The Incredible Sulk


Who is the Incredible Sulk?

Unsurprisingly, he or she is a Mid-Range Narcissist. Lesser may occasionally sulk but it is rare, they are far more likely to explode with heated fury, either lashing out at your by name-calling or windmilling fists. The Greater may also sulk, but that is a very rare occurrence as the Greater regards such a passive-aggressive behaviour as beneath him and would rather use threat and intimidation as the expressions of his heated fury and escalate them from that point.

The Mid-Range Narcissist utilises passive aggressive behaviours in order to draw fuel. Chief amongst those behaviours are pity plays, cold shoulders, baleful glares and silent treatments. There is however a particular manipulation that some Mid-Rangers will use and this is when they become the Incredible Sulk. What are the main features of the Incredible Sulk?

  1. It is a Present Silent Treatment. The Incredible Sulk is never an Absent Silent Treatment. This is because the Absent Silent Treatment serves two functions. The first is to draw fuel from you as the main victim by making you worry where the narcissist has gone and also to have you trying to effect contact which in turn provides fuel to us. The second function is that it usually (although not always) enables the narcissist to focus on seducing someone else. Accordingly, that two week disappearance or two day vanishing act is being used to upset and anger you, but at the same time this will be used to draw somebody else in. It stands to reason therefore that if the charm et al is being used against someone else there cannot be an Incredible Sulk taking place. Even if (unusually) this absence is not being used to seduce someone else, there is not a sulk in progress. The Absent Silent Treatment is a   Cold Shoulder whereby the Mid-Ranger is being more aggressive in his ignoring of the victim.
  2. The Incredible Sulk occurs when the narcissist remains present to the victim for the whole purpose of enabling the victim (usually the IPPS but will also include family member  Non-Intimate Secondary Sources “NISSs”, family NISSs and sometimes colleague NISSs). When the Incredible Sulk is in progress, it is not just a case of the IPPS being singled out for the silent treatment and the narcissist speaking with everybody else, not at all. The Incredible Sulk is with everybody.
  3. The Incredible Sulk is a manifestation of cold fury. The Mid-Range Narcissist will have been criticised (usually unintentionally) and this has then ignited his or her fury, leading to the silent treatment.
  4. Whilst it is criticism which is the catalyst for the Incredible Sulk, one of the defining features which remains at the heart of its operation is envy. Just as the Incredible Hulk went into Hulk mode by turning green, the Incredible Sulk is also green, but it is with envy. Huge, visceral envy for others and how they are outflanking, outgunning and outperforming him or her. The Mid-Range Narcissist who is prone to engaging in the Incredible Sulk is one who has a huge envy issue. Envy is a common theme for all of our kind, but especially so for some and if they are Mid-Range it manifests as the Incredible Sulk. The Mid-Range Narcissist will be envious of something said and/or done by the victim (usually the IPPS) and whilst this is part of the criticism it is this envy which is perpetuating the Incredible Sulk. The narcissist will be envious of the victims prowess in some regard, for instance if the victim has passed an examination or secured a new and prestigious job, been given a significant pay rise, been complimented by somebody or has achieved an accomplishment. The spotlight (even if not asked for by the victim) is on the victim and the narcissist hates this. It underlines to him how mean and cruel the world is, how unfair his life has become and it is of course all the fault of the person that the narcissist envies.
  5. Whilst engaged in an Incredible Sulk the narcissist is sullen, uncommunicative, self-pitying and doleful. There is no baleful glare directed at anybody. There is no curled lip in readiness for a snarl. There is no blackened look. Instead, the Incredible Sulk will stare at the floor as if willing it to open up and consume him. He will gaze with wistful angst from the window or pick up some personal object and fix his eyes on it as he turns it over and over in his hands, depicting how wrought with dejection he is.
  6. The Incredible Sulk is maintained for a considerable period of time. This is not a fifteen minutes or two hour present silent treatment. This will last for at least a day and most likely longer. Any attempt to communicate with the Incredible Sulk will be met with him or her not responding at all, shrugging or fixing the recipient with a hangdog expression as if every woe in the world is pressing down on and being experienced by the narcissist.
  7. The Incredible Sulk wants everyone to be looking at him, flocking around him, asking what is wrong, suggesting ways to break this state. He wants his IPPS trying to establish whatever is the matter. He will expect his children to be pulling on his sleeve asking “Dad, what’s up?” If the children are young, their uncomprehending tears will only add to the fuel. He does not care for their upset. In the narcissist’s mind, he feels only dejection, rejection and self-pity. He knows the world does not care about him, but it should and this state is a representation of how he knows the world regards him. Even if the IPPS invites friends, family, colleagues around to try and break this almost catatonic state that the narcissist has entered, those trying to inject a smile or at least some kind of positive reaction in the narcissist will only be met with the doleful stare of the narcissist which seems to saying “There is no hope for me anymore”. It is an instinctive response of the Incredible Sulk and is designed to draw yet more fuel through consternation, bewilderment and redoubled efforts to help.
  8. There are two reasons why the Incredible Sulk operates by involving everybody around him or her, rather than say the IPPS (which is the usual outcome of a Present Silent Treatment). The first is that the more people which are responding to the Incredible Sulk, the more fuel is available The second reason is that if the IPPS becomes fed up of trying to elicit a positive response, there will still be others (children, friends, other family members) who will keep trying and thus the fuel continues to flow.
  9. The Incredible Sulk wants fuel from this behaviour. He wants to be fawned over, mollycoddled, told how much he is loved, apologised to and made to feel special. Even when the wound that arose from the criticism has been healed, the Incredible Sulk will keep this behaviour going because it is so effective at drawing fuel. He also regards it as his right to do this – the world owes him it. It should be lauding him, respecting him and idealising him and its failure to do so means that instead he is entitled to withdraw (yet remain) and drink up all of the consequential fuel from the appliances affected by the Incredible Sulk.
  10. The Incredible Sulk is unlikely to eat (again for effect by making it appear as if there is something seriously wrong), they will miss certain activities they would usually engage in (for instance not going out with friends) in order to draw more fuel appliances into the catchment of the Incredible Sulk and will give the impression that he or she has entered some kind of depressed state. There is no such depression but the Incredible Sulk is content to make it appear so as this will generate more concern and fuel.
  11. He or she will sit for hours on end in a chair, staring at the television, apparently not really taking in what is going on. Mealtimes will be ignored and even food brought to the Incredible Sulk will be ignored or just picked at. He or she will walk slowly, moping about, emitting occasional sighs of dejection and flopping listlessly into bed or onto the settee.
  12. The Incredible Sulk has no difficulty in maintaining this state because he or she is initially wounded and then the huge envy that this particular Mid-Range Narcissist suffers from will perpetuate the behaviour over several days. Work will be missed with a concern spouse calling in on behalf of the narcissist, doctors will be consulted and the Incredible Sulk will continue as of course this is all fuel.
  13. The only way to break the Incredible Sulk is to ignore it wholesale. This means everybody in the vicinity. Nobody ought to pay the Incredible Sulk any attention At first this will cause the Mid-Ranger to respond by trying to draw more attention through loud sighs, slumping, holding his or her head in her hands, muttering under his or breath. These are just further manipulations and should be ignored. Once the Incredible Sulk realises that this showcase silent treatment is not having any effect any more he will slowly emerge from it. He or she will not just snap out of it, but rather emerge like some kind of hibernating creature. Once this happens, resists the urge to ask “what was all that about” as you will only be fuelling the narcissist. Act as if it never happened. This will be difficult to do and offend your sense of empathy to assist someone and establish what was going on, but once you recognise that an Incredible Sulk is in hand you will now how to address it.
  14. The Incredible Sulk is not just rolled out at home. It might appear in a social setting whereby the Incredible Sulk will suddenly just not speak with anybody and will sit staring at his or her drink, looking through people and appearing as if ‘not there’ in order to garner attention. It might be during a meet gin with colleagues where the narcissist will just look out of the window as if pre-occupied before giving a dejected and puppy dog look at someone as if to say “I am so troubled and you have no idea.” It is all about garnering sympathy and pity. It is not an aggressive sulk that is telling people to stay away, not at all, it is one which is designed to draw people and thus their fuel as they try to work out what is wrong and help.

