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Narcissistic Cannibal: The Recovery Road from Emotional Abuse

Dwight: What has changed about me as far as you can see over the last 6 months? Something feels different.

Ophelia Van Dyke: Good question I’m not sure. A lot has happened for you in that time. Off the top of my head i see less of your inner child acting out.

Dwight: Something fundamental has changed. I feel drastically different and seem to be putting up with much less than before (that make sense?).

Ophelia: Just a thought but it takes a lot to get over someone like your ex-wife so I would make sense you are growing into yourself.

Dwight: That’s a fair point I guess. I was thinking about how hard it is to trust ones gut when you’re being lied to by those you’re closest with. That’s one of the emotionally abusive things about my ex-wife (and with XXXX if I am honest tbh).

Exiting a relationship where one has been on the receiving end of emotional abuse has been one of the most challenging aspect of my past separations.  The repeated patterning from childhood, with parents who never saw, recognised, or humanised me as an other separate to them, was repeated in romantic entanglements time and again, to the extent that it is only recently I have spotted the signs and began to early on walk away. 

Being in amongst the narrow cultural space of a culture built out of narcissism and individualism, it is increasingly difficult to recognise the creeping triffid-like willows which entwine one into the world of the narcissist as the abuse begins.  Like the death by 1000 cuts of ‘subtle’ racism, one doesn’t always recognise that one is being taken apart sliver by sliver, until there is either little left, or one has totally disappeared. 

Whilst the gaslighting, where the other finds itself split between what it knows intuitively mostly, and what it is told to believe by the narcissistic abuser, can be especially insidious.  A belief built out of a kind of misplaced love, together with a sense of low self-esteem, the psychological splitting that can take place can be as maddening as any other form of abuse (Unknown, 2021).

Ophelia: I think there is an energetic shifting of one’s energy, mood, emotional opening , motivation, sexuality etc that is part of that rediscovering who one is.

Out of interest have you seen a change in your work over the last six months?

Dwight: Ah I see what you mean. Also of ones authority (having it stolen etc), wisdom and knowing (being put down and gaslit by someone intimidated by any intelligence I/one has), and the realisation that what I want in relationship is way more than they could ever provide (which as I think about it moves me away from seeing them as central of that makes sense).  But can I tweak your other question slightly. I’ve seen a massive change in my position as a practitioner and professional in the years since my marriage split. Whilst, in the last 6 months, remember I had that blast of creativity over Xmas, and I’m onto book 3 now with book 2 coming in the summer.

That loss of self though creates shadows out of us all.  We become inauthentic in order to fit in to the singular system which is the narcissists world (view).  Like a single planet rotating around a black hole, the narcissistic needs of the abuser slowly fracture us into pieces of ever decreasing sizes.  We are pulled down, pulled in, and pulled apart.  Nothing escapes, and even time becomes distorted, as we struggle to remember where we are, who we are, and just what and when happened without our own individual reality. 

This all occurs though whilst we are in the thrall of the narcissist who rewrites reality, who denies their past actions, who reinvents themselves as the victim, and denies culpability in any form for the oppressions, the distortions, and the destruction of us, the other (Reidy et al., 2008). 

Ophelia:  I don’t understand what you mean by control though. Can you explain?

Dwight: I mean that narcissistic person presents themselves as being the only person I or the other person could or ever should be with. Yet the reality when it arrives is that they were so incredibly small and out of their league so made you shut down anything which left them feeling inferior (so, for you, Kevin X could never meet your full Sexuality so he made you suppress it, as I had to suppress all of mine.  It wasn’t allowed as it made them feel inferior). Remember that one guy who questioned how you could satisfy him if you were bisexual? That’s another example, but you didn’t close that off in you.  You learnt from your experiences of Kevin X and held on to who you were.

Ophelia: If as a person that looks to learn and grow from being in a narcissist relationship there are many areas that are quashed adapted and those that are heightened so hypervigilance anxiety obsessive components too

In the modern era, systematically, politicians are guilty of the most horrible emotional abuses of their voting publics.  The lies they tell, the distortions of the truth, the levels of gaslighting and manipulation are horrible to behold.  Yet, we, the rest of us, are often hypnotised into compliance by their collective behaviours.  The collective, the rest of us, as a group, has often in recent years been pulled apart, split into warring pairs, by debates and votes over our collective futures.  Votes manipulated by falsehoods, fake news and misinformation. 

Brexit was a perfect example of this.  The political black hole tearing apart families, communities, and the whole United Kingdom, as we were misled by narratives of a better world, a more self-sufficient Britain, and the avoidance of the hordes of migrants who were destined to invade these shores (Boffey, 2018).  Marriages were broken up, families fell out with each other, as we were systematically emotionally abused by those whose self-serving need for wealth and power led to making us more and more subservient in their thrall whilst they raked in millions in profits from anything from energy company profits to mis-sold contracts for varying equipments during Covid-19 lockdowns.

The return to sanity, both individually and collectively, therefore involves the growing ability to step back and see just how we have been hypnotised into complicity.  It involves a returning of the shadow to its rightful place, to where it is un-othered back into existence, angry at what has occurred in its name, as it slept walked outwards off the sandy beaches of certainty into the depths to drown, to die.  It involves a stepping up, and a real taking back of control from those who would misuse mine, our, trust, so that nothing like this ever happens again.  It involves the individual or collective call to arms as one realigns oneself to oneself, to one’s family values, to ones collective whole.     

Wolverine: ‘Snikt!’ Now, it’s my turn! 😉

With thanks to Ophelia Van Dyke


Boffey, D. (2018, November). Empire 2.0: the fantasy that’s fuelling Tory divisions on Brexit. Guardian Online, 1.

Reidy, D. E., Zeichner, A., Foster, J. D., & Martinez, M. a. (2008). Effects of narcissistic entitlement and exploitativeness on human physical aggression. Personality and Individual Differences, 44(4), 865–875.

Unknown. (2021). Hestia publishes “Domestic Abuse in Lockdown” report. Hestia.