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Death by 1000 cuts

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Death by 1000 cuts

Postby Quoth » Mon Sep 04, 2017 10:17 pm

In the therapist's waiting room I got talking to a middle aged woman who had appointment with someone else. She told me that her daughter had C-PTSD and went on to state that it was the "death by 1000 cuts" variety. Understandably I was puzzled, having never heard of this I immediately thought about lingchi, which would have been something of an unusual claim. It took me the best part of 10 minutes to work she was talking about was narcissistic abuse.

I have to admit that irritated me, complex post-traumatic stress disorder is something that occurs following prolonged and severe abuse. By severe I mean sexual slavery, prolonged abuse as prisoner of war, prolonged physical or sexual child abuse and torture. Regarding narcissistic abuse in that light and making up a "type" so as to link it to a severe trauma disorder seemed both comical and offensive. It was an effort of will not tell this woman that her daughter needed to get her $#%^ together, and get on with life.

However in the process I discovered that I don't really understand what narcissistic abuse is. My personal view is that it is simply a mixture of dissembling and manipulation which, given those are practised by the majority of the human race during its day-to-day existence, seems barely enough to write home about.

But what is your conception of narcissistic abuse? What do you think it actually entails?

I understand that people will attempt to use this thread to gripe about their own experience. This is the forum for people with narcissistic personality disorder, if you wish to complain about your own experiences this is not the place for that. If you feel compelled to post anyway please keep the responses respectful, literal and mechanistic rather than figurative, obnoxious and emotional. Thanks.
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Re: Death by 1000 cuts

Postby Kimera » Mon Sep 04, 2017 10:49 pm

Quoth wrote:However in the process I discovered that I don't really understand what narcissistic abuse is.

I sense a can of worms opening.....

You know, this is largely going to depend on who is being 'abused'. Children of narcissistic parents are going to report a very different experience that adults who are romantically involved with a narcissist, or employees who have to work for a narcissist.

Quoth wrote:But what is your conception of narcissistic abuse? What do you think it actually entails?

I will not raise my popularity with the nons around here by saying this, but I think that children of narcissists are the only ones who can make a legitimate claim to narcissistic abuse. They are the only ones who are not entangled with the narcissist by choice, and cannot willingly get themselves out of the situation. Also, adults who are engaged in a relationship with narcissists are getting, or hope to get, something out of it. So they are co-conspirators in the dynamic, whether or not they see it is a different story. I tend to be less empathetic about those claims of abuse.

So what is narcissistic abuse for a child? While there may be physical abuse, I think it's largely psychological / emotional. It's being denied the right to be acknowledged and treated as an individual, separate and distinct from the narcissistic parent. Being used to satisfy the parent's self esteem needs, with every one of your own needs being denied, ridiculed, or used against you. In some cases the child is held to standards they can never reach; in other cases the parent undermines the child's ability to succeed at anything.

The very person who is supposed to care for you destroys you instead.
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Re: Death by 1000 cuts

Postby shanzeek » Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:49 pm

Kimera wrote:I will not raise my popularity with the nons around here by saying this, but I think that children of narcissists are the only ones who can make a legitimate claim to narcissistic abuse. They are the only ones who are not entangled with the narcissist by choice, and cannot willingly get themselves out of the situation. Also, adults who are engaged in a relationship with narcissists are getting, or hope to get, something out of it. So they are co-conspirators in the dynamic, whether or not they see it is a different story. I tend to be less empathetic about those claims of abuse.
The very person who is supposed to care for you destroys you instead.


You're talking about same people here, these people "entangled with a narcissist by choice" were children of narcissists, in most of cases. They are a product of narcissistic child abuse.

Being used to satisfy the parent's self esteem needs, with every one of your own needs being denied, ridiculed, or used against you. In some cases the child is held to standards they can never reach; in other cases the parent undermines the child's ability to succeed at anything.


