Sadistic Narcissism: Margo's Story (1)
By: Beth McHugh 2010
In our previous introduction to Sadistic Narcissism (see forum category), we looked at the difference between narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), sexual sadism and narcissistic personality disorder with sadistic tendencies.
Today we will look at Margo, who sufferers from NPD and has a sadistic side to her personality which was apparent by the time she was in her very early teens and possibly earlier.
Margo was an only child for twelve years and as personality disorders do not become apparent in terms of a firm diagnosis until emotional maturity is reached in the early twenties, it is unclear what was happening in the developing mind of Margo in her childhood years. What we do know is that after the birth of her sister, Leah, Margo became increasingly aggressive at school and was regarded as being 'bold' by her teacher and a bully to the younger girls in her school.
Her mother was a rigid, strict woman who herself suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). It is likely that Margo felt marginalized, not only by the demands of a new baby, but felt the usual pangs of discomfort at the arrival of a sibling rival coupled with what were likely her mother's fears of letting Margo hold the baby. It is unlikely that Margo ever bonded with her little sister. This simple but crucial detail cemented Margo's personality forever, as we shall see in later articles.
By the time Leah was three, she and Margo were sharing a room. Margo derived great pleasure through enticing the little girl to get into bed with her on weekend mornings. Leah would be persuaded to leave her own bed and cuddle up with her then 15 year old sister. The latter would then pretend to have a secret to tell her and as Leah leaned in closer to hear, Margo would begin a story then scream in her ear causing pain to little Leah.
Not satisfied with this level of pain, Margo would then push her little sister down between the bed and the wall, pushing Leah's face into the wire mattress. Screams would bring the mother to the bedroom but little could be done to curb Margo's behavior. At 15, she was in her final year of schooling and was skilled at bullying girls much older and sophisticated than Leah.
The difference between what might be a childish lark and what was going on in the relationship between Margo and Leah, such as it was, is that Margo was deriving pleasure out of the pain she was causing her sister. Other, better adjusted teenagers would either not have committed these acts in the first place, having the intelligence and sensitivity to realize that pain would be the result. But not Margo. Pain was her aim and she smiled when she saw the sufferings of others. Leah soon learned never to show tears or any signs of pain, and she herself was learning this ugly game as well. The more she reacted, the more it pleased her sister.
In the next article we will look at Margo's continuing sadistic behavior, the development of that behavior over time and the increasingly stunted emotional development of Margo. We will also look at how Leah coped with this situation into which she was born.
Sadistic Narcissism: Margo's Story (2)
In the first instalment of this series on narcissistic personality disorder with sadistic tendencies, Margo was 15. We looked at her behavioral problems which involved both her peers at school who she bullied, and her three-year old sister who she physically abused for pleasure.
As time went on, the relationship between Margo and the world did not improve. By 16, she was laughing at girls who became pregnant and delighted in theirs and their family's despair. Her now four-year-old sister because the target of her verbal taunts, since she had learned that continuing with physical punishment was counterproductive to Margo since her little sister would scream if she was hurt.
One day, Margo was entrusted to look after her sister while her parents went to church. Margo decided to play one of her sadistic games on her sister and playfully invited her to lie down on the area rug in the living room and she would roll her up like a sausage. Margo was very clever and charming, as all narcissists can be when they want something, and little Leah thought that she and her sister were going to actually play a game while their parents were out.
If Leah had been older, she would realize that, as Margo had never once played even Happy Families with her sister, that this ploy was just that. Leah lay down willingly on the area rug and Margo rolled her up. And left her for the entire two hours that the parents were gone. Leah cried, trapped in the heavy carpet rug, rolled up with her arms pinned to her side, having difficulty breathing and completely helpless.
But Margo showed no mercy. Instead she laughed and left the little girl alone in the room. When the family car rolled into the garage, Margo released her sister and acted as though nothing had happened. However, it was obvious from Leah's tear-stained face that something had happened and when Leah told her mother what Margo had done, the mother didn't believe it. Marge had very cleverly left the living room as she found it and the mother simply couldn't believe that her elder daughter could do such a thing. The girls' father also ignored the incident.
At 16, Margo was already displaying classic sadistic tendencies and her narcissistic symptoms were apparent but not yet diagnosed. No-one in the family suspected that Margo was mentally ill, nor what behaviors she would exhibit as the condition deepened. We will look at Margo in her late teens and early twenties in the next article in this series.
