Women Winning Divorce with Heather B. Quick, Esq.

#104 Do I Have A Narcissistic Family? With Julie Hall

Episode Summary

In this episode, Heather Quick, attorney and owner of Florida Women’s Law Group, discusses narcissistic family systems, how they’re created, how to recognize them, and ultimately what that means in the case of divorce, with expert in narcissism, Julie Hall. “Particularly with the more covert narcissist, who's more passive aggressive, they often really want to be liked, and they can go to great lengths to present a really likable, great humanitarian kind of image to outsiders, and they often, in a divorce scenario will rev that way up,” Julie Hall

Episode Notes

About Our Guest

Julie L. Hall is an author, journalist, educational writer, editor, poet, coach, and consultant. She speaks and writes about narcissism and complex relational trauma for outlets including BBC, Psychology Today, HuffPost, Himalaya Learning, Narcissist Apocalypse Podcast, Surviving Narcissism with Dr. Les Carter, The Addicted Mind Podcast, Psych Central, Vice, RVNTV’s Dr. Sue Show, AVAIYA University, Real Divorce Talk Radio, Command the Courtroom, and the CPTSD Foundation’s We Are Healing Trauma 2020 Summit for Survivors.


Her book The Narcissist in Your Life: Recognizing the Patterns and Learning to Break Free is available from major outlets and has been widely translated. Library Journal recommends it as a starred psychology book, saying “[a]ll libraries, in particular university collections supporting mental health and psychiatry curriculum, will find this a worthy addition.” The book evolved from Julie’s work as founder of The Narcissist Family Files, an award-winning international resource for narcissistic abuse and complex trauma understanding and recovery.


Notable Links:


Official website: https://narcissistfamilyfiles.com/

Book: https://narcissistfamilyfiles.com/books/





"Women Winning Divorce" is a radio show and podcast hosted by Heather Quick: Attorney, Entrepreneur, Author and Founder of Florida Women’s Law Group, the only divorce firm for women, by women. Each week Heather sits down with innovative professionals and leaders who are focused on how you can be your best self, before, during or after divorce. 

In these conversations, we are looking at how women can win at life.  With our guests, we enjoy the opportunity to explore ways all women can win and enhance their life, no matter where they are in their journey, because divorce is just point in life, not the end and not what defines you, rather it can be a catalyst for growth. 

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Episode Transcription


Heather Quick: [00:00:00] Welcome to Women Winning Divorce. I am your host, Heather Quick. I am an attorney, entrepreneur, author, and founder of Florida Women's Law Group, the only divorce firm for women by women. I love thinking big, thinking outside the box, creating creative solutions for women, and empowering women to win in all aspects of their life.

Our approach at Florida Women's Law Group is to provide women with a strategy to not only achieve their objectives, but win at life. I believe that what may show up as adversity is simply an opportunity to change and improve your life. In each episode, I sit down with Innovative professionals and leaders who are focused on how you can be your best self before, during, and after divorce.

In these conversations, we are looking at how women can win at life. I have the unique opportunity to meet women when they are at a transition period of life. But that is only the beginning to becoming your best self and winning at life on your [00:01:00] terms with our guests We enjoy the opportunity to explore ways all women can win and enhance their life No matter where they are in their journey because divorce is just a point in life Not the end and not what defines you rather a catalyst for your growth Welcome to this week's episode of Women Winning Divorce. I'm Heather Quick, owner and attorney at Florida Women's Law Group. Today, I'm joined by Julie Hall. Julie is an author, journalist, and Educational writer, coach, consultant, and founder of Narcissist Family Files. She speaks and [00:02:00] writes about narcissism and complex relational trauma via many different forms of media, but is most notably the author of The Narcissist in Your Life, Recognizing the Patterns and Learning to Break Free.


Julie Hall: Julie. Hi, Heather. Thanks. I'm happy to be here. 

Heather Quick: We are so happy to have you today. And you're a busy lady. You do a 

Julie Hall: lot. Yes. It's true. I do. I'm actually in a somewhat quieter phase right now while I'm researching my next book, actually. Oh, 

Heather Quick: yeah. So exciting. That's a little teaser. We'll touch on that later for sure.

But welcome to the show. Of course. We really, we've talked about narcissism in the past and living with a narcissist, but this topic. This today is do I have a narcissistic family? So this is going to be great. And I know very informative for all of us, but tell us a little bit about how you got [00:03:00] to where you are now professionally.


