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. E. B. says:

    I would like to ask how narcissists perceive the following, HG.

    Case 1: Addressee of a letter receives a card in mailbox to collect Certified Mail from the Post Office. Sender’s name is not on the card.
    Addressee decides not to pick it up.
    Post Office sends the narcissist his letter back. He will not know the reason why the addressee ignored it.

    Case 2: Addressee *refuses* to sign and accept delivery of Certified Mail from a narcissist upon seeing the Sender’s name on the envelope.
    Post Office sends the narcissist his letter back including a *notification* that addressee *Refused* to accept his letter.

    Both cases are free of Pure Fuel and this would be Wounding to the narcissist.
    But Case 2 is slightly different. The narcissist will learn about the target’s Refusal to accept his letter.

    Can this *Refusal* be perceived as an insult by the narcissist and rebellion on the target’s part (Challenge Fuel)?
    Is the target in Case 2 actually interacting and playing the narcissist’s game (as in ‘table-tennis’)?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Both wound the narcissist as the narcissist is ignored.
      Case 2 is not interacting.

      1. E. B. says:

        Thank you, HG. I was not sure how narcissists perceive No 2.

        Also, I had wrongly understood that returning unwanted letters, cards or gifts after going NC was an indirect interaction, thus challenging the narcissist to exert further control.
        Not returning (ignoring) unwanted mail/gifts and throwing them away unread/unopened has worked for me so far. Most narcissists eventually give up, except for malignant ones whose hoovers are very seldom benign.

  2. Carol says:

    I really do not understand what “fuel” means. Is it an emotional feeling? Is it a physical reaction of some kind in the body of the Narcissist? Is it an energy of some kind? Is it thoughts? And, why does fuel have to be obtained from an external source?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Please see the book Fuel.

      1. Carol says:

        Awesome! Will do, thanks.

    2. K says:

      Hello Carol
      While you are waiting for Fuel to arrive, you can type: the prime aims in the search bar and that article will give you a general idea of what fuel is and how it works.

      1. Carol says:

        Thanks a bunch!

        1. K says:

          My pleasure Carol!

    3. K says:

      the search bar is located on the upper right under “Knowing the Narcissist”.

  3. Clationa says:

    Does it provide fuel if a victim theatens to commit suicide? Would it provide fuel for you if some of your victims actually commited suicide, maybe leaving a letter blaming you?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      1. If there is emotion attached with the threat, which there usually will be, yes.
      2. A dead appliance is a useless appliance however there would be Thought Fuel and the content of an emotional letter blaming the narcissist would contain Challenge Fuel but not a huge amount.

  4. BrokenRainbow says:

    Fuel. I was a fountain of both positive and negative fuel for him. Positive was easy (for me) as I adored him, praised him, loved him, complimented him and took care of him etc. Negative was obviously harder for me but my fuel flowed and flowed.

    I am curious about something. One night he went and had a bath. I stayed in our room and did my own thing. When he came back from his bath he lit into me. He had wanted me to wash his back but he never asked. He started yelling at me that if I had cared about him, I would have known he wanted my help. Of course I was defensive and we ended up having this argument. Apparently it was my “job” to anticipate all his needs and to also be a mind reader. HG, was this to extract negative fuel from me? That argument went on for over an hour with me sobbing in the end.

    I also ignited his heated fury one day. I told him something he did not want to hear and he lost it. I won’t go into details here but there has been ongoing physical repercussions for me since that fateful day.

    1. K says:

      Yes, he did it for fuel (negative), control, reinforcement of his need for superiority and self-worth. The link is to a very short article that you may find helpful.

      14. We expect you to read our minds so you do what we want.


      1. BrokenRainbow says:

        Thank you. That post was great to read!

      2. K says:

        My pleasure BrokenRainbow!
        I really like that one, too.

  5. Christine says:

    What about starting to shout and scream dramatically for no reason at all, at least not anything that anyone else can see? And then, once they’ve got you screaming back and/or sobbing hysterically, smiling and acting like nothing happened?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Then you will be sectioned.

      1. Kelly says:

        That sounds similar to how my mother would provoke me and get me upset and then laugh at me.

        What is sectioned?

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Mandatory referral to a psychiatric unit.

      2. Ariana says:

        I’m sorry to put this here, but don’t know where else (this is under your reply to another comment). How do I make a comment/question re: this blog post? I do not see anywhere to click to do so. Thanks in advance.

        1. K says:

          You can scroll to the bottom of the thread and post your comments that way and you can also check the box below that notifies you via email of new comments, which allows you to comment directly to other bloggers.

  6. mollyb5 says:

    Yes. I do struggle why you or any narc would want negative fuel . I can see the fuel from making someone frustrated by not texting them back fuels your ego that they are wanting to chat with you…and you are denying them what they want . I see that can make you feel powerful ..I have felt that too and can understand . But , being a girl and not liking to be called ugly or stupid idiot , or trash etc …I can not fathom wanting this from someone when they are being serious . This must be a learned construct …I never would have been feeling good if my father or mother said negative things to me ..:I did not want that kind of attention . Is this learned HG ?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      It is instinctive.

    2. Agnes says:

      Remember no matter how you call the N, he doesn’t believe he is ugly or stupid (that’s why he is narcissist). Imagine someone shouts at you and calls you a bird. “You yellow bird with green dots!” – does it offend you? No. I believe the same thing happens whem you shout at narcissist calling him an idiot. He thinks “wow, it is really stupid, she is obviously lying” and “wow, look how powerful I am, she says it because she is frustrated, hurt, want to hurt me, I am important to her, she must be crazy (about me).”

      1. windstorm says:

        “Imagine someone shouts at you and calls you a bird. “You yellow bird with green dots!” – does it offend you? No.”

        Great analogy! Our frustrations come because we do not think like a narcissist and we forget that they always do.

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