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What You Need To Know About Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

by | September 9, 2016

For many survivors of narcissistic abuse, recovery is a slow, frustrating, and tedious process. The frequent complaints of pain and emotional distress are often dismissed by loved ones, and even mental health professionals as malingering, and a lack of desire to heal and get better.  However, recent trauma research indicates that these complaints are the direct result of the real physiological damage done to survivors, while they were exposed to the prolonged emotional, and psychological trauma of an abusive relationship.

Trauma, which is the Greek word for “wound,” is often the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds one’s ability to cope, or integrate the emotions invoked with that experience -Wikipedia. Long-term exposure to the chronic emotional and psychological trauma of narcissistic abuse predisposes the brain to be in a constant state of  “fight or flight”, or hyper-alert due to the repeated elevation of the stress hormones, adrenaline, and cortisol.  The constant surge of cortisol not only causes many serious physical health problems, but is also associated with changes in brain function, impaired memory, and learning accelerated brain aging, and can even alter your DNA. To learn more about the hidden health dangers of toxic relationships, click here.

The Reason Why Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse Need Trauma Informed Medical Care, by Bobbi Parish, MA

Twenty-five years ago, when I first sought treatment for my childhood trauma, I was given some Prozac, offered infrequent therapy, and told to write myself a few affirmations to memorize. When the Prozac, sporadic therapy and affirmations didn’t work, I was labeled as a “malingerer” who didn’t want to get better. I tried to explain that I wanted to get better and I was trying. They proclaimed it was as simple as deciding to be better.

I made my way through recovery by being resourceful, scrappy and finally finding expert trauma-informed care. Now I’m a therapist who helps trauma survivors recover. And I’m thrilled that recent research has shown that trauma survivors cannot get better by a wish and a snap of their fingers. Many of us cannot get better with inconsistent therapy, an antidepressant, and some affirmations either.

Finally, research has shown that long-term exposure to trauma causes not only changes to our brains but damage to our bodies, the immune system in particular. We cannot just “snap” out of it because willpower and a few therapy sessions will not undo the damage the trauma has caused.

When we first experience trauma, whether it’s abuse in a relationship or experience as a serious car accident, our body goes into fight or flight mode by releasing powerful hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. They enable our body to endure, escape or avoid what our mind perceives to be life-threatening situation.

Our body responds well to infrequent exposure to adrenalin and cortisol, but when we’re in a situation where we are constantly berated, abused, manipulated and torn down our body is flooded with those chemicals day after day after day. At that frequency, they are toxic and begin damaging our bodies.

Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse may experience damage to parts of their brain due to their long-term exposure to the fight or flight chemicals. In particular, our executive functioning may be impaired due to pre-frontal cortex brain damage. Our processing of emotions and impulse control may be disrupted through damage to our amygdala and hippocampus. Trauma survivors are often diagnosed with chronic pain and autoimmune disorders because long-term exposure to cortisol and adrenaline cause inflammation in our bodies. Inflammation causes pain, or worse, it causes our immune system to attack itself because it thinks the inflammation is caused by a disease it needs to eradicate.

Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse need and deserve; trauma-informed care that acknowledges their abuse as being damaging both psychologically and biologically. Medical and mental health providers need to take a trauma history and incorporate knowledge about that history into their treatment. Helping professionals need to understand that healing is not a matter of choice and that frequent complaints of pain and emotional distress are not representative of malingering but of serious damage done while enduring an abusive relationship.

Do you want to know more about Narcissistic Abuse and Trauma-Informed Care?

We invite you to attend Trauma Recovery University Live this November in Orlando, Florida. Bree Bonchay, LCSW will be presenting multiple talks about Narcissistic Abuse, while other presenters discuss Trauma Informed Care, Intergenerational Abuse, Art Therapy and Crisis Management Plans. You may use the discount code: Bree to receive 10% off of the conference registration.

Click here for more information and registration details.

tru-meme

Narcissistic abuse Teletherapy now being offered, for more information and to sign up, click here.

