Despite the current trend in referring to an abusive personality as "the narcissist," that phrase shouldn't be thrown around carelessly. Here's what it really means.
“The narcissist” and “the abuser” tend to be synonymous terms in the current trend of domestic abuse literature. It’s assumed by many authors—and therefore by their readers—that if a person is abusive they must be a narcissist. But what, exactly, do these authors mean by “narcissist”? Are they claiming that all abusive personalities have NPD, whether nor not they’ve been officially diagnosed? Or are they merely commenting on overbearing and controlling narcissistic tendencies?
First of all, no one has the right to carelessly bandy about terms as if discussing someone who has actually been diagnosed with a psychological disorder. It’s rare for someone to be diagnosed with NPD for two reasons:
It all started with a kiss.
When you first met him, life seemed perfect. You’d found someone to share everything with—to give all you had in complete trust and vulnerability, loving with a fullness you hadn’t even realized you were capable of giving, yet there it was. He was the one.
It started with a kiss.
“Judas came, one of the Twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs. And he came up to Jesus at once and said, ‘Hail, Master!’ and kissed him” (Matt 26:47,49).
Then, slowly and covertly, or in one shocking, terrifying burst, it began. His mask slipped. The hands that had once caressed and cherished you turned into a weapon. His lips, once a source of love, safety, and pleasure, became a piercing sword.
Being mistreated by the one person who vowed everlasting love, fidelity, devotion, and friendship is an excruciating betrayal. When you’ve trusted someone beyond all measure, with dreams for a future of mutual self-giving and authentic love, the dissolution of that dream creates a hard fall. It’s devastating to realize that the entire time you thought you were in a true relationship—a marriage of beautiful vulnerability and giving—your partner was merely pretending. He was in a relationship for himself, focusing on his own desires rather than on reciprocal needs, goals, and mutuality. He’d been physically present—painfully so at times—but emotionally, morally, and psychologically he’d never been the person he’d led you to believe he was.
How can a person recover from such damage, shock, and blatant misuse of what should be a loving and trusting relationship? Once you come to the realization that yes, this is abuse and something has to change, how do you move forward?
I'm Jenny duBay, a domestic abuse survivor and now advocate. My degree is in Christian theology with a concentration on spiritual direction, and my vocational emphasis is on helping those who have suffered from domestic abuse to heal and reclaim their true selves.