Yep. Very hard to form a healthy relationship with another human being after this, so people usually go in extreme of either developing a PD or becoming a codependent, same kind of "abuse" is responsible for both.
Last edited by shanzeek on Tue Sep 05, 2017 12:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Death by 1000 cuts

Postby Kimera » Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:58 pm

I wonder, if I shake the can, will the worms pop out faster?

I don't disagree with what you're saying, shanzeek. But it doesn't change my perspective.
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Re: Death by 1000 cuts

Postby curiousjane » Tue Sep 05, 2017 2:08 am

Quoth wrote:I have to admit that irritated me, complex post-traumatic stress disorder is something that occurs following prolonged and severe abuse. By severe I mean sexual slavery, prolonged abuse as prisoner of war, prolonged physical or sexual child abuse and torture. Regarding narcissistic abuse in that light and making up a "type" so as to link it to a severe trauma disorder seemed both comical and offensive. It was an effort of will not tell this woman that her daughter needed to get her $#%^ together, and get on with life.


Here is a link that include a definition of complex post-traumatic stress disorder
https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/pt ... x-ptsd.asp
It does include prolonged domestic violence and includes physical or emotional captivity.

A person that has been "trained" by her/his upbringing to relate within the dynamics of psychological abuse (hurt = love) will not be able to get her/his $#%^ together because they would not know what that looks like.
Quoth wrote:However in the process I discovered that I don't really understand what narcissistic abuse is. My personal view is that it is simply a mixture of dissembling and manipulation which, given those are practised by the majority of the human race during its day-to-day existence, seems barely enough to write home about.

I think there are different degrees of narcissistic abuse. Depending on the length of the relationship, the nature (romantic, friendship, work, etc) and the psychological permeability of the non narcissistic person prior to the relationship, the compounding damage could be unrecoverable from. I personally know a case like that.
From my vintage point it seems the narcissistic person is in profound suffering, even when they are not demonstrating awareness of that suffering. In my encounters with people that have various degrees of narcissistic traits I was always in awe that they would continually choose behaviors that would cause them more suffering.
I think one of the most difficult aspects of what is called narcissistic abuse is the impossibility of resolution by a violation of boundaries by distance. In other words, people meet when their boundaries touch - that is the territory where the "relating" happens. When one person projects a mirage of a boundary and that boundary is never really touchable it becomes crazy making to the other person.
Also, when someone that is supposed to care about you refuses to acknowledge the impact of their actions on you (which means they refuse to acknowledge the responses their actions elicit in you) it is a very dehumanizing experience. So if you grew up with that kind of pattern it can be a pretty intense experience to be brought back to a state you believed you had grown out o, specially if you are not conscious of the whole process.
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Re: Death by 1000 cuts

Postby realityhere » Tue Sep 05, 2017 2:26 am

@shanzeek,

"You're talking about same people here, these people "entangled with a narcissist by choice" were children of narcissists, in most cases. They are a product of narcissistic child abuse."

I can understand what you're saying here, that such ppl entangled with a narcissist by choice were also children of narcissists themselves, but if I'm not mistaken here, kimera is describing a different animal altogether, as the narcissist's children who go on to develop the same disorder are what they are because they believed they had no choices as a child.

OTOH some children who have a narcissistic parent don't always go in the same direction of NPD but develop a different PD or is a non and perceive the 1000 cuts as a child, good or bad, on a different level from that of a child who develops NPD in early life. I think there's a difference here.
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Re: Death by 1000 cuts

Postby ElephantEyes » Tue Sep 05, 2017 2:49 am

I experienced the following from my father:

-humiliating me in front of anyone at anytime, unpredictably
-sabotoging my relationships with my mother, grandmothers, etc., by poisoning us against each other behind our backs
-telling me things that other people were allegedly saying about me
-not letting me show any emotion; if I did he would yell at me to stop and threaten to beat me if I didn't stop
-not letting me have an opinion; if I said something he disagreed with he would lecture me and not stop until I agreed with him
-lose control and hit me when he got frustrated
-insult everything about me
-laugh at me when I told him any goal or plan I had
-insult my friends or anyone I got close to
-any situation in which a normal parent would respond with support, concern, etc., he just got angry and yelled and became aggressive and frightening to be around
-get angry if I was sick or injured
-yell curse words at me and hang up the phone if I called him during an emergency

I argued with him at first but after awhile figured out showing no reaction worked better. Agree with him. Say "Yes, sir, you are so right," and move on. Talk as little as possible and be a wooden robot. Then he finds you boring and loses interest in fighting.

