Keep It In The Family

The narcissistic dynamic and the effects of our kind are all-pervasive. Nobody is untouched by us in their lives. Whether it is the stranger we smile at in the lift and receive a smile in return, thus gaining a dollop of fuel, the doggedly loyal friend who is in awe of us and does whatever we want or the smitten and confused discarded primary source, we are everywhere. You find us walking down the street, in your workplace, at the bar, in the hospital, in your bed and also in your family.

Much of what is written about our kind appertains to the romantic ensnarement of an unwitting victim who falls madly and deeply in love with us, suffers the cruelty of devaluation and then is tossed aside with no explanation before being hoovered back in and the process begins once more. This is the case because this type of narcissistic dynamic is amongst the most devastating owing to the strength of feeling, the close proximity between narcissist and victim and the period of exposure. The targeting of somebody to be our intimate partner primary source is regarded as the most obvious engagement with our kind and fits the standard model of seduction, devaluation, discard and hoover.

Of course, as I have shown, there is much more than this standard model, with the targeting period, the initial seduction and then the seduction golden period, the stranger zone, the respite periods and so on. Furthermore, there are variances for those who are intimate partner secondary sources or those who find themselves the dirty secret intimate partner secondary source. There is also the situation with inner and outer circle friends who are secondary non-intimate sources who enjoy elongated golden periods and those who a tertiary sources who may experience a short blast of seduction and no golden period or the malice of a malign hoover from the very beginning. Whilst the methodology of our kind has many similarities, there are also many variations dependent on the nature of the source which we are entangled with and this is equally applicable to the family.

Family members are nearly always secondary sources to the narcissist. The majority are non-intimate but in certain instances there are family members who are intimate secondary sources.

Occasionally there may be a situation where a family member is a primary source. These are rarer but certainly not unheard of. Again, these are mainly non-intimate but there are also intimate examples too. If the family member is a primary source, there is a greater likelihood of intimacy than as a secondary source.

The family instance is varied. You may have a narcissistic parent or grandparent, a sibling may be the narcissist, a cousin or your child or children may be narcissists. Blended families may also bring in a step-relative who is a narcissist. The issue of a family member being narcissistic is a wide one, with a variety of permutations and in this article I will be addressing some of the key aspects of the narcissist in a family sense, providing an introductory overview, with later articles focussing on individual areas of this whole dynamic.

There is no seduction when there is a non-intimate relationship between a narcissist and a blood family member. This is because the familial relationship has already created a bond and a sense of obligation which seduction would otherwise create. The narcissist does not need to establish a connection. In all other dynamics with a narcissist, the victim starts out as a remote stranger or a stranger. They may remain in that place and are seduced purely for the provision of a one-off or repeated bursts of fuel. Think the stranger in the lift or somebody who a narcissist flirts with online. This individual may become a secondary source by becoming a friend or a colleague and then be promoted to a primary source thereafter. The promotions may be swift but in order to draw the individual to them to begin with there must be a seduction. This does not happen with the family member

  • You know the narcissist as your parent or grand-parent and you have an established connection with them from birth;
  • You know the narcissist as your child and you have an established connection from their birth;
  • You know the narcissist as a sibling or a cousin and you have an established connection from your birth or theirs, dependent on who is the elder.

This connection creates a sense of obligation.

  • As a parent you are obliged to look after your child;
  • As a child you are obliged to be under the control of your parent;
  • As a sibling or a cousin, you are obliged to be connected to them by reason of blood

Thus the narcissist does not need to seduce the family member to create the bond. The bond has already been established by reason of being a family member. This saves the narcissist considerable work.

The exception to this is where the narcissist wishes to ‘elevate’ the source to an intimate secondary source or an intimate primary source, namely through the commission of incest and invariably it is abusive in nature. For this to happen, the narcissist must engage in seduction to bring about the intimacy. This will involve manipulations to bring about this coercion, isolation from other family members and external influences and the clear use of incentives and more over threats to ensure that the incestuous activity is kept hidden.

The dynamic between a familial narcissist and his or her victim will fall into one of these categories:-

