Malignant Narcissism: At the Core of Psychopathy

As I mentioned in my post of last week, psychopathy (alt: sociopathy)  has received a lot of attention in recent years.  That’s primarily because of the dedication of the eminent researcher Dr. Robert Hare.  And Hare was among the first to identify the critical factor at work in psychopathy:  the callous, senseless, remorseless use and abuse of others rooted in severe empathy deficits. Although some psychopaths, do lead socially parasitic lifestyles and engage in criminal activity and other antisocial behaviors, Hare emphasizes that being antisocial is not what makes someone a psychopath.  There are many hooligans who are not psychopathic.   Psychopaths are distinguished from other problem characters because their extreme lack of empathy causes them to act with complete indifference and without conscience.  That’s what makes them capable of some of the most cold-hearted actions toward others.  And, because they can project an air of charm and civility, they can appear otherwise quite normal, they might even be, as Martha Stout points out, the person “next door.”

One of the things that I stress in my book Character Disturbance, is that psychopaths possess a uniquely malignant form of narcissism.  They not only have little empathy for others, but also see themselves as superior to typical human beings.  They actually consider themselves a superior form of life compared to other humans, which in their mind creates a justification for preying on those they regard as inferior.  It’s their highly malignant narcissism that makes them capable of the callous, senseless, remorseless, use and abuse of others that defines their core character trait. Recently, a police investigation in Utah uncovered a plot involving two teens that demonstrates this point all to chillingly well:

An 18-year old and a 16-year old boy were arrested on suspicion of plotting a Columbine-style massacre at a school.  And no, these boys were not misfits who had borne the scars of taunting, ostracization, or abuse,which should dispel another false notion about what must underlie such behaviors.  The 18-year old could not help bragging to police that he was intrigued by the Columbine event simply because of its magnitude, and for some time had been contemplating how he could put his “superior mind” to the task of creating an even more calamitous event and getting away with it.  So, he spent hours studying the crime, all the “mistakes” made by the perpetrator, and the response of the law enforcement community.  He even visited the town and the site several times.  He couldn’t believe what “fools” almost everyone had been and was determined to demonstrate that a superior intellect such as his could wipe out many more lives, leave an indelible mark on the community, and ensure his name would be immortalized. In addition, he would not only get away with the crime but would have many years to bask in the glory of his accomplishment.  The police investigators were taken aback by the candor and calm demeanor the young man displayed when bragging about his plan.  They were also struck by his apparent confidence, despite the fact that plan had obvious holes in it.  This demonstrates that the grandiosity inherent in malignant narcissism rarely has any factual justification.  As Stanton Samenow has often put it, such personalities are “legends in their own minds.”

As tragic as it is, sometimes people are attracted to the confidence and charm that psychopathic personalities project.  This causes them to ignore their internal danger sensors. And by the time they come to their senses, they’ve already been worked over by these pathologically haughty and unfeeling characters.  Make no mistake, no one is more dangerous than a person who sets him or herself above others to the point that he or she feels entitled to prey on those viewed as inferior.

One of the main things I tried to accomplish with Character Disturbance, was to give folks a framework for understanding the broad spectrum of character disturbance, and to distinguish how some personality types, including those as pathological as psychopaths and sociopaths, fit within this framework and compare to other problem characters.  Knowledge is power.  And the more we understand about the kinds of problem characters we’re likely to encounter, the less likely we are to be taken in or victimized by them.  It’s my hope that Character Disturbance will do for heightening awareness of the disturbing phenomenon of our age what In Sheep’s Clothing did for helping folks understand and deal with manipulation.

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29 thoughts on “Malignant Narcissism: At the Core of Psychopathy

  1. The one I know, was breast feed for over 5 years. The family would joke, that ounce in the armed forces he would ask special leave, to come home, for more. He lived with the family until marriage. After Dad passed away, he lived near momma, and made himself, the guardian of the family estate. He had the various holdings, transferred to joint accounts, of himself and momma. Some were joint accounts, and some we’re transfer on dead. Being that all holdings were on one person name, there was no need for probate. Out of one account he made himself and his brother joint owners. Then he feigned notating transferred his half, near the time of dad’s dead. So he inherited again half of everything. In other words, he got 3/4 . This type is really a vampire type. I thank you whoever gave me the opportunity. I to sound off. P.s I did hire a lawyer, but being that things were in his name, and transferd to him. I had no legal recourse.

    1. Joao…….It’s just unreal the level of lowness these people are capable of. I’m sorry to hear what you have been through and hope that you can move on happily in your life.