 

 

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A LITTLE ABOUT ME

Bree Bonchay, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist with over 18 years of experience working in the field of mental health and trauma recovery. She specializes in helping people recover from toxic relationships. Her articles have been featured in major online magazines and she has appeared on radio as a guest expert.
She is a dedicated advocate, educator and facilitates survivor support groups and workshops.

GET THE BOOK “I AM FREE”

Healing stories about surviving toxic relationships with narcissists and sociopaths.

For many survivors of narcissistic abuse, recovery is a slow, frustrating, and tedious process. The frequent complaints of pain and emotional distress are often dismissed by loved ones, and even mental health professionals as malingering, and a lack of desire to heal and get better.  However, recent trauma research indicates that these complaints are the direct result of the real physiological damage done to survivors, while they were exposed to the prolonged emotional, and psychological trauma of an abusive relationship.

Trauma, which is the Greek word for “wound,” is often the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds one’s ability to cope, or integrate the emotions invoked with that experience -Wikipedia. Long-term exposure to the chronic emotional and psychological trauma of narcissistic abuse predisposes the brain to be in a constant state of  “fight or flight”, or hyper-alert due to the repeated elevation of the stress hormones, adrenaline, and cortisol.  The constant surge of cortisol not only causes many serious physical health problems, but is also associated with changes in brain function, impaired memory, and learning accelerated brain aging, and can even alter your DNA. To learn more about the hidden health dangers of toxic relationships, click here.

The Reason Why Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse Need Trauma Informed Medical Care, by Bobbi Parish, MA

Twenty-five years ago, when I first sought treatment for my childhood trauma, I was given some Prozac, offered infrequent therapy, and told to write myself a few affirmations to memorize. When the Prozac, sporadic therapy and affirmations didn’t work, I was labeled as a “malingerer” who didn’t want to get better. I tried to explain that I wanted to get better and I was trying. They proclaimed it was as simple as deciding to be better.

I made my way through recovery by being resourceful, scrappy and finally finding expert trauma-informed care. Now I’m a therapist who helps trauma survivors recover. And I’m thrilled that recent research has shown that trauma survivors cannot get better by a wish and a snap of their fingers. Many of us cannot get better with inconsistent therapy, an antidepressant, and some affirmations either.

Finally, research has shown that long-term exposure to trauma causes not only changes to our brains but damage to our bodies, the immune system in particular. We cannot just “snap” out of it because willpower and a few therapy sessions will not undo the damage the trauma has caused.

When we first experience trauma, whether it’s abuse in a relationship or experience as a serious car accident, our body goes into fight or flight mode by releasing powerful hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. They enable our body to endure, escape or avoid what our mind perceives to be life-threatening situation.

Our body responds well to infrequent exposure to adrenalin and cortisol, but when we’re in a situation where we are constantly berated, abused, manipulated and torn down our body is flooded with those chemicals day after day after day. At that frequency, they are toxic and begin damaging our bodies.

Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse may experience damage to parts of their brain due to their long-term exposure to the fight or flight chemicals. In particular, our executive functioning may be impaired due to pre-frontal cortex brain damage. Our processing of emotions and impulse control may be disrupted through damage to our amygdala and hippocampus. Trauma survivors are often diagnosed with chronic pain and autoimmune disorders because long-term exposure to cortisol and adrenaline cause inflammation in our bodies. Inflammation causes pain, or worse, it causes our immune system to attack itself because it thinks the inflammation is caused by a disease it needs to eradicate.

Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse need and deserve; trauma-informed care that acknowledges their abuse as being damaging both psychologically and biologically. Medical and mental health providers need to take a trauma history and incorporate knowledge about that history into their treatment. Helping professionals need to understand that healing is not a matter of choice and that frequent complaints of pain and emotional distress are not representative of malingering but of serious damage done while enduring an abusive relationship.

Do you want to know more about Narcissistic Abuse and Trauma-Informed Care?

