Childhood Narcissistic Abuse and Adult Empathic Sensitivity

Childhood Narcissistic Abuse and Adult Empathic Sensitivity

Written by Randi Fine, Narcissistic Abuse Expert

Narcissistic Abuse Awareness and Guidance with Randi Fine

Having worked with hundreds of NPD abuse survivors over the years I have noted, again and again, the undeniable correlation between childhood narcissistic abuse and adult empathic sensitivity. If there is an exception to this rule I have never witnessed it.

Some empaths are born with their energetic sensitivity, but many are created through childhood trauma such as narcissistic abuse. This heightened sensitivity is a learned response, an unconscious survival mechanism likely to have developed to withstand the threatening environment from which they could not escape.

Children living under the constant threat of narcissistic abuse become hypersensitive to the danger that exists around them, particularly changes in the emotional states and moods of their abusers. In time they develop a reactionary response to subtle changes in the energy fields around them.

To manage and endure the devastating effects of the danger, emotionally abused children often put their own needs aside, monitor their own behaviors, and focus entirely upon the needs and wants of their abusers. This continual focus on the needs and emotional states of others prevents their own development of self-love, self-esteem, and healthy coping mechanisms.

Even after becoming physically removed from from the threat, adult children of narcissistic abuse remain hypersensitive to the subtle energetic changes around them. The pattern evolves from a maladaptive state to an instinctive nature.

Those who do not recognize and learn how to deal with their heightened sensitivity will suffer from the absorption of all the emotions around them. Depression and low energy often result.

Their lack of ability to filter the energies around them turns them into emotional sponges. Crowded places such as shopping malls, supermarkets, stadiums or movie theaters can overwhelm empaths’ senses; fill them with uncomfortable emotions, emotions that feel like their own but are not.

Natural caregivers, they will continue anticipating the wants and needs of others while disregarding their own. Giving all they have without holding anything in reserve or receiving anything back is a constant source of stress and a drain on their inner resources.

After never having put themselves first, self love and self protection are foreign concepts for adult children of narcissistic abuse to grasp. Though the inclination to care for others is deeply ingrained in them, they must learn how to care for their own needs first; to “fill their own well with love so others may drink from it.”

Adult children of narcissistic abuse, empaths, must learn how to monitor their propensity for over-caregiving and accept that they cannot be all things for all people. They can, however, learn how to be everything to themselves.

This is copyrighted material. May only be shared with permission and proper attribution.

Randi Fine is an internationally renowned narcissistic abuse expert and coach, and the author of the groundbreaking book Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Healing, the most comprehensive, most well researched, and most up-to-date book on this subject. In addition to helping survivors recognize their abuse and heal from it, this book teaches mental health professionals how to recognize and properly treat the associated abuse syndrome. She is also the author of Cliffedge Road: A Memoir, the first and only book to characterize the life-long progression of complications caused by narcissistic child abuse.

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2 thoughts on “Childhood Narcissistic Abuse and Adult Empathic Sensitivity”

  1. What type of therapist is best to seek out for abusers of N’s? CBT, Trauma, ???? You’ve described everything so precisely on what I’m experiencing in my relationship. I desperately try not to embrace the victim energy– but its challenging. I’m constantly battling with flight/fright & think its the only recourse and/or option i have. I need information and strategies that will help me to address this behavior,,,,or at least develop a posture and stance which in turn will help to empower me

    1. I’d like to answer your question but I’m not sure what you mean by abusers of N’s, CBT and Trauma. Would you please be more specific? If you feel uncomfortable answering that question in this forum, you can email me at It would help if you can share some of what you are going through as well.

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