  • An elongated golden period where the victim is always treated well, akin to an inner circle secondary source. This is where the familial victim is treated as a secondary source. This individual will be accorded golden or favoured status. Thus a sibling will be the favourite, the child will be the golden child, a parent will be favoured over the other, a cousin will be seen as a favourite. The position of being golden or favourite is not an exclusive one. It is entirely permissible for the narcissist to have two cousins who are favoured, two siblings who are favoured or a parent to have two golden children. What there must always be when there is one or more relative who is favoured or golden, there has to be a scapegoat relative as well who is of equivalent ‘rank’. Thus with the golden child or children, there will be one child who is the scapegoat, a narcissistic child may favour his or her biological parents and scapegoat the step-parent and so on. This is necessary because the narcissist needs somebody to compare against to create the favouritism. Remember, we always want to deploy contrasts (think being placed on the pedestal and then thrown to the ground, the provision of great sex which is then removed etc) because contrast is the catalyst for better drama, greater emotional output and thus more potent fuel.
  • Where the familial victim is installed as a primary source, they will experience the similar pattern to that of a non-familial primary source, namely a golden period to begin with but then devaluation will follow in due course.
  • An elongated devaluation period which is punctuated by Respite Periods. This is akin to the recognised pattern of behaviour between a narcissist and the primary source. Here the familial victim is subjected to the denigrating manipulations of the narcissist and every so often will experience relief from this state by receiving a Respite Period where a golden period is visited on the victim. The distinction here however is that the familial victim does not experience a golden period to begin with. There is no need for one since there was no need for seduction, this already occurred through the familial bond which exists. This is where the individual is treated as a familial secondary source. The victim is cast as a scapegoat and then favoured. In this scenario there will be vacillation between two sources. Source A is the golden child. Source B is the scapegoat. Source A is then made the scapegoat and Source B becomes the golden child before it changes again.
  • An elongated devaluation period which does not have any respite periods, but the victim gains some relief from the devaluation because they are a secondary source and therefore the narcissist does not call on them with the same frequency for fuel. During those periods when the narcissist is not drawing fuel, the victim is left alone. There is however no positive behaviour towards the victim (as there is when there is Respite Period). This typically occurs between the adult narcissist and adult familial victim because they do not live together and because the victim is a secondary source, so the narcissist is not making daily demands for negative fuel against the victim. However, whenever there is an interaction between the narcissist and the victim it is always negative in nature, the victim is cast as the perpetual black sheep of the family, always the scapegoat.

A familial primary source is rarely discarded but would be demoted to a secondary source, when the narcissist secures a non-familial primary source instead.

A familial secondary source is rarely discarded. If the familial secondary source engages in behaviour which is regarded as traitorous and treacherous by the narcissist, rather than discard the individual (which is less likely because of the familial bond) they will maintain that individual as a perpetual scapegoat instead.

If a familial primary or secondary source tries to escape the narcissist then there will be hoovers using the familial dynamic (other family members will readily become compliant as Lieutenants) in order to draw the individual back under the narcissists control. Escape is usually much harder for the victim because the existing familial bond is especially burdensome to the victim in terms of guilt, wanting to help and having a sense of obligation towards their relative.

Narcissists utilise familial Lieutenants regularly and it is very rare to find a narcissist without one. This might be the other parent where the child is a narcissist or if one of the parents is a narcissist, it may well be a sibling (especially if they are afforded golden child status) who is used and triangulated with the scapegoated victim.

Family members are almost always significant members of the façade. This is because they are in denial as to the behaviour of the member of the family, unable to accept that a blood relation would act in such a manner, preferring not to confront the behaviour, to dilute its effect and minimise it instead.

These are just some of the key elements of a familial narcissistic dynamic and various elements and strands of this will be detailed and focused on in due course.

11 thoughts on “Keep It In The Family

  1. About the eyes says:

    HG, I have been busy reading all your postings and learned a lot. In the past I have read a lot about narcissists but the books and articles were mainly written by victims. Not the narcissists themselves…. So I consider an email-consult with you. Mainly because English is not my native language and reading is easier for me than speaking. How can I arrange an email-consult with you? Can you give me a link?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Here is the link
      I look forward to assisting you.

  2. Susan says:

    I just happened to see the comment from FYC flagged in the right margin with the name of this article so I clicked on it. An amazing article. Somehow I missed it in June when I was being attacked viciously by the bronarc. Everything I have read hear rings true and it’s so very strange to be viewing it in retrospect and gaining confirmation of my family dynamic.

    If I had seen this article in June, I think it might have been too much to take in because I can clearly see that I am the scapegoat – an idea that I was trying to deny at that time. It crossed my mind back then that I had been in the scapegoat position since childhood. But, I would not entertain the thought because It was so repulsive and I could not accept it. While no one would choose to be a scapegoat, I now see it as a matter of perspective and I have my own perspective re who I am. The antics of the key players, parents, other siblings used as lieutenants, etc were experienced just as your article explains.

    Your message re No Contact was where I focused my attention back then and it was starting to sink in. I was afraid I would never be able to go no contact bc of the guilt associated with breaking a family bond. I have since been able to implement no contact with the bronarc and I highly recommend this as the best option. I can’t say that I never experience guilt but I have means of coping with it and it gets easier.

    1. FYC says:

      Hi Susan, I’m pleased my comment helped you find HG’s post again, it is a very good one. Congrats on your no contact with your brother N. As you go forward, I know you will encounter difficulty with people who will not understand the necessity of NC (I have dealt with this kind of reaction for years after NC with my sibling). No worries though, as they will come to accept it. It may be sad, but it is necessary. Stay strong.

