Captured by a narcissus: how to recognize psychological abuse and end a relationship
In the age of psychotherapy and endless popular science articles on how to recognize an abuzer and get out of a toxic relationship, it seems that we can calculate people with unhealthy behavior from the crowd once or twice and easily protect themselves. Actually, no: even in a close person it is sometimes difficult to see a manipulator - and in general a person with a narcissistic disorder. That's the heroine of our material - 28-year-old Veronica - had no idea that her life went downhill precisely after meeting with a daffodil. What is already there: that her lover suffers from this particular disorder, she understood only at the reception at the psychologist.
Veronika told her story to journalist Ekaterina Bazanova, who wrote for Spletnik.ru column.
“For the past few months, I have been constantly feeling unhappy and unnecessary. I sleep poorly, eat little, cry often, have problems with my periods. A week ago I left my beloved man. Our relationship became unbearable. I feel bad with him and without him. And maybe I myself am to blame for everything. I don't understand what is happening and how to stop it, ”28-year-old Veronika (the heroine's name has been changed) described her condition at the first consultation with Anna Pozharskaya, a medical psychologist at Moscow Psychiatric Clinical Hospital No. 4.
The new patient looked scared and upset. The girl said that in half a year she managed to visit several specialists. At first, the therapy made her condition a little easier, but then a sense of hopelessness covered Veronica with a new force. Disorientation, depression, gratuitous guilt, anxiety - there were all signs of emotional violence. But a year ago, the patient was happy with life, full of energy and did not complain about anything.
Veronika, a lawyer by education, held a senior position in an insurance company. Favorite work, friends, good relationships with family, travel, fans. The next few years, the girl planned to devote a career. It is for this reason that her last serious relationship, which lasted three years, ended. Her former young man was offered a lucrative contract with moving abroad. Veronica thought, appreciated the depth and strength of her attachment to him and, wishing good luck at the new place, remained in Moscow. The girl was sure that at one beautiful moment the same man would appear in her life. Veronica dreamed about strong feelings and true intimacy. She herself earned well, she was not going to become a housewife, so the prosperity and social status of the future elect were not her first interests.
On the subject: 10 men who are good only in fantasy
With Maxim (the name of the hero is changed) she met at work. He came to the meeting as a representative of one of the client companies. Daily consultations with his participation lasted a week. The young man (the same heroine) immediately liked Veronica. Smart, stylish, well-spoken, confident. With the girl's colleagues, Maxim kept himself aloof and somewhat cold, but to her, on the contrary, showed interest, singled out her. Veronica was flattered by this attitude. She was glad when Maxim continued to write to her after the working questions were closed. He was not at all like another fan.
Career ambitions, theater, cinema, travel, literature ... They had an incredible amount of common interests. They corresponded, called back, walked around Moscow for hours or sat in a cafe and could not talk enough.
“I have never felt so easy with anyone. There was no awkwardness between us. I was sure that I had found a kindred spirit, a soul mate, ”recalled Veronica.
Maxim did not get tired to admire the girl. He looked at her with adoration, praised her erudition, appearance, character. He called it special. He said that he had never believed that he was capable of losing so much of his head from a woman. Previously, for him there was nothing more important than a career. According to Maxim, all his previous relationships ended, because he lacked something. He could not formulate what it was, but miraculously found the secret ingredient of happiness in Veronica. Maxim constantly wrote and called, met from work, was attentive, gentle, caring. Veronica did not believe her happiness.
“A period of seduction. I immediately understood what was the matter. Former young man Veronica suffered from narcissistic personality disorder. These people can inflict such deep psychological trauma that the victims heal them for years, or even their whole life, ”psychologist Anna Pozharskaya began to analyze the story of her patient.
According to statistics, this disorder is more common in men. They become the most dangerous.
The daffodil is not interested in easy prey. He likes to fight for the "beloved", beat her off the opponent, turn her whole life upside down. Breaking a strong personality and completely subjugating it is the greatest thrill for a narcissist. After choosing a suitable target, he turns on the seduction mode. Listens carefully to the victim, studies her inner world, demonstrates her adoration, makes the chosen one feel her uniqueness and value. It launches two chemical processes in the body of the enchanted. First, the victim's body perceives the narcissist as a danger, releases a large dose of adrenaline, and demands to run away. Sleep is disturbed, appetite decreases, mild anxiety appears. The victim perceives this as signs of falling in love and does not go anywhere, then the brain, in order to reduce the level of adrenaline, produces endorphins. Secondly, the demonstration of unconditional love provokes an increased release of oxytocin, the so-called hormone of trust, which makes you feel attached to your partner. The darling of a narcissist gets hooked on him like a drug. She is carried away on a hormonal swing, which she confuses with big and pure love. Due to chemical addiction, sex with a narcissist seems fantastic to the victim. And at that moment, when she completely trusts the tormentor, he brings down an "ice shower" on her.
