Anyone who’s been around a narcissist for long enough understands just how devastating it is. They take away your joy, destroy your confidence, and will do whatever they can to manipulate you. Sadly, the feelings of anxiety and sadness don’t just go away once you cut that person out of your life. They can stay with you for a long time afterward.
We now know that there’s a reason why we can’t just let it go after that malicious person is gone. According to science, narcissistic abuse can cause brain damage.
How it Affects Your Brain
By now, many of us know that terrible consequences that narcissistic or emotional abuse can have on a person. It can cause anxiety and depression in victims, as well as several other major issues. Similarly, it can even cause PTSD or C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder).
However, there are two much more drastic problems that can occur as a result of abuse which most people are unaware of. It seems that doctors and scientists may be the only people that know it. As it turns out, this sort of abuse can actually shrink the hippocampus in the brain and enlarge the amygdala. These two things can cause serious issues for victims of repeated emotional injury.
The Effects of Shrinking the Hippocampus
The hippocampus is a paired structure which sits inside each temporal lobe in the brain. It’s named after the Greek word for “seahorse” because of its shape. This area of the brain is hugely important because of its role in the body. It’s responsible for retaining information and is completely vital for short-term memory.
Large amounts of stress can increase the levels of the chemical cortisol in the brain. According to one study from the Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit Emory University, this chemical can shrink the hippocampus and cause symptoms of PTSD. Furthermore, this, in turn, can cause victims of emotional abuse to have trouble remembering things and focusing.
Enlarging the Amygdala
When you’re faced with a threat, an emotional response which is commonly known as “the fight or flight reaction” takes place. This is how we keep ourselves safe from danger by either running away or staying and facing the situation head-on. The amygdala is the part of the brain responsible for this. Sadly, victims of narcissistic abuse are constantly in the threat of danger, which can cause their amygdalae to become overreactive. Furthermore, this can continue for victims even after the threat is gone.
This area of the brain also has a lot of other important roles too. It controls the basic functions that we need to live, such as breathing and heart rate. Along with that, it also controls our primal emotions of love, hate, fear, and lust. If the amygdala has been enlarged and left in an overreactive state because of abuse, all of these basic functions can be negatively affected.
When people tell victims of narcissistic abuse to just “get over it,” they’re suggesting the impossible. The trauma caused by it can cause real and serious brain damage which may never be fully repaired. It’s understandable then why so many people who’ve escaped from the clutches of narcissists still face many emotional and mental problems for years afterward.
Do you know someone who’s suffered from narcissistic abuse? Share this article with them to show them that emotional abuse really can cause physical damage to the brain.