Posted by: faithful | May 18, 2015

emotional abuse and narcissism in relationships


Caught in the Crossfire:  The ABC’s of Emotional Abuse

A is for alienation and avoidance:  the act of cutting off or and controlling an individual’s relationships with others.   Withdrawing as a means to inflict pain or distress.

B is for belittling, bullying and blame:  declarative statements about others that commonly assert “always” or “never” statements. Verbal exaggerations and use of intimidation to get a person to respond to in a certain way.

C is for condescension:  asserting a verbal put-down while maintaining a facade of reasonableness. Catastrophizing; asserting that a minor problem contains or demands an all or nothing answer or response.   Concluding that some particular infraction has been breached that cannot be remedied.

D is for denial of positive experience, refusal of kindness, intentional disregard of another’s positive attributes.

E is for escalation of conflict without effort toward resolution or acts to repair injury, admit mistakes or apologize.   Emotional blackmail:  withholding to inflict pain.

F is for fault-finding.

G is for goading another to submit to one’s preferences or making light of their limitations, ignoring their needs and wishes. Guilt is garnered.  Grudges are stored.   Gaslighting.

H is for hiding and hijacking:  promises are broken, plans are changed unpredictably. Habitual lateness.  Lack of preparation. Disappearance.  Secretiveness about intentions.   Commitments are not kept and trust is broken.   Guesswork atmosphere cultivated.

I is for information control.  Details are omitted or ignored.  Documents are destroyed. Financial agreements are avoided, broken, or lost.  Plans are obscured. Invalidation is established by treated another person’s thoughts, beliefs, values or physical presence as inferior, flawed, or unworthey.

J is for judgement.  Negative comparisons are made.  Limitations are underlined and exaggerated.  Criticism is leveled.

K is for knowledge distortion and invalidation.   Pain and traumatic events are normalized, minimized, ignored.   Current crises are either the complete focus of attention or to be ignored.   Dramatization of history and alterations of the event narrative becomes routine.

L is for lobbing bombs, psychological, financial, social.

M is for manipulation.

N is for negativity:  predicting or expecting the worse and failure.  Neglecting emotional needs of another.  Disregarding health, disability and age limitations.

O is for opportunism:   enforcing obligation, compliance and cooperative behavior that is not reciprocated.

P is for perceptual distortion and threats of punishment.  Attribution of intent without clear pattern or basis.   Inconsistency and reactivity.   Projection is one’s own traits and behaviors onto the “other.”

Q is for questioning of motives, withholding approval and denying acceptance.

R is for limiting resources, access and recognition.

S is for shaming and shunning.   Splitting is also common in which one person is compared to another or one child or parent or sibling is favored over another.   Sarcasm.

T is for threats and blackmail:  warnings, removal of belongings and withholding of approval in a attempt to control another’s behavior.  Triggering and targeting: sometimes one person is selected because they are safe and available for a discharge of sudden anger, aggression and irritability without fear of reprisal or public sanction.

U is for unstable mood.

V is for vigilance:  maintenance of an unhealthy level of observation and scrutiny of the behaviors, comments, thoughts, plans and interests of others.  Violation of boundaries: holding another responsible for one’s own actions, thoughts or feelings.

W is for wastefulness.  Time, talent and partcipation are treated as a cheap commodities.

XYZ   is for unmerited legal proceedings being used to hurt, harass or gain an economic advantage over an individual or organization.


Kernberg classified narcissism along a dimension of severity from normal to pathological and distinguished among high, middle, and low-functioning pathological narcissists. At the highest level, patients are able to achieve the admiration necessary to gratify their grandiose needs. These patients may function successfully during their lifetime, but are susceptible to breakdowns with advancing age as their grandiose desires go unfulfilled. At the middle level, patients present with a grandiose sense of self and have little interest in true intimacy.

Signs of NP traits:

Identify diffusion, primitive defenses, unstable reality demonstrating a facsimile of integration
Rigid and brittle defenses
Unrealistic sense of grandeur
Aggression and boastfulness
Excessive rage and angry hostility
Inability to forgive
Impaired sense of self
Need to be admired, perceived as special
Envy, shame and guilt at other’s success
Poor self-awareness: little to no capacity to observe self
Rejects dependency (eliminates relationships with others)
Denial of attachment needs
Views others as hostile, inept, incompetent
Believes they are empathic when they aren’t


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