mental health, therapy, counseling and psychology terms glossary

Narcissism or Narcissistic Abuse

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental condition where an individual feels they are superior, have a strong need for attention and admiration, and have a lack of empathy for others.

Narcissists tend to think they are above reproach and they regularly degrade those around them. They expect grand treatment and feel the rules do not apply to them. They lack boundaries, have no respect for others. They do all of this without any shame because their condition prevents them from connecting and processing shame – this is likely a result of an early-childhood trauma they experienced themselves. However, have a diagnosis of NPD does not directly mean that a person will be emotionally or physically abusive to others.

Narcissistic Abuse is what happens when the individual with the narcissistic personality begins to be abusive to another – typically a romantic partner or close friend. A narcissist may be hard to spot at first and the abuse happens slowly in the form of subtle manipulations that get worse over time. Gaslighting is a common form of psychological abuse employed by a narcissist, as is sabotage and isolation from others.

Individuals who have suffered from a narcissist for prolonged periods are subject to Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome. Their self-esteem and sense of reality are diminished and symptoms are similar to those struggling with PTSD, including being hyper-alert and having flashbacks and intrusive thoughts.

Therapy can help those who have been affected by narcissistic abuse and those suffering from NPD as well. Anyone who believes they may be experiencing any form of abuse should seek support. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 at 800-799-7233 or online chat at

At Claibourne Counseling, we offer treatment for individuals seeking support and healing!