That said it wasn't all bad. He did some nice things for me. Took us out to restaurants, bought me some things. He was also very affectionate sometimes and told me he loved me a lot. Gave gifts at holidays, called, etc. The idea that he has NPD came from my doctor. I had never heard of it until she said it.
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Re: Death by 1000 cuts

Postby SOTS » Tue Sep 05, 2017 3:14 am

As a kid I suffered it from the time I was nine until sixteen. Not young enough to be more screwed up than I am but young enough to nearly ruin my life.

My tormentor was also a drunk so there's that. It was mental and emotional abuse. Non stop mind fv<kery with constant negative messages about my lack of worth. She was also a sh!it stirrer, dragging other people into her gamez so embarrassment was an ongoing factor. In addition to destroying my self esteem, the result was severe, chronic depression which manifested in an inability to succeed at anything and making lots of stupid decisions and choices. It sets you up for picking people who have similar traits. I think that may work like the Transanctional Analysis ("I'm Okay, You're Okay") thing where one is stuck with these tapes in their heads and they seek situations and partners where they can make okay what was not okay in the original go around. That leads to the death by 1000 cuts though I agree that once you're not a helpless kid it becomes your own responsibility. That doesn't diminish the impact of any abuse, however. Damaged people do stupid things to their own lives.

It's hard to compare one person's abuse to another's. There are too many variables. The younger someone is when abused, the worse the consequences, obviously, but you can't brush off an older person who suffers some trauma by saying they couldn't develop PTSD. You'd have to know their life story and why they were so vulnerable to end up like that. I do think that people believing they have or claiming to have PTSD, when they do not, is a bit of a trend/fad/problem, though. Things like disabling depression, anxiety and fear can make someone think it must be PTSD and I understand that, having been there. Plus, the subject of PTSD is more in the popular culture and news than ever and people glom onto what they hear and read about.
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Re: Death by 1000 cuts

Postby shanzeek » Tue Sep 05, 2017 3:37 am

ElephantEyes wrote:I experienced the following from my father:

-humiliating me in front of anyone at anytime, unpredictably
-sabotoging my relationships with my mother, grandmothers, etc., by poisoning us against each other behind our backs
-telling me things that other people were allegedly saying about me
-not letting me show any emotion; if I did he would yell at me to stop and threaten to beat me if I didn't stop
-not letting me have an opinion; if I said something he disagreed with he would lecture me and not stop until I agreed with him
-lose control and hit me when he got frustrated
-insult everything about me
-laugh at me when I told him any goal or plan I had
-insult my friends or anyone I got close to
-any situation in which a normal parent would respond with support, concern, etc., he just got angry and yelled and became aggressive and frightening to be around
-get angry if I was sick or injured
-yell curse words at me and hang up the phone if I called him during an emergency



I just had a trip to my childhood with what you wrote. It makes me sick to my stomach, I completely forgot what it felt like living with my father.

- Edited.
“No one is anyone, one single immortal man is all men. Like Cornelius Agrippa, I am god, I am hero, I am philosopher, I am demon and I am world, which is a tedious way of saying that I do not exist.” JLB
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Re: Death by 1000 cuts

Postby ElephantEyes » Tue Sep 05, 2017 4:15 am

shanzeek wrote:I just had a trip to my childhood with what you wrote. It makes me sick to my stomach, I completely forgot what it felt like living with my father.


Its not easy to revisit.
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