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Caring For Your Brain After Narcissistic Abuse

by | December 10, 2017

Caring For Your Brain After Narcissistic Abuse

Unfortunately, for most survivors of narcissistic abuse, ending an emotionally abusive relationship and going no contact doesn’t immediately put an end to or erase the damage left behind from the trauma of being in a toxic relationship. We anticipate having to deal with the normal emotions and grief that accompanies any major loss, especially the loss of a significant relationship, but what many of us don’t anticipate is having to deal with the unexpected and extremely debilitating symptoms following the aftermath of a pathological relationship.

Some of the symptoms include:

  • Intrusive or obsessive thoughts
  • Nightmares
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional flashbacks
  • Irritability
  • Hypervigilance
  • Fear
  • Social isolation

The trauma of emotional abuse may be invisible to the naked eye, but it wreaks havoc on our body’s stress response system and over time changes our brain. The long-term effects of living in a toxic environment marked by unpredictability, hypervigilance, walking on eggshells, brow-beating, cruelty and mixed messages can linger long after the relationship is severed. What’s even more devastating is that many survivors are told by well-meaning friends and family members “to just get over it” or are shamed for not bouncing back from the breakup quick enough.

Since narcissistic abuse is a new, emerging specialty and healing resources are few and far between, survivors are left to their own devices and their own internet research to find answers and tools to use to help them recover. The false assumption that many survivors find themselves under is all they need to do to heal is educate themselves about narcissistic personality disorder and go no contact. But, not surprisingly, many find that this is simply not the case.

If you’re not including any self-care techniques to nurture your brain and provide the best conditions for healing and recovery, you’re missing a very effective and important component of your trauma recovery regime. With recent advances in neuroscience, we are learning what neuroscience has to say about reactions to severe stressors, caring for our brain, and ways to create the optimal conditions for healing.

Teaching these techniques and explaining the neuroscience behind them would take hours and would be very costly, which is why neuropsychologist, Dr. Rhonda Freeman, Ph.D., has created an at-home course specifically for narcissistic abuse survivors. She gave me the opportunity to review the course and I highly recommend it and wanted to share this special offer with you. If you’re interested in purchasing the course or would like to learn more, you can 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.

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Healing stories about surviving toxic relationships with narcissists and sociopaths.

Caring For Your Brain After Narcissistic Abuse

Unfortunately, for most survivors of narcissistic abuse, ending an emotionally abusive relationship and going no contact doesn’t immediately put an end to or erase the damage left behind from the trauma of being in a toxic relationship. We anticipate having to deal with the normal emotions and grief that accompanies any major loss, especially the loss of a significant relationship, but what many of us don’t anticipate is having to deal with the unexpected and extremely debilitating symptoms following the aftermath of a pathological relationship.

Some of the symptoms include:

  • Intrusive or obsessive thoughts
  • Nightmares
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional flashbacks
  • Irritability
  • Hypervigilance
  • Fear
  • Social isolation

The trauma of emotional abuse may be invisible to the naked eye, but it wreaks havoc on our body’s stress response system and over time changes our brain. The long-term effects of living in a toxic environment marked by unpredictability, hypervigilance, walking on eggshells, brow-beating, cruelty and mixed messages can linger long after the relationship is severed. What’s even more devastating is that many survivors are told by well-meaning friends and family members “to just get over it” or are shamed for not bouncing back from the breakup quick enough.

Since narcissistic abuse is a new, emerging specialty and healing resources are few and far between, survivors are left to their own devices and their own internet research to find answers and tools to use to help them recover. The false assumption that many survivors find themselves under is all they need to do to heal is educate themselves about narcissistic personality disorder and go no contact. But, not surprisingly, many find that this is simply not the case.

If you’re not including any self-care techniques to nurture your brain and provide the best conditions for healing and recovery, you’re missing a very effective and important component of your trauma recovery regime. With recent advances in neuroscience, we are learning what neuroscience has to say about reactions to severe stressors, caring for our brain, and ways to create the optimal conditions for healing.

Teaching these techniques and explaining the neuroscience behind them would take hours and would be very costly, which is why neuropsychologist, Dr. Rhonda Freeman, Ph.D., has created an at-home course specifically for narcissistic abuse survivors. She gave me the opportunity to review the course and I highly recommend it and wanted to share this special offer with you. If you’re interested in purchasing the course or would like to learn more, you can 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.

5 Comments

  1. Carol Davis

    Bree and her blogs and other writings literally saved and face me a new way to see my life. 72 years old, reared by a “5 star” narcissist and attracting narc after narc, and FINALLY I get it. Woot!!! THANK YOU Bree

    Reply
  2. Rory

    Not only is it hard to find a therapist who specializes in PTSD and narcissism, but combine that with the severe depression that keeps my feet firmly planted in a few tiny places I deem safe, and I can’t find the energy to research therapists. I’m tired. I’m terrified. I’m sad. I’m angry. And I’m alone. I trust no one. And I can’t go no contact because I have children with my ex. I fight daily just to get up because I am so defeated. It’s exhausting. And I’m sick and tired of people telling me to think myself well. And second guessing every thing I do or every thing that happens to analyze it to death to see if I overreacted or caused it or saw something that didn’t really happen because maybe I am paranoid and crazy. It’s like falling into be deepest darkest pit you can imagine and losing your voice.

    Reply
    • Wendie

      So totally with you, Rory.

      Reply
    • BraveHeart

      Rory, maybe the blog “Knowing the Narcissist” could help you. I know it helped me tremendously. The blog is written by an admitted Narc (HG Tudor). HG will teach you everything you need to know about Narcissism and the different levels he breaks them down to. He also breaks down Empaths to different levels and it is all very eye opening. Please know, his writings are very overwhelming to begin with, but they are brilliant and he tells the brutal truth. If you’re interested, go to, Narcsite.com and read the “About” section first so you can understand why he’s chosen to do his blog. As I said, his writings can be very overwhelming at first, but try reading at least 5-7 articles before giving up. Some of his writings will make you angry, but in the long run, they saved my life. I wish the very best for you and pray that you find peace within.

      Reply
    • Tina

      My heart goes out to you… I understand your pain, fears, and thoughts.

      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.

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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.