  2. I don’t remember reading this article before but thank you Dr. Simon for this!!
    ” They were also struck by his apparent confidence, despite the fact that plan had obvious holes in it. This demonstrates that the grandiosity inherent in malignant narcissism rarely has any factual justification. As Stanton Samenow has often put it, such personalities are “legends in their own minds.”

  3. “Knowledge is power. And the more we understand about the kinds of problem characters we’re likely to encounter, the less likely we are to be taken in or victimized by them. ”
    Very true, so very true……but it’s still not 100% because they come in so many sizes, shapes and descriptions. When Israel Keys was arrested he said himself that there were going to be a lot of people who were very surprised because NO one had a clue about what he really was.

  4. My husband made a false statement to the police saying that I was dangerous person and violent that he was afraid of me and a judge granted a temporary restraint order! I had to do it long time ago because he is the abusive one! But I never did it, now I haven’t seen my kids for almost a month and literally at the streets. My kids are really young 4&5. I’m afraid the scars will stay for ever. I can’t imagine what are being told my their father.

    1. Marina,

      So so sorry to read this. This is typical hateful, vindictive cruel behaviour on the part of the character disordered. Do you have family or friends nearby so that you can establish some security and base of operations for yourself? My heart goes out to you. Try to stay focused and don’t panic. Your children are still young and as long as they have one parent with them, they will be okay. As far as the creature they call, Dad, goes, he won’t likely be able to put much of a dent in their relationship with you.

      Can you reach out to their daycare, babysitter, for a supervised visit until things are straightened out?

      I went out with a man over 20 years ago now, who became enraged with me because I refused to testify in court that he was the better parent, in his attempt to get sole custody of his children. Same thing. Not done out of cruelty, just out of a desire to take his children with him out of the country. I was aghast. I told him I wasn’t going to lie in court and that there was no way I was going to be part of basically stealing another woman’s children from her. Then I left him.

      Can you hire a lawyer pro bono?

      1. If you go to court for this woman state only the facts not what you think he is for criticize him. His attorney will try to trap you into answering questions that discount you as a witness.always ask that attorney to rephrase the question especially if you feel like you’re going to get angry.

    2. Stay away from the emotional charge statements because that is the narcissistic tool to manipulate & ,destroy you just state the facts in a very bland and methodic repetitive statements. Example I am afraid for my children life. I hope they will be able to survive his mental and manipulative abuse.

  5. I met someone that claimed everyone else was manipulative but he did strange things that seemed designed to put you or others down all under the guise of trying to be helpful and honest. It was annoying and confusing. I once watched him talking to someone from a distance and at one point I could see from the body language of the other person that he had stuck his needle into the chink in the other person’s armor and they were being too polite to show protest or anger. He could really do this in a way that made others question their own perceptions. Questioning one’s own perceptions is sometimes a very intelligent thing to do but when it comes to a narcissist I wonder if it is not sometimes fatal. Any insights?

    1. Confusion in annoyance is one of the tools that nurses use to control you. And when they imply they lie.do you want to publicly display concern of his behavior and never be in contact with him after that even if he promises he’ll never do it again.

      1. manipulation & confusion Narcissis Use to control you. When you confront confront them. Label you as crazy or you’re not listening for your imagining this

  6. I am reading this because I’m trying to understand my ex husband. I left 2 years ago when my children revealed abuse. I was in shock. He filed for divorce so he could have the kids back. I have 11 children, 5 adults and 6 minors. The CFI for our case filed a 273 page report and said since he’s been doing these case since 1983 this is the worst in regards to child physical, sexual and emotional abuse. And the worst case of psychological domestic violence. He said he’s never before recommended no parenting time but he is certain my ex would manipulate my children even if supervised. This is both relieving and horrifying. We had nothing to compare it to. As for criminal charges, we are waiting for the DA to decide if and what charges to file. It took KBI and CBI almost a year to finish interviews and reports on my family. My ex refused and interview. We are doing very well now. Oh, my ex is a domestic violence trainer, drug hold as CAC 3, is a clinical supervisor a nationally certified counselor and many more certifications, and was a part time pastor for 16 years. The church almost all took his side.

    1. Narcissists are very calculated he’s what you call a covert narcissistsince he hides behind his titles and his façade. You will have to start documenting what he does when he does it. Stay away & get the hell away from . Every single time he has a statement about what he thinks you are. Best answer for that is you know what you’re right I have no right to tell you what you think of me I have no control over what you think of me and what you say about me.

