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Don't Let the Narcissist Make You Sick

Posted Apr 19 2010 1:12pm

Whether it is a narcissistic spouse, sibling or parent, be keenly aware of how these individuals are effecting you psychologically and physically. I have heard from  a number of spouses and other family members who grew up with narcissists that report that they would feel ill after sustaining the extreme stress of the narcissist's constant intimidations and nonstop criticisms. Others speak of the humiliations they endured at the hands of a narcissistic mother, father or sibling. Some of these horrid scenes were carried out in front of other family members to add to the feelings of embarrassent and helplessness. Often one family member was singled out for special punishment. There are narcissistic parents who take sadistic delight in humilialting their unfavored children. These are the ones whom they consider less attractive, bright, artistically talented.  These children always came up short when comparisons were made with the chosen kid(s) in the family. Physical symptoms of stress directly related exposure to the narcissist's toxins include chronic stomach aches, headaches, frequent colds, asthma, allergic reactions.  Physical illnesses are complex and involve heredity, environment and the individual psychophysiological makeup of the child.

Stress is one of the primary causes of physical illness. Growing up with a narcissist adds a  perpetual psychophysiological stressor to those who share his family environment.The narcissist is in your face daily---creating chaos with outrageous demands, manipulations, chronic lying and drama driven delusions. 

The sentence "You make me sick" is not off the mark for those who are susceptible and vulnerable physically to narcissistic cruelty. The narcissist can turn on a dime from being pleasantly grandiose to dark and meancing. A child growing up in this family constellation is continually in a state of psychological and physical stress. Some individuals are more inclined to develop physical symptoms when they are being trampled and attacked.

In marital relationships it is not unusual for the non-narcissistic spouse to develop a variety of physical symptoms and illnesses---insomnia, back problems, migraine headaches, autoimmune disorders, intestinal upsets--as a result of extreme stressors perpetrated by the narcissist. Some spouses make the connection between their frequent illnesses and symptoms and the narcissist's continuous verbal and behaviioral assaults and decide that they are unwilling to sacrifice their health to these highly disturbed individuals. If their children are afflicted as a result of these dynamics, the non-narcissistic spouse frequently decides that her/his child's physical and psychological health is the priority not maintaining the facade of a happy family that is fradulent. In some cases the non-narcissistic spouse chooses divorce to preserve his or her health and that of the children. What is more important, presenting the picture of a perfect family which is false or severing this toxic relationship to preserve the physical health and well being of family members.

Becoming aware of the physical toll of chronic illness caused by extreme stress in a narcissistic family constellation is the first step toward protecting everyone from further harm. Stop making excuses for the narcissist's rages and become more specifically aware of how these psychological juffernauts afflict the nervous system, sending everyone into emergency fight or flight reactions. People are entitled to lead their lives with a generous amount of peace and freedom to activate and enjoy their creative energies and potentials. Visit my website:

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

Telephone Consultation 

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