Julie Hall: love to know. Okay. Yeah. I started out, I've always been a writer. That's the through line in my episodic career. And I started out doing educational writing for all ages. And then shifted into more journalistic writing and I got into narcissism in the narcissism zone because I came from a narcissistic family myself.

So I was on my own long journey, trying to figure out what the heck was going on in my family and in my own life with my own trauma history. I had figured some things out and I actually was working on a literary memoir and I, these days as a writer, you have to have a platform to get a publisher.

So long story short I, in order to create a platform for my memoir, I started writing articles about narcissism. To and I ended up that sort of took on a life of its [00:04:00] own. And I ended up focusing on narcissism and setting the memoir aside. And I ended up writing a book. I launched a blog, so I launched the Narcissist Family Files blog.

I. Was I, my focus has always been on the narcissistic family system. It's an area in the narcissism sphere that is still to this day neglected. And that's really the core of it. That's where it all begins. And so what happens in the family happens then in our relationships, in our adult relationships, and then what gets recreated in our family system.

And then there are feedback loops societally from the family to societal institutions, and then back to the family again. So it's all interrelated and it's highly relevant in the narcissism, in all issues of narcissism. 

Heather Quick: That's fascinating. And I know what, I see what you mean, because no one's ever talked about that.

As [00:05:00] many guests as I've, that I've had on the show, and we've talked about narcissism and dealing with it, but never the family system. So I'm really excited to get. Into that today. Now for our listeners who may not know, how do you define 

Julie Hall: narcissism? That's a really good question. Because we talk about it a lot, but it can get really confusing and unclear about what we really mean.

The kind of narcissism I'm talking about here is the pathological level of personality disorder 

and what's happening with the narcissistic personality, it's a defensive personality structure that begins forming early in life. And it involves many developmental deficits. So it's a child experiencing attachment problems and internalizing shame around that. And having trouble establishing stable, self esteem, stable, emotional regulation.

And then overcompensates with grandiosity. So that child is also having [00:06:00] emotional splitting between bad self and good self and having trouble integrating a realistic sense of self that is based on reality and sees other people in those terms, too. What we're dealing with is somebody with very black and white thinking, which is tied to that inner splitting phenomenon, which we can talk about more later.

Okay. A not developing empathy. So alienated fundamentally alienated from other people. So having trouble establishing stable self esteem, dealing with emotional regulation, dysregulation having that black and white thinking and splitting not developing that empathy. So being very alienated.

Then developing all these sort of compensatory strategies that are that create that grandiose sense of superiority and entitlement over others. And 

Heather Quick: we can, yeah, we can certainly dive into it. But [00:07:00] yes, that's. When we've talked about the narcissist on this show before, we always hear the lack of empathy and the grandiosity.

I have never heard that black and white thinking though, in the splitting. And is that kind of like an, either like an all or nothing type way of looking at yourself 

Julie Hall: and others. It is very much and it's so it's this psychological splitting and it's an inability to integrate a realistic, complex, nuanced sense of self and others in terms of your emotional understanding of the world.

Okay. You're, if you're hearing the crackling, that's my wood stove. I have a fire. So it's. Seeing others as all good or all bad and seeing the self that way. So that's why narcissistic people often vacillate between this really [00:08:00] grandiose sense of themselves, over inflated sense of perfection and omnipotence and infallibility, or they slip into a kind of self contempt and deep.

Shame cycle. So they cycle between those two things and when their self esteem is threatened or they're dealing with whatever, problems in life that we all deal with, they tend to lapse. They can collapse into that shame cycle of self contempt and where every, they can only see themselves as all bad.

Heather Quick: So let me ask you this because. This is a great perspective and we're going to get into, your approach philosophy, how you distinguish yourself, but I have only, talked about the narcissist from the way they treat someone else, but it is seem to be very much. In line with that, because it's either like the love bombing and you're the greatest [00:09:00] thing in the world or you're the worst thing in the world.

And, the cause of all my problems. It seems as though that must maybe factor into the cycle that the narcissist. Narcissist themselves is going through with their self evaluation, 

Julie Hall: Yeah, often the focus is what's the experience for the other person in relationship with that.

And, but it's so helpful to know what's actually going on internally for the narcissist, 

Heather Quick: right? It really is in particularly because I want to talk about how you distinguish yourself Transcribed in this field, particularly in your books and what you've looked at, because. What if we're talking about your child, it's very important to understand maybe what they're going through.

So how do you distinguish yourself, like an approach or philosophy within this field? Because narcissism is a hot topic for sure. 

