There is much talk about Narcissists these days. Thank you Donald! But what actually is a Narcissist? Do you know anyone who is a Narcissist? Could YOU be a Narcissist?

Let’s get something straight right out of the gate: We are ALL narcissistic! Most of us in a healthy way. Some of us in a pathological way.

Healthy narcissism:

Healthy narcissism is centered around a positive self esteem. Feeling good about yourself, enjoying a quick look in the mirror, being proud of your achievements and telling others, and generally having real emotional connection with others.

Pathological narcissism:

Pathological narcissism is centered around a personality or character disorder possibly linked by:

  1. ENVIRONMENT – mis-matches in parent-child relationships with either excessive adoration or excessive criticism that is poorly attuned to the child’s experience childhood trauma, genetics, or
  2. GENETICS – inherited characteristics, or
  3. NEUROBIOLOGY – the connection between the brain and behaviour and thinking.

Pathological narcissism presents as a grandiose sense of self-importance, a feeling of being superior to others, living in a fantasy world that supports their delusions of grandeur, needing to “win” at all costs, needing constant attention and admiration, lacking empathy and consideration for other people, resistant to changing their behaviour, a tendency to blame others and not take responsibility for their own wrong-doing. They are extremely sensitive to criticism and react very badly (raging/coldness) to the slightest criticisms, disagreements or perceived slights to their character – which they view as personal attacks. They appear to have the emotional intelligence of a very young child.

Energy vampires:

Importantly, one major factor, which is rarely noted in descriptions of these pathological narcissists, is the fact they operate with somewhat of a sixth sense and are sometimes referred to as “energy vampires’. They search for targets who can satisfy an elevated emotional/energetic level. They require emotional “fuel” from people in order to survive day-to-day and they tend to target empathic individuals, to fuel their need to “feel good”. They seek either positive or negative emotional response from the unknowing empath by use of emotionally manipulation. These abusive behaviours of the pathological narcissist are insidious, relentless and destructive to the brain health of the target, often leaving the target in a state of complex-PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

How to identify a pathological narcissist besides their obvious behaviours:

One of our best defences to sense if we are in the presence of a pathological narcissist is, our own FELT SENSE. Our body can sense the energy of these pathological narcissists when we tune in. Feeling depleted, nauseous, getting that “sinking feeling” or feeling “on alert” when subject to the energy of this person are possible signs you are dealing with an “energy vampire”.

How to deal with complex – PTSD after narcissistic abuse:

One of the best modalities to help with the after effects of narcissistic abuse is EMDR, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, which helps remove the emotional charge from the critical incident traumas of the emotional manipulation from the pathological narcissist.

Spectrum Summary

We all lie on a spectrum of narcissism. From Co-dependent to Pathological.  The Codependent has the ability to heal Self in this life. To increase boundaries, self-confidence, assertiveness and empowerment, to heal the wounds inflicted by energy vampires.  Sadly, the Pathological narcissist rarely heals Self in this life. To unmask and face their toxic shame is too debilitating for them.

If you are reading this article it is highly likely you are NOT a pathological narcissist. After all, most of them wouldn’t bother reading such an “inferior” article.  And if you believe you have been targeted by a pathological narcissist it is NOT your fault, but it is your responsibility to heal from the narcissistic abuse that has injured your brain.

Article written by:
Martha C. Digby, Registered Psychotherapist, EMDR Clinician – Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Therapy, marthadigby.com

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