Thursday, April 20, 2017

The perpetual victimhood of a covert narcissist

These narcissists are sly, manipulative, exploitative, and will hit you like a train wreck on an idle monday afternoon when you least expect it!





Dear Narcissist Problems,

 I have read tons on narcissistic behavior, and have a couple of questions. My family has an individual who displays mostly passive narcissistic traits, but we have been at our wits end for years dealing with her being an extreme hypochondriac. She also has an insatiable need for attention.

She will drink, pop pills, and then call everyone for days complaining of how sick she is. We used to try to help her solve whatever problem she was complaining about. The problem is that she always rejects any solutions we could come up with. It’s almost like she just wanted to complain for the sake of complaining and it has really taken a toll on us as a family.

If we try to change the subject, or avoid "feeding the monster", we are accused of being insensitive and cruel. Also, if we try to make suggestions for getting well, she shoots them down immediately. She is highly skilled at using guilt of all kinds to try and get her needs met. ANY suggestions are welcome! Thank you for offering your time and effort with this group!

Sincerely,

“Sick and tired of being sick and tired”

 The victim stance is a powerful one. The victim is always morally right, neither responsible nor accountable, and forever entitled to sympathy.
-Ofer Zur Ph.D.


Dear “Sick and Tired”,

 I believe what you are referring to is a covert narcissist and they are manipulating people with what is known as help-reject-complain. It seems like your narcissistic family member has their need for attention met by playing on your sympathy and getting attention by either feigning an illness or down right making themselves sick.  What happens when we are sick?  People who care about us want to make us comfortable, they want to help us, and they will usually go out of their way to do this.  I know I usually do when someone I care about is sick. Before diving into this any further I’d like to take a moment to just say that there is a big difference between people with a chronic illness who have no control over their illness and might complain about side effects from medications and symptoms of their condition.

 What I will be explaining is specific to the manipulation tactics of a narcissist and not someone who may have a chronic illness or even illnesses associated with being abused by a narcissist. I wanted to make this distinction because another thing narcissists enjoy doing is dismissing the illnesses of others because that would distract the focus away from themselves. This is being written from the viewpoint that we are only speaking from a place where a narcissist is manipulating their family by pretending to be sick or intentionally making themselves sick.  

 The insatiable need for attention is the hallmark of a narcissist.  This is why I like to refer to them as emotional vampires.  They will suck you dry and leave you believing that you are the one who is tragically flawed for not feeding into whatever need they are trying to have met by you. 
 Narcissists, in general, will do many things to get their own needs met.

They might do this with various tactics to manipulate you, scapegoat you, triangulate you and your family & friends, or play the pity card. In this case your narcissistic family member is sabotaging their own health, rejecting any solutions to the health problem, and then complaining that nobody cares or nobody is helping them when you should be…at least you would be if you were a “good” person. How dare you if you question their illness or bring up the fact that their actions alone are directly making them ill. If you end up dealing with someone who takes money from you that you have donated or given to them under the assumption that they were really ill and you later found out that it was all a lie then please call the police and if they won't help ask a lawyer what to do here.

Here is where we see the covert narcissist in action. The covert narcissist is a perpetual victim in every way, shape, and form. They can be shy but not necessarily. Their tactics are different than the overt narcissist in that they are very sly, sneaky, and manipulative but do it in a way that goes unnoticed most of the time. These are the people who you always find yourself feeling sorry for. Somebody is always found to be taking advantage of them and breaking their hearts. They can actually be very clingy and needy. There is this helpless vulnerability they use as bait to reel in their next victim.

Once you spend enough time with them then you slowly realize that all of those awful people that did them wrong might not have actually done them so wrong because they start talking about you the same way. This usually happens when you call them out on their manipulative behavior or assert boundaries where you let yours fall. We get so caught up in the moment of showing this person that not all humans are there to take advantage of them and that there are some good people left on earth that you end up falling prey and becoming THEIR victim! We become enslaved with the idea that we will show them that one person on this earth will not screw them over. Little did we know at the beginning we were walking into a spider’s web covered by smoke and mirrors.

Help-rejecting-complainer, what does this mean?



A help-rejecting complainer is a pattern of behavior a person expresses when they ask for help but they are not motivated to change or actually find help for their problems. This isn’t only limited to medical issues. This could be a common pattern used by people who have issues with money, relationships, jobs, or anything else that would require change. The challenge with this pattern of behavior is that sometimes people build their entire identities upon their problems so actually getting help or changing the problematic behavior is out of the question because this is now who they are. This person IS their problem and in many cases they become their failures and mistakes. Moreover, they enjoy the attention that they recieve from their illness and like the lady below might enjoy the attention from others of how "strong" they are after dealing with so much illness.