Julie Hall: As we've talked about a little bit here I do focus. So much on the narcissistic family. That's been [00:10:00] always been my main interest, and that's why I named my blog Narcissist Family Files.

And and I'm, but I'm also, I'm very interested in the science of it. Okay. And the attachment fa the attachment part of this, which is huge. Which doesn't really get talked about much, not enough. It's not well under, it hasn't filtered down to into public discourse very much yet. So it's 

Heather Quick: well, let's open that up because I've never had anybody talk to me about that either.

So I'd love to and I know our listeners would understand it when you say the attachment. Part of it what is that? What does that mean? 

Julie Hall: Okay. Yeah, human attachment. The experiences that we're having in early childhood with our primary caregivers are profound. That.

The human drive to attach to, an infant and a child, everything survival depends on attachment and not just,[00:11:00] not just survival in a sense of I'm getting food and protection. It's I'm getting my nervous system, my brain is developing in relationship with those adults, with those people who are there to love me and do all the rest of the good stuff, being modeling and doing the other caretaking and teaching and all that stuff.

But. That attachment relationship is where we form our sense of self and where we form our relational self. So how we, what we expect of others, how we see ourselves in relationship with others, how we form a sense of self and our ability to self regulate and manage our emotions, understand our emotions.

All these things are deeply related to how we develop empathy, how we develop our ability to be intimate and to trust and to cooperate. [00:12:00] So what often is missed in the conversation about narcissism and these issues, is how profoundly social humans are. We're primates and we do virtually everything together and our survival depends.

And that's at its height really in early life when we're figuring when we're forming our nervous system and our brain and our sense of self. We're 

Heather Quick: talking, you said infancy, so this is. Thanks. First 

Julie Hall: few years of life, the primary attachment years are like age up to two to three.

So those first two years of life are where basically our brains are learning about. Other people who we are building that sense of self and our relational self and what we expect from others and [00:13:00] how we relate to others. So those are the internal working models that we're forming that then inform the rest of our lives.

So those are the, that's the sort of blueprint that we're carrying around about self and other. And it is and again, this is it's. It's easy to not factor this in because these are not those internal working models are not conscious, right? They're not conscious memories because we're not making conscious memories.

At that point in life, right? So we don't have the ability to be like, oh, yeah, I remember this and this and this and this, but the right brain, the implicit unconscious brain has all that information there. All that filed away pattern, right? Condition patterns. 

Heather Quick: Now, how do you spot a narcissistic family system?

For example, me as attorneys and, we [00:14:00] have, one of the family coming in for a divorce or something like that, would there be things that should clue us in? Maybe that's what's going on. 

Julie Hall: Yeah, absolutely. It's it's funny because the way I think of this, it can be really difficult to spot this until.

You figure it out. And then it's not hard anymore. And this is something that happened with me and it happens with many of my clients and readers who work on this period for a period of time and learn about this and attuned to this. Once you get there, you can't go back. You can't unsee it, which is a good thing.

It's painful. It's at times horrifying, but it's also really important. It's important for all of us. To know what it looks like to be safe, right? To make healthy, safe choices in our lives, in our relationships. So what does it look like? 

Heather Quick: Or maybe [00:15:00] scenarios that we would hear as an attorney, so it's different relationship, obviously, than if you're in a romantic relationship, but what would be some things that should.

At least get us thinking, oh, that could be going on in that particular family. 

Julie Hall: Narcissistic people are extremely controlling, okay? They have this ongoing delusion that they're better than other people and that they're entitled to things other people aren't entitled to, okay? That is the sustaining, grandiose sense of self that is their coping mechanism throughout life, right?

So there's this ongoing delusion, and in the family system, signs onto this. It's everybody Is supposed to support the delusional grandiosity of the dominant narcissist in the family. Okay. Often that's a guy. It's not always often there. There's a woman or both parents can be narcissistic too. That's really common actually.

But That an unwillingness to [00:16:00] compromise a sense. A ongoing sense of entitlement entitled behavior. There can also another feature that is quite common is a victim narrative. So this narrative that. The world is against me. Everyone's unfair to me. I've really had hard knocks and anytime there's any conflict or problem or disappointment, it's unfair to me.

So this it's I think of it as a grandiose victim hood. So anytime there's a problem. I'm the one being, harmed, right? It's an inability and refusal to consider anyone else's point of view. And that's the sort of what's a deep fundamental about the narcissist is they don't they don't see other people.

