The Enduring Effects Of Life Under A Narcissist Regime

Paul has a recurring nightmare where he is trapped in an underground cave with hot flames all around him. An intense feeling of claustrophobia shakes his core, and he wakes up in terror, gasping for air. He realises he is having a panic attack. It feels like being in purgatory; an unbearable, infinite fear which he tries desperately to escape but cannot find a way out. He scrambles to switch the light on and then starts pacing up and down his apartment trying to shake it off. He rushes down the stairs and out into the chilly morning air. It helps a bit. It takes over an hour for the feeling of panic to dissipate. He has no idea why he keeps having dreams like this.

Cindy is an intelligent, pleasant girl. Her broken smile hints at the sadness inside, but she is polite and acts happy enough, so people don’t stick their noses into her business. She obediently obliges most requests, tends to agree with most opinions and goes along with most of the plans of others. She’s simply there, and people can trust her not to rock the boat.

Igor is 34 years old, but people think he’s 25. He’s a dreamer. He’d like to be in a band, or maybe write the next great novel. He’s not sure which. He never felt capable enough or smart enough to act on his dreams. To make matters worse, he feels trapped working in a call centre. Also, he’s been with his girlfriend Anna on and off for 4 years now. Every time they fight, Igor threatens to leave but is met with tears and threats of suicide. The guilt is overwhelming, and he stays. He wants desperately to leave the relationship but can’t see a way out.

After an intense summer romance, Noah asked Ariana to marry him. She said yes. Noah was a dream come true. He was attentive, he focused all of his energy on Ariana, shared in her dreams and was ready to commit. They got married in a simple ceremony. Soon after the wedding, things started to change. Noah became critical of Ariana, and flew into a rage if she came home any later than the expected time. Ariana had seen that rage in small doses before the wedding but had disregarded it, especially when Noah apologised swiftly with his boyish desperation. Noah was grandiose and insisted that everything he did was far superior to anyone else. He loved having the attention on himself and would tell endless stories to any willing audience without ever showing interest in the listener. He had a certain charm about him, so most people tolerated him. Ariana was deeply dissatisfied with the relationship and tired of Noah’s rage, which came out randomly and without any real reason. After fourteen years, three children and having left most of her friends behind, she was far too daunted by the idea of leaving and starting again.