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.