They don't understand other people. They may understand how to manipulate people. They can study people and be really perceptive about certain things to [00:17:00] get what they want. They don't have a good, deep understanding of human emotion. Because they don't have it about themselves. They're not, so they're that piece, that emotion piece is missing.

They're not empathizing. They're not connecting emotionally, but they, but the thing about narcissism is there. When we talk about a narcissistic mask, it is a good metaphor because they are masking. They have to mask in society to not be ostracized. They have to. Give the appearance of caring or being fair or, Yeah, so 

Heather Quick: now, why is it?

Okay. So I have so many questions off that, which the 1st 1 is though. Okay. How with everything you've explained, how do 2 people that are narcissists, like, how do they exist together? That just doesn't seem. Possible. But that just came to my mind when you're explaining that and then saying sometimes it is both, it's a 

Julie Hall: good [00:18:00] man and woman.

So essentially like what I usually see with narcissistic relationships is often there's a more dominant more perhaps overt extroverted, type that it's more socially dominant. Okay. And more obviously narcissistic, right? More obviously grandiose. That's what we often call the more overt narcissist and then that person may partner with a more covert type of narcissist.

Okay. So someone who is not seeking the spotlight. Someone who is, willing to defer or be subjugated in that relationship to a degree, right? And who may be really impressed with the dominant narcissist. But he's also, but he's behaving in passive aggressive ways. So there's a obvious dominance, but then there's this passive aggressive kind of dynamic back and forth between them.[00:19:00]

There's usually a lot of conflict, but it's also often a sort of an agreement to put up with each other's stuff. And they don't recognize. They don't necessarily. That's their normal, right? And you project their own cruelty, lack of empathy exploitiveness.

They tend to project that onto others and assume other people are the same way. So they don't necessarily know. Because there's a 

Heather Quick: little bit of lack of self or lack of self awareness is how you present. Okay. Now, okay, this seems like common sense. However, I need to ask. Why is this important to spot in romantic relationships, and particularly family 

Julie Hall: structure?

You mean for a lawyer, or 

Heather Quick: For anybody. For mostly for just individuals, in 

Julie Hall: a relationship. You mean which thing? What, which thing are you looking for? 

Heather Quick: If you can recognize that there is the narcissistic family [00:20:00] system if you're in a relationship, 

Julie Hall: Anybody who so the other so so another scenario for.

for the narcissistic family. So a typical narcissistic family. So there can be two narcissistic parents. So maybe one of them is dominant and the other one is less but still somewhat narcissistic or maybe very narcissistic. Or there may be a very kind of what we call codependent enabling person in that partnership.

So the other. The, in America, in a couple, the other person is not a narcissist, but they've likely come out of a similar type of trauma themselves growing up. So they may have come out of a narcissistic family system or another type of family system where there is a mental illness where there is.

Attachment trauma. So the person who's going to partner with a narcissist who isn't a [00:21:00] narcissist themselves. They have probably come out of a similar kind of family system and they have they've had trust violations normalized in their relationships with their parents. They've had a dominant, a domination submission type of.

parent relationship, perhaps modeled for them. They have, enabling type of types of people who have empathy, who have the ability to self reflect and take responsibility and love others are typically have a very sort of fear based. Relational pattern where they feel safe if they make sure that the other people are feeling regulated.

So their sense of safety and emotional regulation is based on taking care of others and making sure they're calm. So that's why it's 

Heather Quick: codependent. That's why you're talking about. They're focused on keeping the other person regulator. [00:22:00] So that's when you say enabler codependent dynamic, that's.

That's how that shows 

Julie Hall: up, right? And they sign on to the narcissist's delusional sense of grandiosity, sense of entitlement over others. They sign on to that to whatever narrative is dominating the family that elevates that dominant narcissist as the boss and as the person who tells the story of the family and of it.

Yeah I was going to 

Heather Quick: say, so this situation, which is probably I don't know if it's the most common, but where you've got the enabler codependent. Person with the narcissist, how, explaining that, like, how might that show up in a divorce process? Sounds it could be an interesting way that portrays itself or 

Julie Hall: shows up.

So for a lawyer in this situation, dealing with this kind of divorce dynamic, okay. Or anyone [00:23:00] close to the situation who cares it's so important to recognize that most people who partner long term with a narcissistic personality have their own attachment trauma. Okay.

So they have a background of trauma and that's been normalized for them. Those kinds of dynamics and that, that. Fear dynamic and that desire to manage and take care of and keep the narcissist calm and happy. So that person then they themselves have emotional dysregulation issues. They have self esteem problems.

