Narcissistic Relatives – Severing Ties

Everyone is faced with emotional and psychological issues with family members. Those who say their family is perfect, are either fabricating a story or sharing a delusion. Ancient sibling rivalries, feuds among in-laws, disagreements on religious and political principles, long held unacknowledged secrets, painful residues of favored siblings over other family members—these are some of the many issues affecting most families. Enter the narcissist or narcissists in a family constellation. Now you are dealing with serious issues that often cannot be resolved and become intolerable. From babyhood on, the narcissist rules his/her kingdom. Often it is the narcissistic parent who perceives one particular child as the special one, the savior of the family. The parent views this child as perfect, superior,incapable of making mistakes. These children are not expected to be aware of or understand the feelings of other family members or anyone else. The narcissistic brother or sister usurps the power in the household and everyone, including the parents,are beholden to him or her. These young tyrants grow into impossible adult narcissists. The structure of the narcissistic personality becomes more deeply ingrained and hardened as the child moves into adolescence and adulthood.

Siblings who have suffered at the hands of their cruel, churlish, dismissive, demeaning, and in some cases, sadistic narcissistic brother or sister, find that any interaction with them is exceedingly painful. The adult sibling, in-law, cousin of the narcissist, discovers that these individuals who were so superior and self satisfied and critical as children are more venomous as adults. Ugly, hurtful comments spew forth from their mouths, uncensored by any humane or merciful filter. Verbal attacks, petty criticisms, recriminations are catapulted forward in non-ending barrages by the narcissist. At the same time he or she is obsessively telling you grandiose stories of career achievement, monetary success, awards bestowed, honors given.

If you’ve ever been at a family gathering and become the recipient of a narcissistic relative’s blast, you understand the cunning cruelty of their intent and their swift, unexpected shocking delivery. Narcissists are particularly skilled at the verbal ambush and it is especially wounding if you are alone with this viper. Narcissists are brazen and will deal out harsh deluded criticisms in front of family members and strangers alike. Narcissists are double agents and regularly sabotage one family member against the other.

At some point on the horizon, some individuals decide that they are unwilling to take any more abuse or be subjected to the narcissist’s primitive cruel projections. This person says “No” by removing his physical, emotional and mental presence from the narcissist. Other family members stay put, circle the wagons and make excuses for the narcissist: “He’s brilliant, just a little eccentric, loses his cool once in a while. It’s no big deal.” This group closes ranks around the narcissist and preserves the fictitious family fairy tale.

It is your choice to remove yourself permanently from the narcissist’s presence in your life. Some of us make this decision to restore peace of mind and psychological equilibrium. They recognize that there never has been a genuine relationship with this individual in the first place so there can be no meaningful exchange in the present or future.

If you want to learn more about the specific nature of the narcissistic personality–family member, sibling, spouse, ex-spouse, in-law, etc and how to deal with these difficult complex individuals, visit my

Linda Martinez-Lewi,Ph.D.
Telephone Consultation