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The Connection Between Narcissistic Abuse and PTSD: What You Need to Know

* I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don't think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not be a woman in that same role.

Understanding Narcissistic Abuse and Its Connection to PTSD

In today’s world, an increasing number of individuals find themselves grappling with the aftermath of narcissistic abuse, a form of emotional and psychological trauma that often goes unrecognized. This abuse can have profound and lasting effects on survivors, including the development of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Narcissistic abuse and ptsd

In this article, we will delve deep into the intricate relationship between narcissistic abuse and PTSD, shedding light on the latest research findings and offering insights into how survivors can embark on their journey toward healing.

The Complexity of Narcissistic Personality

To comprehend the connection between narcissistic abuse and PTSD, it’s crucial to first understand narcissistic personality traits. Narcissism, in this context, refers to a personality disorder characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others [^1^]. Individuals with narcissistic traits often manipulate and exploit those around them, leaving their victims emotionally scarred.

Recent research, such as the study titled “Narcissistic Personality and Its Relationship with Post-Traumatic Symptoms and Emotional Factors,” delves into the complex interplay between narcissism and mental health [^2^]. This study employed mediational analysis to personalize mental health treatment for survivors, highlighting the need for tailored approaches in addressing the aftermath of narcissistic abuse.

The Psychological Impact of Narcissistic Partners

One of the most distressing aspects of narcissistic abuse is its prevalence in romantic relationships. Partners with narcissistic and psychopathic traits can leave their significant others struggling with profound emotional turmoil, leading to symptoms akin to PTSD [^5^].

The study titled “Narcissistic and psychopathic traits in romantic partners predict post-traumatic stress disorder symptomology” provides valuable insights into the unique impact of such relationships.

Survivors often experience intense fear, anxiety, and hypervigilance as a result of the emotional manipulation and gaslighting perpetrated by narcissistic partners. These symptoms closely mirror those associated with traditional PTSD, highlighting the need for specialized support for survivors of narcissistic abuse.

Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) and Narcissistic Abuse

While PTSD is a recognized mental health condition, survivors of narcissistic abuse often experience a variant known as Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). C-PTSD encompasses the typical symptoms of PTSD but also includes additional challenges related to prolonged trauma and emotional abuse [^1^].

The article titled “How Narcissistic Abuse Can Cause C-PTSD” on Verywell Mind underscores the link between narcissistic abuse and this complex form of trauma [^1^]. Survivors of narcissistic abuse frequently struggle with symptoms such as emotional flashbacks, dissociation, and difficulty in forming healthy relationships, all of which are hallmark features of C-PTSD.

Can you develop PTSD as a result of narcissistic abuse?

The Question of Narcissistic Abuse and PTSD

It’s a question that many survivors ponder: Can you develop PTSD as a result of narcissistic abuse? The answer is a resounding yes, as numerous studies and real-life experiences confirm this connection. Carla Corelli, in her article “Can You Get PTSD From Narcissistic Abuse?” explores this topic in depth [^7^].

Narcissistic abuse is insidious in its ability to erode a person’s self-esteem, induce extreme anxiety, and create an enduring sense of helplessness. These emotional scars are often at the root of the PTSD symptoms experienced by survivors.

In the next section, we will further explore the effects of narcissistic abuse on mental health and delve into practical steps survivors can take to embark on their journey to recovery.

The Emotional Toll of Narcissistic Abuse and Pathways to Healing

In the previous section, we established the connection between narcissistic abuse and the development of PTSD and Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). Now, let’s explore the emotional toll that narcissistic abuse takes on survivors and delve into practical steps they can take to embark on the path to healing and recovery.

The Effects of Narcissistic Abuse on Mental Health

Narcissistic abuse can leave deep emotional scars that persist long after the abusive relationship has ended. Survivors often find themselves grappling with a range of debilitating symptoms, including:

1. Anxiety and Hypervigilance

The constant emotional manipulation and unpredictability of narcissistic partners can lead survivors to develop intense anxiety and hypervigilance. They may constantly anticipate criticism or mistreatment, making it challenging to relax or trust others [^6^].

2. Emotional Flashbacks

Emotional flashbacks are a hallmark of C-PTSD resulting from narcissistic abuse. Survivors may suddenly and intensely re-experience the emotions they felt during the abusive relationship, even when no immediate threat is present. These flashbacks can be overwhelming and distressing [^1^].