They have internalized shame typically. So those are. Typical enabler types of problems, they have boundary problems that come out of those self esteem problems. And so that's what set them up for that. Being in that long term relationship with the narcissist, right? And tolerating that kind of treatment.

[00:24:00] Now, I'm not saying that everybody who partners with a narcissist necessarily has a lot of. Trauma, but that is what I generally see that there's a piece in this. That's important to recognize though. And that is that there is so much sexism. There is so much devaluing of women and girls that, and so much.

Relentless objectification of girls and women that many women have been trained into accepting a certain level of domination and devaluation from men. And so that can set us up for getting into a relationship with a narcissistic abusive type who is not empathizing, who is exploiting and manipulating.

Heather Quick: And, yeah, now, are there within that. Are there some concepts you find [00:25:00] yourself explaining more often or repeatedly say, with your client that you're working through 

Julie Hall: this with.

Yeah absolutely. It can be especially for someone who is at the point of divorce from a narcissistic abuser. And that person has been typically been on a long, painful journey. So they have a lot of healing to do and so what I get, there's there are quite a few things, but the need to work on self.

Okay. When we accept this long term dynamic, where we're being subjugated continuously and exploited and treated with contempt a lot of the time, or being treated with idealization. So maybe vacillations on the part of a narcissist vacillating between idealizing you and then devaluing you and holding [00:26:00] you in contempt.

So that's often the pattern in that relationship. What I, one of the things that, that becomes so important for, The person coming out of that relationship and divorcing from that situation is recognizing what got you into that. And to begin with what your own self esteem issues are there and what your own attachment trauma experiences may be, that set you up for accepting that kind of abuse. And. And it's so important in order to also, in order to prevail in the divorce process, you have to separate yourself. You have to recognize what you've been through. You have to be able to accept and really see this person who is diluted, grandiose and contemptuous and really is out to destroy you.

Once the divorce is on the table, that's pretty much inevitable, right? The [00:27:00] narcissist is all about regaining control. And all about basically annihilating that partner, that X. 

Heather Quick: Just like that, the switch flips and it's like you're either, that all or nothing thing we talked about in the beginning, black and white, or they're with me or against me.

So Exactly. That's yeah, that splitting. Now I would like to mention, or I'd love for you to talk a little bit about the trauma bond. Because I think that will help many of our listeners just maybe understand a little bit about themselves and why they're in a relationship or, just for others because they wonder what 

Julie Hall: happened?

Probably many of us have heard trauma bond and we may have, a sense of what that is. It's essentially it's an addictive. Experience okay, where, and it stems from what we were talking about earlier about attachment. Essentially a child who has. Who has violations of trust and a fight flight [00:28:00] fear response in their early attachment relationships with their parents.

So you've got this terrible incompatibility between that need to attach and stay close and that also the fight flight. I got to stay safe and get away. So that is a trauma bond. Okay, that is a trauma bond. And it's the original trauma bond for many of us. And it sets us up for that kind of dynamic in our later relationships.

So throughout life, so that becomes normalized and it becomes a physical conditioned. An addictive pattern for some of us where, and especially when we've got this idealizing versus devaluing cycle, which is so often the case in a nurse in a relationship with a narcissist where, we're at times experiencing this, or at least in the beginning of the relationship, this feeling, this euphoric feeling of being idealized.

Which [00:29:00] may have been the only thing that passed for love in our own experience in our own family growing up. Okay. Praise that kind of stuff, which is not love. And so versus then the contemptuous behavior. It, and it's often it's intermittently reinforced, which is the most addictive.

It's most effective form of reinforcement right is intermittent. Okay. And it can often it's unconsciously.

It's happening unconsciously in the narcissist behavior, but it can even be conscious on the part of the narcissist. Real you in the right hand with all the good stuff, all the promises and the idealizing, you're amazing, whatever. And then. And then comes the, gut punch. So it's a physically addictive cycle, [00:30:00]

Heather Quick: which is why I guess is my next question is, did how, within a divorce, does it make it more difficult to leave?

And I'm guessing so because of this cycle of addiction to this 

Julie Hall: behavior, right? Absolutely. It is it functions as in a drug addiction. It's the same physiological phenomenon. And in a way, the most addictive kind, in a sense, because it's usually rooted in your, those early childhood, those, attachment experiences that then are so powerfully operating in all of our lives all the time on an unconscious level, usually.

Heather Quick: Which makes it difficult to leave and then also difficult to overcome, like, when you've been in this abuse and, what are some other reasons, that it makes it so hard to overcome this abuse and trauma bond? 

