The Narcissistic Cycle of Abuse
The cycle of abuse Lenore Walker (1979) coined of tension building, acting-out, reconciliation/honeymoon, and calm is useful in most abusive relationships. However, when a narcissist is the abuser, the cycle looks different.
Narcissism changes the back end of the cycle because the narcissist is constantly self-centered and unwilling to admit fault. Their need to be superior, right, or in charge limits the possibility of any real reconciliation. Instead, it is frequently the abused who desperately tries for appeasement while the narcissist plays the victim. This switchback tactic emboldens the narcissist behavior even more, further convincing them of their faultlessness. Any threat to their authority repeats the cycle again.
Here are the four narcissistic cycles of abuse:
- Feels Threatened. An upsetting event occurs and the narcissist feels threatened. It could be rejection of sex, disapproval at work, embarrassment in a social setting, jealousy of other’s success, or feelings of abandonment, neglect, or disrespect. The abused, aware of the potential threat, becomes nervous. They know something is about to happen and begin to walk on eggshells around the narcissist. Most narcissists repeatedly get upset over the same underlying issues whether the issue is real or imagined. They also have a tendency to obsess over the threat over and over.