What do victims of Narcissistic Victim Syndrome look like?
Are these clients likely to come into the therapy room and say “I am the victim of narcissistic abuse”? The answer is, absolutely not? They will look like any other client coming into your therapy room for the very first time. They are probably most likely to bring in an issue that is quite mundane and recognizable; such as, they are feeling depressed, having panic attacks, or the feeling that they cannot cope. They have no idea that they have been living in a “war zone” with a narcissistic personality in command (either in the past or in the present). However, you, as the therapist, do not need to be afraid that you will not be able to cope with this syndrome. If you have completed your training, then you should have all the skills necessary to work with this syndrome. Armed with knowledge of narcissistic abuse, and practical skills of working with trauma, you will become a life-line to any victim of narcissistic abuse.
Like all clients coming into therapy, they have a story to tell; therefore they need someone to become an active listener, and to validate what has happened to them. To my mind, it is the validation of the person’s experience that is vital from the very beginning. These clients are not mad, however, frequently they appear highly strung or nervous, and their levels of fear may be high, while their level of self-esteem is low. Often they present with obsessive compulsive behaviours, phobias, panic attacks, so at times they may actually feel that they are going mad. They may experience insomnia, and may have underlying eating disorders, so you may notice they are either under weight (as a means of having some control), or overweight (as a result of eating to self-comfort).