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’ we do this because you have challenged us. There are two crucial components behind this decision. Firstly fuel provisionand 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 to 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.





28 thoughts on “Fuel, Fight or Flight”

  1. HG, this is the post which I never want to believe, when I have a crush on someone ‘hot and cold’.
    My wishful thinking doesn’t want to see that last chapter about ‘flight’, seeking fuel elsewhere.
    Ignoring him will, in the longrun, not make him kinder & nicer in asking me out or tone of voice, instead he simply disappears to others.
    Ignoring him is good for me, only.
    Cutting my losses.

    Easy to get, intellectually. A nightmare to get, emotionally.

  2. I listened to the narration of this article this morning otw to work just so I could hear HG say “turd”. My curiosity demanded it.

  3. HG I am a shelf ISS. After declaring my love was disengaged. We have recommenced our intimate relationship. I have repeatedly told him what he is , and informed him I am aware of all his manipulations to gain control of me. He does not deny anything and yet now is very interested in my knowledge. Why am I not wounding him?

  4. HG, could demanding sth of a narc in a relationship, or expecting sth of him, like going for a walk on a sunday after noon, providing for dinner, playing a board game, helping with something … lead to the need on the narc’s part to demonstrate control and to provoke a fight? Do you provoke a fight when someone expects you to help with something?

    1. Yes because the narcissist would view it as control and rail against it.
      I ascertain whether it is worth my while to assist before deciding on my response.

      1. Thank you.
        Do you regard this as a typical narc sign or which other personality types would react in a similar fashion?
        And how would one propose sth as simple as a walk or board game without provoking the need for control on the narc’s part?

      2. Ah I so knew it. Thank you I am well aware of your writings.
        But too confused to make the connection.
        How do you decide if you’re dealing with a narc or another type sharing these specific traits??

      3. You, not me. ;D
        I know what I am dealing with, but I was wondering, how YOU decide 100 times faster than I do ….
        …. or if you just don’t care, as you solely recognize if someone shows what you need – or not. Regardless of the reasons.

        You are quite right in Sitting Target e. g. – I need to understand, how and why someone is like he is, and still try to find common ground (if non-narc). But you don’t, is that right?

        I would love to consult with you about every person I meet, but I’m afraid I can’t afford to. 😉

  5. I understand this….. being BPD….. again there are similarities….
    Even I seem to need reassurance and to be liked etc from people….
    Borderline’s often have a “favourite person” whom they develop strong emotional attachments to. I have a few of these on social media. Though I get bored very quickly of them, and so will often go away for a while and then I’ll come back when I’m ready.
    These are my go-to when I need extra reassurance or need approval I guess. These are things borderline’s find hard to provide themselves. Sometimes I’m extra needy.
    But I guess it’s not quite so extreme as the Narc. But just like the Narc I also feel very empty a lot of the time.
    I often will be in “fight or flight” mode….. (maybe that’s different to what HG is saying here) but just explaining….
    I also understand the negative fuel aspect too because I will often try to pick fights or I’ll go somewhere where I know they hate borderline’s and get absolutely trashed on….. in that case I do it for the abuse….. sometimes I need it. Or it feels like I do.
    Other times I project or press a person’s buttons to see what reaction I get, often not knowing why I’m even doing it, it’s just a particular feeling I feel and I want to fight, I guess it’s when I’m feeling more overconfident and my mood has gone into the higher end… however later I realise this was not good behaviour so if I have done this I will usually apologise later. That’s the other end of the scale.
    This is where Narcs are different, as they don’t often apologise and everything they do is deliberate. They know what they are doing.

    It is interesting to see where the similarities are and where the differences are.

    1. Michelle

      Couple of questions:

      Have you been formally diagnosed as a Borderline or is that your own view from information you have read?

      Is HG one of those people you have developed a strong personal attachment to, only to bore quickly of them and then return to?

      Your post appears to be listing your view of the similarities in your behaviour to narcissism but offering that it is not quite as extreme. A few of those you listed being:
      Picking fights.
      Going somewhere you know they hate borderlines (?) and getting trashed on for the abuse. (Is that so you then become the victim and get attention that way? Serious question-not a slam).
      That you sometimes project or press a persons buttons to see what reaction you will get.

      What is actually interesting to see is that you then seem to offer that this can all be excused because you are borderline and that you apologize where Narcs do not. This does not give you license.

      Can you see how these behaviours can be viewed as unconstructive and unwelcome to some and why you have been addressed? Or is any attention good attention? We do not hate borderlines here so are uninterested in trashing you so you get the fix of self-loathing you admit to getting elsewhere.

      If you are honestly looking for help you will consider input and look inward for the answers and do more reading. If you are just attention seeking you will likely lash out. Only you know your true intention.

      I hope you continue to read and learn to get the help you need.

