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Trauma Bonding in Narcissistic Abuse

The emotional abuse dished out by a narcissist is malicious. intentional and insidious. The narcissists sizes up his victim from the beginning, to see if she is likely to tolerate his tactics.

During the sizing up period, the narcissist puts on a honeymoon phase act, also known as the idealization phase.

He puts his prey upon a pedestal and tells her she is beautiful, talented, compassionate, or whatever characteristics she desires for someone to admire. He reads her body language and asks lots of questions in order to ascertain which qualities he should complement her about.

The abuser gets into the mind of the victim and pries out lots of important information that he or she will later use against the victim. Valuable information is the victim’s desires, hopes and dreams.

What does the victim want in a perfect mate? What qualities do they find most important about themselves and in others?

But it does not stop there. The predator listens intently as the victim tells them about their childhood, their failures, and their deepest fears.

What buttons can the abuser push that will get the strongest emotional reaction? The unsuspecting victim willingly turns over this information to their enemy, without realizing that they are setting the abuser up for the evil yet to come.

The victim willingly gives the predator all of this information because they seem so trustworthy. They appear to be the perfect friend, partner and lover.

The predator has acting skills that are so honed that the victim never suspects that their entire personality is an act.

The abuser takes the information they gather about the core values of the victim and they mirror those values back to them.

When the prey sees the predator, they do not see a wolf in sheep’s clothing. They see someone who believes in them and shares their most important values and beliefs.

As the predator listens intently to the victim, it seems like he is interested in him or her in a way that no one has ever been.

The victim feels like they are finally being understood, in a way that no one has ever understood them before.

This is highly emotional. The conversations are emotionally charged and bring out the bonding chemicals in the victim’s system. Their entire nervous system in affected in a similar way to addiction to a drug.

There is often a high sexual attraction for the abuser, which is amplified by a feeling of trust. Emotional bonding is stronger when there is a high level of trust, and the predator knows how to make the victim feel completely safe with them.

This chemical bonding is both a science and an art to the predator.

They have honed their skills from many trials and errors from their past victims. Now it is Your turn to be the method of experiment. The more they can deceive and manipulate your mind, the more the predator becomes hooked on deceiving you.

The predator gets a sadistic pleasure from this process and feels godlike and all powerful, as they get inside of your head and you willingly hand over all the information they need to destroy you later on.

This idealization phase is enjoyed by the narcissist but it also drains them. They soon tire of all the effort it takes to please you and make you feel good.

They often do a test at this point. This is a test that they design to see if you are sufficiently bonded with them yet. They will often make up some kind of emergency just to see how you react and respond. They want to see you go out of your way, and inconvenience yourself for them.

This emergency is both a test and also a way of them to train you like a dog. They will reward you with praises for the parts you do “right” and they will scold you for anything they wanted done differently. They will imply that they may not be able to continue a relationship with someone  who cannot perform to their liking during an emergency they are having.

This emergency, or very urgent situation could be of any sort of nature. It might be a fake medical emergency, it could be a crisis with their business or an emotional / mental breakdown. They will demand your full attention and that you drop everything you are doing, no matter how important it is to you. In fact, they may time the emergency, intentionally, to happen at the same time as something important to you.

They want to see that you will prioritize them over yourself.

They know that most normal people will prioritize an emergency over most other things. It is normal to rearrange your schedule when someone you love has an emergency. This is how they lure you into their training.

Now that they have your attention, they hone your “emergency” skills. They nit-pick at everything you do and the things you do not do according to their rules. They teach you exactly how to respond and how fast to respond to them, when they call you for something urgent.

This way, they can continue to call on you and demand your undivided attention, anytime they cry wolf. Imagine that…the wolf crying wolf!

After that, there are more emergencies.

The narcissists seems to live a life of chaos and they always need you to be there. It begins to erode the rest of your life away. Your needs are never as important as theirs are. Whatever is happening with them is always much more urgent and important than what is going on in your life.

If you respond to the training properly, they know they have you bonded to them. Now they can begin to demean you and treat you any way they want to. Suddenly you are knocked off the pedestal and onto the floor, where they will drag you around wherever they want to.

The devaluation phase has begun.

You now will tolerate all manner of abuse and you will believe their lies because of your addiction to the abuser. The more they abuse you, the stronger the addiction becomes. This is trauma bonding.

The abuser alternates between periods of the love bombing stage (the idealization phase) with periods of abuse.

This is designed to confuse the victim and to increase levels of chemicals released in the body.

Cortisol and adrenaline are designed to be released during an emergency or when you are under a threat. The brain soon becomes confused as the frequent need to release these chemicals in alternated with periods of uncertainty.

Your brain learns that a threat could occur at any time and stays on alert for any threat. The abuser screaming at you, threatening you, and changing the rules as they choose, thrown your nervous system out of wack. You long for the periods of reprieve from the abuse.

There are days when the abuse is nice to you and this brings back those feelings from the idealization phase. You are reminded why you fell in love with them in the first place. You want to believe that the person you first met is still under there somewhere.

The brief interludes of the idealization phase, feel like love to you.

It seems like the abuser actually loves you, but that you seem to bring out the angry side of them a lot. If you could just “get it right” then they would return to the person you fell in love with.