  7. Dealing with many N/S and even Ps, I have found that Ns and S’s do not think; they constantly assume. This is a serious flaw on their behalf – if their assumptions are incorrect, the N/S becomes frustrated and then rages at the target.

  8. In my training in classical psychotherapy, neofreudian, amd object relations counseling schools, there is a fundamental error in attribution of meaning in this article. An omd professor of mine clarified the difference between a sociopath and a psychopath with a rather easy way to remember.

    The psychopath will kill you, because you crossed a boundary over something they love. I.e., stepped on their family bible. The sociopath, on the other hand, will kill you just to see the lights go out.

    The callous lack of empathy and social ease is the territory of the sociopath. The psychopath, conversely, is tormented by the constancy of deep emotion; they lack appropriate internal means of meeting life measure for measure. The dark, brooding, introvert with failed connections is a more fitting stereotype for the psychopath, than the cavalier detached image of the sociopath.

  9. My father was a rougue and an manipulator without empathy. I never knew how he effected the other three siblings were because I was raped an abused by his best friend a pediofile. I was allowed one visit to a psychiatrist who told me to leave home at eighteen or when I could support myself. My father’s behavior was normal to three siblings. The youngest, Henry became a schizophrenic. I now realized Henry’s life was ruined by my family. They are in conspiracy to ruin mine. They have stolen million of my inheritance and tried to become my guardian. One brother claimed in court that he was a psychiatrist from Harvard. It is not true. My siblings took away by guardianship of Henry. I fear for my own life and that of my brother Henry. They accused me of stealing money that never existed, paid off my lawyers and maybe the judge in backwater’s KY. everything was done under the table. I am going to court in Florida. The three siblings have been in conspiracy to ruin me and readly brag about it. They tell me that I must love the people who hate me.

    1. Hi Elizabeth Murrell,

      You probably got good advice in leaving harmful environment as soon as you could. Once out of the games, and reflecting & observing it from outside, give a vastly different perspective that one simply cannot have while being bang in middle of those games. And, once that knowledge is gained, one can choose to go back in for the loved ones.
      Let no one guilt-trip or shame you into doing something that you don’t want to do. With regards to loving other, my take will be following:
      First develop self-respect for what you are and what you do. Same way respect others only to the extent what they are and what they actually do. Of course, in respecting others the social niceties and pleasantries guideline applies, but only to a certain limit.
      Then, once one is self-sufficient and strong standing alone, that person will love self as as he/she is. Of course, in loving self, we need to grow above selfish, hedonistic, I win – you lose kind of behaviours. Only then one can love other – doing something for others without expecting something in return.

      I meet my daughter only once a while. And, I risk losing even that if my wife decides to take that away by getting protection order on some false pretext – something that is way too easy. The way I console myself is that as long as I stay in touch from a distance, someday my daughter will grow up and she will come looking for me & answers (children almost always do, as long as they see something in distance), and that time hopefully I can present a better role model than what I could have been had I staying fully engaged with a veteran manipulator in a manipulative toxic environment.

    2. Elizabeth Murrell,

      Andy D gave great feedback.

      Unfortunately, I’ve dealt with a lot of these horrible people – family members and former bosses. What I’ve learned, and perhaps might be of help to you, is that you first need to get completely away from them. As in, no communication/contact with them or anyone that may report back to them.

      That gives you the mental/physical space you need to feel safe and secure. It helps to calm your nervous system so you can think clearly, rationally. It may take a bit of time. It’s important that you carefully attempt to get a support system. You might call local domestic violence shelters for a reference for a counselor that has experience with these sorts of characters. They are also a great listening ear and can give helpful safety tips. Since you are vulnerable, open up slowly to a counselor if they are not trained to deal with these sorts of dynamics. I’ve had counselors discount, minimize, make excuses for the bad behavior, blame me, etc.., and ended up more traumatized.
      A support system will help you be heard, keep perspective, figure out what your rights and options are, etc..

      The abusers often provoke to make you seem unstable (or in your and my case, terrified)! If you react out of the understandable panic and fear you feel, you may come across as unstable. Even though your feelings are perfectly understandable. They will use what they can out of context to make their case. In my experience, they try to bait you into doing something that will be disastrous to you (emotionally, financially, look bad/unreliable/aggressive/crazy). The goal is to destroy you.

