Narcissistic abuse is hideous and the effects of the abuse has so many devastating effects on us, not only our mental health, our physical and financial health suffer also, even if you were with a narcissist That didn’t physically hurt you, the mental abuse is slow and unseen, it takes time to heal and recover.
Neuroscientist, claim it also damages our brains, these are extremely destructive results to our brains as a result of the emotional trauma the brain has suffered from the abuse.
Once you’ve come out of a narcissistic relationship, you might know you’re left with some if not all of these, anxiety, health problems, trauma bond, loss of self PTSD and CPTSD. Yet over prolonged periods of abuse our brain’s hippocampus shrink over time from the repeated emotional injuries. The hippocampus is responsible for our memories and learning abilities. The hippocampus is a paired structure tucked inside each temporal lobe and shaped like a pair of seahorses. Hippocampus it Greek for “seahorse” the hippocampus helps with our short-term memories and afterwards the memory is lost of transferred into our long term memory. The study’s done state that under stress our body’s release cortisol, the more this is released the more it decreases the hippocampus volume over time. The longer you stay with an abusive partner the more your hippocampus will deteriorate. This is why your feelings of confusion and abuse amnesia are worse the longer you’re around the abuser. Damage to the hippocampus causes mental health problems.
The long term emotional abuse can also enlarge our amygdala, which is the part of the brain which controls our emotions for fear, grief, guilt, shame, jealousy and envy.
As narcissistic people keep victims in a constant state of fear, leaving them with anxiety the amygdala reacts to this, it controls our life functions like heart rate, our emotions for fear, hate, love and lust. It’s also responsible for our survival instincts such as the fight, flight, freeze or fawn mode. As it grows in size so does our sense of fear, hate, love etc. When you’re living with narcissist abuse victims are in instant fear and in the fight or flight mode on a daily basis.
As the amygdalae grow over time it remembers through our senses things we heard, saw, smelt, felt. So any painful reminder can trigger our fears and emotional reactions. As our hippocampus has shrunk we don’t always recognise all the triggers, which is why it’s a good idea to write down anxiety attacks and see what the lead up was. So we can regrow our hippocampus and shrink our amygdalae, by bringing our subconscious into our conscious. Another valid reason why no contact for those who were severely abused and minimal contact for those not as severely. Also why checking their social media isn’t great as it triggers us and makes recovery longer.
After a mentally abusive relationship is over most victims suffer from, lack of concentration, clouded thoughts, puzzled, anxiety, CPTSD, phobias, stress, panic attacks, due to their overactive amygdalae heightening our fears.
Victims brains can then protect themselves with subconscious survival methods.
Denial, to escape dealing with the painful memory’s and emotions, the things they don’t want to admit. Think they are imagining things, or the abuse isn’t as bad as it truly is.
Compartmentalisation where victims focus on the positive aspects of the relationship. And ignore as many of the negatives as they can.
projection, often blaming themselves for the abuse, and believing the narcissist to be kind and caring, with the help of twisted words from the narcissist making it feel like because of your reactions it is your fault, constantly excusing their behaviour and trying to work out what you did to set them off in the first place.
The hippocampus needs to work correctly so everything we learn, read, do, experience and understand Can be retained in our brains memories. The hippocampus is extremely vulnerable to ongoing or prolonged emotional stress due to stress releasing cortisol, which affects neurons in our brains functioning. Which can then lead to difficulty in attention and learning, as the cortisol attacks our neurons?
As cortisol stimulates the amygdalae and impairs our hippocampus forcing our minds to focus on our emotions and making it extremely difficult to take in new information and reality.
There are activities that if done repeatedly can restore and rebuild our hippocampus and shrink the amygdala back to normal.
The first step leaves the abuser.
Daily meditation can help, aim for as much as possible, it can help repair and rebuild the brains grey matter, mindfulness helps to reduce stress and lower our release of cortisol so our brains can heal and function.
Aromatherapy and essential oils can also help.
Acts of kindness towards ourselves and others in our daily lives.
EFT emotional freedom techniques to help with anxiety.
EMDR, where trauma victims work on processing traumatic memory’s. Whilst their eyes focus on external stimulus.
Lots of self Care, time working on your inner voice. Less stress and finding more positive things. Learning new things.
Click the link below for the free online starter course for help with overcoming narcissistic abuse
Hello I’m Liz, and I get the pleasure to raise five incredible boys, I have three with the ex-husband, who’s just unique, and my youngest two with the ex-narcissist, wanting to raise as much awareness as possible about narcissist personality disorder, and ways to recover, so hopefully people know the signs so don’t get involved in the first place, get out safely, help with all the counter parenting the narcissist throws in, help with whoever the narcissist is in your life, and help with recovery so you can move past it and have an incredible life.
View all posts by Elizabeth shaw