner
In standard relationships, the honeymoon stage will eventually end and fall into a more stable routine pattern, though it is still full of love and affection. In a narcissistic abuse cycle, however, this is the point where the narcissist will begin to devalue their partner rather than grow closer to them as they start to realize their partner isn’t perfect. They see their partner as not having any value as a person and only see value in their ability to fuel the narcissist’s sense of importance and self-image.
At this point, a narcissist will begin to put their partner down or start to hold back their affection or intimacy. Should the victim push back against this adverse treatment, the narcissist will often perceive themselves as a victim and blame their partner for anything going wrong. This only serves to devalue the actual victim of abuse even further.
Rejection: When a Narcissist Pushes Their Partner Away
The final stage of the narcissistic abuse cycle occurs when the narcissist finally begins to reject their partner and eventually fully rejects them in favor of a new relationship that they believe will fulfill their needs. However, this will likely only start a new cycle of abuse with their new partner, generally resulting in a series of broken relationships.
Victims of this abuse need to understand that this doesn’t involve a need for more love, belonging, or caring on the part of the narcissist, which serves as the foundation for stable, long-lasting relationships. Narcissists only want relationships to fuel their ego and sense of self-importance, and they will quickly reject someone who doesn’t fulfill those needs in favor of another person.
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The Effects of Narcissistic Relationships
Victims who experience the narcissistic abuse cycle are often left dealing with several traumatic and stress-related symptoms that can easily disrupt the quality of their daily lives, including depression, anxiety, shame, guilt, and anger. They are also quite likely to develop issues with establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries with other individuals in their lives. This is because a significant part of narcissistic abuse involves the abuser taking excessive control over their victims’ lives while ignoring- if not outright destroying- their established personal boundaries.
This often leaves abuse survivors in a very problematic state of being where they think their wants and needs do not matter or will not ever be respected by the people around them. Other symptoms of this abuse also include consistent hyper-vigilance, sleep problems like insomnia, stomach pain problems, and other G.I. difficulties. Even after the narcissistic abuse cycle ends and the relationship dissolves, many survivors have reported such symptoms being present in their lives for many years after the fact.
How to Stop The Narcissistic Abuse Cycle
Survivors of the narcissistic abuse cycle can treat and overcome the above symptoms with the assistance of a professionally trained therapist who can help them retrain their brain and nervous system to better regulate their emotions and develop new, more positive thought processes.
Therapists can also be instrumental in helping the survivors of narcissistic abuse learn to rediscover themselves while guiding them through methods used to raise their levels of self-esteem and confidence. Additionally, therapists assist survivors by teaching them the importance of establishing and maintaining solid boundaries within their relationships to ensure that they remain comfortable, safe and won’t be taken advantage of at the hands of other potential abusers.
If you are a survivor of a narcissist’s abuse and need help to reclaim control over your life, wellbeing, happiness, and sense of purpose, please consider seeing the services of a professionally trained therapist to help guide you through the intricacies of the self-healing process. You can also feel free to contact and acquire the services of a certified life coach from Ray of Solace.
Their expertise can also help you better navigate the world of relationships to build up the confidence and skills to find a caring, nurturing life partner who will treat you with the kindness and respect you deserve.
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