How long-term narcissistic abuse affects your memory and emotions.
Narcissistic abuse is hideous, and the effects of the abuse has so many devastating effects on us, not only on our mental health, our physical and financial health also suffer, even if you were with a narcissist that didn’t physically hurt you, the psychological abuse is slow and unseen, it takes time to heal and recover.
Neuroscientist studies, claim it can also damage our brains, these are incredibly 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 can be 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 shrinks 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 we witness anything the memory is either lost or 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.
As narcissistic people keep victims in a constant state of fear, the larger the the more heightened our emotions because causing anxiety, it controls our life functions like heart rate. It’s also responsible for our survival instincts such as the Fight, flight, freeze and fawn. As the amygdala grows in size, so does our sense of fear, etc. When you’re living with narcissistic abuse victims are in constant fear and are in the survival, fight or flight, freeze or fawn mode often on a daily basis.
As the amygdalae grows 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 as great as it triggers us and makes a 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, painful traumas and emotions connected to those memories, the things they don’t want to admit as it causes psychological pain. They can think they are imagining things, often helped with the narcissist gaslighting, so they slowly get driven out of their minds. Most victims of narcissistic abuse think it isn’t as bad as it truly is, or that others suffered far worse.
Compartmentalisation. Where victims focus on the positive aspects of the relationship, again this is helped with the narcissist exaggerating any good they do and downplaying then blame-shifting any of their toxic behaviour, the victim can then ignore as many of the negatives as they can.
With the added projection and blame-shifting from the narcissist, with the damage to our minds, often people in any abusive relationship end up blaming themselves for the abuse and believing the narcissist to be kind and caring, with the help of twisted words from the narcissist exaggerating your behaviour and downplaying theirs, making it feel like because of your reactions it is your fault, people find themselves continually excusing the narcissist 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 understanding can be retained in our brains memories. The hippocampus is exceptionally vulnerable to ongoing or prolonged emotional stress due to stress releasing cortisol, which affects neurons in our minds 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 is to Leave the abuser. I understand that’s not always easy. However, it is possible.
Daily meditation can help, aim for as much as possible, and it can help repair and rebuild the brains grey matter, mindfulness helps to reduce stress and lower our release of cortisol so our minds can heal and function.
EMDR, where trauma victims work on processing traumatic memory’s. While their eyes focus on external stimulus.
Aromatherapy and essential oils can also help, lavender is great for our emotions and anxiety, frankincense, helps with depression.
EFT emotional freedom techniques to help with anxiety.
Lots of self-care, working on your Inner voice, Less stress and finding more positive things, learning new things.
Click the links below to join, Elizabeth Shaw – Life Coach on social media, for more information on Overcoming Narcissistic Abuse.
Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered withBetterHelp(Sponsored.) where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.
Hello, I’m Liz, I'm a slightly 🙄 dyslexic Blogger (So my grammar and punctuation aren't always the best.) who enjoys writing, and if I can overcome my fears and do it anyway, so can you. Also, I have a YouTube channel which being dyslexic my words are not always pronounced correctly, yet I still have some fantastic support from a fantastic community of survivors. If you want to do anything in life, half the battle is facing your fears and getting started. I'm also a mum and 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 narcissistic sociopath. I want to raise as much awareness as possible about the Narcissist Personality Disorder, to give people more understanding of what they've been through, more awareness so hopefully, people know the signs so don’t get involved in the first place, ways to get out safely, help with all the counter-parenting the narcissist throws in, help with whoever the narcissist is in your life, and most importantly recovery from narcissistic abuse, so you can move past it and have an incredible life, that you deserve.
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