The internet – and especially YouTube – is now full of content on narcissism and narcissists, to the point where it’s turning into something of an industry. You can spend all day, every day if you want now watching videos and consuming other content on narcissism, because there’s so much out there.
After a narcissistic relationship, we often feel a need to devour information on the topic to understand and process what happened to us. Narcissistic abuse can be so bewildering and confusing while we’re going through it that we’re left afterwards with the question of “why?”. Why did they behave like that? Why would someone do that? And so we consume content to try and find answers.
But would doing this indefinitely actually be a good thing? Can we consume too much content on narcissists/narcissism? Is it possible to reach saturation point when watching all these videos on the topic is actually doing more harm than good? The answer is most definitely yes.
It is possible to over-consume content on narcissism to the point where it now longer serves our growth and instead keeps us locked in addictive cycles of rumination, anger and other negative emotions. It is necessary to consume a certain amount of high quality content on narcissism to upgrade our understanding, but at some point our attention must turn to looking forwards, not backwards, and focusing on our own growth and development rather than the behavior of abusers.
In other words, it is better to consume as much content as you need to to understand and move on. It is not usually advised to spend years consuming this content and staying stuck on narcissism forums. Let’s look in more detail at why.
It Is Possible To Consume Too Much Content On Narcissism
It is definitely possible to go into “overload” regarding consuming videos and other content on narcissism, to the point where a person is actually sabotaging, not helping, their own growth and recovery.
Some common patterns or traps people can fall into here when recovering from narcissistic abuse and overconsuming content on it are:
- Spending an inordinate amount of time watching narcissism videos on YouTube, to the point where they’re obsessing about it and not interacting with the outside world or focusing on their own growth.
- Actually getting “riled up” and triggered by some of this content (which some of it is cynically designed to do), and getting caught up in rage/rumination and revenge fantasies, and other unproductive paths.
- Spending a lot of time on narcissism forums, where you’re pinging back and forth in an echo chamber and not really challenging each other to grow and move on.
- As a follow on point, these forums are often characterized by constant arguments and spats, since you’ve got a lot of people together who are often still angry, easily triggered, emotionally dis-regulated and sometimes with diminished empathy themselves because of trauma.
- Spending too much time focusing on abusers (their tactics, behaviors, traits, personality disorders) – external focus – rather than on one’s own growth.
- To focus ONLY on what the narcissist/sociopath did – their behavior – and not on any mistakes the person themself might have made (no ownership for one’s own mistakes and misjudgements). With narcissistic relationships, there’s ALWAYS a bargain or a deal (the “covert contract” or “bait”) that’s made on some level that allowed the relationship to start and continue. This needs acknowledging and owning.
- Spending too much time obsessing over narcissistic abuse “jargon” and made up words that seem to keep multiplying in this space.
- Falling into an overly externalized locus on control, where you start to believe that life is happening TO you, rather than seeing yourself as a person with agency and control that can influence your life.
- Falling too much into “victim mindset”, where you constantly see yourself as a victim and not a “survivor” or a “recovered person”.
We’ll qualify some of these points in a section below, since it actually IS important to properly educate yourself and upgrade your understanding on narcissism after abuse. It’s just that a lot of people take this too far and get stuck on this stage, which isn’t healthy long term.
Abdul Saad On Overconsuming Content On Narcissism
Clinical psychologist Abdul Saad – who specializes in narcissism and narcissistic abuse – just recently made a video on exactly this topic – the overconsuming of content on narcissism and the damage it can cause. I’ve embedded it below
4 Reasons To Stop Watching Narcissism Videos in 2023
Here are some great points made in the video:
- Large parts of the narcissism recovery space on YouTube are grouping people together to obsess about narcissists and narcissistic abuse in a way that’s negative and not positive (“misery loves company”). This is drawing some viewers into an obsessive/addictive pattern, where they are always wanting their next “fix” of narcissism content. It’s turning the space more into an industry than a truly educational or therapeutic space.
- A “saturation point” can be reached, where the person isn’t really learning anything, but is just watching videos that tell them things they already know, perhaps just repackaged in a slightly different way to last time. The whole energy behind it becomes repetitive, stale and obsessive.
- The over-consumption of narcissism content keeps people stuck in a cycle of resentment, grievance, anger, blame and pain (negative emotions instead of positive ones) for too long a period of time. Recovery is only ever achieved by working through these negative emotions, not staying stuck in them.
- People who you could consider fully recovered from narcissistic abuse are NOT obsessively consuming narcissism content online for inordinate amounts of time and very quickly move on from this stage. Instead, these people that truly transform are focused on understanding and healing their own weaknesses, wounds, and blind spots, and on building their own strengths and sense of vocation/purpose.
- The over-saturation of over-consumption of narcissism content has also led to a problem for over-diagnosis and false labelling of anyone we don’t like or who has upset us as a “narcissist”. Full blown NPD actually has quite a strict diagnostic criteria and is quite rare. Not everyone who is a bit rude or unpleasant is a “narcissist”.
The Balancing Act Between Upgrading Understanding and Moving On
This is where I’ll qualify the above points made about over-consuming content on narcissism, because I would also be the first to argue that there is a balancing act to this, and that it’s also possible to fall into the opposite trap of not educating yourself enough on narcissism. This is actually the trap I fell into in my own life several years ago.
