Acute traumatic Stress, Paranoia and Displacement due to the narcissist

After you have managed to escape the narcissist, you will still be in fear. These fears are multiple and are to do with your personal safety. This is, the narcissist will make efforts to ensure that you do not feel safe and every means will be used including:

  • telling you that violence will be used against you with a real risk of execution.
  • telling you that you will have no access to your belongings, pets or children
  • turning up at the place where you stay unexpectedly
  • ringing you and leaving intimidating messages
  • passing on bills and financial commitments to you which are not yours
  • using a lawyer to write intimidating letters
  • spreading lies about you to your family and friends (if you have some left)
  • start a court case against you claiming that the narcissist was the victim
  • telling you not to speak to people because they are all working for the narcissist
  • telling you that nobody ever loved you like (s)he did and that you are a liar
  • go through your personal belongings where possible (e.g. break into your email account)
  • threatening to phone work and inform them that you are unsuitable for the work
  • intimidating you sexually be making inappropriate advances

    As you can imagine, this all has one main effect on you. It all stresses you. Taking this into account together with the stress you might be experiencing through a move, new financial commitments and new surroundings, it is more than likely that you will experience acute traumatic stress - you can feel your heart pumping overtime.

    Additionally to the stress, you might develop a paranoid tendency. As you have been informed that the narcissist has her/his spies operating against you, you feel you cannot trust anybody. A person sitting outside your house in a car, might just be one of those spies. The shopkeeper down the road seems not to smile at you anymore. Well, he too might have turned against you. This deep sense of distrust becomes reinforced because it does happen that things you said or did leak to the narcissist. Work colleagues and friends, who might have begrudged you for some time, see this as the perfect opportunity to add to your distress. There is only one way of dealing with this: Use the appropriate channels (such as your GP) and make your situation officially known. Rather than loosing your job, take sick leave if you feel that you cannot cope. Accept help from everywhere except from the narcissist.

    Finally, you will struggle with a problem of cognitive nature. Any situation which will resemble a situation reminding you of the narcissist can trigger fear. So it can quite easily happen that a person who genuinely talks to you in order to help you, chooses the wrong tone and you see the narcissist in this person. You have to use all your reasoning powers to separate other people from your narcissist (seeing a problem shifted somewhere else is called displacement). It happens very easily that you displace fears, hopes, even positive feelings into other people simply there is something about them which is similar to your narcissist. However, you also will have to learn to understand your inner alarm bells. If someone really resembles the narcissist, you better stop contact fast. Do not ignore your inner feelings and concerns like you did in the past.

    Summarizing, this is a very difficult time for you where not just one major issue affects you, but at least three. You have to try to stay calm as much a possible and give yourself plenty of rest. You need to be in as relaxed and quiet environment. In this situation it might be an idea to return to a place where you feel definitely safe (e.g. your parent's home if you are sure you felt safe there). In my case, I simply wanted to be on my own.

    Dr. Ludger Hofmann-Engl


    Chameleon Group of Composers © 2005