What is narcissistic abuse?

Narcissistic abuse can be very difficult to spot and understand. It can come in the form of a work colleague, parent, friend or romantic partner.

It is important that, if you feel you may be dealing with someone displaying narcissist behaviours, the therapist you work with has a good understand of the behaviours and impact of these behaviours on you. The therapist needs to understand how best to manage this personality type and support you in this in order to not cause further harm for you in the relationship.

Some narcissist are overt and very obvious to others, whilst others are covert and only really display their true personality behind closed doors. They are the Jekll and Hyde’s of the world.

Below are just a few of the characteristics of  narcissistic behaviour and their impact:


This is a term used when someone changes the reality of what has happened, i.e. they rewrite history with a version of events that suit them rather than the actual reality of what really happened. This causes confusion and a sense of losing trust in yourself. Often over time, when this behaviour occurs in a relationship, the other person loses their sense of who they are which impacts confidence and self-belief. Clients often describe feeling like they were ‘going crazy’ and in a constant state of confusion and questioning their reality.

Manipulation and control

Because the narcissist has such low self-worth and self-esteem they feel the need to manipulate and control their environment including those in it. These behaviours can make you feel trapped, suffocated and intimidated.

Compulsive lying

Narcissists lie about everything, even the most basic things. Their default is to simply lie first. They rarely tell the truth and if they do, it will only be about 10% of what they say.


Rage is a very different emotion to anger. When a narcissist is caught out, they tend to fly into a rage in order to deflect from themselves and have you focused on their anger and what they are then accusing you of which can cause fear in you, which in turn leads to shutting down the other person from pursuing what they wish to discuss. This is a clever tactic used by narcissist to shut you down and make you doubt yourself. If they go into rage, it is usually because what you are saying is accurate and they do not like it.

Addictive behaviour

Some narcissists engage in addictive behaviours. These behaviours can include sex addiction, compulsive affairs, compulsive buying, fixation on a hobby, eating disorders and many more. They can go from one addiction to another, for example, if their partner has discovered an affair, the narcissist may reframe from this behaviour and immerse themselves into another addiction before going back to the previous addiction. In a relationship, the partner may begin to see a pattern of behaviour over time.

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