Let me demonstrate what I mean by giving examples of each extreme:
Trap #1 – After a narcissistic relationship, you do consume some content, and in fact get some nice cathartic insights from it. But after only dipping your toe in it, you think “aha, OK, I’m sorted now, next time this happens or I bump into one of these people, I’ll know what to do”. But you don’t! The next time you encounter a pathological, abusive personality like a narcissist, the exact same patterns play out as the first time, and you get sent back to square one all over again. You upgraded your understanding a little, but not enough, to really prevent narcissistic abuse from happening again.
Trap #2 – You go to the opposite extreme, spending years on narcissism forums and obsessively consuming content, ruminating, raging and staying stuck in victimhood narratives. All content consumed is focused on the past – what narcissists do, what they did to you, how bad they are. Little or no time is put into moving forward and focusing on one’s own growth and development. Your YouTube feed is full of narcissism channels, and you spend a large amount of time every day watching videos telling you things you already know about narcissists. Nothing really moves forward.
Happy Medium – It’s OK and often necessary to become a mini-expert on narcissists or psychopaths after being abused by one. It’s a a good idea to consume the amount of content necessary to upgrade your understanding to the point where this kind of abuse will not happen to you again – you see the red flags, and ACT on them and draw away or leave. It’s also important to be very selective with the channels you watch, going for quality rather than quantity with what and who you watch (Richard Grannon, Dr Ramani and Abdul Saad are 3 good channels, because they focus on moving forward). Don’t watch content from “meat-grinder” channels just churning out daily videos on narcissism for the sake of it and not adding anything new or original to the discussion. Once you’ve learned what you need to to understand what happened to you and why, you draw back from this content and instead focus on your own growth and development, and not on abusers or the past.
Hopefully these examples illustrate that it’s about finding the right balance for you (it will differ with each person) between consuming enough content to help you understand, learn and let go, but not too much that you start obsessing on the minutiae of narcissists/narcissism and abuse and don’t move on.
Moving From External Focus To Internal Focus
To break the process of recovery from narcissistic abuse down into two broad stages, you can see it ideally moving from external focus to internet focus.
Let’s define what each stage could entail:
Stage 1 – External focus – Focused on abusers, personality disorders, abuse patterns and “jargon”. On learning what happened to you and why. Necessary, but can’t stay there forever. Includes the following:
- A general obsession with learning about the Cluster B disorders. We’ll often devour books, videos and courses on everything about psychopaths/sociopaths/narcissists/borderlines, becoming a mini-expert on the topic.
- Will subscribe to YouTube channels on the topic, like Dr Ramani Durvasula and Richard Grannon.
- A strong focus on understanding toxic relationship/abuse patterns, like gas-lighting, identity erosion, idealize-devalue-discard, hoovering, and so on.
- May join recovery communities on social media or websites, of other people in the same position.
Stage 2 – Internal Focus – Move away from this to focus more on one’s own growth, healing one’s own wounds, transforming one’s own life into something more positive, vocational and forward focused. Could include:
- You are also using mindfulness and meditation to actually “go inside” yourself more to see what is actually going on – exploring ugly emotions and staying with them for a while to see what messages they are bringing. There is less focus on looking outwards towards abusers.
- After a certain amount of internal focus and deconstructing the protective self (see Whole Again), there may be some core shame to work through, a ball of negative core emotion that external focus was distracting you from, that may actually go back much further into your past than the toxic relationship. Finding a good therapist can help with this.
- You will start to look at and address core issues like Co-dependence that may have been there before the toxic relationship, and in fact made you an easy target.
- Much more focus on self care, self improvement and moving on – meditation, exercise, psychotherapy, diet etc.
- Less obsessive focus on Cluster B’s, abuse dynamics and the past – you’ve learnt everything you need to now. Much more focus on the future and moving forward.
- Less negative emotions regarding past relational traumas and abusers. A complete dis-interest in who they are, who they’re with or what they’re up to now. They’re completely uninteresting to you. More detachment and indifference.
- You may back away from communities and unsubscribe from certain channels once you feel you’ve learnt what you need to.
See our full article on these two stages for a more in depth look at what each stage might look like, plus some tips to move from stage 1 to stage 2.
Useful Resources On Moving On From Narcissistic Abuse
There are some good roadmaps for what this process of recovery from external to internal focus looks like from people who have successfully overcome narcissistic abuse. Let’s offer some resources that can help with this.
Jackson Mackenzie – His documented journey on recovery from psychopathic abuse covers this switch perfectly, and you can see it in the difference between his two main books. His first book, Psychopath Free, is focused entirely on abusers – the signs, behaviors, red flags, abuse patterns, terminology, etc. His second book Whole Again, is focused very little on that, and instead on using mindfulness to go inside and address one’s own core wounding to heal. By his own admission, the self awareness his meditative practice gave him helped him realize his mind was going way too far in the direction of obsessing on “jargon” and personality disorders, and instead he turned inwards to focus on himself and releasing the feelings locked in his own body, to heal.
Richard Grannon’s Break The Trauma Bond course – A very powerful course which focuses on journaling exercises designed to help a person break free psychologically from abusers by integrating reality, breaking denial, owning their own role in relationships. The video in this course segment titled “Accelerated Healing Through Overcoming Denial” is a must-watch for this particular topic of over-consumption of narcissism content. Grannon is blunt but brilliant in this particular video, and there are MANY people in the narcissism recovery space who badly need to hear what he says about this obsession on content on abusers rather than oneself.