Thus this is the Incredible Sulk. Just be thankful no shirts or trousers were ripped in the process.

13 thoughts on “The Incredible Sulk

  1. Felicia says:

    HG – Is it possible for a MR to not do silent treatments?
    My ex was I believe a mid middle ranger. There was once or twice where he would go more than an hour or so without texting me (that was very uncommon) and he would say hey I have a meeting later this afternoon at work today and I can’t text. Then, a few hours later he would text me to let me know he was out of the meeting. The ironic thing is I was the one that would give him the silent treatment for a few hours every time he made me mad. I have never done that with any other boyfriend but for some reason I did it every fight with him. When we fought he would mostly be annoyingly calm and pathological and almost smirk while I yelled and cried. Sometimes he would yell back but it wasn’t common. He mostly just would accuse me of lying and enjoying constant fighting then say if I ever lied to him we will break up.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      I suppose it is possible although I would find it extremely unusual.

  2. Lou says:

    This is so my older sister. I used to call it (to myself) her black hole mode. She would get so dark and heavy (sulk) to attract everyone’s attention around her. Somehow it never bothered me. I always found it obvious and silly. Weak, actually.

  3. narc affair says:

    My hubby isnt a narcissist by any means but he does the sulk. It drives me crazy. Its like the silent treatment and really is a way to avoid discussing an issue. Instead you skirt around it trying to make amends to someone who needs proof youre sorry and decides when theyre ready to move on.

