Who is the psychological abuser?

Who I am
Robert Maurer


Author and references

No one is exempt from psychological violence. Anyone can fit into the psychological profile of the abuser who does not resort to physical violence, but to psychological violence.

Being a more subtle form of violence, which usually comes from close people, such as a partner, family member or friend, it is more difficult to detect. For this reason we can be a victim without realizing it.

What does psychological violence consist of and what are its consequences?

Psychological violence consists of a regular pattern of verbal abuse, threats, intimidation and constant criticism, as well as subtle tactics of intimidation, shame and manipulation.

The psychological abuser uses these tactics to control and dominate his victim. The problem is that while emotional abuse leaves no visible wounds like physical abuse, the traces are no less painful.

In a study conducted by the universities of McGill, Minnesota and Rochester, 2.300 children between the ages of 5 and 13 were analyzed and followed for nearly 30 years. Researchers discovered that psychological abuse leaves footprints as deep as physical violence. Children who had been victims of emotional abuse exhibited the same psychological problems as those who had received physical punishment.

Another research conducted at the Charité University Medicine in Berlin on 51 women between the ages of 18 and 45 revealed that physical and psychological abuse leave different traces in the brain.

Emotional abuse leaves scars in regions associated with understanding and controlling emotions, as well as in areas related to recognizing and responding to the feelings of others. These are areas of the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal lobe that normally activate when people are asked to think about themselves and reflect on their emotions.

These areas of the brain become thinner due to the fact that, to manage anxiety, the brain alters the signaling patterns of the affected areas, reducing their level of connectivity. In other words, it's as if it gradually shuts down those areas of the brain.

As a result of this thinning of the cerebral cortex, victims of psychological abuse are more likely to suffer from depression, mood swings, and show more extreme emotional reactions. These people gradually lose the ability to reflect on themselves and find the most appropriate way to cope with their emotions. This plunges them into a negative spiral making them even more vulnerable to psychological abuse.

What is the profile of the psychological abuser?

In the popular imagination the image of the psychological abuser is associated with man because he is usually the one who has the most violent behavior. However, it is important to note that since emotional abuse is not physical but involves a hierarchy of power and a relationship of emotional submission, women can also fall into the role of stalker. In fact, the main characteristics of the psychological abuser profile do not vary by gender:

1. He is intolerant

The psychological abuser is usually a rigid and intolerant person who does not respect the opinions and decisions of others. Normally he is a person full of prejudices and stereotypes who often reacts aggressively when something does not correspond to his plans and expectations.

2. He is very authoritarian and controlling

One of the problems with the psychological abuser is that he thinks that only his way of thinking and doing things is correct, so others have to submit to his will. If they don't obey him, he gets angry, even for no reason. Obviously, this person is not open to dialogue because he believes that there is only one truth: his. Anything that doesn't fit his way of seeing the world is just plain wrong. As a result, he will try to control everyone and eventually cause emotional suffocation.

3. Think in terms of: "all or nothing"

Psychological abusers often see life in black and white, do not contemplate colors and do not accept shades of gray. For them there is no middle ground, things are good or bad, and this leads them to develop extremely rigid thinking that hinders their relationships with others and causes constant confrontations.

4. He is an emotional manipulation specialist

These people resort to emotional blackmail to manipulate their victims and get what they want. They can pretend to be sick, if that can do them any benefit, but they can also blame the other or generate fear. Their purpose is to destabilize the victim, from an emotional point of view, to present himself later as his only salvation in such a way that this ends in their hands almost without realizing it.

5. It's fascinating, at least in the beginning

It is very difficult to find out the profile of a psychological abuser because at first this person is charming and caring. He knows how to hide his true "me" until his victim trusts and shows his emotional weaknesses. Only then will it set its destructive and controlling behavior in motion.

6. It is highly critical, but not self-critical

Since the psychological abuser is a very strict person, he does not adapt to criticism. It takes anything as a personal attack, so it will always react by defending itself. He is usually hypersensitive and touchy. But he does not hesitate to criticize others and often uses destructive criticism because his goal is not to make the other grow, but to make him feel bad about subduing him. He also usually tends to face his mistakes, criticisms or a bad day, taking out his frustration on others, which turn into his punching bag.

7. Suffers from emotional lability

The psychological abuser does not know himself well, so he reacts emotionally in a very intense way. We could label him as an emotional illiterate since he has little control and knowledge of his emotions. The problem is that those around them live on a constant emotional swing, because this person can quickly go from being in a good mood and kind to feeling irritated and angry. Not knowing what to expect generates enormous uncertainty and anxiety in those around him.

8. Has low self-esteem

The psychological abuser conveys an image of strength, but actually uses it to hide low self-esteem. This person submits others to feel important but often their aggressive or manipulative behavior is just a facade to hide deep insecurity. This is the real reason why he reacts so badly when he is criticized or shown a mistake he has made.

9. He is numb

These people are not usually very empathetic, they do not put themselves in the victim's place but take a self-centered and selfish vision of the situation from which they are only interested in coming out as winners. This insensitivity is what allows them to manipulate and harm others without feeling guilty.

10. Fa false promise

When the psychological abuser realizes that he may lose control over his victim, he will have no qualms about making false promises. It is common for him to promise to change his behavior, but he never does, simply because he doesn't want to. This person has no qualms about lying to achieve his goals and is not willing to change his way of being to please others or make life easier.

The most common personality disorders in psychological abusers

There are some personality or heightened personality disorders closely related to psychological abuse.

- narcissistic personality disorder. The person has an exaggerated and grandiose perception of himself, believes that he deserves the admiration of others. He tends to exaggerate his achievements and thinks he has all rights but no duties. He often behaves arrogantly and lacks empathy.

- antisocial personality disorder. This person shows contempt for the rights of others and the rules of society. He has no qualms about lying, resorting to violence, breaking rules and laws and does so without feeling any remorse.

- borderline personality disorder. This person is usually involved in intense and unstable relationships, mostly due to their constant mood swings. The problem is that he has little control over his impulses, so he can cause himself a lot of harm and harm others. She is likely to feel empty, get angry easily, or develop a relational psychological profile marked by paranoia.

Are psychological abusers aware of the damage they cause?

Psychological abusers are not always fully aware of the harm they cause to their victims. In some cases these people adopt this way of behaving because it is the only one they know, because they do not have the psychological tools they need to relate in a more assertive way. In fact, it is likely that during their childhood they were victims of emotional abuse themselves.

Other psychological abusers, on the other hand, are aware of the damage they cause, but they don't care because they lack empathy and believe that the end justifies the means. These stalkers are even more dangerous because they usually have no limits in achieving their goals.

In any case, whether the abuser is aware or not, the victim must be clear that it is not his fault and no where to put up with the situation. Psychological abuse is also violence.


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