We invite you to attend Trauma Recovery University Live this November in Orlando, Florida. Bree Bonchay, LCSW will be presenting multiple talks about Narcissistic Abuse, while other presenters discuss Trauma Informed Care, Intergenerational Abuse, Art Therapy and Crisis Management Plans. You may use the discount code: Bree to receive 10% off of the conference registration.

Click here for more information and registration details.

tru-meme

Narcissistic abuse Teletherapy now being offered, for more information and to sign up, click here.

 

 

Suffering from Narcissistic Abuse?

Join Narcissistic Abuse & Toxic Relationship Recovery & Support Forum on Facebook

My blood pressure rises every time I see quotes or memes like the one below, especially when they are written by individuals who provide relationship advice like the writer of the one included in this post.There are so many horrendous inaccuracies and faulty assumptions in the meme/statement below.And, sadly it’s these types of memes/beliefs that contribute to keeping narcissistic abuse victims stuck in and returning to abusive relationships. Statements like these echo the very WORDS of abusers. If you’ve been in an abusive relationship, you know.Words that are deliberately delivered to distract the attention away from the abuser’s behavior and keep the victim focused on his/her alleged flaws. Also, if the statement was true, why is it that manipulative and controlling people are often not fooled or easily controlled by other manipulators?Is it because manipulative people have healthy self-love?Is it because they’re emotionally healthy and sovereign?Of course not. It’s because they can easily spot the tactics that they themselves use. Simple.When dangerous advice and memes like this are so negligently tossed around, it’s no wonder why there are so many victims of manipulators.This type of advice offers the wrong diagnosis, the wrong solution, and gives individuals a false sense of protection.Let’s remember that manipulation by its nature means that manipulation is invisible and occurs just below the level of consciousness. If manipulation could be easily detected, then it wouldn’t be manipulation. It would be obvious.I’m not knocking self-love. It’s critical to well-being, but if you’ve been in an abusive relationship for any length of time, your self-confidence and self-esteem has surely been attacked and insidiously diminished, meaning it’s inevitable that your self-love will suffer.If you know anything about manipulators and controllers, then you know that many of their victims are targeted for what they have, not for what they lack. And, according to research from The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction, many narcissistic abuse survivors have the same cluster of trait elevations- agreeableness, conscienceness and openness/empathy.So, if you’ve been the victim of someone who is highly manipulative, controlling, and/or has a personality disorder that impairs their empathy or conscience, don’t assume it’s because you’re lacking anything. Instead, consider what you have in abundance.Even the leading expert in psychopathy, Dr. Robert Hare, has said that he can still be fooled and conned.We need to get the correct information and helpful advice out there. That’s why I’m including a book plug in this post.If you are stuck in an abusive relationship or know someone who is, check out Kristen Milstead’s book, “Why Can't I Just Leave: A Guide to Waking Up and Walking Out of a Pathological Love Relationship”.Kristen asked me if I would review her book and here’s what I had to say:"Kristen Milstead provides a social psychological analysis of narcissistic abuse using the empathetic voice of a survivor. Survivors who read this book will be able to trust the "lightbulb" moments this rare perspective offers." Kristen has a doctorate in sociology and uses the stories of survivors and social psychological research on compliance, cognitive dissonance, and thought control.Here’s what the description on Amazon says, “Why Can’t I Just Leave? explains how relationships with pathological partners can create impossible dilemmas that trap you in a distorted dream-state and hijack your thoughts and emotions. Learn what those who are conscience-impaired don’t want you to know and find out how to wake up and walk out of your partner’s invisible prison forever.”Let’s empower ourselves and others and make 2022 the best year yet! XO ... See MoreSee Less
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Thank you, Grow Theraoy, for my #livelyroot Money Tree plant. 🌱 I think it looks great in my office. ... See MoreSee Less
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💯 🎯💯🎯💯🎯💯🎯💯🎯💯And, it’s equally not helpful to say “it takes two to tango”. #narcissisticabuseawareness #wnaad #ifmywoundswerevisible #narcissisticabuserecovery #narcissisticabuse #coercivecontrol ... See MoreSee Less
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“Have you been in a relationship with someone you think had narcissistic and/or psychopathic traits? If you are 21 years old and over and reside in the United States, you are eligible to participate in a research study investigating the impact of romantic relationships with narcissists and psychopaths. You can use the link: tinyurl.com/narcissist-survey to take the survey. The purpose of this study is to gain an understanding of the psychological well-being and trauma-related symptoms of those who have been involved in romantic relationships with individuals with narcissistic and psychopathic traits. You will take an anonymous survey which will request basic demographic information, ask you to self-report on scales concerning information about your past relationship experiences, trauma and abuse experiences, the personality characteristics of an ex-partner or current partner you believe had narcissistic, and/or psychopathic traits, and trauma-related symptoms.Please note: this is a study conducted by Shahida Arabi, a graduate student at Harvard University. I am not affiliated in any way with the research being conducted nor am I part of the research study team. You are not obligated to take part in this study and should do so only out of your own interest in contributing to this research. You will not be paid for your participation or receive any benefits from me for taking part in the survey. All questions and concerns regarding the study can be directed to the principal investigator.”Thank you so much! ... See MoreSee Less
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Get the book

