5 Signs You Haven’t Fully Healed from Narcissistic Abuse

Written by Dr. Eric Perry

“Narcissistic people are always struggling with the fact that the rest of the world doesn’t revolve around them.” ~Unknown

It is common for individuals who experience narcissistic abuse to suffer in silence or not even know that they are being abused. Because narcissists are master manipulators, they can be very difficult to spot. Narcissist abuse syndrome is a term used by mental health professionals to describe individuals who have been victimized to the extent that long-term negative effects may seem insurmountable to the victim. Before we can heal, we must identify the signs telling us that healing must be a priority. Here are some of those signs.

1. Trusting again seems impossible
If you are experiencing the effects of narcissistic abuse, chances are you find it difficult to trust others and maybe even yourself. Let’s not assume that the world is a safe and harmonious place. Trust must be earned. However, if you find yourself hiding in isolation, this might be a sign that there is room for growth. Don’t assume that people are healthy for you just because you have known them forever or they are family. Start small and listen to your intuition. If you feel like your intuition is untrustworthy, it is time to seek the support of a mental health professional.

2. Constantly doubting yourself
A narcissist will train you from the beginning to doubt yourself. They are masters at love bombing until their victim is reliant on the love bombs. If you are not familiar with the term love bombing, it means to influence a person by demonstrations of attention and affection. It makes sense that a person would experience self-doubt once their steady stream of affection and affirmation are taken away.

3. Blaming yourself
Let’s start here. It isn’t your fault. During your experience with the narcissist, maybe you felt the need to collude with the narcissist in order to feel at least some sense of control. It isn’t your fault that you had to or felt the need to do this. Sometimes, we make unhealthy compromises just to feel like we are not completely powerless. Also, keep in mind that narcissists use guilt and shame as weapons to control their victims. Say this out loud, “It isn’t my fault that a narcissist weaved their way into my life. I will learn from my experience and commit myself to living the fullest life possible.”

4. Feeling confused and sometimes even cr*zy
Gas-lighting means to manipulate someone by psychological means into questioning their own sanity. Narcissists are experts at this. Journaling is a great remedy for making sense out of where your confusion or feelings might be coming from. As many of you know (to the bloggers out there), writing is a great way to make sense of your thoughts. Try this, take out a sheet of paper and a pen, or open up a blank document and write a short but honest reflection on why you have been feeling confused. Let the words flow without criticism or judgment. After you finish writing, read it back to yourself. Did you find answers? If not, try again soon. Try to go deep. The answers are within you. Here’s a hint, your confusion and feelings are not because of you. Whispers… it’s the narc.

5. Everything feels hopeless
Are you familiar with the term hoovering? The hoover maneuver is an attempt to see if a prior target of abuse can be conned into another cycle of abuse, resulting in the abusive person reclaiming a sense of power and control by causing pain to a target. This pain can be emotional and sometimes physical. Feelings of hopelessness often arise when a narcissist hoovers their victim. Have you completely cut ties with the narcissist? If you haven’t, this might be a reason why you are feeling hopeless.

Have you healed from narcissistic abuse? Do you have tips that might help someone who is struggling? Share it in the comments section.

The thoughts expressed in this blog post are my own and are not meant to create a professional relationship with the reader. This blog does not replace or substitute the help of a medical professional. Please note, I am unable to answer your specific questions as I am not fully aware of all of the circumstances.

Dr. Perry

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99 responses to 5 Signs You Haven’t Fully Healed from Narcissistic Abuse

  1. Thanks for the post. I have only known one narc myself, the other two were/are partners to friends of mine. One thing they all had in common was oscillating between intense expressions of love and withdrawal, which maintained a sense of dependence. One of my friends managed to get out from under the marriage but through befriending his mistress. It was only through sharing the lies and deceit that they were both able to convince themselves of the deep inauthenticity of those good feelings/times. I find this is the hardest to let go of and is often what leaves one confused since it becomes a real task to read people.

    Liked by 8 people

  2. Healthiest move is to cut all ties with the Narc. Block from your phone (calls and texts) email and all social media. To break the cycle of feelings you may still have, you must have no contact while trying to heal and regroup.