The attachment grows stronger during emergency situations and struggles. You feel like you have “been though so much together” and it never occurs to you that it was all a strategy of the narcissist to hook you. It is all so that they can have power over you.

Power and manipulation is the game of the predator.

They know that by alternating the abuse with “being nice” that the trauma bond will keep you coming back for more. You give everything up for them just to keep them happy.

Make no mistake this is all intentional and calculated.

The predator loves to be in control over you. They love to play god because they see themselves as better than you are. You are nothing but another victim for them to scratch out another notch on their bedpost.


11 thoughts on “Trauma Bonding in Narcissistic Abuse”

    1. It took me months of trying to make heads or tails of what happened to really understand. It was very confusing to me why he just stopped andwering the phone all of a sudden…when one day before that he was telling me he loved me and wanted to plan to buy a house together in Oregon and run his business together.

      It made no sense to me at all. There was no argument, no conversation about anything. He just blew me off suddenly after almost a year of talking to me for at least 3 hours every night….and usually falling asleep together with the phones next to us in the bed.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wow, Annie… I have never seen the entire hook up/set up communicated so clearly. I never knew it was an intentional thing. I now see all of the emergencies and tasks my past narcissist set up for me. When I failed to do the things he wanted it was instant demeaning/devaluing, pointing out my failings and flaws and inadequacies. I just wondered though, he was the one with the painful childhood (my own painful childhood was more hidden), in fact the entire first few months I spent listening to this and about all the failures of his other partners (this was when I got a bit suspicious) even more suspicious when I met one of them and she was nothing like he had described her to me. I think the sets up hook up for us empaths to start with anyway. Its so interesting too the chemical component of this trauma bonding. As you know when it ends its like major drug withdrawal, no matter how they abused you, you just long for the good feelings at the start of the relationship to return, but they never can obviously as this was never real.

    Also reading this it occurs to me that many therapists could act in this way, listening to your story, showing some concern then turning on you later on in the therapy at least that is how I have experienced it with some therapists.

    The best help really comes from other trauma survivors. Thank you so much for this informative blog.


    1. I just heard a story like this from client. Her therapsts was nice at first and then after a few weeks they suddenly turned on her….yelling at her…accusing her of being difficult….disbelieving that she could not remember certain traumatic events from childhood..

      Psychopaths and narcissists gravitate to mental health. If the narcissist is a psychiatrist then no one will believe the spouse about being abused.

      Imagine being accused of being mentally ill by a spouse who is a mental health professional. …who would ever doubt them when they say you are mentally disturbed….or that you are lying…

      It puts them in a powerful position. Also they can mentally torture their clients. .


      1. Yes, I cannot put a like to that response because the trauma of that after being already traumatised might drive someone to suicide. It is truly shocking. I think in any case so many mental health carers don’t ever investigate if the client has been abused, their self concept shattered by someone discarding and devaluing them. They just give drugs without asking any of those kinds of questions. I have seen this with my living sister (the other died). Our need to bond is so strong when we have been emotionally abandoned (providing we don’t totally cut that need off) that often we will stay with so much abuse. We don’t have the internal referencing to even understand it to be abuse, though deep down we know. It really is a terribly painful situation. I can only say thank God for the internet as on here there is so much information and help for survivors.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I still can’t wrap my head around my covert narc ex as being deliberate in his actions. Maybe I’m just in denial, but how can someone torture someone for 25 years deliberately? And, how can I ever be sure that’s what happened at all? If this is true, that this was done to me deliberately, which I interpret to mean with some level of forethought and planning, then he really is pure evil, which I can’t believe is true. I’m so confused.


    1. Many of their actions are designed to control and manipulate you. Other times their behavior comes out of a feeling of entitlement.

      If you do not do what they want, they feel offended because they are entitled to expect things.

      And they are pathological liars , so they can look you in the eye and lie…unlike popular opinion that no one can look you in the eyes and lie.

      Wishing you peace and healing. You can follow my facebook gentlekindness coaching page if you like. There is information there.


  3. I really need to let this out, I have been involved with a narcissistic man for one year and finally left him, I was fresh out of a separation/ pending divorce and vulnerable, he charmed me more than anyone I have every known, I was so taken by him we had sex on our first date, I was very into his love bombing bs, took every word he said for real, he kept promising the moon, sex was always off the charts, but then came the devalue and degrading stage, I was insulted by him in the most covert ways, he would reference something or someone, knowing it was meant for me, he was a master mindfucker, but very punctual and consistent and always professing love and how much he wanted to be with me and that I was his number one, blah, blah, I also think he was bi he would take me out to certain places and I think his man of the night would be there just to see who his chick was , Im so confused right now, he would sometimes treat me like a whore in bed, and I honestly think half the time he didn’t remember my own name this is after a year of dating. Im so confused and messed up right now, I think he was a sex addict and bisexual and a pathetic liar, he would say one sentence and then contradict in the next, he mangled me, he would look at other women constantly when we were out on dates, his eyes were like a reptile always on the lookout for something, it was so scary, I can’t believe I loved this person he was a liar manipulating cheater, this I know, I’m so digusted and sad right now. I need help I’m so distraught and confused.


    1. I understand how painful and confusing this kind of abuse is.
      I still have some time slots open for weekly coaching in May.
      Or you can just set up a single session.
      Email me for information. I can offer you 20 dollars off two sessions, if you set up two.
      Sending love and healing,


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