      1. NarcAngel…
        Hi…. have typed out a really long comment which is currently in moderation which will address quite a few things….
        Until that is put up, yes I am or was professionally diagnosed by psychiatrist in 2012. And my other disorders too have been diagnosed.
        Other stuff I try and explain in longer comment.
        (No I do not have attachment to HG.)

  6. So I can’t be challenging to a narcissist, when that’s my normal, as an empath?

    I think I finally understand why our relationship lasted 3 long years:
    1) I was being nice.
    2) He wanted to exert more control – and provoked me.
    3) I fought against his control.
    4) He acted like a jerk… then chilled out.
    5) We made up.
    6) Repeat.

    Wow, what a stupid waste of time.

  7. I continue to read these blog posts after the death of my Narc….they are still helping me understand the dynamic, perhaps even more now than when he was living. Its been 7 weeks. The raw emotion of death is ebbing away. I have been almost paralyzed by anxiety after his death. This is so strange, since I had broken away from him his last 8 weeks of life. Now my mind is calming, and as I read HG’s words, they make even more sense.

    I am actually seeking out a Shaman healer. He obliterated my spirit.

    1. Holly E Mead

      I was reading your comment if I may ask what do you believe a Shaman can do for you?
      I know you feel as if your spirit has been obliterated, it hasn’t thou.
      I will understand if you do not wish to share.


      1. Oh I don’t mind.

        I honestly feel haunted by his death. I was the one who put it together how he died before the Medical Examiner report…and I could see the gruesomeness, and feel the vast, empty, and turbulent void he succumbed to.

        I believe in psychic connections….with him, I always knew what he was doing, without having any proof only to be validated in spades upon his death. It was as if I was a bystander studying him, while at the same time loving him. I really knew him, but couldn’t grasp the dynamic.

        After his death…I was numb. The longer he has been dead, the more he haunts me, and now I am dealing with extreme anxiety. I also made a traditional therapist appointment

        I figure it sure can’t hurt.

        1. Holly E Mead

          I understand. What you have experienced is real, don’t let anyone say it wasn’t. Yet, In time as you come to understand their perspective and the dynamics of things what haunts you will start to make sense.
          Speaking to a therapist is good, yet be careful some do not understand narcissistic abuse. Trust your instincts they will lead you to one that can actually help you.

          May I ask has this happened before?

          1. When my mother died, I was the only one with her for 5 days as she transitioned to the other side. Her vortex, was more like a rebirth. It was sad, but at the same time, it was beautiful and felt right.

            It stayed with me months after her passing. It did not rack me. His death has given me visions that are hard to deal with.

            I am meditating every day, without fail. It is really helping. I meet the vortex in my mind, and embrace it.

            It’s weird sounding I know. But wow….what an experience.

            Thanks so much for your support. They say if it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger.


          2. Holly

            Thank you for sharing, losing a parent can be hard.

            Do you practice what Abraham Hicks teaches? Your comment of the vortex reminded me of them.

            If I may ask, you say his death has left you with visions that are hard to deal with, would you share them? And how long have you had visions?


  8. Again a first read of this article! It’s so well written.
    The breakdown and expansion on the points made is brilliant, I don’t think it could be made any clearer than that.

    The examples are great and very helpful. I talk about the concept of fight or flight all the time. This is a great take on it in relation to the narcissist and wounding. I feel that I have gained so much more understanding from this article, especially regarding fuel and fury.

  9. It must be a high, like really good cocaine deriving positive and negative fuel. And there’s no boundaries, or difference that a Narcissist feels. And it’s an ultimate form of control, a total God complex.

    1. I could be a Super Empath or Contagion. Leaning more towards Contagion. When I see a person take a hard fall I can feel pain through my body, splintering in my bones and the ache of impact. My whole self responds with embarrassment to see a struggling pitcher on the mound. The narcissist is predictable….power, control and superiority…rinse/repeat. GOSO is just the beginning of your own life. You haven’t lost anything. I feel freedom when I read this blog and all of your stories. I am grateful to have found Narcsite.

      Personally, the Magnet cadre sounds like me. Some empaths feel overwhelmed in groups. Not me. I love to be in a room and take it in. The people in need come to me and see something positive that they didn’t see before, or they teach me something..etc. The surge of power (fuel) is immense, laced with positivity and costs nothing. No drug compares to this. Empaths know what being fueled feels like. The cadre you most identify with is based on what fuels you. It’s unfathomable to imagine being fueled by breaking someone or causing pain….but “it is what it is” and they will not change.

  10. HG, So, if the reoccurring narc is finally told, “I am picking the man that loves me, goodbye.” And the narc actually does vanish—is he in flight? (I know after a few months or something we may try to ring me up) — but for now did I actually get to stick a pin in him? Did I maybe finally hurt him? Please say I did—-

    1. You either issued Challenge Fuel or wounded the narcissist with your comment and decision. if you said it with emotion, then CF, if not, you wounded. Either way, his vanishing (for now) is either him seeking to assert superiority by ignoring you or his response to being wounded.

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