3. Difficulty in Forming Healthy Relationships

Narcissistic abuse often erodes a person’s ability to form healthy relationships. Survivors may struggle with trust issues, fear of vulnerability, and a heightened sensitivity to manipulation, making it challenging to establish new, fulfilling connections [^13^].

4. Low Self-Esteem and Self-Blame

Survivors of narcissistic abuse often internalize the negative messages and blame heaped upon them by their abusers. This can lead to a pervasive sense of low self-esteem, self-doubt, and self-blame [^11^].

Pathways to Healing and Recovery

While the effects of narcissistic abuse can be profound, there is hope for healing and recovery. Here are some essential steps survivors can take to regain control of their lives:

1. Seek Professional Help

Therapy can be an invaluable resource for survivors of narcissistic abuse. A qualified therapist can provide a safe space to explore the trauma, learn coping strategies, and work through the emotional scars [^3^].

2. Establish Boundaries

Learning to set and maintain healthy boundaries is crucial for survivors. It helps protect against future abuse and allows individuals to prioritize their well-being [^9^].

3. Self-Care and Self-Compassion

Practicing self-care and self-compassion is essential in the healing journey. This includes nurturing physical and emotional well-being and treating oneself with kindness and understanding [^15^].

4. Connect with Supportive Communities

Connecting with others who have experienced narcissistic abuse can be immensely validating and empowering. Online forums, support groups, and advocacy organizations can provide a sense of community and shared understanding [^8^].

5. Educate Yourself

Understanding the dynamics of narcissistic abuse and its impact is a crucial step. Knowledge empowers survivors to recognize abusive behavior and take steps to protect themselves [^4^].

6. Practice Mindfulness and Grounding Techniques

Mindfulness and grounding exercises can help survivors manage anxiety and emotional flashbacks. These techniques provide tools for staying present and reducing the impact of trauma triggers [^16^].

7. Focus on Personal Growth

Embracing personal growth and self-discovery can be a powerful aspect of recovery. Setting goals, pursuing interests, and rebuilding a sense of self can be transformative [^14^].

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Resources, Expert Insights, and the Importance of Seeking Help

As we conclude this comprehensive exploration of the connection between narcissistic abuse and PTSD, it’s essential to highlight additional resources and expert insights that can further aid survivors on their path to recovery. Additionally, we will underscore the significance of seeking help and support throughout this challenging journey.

Additional Resources for Survivors

  1. The National Domestic Violence Hotline [^3^]: This hotline offers support and resources for individuals experiencing domestic violence, including narcissistic abuse. They provide a safe and confidential space to discuss concerns and explore available options.
  2. Choosing Therapy [^9^]: Choosing Therapy offers articles, therapist directories, and online therapy options specifically tailored to those affected by narcissistic abuse. It’s a valuable resource for finding therapists with expertise in this area.
  3. CPTSD Foundation [^11^]: The CPTSD Foundation provides information, articles, and resources related to Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. They aim to raise awareness and support survivors in their recovery.
  4. Willow House for Women [^13^]: Willow House for Women offers specialized support for women recovering from narcissistic abuse and trauma. They provide resources, therapy options, and a community of survivors.
  5. Self-Care Haven [^16^]: Self-Care Haven’s articles and resources focus on narcissistic abuse recovery and self-care practices. It’s an excellent source for self-help strategies and insights.

Expert Insights and Research

  1. Shahida Arabi’s Thesis on Narcissistic Abuse [^8^]: Shahida Arabi’s comprehensive thesis provides an in-depth exploration of narcissistic abuse and its effects. It’s a valuable resource for those seeking an academic perspective on the topic.
  2. Dr. Sarah Davies’ Blog [^16^]: Dr. Sarah Davies’ blog delves into trauma, narcissistic abuse, and recovery. Her insights can be particularly helpful for survivors looking for expert guidance.
  3. Nancy Stroud’s Article on Recovering from Narcissistic Abuse [^4^]: Nancy Stroud’s article offers practical advice on recovering from narcissistic abuse and PTSD after ending a relationship with a narcissist.

