5 Types of Narcissistic Abuse


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Page last updated: 15/11/2022

5 Types of Narcissistic Abuse

Hey Optimist Minds!

If you’ve been on the receiving end of narcissistic abuse, you may have felt like your real identity has gone missing. This severe impact makes sense since this abuse is centred around making the survivor question their abilities, worth, and reality.

The nature of narcissistic abuse is insidious and jarring in that it leaves you drained, confused, and preparing for death if endured long enough.

Unlike physical or sexual abuse, narcissistic abuse is not recognised by the law. So while it may be morally wrong to put someone through it, it’s not illegal. That’s why it’s imperative to spread awareness about this construct to learn to recognise the signs and protect themselves.

In this video, we’re going to outline five different types of narcissistic abuse. Use this information for educational purposes only and not to diagnose yourself or shame narcissists.

Let’s begin.

Number One

Abuse by proximity.

Narcissists are generally very arrogant and entitled individuals. They expect to be admired and given special treatment in all situations. They think that they deserve the best of everything or at least more than what others are getting.

For example, they might expect to get a good seat at the last minute or backstage entry at the theatre without having any inside contacts. Or, they may create a public scene if they are not treated like VIPs at fancy restaurants and hotels.

On the other hand, when it comes to community service or communal duties, narcissists think they are above such tasks.

Being associated with someone this haughty can be unpleasant and embarrassing even though it is much milder than the other types. With this level of abuse, it’s easier to be assertive with the narcissist or to break away from them.

Number Two

Direct abuse.

A more extreme type of narcissistic abuse is when someone yells, humiliates, or punishes you for not meeting their expectations. This kind of abuse is still more visible than the remaining types. 

Nevertheless, it’s a terrible and demeaning experience that no one should have to go through.

5 Types of Narcissistic Abuse

Number Three

Covert abuse.

This is the most commonly found type, and typically, when someone is talking about narcissistic abuse, this is what they’re referring to. Covert narcissistic abuse is a lot more gradual and manipulative than the first two types.

It starts with sporadic and lighter taunts or sarcastic comments that make you overthink. These can also include backhanded compliments, which are insults disguised with politeness.

Simultaneously, the narcissist goes out of their way to establish trust in them so that the target reveals what makes them vulnerable. Once the abuser holds an essential role in the target’s life, they manipulate them into isolation.

As they slowly become the only remaining person in their life, they gain power over them. Then, by using tactics like gaslighting and triangulation, the narcissist convinces their victim that they’re incompetent. That’s when the abuse worsens significantly. Beyond this point, all five types of abuse can happen.

Number Four

Emotional deprivation.

If the narcissist is in a close personal relationship with the target, they’ll use affection as a weapon. You may be deeply invested in the narcissist, but for them, it’s very superficial.

They show exaggerated emotions at their convenience just to get you to stick around. But once you’ve committed to staying, they withhold care and emotional intimacy whenever they feel upset with you. Then, before you realise what happened, you compromise your values in the hopes of finally winning them over.

This type of narcissistic abuse is also a manipulation technique to control the target’s reactions.

Number Five

Trauma bonding.

Trauma bonding is the most dangerous kind of narcissistic abuse and is a common consequence of emotional deprivation. In extreme cases of captivity, this phenomenon is also known as Stockholm syndrome.

It is a biological change that occurs in the survivors of abuse that makes them attached to their abuser. This happens because of the bipolarity of the relationship with a narcissist.

Compliance and desired behaviour result in extremely good and happy memories, which strongly contrast with the remaining days of terror and turbulence. The repeated switching between the two states causes a similar switching of happy and stress hormones inside the victim’s body.

Enduring it for too long can make any person almost feel addicted to their abuser and the drama involved. Trauma bonding makes it impossible for battered women to leave their husbands, molested children to leave their parents, and exploit men to escape their tormentors.

Now that you’ve been informed about these five types, do you think you’ve ever experienced one or more of them? Let us know your thoughts and stories in the comments, as we’d love to hear from you.

A link for further reading and the studies & references used in the making of this video are mentioned in the description below.

Thanks for visiting optimist minds, take care. Until next time.