NPD Glossary of Terms


Acronym for “adult children of narcissists” commonly used in the narcissistic abuse survivors community.

Cluster B Personality Disorders

One of the three clusters of personality disorders. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), there are four Cluster B personality disorders including: narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and histrionic personality disorder. Cluster B personality disorders are characterized by dramatic, intensely emotional or unpredictable thinking or behavior.

Cognitive Dissonance

The mental discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs, values, or attitudes. We tend to seek consistency in our lives; from our behavior, attitudes, or beliefs. We feel safer and more confident when things add up. However, when they don't, they can cause anxiety and discomfort. Gaslighting, for example, causes cognitive dissonance by confusing the victim to the point where they question their thoughts, feelings, and perceptions and doubt their reality of what is actually happening in the abusive relationship.


Acronym for "Complex post-traumatic stress disorder", a condition that develops from repeated trauma over months or years rather than a single event. C-PTSD includes a wide range of disabling symptoms including:

  • difficulty controlling emotions
  • feeling angry or distrustful towards the world
  • constant feelings of emptiness or hopelessness
  • feelings of worthlessness, shame and guilt
  • avoidance or difficulties with friendships and relationships
  • finding it hard to feel connected with other people
  • dissociative symptoms such as depersonalization or derealization
  • physical symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, chest pains and stomach aches
  • suicidal feelings


For most mentally & emotionally healthy couples, when the honeymoon stage in the relationship wears off, things begin to fall into a predictable routine. You continue to love and value your partner after the initial euphoria wears off and couples learn how to work together as true partners. However, in the narcissistic abuse cycle, the narcissist realize that their partner doesn't actually fit their image of the "perfect person" and no longer see them as having any value (because for the narcissist, the value of a person is determined by how well they can fuel the narcissist's self-image and self-worth). As such, the narcissist begins putting their partner down, look at them with contempt, and withhold affection and attention..


In a healthy relationship, disagreements and conflict are worked through together with patience. However, in a relationship with a narcissist, the abuser rejects their partner because they are no longer able to easily extract narcissistic supply to fuel their non-existent self-worth. Since narcissists are not motivated by love and security of an emotionally bonded relationship, they will discard the partner and move onto another source of supply (usually secured during the devaluation phase) and restart the cycle of abuse.


People who “normalize” and even perpetuate the narcissist’s toxic attitudes and behaviors. These are often spouses and partners. Narcissism does not exist in a vacuum, therefore, there are always enablers. These are people who may not agree with or defend the narcissist, but who enable the narcissist by putting up with their behavior and remaining silent. They say things like, "She's your mother, you have to respect her no matter what." or "Go back to your husband and give him a chance to work this out." or, "I choose to stay silent to keep the peace." The enabling parent is usually under the delusion that they are the only ones who truly understand the narcissist and often scapegoat their children to appease the narcissist.


A form of emotional abuse that involves a patterned, repetitive set of manipulation tactics or distorting the truth to cause the victim to question their sanity and doubt their perception of reality. Abusers do this to instill confusion to make their victims rely on them.


This is when the abuser bombards the target (ie. victim) with intense showering of love, affection, appreciation, and the target is idolized and placed high up on a pedestal. 

The abuser begins idealizing the target because they're beyond ecstatic to have found someone to fill the role of THEIR IDEA of a perfect partner - to define THEIR status. And they're counting on this partner to provide them with all the narcissistic supply they could ever need to "appear" special, successful, admirable, and enviable.

Source Of Supply

The person or thing that PROVIDES the abuser with narcissistic supply. I've seen "survivors of narcissistic abuse" mistakenly referred to as "supply". It's important to learn the correct vocabulary because the term "SOURCE of supply" means the individual IS IN POSSESSION of whatever the abuser needs. As broken as the victim feels, the truth remains that they've had the power all this time. Which is why the narcissist had to resort to using manipulative tactics to weaken their victims in order to secure them under the abuser's control.

  • Primary sources of supply - those who provide the narcissist with supply on a casual, random basis: almost always an intimate/affair partner or for a narcissistic parent, the scapegoat child.
  • Secondary sources of supply - those who provide the narcissist with supply on a regular basis: spouse, children, friends, business partners, colleagues, teachers, neighbors, etc.

Supply / Narcissistic Supply

The REACTION of the sources that fuels the narcissist's self-worth and self-image. This includes: attention, admiration, affection, adulation, envy, and fame.

< ! > If you are in a life-threatening situation, call the 24-hr National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255 or the 24-hr Crisis Text Line by texting “HELP” to 741-741.If your issue is an emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

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