      If you know their goal is to get you to look crazy, you must make sure you choose what you do/say carefully. Act with clear mind and purpose. If you can’t do that, then don’t act or say anything! Take the time you need to get to that place.

      Once you have your support system in place, have a plan, and you feel calm, strong and focused, then, if you choose, act. I’ve learned to only communicate them if you have to and then, only in writing. Document everything. It protects you and sends a strong message. Communicate respectfully and deal only in facts. Keep a paper trail. If they brag about their conspiracy to ruin you, they may just put that in writing too!

      I had a boss who used to brag about how he tricked and stole from people! He thought nothing of it! He was smart enough though, I think, not to brag like that in front of clients. I quit that job even though I didn’t have another one lined up because he was a psychopath and the emotional/psychological abuse was brutal. He lies when employers call to check my reference, claims all sorts of falsehoods.

      If your brother is that big of a fraud, it should be fairly easy for an attorney to build your case. However, the toll it takes on one while dealing with/recovering from cannot be underestimated. I’m currently dealing with something similar – stepbrother and his attorney stole our inheritance, took over guardianship of my brother when my brother’s guardian died and took his inheritance all the while trying to convince my siblings that I was the bad guy for challenging it. The siblings unfortunately went back and forth, first on board, then turned on me, they were tricked and manipulated into believing – despite all the evidence to the contrary. They didn’t want to (couldn’t?) deal with the reality, so chose the fantasy? Crazymaking, irrational, exhausting stuff.

      For my brother, I contacted an attorney, Social Security, special services, and everyone else I could and documented what happened and asked them to do the same and to protect him.

      The hurt, devastation and destruction they cause is often unbearable. Please take good care of yourself. You have to save yourself or you remain unsaved. Then, and only then, can you protect your siblings.

      1. Elizabeth Murrell,

        I forgot something that’s really important. If you are struggling with negative self talk, give yourself sincere encouragement and pats on the back for every single thing you do to take good care of yourself and/or to move forward. It may seem silly at first, but things like saying to yourself “good job” (or whatever works for you) every time you do something that is in your best interest – empowering – helps you to become your own best friend, a best friend that loves and encourages you. And your best friend wouldn’t beat you up for a mistake, so try and catch yourself if you do that and replace it with what a good friend would say instead. With practice, like most things, it gets easier and and will become a habit.

  10. I’m learning a lot here and Ive tried writing out a summary of what I’ve been through but it keeps ending up pages long so I apologize for the length of this. I have alcoholics and narcissists in my family. The last 5 years have been traumatic because parents, grandma, and then the therapist helping me died. Alcoholic brother a couple times in rehab, one time convulsed in front of me several months after I found my father convulsing on the ground (heart attack, fell, brain bleed). Husband got in a horrible car wreck resulting in a concussion, which altered his mind for the worse (but is improving). In most cases I stepped up to help the best I could while everyone else disappeared.

    My aunt (my uncle’s girlfriend since before I was born) I believe is a narcissist (but I don’t know what kind yet) got her hooks into me when I was young because she is very charismatic. After my parents died I felt obliged to continuously call her, she made a big deal about us having a “special relationship.” Not long after losing my Dad (my uncle is his brother) she was convinced she was dying from uterine cancer (which my mother did die from) and convinced me to be her secondary health-care proxy. I was in a bad spot trying to hold things together, but I felt like I couldn’t say no even though she “said” I could. All my life she had undiagnosed issues but once a possible diagnosis would come up she switched gears to dying from another ailment. I would always give her the benefit-of-the-doubt because mis-diagnosis happens, but doing this just resulted in having to listen to her complain about her misery for hours daily and promising not to tell anyone. Sometimes getting off the phone would take an hour because as soon as she knew I wanted to get off, she would start talking about something else very personal and would be awkward to cut her off.

    Later, having attended a bereavement group and then Alanon, I came to realize saying “no” to being her health-care proxy wasn’t because I didn’t love her, but that I was not in a good place to do it (also she never wanted me to visit her – I thought out of vanity, but maybe because I would see she wasn’t as bad as she said). Then my uncle had emergency pacemaker surgery the day the buyers signed the contract for the house (my childhood home, which I was living in and taking care of while trying to sell. My uncle is the executor but I ended up having to deal with siblings and realtor because uncle lives hours away and has a bad back). This sent me into panic on multiple levels and I hallucinated (I believe ptsd from when my dad was in ICU and then his death, and also I had been using my retirement savings to keep the estate/house mortgage afloat while we tried to sell it and I was running out of funds). She was very cruel to me on the phone until I went cold and direct that I wanted to speak to my uncle (she had been preventing me and the lawyer from contacting him), she didn’t like my tone and somehow made me out to be the bad guy, but she did lighten up for a while after that.

