Narcissism has become a commonly used, almost "catch-all" phrase in recent years. Actually, Narcissism is a personality disorder and mental health diagnosis, described in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). This personality order is characterized by a pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy. We all have a need to feel valued, so therapists often talk about narcissism operating along a complex, granular, and graduated continuum from Healthy to Malignant. I generally prefer to talk about narcissistic behavior because narcissistic behavior can show up due to and along with a variety of other mental health conditions or life experiences. It is best to meet with a licensed professional to discuss any concerns you may have regarding narcissism.
Traumatizing narcissism causes relational trauma because emotionally-immature and narcissistic habits of mind or behaviors are destructive to secure relationships. Relational trauma can have symptoms that look like PTSD, anxiety. or depression. Relational trauma can lead to temporary or chronic distrust in self, others, and organizations. Trust, love, and connection are all basic human needs so when they are corrupted or lost, it is appropriate to feel despair and hopelessness.
Traumatized narcissism is narcissism (or narcissistic ways of thinking or behaving) that may stem from physical, emotional, mental, sexual, or spiritual narcissistic misuse or abuse).
This looks different for each individual and depends on many factors. It is never too late or too soon to heal, grow, and develop after experiencing relational trauma. However, it is hard work because there are many subtle and blatant ways narcissistic habits of mind and behavior impede and thwart post-traumatic growth and development.
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