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Unapologetically Sensitive

We explore how sensitivity weaves itself into our lives; the richness that it adds, and the strengths we have BECAUSE of our sensitivity--and some of the challenges it poses as well. You may learn to live a bolder, brighter life.

Mar 26, 2019

Episode 23


Narcissism and the Highly Sensitive Person


Dr. Natalie Jones


What is narcissism? What does it look like in relationships (romantic and parental).  Gaslighting—what is it? The connection between narcissists and HSPs (partners and parents). The HSP is often the scapegoat in the family.  There may be a golden child and the children are pitted against each other. If you have a parent who is narcisstic, the HS child often feels guilty and believes what the narcissistic   parent tells them (you’re too sensitive; too selfish; you never call me; you don’t care).  Once people understand narcissism, they see that the limitation is in the parent, NOT the HSP. The energy of the room changes when the narcissist enters the room, and leaves the room.  You can FEEL the energy shift.


What someone who is in a relationship with someone with narcissistic  traits may be experiencing

  • Anxiety, depression, ambivalence
  • Not sure where they stand in the relationship
  • Unable to discuss serious problems
  • Don’t’ know the future of the relationship
  • Self-doubt and questioning
  • Partner isn’t meeting your emotional needs

What do narcisstic traits look like?

  • It’s on a spectrum—mild, moderate, medium and severe
  • They feel better than you
  • They are in their own special category—they feel “special” and “above” you
  • Hypocracy—do as I say, but not as I do—these rules apply to you, but not to me
  • They objectify people—everything is seen as property and an extension of the narcissist
  • You can make decisions without their approval
  • There is danger when you want to leave the relationship
  • They have a God-like or superior complex
  • The believe they are special/beautiful and surround themselves with others they perceive to have the same superior qualities

Narcisstic Personality Disorder is one of the cluster B Personality Disorders, among Antisocial Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder & Histrionic Personality Disorder

Fully Diagnosed Narcisstic Personality Disorder affects approximately 1-2% of the population. These are rare and extreme cases, and they tend to be part of the criminal justice system.

What are red flags in the beginning of a relationship so you can spot someone with narcisstic traits?

  1. They have inconsistent, tumultuous, and short-term relationships with family, friends and partners. They are either the hero or the victim
  2. They appear too good to be true. They can be super charming, good looking and win people over easily in the beginning
  3. The move quickly in relationships. They have whirlwind romances; have sex early on in a relationship; rush to get married; rush to have children
  4. There is a degree of secrecy re: prior relationships. You feel like you don’t really know them, and they won’t discuss their problems
  5. They introduce you to family and close friends very quickly, but you seem to be insignificant to family and friends since they are always introducing a new partner

What types of people do narcissists tend to look for in partners?

  • People they can control, pressure or subject a position of power over or they can easily isolate
  • They like empathic people like Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs) because they can play their heartstrings and the HSP is more likely to forgive them
  • They won’t seek out other narcissists or powerful people (too much conflict)
  • People who have a history or trauma, so they can retraumatize you and they know how to find your wounds and use them against you
  • They tend to align themselves with people (not partners) of greater status
  • They name drop—people they don’t know, but it’s to feel powerful

What is gaslighting?

  • It’s psychological brainwashing
  • Manipulating someone psychologically so that person questions their reality
  • The person doesn’t trust their own perceptions or themselves
  • It’s like living in the Twilight Zone
  • Jim Jones is an example
  • They will compliment and degrade you in the same sentence
  • They will change the topic in order to deflect or to blame
  • They will triangulate with a 3rd party to invalidate you and make you doubt yourself
  • They project their insecurities onto you
  • They have tantrums and showdowns—especially on holidays or special occasions and you feel bad and doubt yourself.

What does it look like if you have a narcisstic parent?

  • The parent is not invested in your or the problems that come up for you
  • They will make it about them—i.e., Had it not been for me, then you (minimize your experience)
  • They often will just say, “Because I’m your mother/father.”
  • They will tell you, “That’s not a real problem.”
  • People who have a narcisstic parent may dissociate, turn the radio up, or find ways to “check out.” They may keep contact with the narcisstic parent short and sweet
  • Narcisstic parents will call their children names, take advantage of them, expect them to care for the other siblings

You can feel the energy in the room change when a narcissist enters and when they leave the room.  It’s like they pull energy from the room, and everyone feels it.



A Date With Darkness—Dr. Natalie Jones

Codependency No More—Brian Piser

Love Junkie: Help for the Relationship Obsessed, Love Addicted, & Codependent—Shena Tubbs


Toxic Parents by Susan Forward

Mothers Who Can’t Love by Susan Forward

Unspoken Legacy: Addressing the Impact of Trauma and Addiction within the Family by Claudia Black

Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men  By Lundy Bancroft

The Dance of Anger: A Woman's Guide To Changing The Patterns Of Intimate Relationships by Harriet Lerner


The Dance of Intimacy: A Woman's Guide to Courageous Acts of Change in Key Relationships by Harriet Lerner


The Dance of Fear: Rising Above Anxiety, Fear, and Shame to Be Your Best and Bravest Self by Harriet Lerner 


Women Who Love Too Much: When You Keep Wishing and Hoping He'll Change 

by Robin Norwood

Confessions of a Narcissist by HG Tudor (there are MANY books by this author)

Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic  Mothers

by Dr. Karyl McBride Ph.D.


Difficult Mothers, Adult Daughters: A Guide For Separation, Liberation & Inspiration 

by Karen C.L. Anderson

Surviving Mama An Adult Daughter’s Guide by Dr. Pamela Everett Thompson

Youtuber Kim Saeed--



Dr. Natalie Jones, PsyD., LPCC is a Licensed professional clinical counselor and a post doctoral intern. She currently has a private practice called Lifetime Counseling and Consulting in CA where she specializes in working with women who have been in emotionally and psychologically abusive relationships with narcissists, as well as with individuals who were previously incarcerated for various crimes. Dr. Jones has a podcast called A Date With Darkness Podcast, which specializes in providing
education and tips from healing from narcissistic  relationships. Dr. Jones received her masters in clinical counseling psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, IL, and her doctorate in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology in San Francisco, CA. Dr. Jones has also written blogs for the Mind Journal and PsychCentral.




Patricia Young, LCSW is a therapist in San Diego who is in private practice.  Patricia works primarily with Highly Sensitive People (HSP) helping them understand their HSPness, and to turn their perceived shortcomings into superpowers.  Patricia is passionate about providing education to help HSPs and non-HSPs understand and truly appreciate all the gifts they have to offer.  Patricia provides online (telehealth) therapy to people who live in California.  We meet over a private platform (similar to Skype), and you can have therapy from the privacy of your own home—when the kids are at school or are napping; from work; in your pajamas, or when you just can’t face sitting in traffic or going out.


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MUSIC—Gravel Dance by Andy Robinson