Cold therapy is based on the premise that narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a form of complex traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) developed from childhood trauma. Cold therapy draws from the successes of child psychology and in treating trauma.
The ICD-11 classification for diseases already recognises personality disorders (PD’s) as CPTSD. According to the ICD-11, the only time that a personality disorder is diagnosed instead of CPTSD is when a PD diagnosis might be clinically valuable for the client.
“When the diagnostic requirements for both C-PTSD and PD are met, only the C-PTSD diagnosis should be assigned” — Feilding, Mikkelsen, & Bach.
CPTSD symptoms resonate with victims of narcissistic abuse. Victims of narcissistic abuse often present with symptoms of CPTSD such as emotional flashbacks, where they feel the same emotions they did following traumatic episodes, and difficulties controlling their emotions, specifically shame, fear, and anger.
Though narcissistic abuse syndrome is yet to be officially recognised, it is widely understood as a form of CPTSD. Victims often wonder if they have a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) by the time the narcissist is done with them or they’re done with the narcissist. Victims’ perceptions are distorted through emotional abuse, and they effectively pick up on narcissistic traits over time.
Sam Vaknin’s cold therapy proposes to treat adult narcissistic responses to childhood CPTSD through techniques that re-traumatise narcissists, forcing them to challenge the use of specific coping mechanisms such as the false self and grandiosity.
What is CPTSD?
The ICD diagnosis for CPTSD or complex post-traumatic stress disorder requires symptoms of disturbances of self-organisation (DSO) and symptoms from each of the three criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). DSO symptoms include difficulty recovering from distress, somatic signs of distress, recklessness, self-harm…