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The Real Reason You Get Attached To Narcissists, Based On The Internal Family Systems Model Of Psychotherapy
"You may wonder why you have so many conflicting emotions, thoughts and behaviors when it comes to trauma, especially if you’ve been traumatized by a manipulative narcissist. The Internal Family Systems model, created by therapist Dr. Richard Schwartz, posits that we all have “inner parts” that fall into three main categories: exiles, managers, and firefighters. This evidence-based model of psychotherapy is groundbreaking, especially when it comes to conceptualizing the impact of childhood trauma on our behavior.
However, less has been spoken about how this model can also inform our relationships with narcissistic or psychopathic individuals. When we’ve been traumatized by narcissistic individuals, these inner parts can come into conflict and “fight” with each other for control, causing our inextricable trauma bond with the narcissist (a bond that develops as a survival mechanism) to become even stronger in some cases...Exile inner parts can hold an intense desire to avoid abandonment and attach to the narcissist out of fear of being abandoned again and having to confront their childhood trauma alone. These parts can become especially trauma bonded to the abuser and come to view the abuser as a “rescuer” figure even though the abuser is also the source of their present pain and trauma. Since the narcissistic or psychopathic abuser creates a cycle of hurt-and-rescue and intermittent reinforcement with their victims, your “exile” inner parts may be severely triggered into making frantic attempts to avoid abandonment and seek validation from the abuser, even though you know this person has harmed you chronically. This can cause you to return to the relationship repeatedly even when it becomes unhealthy and destructive." - Shahida Arabi, MA