Why Narcissistic Abuse Survivors Resist Inner Transformation

Overcoming fears with embodying personal authority and power

Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW, RSW
Published in
9 min readOct 22, 2023

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Photo by Mark Pan4ratte on Unsplash

There is a trend I’ve come to recognize as a trauma informed clinician who treats survivors of narcissistic abuse. Specifically, although survivors excavate the minutiae of narcissistic abuse with gusto and zeal, when it comes to turning the focus on one’s own psychological composition and dispositions, resistance kicks in. Truth be told, I personally grappled with this propensity in my own process of complex trauma recovery, particularly when it came to transmuting my instinctual aggression into healthy expressions of power and authority.

Understandably, after extensive destabilizing and debilitating abuse calculated to heighten sympathetic arousal and catapult the victim into PTSD symptoms of flooding and dissociation, examining how one’s long-held beliefs and cognitive biases about the human condition may have factored into becoming malleable supply, can feel like harmful self incrimination.

Undeniably, the weight of extensive smear campaigns, incessant lies and the narcissist’s recruitment of friends, family and colleagues to conquer and divide, takes its toll on victims. With this in mind, in the aftermath of having one’s character torn to shreds, feeling increasingly untethered, fearful, and doubtful of one’s perceptions, one is simply not inclined to self-reflect. Rather, the survivor is struggling with breaking through a fog of cognitive dissonance while cutting ties from an abuser who is relentlessly employing strategies to reignite a connection.

Moreover, rather than the victim’s deterioration being viewed as evidence of abuse, they are stigmatized and perceived as delusional and problematic. Not being believed while the narcissist, who seems contrite and concerned is lauded and supported by those who erroneously give credence to a skewed fictional narrative, exacerbates the victim’s state of trauma and alienation.

It’s no wonder after prolonged dehumanization and stigmatization, survivors are reluctant to turn the focus on how their way of thinking and operating may have contributed to being targeted as supply.

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Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW, RSW
Invisible Illness

Therapist, Coach & Author. Complex Trauma & Addiction. Dual citizen. Survivor, World traveler, love art and nature. I appreciate the absurd. Sheritherapist.com