  4. Narc Angel says:

    I experienced this at work with a Mid. I made a suggestion to improve efficiency at work. It was implemented and caused the MRN to be assigned an additional duty (minimal effort) that she readily accepted from her boss, but which she never stopped griping about (pity plays) to anyone who would listen and attributed it to my causing her extra work.. She commented to me with others present on many occasions how this additional duty was keeping her from being able to complete her other responsibilities (read:socialising). I explained that I had no control over how it was implemented and that she should have expressed this when she accepted and to speak to her boss. This went on for weeks until one day when she had a small audience and I had had enough. I turned to her and said: I have offered you solutions but youre right. It was my suggestion and I should take care of this and will. I then fired off an email to her boss and cc’d her. It asked that my suggestion be revisited where ——-was involved as she had expressed to myself and others on several occasions her angst at being unable to complete her regular duties due to being assigned the additional responsibility resulting from my suggestion. I added that I was concerned it would cause a culture of reluctance in others to forward suggestions in future or to consult with their superiors with any issues. Also concern for her personally.


    She cried at her desk. Refused to accept invites to lunch, coffee or social activities, booked off sick, stared out the window until someone asked what was wrong etc…This of course caused some to flock to her to inquire how she was and what they could do, how she seemed to be suffering depression and should see a doctor, some brought her meals and treats………went on for days.

    Me? I acted like nothing had happened. Smiled at her and interacted normally, dropped her off a coffee when I bought for others, bid her good morning and good night. Included her in group discussions and extended invitation to social functions…

    Eventually she had to come out of the sulk because she looked like an idiot although she then announced to everyone that she was going to be the bigger person for the good of the team lol. Mids are big babies.

  5. Becoming Observant says:

    Oh wow… This is it. This is my husband. One difference: he becomes the martyr. Takes on every chore he can. Sighing, slouching, makng as much noise as humanly possible. He might even offer a backhanded apology: “sorry for the noise, it’s just that (insert blame on some outside force here)… and I am sorry to be such a perfectionist, but somebody needs to do this…” Every single task from helping to reach an object up high to finding a misplaced object of his own (not his fault it is missing) is “so hard.” Finding the channel for the football game is so hard. -.- SIGH… SHRUG…

    The kds are teenagers now, and they mock him for this behavior. It’s so constant, it’s what he’s known for. He knows he can’t handle criticism (blames his parents) or offer praise (blames his parents), and if something that NEEDS criticism, I make his mom do it so that I am not the fall guy. I have been trying to get him on zoloft/sertraline for at leadt ten years, maybe 15. Would this help?

    Would it help to get him doing something he enjoys? Cycling: getting outside, feeling endorphins? I don’t want to thwart him, I want him to feel better. If I tell the kids to ignore the sighing and behavior, they will report it to him. He would be very angry.

    Can you think of a delicate, non-hostile way to approach the kids with this approach?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      This is a matter for consultation as I would need to ascertain the school of narcissist he is and conveying the information by which this might be done would take additional time.

  6. Mona says:

    Now I lie so often to my mother. It works. As long as I lie to her the world /her world is under her control. She believes it. And my situation is easier to handle for me. I promise to do this and that and she is satisfied. But I do not keep all the promises anymore. And if there comes then the incredible sulk – I am secretly happy, because then I have time for me and my interests. I cannot avoid her, I cannot leave her all alone, but I can lie. It is the best thing to do for us both.

  7. Mona says:

    Yes, your kind provokes lies. We have to lie that you are the best, the most intelligent, the sexiest, the most powerful, the poorest, the most betrayed person in the world until you break your sulk. You want lies… Truth is something that your kind cannot stand…

  8. RJ says:

    I confronted a friend/acquaintance about treating a mutual friend like this. Totally cut him off, no visits when in the area from away and the texts stopped. This orchestrated over a three year period. I said “I don’t know if you want to answer or not but is there something that happened with you two guys”. The response was interesting. A stupid looking shit eating grin with a denial of there being an issue.The voice going up in octaves while answering. Then that was it, regular conversation resumed. Just recently he was visiting and contacted the mutual friend to hang out (on his terms of course). From reading about the categories I recognise him as a midrange. Envy definitely a factor. Was once noted for making the comment that so and so is winning the game. This is in relation to the saying that ” whoever dies with the most toys wins”. There are other indicators that identify his narcissism also. Have know this guy from school days.

  9. Becky says:

    Men who sulk are disgusting.

  10. BurntKrispyKeen says:

    He certainly sulked some, and reading this made me recall those blank stares to the floor. He played the victim effectively, manipulating my affection like I was his puppet. But it was his absent silent treatments that I despised. I found those silent treatments to be the most immature way of coping.

    They left me bewildered.

    I didn’t do well during those periods. Being ignored felt like the worst kind of emotional abuse. I’m sure I made every mistake in the book. (Is there a book?)

    There might not be a huge difference between sulking or other forms of the silent treatment, but any additional information on the management of an absent treatment, I’d greatly appreciate.

    (By the way, pretty clever, that last line of yours.)

  11. Windstorm2 says:

    I have never personally witnessed one of these, but occasionally a family member would go into one and I would hear about it. My exhusband and the extended family would just be derisive about it or get irritated but totally ignore the narcissist and refuse to see him until he quit and went back to normal. It was the codependent wives and minor children that would get caught up and mollycoddle the narc. I have one sister in law and an aunt that just absolutely refused to acknowledge the manipulation involved. I always felt sorry for them, but at the same time it’s hard to keep feeling sorry for someone who refuses to listen to reason over and over and over again.

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