    Liked by 12 people

    • I have not only cut ties with the narc, my mom, but my siblings as well. She lies to them and then they attempt to manipulate me. I feel left out at times but am healthier for it. I realize that m family is not the typical one and have moved on as best I can.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. I have suffered abuse on all fronts from a couple of narcissists. I have been learning the signs and support network to not get gaslighted and abused like that again. This article is great. Thank you so much for writing it.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. It’s not evident at first, it seems to develop over time and become more obtrusive and it’s only when one day you wake up and say, I’m not crazy! This is real! This is how this person operates you can begin to take steps to remove this person from your existence because unless they can manipulate control and make you feel crazy, they haven’t lived. Thank you for writing about this. I wasn’t familiar with the terms, but I sure understand the effect it has.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. Great post. I have unfortunately been both the abused, as well as, the abuser. Not realizing it either time. Lessons have been learned and understood. Never will I make the same mistakes in the future.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Don’t give up. It’s definitely more difficult when the narcissist is a family member but there are tools you can learn to modify your own behavior and thoughts to respond in a more healthy way. You may not be able to “cut” ties but you can learn how to change your own thinking to better protect yourself. Again, I stress, don’t give up.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. bhock95 says:

    This post is so important. A relationship with a narcissist can be very abusive and confusing. Most people might not realize how common of an experience this is and that they are not alone!

    Liked by 6 people

  7. I was blessed. My narcissistic, now ex-husband, left and has spoken to me since the divorce was final. He actually tried to convince me that his affairs and disgusting behavior was partially my fault. I didn’t buy a word. Narcissists don’t like that. Now, he can abuse and manipulate his girlfriend. I’m free, I’m wiser, I’m blessed.
    Thanks for sharing your insight.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. buffster666 says:

    Thanks for the great post, love it as always. Finally feeling like I’m healing since going no-contact with my Narc. It was a scary transition. Still, it’s freed me from so much stress and I feel confident that my next moves will take me to a happier place.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Such an important discussion, thank you for broaching it in such a straight forward way. Those abused by these personalities can get stuck in an unhealthy default pattern of thinking as a result. In order not to attract yet another narcissist, victims need awareness so to break the cycle. Well done as always!

    Liked by 4 people

  10. It would be nice to completely cut ties with a narc. This may not be possible for those of us sharing a child with one of them. And the court systems insist in joint custody. It’s a nightmare.

    Liked by 5 people

  11. neakris29 says:

    Thank you for the information! Made me think if it applies to me… because all five signs are presented, but I would never think that he can be narcissistic… but who knows?

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Narcissistic abuse is one of the most complete ways to break another person and watch them melt, forever more, in their own self inflicted reactions to the berating, demeaning, hatred. Narcissistic abuse is all encompassing and slithers its way into every book and cranny of a victim’s mind, heart, and soul. Narcissistic abuse is a slippery greasy slime that coats everything in contacts, and leaves a trail of decay. Anyone who is able to recognize, learn, separate , and survive such a disease is surely a super hero.

    Liked by 9 people

  13. Misty says:

    I’ve been divorced from the Narc in my life for over two years and am just now realizing how deep the damage he did to me runs. Interesting that I stumbled across this post at the time of my realizations. Thank you

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Trouble says:

    Thanks for this. I need to show it to a friend of mine. She’s married to a Narc. I’m divorcing mine, but it sometimes still hurts. I’m glad I have no contact so far.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. I believe that my ex-husband was a narcissist and an abuser. I often felt sheltered, confused, and he was a master gaslighter. I love your site in general and because I write about self-help, but general psychology in terms of my own personal experiences…I will likely start linking to your site in the future.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Michele Elkins-Hoffman says:

    Thank you for this article! I am a victim of narcissistic abuse, and I have gone no contact with my sister and now her family. There are ups and downs and great sadness. The reality is that I can now grow, and learn to love myself-without impingement or abuse. I highly recommend journaling, blogging, music, gardening, and doing what brings you joy. Surround yourself with people who have proven to be your support.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. There is life after emo abuse. Learn to value your inner friendship with yourself, nurture your inner joys and really be selective about who you allow into your life for ANY reason.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. jeannewatson says:

    the blame and shame thing really hit home for me. It’s the most difficult thing to cure yourself of and so difficult to see whats really going on while it’s happening. A talented narcissist has you so convinced there is so much wrong with you, that you are mad, that you are in the wrong, that you are to blame for everything that is going wrong in the relationship and even in their lives once you have managed to make the break. When they are the other parent it’s so difficult to get away from it as they are always going to be in your life in some form.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. jankirton says:

    Reblogged this on jkirtonllc and commented:
    This is a tremendous article. Many who encounter a narcissist for the first time are slow to recognize behavior. It can be a long struggle while the narcissist continues to isolate whenever possible. I found great truth in these 5 signs which cry out seek help to those who have not yet recognized the truth.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Very relevant. A very insightful read. It’s scary how many people go through this and suffer in silence. Posts like this are extremely helpful for any one in such a situation or knows of someone in such a situation.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. unconditionalparentingspectrum says:

    Great post. I think a lot of the strategies used by narcissists are similar to those used by psychopaths (which I unfortunately have more experience with). I wasn’t aware of the term hoovering – kind of makes sense of something I just experienced recently from an ex.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. trans4nation says:

    This was painful for us to read. We have, in the past months, come to realize we were raised by a narcissistic mother, and what is worse, have very recently, suffered the sudden and shocking end of a relationship we felt was loving. it was, but only on our part it seems, for this person not only ended the relationship but did so in an act of stunning betrayal. I believe that this person is a narcissist, for only know do I realize they were gaslighting me. The term ‘love bombing’ is new to me, but is sickeningly familiar now that I give it some thought.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Suze says:

    My mother was a narcissist, and it took me over 50 years to learn to truly trust others. This post was so close to my experiences I felt a bit anxious at first.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. careerdoover says:

    Very good and interesting post! I wasnt aware this was a thing or that people could suffer so much from being around others who are self-centered. Thank you for sharing!!

    Liked by 2 people

  25. ridingrio says:

    So, if you were raised by a narc… have only had relationships with narcs (because that is your comfort zone)… and this has been your life for as long as you can remember. It’s a big wall to take down. A very, very big wall.

    Liked by 3 people

    • MakeItUltra™ says:

      I couldn’t agree more. That is why I am a huge advocate of seeking professional help when trying to leave a narcissist or heal from narcissistic abuse. I see this a lot in my practice. Feel free to reach out if you think I can be helpful.

      Liked by 2 people

      • ridingrio says:

        I would like to say that I believe that’s possible. Professional help has been sought, numerous times. More often than not I am just told how lucky and strong I am. Lucky, no. Strong, I have to be. Perhaps one day I’ll try again. I just don’t have much hope in the profession.

        Liked by 2 people

        • MakeItUltra™ says:

          My suggestion is not to lose hope in therapy. It is possible you haven’t found the right connection in a therapist or the therapist did not use a system for healing that works for you.

          Liked by 3 people

  26. George Wahl says:

    Thanks. Great article that hit close to home. This may also help some. The path I took towards self healing.
    1 severe anger thoughts towards my father in law at the damage his mind, words and actions had wrought
    2 collapse
    3 sharing pain with a confidant
    4 gaining knowledge about abusers and their methods and how they thought
    5 proving to myself with first hand experience, the extend to which the abusers mind would go to instill his world view of how others should be
    6 getting him to seek professional help only to see his doctor be totally manipulated to the point where they became a participant in the continued abuse of family members
    7 creating healthy amount of space with my wife between her father and our family
    8 learning about the part of us that was hurt and how our minds, our thought stream harbours these painful thoughts and feelings
    9 understanding that each of us can be much more….that we are not our thoughts and feelings….That there is a deeper self that can watch thoughts and feelings, learn to watch them pass and which can be and remain unattached as a silent peaceful awareness which doesn’t suffer anymore.

    After 3 years of persistent working at this path, my wife and I feel more and more freedom and peace. We are becoming no longer slaves to the ego/mind which can bring thoughts of pain and anxiousness. We are living in the now rather than reliving what was. The abuser however remains addicted to his imaginary thoughts of how others should be and continues to play his games. We can only hope that someday his soul finds peace.

    Liked by 6 people

  27. Interesting… 60 years old and am still bouncing back from narcissistic parents coated with Christian theology thru childhood… internal termoil resulted in 2 year old book “Hoosier Heaven” … and Freewill Logistics blog site… Dave

    Liked by 4 people

  28. Right on! Raised by a narcissistic mother, this was the only kind of relationship I knew how to seek. Fortunately, healed from it in time for a good life. I try to keep a sense of humor.

    Liked by 3 people

  29. fandomdonuts says:

    It is correct to the dot and I feel like this spoke to me on a personal level. I feel like I need to check out your other posts too

    Liked by 3 people

  30. angiesews says:

    I never thought much about narcissism until a very difficult situation with a friend left me wondering if he was a narcissist. When I looked up what a narc was, I realized I had been married to a narc for 14 crazy years. 6 yrs after the divorce and I still haven’t healed. Though just knowing he is a narc, makes me feel better I’ll be going to counseling with my son when I get back home to SoCal. OMGosh! so many wasted years.