The relationship of Veronica and Maxim seemed perfect. No quarrel, absolute harmony. Four months later, the daffodil began to aggressively offer the girl to move in with him. She doubted if it was too early, and asked for time to think. The young man agreed knowingly, they spent the night together and in the morning went to their offices, agreeing to meet after work. In the afternoon Veronica wrote several messages to Maxim. He did not answer. I called - the phone was turned off. The work day was over, and she didn’t know what to do. To drive home? And what if he shows up? What if something happened to him? And what if I offended him with my doubts? He never disappeared before and always wrote first. What's happening? In her confused feelings, she wandered around the mall. Shopping this time did not go on, nothing pleased, did not want anything. Maxim called only at night. He said that he had problems at work and was in no mood, after which he disappeared for another day. Veronica decided that if everything worked out, she would immediately move in with him.
“Classic“ ice shower ”. The unsuspecting victim suddenly finds herself in an incomprehensible situation. She goes through all possible explanations, blames herself, worries, tries to get in touch with the narcissist, and in the meantime he just checks whether she is firmly on the hook, ”explained psychologist Anna Pozharskaya.
After experiencing stress, enchanted loses the remnants of independence.
Less than a week later Veronica moved to Maxim. The next month everything was wonderful, and then the narcissus began its favorite activity - manipulation. Gradually, ease and ease disappeared from their relationship. In their place came total uncertainty. With Maxim it was difficult to agree on something and it is impossible to bring him into direct conversation. He laughed off (sometimes very disappointingly), did not see the slightest problem in his behavior, did not keep his promise.
“Why are you so turned on? You are exaggerating everything. You and I have not agreed on anything specific. I just said what I would like, ”was his typical response. However, happy moments (albeit much less often) still happened. They kept the girl next to the tormentor.
On the subject: 10 unobvious bells that signal: run from this man!
Once, during dinner, Veronica saw that a notification from a dating site came to his phone. Maxim portrayed a misunderstanding. He began to assure that he had always communicated with other girls that he needed it to raise self-esteem and that Veronica allegedly knew about it, but had not shown any discontent before. And in general, apparently, she has PMS, so she cries from scratch. The heroine could not believe that this is the person who swore love to her. Maybe she really misunderstood everything? Perhaps she spoils his mood with her baseless jealousy?
According to Anna Pozharskaya, the technique used by Maxim is called gaslighting. This is a form of psychological abuse in which the victim begins to question his or her own perception of reality. She feels lost and even slightly inadequate. The repeated “ice shower” scalded Veronica one Saturday evening. Narcissus came out to her naked after a shower, hugged her and, looking into her eyes, said with a smile: “If only you were Scarlett Johansson ... And so I’m tired today. I don't want anything ”.
And singing, he went into the kitchen. Veronica burst into tears, tried to explain why she was in pain, asked her not to do that anymore. In response, dissatisfied Maxim accused her of lack of a sense of humor.
When the girl told her friends about her problems, they advised everyone to end this relationship.
“It's easy to say. I could not spend even a couple of days without him. I was suffocating. As much as I suffered, my only desire was to see him and try to regain his affection. I was afraid to make me angry, upset, say something wrong, ”Veronica recalled.
The girl was constantly under great stress and could cry at any moment. From the side it seemed that Max tolerated and loved the finished hysterical. Veronica less communicated with family and friends. Maxim isolated her. She could not understand: how could the most beautiful man in the world turn into this ice monster?
“Narcissists almost never know who they are. And, as strange as it may sound, they suffer no less than the victim, only differently, ”the psychologist continued.
On the subject: How men destroy successful women
Narcissistic personality disorder develops in early childhood. Parents either behave very cold with the child and he does not feel his own value, or, on the contrary, terribly praise and deny any of his imperfections. In both cases, the future narcissus has a feeling of its own grandeur and a strong shame for any of its shortcomings. Child injury, and not malice, explains his behavior.
Narcissus is alien empathy, sense of responsibility, guilt. They do not know how to love, are afraid of intimacy with other people and are not able to build healthy relationships. Their grandeur requires constant confirmation. They vital feedback - the emotions of others. Often anyway, positive or negative, most importantly, to strong. The hardest thing for the narcissus is indifference.
Their relationship with the victim always develops in the same scenario and has nothing to do with love. Narcissus selects a suitable strong personality and idealizes her. Psychologically, he seems to be joining the victim and her best qualities, after which he is covered with terrible envy. The only way to pay it off is to devalue what the daffodil so recently admired. Subdue and humiliate. With violence, the torturer squeezes suffering out of the victim — evidence of his grandeur. He is not less dependent on them than he is fascinated by adrenaline, endorphins and oxytocin. Fix this relationship is impossible, just finish. And the sooner the better. After a few years of living with the daffodil, the victim develops the Stockholm syndrome. Even the thought of parting with the torturer scares her.
Veronica was lucky. She found the strength to leave Maxim and came to a psychologist. The specialist explained what happened to the girl all last year and why she was so bad.
“Now the most important thing is to completely exclude contact with Maxim in order to overcome chemical addiction. Without the usual dose of adrenaline and oxytocin, withdrawal occurs. Regular exercise helps to relieve it. Veronica is now on her way to recovery. I help her understand that there was no gigantic love, that it is pointless to take revenge on the narcissist and it is impossible to re-educate him. When the victim tries to explain something to the tormentor, he only reads information about what exactly causes her maximum suffering. And he uses knowledge in the future against her, ”concluded medical psychologist Anna Pozharskaya.
Daffodils never put in the relationship the final point. They disappear for a while, they wait and can return to the role of seducers. Or, turning on the charm to the maximum, again go on the hunt.