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.




16 thoughts on “Fuel, Fight or Flight?

  1. Colette says:

    What happens when fuel is denied to a narcissist? He’s been trying all day to get me angry/sad/shocked, but I already got so tired of it that I just kept my calm and awareness throughout it all and refused to give him the pleasure of seeing me suffer again. It was actually the last thing I told him -that there is not a chance he provokes any bad feeling in myself- before he went in what it seems to be the flight mode.

    I would normally cry, shiver and sweat everytime we had a fight (hell, his biggest achievement was a provoking heart attack due emotional distress), so my response today must have been quite a shock for him.. He tried every trick he knew will hurt me and trigger negative feelings, but got nothing out of me. I am sitting here feeling all zen and… Somehow free and happy.

    What am I to expect now, besides the silent treatment which I actually do not mind at all? In fact I feel it would only help me to finally break free for good, should he try to avoid contact in order to gain the upper hand..

    Thanks for sharing all this info with us!

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Read Fuel and No Contact – the answers are in there, Colette.

      1. Colette says:

        Will buy your entire bibliography, dear HG, once I put my life back on track and repair the all the damage, now that I’ve escaped from a while and healing. Understanding didn’t help only with this evil-narc, but it shed a light on the behaviour of people most close to me so will definitely need to read all of your works.

        In the meanwhile, thank you for these articles, it is very kind of you to provide keys to freedom.

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Buying my books will ensure you put your life back on track Colette.

          1. Colette says:

            Hihi oh i’ve realised this shortly after starting reading your blog, dear HG, it just took me a while to recover after a brutal financial abuse, which I didn’t even recognize until the moment I’ve left and had really nothing, not even for the basic needs. Luckily, even this is getting better, got a job and will soon be able to devour your books!

  2. From this video HG, do you believe this is a somatic narcissist? Can you tell? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJR8bGBiP-o

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Hello AVS, I don’t have time to watch the entirety of the video. I would say that

      1. Her physical appearance
      2. Her devotion to exercise
      3. The comments that were made BTL about her

      Certainly show indicators. Accordingly, I cannot say for certain if this person is a somatic narcissist without further analysis, but I do see several indicators which make it a distinct possibility.

    2. Brian says:

      This may be difficult to believe but that person exercising is a MAN
      his back is flat as a board, which indicates a long ribcage, which is something a man has,
      There may be some indentations in the waist but this is just rib removal.
      He has a square face, strong square jaw, even a brow.

      If you know a man with a slim build ask him to wear just his underwear and look at him from the side, you will see they are identical.

  3. mb says:

    Helpful! HG could you please consider writing a letter ‘to Whom It May Concern’ that a victim could show outsiders post discard or post escape to get them to understand what the truth was? We often look crazy, frazzled , over emotional, fragile and at this exhausted time are not so succinct to be able to garner necessary support for ourselves. How do we explain to the untargeted the horror without sounding psychologically imbalanced ? Or … failing that how do we not care that no one gets it? Thanks for your valuable time & #1 site!

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Thank you MB, see the book Smeared for more on this, I have made a note of your suggestion too.

  4. Chloe says:

    Hg – Can you please tell me why my boyfriend’s dad tried to get fuel from me and not my boyfriend in the following situation? I know it is for fuel but a I am just wondering why get it from me and not his son.

    A few months ago, I was watching a movie in the living room with my boyfriend and his dad and his dad said aloud,”That would be cool if there was a website where you could find out an actor’s name and maybe what other movies they have been in and like a picture.” Then my boyfriend said (in a you are so old and embarrassing tone) “There is it is called internet movie database!” When my boyfriend said that I laughed because I thought it was cute that his dad was so clueless but then my boyfriend’s dad turns to me and viciously snaps, “Did you really know that website from before or are you just laughing to act like you know?” And then when I said no I have known about about that for years, he said in a rude tone, “Well I never can tell with you.” It was so shocking to me that his dad was so aggressive to me. His dad is usually the most charming man in the world. Of course since I knew nothing about narcissism at the time and it was such a random attack I shot him a what the hell are you talking about look which I am sure fueled him right up.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Your laughter wounded him, his fury was ignited, it manifested as a verbal attack to gain fuel.

  5. K says:

    My MMRN sent my son a $100.00 Amazon gift card. He must be looking for some positive fuel.

    1. ‘Tis the season!

  6. Sophie says:

    What I don’t understand with my narc, is… I understand why he devalued and discarded. We’re getting divorced over this (thanks for the court tips, btw). What I don’t understand why he expects me to be happy about the whole thing.

    He really seems to expect me to be happy for him and his mistress, regardless of what pain their actions cause me or my kid. And she’s done some nasty things to my kid. My lack of happiness about his affair has been a real problem for him.

    I get that if I say anything about her actions being nasty, he takes it personally, because for now, she’s his perfect reflection. He gets on a high horse about her, because she can do no wrong.

    But I just don’t understand this need he has for me to be happy about the whole thing, and to worship at his mistress’s altar. All I have to do is say anything negative about her, even if it’s to say that I think her actions have been crappy, and he loses it.

    It’s like he’s so proud of his new toy, I have to be proud of it as well, or somehow, I’m injuring him by withholding my praise of the toy. But why does he care, since I’ve been devalued (and it was brutal) and discarded (also brutal). If I’m the broken toy he dumped in the garbage, why does he care what I think or say about his shiny new toy?

    1. Tappan Zee says:

      Sophie—If I’m the broken toy he dumped in the garbage, why does he care what I think or say about his shiny new toy?

      ^going out on a limb that it is for fuel. he does not “care” as one cares for another and wants what is best for them in a truly empathetic way. he want you to respond in a certain way that suits him. the core of the narc dynamic. no matter how the facade wraps it up to appear. it simply serves him/narc. no more.

      PS: i write that as if it’s nbd. tra-la-la. but no. this reality and truly grasping it has broken, rebroken and shattered my heart every damn day. until healing finally begins. and then it still feels the shards. and bleeds. xx

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