Julie Hall: [00:31:00] Often we. So we're carrying often we're carrying beliefs that we deserve that kind of treatment, or we have a fantasy that we're going to finally overcome and get that person to love us or see us or feel with us.

Show up at, in an empathetic way, finally, I can just change my behavior. Those are bargaining when we talk about the grief dimensions of grief, those are bargaining kinds of, thought patterns, right? Of if I just do this, or if I just hadn't done that. Or if I just explain it again for the 50, 000th time or whatever, if I just find the right way to explain it, then he or she will finally understand.

And that's not what is happening. Narcissist cannot understand, does not want to understand, is incapable of it. And they don't they don't. They don't [00:32:00] care. They don't care the way a healthier person with empathy cares. They're not making that emotional investment. It's not there. And 

Heather Quick: now, or those, and I'll say women, but, I'm suffering from this kind of abuse and trauma bond.

Do you see instances where then physiologically they start to become. Have symptoms or sick of certain things because of this abuse. 

Julie Hall: Absolutely. What's happening is when we're hanging out with narcissistic people. Okay. They're dysregulated. They're contemptuous. They're superior.

They're insulting, they're dominating. Okay. They're devaluing people around them. They may be even really sadistically enjoying it. So what's happening is our nervous system is on fire. We're not safe. We're not feeling safe. Now, a child who grows up in [00:33:00] that kind of environment, what happens is we disconnect from our body.

We all have these amazing bodies that tell us when we're safe, relationally with around other humans or animals, other animals. Yeah. Okay, we all have it's really beautiful, finely tuned system for detecting relational safety or lack of safety. Okay. Aggression, et cetera. But what happens for so many of us and again, the circles back to what we were talking about women.

Who is constantly objectified and devalued we ignore our body signals. We learn to override them. We have all kinds of rationalizations for ourselves. So we learn to ignore that and for a child who grows up in that environment and has that core beginning relational experience laid down physiologically in their bodies, they dissociate [00:34:00] from the body.

Okay, they just, we dissociate from our body telling us, Ooh, we're, this isn't safe. I don't want this. I want to leave. Or I want to fight back. We can't fight back and we can't leave when it's mom or dad. Okay. So we get into a thing where we're really detached from our instincts and we're really disembodied.

Okay. And that's for, with my coaching and with any good therapy for trauma, you have to address that reality. You have to address the disembodiment that happens to people who have experienced this kind of trauma. And so what I'm saying is we have to reconnect and learn to get out of this dissociative pattern, right?

And really tune into what our body knows and what our body's trying to tell us. And so I would say for you as a lawyer. And anybody in the world, [00:35:00] it's I always recommend really attuning to you what your body is feeling in relation to this other person. Do you feel safe? Do you feel do you feel do you feel safe or not?

Do you feel nervous? Do you feel like maybe you're going to, there's going to be something unexpected that's going to come around a gut punch or are you being are you being like. Idealized. Are you being treated to a lot of flattery? Are you being manipulated? Our body knows these things usually.

So tuning into our physical responses to other human beings is probably the best way to detect narcissism. Okay. And but Okay. Going back to your question here, what happens to a person who's having ongoing emotional dysregulation because physiological reactivity in the body, [00:36:00] a fight flight response, essentially in this person in this relationship that they're living with this person in this marriage or family or whatever, what happens when our body is essentially in fight flight, a lot of the time, our nervous system, our sympathetic nervous system is activated. It's extremely draining for your whole body. Other bodily systems slow down. Okay, because your body has to put all of its energy into the danger response, 

Heather Quick: right?

The fight or flight you're in that so often that it's exhausting. I'm sure probably into your immune system. I'm sure your immune system is one 

Julie Hall: of the first to go immune system. It, it messes with. Your musculature, so you can develop what do we do when we're, our shoulders go up, our neck gets tight.

Our back gets tight. Our digestion maybe slows down and get screwed up. Our, there are all kinds of issues that happen. The immune system response. [00:37:00] That's a form of self attack. And that's what we do when we internalize the contempt from the narcissist and the shaming treatment. So when we don't fight back, which is what our body really wants to do, it wants to get away.

Wants to protect self when we're in that relationship constantly, and we're experiencing that as our environment we then internalize it. Many of us direct those feelings of anger, which are rightful, physical responses to violation. We turn it on ourselves and so it shows up as. Immune problems and all kinds of other issues.

