Narcissistic abuse leads to symptoms of complex post traumatic stress disorder, including severe reduction in self confidence and decision making ability. That can make it difficult to perform any work, but complex work that engages higher mental functions can be especially hampered. Losing faith in my own mental prowess was a small but significant factor in my withdrawal from political work.
Probably the biggest reason political work became so difficult is that it became extremely anxiety-inducing: It’s dealing with liars. Being forced to use logic and truth to refute falsity after falsity is exhausting after spending years doing that on a personal level. It triggered the same feelings I experienced while attempting to unravel Tina’s gaslighting. It was like reentering combat while still shell shocked. I felt anxious, sometimes even panicked when confronted with lies.
As cliched as it may sound, I found I’d also lost faith in humanity. I didn’t even trust my friends anymore. Some cynics might think that’s a good thing, but to me, the world had become a much darker place. My inability to trust was not a welcome change.
Impassioned work in politics stems from a belief that one can make society better. Part of the mental block I had with political work was a newfound belief that the world was not worthy or able to be improved. Attempting to inject integrity was futile. I’ve never been able to sustain any work for long that I didn’t have an interest in.
According to studies by neuroscientists, long-term exposure to narcissistic abuse leads to physical damage to the brain as well as the psyche. Those physical changes in particular can account for the irrational anxiety, panic and aversion.
Being honest and honorable was very important to me and I abhor the dishonesty that is endemic in political discourse, but I’d always had faith that logic, reason and the truth would ultimately prevail. I was good at refuting falsehoods and proving with words where dishonesty or inaccuracy were being applied. Reading a legal brief, white paper or op-ed filled with obvious sophistry no longer triggered instincts to refute the offending piece. Instead, upon recognizing deliberate dishonesty, I’d feel a strong and immediate pull towards avoidance. Stress hormones pumped into my veins and fleeing felt like the only option available in the fight-or-flight response my body was reacting with. Recognizing for myself that what I was facing was patently false was enough. I no longer had the drive or energy to prove it. In part, I believe that’s because I’d concluded that the truth didn’t matter to enough people to make much difference. Society at large didn’t want or have much use for the truth, so any energy I’d expend advancing it felt like it would be wasted.
Where I used to almost relish the opportunity to destroy falsehoods with truths and facts I was confidently in command of, I found it required exponentially increasing expenditures of mental energy to even consider that kind of work. I could only manage it in small doses.
I almost entirely stopped watching or reading news.
I simply didn’t want anything at all to do with liars and in politics, they are legion.
I still dabbled here and there with critical issues from a sense of obligation or proprietorship and gradually, the black curtain around everything political in my mind drew slowly back.
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