I’ve researched narcissism for years. Have worked with narcissistic clients and those who’ve been harmed by a narcissist. There is one thing they all want to know, “why am I this way, or, why is he that way?”
Why does the narcissist emotionally and psychologically abuse others?
If you’ve ever suffered narcissistic abuse, you’ll spend a lot of time trying to understand what makes a narcissist tick. Why they behave the way they do, why did you fall prey to your narcissist?
If we’ve been hurt by someone we love it’s only natural to want to find understanding in what happened. We believe that if we can only understand our pain will lessen.
So, whether you’re a therapist, researcher or victim, there is an interest in knowing why the narcissist emotionally and psychologically abuses.
There are many theories. Probably as many theories about why the narcissist is narcissistic as there are people wondering why.
Some of the possible reasons’ the narcissist emotionally and psychologically abuses others:
- They were abused as a child.
- They were emotionally abandoned by their mothers as a child.
- They were abandoned by their fathers as a child.
- They suffer from a form of attachment disorder.
- Their needs weren’t met as a child.
- They weren’t shown love as a child, as a result, never learned how to love.
- They weren’t taught how to love themselves as a child.
- They were raised to believe that they are better than others.
Here is what I’ve determined: It doesn’t matter why the narcissist emotionally and psychologically abuses others.
The why, I’m definitely sure has to do with family of origin issues and the reasons may be as varied as the damage done in a particular narcissist’s family.
If you’re ever going to understand why your narcissist abused you, the answer more than likely lies in his family history. You’ll get a better understanding of what happened to you by understanding what happened to him as a child.
But, again, why does it matter?
Why spend the time and energy on trying to figure him out when your time is better spent on healing and moving forward with your life?
I can tell you from experience that no amount of understanding is going to lessen your pain. Once I fully understood my ex’s behaviors and actions, my pain was still there. Nothing was going to take care of the emotional pain I felt after years of abuse and losing someone I loved except TIME.
I also exhausted myself and put more focus into trying to figure him out than I did taking care of myself. The deeper I dug into information online and his family history the more I became entangled with him and we were divorced!
When I thought about the stories I’d heard about his mother and his absent father the more empathy I felt for a man who was trying to destroy me via the family court system. That isn’t when you want to feel empathy for someone!
Narcissistic men attach themselves to empathetic, kind, and caring women. We’re an easy target during the dating period, marriage and even during the divorce process. Our tender hearts can hold us back from doing what needs to be done when divorcing a narcissist…fight fire with fire!
I remember my neighbor telling me about seeing my ex in the grocery store shortly after he’d left home. Her words, “he looks like the walking wounded,” wounded me. I instantly wanted to bring him home, take care of him and fix him.
I wanted to excuse his behavior, just as I’d done during the marriage and make excuses for him instead of setting boundaries WITH him and taking care of myself.
If you’re like me and have dealt with or, you’re now dealing with understanding why the narcissist emotionally and psychologically abuses, I’m sure you’ve made excuses for them also.
- “He had a rough childhood.”
- “He had a terrible mom who never loved him.”
- “He had an absent father and craves love and attention that he didn’t get in childhood.”
- “He is wounded, so he is lashing out at me from a place of pain.”
- “He is afraid to be vulnerable with me because he is afraid of abandonment.”
- “The stress of years of damage has caused him to snap.”
- “If I had a second chance, I could love all that damage out of him.”
After he left, I made the same excuses for his deplorable treatment of me that I had made during the marriage. Such excuses on my part not only kept me emotionally tied to him but also kept me from moving toward healing from what he had done to me.
Not all people who were abused grow into abusers. I was in bed one night, ruminating on him and his behavior when it hit me…I didn’t have a perfect childhood, but I CHOOSE not to abuse others.
My father was an alcoholic. My mother enabled his alcoholism. I was sexually abused as a child by a family friend. I experienced a tremendous amount of trauma as a child. You know what I did about it, I got therapy! I learned to deal with my childhood to keep it from impacting others negatively.
I lay there and thought to myself, “Hell compared to my childhood he led a pretty cushy life.” That’s when I realized exactly why narcissists abuse emotionally and psychologically others.
Because they can!
They have free will. No one is holding a gun to their heads and making them abuse those closest to them. They know right from wrong. I had witnessed my ex doing the right thing many, many, many times during our marriage.
With certainty, I finally knew he was mistreating our children and me because he was making the choice to mistreat us. It was within his power to treat us civilly and respectfully; he was choosing not to.
I talked with my therapist about my thoughts and his response was, “emotional problems are no excuse for bad behavior.” And he was right. I didn’t have to make excuses for my ex, I no longer felt the desire to understand why he did the things he did. I was ready to focus on myself and recovering from the abuse.
Narcissists emotionally and psychologically abuse because they are bullies. They destroy women, families, and children and cause grave harm because they are bullies. Bullies with bad childhoods but it isn’t my job or your job to fix a bully who doesn’t want to be fixed or feel he needs to be fixed.
You are not responsible for their actions. You are not responsible for their feelings. You are not responsible for their behavior. You are not here to take abuse from them or anyone else and that’s what your quest to “understand” is causing…more abuse for you.
When we let go of the need to understand and figure out “why,” we let go of the narcissist and begin to heal. Are you ready to let go? Are you ready to heal?
Jennifer Grace says
OMG!! I’ve spent 2 years thinking I could love the meanness out of him. I have made every excuse in the book for him. I’ve cried more for him than I have for myself and our children. I SO needed to read this article! It’s true, he does have the ability to choose how he treats us. He CHOSE to leave. He has CHOSEN to ignore his children’s pain. My therapist told me he was a narcissist and didn’t deserve my empathy or love and I didn’t believe him. I see it so clearly now! If I’d have been the one who wanted this divorce I would have treated him with respect and shown dignity. He has behaved like a bull in a China shop who is hell bent on destroying the 3 people who love him most in life. And, you’re right, he is doing it on purpose, because he no longer cares about us or our feelings. My eyes have been opened, he is nothing but a bully. And I know how to deal with a bully. And I’m going to start dealing with him! Thank you!
Eliza Beth Littleton says
Totally agree. You’ve explained something that so many friends of mine just don’t understand: my abusive ex does what he does because he wants to. Nice people don’t have a mental category for “person who does evil things because they feel like it.” We can’t imagine someone like that. We can’t put ourselves in their shoes and understand them. They’re a total question mark. So we make up explanations based on what we would have to be going through to make such abusive decisions. It’s like my daughter says about abusive people: “he just doesn’t know what he’s doing.” In fact, he/she does. He really really does and he’s good at figuring out just how to play you. So strange. What a weird world.
DivorcedMoms Editor says
Weird world indeed! Some women are fixers, they think if they can figure “why” he does it, they can “fix” him. The why doesn’t matter. What matters is that he does it, he beats you, he lies to you, he cheats on you. He is a bad guy and who wants that in their life? They’re calculating and manipulative and choose women they know will make excuses for them and their bad behavior. I was one of those women for a long time. I eventually learned and hope, based on my writing that others learn also.
Great article. I have sent it to someone who can benefit from it.
DivorcedMoms Editor says
Thank you, Martha!