As a HSP myself, my high sensitivity wasn’t always easy and it still isn’t. As a child and even into my 50s, it seemed like a horrible curse. But since I went No Contact with my narc ex, I’m realizing that high sensitivity is one of the greatest blessings God can bestow on a person.
Narcissists and HSPs seem to form a trauma bond with each other. We are either bullied by them or pursued by them as friends, lovers, bosses and spouses (who ultimately do much worse than just bully us). HSPs can be destroyed by their narcissistic abusers–OR they can learn to use their high sensitivity which is more powerful than ANY of the narcissists’ tricks. Narcs are afraid of what we HSPs have and envy us for it. We are stronger than they are, and we can overpower them and break free from their attempts to keep us under their thrall.
In retrospect, I realized (with somewhat of a shock) my narcissists proved to be among my greatest teachers. Without them, I would not have been able to develop my gifts for “seeing through the bullshit” we HSPs possess. To my delight, I’m finding my sensitivity saved my life and my soul, and is now slowly changing my life and bringing me closer to God.
I’m of the somewhat unpopular opinion (but am certainly far from alone!) that most narcissists began life as HSPs and even possible empaths. They continue to be highly sensitive to criticism and are easily hurt. But tragically, they retained any empathy only as “cold empathy”–the detached, cognitive “empathy” used by malignant narcissists to manipulate and destroy their prey. They have shut out their ability to feel behind an elaborate self-imposed prison of their own making, much like The Wizard of Oz pretended to be a tyrant–but hiding behind the curtain was a weak and insecure “humbug.”
Narcissists see in HSPs what they deep down know they might have become had they not adopted their narcissistic structure as a way to cope–and perhaps that was the only way they knew how to cope with a world that was so unkind to them. We were lucky that we didn’t have to resort to such a soul-murdering (both to themselves and others) defense mechanism that all but cancels out any ability they would have had to feel deeply and to love deeply.
If the narcissist’s mask ever was to come down, the earth itself could probably not contain the upwelling of pain and terror the narcissist would experience as their True Self breaks free of its prison of narcissism. This is the concept that intensive therapies such as Reparenting use when they attempt to cure NPD. Shattering the mask (False Self), no matter how much it hurts, is imperative for such therapies to work.
I hope you take something away from these articles that can help you (or the HSP in your life), especially in regards to their interactions and trauma bonds with narcissists.
Lauren Bennett “Lucky Otter”
“The Survival of the Fittest” (poetry by Audrey Michelle, Spoken word artist)
“The Sensitive Gene: Why Some People Are Born to Feel Emotions Harder” (article from Alexia LaFata of Elite Daily)
The Man You Love to Hate…or Hate to Love (Sam Vaknin may be a raging, narcissistic bully, but he also may have been an empath as a young child)
Malignant Narcissism and the Supernatural: A Connection? (while not about HSPs per se, the relationship between them and MN’s is explored in this article)
Tears of Beauty (photographic celebration)
“The Hug Seen Round the World: The Antidote to Evil” (reblogged from Dog Dharma’s blog)
“How Highly Sensitive People Interact with the World Differently” (article from Huffington Post)
“The Power of Vulnerability” (video–Dr. Brene Brown)
Healing Narcissism: Stephen’s Story (includes a detailed discussion and fictional account of a therapy called Reparenting, the most empathic form of therapy and possibly the most effective treatment used to heal (not just treat) garden variety (non-malignant) NPD.
Embracing Vulnerability (This post is currently set to private. I’m not courageous enough yet to make it public).