Occasional Narcissistic traits

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MoT
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Occasional Narcissistic traits

Post by MoT » Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:38 am

I was very interested to read another post on this forum from someone who felt that NPD is on a spectrum. I find myself thoroughly confused by the behavior of my younger sister (just by 18 mths). We were always chalk and cheese as kids, not really playing much together and having totally different interests and we didn't always get on though I don't remember having many squabbles. However, there is a chance, I realize now, that she might have developed some feelings of jealousy as I tended to have more academic success than her, was, arguably, a bit prettier and there are other aspects of my life which she might have been envious of, though this has never been raised or discussed and I have never been one to blow my own trumpet or to put her down so I don't think I fueled this in any deliberate way. During our adult lives, I have been aware that she can get quite sniffy over small things if she thinks I'm disagreeing (even if I'm not) but most of these cases have not escalated to anything major.

The reason I am confused is that there have been two serious episodes in recent years, each lasting about a month, when she has behaved in a really obnoxious way towards me when she thought she was being contradicted and not getting her own way over a particular issue (I think this can be known as narcissistic rage?). This brought out the most astonishing behavior, the like of which I had never experienced before and, on reading up about it later, I found the disorder NPD and terms which were uncannily accurate: sense of entitlement, sounding authoritative, no remorse, projection, triangulation, manipulation, twisting words to suit her etc. The first time it happened, a few years ago, I was shocked but gradually things returned to some kind of normality and I could only assume that she was going through the menopause or something. But then this last time, it was much worse - it was just madness to see how she twisted everything and denied the truth of what was before her. I feel that she has gone so far that it will not be possible for me to trust her or to have any sort of friendly relationship with her again.

However, now the issue has blown over (she managed to get what she wanted from the dispute, with no apology for her hostile attitude) and she is back to being 'normal' again. It is really hard to grasp that she wrote the kinds of emails and said all the things she did and behaved in such a dastardly way and yet can now put it all behind her as if nothing ever happened. I won't be blaming the menopause this time but am I right in thinking that my sister is only like this with me, perhaps because I am the one she has most resentment of? And how do I continue the relationship, given that it is going to be very difficult to have no contact when my father is still alive and in the same area as her (she prides herself on being the one who 'does everything for him' and being the spokesperson on his health matters but gets prickly if I ask any questions that she hasn't thought of herself). I'd like to be able to put this on one side and stop thinking about it but it really has become embedded in my thoughts. I know that this could arise again, perhaps over my father's health or when he dies and I just feel I need some strategies to use when it looks as if we're off in that direction again.

Beth McHugh
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Re: Occasional Narcissistic traits

Post by Beth McHugh » Wed Jul 29, 2015 8:52 am

Hi MoT,
It's really difficult to give you a definitive answer on this issue because we don't know for sure whether your sister has narcissistic personality disorder. If she does have it, she would have been showing signs of it by her 20s, and as she is now menopausal, it sounds like we are looking at a timespan of a couple of decades for this disorder. Perhaps some of the "chalk and cheese" behavior was narcissism, perhaps not. She may simply be a moody and occasionally nasty person. Alternatively, she may have NPD. Finding out which is important because if she does have NPD it would mean that you would need to interact with her in a different way and learn techniques to deal with her. Much more so than if she was just having a "mood".

If you are interested in a diagnosis by proxy, please contact me. Protecting yourself from a narcissist, if you believe she is one, is do-able, but certainly not easy. You can still have a relationship with your father but it would have to be conducted with tools to protect yourself from the fallout from your sister.

Let me know if you have any further questions by contact me at enquires@youronlinecounselor.com
Best wishes,

Beth
ImageBeth McHugh
B.Sc (Hons). B.Psych. Dip.Sc.
Principal, Your Online Counselor

MoT
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Re: Occasional Narcissistic traits

Post by MoT » Thu Jul 30, 2015 3:25 am

Many thanks for your reply, Beth. My sister is now in her 60s so well beyond menopausal now and she did show some instances of sudden hostility in her late teens/early twenties though we went our separate ways so didn't interact too much after that. She's not really a moody person - she comes across as being very charming and nice to others but the behavior she exhibited to me more recently was calculated and lasted a few weeks rather than just being an angry outburst. Because this type of interaction would be regarded as so completely off-limits by a normal, decent person, I can only deduce that it must be something more than just occasional nastiness though she doesn't fall into the category of being an obvious narcissist to all those around her. She does like to sound authoritative and superior, though, and quotes well-qualified acquaintances to validate herself and make put-down comments. The nastiness seems to be triggered by those who, like me, draw her contempt, possibly also her husband and a couple of people she worked with whom she ranted to me about one time. I'm aware that there may well be others whom I know nothing about. In the immediate future, I aim to stay polite but distant and not to show any kind of hostility. Fortunately I do not have to see her very often. If communications or choices have to be made about our father, I aim to make sure that these are short and to the point and happen by email, copied around the siblings so that I cannot be accused of anything that might have been said in private between us. I'm sure there will still be difficulties as she will want to exert her control whenever an opportunity arises but I hope that these can be mitigated by refusing to enter into arguments and making everything transparent to us all.
Thanks very much again for your help.

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