Heather Quick: Yeah, and I do I see so many, where it with our business in the divorce, when we 1st meet our clients they're in a difficult situation across the board, whatever is going on and end of a relationship, but what we get the pleasure and opportunity to see is how far they can come [00:38:00] once they get out of particularly very.

Toxic relationships and narcissism, because we'll see them come alive again and, they come back to the person they were meant to be, which is wonderful, but they got to get there 1st and, be able to get. Now you write in your book which the book, the narcissist in your life, recognizing the patterns and learning to break free which I highly recommend and we'll have the links below for our listeners.

But you did write in there about the elements of denial and secrecy. How could this be applied to a divorce situation? 

Julie Hall: Yeah good question. Denial is a huge piece of the narcissistic family and how it operates. We've got to present a positive image to outsiders. We've got to we're You know, we're a great family.

We don't have problems. There's always denial of the dysfunction and denial of the abuse and denial [00:39:00] of the fear, the atmosphere of fear and shaming and all the problems, the emotional chaos maybe physical sexual abuse, so wherever there's abuse, there's like denial of the abuse. That's, that's how abusive people operate. Yes. And what the enabling person, who's not an abuser necessarily. The child denies the problem and blames self. Okay. And abuse always breeds in secrecy, right? Yeah. It has to be kept secret.

That's the, that's, and the narcissist needs to control things. All the time. And that's one of the sort of main rules in the narcissistic family is we don't talk about what's really going on. We don't acknowledge it even to ourselves or each other. Certainly we don't, we deny it and everything's great.

And mom and dad are amazing parents. That's the crazy piece of narcissism is that [00:40:00] it's not just that there's contempt and abuse and shaming. It's that. On top of it all we all have to pretend that we're great, that we're really happy, that we're, we present well to the outside world, that we're, highly functioning and better than other people.

Which that takes 

Heather Quick: a lot of energy 

Julie Hall: as well. Yeah, absolutely. So again, 

Heather Quick: another layer onto that exhaustion and, wearing your body systems down. 

Julie Hall: And for you as the lawyer or any lawyer in this situation or anybody close to the situation who cares, it's so it's, it is really important to know and remember that any kind of family system like this, any abusive dynamic like this.

Is going to always have secrecy and denial, and that's going to be a difficult long term process for the healthier partner, the abused partner, to get out of, right? And [00:41:00] for the kids, obviously, too, huge, and it can take a long time. And that's not something that we can just reason our way through.

It's a process and our brains deny things that we feel unable to manage that are overwhelming, right? For us to protect us. But when we have this as a longterm denial, as a longterm defense is its own problem then, But denial in childhood is really inevitable and necessary to some degree. 

Heather Quick: Now, okay, so when you do make the choice to leave and, you you recognize the situation how do you do so safely?

Do you have any tips or advice for anybody listening? 

Julie Hall: You plan. Okay, you plan. You keep your mouth shut. You get really careful and strategic and [00:42:00] you have to, you don't look for validation from the narcissist. You don't explain your intentions. You don't share your plans.

You're not going to be dealing with somebody who's going to be fair or empathetic toward what you're experiencing. You may still want that from that person and think somehow you're going to get it. You're probably carrying some residual sense that you're going to, you still want that or think it might happen.

So it's extremely important to recognize. You're not going to get that, and it's not safe to share any of that, right? You have to be you have to make a plan. You have to get support. You have to be careful about who you trust with sharing information because lots of people don't understand this, and they may have their own complex reasons for denial around these things.

These are narcissists, narcissism, and these realities in families. This kind of abuse are societally denied. There's societal [00:43:00] denial around a lot of this. We don't want to admit or acknowledge that some parents are incapable of loving their children that some parents are cruel and and all the rest.

Heather Quick: Yeah, I think it gets too often dismissed and accepted a lot of this behavior because mostly it's. On the extreme end is with men, at least. My experience and just in interviewing a lot of professionals and talking to a lot of people, it's certainly more prevalent in men, I think.

And so then with women as the victims, and as we talked about earlier just really gets discounted as though that you're, and not believed often because very often it's hidden, and you don't, others don't see it, so they 

Julie Hall: don't believe it. And the narcissistic personality, again, like they go to great lengths to appear to, to present well.

Okay. Particularly the more of a covert narcissist, who's more passive [00:44:00] aggressive, they often have. They really want to be liked, and they can go to great lengths to present a really likable, great humanitarian kind of image to outsiders, and they often, in a divorce scenario, they will often rev that way up.

