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Narcissistic Abuse

This is an issue we deal with daily and there seems to be something of a narcissism epidemic. We have copious experience of strategically deflecting a narcissists strategy to ensure that your matter is progressed as efficiently as possible. The key take away is that you know your partner best and it is vital to deploy this insight effectively when going through divorce. The last thing you want to do is fall into the trap of proceedings becoming unnecessarily acrimonious, complicated and lengthy. There may be a temptation for a narcissist to try and treat proceedings as an ego trip and trying to control the narrative.  

It is important to appreciate that narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are mental health diagnoses. Narcissism should not be stigmatised and an empathetic approach should be maintained to try and best manage the progress of proceedings where a party has or may have a diagnosis.   

What is a narcissist?  

This personality type is associated with selfishness, an inflated sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy and/or a need for continuous admiration. The term comes from Narcissus, who in Greek mythology became so obsessed by his own beauty he fell in love with himself. This disorder goes beyond self-interest and selfishness and can lead to people experiencing real difficulty in forming relationships, communicating with others and leading a normal life. However, behind a façade of great self-importance can be a fragile sense of self and low self-esteem that motivates a constant need for external validation.  

In the USA, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders therapists handbook, identifies the following traits that can indicate this disorder:  

  • Grandiose sense of self-importance 

  • Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, wealth, brilliance, beauty or love 

  • Innate belief of being special or unique  

  • Requires excessive admiration 

  • Can seek to exploit those closest to them  

  • Lacks empathy 

  • Often envious of others and believes people to be envious of them 

  • Arrogant or haughty 

Are there different types of narcissism?  

Although no official sub-type diagnoses, psychologists have queried whether there may be variations in how narcissism can present:  

  • Overt: the type most typically associate with narcissism. Typically extroverted, grandiose and attention-seeking, this person wants to be the life and soul of every party. They can be charming and expect special treatment and constant praise. Often very competitive and materialistic, leveraging their charm, charisma and confidence to manipulate others. 

  • Covert: This person could use passive aggression to present as helpless and in need of rescue. They can perceive themselves as being the perennial victim and may use emotional displays or have regular crises to get attention.  

  • Hyper vigilant: This person may be hyper-sensitive to any criticism including perceived slight of body language, facial reactions and tone, meaning they take everything personally. They can be prone to feelings of shame or humiliation and may mask this as being self-effacing. They can be attentive to others but are motivated in the hope that more attention will be received.  

  • Oblivious or malignant: This person may lack awareness of how they present to others and they therefore do not have an interest in masking their intentions as they are incapable of empathy. Such types may be particularly hostile and aggressive and unable to show remorse.  

Getting help

If you are suffering from narcissistic abuse, it is vital that you get help as quickly as possible. Please contact our specialist team who can support you and explain the options and protection that are available. Please call 999 if you are in imminent danger. In circumstances where calling the emergency services may inflame the situation, you can press 55 once you have dialled 999 and the emergency services will go to the address from where you have called without you having to say anything. 

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