‘I Am Free” is both a cautionary warning and illuminating light. It empowers readers dealing with the aftermath of a toxic relationship and serves as a wake-up call to those who are in-or think they may be in- an abusive relationship with a narcissists or sociopath.

Get the book

‘I Am Free” is both a cautionary warning and illuminating light. It empowers readers dealing with the aftermath of a toxic relationship and serves as a wake-up call to those who are in-or think they may be in- an abusive relationship with a narcissists or sociopath.

About me

Bree Bonchay, MSW, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist with two decades of experience working in the field of mental health and trauma recovery. She specializes in helping people recover from toxic relationships and shares her insights about narcissistic personality disorder and psychopathy in her blog, FreeFromToxic. She is the author of the book, “I Am Free” and has appeared on radio as a guest expert. She is also a board member of the Association for NPD/Psychopathy Educators & Survivor Treatment, a member of the International Association of Trauma Specialists, and is also the founder of WNAAD.

About me

Bree Bonchay, MSW, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist with two decades of experience working in the field of mental health and trauma recovery. She specializes in helping people recover from toxic relationships and shares her insights about narcissistic personality disorder and psychopathy in her blog, FreeFromToxic. She is the author of the book, “I Am Free” and has appeared on radio as a guest expert. She is also a board member of the Association for NPD/Psychopathy Educators & Survivor Treatment, a member of the International Association of Trauma Specialists, and is also the founder of WNAAD.

3 Comments

  1. Chris

    I can testify to alll the symptoms. 2 years after my Narc- husband dropped his mask and started devaluing, I was going tot the Dr. With mysterious pains and swelling. I was a boiling frog. I had no idea what was happening and so the Drs and my husband and a nutritionist started to tellme it was imaginary. I had blood tests, MRI’s, EKG…..fine tooth comb. I finallystarted to think about my friend’s research into cortisol. (She told me about this in the 90’s ) It made sense. When I approached my husband. ” we need to seek counseling and fix this marriage. Our relationship is causing me physical problems.” He started freaking out, yelling I was crazy, I couldn’t possiblyblame my health issues on him, I was all about blame, recrimination, avoiding my own care…etc.. Fast forward 1 year as we are discussing divorce and he know tells me (with authority, mind you) that middle aged women can suffer physically from stressful relationships. That our year of marriage counseling probably didmore harm to me* add a smug grinch like grin here*. About 2 months after he left the weird pains in my legs and arms just disappeared. Abdominal swelling is gone!

    Reply

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Copyright © 2021 - Bree Bonchay/ Free From Toxic ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No material on this website may be reproduced in any format without prior written permission of Bree Bonchay.