Fuel, Fight or Flight?


When you engage with our kind, you can expect one of three responses from us. Whether you are a primary source, secondary source or tertiary source, the way you interact with us will generate one of three reactions from us. This is because those responses are designed, engineered and geared around providing for our needs or preserving our position. There are, as you will read, sub-divisions within those reactions, but there are three broad responses which are applicable to every kind of involvement you have with our kind. Various factors influence which outcome it will be, but it will be one of these three.


The most common interaction between us, is one of fuel. If you greet me warmly with a smile and your tone is welcoming, you are providing me with positive fuel. A waitress smiles as she passes me my drink, that is positive fuel. If a colleague congratulates me on a success with a particular client then that is positive fuel. Applause from assembled colleagues provides yet more positive fuel. The way you speak, what you say, how you express yourself and what you do all amounts to fuel. Whether you are a remote stranger interacting with me through the internet, a proximate stranger in a bar who I have started talking to, a long-standing inner circle friend, a family member or my girlfriend. All of you are appliances and your positive interactions – praise, love, admiration, joy, happiness, congratulation, adoration, caring – are all forms of positive fuel. You readily provide them and we regularly act in various ways, some subtle and others not, that provoke you to give us this positive fuel.

There is also negative fuel. Thus if I insult a stranger and he tells me angrily to go boil my head, then that is negative fuel. I may just lap that up from him as I stroll down the road, edified by this dollop of fuel. I may criticise a colleague on his performance so he sulkily defends himself. More fuel. I may ignore a friend’s telephone calls so his repeated texts asking what is wrong gives me more fuel. I may call you names so you cry and thus I gain fuel. Whether it is hatred, jealousy, anger, pain, fear, envy, irritation, annoyance, misery and so forth, these are all negative emotions and thus negative fuel.

As you know from the Prime Aims, fuel is the most important aim that we wish to secure from you.

Most people can grasp why we would want positive fuel from our appliances. After all, who does not want to be loved and admired? Sure, some people may want it more than others, but everybody likes to be well thought of don’t they?

People struggle to understand why we want negative fuel. I have explained before that it is about creating a contrast and also because negative fuel is more powerful because people are more inclined to be pleasant and provide positive fuel (especially those who we target in the empathic group) and therefore it underlines our power when we can draw negative fuel from somebody. Of course, other than tertiary sources, we do not look to draw negative fuel straight away from a primary source or secondary source as if this is done before they are embedded then we will lose them. The positive has to come first.

Often one major revelation for our victims is that we want both positive and negative fuel. They understand why we would want to be admired, adored and loved, but why would we want to be insulted, have somebody angry with us, somebody attacking us in a petulant manner. We do because it is negative fuel BUT this leads to the second category concerning our reactions.


This is where there is a sub-division when we decide that we are going to fight.

Fight – Challenge

Where we decide to engage you and in effect ‘fight’ you this because you have challenged us. There are two crucial components behind this decision. Firstly fuel provision and secondly exerting control.

Let us take for example that you react angrily to the fact that we have walked in at midnight smelling of drink when we had promised to take you out. Your angry response is negative fuel and is the fuel provision. Although you may be calling us names and thus an ordinary bystander would regard this as criticism, it is not wounding criticism because the name calling and the savage words are wrapped up in fuel.

We might just accept this negative fuel, push past you and head for bed. More usually however we consider this to be a challenge.

You are giving us fuel which is what we want but we want more. We can readily tell there is more to be obtained and therefore we know that if we argue back,  unleash our manipulations and so forth we can provoke you to give us more fuel. This is an instinctive response on our part. Thus we are maximising the fuel provision.

Secondly, although we are not wounded because your critical comments are bound up in fuel, you are still challenging us and this cannot be allowed. We must have the upper hand, we must be in control and therefore we see this as an opportunity to not only gain more fuel from you but to exert control over you. Thus, we strike back.

Accordingly, if having read my work you wonder why on earth we respond in such a fashion that looks like our fury has been ignited, but you know it could not be because your comments are fuel, the reason we fight back and argue, lash out etc is because this is a way of gaining more fuel and also exerting control.

Fight – Fury

The other sub division of the fight category is where you have ignited our fury and we decide to unleash fury against you.

