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  • Lynn Catalano

A Narcissist’s Arrested Development Becomes Your Burden


What’s arrested development?

When something like trauma, impairs one's ability to emotionally mature, this is known as arrested development.  Arrested development also refers to a failure to achieve typical benchmarks of emotional development, especially the inability to regulate your own emotions. Basically, narcissists are arrested in their emotional development of childhood and have never progressed.


Ways Narcissists act like children

When you deal with someone who suffers from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), you are dealing with someone who is disordered, they don’t have normal reactions and they cannot regulate their own emotions. They act like children emotionally. When a narcissist is confronted or caught in the act of doing anything questionable, they react like a child.

What are some ways narcissists act like children?

1.    Deny whatever they are accused of…

2.    Pretend they don’t understand the question.

3.    Blame someone else.

4.    Make themselves the victim

5.    Deflect or distract

6.    Ignore you

7.    Throw a tantrum


What keeps narcissists from growing emotionally?

As a result of childhood events, most people who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) have many factors preventing them from emotional growth. These include but are not limited to: their inability to self-reflect, their need for perfection, the distorted reality they live in, the continuous trope of them as victim and their inability to exhibit empathy.


I wrote about this in my book Wrecking Ball Relationships: How to Identify, Live With or Leave the Narcissist in Your Life.”  


“Narcissists never develop a secure sense of self. They may look overindulged in material things, but they’re devoid of essential emotional attachment.

Interestingly, all narcissists are emotionally unavailable but not all emotionally unavailable people are narcissists.

As adults, narcissists’ emotions are almost frozen to their childhood emotions. They have similar reactions to children, as adults going into tantrums, throwing emotional grenades, giving the silent treatment, and punishing their offenders. They still seek revenge on offenders or those they deem as disloyal.”


Narcissists struggle to control their emotions


In his book Traumatic Narcissism, Daniel Shaw discusses the trauma inflicted by a lack of recognition in childhood which lies at the heart of pathological narcissism.  He reinforces the notion to understand and appreciate others as subjects in their own right, we each need to have experienced this understanding and appreciation in early childhood.  Shaw writes, “to feel seen, understood, cared about, paid attention to, affirmed, supported and lovingly cherished is crucial to development.”  Without these things, we can’t develop a strong, healthy sense of self. Without a strong sense of self, relationships are difficult and painful — in some cases impossible. The lack of a strong sense of self contributes greatly to the formation of narcissism.

Don’t expect them to change. They are less likely as they need to both be aware of who they are and want to change in order to ask for help. You will need to change. I help women and men learn to change their perspective and change their approach when they have a relationship with a narcissist.


This hurt will bleed into other aspects of your life until you work through it. You need to talk to someone. But not just anyone. Someone who gets it. I get it.


You see, I didn’t get here by accident. I didn't set out to become a narcissistic abuse recovery coach. But after I’d suffered this kind of abuse, I realized that my story and my experience could help so many people who’ve suffered similarly. 


Often, we stay in these cycles of abuse because we don’t believe we deserve something better. I kept trying to make our relationship work, but he didn’t want me in his life. It took me a long time to understand that I deserved better.



If you’re ready to change how you think,

If you’re ready to change how you feel,

If you’re ready to change your path,


You can find my book “Wrecking Ball Relationships” on Amazon,, and








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