    My uncle had complications so he was at the hospital and rehab for a while, and then because my aunt wants to redo the room for his hospital bed, he is now staying in a hotel until the room is done to her liking. During the time she was full on cruel to me, I went looking for info on “manipulators” because I’d started wondering if thats what was happening and I found Dr. Simon’s book “In Sheep’s Clothing” (audiobook). Thank God for that book!!! Ive been distancing myself, but she is not liking this. Im not there for her to be her emotional dumping ground as much as before.

    Recently on the phone she accused me of being uncaring/cold because I haven’t called her or my uncle to see how they are doing. At one point she called me a “cold hearted evil bitch.” Initially, she got on the phone in an accusatory tone because my cousin had sent her dad (my uncle) a get-well card. I had been told not to tell my cousin about how they were doing. This has been ongoing, and I had made it clear that I would agree to their wishes but I did not like it one bit. She tried convincing me to see her side but I held fast. Anyway, I have avoided all contact with my cousin and have not said anything, but my aunt insinuated that I had. I wasn’t my usual agreeable apologetic self and thats when I got called names. To be honest, I said some mean things to her to at this point, but then walked it back the best I could to be neutral/detached even though she kept calling me a horrible person.

    She says (not in a nice way) I should call my uncle to see how he is doing, but I am dreading it. He is totally 100% invested in her and I am feeling angry about that. I feel so used. Im horrible at boundaries. I will have to work up the courage at some point to call my uncle because there is unfinished estate business …but Im so angry, he has a daughter who would want to know whats going on. He should talk to her. My husband and I have moved upstate away from my home/support groups and trying to start a new life in my mid 40s, but I can’t seem to get my thoughts on my life and I’m stuck. I’m find it hard enough to deal with small things lately. I’m also afraid if I get on the phone again I won’t be able to express my anger in a healthy way. Thank you for letting me ramble, there is so much more to the story but thats long enough!

    1. I decided to call my uncle. He is still recovering so I don’t want to add to his stress and the conversation went well. Afterwards, I considered calling my aunt but decided not to because I have too many emotional weak spots. It scares me that I might be misinterpreting her, and I keep that possibility in my mind just in case, but my gut keeps telling me its true. There is so much grieving and anger to process and its overwhelming me, but there is so much good info on this site and in Dr Simon’s books that will hopefully help. Thank you for the space to share, feel like i’m losing my mind sometimes.

      1. Jennifer,

        Trust your gut feeling.
        In the foggy situation, when visibility is limited, only vague hints are present, quick decisions must be made with limited information, and there is diminished capacity for rational cool analysis, the best one can do is to trust ones gut feeling, the first thought that came to mind. You will be surprised how often you end up on correct side.

        I think you did best. You called your recovering uncle directly, saying hi to the person you care about. You avoided calling your aunt, who you suspect to be manipulator.

        Manipulators like to be information broker and information gatekeeper, as those positions give them most leverage with their “loved” ones. Bypass manipulators at all opportunities. Be direct. And, when you cannot, check back later on. For example, if you end up calling your aunt to check upon your uncle, then later at first opportunity you check with your uncle if your aunt relayed the information about your earlier call to him. If someone tries to guilt-trip you questioning that you don’t trust, just tell that person that you do mistrust because your gut feeling tells you to do so.

  11. Hi Jennifer,

    Hopes this helps you – it did help put things into perspective for me.

    The true definition of a Narcissist – is someone who has received a Narcissistic Injury.

    Technically, all of us at some point have or will suffer from the wound(s) of a Narcissistic Injury. A tragic or dramatic loss of someone you love. A painful event. An abusive relationship.

    Although I don’t agree with the author’s secular and naturalistic world view… this article does explain and define the pathology of Narcissism.
    https://doi.org/10.1176/pn.46.5.psychnews_46_5_9_2

    IMHO – the only thing that seems to separate a truly (destructive) malevolent and malignant Narcissist from the rest of us – is their behavior and character. How they respond to their own Narc Injury. How they heal – if they choose to confront the injury and face the pain and trauma or not.

    When you are thinking about your family and your situation, try to see them (all) as injured, broken and hurting people. They may use their injury to blame and hurt you. Shame you and guilt you into doing what they want. Clearly, if any of them do this – they are malevolent.

