by Cindy Kunsman cross posted from her blog Under Much Grace
Originally published January 2012. This is part of a series on Understanding How Emotional Development in Childhood Affects Adults: Fostering Spiritual Abuse via the “Roots of Victimization” All images originals from Under Much More Grace.
In healthy parenting, though the job is not easy and the parent grows and learns along with the child as they continue to learn and grow in their own development, the parent realizes that the child lacks experience, reason, and capabilities (pictured as the empty beaker in the sense of self of the child). A nurturing parent provides for these needs of their children until they are sure that the child can perform these tasks themselves. The healthy adult holds resources that the child lacks and shares with them with the child from the abundance of resources inside them which they hopefully built in their own childhoods (represented by the heart in the diagram). Nurture, care, and love flows from parent to child so that eventually, the child can provide those things for themselves, having developed their own abundance.
In every adult who has suffered absue as a child lies dormant that small child’s fear of punishment at the hand of the parents if he or she should dare rebel against their behavior. . . .These patterns of childhood will inevitably then be adopted by their victims whenever the fear and anxiety used on their partners and their own children, at work, in politics, wherever the fear and anxiety of the profoundly insecuare child can be fended off with the aid of external power. It is in this way that dictators are born; these are people with a deep-seated contempt for everyone else, people who were never respected as children and thus do their utmost to earn that respect at a later state with the assistance of the gigantic power they have built up around them.
In a most basic sense, narcissists with NPD display exaggerated self-interest because they are compensating for fear and high sensitivity to criticism. This exaggeration is a means of coping with and resisting the disturbing emotions that they feel deep inside, emotions that they deny feeling, even to themselves. Some of the hallmark features of NPD include personal grandiosity, an excessive need for admiration/attention, a sense of entitlement, and a diminished capacity for empathy. When a person with NPD feels threatened or becomes uncomfortably aware of their internal sense of shame and inferiority, they behave in a number of predictable ways which creates problems for those with whom they interact. . . .If you are a child or partner of someone with NPD, you will find them unable to handle any kind of criticism, resorting to demeaning tactics and intense anger when they feel threatened (though they will never let you see that they feel threatened because of their grandiosity). They NEVER admit to wrongdoing, and when consequences force them to realize that they have failed to be perfect, they will become even more dramatic, emotional, and aggressive. Life is all about blaming other people for their shortcomings, because they are really just terrified inside. Like playground bullies, they don’t take well to open confrontation. Direct confrontation usually becomes explosive, as the narcissist prefers to be passive-aggressive because they actually fear confrontation. That makes them hard to understand, because on the exterior, they seem to seek out conflict and aggression. Considering their inner experience of helplessness and fear seems oxymoronic (if not impossible) when you are on the receiving end of their wrath and if you believe their exaggerated perceptions of themselves.
Cindy is a member of the Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network.
Cynthia Mullen Kunsman is a nurse (BSN), naturopath (ND) and seminary graduate (MMin) with a wide variety of training and over 20 years of clinical experience. She has used her training in Complementary and Alternative Medicine as a lecturer and liaison to professional scientific and medical groups, in both academic and traditional clinical healthcare settings. She also completed additional studies in the field of thought reform, hypnotherapy for pain management, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that is often associated with cultic group involvement. Her nursing experience ranges from intensive care, the training of critical care nurses, hospice care, case management and quality management, though she currently limits her practice to forensic medical record review and evaluation. Most of her current professional efforts concern the study of manipulative and coercive evangelical Christian groups and the recovery process from both thought reform and PTSD.
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