  3. FYC says:

    Hello About the Eyes, I too have familial Ns. I have found that HG’s in-depth understanding of both Ns and Es and the dynamic between them is not only helpful intellectually in solving problems, but also healing, in that here, you will be understood from every angle.

    That said, I am not sure you are familiar with the concepts of a trauma bond or complex PTSD? I have researched these and it is common for people who have suffered narcissistic abuse as well as other kinds of abuse to suffer both. The trauma bond is basically created through intermittent reinforcement and abuse and cognitive dissonance. It can be alleviated by understanding this dynamic and by knowing it was not your fault as there is little you could have done as a child to avoid this dynamic. GOSO is the only real remedy however. A bond can only be broken when you no longer interact with the abuser.

    As for CPTSD, there are different proposed approaches to recovery. They all seem to follow the 5 stages of grief: Shock/Denial, Anger, Depression/Detachment, Bargaining, and finally Acceptance. In addition, three stages to recovery from abuse also include: Establishment of Safety (i.e. GOSO), Mourning Your Losses (I strongly recommend you keep reading here to expedite the mourning phase), and Reconnection/Embracing with your new life (for help with this, I strongly recommend the Zero Impact assistance package (AP).

    I wish you the very best in your recovery and if you would like to discuss anything, I am on the blog regularly, but I recommend a consult with HG if you need to address in-depth personal issues. His advise is invaluable and unmatched by anyone I have seen/heard or read.

  4. About the eyes says:

    And when both of your parents were narcissists? Their children: one is a female narcissist with some psychopatic behaviour. Their son was “thrown away” (send to an institution for mentally disabled children while perfectly normal when he was 4 years old) and has since died as a result of his “upbringing”. Father and narcissistic sister had (one died) or have high positions and an academic degree.

    I was their 3th child and was, as my brother, the black sheep. We all were supposed to attent university – which I did – but even a university degree was not enough.

    I have never had a romantic relation with a narcissist because unknowingly I always seem to recognize them. Therefore much of what you write about relations is not applicable to me – although I recognize the behaviours of the narcissists very well.

    I can’t find an article on this website about how to heal and deal with the trauma from a Narcissistic upbringing. “Get out, stay out” is not the answer: both my parents are dead and the last time I have seen my narcissic sister was over ten years ago (“get out, stay out”). I have closed all ties with family members because they form a link between me and my sister.

    So what do you recomment for me? I am not living in the UK.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      GOSO is the answer because continuing to engage maintains multiple problems, as evidence by the Devil´s Pitchfork (see article). I suspect the issues you are experiencing are linked to your ET which is being maintained for reasons separate to direct engagement with narcissists. This is a common and understandable mistake and is explained further in the ET APs.

      You do not heal, you are who you are, you cannot “unmake” the cake. You learn instead to manage what you are the risks associated with that. Part of that means understanding and addressing Emotional Thinking. Utilise the three APs relating to ET and organise an audio consultation with me, should you require further assistance in achieving freedom.

  5. DT says:

    Trying to relate this to my family situation: Normal son#1 married a Narc/BPD and became like her, everything evil she says and does he mimics/spreads to the rest of the family, especially normal son#2, his wife, and me, the mother in law. Nothing we say/do is right, 3 kids, 2 houses already, son#1 has no job now, is watching kids while she works, I’ve been fired from that job because I began watching son#2’s baby, whom they shun. I’ve gone No Contact as much as I can from the DIL Narc and my son, so there is some respite. But when we’re together for any reason there’s always negative vibe.
    Your thoughts?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Hello DT, I can assist you and need to convey a lot of information to you to assist you with this situation, therefore I would invite you to arrange a consultation with me.

      1. DT says:

        Thank you, I will consider this option when I can be available time wise. They watch my every move. Until then, maybe a book recommendation can help..

        1. FYC says:

          Hello DT, if I may suggest, I think you may benefit from the Zero Impact AP. It is a gift to yourself that keeps on giving. I too have familial Ns and found the package to be extremely helpful. I might also suggest that when you know you have to see the Ns, decide in advance how you will handle things and keep the meeting short. There is no way to eliminate N manipulation without GOSO, so expect it when you remain in contact. I know under certain circumstances minimal contact is necessary, but you can minimize the damage.

          Another helpful concept HG introduced to me is to cease giving energy (CGE) to anything your Ns say or do. Leave it in the past and see it for what it is. This will aide in your recovery post exposure. See through the eyes of logic versus emotion. You may also benefit from the Understanding ET AP. If you are really wound up after contact, I recommend spending time in nature or with those who love and support you.

          I really hope you find the time to speak with HG. That hour will be the best gift you can give yourself because it will be specific to your situation and the best advice you can obtain anywhere. Perhaps to get away, say you need to run some errands or visit a friend and instead drive away and talk to HG from your car. I wish you great success in your recovery.

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