The Conditioned Nervous System (PART 3)

A trauma-sensitive perspective on abuser/abused, victim/narcissist 

This is part 3, please first refer to part 1 and part 2 before reading. (Click the highlighted link)

Last week I discussed the dynamics and conditioned responses of the nervous system that underpin pathological narcissism and create the dynamic between abuser and the abused.

Of course, there are many other factors aside from just the conditioned fight reflex that are embedded within the structure of narcissism, such as disturbances in the development of self representations and fractured psychic structures due to arrests in childhood individuation. Nonetheless, for reasons of understanding the dynamics the fundamentals are more important than the details in this case and it is not necessary to fully understand the finer details in order to heal or gain deeper insight. 

This week I am going to discuss healing from narcissism and from narcissistic abuse.

My intention is not to offer a...

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The Conditioned Nervous System (PART 2)

A trauma-sensitive perspective on abuser/abused, victim/narcissist 

This is part 2, please first refer to part 1 before reading (click here)

Last week we explored the conditioning of the nervous system from the perspective of driving a car, but also how the nervous system becomes conditioned with a bundle of reactions and reflexes which show up in the way we relate to others.

Let's follow on from that and continue to explore how the victim/abuser cycle perpetuates itself and how both sides of the equation live from and in a trauma response which is perpetuated by the dynamic within the relationship.

 The dance becomes one of victim/perpetrator/rescuer. Usually our partner will mirror the opposite response to the one that dominates our patterning, if we are in a fight response and perpetrator role they will move into either a fawn, freeze or collapse (victim and rescuer).

The fawn or freeze causes them to be unable to leave the relationship, to walk on eggshells to...

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The Conditioned Nervous System (PART 1)

A trauma-sensitive perspective on abuser/abused, victim/narcissist 

To understand trauma it is helpful to know how our nervous system becomes conditioned, the body’s ability to adapt and automatically respond to situations based on past events is a useful tool in many circumstance, for example when we are learning to drive a car it can really feel like its “me” that's learning to drive and will be continuing to drive, but really our conscious mind is only there to assist in conditioning the body to drive for us. 

Our cognitive understanding of how a car works, how to use the different functions, eg. gas and breaks and to really get a feel for what it’s like to drive we need our conscious mind. 

As we do this something is happening on a deeper level, what we are essentially doing is we are conditioning the body to drive the car so “I” don't have to think about it.

We are imprinting the nervous system with specific movements,...

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