    You may notice, that most of them will not do anything ‘bad’ unless their Narc Injury is repeated or they experience a reaction or reminder of their wound(s). This will cause them to act out.

    If they are humble, fragile and weakened by exposure to events that rewound their Narc injury. They may be benign Narcs. Turning inward and suffering deeply for their sense of loss and pain.

    Someone that losses a mother in their early childhood. Then after they marry, they may also lose a child or spouse. These losses and wounds could lead to a profound and deep wound. They may become more compassionate, humble loving and caring.

    If they grieve properly and face their pain and loss and eventually heal (I think). It all depends on how and what they do with their injury and pain.

    They can heal and help others, or the wounds can fester and turn into something dark, horrible and destructive.

    Is it a simple choice for them? Bad luck in life? Something divine in their character and good nature that leads them to overcome tragedy and heal?

    I don’t know…

    However, the most dangerous Narcs are the one – who have made a profession out of their manipulative tactics and always seem to get whatever they want, when they want and as much as they always seem to need.

    If that is what your Aunt is all about… be very careful. A truly, malignant Narc will never give-up, give in or forget. They keep score, they wait and they always attack when least expect it. It would be safer to live and sleep with rattle snakes.

    I hope this helps you find the answers you’re looking for. Take each person, individually and don’t rush to judgement about whether they are a Narc or not.

    Look at how they treat you and what they do for you or to you. Judge their actions, behavior and character. Look for the very subtle but always deliberate manipulation. Learn everything you can from Dr. Simon’s materials about Narcs.

    Take your time (if you can) before you decide one way or the other. Keep a safe distance from anyone of them… you might suspect – until you really know.

    Try to build safe and healthy relationships for support from others. Even casual friendships. People at work. Volunteer (if you can) at a hospital, church or school.

    Oh yeah, you can find Narcs everywhere – if you look hard enough. Don’t be fooled by the caring and sharing you may get at the beginning of any new friendships you may develop. It does take a lot of time. Be patient and wait before you trust too much too soon. Keep your social friendships at arms length. Don’t trust anyone more that you have to… but live by giving. Invest yourself in doing good things for others. Be kind and courteous. Look for the good in people and be grateful for everything and everyone you do have in your life.

    Just make sure that you really feel safe and spend some time with people that you can trust and know that they really who do care about you. This might help you build up your reserves for the unavoidable contact and interaction(s) you will have with your family.

    You can’t avoid anyone completely, but you can build up your self-worth and confidence in the safe and healthy friendships – with kind people who do care.

  12. Andy D and Chris M, thank you for your thoughtful responses, I will keep coming back to them to reassure myself that Im not entirely crazy. Over the years of being on the phone with my aunt, I would pick up on things she would confide to me that didn’t sit right. Unfortunately, I would always be understanding, sympathetic and terrified of conflict. She had this fabulously successful life and I thought she had everything figured out, while I was always shy and struggled.

    I need to trust myself, something Im not usually very good at. I was always the one trying to bring peace between family members starting with my parents, and in doing so, I think I lost myself. My siblings do very much have narcissistic injuries (as do I, most likely) and for the most part it hurts them inwardly and sometimes people around them get hurt, but not normally meant maliciously. My aunt on the other hand confided situations to me that her intent was malicious.

    Sometimes she uses her manipulative ways for good though. She cares deeply for animals and has cared for many, she also has helped people who were older and sick. Maybe she has this deep fear/need about being old, weak, and sick and thats what her narc ways stem from? I’ve read that it doesn’t matter what the intent is only the action, but my brain can’t help but try to make sense of it. Part of me feels she was grooming me to take over for my uncle when he became too old/sick to care for her.

    During the phone call when she was saying cruel things to me, she said that I think everyone is my enemy, this struck me as strange because thats actually the opposite of what I think, I usually give people way too much benefit-of-the-doubt. It made me realize this is what she believes, not me and maybe some of the other things she was saying to me is what she thinks about herself. I wonder where I fit in the spectrum of things? I can identify with neurotic and maybe sometimes passive/aggressive. Mostly I bounce between anxiety and depression, leaning more towards depression these days.

    I do have to be careful about new friendships. Im finding it difficult to imagine/believe my aunt (and others) doesn’t care the way I think of caring, its hard to wrap my head around. Ive noticed that my brain feels hijacked by her and there is no safe place to go because my brain goes with me, however, its been helpful to finally open up to people, and now this forum about my situation, before I was always sworn to secrecy and tried to honor that.

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