To further educate all of us on the various types of abuse, I wanted to share one form of abuse that many people may not be aware of—the Silent Treatment. According to Andrea Schneider, LCSW, a person with classic narcissistic tendencies loves to pull out their handy silent treatment weapon to punish you with.
The silent treatment is a form of emotional abuse designed to (1) place the abuser in a position of control; (2) silence the target’s attempts at assertion; (3) avoid conflict resolution/personal responsibility/compromise; or (4) punish the target for a slight against the narcissistic person’s ego. Often, the result of the silent treatment is exactly what the narcissistic person wishes to create: a reaction from the target and a sense of control.
It sounds childish doesn’t it? Well, Schneider goes on to explain that,
“The emotional maturity of a narcissistic person is akin to a 5-year-old child who pouts and refuses to play with his friend in the sandbox because his friend wants to share the pail and shovel. The 5-year-old refuses to talk with his friend and angrily storms off to play on the jungle gym with a different friend. The bewildered child with the pail and shovel feels confused, rejected, and does not understand why her friend can’t share. She just wanted to build a sand castle with him.”
That makes some sense.
So, why does a narcissist behave this way?
Great question. “A narcissistic person develops a false sense of control in the relationship because no further communication can ensue unless and until the narcissistic person decides to give the target another chance. However, often the narcissistic person will demand that the target apologize for whatever inflated transgression the target may have committed (often, the target had set a limit or asserted a boundary against the narcissistic person’s emotional abuse), wrote Schneider.
So what are the characteristics of a typical target? What makes the narcissist flip out on this person?
When I read what Schneider describes as the typical target of silent treatment abuse, I had to read it twice because it isn’t what I expected, but it explains a great deal. Schneider describes the target as a person “who may possess high emotional intelligence, empathy, conflict-resolution skills, and the ability to compromise, may work diligently to respond to the deafening silence. He or she may frequently reach out to the narcissistic person via email, phone, or text to resolve the greatly inflated misunderstanding, and is typically met with continued disdain, contempt, and silence.
How far will a narcissist go with giving someone the silent treatment as a form of punishment?
Are you ready to be amazed? When I read this article my mouth dropped open, because I immediately thought of about eight narcissists that I know or have known in the past, and they all have done exactly what Schneider shared below:
Sometimes a narcissistic person will decide to abandon and discard the relationship when he or she senses that his/her partner might be presenting an ultimatum or an attempt at resolution requiring the narcissistic person to compromise. The narcissistic person would rather end the relationship and start over than be in a position of potential abandonment by his or her significant other. The 5-year-old storms off and plays with a new, innocent target on the swing set. It is too much work to share the pail and shovel.
What can you do if you are on the receiving end of this abuse? Read the rest of Schneider’s article here.
If you are the narcissist, or think that this behavior describes you and your antics, what can you do?
Stop behaving like a five-year-old, go to a therapist or psychiatrist, and get some real professional counseling!
Copyright 2014. Natasha Foreman Bryant. The Paradigm Life. All Rights Reserved.