Editor’s Note: This post is an excerpt from The Human Magnet Syndrome: The Codependent Narcissist Trap (2018).
Lately, an increasing number of books, articles, blogs, YouTube videos, and social networking sites are focusing on Narcissistic AbuseSyndrome (NAS), also known as Narcissistic Victim Syndrome. Like most newly recognized and understood psychological or relational phenomena, descriptive and diagnostic data must be developed so it can be accepted in broader clinical/mental health circles. The more that is researched and written about it, the higher the probability that effective treatment and support services will be developed. Although it occupies just a few paragraphs in this manuscript, its importance and relevance to the Human Magnet Syndrome material is significant.
Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome and the Human Magnet Syndrome are unrelated and bear little resemblance to each other. NAS focuses on a pattern of abuse perpetrated by a narcissist onto a codependent victim. HMS, in its simplest form, explains why opposite personalities are attracted to each other, and why relationships persevere despite one or both people being unhappy. Regardless of differences, I estimate that at least 75% of codependents experience some form of NAS in relationships.
NAS is a chronic pattern of physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse perpetrated by a pathological narcissist against weak and more vulnerable individuals. Because NAS victims typically lack confidence, self-esteem, and social supports, they are prone to feeling trapped by the perpetrator. The experience of being trapped may be an accurate assessment or a result of carefully implanted “trapped narratives,” otherwise known as gaslighting. NAS victims come from all walks of life. However, the ones who either feel trapped, believe they can control or mitigate the abuse, or actually believe they deserve it are codependent or have a Self-Love Deficit Disorder.™
NAS is a chronic condition because of the Human Magnet Syndrome. HMS’s complicated psychological and relational dynamics are responsible for the formation and maintenance of the perpetrator/victim relationship, and the inability to terminate it. The NAS victims, the codependents, are either unable to or believe they are unable to end the abuse and/or the relationship because of the following:
- Uncertainty about the true dangerous nature of the abuser
- Fear of actual consequences
- Fear of threatened consequences/retaliation
- Fear of social and familial rejection and isolation (siding with the abuser)
- Physical entrapment
- Financial entrapment
- Various forms of active, passive, and covert coercion and manipulation
- A successful gaslighting campaign
- Codependency addiction withdrawals, especially pathological loneliness
As pathological narcissists, perpetrators of NAS have either a Narcissistic, Borderline, or Antisocial Personality Disorder, and/or Addiction Disorder. The less empathy a NAS perpetrator has, the more effective they are in controlling and dominating their codependent prey. They maintain power and control over their victims by beating or wearing down their resolve to defend themselves or to reach out for protection or help. The various forms of direct, passive, and covert manipulation and aggression ensures the victim stays in the relationship, while the codependent neither fights back nor exposes them.
The most potent form of NAS entrapment comes from a sustained brainwashing and/or gaslighting campaign perpetrated by a pathological narcissist who is either a sociopath (Antisocial Personality Disorder) or one with sociopathic traits.
Ten Tips on Defending Against Narcissistic Abuse
- Learn my Observe Don’t Absorb Technique (ODA): conscious protective disassociation will keep you from fighting a losing fight.
- Get an outside opinion: secrecy or privacy always works to the benefit of the abuser.
- Prepare for blow-back: abusers use intimidation and threats of worse abuse when someone resists or shows signs of improved mental health.
- Proactively get information about shelters, police, and other support and safety services.
- Seek professional psychotherapy help from someone who knows about NAS. Therapists without this background may do more harm than good.
- Watch my videos on Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome and Narcissism on YouTube: the more you know, the better.
- Learn about the power of self-love. Self-love is the antidote to codependency or what I call Self-Love Deficit Disorder™.
- Make the transition from self-love deficiency to self-love your number one priority.
- Find a support or 12 Step group. Some suggestions include Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA) and Al-Anon.
- Learn more about the problem in my book, The Human Magnet Syndrome: The Codependent Narcissist Trap.
Originally published on PsychCentral