Content Note: Mentions Abuse, Addiction, Eating Disorders.
Make no mistake, narcissistic abuse (NA) kills. Not in any obvious way, of course. It’s cowardly. It’s usually without distinctive evidence. It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s not easily prosecutable. And it happens all too often.
As with the narcissist, it’s disguised. In terms of demise it may present as liver failure, pneumonia, cirrhosis, addiction, an eating disorder, depression or another form of neglected health. It may appear to be the result of under or overeating, an allergic reaction, food poisoning or an accidental overdose. Only there was no accident. It was a slow burn and the narcissist is buffered by the altered reality they have propagated over time.
It is the child who feels they are never good enough and who adopts maladaptive coping strategies; it is the parent who is being coerced into giving away power of attorney; it is the partner who cannot concentrate when driving to work; it is the boss who isolates a staff member and speaks to them in an abusive manner and then denies it. This level of chronic stress, kills.
What is sickening for me, is that the real culprit is often missed; the abusive parent, child, partner, sibling, employer and/or community. The abuser may publicly or privately humiliate the abused, spread rumours or contact doctors, therapists, family members, faith leaders and employers preparing the way for fall of the abused.
The abuser presents as caring, attentive and concerned about their abusee whilst at the same time belittling, gaslighting, criticising, controlling and slowly crushing the soul and spirit of the abused.
The abuser may have been grooming other “players” for some time. Family members, colleagues and friends feel sympathy about what the abuser has had to put up with for years.
What the abuser omits to mention is how they were lying, cheating, stealing, manipulating, controlling, verbally and physically abusing their abusee; how they lived a lie and told the abused that it was they who were deficient - that they were too defective to exist. No, the narcissist is intent on creating her or his alternative reality. They truly consider themselves to be the victim.
My clients are capable, decent, hurting individuals who no longer recognise themselves. They are confused. These are the ones who made it – who survived.
What I want to witness here are those who didn’t. Who had cosmetic surgery that went wrong (“you’re ugly!”); who dared to question where their partner was but were pushed down the stairs – a dreadful “accident”. Others, feeling the hurt, pick up a gin and then another one or use prescription medication to anaesthetise. Over time, these behaviours can and do kill.
Loneliness is another slow death. The abuser may have isolated the abused and fabricated such a narrative that there is no one left to believe them. They have to endure a legal system that does not recognise how the narcissist uses it to continue the abuse. Protracted proceedings that have little time for sentiment further debilitate and financially ruin the abused. It’s heart-breaking to hear clients tell me they feel as if they have died inside. One described themselves as a “living corpse”.
The two main casualties of NA are the abused and the truth. Other players in this drama miss out on relationships with these incredible individuals. Parents, children, genuine partners, colleagues and friends, will never know what really happened.
Narcissists are utterly plausible. They feign concern and regret as easily as they breathe. Some victims, and this is the only time I will use this term, decide life is no longer worth living.
The narcissist has destroyed their lives to such a degree that they have lost the will to live. And that is why NA is the perfect murder. The bomb the narcissist dropped years ago is remotely detonated.