Seeking Help: A Vital Step in Recovery

Throughout this article, we have emphasized the importance of seeking professional help and support. Survivors of narcissistic abuse often face complex emotional challenges that require expert guidance. Therapy, in particular, can be a transformative tool for healing.

Remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. It is an acknowledgment of the courage it takes to confront the effects of abuse and work towards a healthier future. Therapists and support networks are there to provide validation, guidance, and a safe space for survivors to heal.

In conclusion, the connection between narcissistic abuse and PTSD is a topic that demands attention and empathy. Survivors should never have to face the aftermath of such abuse alone. By accessing the resources and support available and by taking proactive steps toward healing and recovery, survivors can regain control of their lives and move forward with strength and resilience.

If you or someone you know is experiencing narcissistic abuse or struggling with its aftermath, please remember that help is available, and healing is possible.

Thank you for joining us in this exploration of an important and sensitive subject. We hope this article has provided valuable insights and guidance to those in need.

Read More about Narcissist Abuse and Domestic Violence

Emergency Numbers

Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation’s largest organization fighting sexual violence: (800) 656-HOPE / (800) 810-7440 (TTY)

988 Mental Health Emergency Hotline: Calling 988 will connect you to a crisis counselor regardless of where you are in the United States.

911 Emergency

The National Runaway Safeline: 800-RUNAWAY (800-786-2929)

Self Abuse Finally Ends (S.A.F.E)

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Trauma & Child Abuse Resource Center

Domestic Violence Shelters & Resources

Futures Without Violence

National Center for Victims of Crime

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Prevent Child Abuse America

Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine: 1-800-950-NAMI, or text “HELPLINE” to 62640. Both services are available between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255); www.suicidepreventionlifeline.orgOr, just dial 988

Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support: www.suicide.org

Crisis Text Line: Text REASON to 741741 (free, confidential and 24/7). In English and Spanish

Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288)

Family Violence Helpline: 1-800-996-6228

American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222

National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency: 1-800-622-2255

LGBTQ Hotline: 1-888-843-4564

National Maternal Mental Health Hotline: 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262)

The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 678678. Standard text messaging rates apply. Available 24/7/365. (Provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning—LGBTQ—young people under 25.)

The SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline connects LGBT older people and caretakers with friendly responders. 1-877-360-LGBT (5428)

The Trans Lifeline is staffed by transgender people for transgender people:
1-877-565-8860 (United States)
1-877-330-6366 (Canada)

Veterans Crisis Line: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net

International Suicide Prevention Directory: findahelpline.com

The StrongHearts Native Helpline is a confidential and anonymous culturally appropriate domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans, available every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT. Call 1-844-762-8483.

‘Find a Therapist’ Online Directories


UK & Republic of Ireland

  • Emergency: 112 or 999
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK – local rate)
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 90 (ROI – local rate)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 91 (ROI minicom)
  • YourLifeCounts.org: https://yourlifecounts.org/find-help/


[1] https://www.verywellmind.com/c-ptsd-narcissistic-abuse-5225119

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9031722/

[3] https://www.thehotline.org

[4] https://nancystroud.com/how-to-recover-from-ptsd-after-ending-a-relationship-with-a-narcissist/

[5] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0191886922004470

[6] https://www.verywellmind.com/effects-of-narcissistic-abuse-5208164

[7] https://www.carlacorelli.com/narcissistic-abuse-recovery/ptsd-narcissistic-abuse/

[8] https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/37371611/ShahidaArabiFormattedThesis-May2022FinalSubmission.pdf?sequence=4

[9] https://www.choosingtherapy.com/narcissistic-abuse-syndrome/

[10] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16260935/

[11] https://cptsdfoundation.org/2022/08/16/narcissistic-abuse-complex-post-traumatic-stress-disorder/

[12] https://self-care-haven.com/2023/01/10/relationships-with-narcissists-can-cause-ptsd-symptoms-a-new-research-study-finds/

[13] https://www.willowhouseforwomen.com/narcissistic-abuse-and-ptsd/

[14] https://irl.umsl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2091&context=dissertation

[15] https://m1psychology.com/do-you-have-post-narcissist-stress-disorder-pnsd/

[16] https://www.drsarahdavies.com/post/trauma-narcissistic-abuse-and-why-you-might-feel-stuck

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