Sadistic Narcissism: Margo's Story (3)
In the first two instalments of Margo's story we looked at Margo's increasing sadistic tendencies as she aged from a young girl through to late teenagehood. Apart from displaying all the classic symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder, (see links below), Margo continued with her sadistic treatment of others who she felt she had power over.
It is important to realize that, despite the front that narcissists show to the world, they are acutely insecure people and must rely on belittling others or, alternatively, associating themselves with people who they perceive as more important than themselves in order to make themselves feel powerful themselves.
One of Margo's methods of giving herself the illusion of power was to exert her "power" over those she selected as being beneath her in life's pecking order. She chose boyfriends who she could dominate and who were all invariably not as handsome as other young men who she could feasibly have attracted. This resulted in the fact that these young men were besotted by her as she was "out of their league". Her power in choosing such a male was that she could dominate him and treat him however she liked, and they would still come back for more.
She dated a series of boys and young men in her teens and early twenties and her cruelty and non-commitment was apparent even to her family and her younger sister, Leah. When she tired of one male, she didn't fret over hurting him when she broke up the relationship. Instead Margo was nasty, cruel and personally attacked their looks or any behaviors she thought inappropriate.
Interestingly, one of her boyfriends left her in the form of getting a transfer out of town. He didn't want the transfer, but she went to pieces, not because she loved him but because she had lost her power over him. Ironically, he lobbied for a transfer back home for months, and not long after his return, she dumped him and his flowers unceremoniously into the garbage can. This action reduced him to tears but Margo found this immensely funny and told anyone who would listen. She showed the typical absence of empathy that characterizes NPD and but with the added twist of the thrill of the sadistic side to the event.
In our next article, we will follow Margo's life journey as she continues to treat those with whom she comes into contact with disdain and contempt, with the additional problem of her increasing narcissism.
Sadistic Narcissism: Margo's Story (4)
In our continuing saga of Margo and her diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder with sadistic tendencies, we jump forward a few years and Margo is in her thirties and having her house renovated. She has employed an Asian painter to paint the inside of her house and he speaks little English.
She phoned her sister Leah, who by this stage had restricted the number of encounters she had with her sister to effectively zero. However, whenever Margo had a gripe about their mother or in this instance, something "funny" to tell, she would ring her sister. She never noted that Leah didn't contact her, however, this is typical of self-obsessed narcissistic behavior.
In this particular phone call, Margo could hardly speak as she was laughing so much. Leah found it hard to interpret what she was saying, but it turned out that the Asian painter was so unused to Western paint fumes that he was currently vomiting outside Margo's home in her garden. Margo thought it was hysterical, so much so that she had to ring someone. The fact that she rang her estranged sister demonstrates that Margo could not discern that her sister would not be impressed by this call.
Leah was horrified but not surprised that Margo thought this man's plight was funny. Her thoughts were that he had escaped the horror of the Vietnam war and attempting to make a new life for himself, which he was obviously finding difficult. With her inability to experience empathy, the middle aged Margo was displaying not only her narcissistic inability to see the pain of others, but she was actually enjoying it.
Leah had long realized that there was something terribly wrong with her sister but had no name for it. She just saw her treatment of herself, her parents, and Margo's boyfriends as being just Margo's personality. But in fact, she had been dealing all her life with a sister with a mental illness.
Before Leah had reached puberty, Margo used to regularly tell her how ugly she was. Once puberty hit, this behavior increased and Leah was subjected to almost daily insults regarding her looks. Possibly it was the overkill that helped Leah to get through this painful period of her life. Margo completely dissected her body: Her hair was horrible, her eyes were too wise apart, her knees were misshapen, her nose was too wide and looked "black". At first, her breasts were too small, then with time, her breasts were too big.
Interestingly, the only thing Margo liked was Leah's hands and she wanted them for herself. She repeatedly held them next to her own and said that Leah's hands were "wasted on her" and she should have them. By now Leah was in high school and was beginning to think her sister's behavior was not only sounding like something from Frankenstein, but that what her sister was saying was rubbish.
Leah was not ugly, as Margo delighted in telling her. She had lots of male admirers and so the legacy of Margo's reign of power was broken.
In our next article,
we will look at how Leah gained the final control over her mentally