With the people around them, right? So they'll go to great lengths to appear like the good guy in the situation and to undermine that X and they'll, and, with lies, distortions, an ongoing smear campaign, those things happen all the time. They 

Heather Quick: do, and those covert ones are almost in a way can be much more dangerous to your well, being because of the nature of how passive they are.

But yet it's insidious the 

Julie Hall: behavior. Definitely. And often again, a good thing to look for in, in identifying that type of narcissist is the victim narrative. [00:45:00] Cause it's, that always me, everybody's unfair to me. I'm such a good guy 

Heather Quick: or girl. Absolutely. Absolutely. We I can't believe our time is up today but I do, want to ask you a few more questions, but mostly, what have you learned from working with women and families throughout your career that you could share with our listeners today?

Julie Hall: Let's see, I

was circling back to what we've talked a bit about, attachment and those early life experiences and what we're bringing to our adult relationships from our past, from our own family of origin dynamics. Those are always profound pieces in this and so it is so important to do that work on self.

And it's so this is so generational. So this kind of trauma, narcissism, and this kind of mental [00:46:00] illness and these attachment these forms of attachment trauma are highly generational. They get passed down through our own modeling and other. Other pieces to our kids. And so what I see is it's so important to do this work in ourselves for ourselves and also for our kids and our grandkids.

So it to repair this kind of generational trauma pattern, which in. So many cases goes way back yeah, that's how far back again and again. I see this. I've had upwards of 500 clients coming out of narcissistic family type systems. And this is almost always the case that when we marry somebody who's in this level of pathology it's.

It's coming out of a history of trauma in the family systems. And so [00:47:00] it's so important to do that work on self and do better modeling for our kids. And also, I've also, I'm continually amazed at people's resilience and people's ability to love. We can call, narcissism depending on.

The context that we look at it, if we look at it in terms in sort of psychological terms, we can call it a pathology and a mental illness. If we look at it in a sort of, we can call it immoral, unethical, we can call it evil. In a more religious context. Those are all Different ways of understanding what narcissism is, but it's it's people who hurt other people.

Okay. People who hurt people and. So it's, there's a lot of it and it's been normalized in our culture. There's a lot of normalizing of narcissistic behaviors and values, dominating [00:48:00] behavior shame superficiality, materialism. Those are all very narcissistic traits. Values. So it's become normalized, but it's not normal and it's not what we need as human beings.

And it's not what our kid, it is the essence of trauma to grow up with narcissistic parents or parents, right? Yeah. Verifying. 

Heather Quick: I appreciate that so much because I do think that is a great takeaway. You got to work on yourself and you got to understand what brought you to this relationship so that you can be better and do better for yourself and your family.

Now, I do have to ask you, Julie, you mentioned you're working on a new book, or you've got a new 1 coming out. Briefly, we're almost out of time, but please tell us a little bit about what it's about, so that we can get a teaser on that. I got a whizz on my 

Julie Hall: elevator pitch about the book. I'm like, I'm, yeah, I'm working on a new [00:49:00] book, and it's really more, it focuses My previous book was really all about the narcissistic family and narcissistic relationships.

And this one is looking at the more gets into the, some of the attachment things that we've talked about a bit here and all of that then gets institutionalized societally in all of our social groupings and in our leadership. And in our sort of cultural values and how that kind of the narcissistic alienation really, because narcissists are essentially alienated from other human beings and from their own humanity.

So they, so my new book is all about, how those things are connected to our relationship our family relationships and our institutions, our leadership and our relationship with the planet. So all of those things are [00:50:00] connected. And yeah, I'm working on the book. I'm it's. It'll be a little while I'm doing all righty.

Heather Quick: We will stay tuned and for all of our listeners We will have all of Julie's information below which the website narcissist family files calm Will be there as well and Julie Thank you so much for joining us today to discuss narcissism and narcissistic family systems. Really lovely to have 

Julie Hall: you.

Thank you. Yeah. Thanks so much for inviting me. And if you want to find out about my new book, you can sign up on my website. You can sign up for, I don't have ads on there. It's not, it's, it's pretty mellow. So you can sign up on my website for details about my next book and about what I'm up to and new articles that I'm publishing.

So wonderful for having me. 

Heather Quick: Absolutely. Thank you. And listeners for all of you today, I hope the information you need will be in the [00:51:00] show notes. , please reach out to us at Florida, women's law group. com. Or join our Facebook group, women winning divorce links will be in the episode description.

And we always ask if you enjoyed this show, we would greatly appreciate it. 5 star review. Thank you so much. 

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