What is PNSD (Post Narcissist Stress Disorder)?

We seem to hear more and more different disorders these days. Some stop me in my tracks and forces me to dig in to do a little research and understand it to its core. PNSD is one of those.


Many have heard the term PTSD or post traumatic stress disorder. It was originally coined for our military coming home from deployment however has grown to other areas as we learn more about this. We now hear the term for our first responders, healthcare workers and people working or living in very traumatic environments. Also abusive environments at home and at work.


I spent several years within the corporate world and I can tell you narcissism is alive and well within that area. It seems to be a common trait in higher executive roles, however can also be hidden very well on the ground, right in front of you. It can smile, offer help, engage and feel supportive (at first). It can provide you a level of trust that you connect with, until that person feels threatened or "on to". Then it all changes. Then the spiral of deceit, lies, attacks and even in my case, The Bandwagon Effect. It is a very, very well thought out series of events. A psychological trainwreck that has a conductor who recruits passengers.


The Bandwagon Effect is a psychological phenomenon in which people do something primarily because other people are doing it, regardless of their own beliefs, which they may ignore or override. This tendency of people to align their beliefs and behaviors with those of a group is also called a herd mentality.

So what exactly is PNSD then? After spending years living with or working with a narcissist you may develop scars that continue to bring that trauma to the surface. Failure to recognize this and heal those wounds can keep those trauma responses and feelings just deep enough that a trigger can bring them to surface, again and again. Unhealed emotional trauma can then manifest into physical trauma.


Let's break down what some of the emotional reactions of PNSD can be. They can be different for people and the range of symptoms can be minor to severe. There is help which I will cover at the end of this article.


Emotional symptoms or reactions can differ; but generally show themselves as these:


  1. Intense pain within the body, primarily the stomach area: This can be triggered by a situation where you are exposed to someone yelling or throwing things which brings back flashbacks. Connected to the Solar Plexus Chakra which is connected to power and anger.

  2. Reliving traumatic events: Because living with or working with a narcissist who are masters at continued punishment, criticism and put downs; can flow into your life when a person is offering what seems like genuine advice or help. The brain filters this from your trauma response and the message is coded and not accurate. You are unable to filter the difference because of trauma response.

  3. Confusion: A narcissist will continue to alter your sense of reality. This can engulf your current state of reality and you question everything and everyone.

  4. Rational Thinking: As a survivor you may have been so broken down and distraught that you actually can no longer think you can survive or think for yourself. You over think and question everything.

  5. Immense stress: A narcissist can make you feel like you are working within a constant state of "walking on eggshells". You are never sure of the environment around you and are always waiting for that bomb to drop. You feel like relationships have no predictability and you have no safe place.

Physical manifestation from trauma can include:


  1. Constant panic attacks: Some of the physical symptoms can include; increased heart rate, palpitations, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath and feeling like you are being smothered.

  2. Sleep Disturbances or Insomnia: Your subconscious brain does not stop. It re-lives your trauma and connects every positive aspect of your life to the "what if" syndrome.

  3. Fatigue and at times, severe: This can be attached to sleep disorders along with the extraordinary levels of stress that you endured. Stress can be held within the body in "a memory state" for a long time unless addressed. There has even been scientific studies that determined it can be passed down through DNA.

  4. Frequent outbursts and agitation: Survivors can many times be in a constant state of anger or on high alert because of the unpredictable and stressful environment they were in.

  5. Adrenal issues: High levels of stress can affect hormone levels which can then cause thyroid or adrenal problems. These may not be picked up on a standard test. Consulting a Naturopath to discuss symptoms and develop a treatment option may be your best course of action here.

  6. Tachycardia (high heart rate): High levels of trauma and stress which goes untreated can affect the heart rate. Also psychospiritually, trauma can affect the heart chakra which can create this symptom if not treated. It is best to have this looked at by a professional sooner than later.

  7. Suicidal thoughts: Severe trauma can make you feel like death would be better. Even when you are no longer in that situation those feelings and memories can come back when a trigger happens. This is a very serious symptom and should be dealt with by a professional. Do not try to navigate this yourself. Find a therapist you connect with and begin that process of healing.

  8. Obsessive thinking and reacting: This tends to be one of the most common symptoms. Our brain has been programmed with the trauma, and the smallest of triggers can set you off. You overthink everything, second guess yourself and can spin in circles without starting the task. It is exhausting.


You CAN heal from Post Narcissist Stress Disorder. You do not have to carry that trauma and hold that programming. You can HEAL.


It is imperative that you cut ties with the Narcissist. If you have children with them you set up very limited contact with them or have a person that is your "go between".


Ensure you have a person with you that can filter the negative, emotional attacks. Never put yourself in a situation where you need to be alone with them. Remember they coded the trigger points and know very well how to set them off.


If you have not yet found a therapist, it is highly recommended to do. Working through this process and using different techniques can assist you within this healing process. The brain can be reprogrammed to give you a healthy, nurturing and balancing outlook. Some of the most common techniques that have shown very positive results are: EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization), EFT (Meridian Tapping), NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) Meditation and Hypnosis. Also Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has shown promising results.


Support groups can, on occasion be helpful. I recommend one that is being done by a professional who can reposition the group when needed. Groups with no one to guide it, can just continue the circle of pain and trauma. Choose your group carefully and only stay if you feel you are being nurtured. If it is causing you mose stress, leave. Virtual groups hold the same, if no one is managing posts then the stress can become too much.


The most important part of healing is being patient with yourself and allowing yourself grace. You can grow, heal and overcome. You will fall backwards but you will continue to move forward. Allow yourself that time. You did not attract this to you, you did not cause this and you do not deserve this. Give the trauma back to the Narcissist.


Be well, Deanna

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