The Silent Treatment: A Narcissist’s Trick of the Trade of Emotional Abuse

If you have encountered a narcissist in love, work or family, then you surely have experienced the dreaded silent treatment, a tactic used by psychological abusers (including extreme narcissists) to hold power and control in their relationships. As written about extensively in the recent wave of articles on narcissistic abuse, an extreme narcissist is an individual, male or female, who targets other people for sources of narcissistic supply (or ego fuel) to fill their empty psychological voids. Most always, an extreme (or malignant) narcissist will engage in such emotional abuse tactics as gaslighting, hoovering, love-bombing, and the silent treatment, among others.

More specifically, in relationships with an extreme narcissist, the toxic partner (whether boss, lover, friend or family member) seeks to consistently take the position of one-up in which they are always in control and in power. When the narcissistic supply source (a supervisee, family member, lover, friend) is providing “good supply,” (or ego fuel) they are placating the whims of the narcissist, providing adulation, praise, attention, disgust, horror, or any type of reaction that makes the abuser appear to be powerful and important. The extreme narcissist’s ego is soothed when sources of ego fuel are behaving appropriately, in the narcissist’s mind. It’s as if the extreme narcissistic were developmentally stunted at age five. Picture two children playing on a merry-go-round. As long as the narcissist is being admired for his skill riding the prettiest, shiniest pony, the playmate will continue to be “privileged” with the presence of the narcissist.

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