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  • Writer's pictureKirsten Miller

The Destructive Impact of Devaluation in Narcissistic Relationships

Narcissistic relationships can be profoundly damaging, and one of the most insidious weapons in a narcissist's arsenal is devaluation. Devaluation is a manipulative tactic where the narcissist diminishes the value, self-esteem, and self-worth of their partner.


Understanding Devaluation

Devaluation is a psychological strategy used by narcissists to maintain control and dominance over their partners. It often manifests in several ways, such as:



The narcissist constantly criticizes their partner, belittling their achievements, appearance, or abilities.


Silent Treatment:

The narcissist may withdraw affection, communication, or attention, leaving their partner feeling ignored and unimportant.



Gaslighting involves manipulating the partner's perception of reality, making them doubt their thoughts, feelings, and experiences.



Narcissists may engage in infidelity, undermining their partner's self-esteem and making them feel inadequate.


Effects of Devaluation

Devaluation in narcissistic relationships can have profound and long-lasting effects on individuals, including:


Low Self-Esteem:

Constant criticism and belittlement erode self-esteem, leaving victims with a diminished sense of self-worth.


Anxiety and Depression:

The emotional rollercoaster of devaluation can lead to anxiety and depression as victims struggle to make sense of their changing reality.



The silent treatment and gaslighting can lead to social isolation, as victims are cut off from friends and family, furthering their dependence on the narcissist.


PTSD and Complex Trauma:

Victims of narcissistic devaluation may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or complex trauma due to the ongoing emotional abuse.


Coping with Devaluation

Surviving and healing from a narcissistic relationship with devaluation requires time and self-care. Here are some tools that can help:


Seek Professional Help:

A therapist or counsellor experienced in narcissistic abuse can provide guidance and support.


Establish Boundaries:

Set clear boundaries and assertively communicate your needs and expectations.


Rebuild Self-Esteem:

Engage in self-compassion, practice positive self-talk, and rekindle self-esteem through self-care activities.


Reconnect with Supportive Relationships:

Reconnect with friends and family who provide a support system outside the narcissistic relationship.


Devaluation in narcissistic relationships is a toxic weapon, leaving victims emotionally scarred and vulnerable. Understanding the concept of devaluation, its effects, and using coping tools can empower survivors to break free from the cycle of abuse. It's crucial to remember that recovery is possible, and seeking professional help is often the first step toward healing.



Johnson, S. L. (2017). Narcissism in intimate relationships: A review of empirical research. Psychological Bulletin, 143(4), 476-497.

Campbell, W. K., & Foster, J. D. (2007). The narcissistic self: Background, an extended agency model, and ongoing controversies. In C. Sedikides & S. Spencer (Eds.), Frontiers of social psychology: The self (pp. 115-138). Psychology Press.

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