If you have wounded us through criticism (which is fuel free) this will usually (unless control can be exerted) cause the ignition of our churning fury. Your criticism might come from words but more usually it is from actions which wound us in some way. This wound has to be addressed and the usual way is for the ignition of fury.

Fury, when ignited is either heated (shouting, physical assaults, sexual violence, breaking things, name calling, issuing threats) or cold fury (sulking, silent treatments, cold shouldering, glaring).

In either instance the heated fury or cold fury is an instinctive fight response to what you have done, namely you have wounded us. This response is designed to draw fuel from you (which heals the wound) and also to exert control over you again by stopping your criticism of us and forcing you give us fuel instead.

Thus, it is similar to the sub division above but it is different because it is caused by wounding, rather than the instinctive knowledge that more fuel can be obtained and control exerted through a fight challenge.


The third category is one whereby we withdraw.

This is not a silent treatment (although this may follow). Instead it occurs in situations where we have been exposed to ourselves, to others or criticised so that we are wounded. We may well have had our fury ignited but it has failed to draw fuel and instead you keep wounding us. In such circumstances we have no choice but to dis-engage, withdraw and seek fuel elsewhere to heal the wound, thus avoiding your failure to give us fuel and your repeated wounding.

Accordingly, when you deal with us you either.

1 Give us fuel

2a. Give us fuel but we fight back to gain more fuel and exert control ; or

2b. Our fury is ignited and we fight back to gain fuel and exert control

3. We withdraw – flight.

By way of example, suppose a tertiary source bumps into us on the street and immediately apologises. That is fuel. We may accept the fuel and that is the end of the interaction.

We may decide that this person should be taught a lesson and we can get more fuel from them so we fight back and call them an arsehole for not looking where they are going. This annoys them because they apologised to us. They respond angrily and thus give us more fuel. We keep arguing with them in order to provoke them.

If a person bumped into us and did not apologise, we would regard this as a criticism. This would wound us and therefore there is a risk of our fury igniting. If it does (subject to the control threshold of the relevant narcissist) then we lash out at them telling them they are  a sleep walking turd in order to cause them to give us fuel either by being upset at our tirade, or to apologise or for them to argue back at us because we have insulted them. We gain fuel and this is drawn until the wound heals.

By way of a further example, the IPPS tells us how wonderful we are. This is positive fuel which we accept.

If the IPPS accuses us of having an affair and if they do so in an upset manner, we gain fuel. We will most likely see this as a challenge – there is more fuel to be gained here AND they are telling us what we can and cannot do, so we need to assert control. We will insult them telling them that it is no wonder we speak to other women because the IPPS is frigid. This causes further upset, generates more fuel and also allows us to exert our control.

If the IPPS fails to give us our birthday present early enough on our birthday, we feel criticised. Our fury ignites and we lash out through cold fury or heated fury to gain fuel from the IPPS for the purposes of healing our wound and at the same time this also ensures we demonstrate who is in charge and thus we exert control.

Accordingly, in all your interactions with our kind be aware that what is happening is that you are either giving us fuel, there is a fight challenge or fight fury or we flee. Being aware of these responses provides you with understanding and also enables you to marshal your responses accordingly.




10 thoughts on “Fuel, Fight or Flight?

  1. jenna says:

    Whenever he does something that bothers me, i ask him many questions as to why he did such and such, which leads to an argument (via text). He says he hates it, tells me to stop, and says he feels like smashing his phone. I always get confused if he does this to obtain more fuel, if his fury is truly ignited (which it seems like to me), or if he is wounded and wants to withdraw.

  2. windstorm2 says:

    Flight “occurs in situations where we have been exposed to ourselves.” This concept is very helpful to me. Thank you.

  3. sunniva says:

    I still find it hard to capture the fine line between negative fuel and criticism in the sociopathic pattern of contradictive perspectives.
    But I like how this article explains it. Looking back, I think I can see the difference, at least to a certain point.