    Liked by 3 people

  31. Jemagold says:

    Another well written, insightful post… THANK YOU! My narc experience comes from my daughter (25) who has cut ties with her family of origin claiming she was raised with “tough love” (because we didn’t send her to Greece like she wanted!) The healing is the hard part for me but I know if I contact her, I will receive much of the same behavior from her (making me feel like I’m the one who is crazy!) It has been a long road of healing although I’m not sure I can ever 100% heal from the turmoil she caused in our family. The loss of a child is profound!

    Liked by 5 people

  32. Spot on, Doc. For me, I had to re-train myself to not look to him as a coping mechanism. He’d disabled my ability to lean on myself, to find and use my inner strength — and so, instead, I would lean on him in times of doubt, confusion, or grief. I had to learn to look inward and heal myself, because he was only going to use it against me. And I had to remember that it’s ok to care for myself. I’d given up so much of myself and my sanity, just trying to appease his many moods that I lost all sense of self. It’s not even been three months, but I work hard to focus on myself. Sadly, I can’t cut contact because we share kids… but I am very good at “grey rock”.

    Liked by 3 people

  33. Kamal says:

    Great post as usual Dr Perry.
    Sometimes I wonder if every human being is to some extent a narcissist just in different ways. Men tend to be narcissistic for short term gains while women tend to be narcissistic for long term gains. A family empire is narcissistic for the preservation of its name and a narcissistic religion for the promotion of its tenets. And humanity is narcissistic for the survival of its species, even if it’s at the expense of every other living thing and resource on this Earth. Perhaps the problem isn’t narcissism per se, but relationships that are characterized by one of its members being narcissistic toward the other. In other words, being competitive, rather than collaborative.

    Liked by 5 people

  34. jim- says:

    We all have that one relative, with an angle in their lair, plotting every waking hour, to make you pull your hair.

    Liked by 4 people

  35. I have known borderline narcissists, and have witnessed both their pride and their fall. As fate would have it, I have enough of a wall around me, semi-permeable, of course, that I have been very resistant to narcissists, or any type of high-pressure personalities.

    Liked by 3 people

  36. Michele Peterson says:

    Very good post, and very good points. I am currently dealing with a narcissistic individual who, unfortunately, hands me a paycheck every month. I’ve known her for twenty-five years and associated with her for only fifteen. She recently reinserted herself into my life, and I find that she’s not changed a bit. As soon as I find other employment, I’m cutting it off again before I end up suffering permanent damage.

    Liked by 3 people

  37. Clicking for Cash from Home says:

    The way I survived and healed from the years of being around the abusive narcissists was my belief in Spirit, i.e. God, my angels, ascended masters, and guides. They manifested their power when I needed help and saved me many times from further abuse. And once my lessons and karma was done with these individuals, they were gone and I was left being much wiser and grateful the experiences were over.

    Liked by 3 people

  38. To heal, one must find good, solid friends on whom to lean. Validation from friends heals. Then one must be willing to trust in new relationships. Then expand circle of reliable friends. Repeat. 😉

    Liked by 4 people

  39. Thank you for this. I just wish you could scream it from a rooftop. I would like to point out narcissists fall under the umbrella of psychopaths, which also include sociopaths. All are very adept at all of the items listed above. Thank you, again Dr. Perry.

    Liked by 4 people

  40. Glenda Herdman says:

    A fantastic article and great clear advice. You do really feel like you are going crazy and because we are so quick to please and to be accepted we take this on as our failure or there is something wrong with us. Thank you

    Liked by 3 people

  41. Great post! I feel that it is not talked about enough that narcissists can be extremely abusive and emotionally harm others. Thank you for shedding a little light on the topic 😊

    Liked by 4 people

  42. Sue Love says:

    I do believe, according to what you wrote here, that I have healed. But, since I am still with my husband, the healing is an ongoing process. In other words, I have to continue to respond in the correct ways to his same behavior patterns. Trust is definitely a huge issue, for I cannot trust him, but it is because he has not yet earned that trust. We have been married 45 years and we are in our retirement years together.

    Liked by 3 people

  43. This is such a great post and a helpful one for those who are healing. I can see the remnants of a few points that are still there, but after several years of cut ties, healing of my heart, mind, and motions and spirit is coming full circle. Anyone who is reading this and is still in the struggle of healing, or even still consumed in the storm, YOU ARE WORTH IT to seek your healing! You deserve that healing! Fight, claw, struggle. Do what you must to find healing. And if you have a spouse or kids in the mix, THEY are worth your finding healing, too! 😉 Just do it!

    Liked by 1 person

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