“…the narcissist doesn’t have emotional regulatory skills and never learned how to emotionally self-regulate and probably was very neglected, could have been around very abusive parents. I really think that the pathological narcissist comes from a deep place of pain and chaos from a perspective of cPTSD.” 

-Elisabeth Kristof, Trauma Rewired Co-Host and Founder of Brain Based Wellness

There’s a little bit of narcissism in all of us. You’ve probably seen an Instagram post listing the characteristics of a narcissist and could relate to a couple- just like us. We don’t tend to think of narcissism on a spectrum, but it is. And it’s all about how the brain is wired to meet survival needs.

Last week we shifted our perspective a bit and explored Fawn and Sexual Fawn through a gentle somatic lens. That conversation showed us a fresh and beautiful way to understand and work with the Fawn trauma response. This week we’re approaching the big topic of Narcissism with the same curious spirit through the lens of NSI.

Matt Bush joins us to explore what shapes the brain and nervous system of a narcissist and what it has to do with survival and emotional regulation from a Neuro Somatic Intelligence perspective. We’re asking big questions:

→ Is change possible for a narcissist?

→ Is it possible to change your reaction to a narcissist in a relationship? 

→ What happens in someone’s brain to cause the development of anti-social and self-oriented narcissist behaviors? 

Matt takes a fascinating deep dive into the three key brain areas associated with narcissism. He explains a part of the brain that we’ve never talked on the podcast before, the ventral striatum. It’s the fascinating system responsible for reward processing and identifying actions that trigger dopamine. 

He explains how the prefrontal cortex and anterior insular cortex influence the ventral striatum and how together they influence pathological narcissism. Understanding these neural connections offers new insight into the complexities of narcissistic behavior and its origins.

In this conversation we talk a lot about the potential for a narcissist to change, but it does not mean we are encouraging individuals to stay in abusive or dangerous relationships. 

We encourage everyone to learn how to regulate their nervous system and create safety in their bodies. Dedicating to a daily nervous system training using NSI tools expands your capacity to care for yourself, change unhealthy relationship patterns, and set boundaries effectively. Over time, this leads to a more regulated and sustainable emotional life.

Episode Highlights:

  • Definition of the narcissist personality disorder
  • List of narcissist behaviors 
  • Link between narcissism and survival
  • Elisabeth discusses findings from a fMRI study done on narcissists
  • Crucial role that reward processing and dopamine needs play on narcissism
  • Reward circuitry, relationships and the narcissists lack of empathy
  • Non-social causes of narcissism: physical injury and infections
  • When narcissism turns sadist
  • Lack of emotional regulation in narcissists
  • Emotional dynamics in narcissist relationships
  • Manipulative use of Empathy
  • Client Experiences
  • Neuroplasticity and the potential for change
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Listen to more episodes of Trauma Rewired HERE

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