    Example of criticism:

    He had invited me for dinner together with his kids (my only soft spot for him was his kids). When I arrived, he met me with a huge smile and hugged me for 5 minutes. During dinner the conversation was nice, but when it was time for dessert he sat himself at the other end of the living room, leaving me and the kids around the coffee table. He logged in to his phone, and stayed on chatting with his harem-list the rest of the evening. I didn’t say anything. I like his kids and they like me, so we had a great evening. His oldest has bonded quite strongly with me, and wanted me to stay over. Then he ¨woke up¨, and simply stated no to that. So, when it was time for me to go home his kids hugged me, but he just looked at me and went back upstairs.
    As a father and a grown man his behavior was extremely rude, but from his self-righteous perspective he was offended that none of us asked if he would leave the phone and join us.

    Example of negative fuel:

    It was a Saturday and I was out with some friends. He called, but I didn’t feel like talking to him. After a while I received a text from his oldest child form his phone (now I think it was him texting). The text was an invitation to come visit the same day. I didn’t answer right away, and then he started texting what a cruel person I was for not texting back his kid, who only wanted to talk to me and see me. After four of these texts I called him, and I could hear how drunk he was. I knew his kids were there with him at the mountain cabin, and I got really scared. Long story short…he made me take the three hour drive up to his cabin, and when I arrived he was passed out on the coach. I was trying to smooth things over with the kids, so I just left him sleeping, and we cooked dinner in the kitchen and managed to have an ok evening. He woke us up the next morning with his sing along to the music from the kitchen radio making us all breakfast. When we came down he didn’t say a word about yesterday’s rawl, and then we didn’t say anything either.
    Wow!!! Guess the fuel level was high that morning, from all the yesterday’s negative fuel.
    It still amazes me how he can kill 15 birds with one stone from his knee-jerk instinct.

    I used to think I could save the world around me. I don’t anymore😊

    1. CB says:

      “It still amazes me how he can kill 15 birds with one stone from his knee-jerk instinct. ”

      So well put.
      I felt this so many times, especially when looking back.
      They seem to know so many combinations of how things will plan out if they use word X, or do Y, etc.

  4. p says:

    NPD is also very similar to conservative thinking – me vs you, us vs them, only the strongest survive, don’t show your vulnerabilities (= weaknesses).

  5. p says:

    ..and cultural narcissism rewards self-idealisation, making it hard to break an addiction around psychological compulsions. That’s the difficult aspect of psychological treatment (also applies to medical treatment), problems aren’t isolated but socially situated.

  6. p says:

    If your innerself is split between self-idealisation and shame with little internal communication, then the positive and negative fuel serve to support and vent those states of mind. Rejecting others is because of an extreme intimacy-avoidance complex, so you’re tied to a comfort zone that keeps everything all about you and you alone. You have no one to rely on but yourself, you did it all on your own with no one to help you, now you’ve gone through and achieved all this they show up and tell you what to do. etc..

  7. Yolo says:

    If we fight the fury, and you decide flight at the moment. Do you plan malign hoover? I know the lesser may just leave biut what about mid to greater? He have created backpage post which i had never heard of. Hes pop up at local community events and disappeared. He’s reported me as a psychopath and dangerous. He’s summons the cops to my house for welfare checks. Ate these actions for fuel or revenge?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      See the book Fury. That details the responses.

  8. Diva says:

    Despite reading this blog for a few weeks now, it was never really clear to me why I was attracting, or attracted to, one narc after the other and why some had fizzled out within months, yet others had lasted years. After reading this article it is now crystal clear……..I am handing out positive fuel without a doubt, but I am handing out negative fuel like there is no tomorrow. I always stand my ground, if there is a point to prove I will not give in gracefully…..it is not that I want or need the control of anyone or anything, but challenging someone is not something I will shirk away from, even if I am afraid, if I perceive something to be wrong. I realise now this is why the lesser and lower mid range types do not interest me and why that dynamic does not last too long, as they will withdraw from me because of my behaviour…..as I withdraw from them because of their behaviour……and due to my stubborn streak I will not come crawling back with any positive or negative fuel………I would say that the upper mid range and above would realise how far I can be pushed and would be able to manipulate my challenging behaviour and negative fuel to their full advantage. They are somehow able to pull me back in for another round or two ……again and again……. well maybe before but not anymore…….thank you HG…..I like all of your articles but that one answered questions I had not even asked………(I may have the narc types incorrect but it makes no difference….I totally understand it now.)

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