          This is two sides of a story from the perspective of the person with the alleged illness and the story from her daughter who says she is faking the illness. The short video below is the actual truth. Watching these two short videos will really help put your situation into some perspective as to what you are dealing with. 

Both sides of the story



The Truth



 In other words, being weak and vulnerable and incapable is who they have become. If they actually did take your offer for help and did the work to change then who would they be after that? I think that actually getting the help might actually terrify some people because they don’t know who they are beyond that problem. It’s like walking into no man’s land while wearing a blind fold. It should also be said that this behavior is not something only narcissists do, a lot of people are help-rejecting complainers but they don’t realize it. Covert narcissists are just REALLY GOOD at being help-rejecting complainers.

Help-rejecting complainers and the perpetual victimhood of a covert narcissist


A covert narcissist is always asking for help but they simply want your pity because that’s the way they have learned to get attention. Their chronic illness is being in a chronic state of chaos that needs immediate attention whether that is chaos related to their health issues, money, or relationships. They are the perpetual victim of their own bodies, the medical establishment, their land lord, mortgage company, bad paying jobs, lack of education, their own string of bad decisions (due to their bad upbringing or being picked on), or bad group of friends or horrible family members who use and abuse them. They have a problem and they can’t solve it on their own so they ask for your help.

These are very one sided relationships where you find yourself consistently in the role of listener, problem solver, and caretaker. There is no give and take and there is no interest in your life. This person does not care about anything going on in your life and if you do have a problem it will be immediately dismissed and the conversation redirected back to their problem that needs to be solved. They need your help and they need it now!

However, this person doesn’t want help, they don’t want to change, and the last thing they want is a real solution. They want someone to wave a magic wand and say “problem be gone!” and POOF their problem disappears without any effort on their part. Then the same problems continue to pop up over and over again the longer you know them. You offer solutions and every single one is shot down.

Rejecting solutions to the problems


To a narcissist only you can solve their problem by being their caretaker, loaning them money, or by fixing the problems that they created in their own lives by yourself. When you offer solutions for their problems that would permanently solve the issue then your idea is immediately rejected and you are told why that solution just will not work for them.

They wrecked their car again? They become helpless victims of their insurance companies and other bad drivers instead of considering the fact that they should stop taking their Xanax before getting behind the wheel of a car. The only solution they see is for you to take care of the mess and help them get a new car. When you bring up the fact that this is the third car wreck they have had and each time they complained about how their medication made them drowsy and they dozed off behind the wheel so they shouldn’t drive after taking their medication you are shot down. 

The narcissist will remind you that they “can’t go out without their medication because being at Walmart gives them anxiety”. You suggest that they start asking for rides instead of driving if they can’t leave without taking medication then you are rejected again because “they don’t want to rely on others!” or you get blamed for “trying to control them and take away their independence”. The only solution is that they need a new car and you need to help them get one.  

Their friend keeps borrowing money and not paying them back? This is probably an excuse for the narcissist spending too much and being bad with money but let’s go along with their problem of the friend taking advantage of them.  You suggest that they should keep track of their money to make sure that they have enough to cover their bills before loaning to others because this is the fourth time this year their friends have left them high and dry. Even more if they don’t have the money right now their lights will get shut off, they won’t have heat because they need to pay the gas bill, or their landlord is so strict if rent is even one minute late they will be evicted.

 Well instead of just not loaning out the money in the first place they need to borrow it from you so they can come up with their rent again. In this case they are the victim to the mooch friend, the electric company, the gas company, or their cruel landlord who is demanding rent on time or risk getting evicted. If you don’t shell over the money today then they will be on the streets! Then they will be the victim of you and their fixed income! Never mind learning how to budget their money.

They have diabetes and consistently complain about the side effects of their medications and their body falling apart. At the same time they are still eating junk food all day while watching TiVo. with the only time they spend walking is going to the refrigerator or bathroom. Never mind changing their diet or starting a routine to become active. They can’t get any exercise because they are too sick to get up and walk. They can’t eat better because they don’t have the money to buy healthy food even if they are on public assistance and brag about selling their extra food stamps to the neighbor. You suggest a budget again, not selling food stamps, and setting little goals to walk a little further each day.  

The list of things goes on and on and on but a real solution will never be accepted. And here we are being consistently asked for help and every solution to permanently solve the problem has been rejected, dismissed, or flat out ignored. The worst part? Now they are mad at you for “judging them” or “being overly critical” and because you are “so uncaring and unkind”. How dare you.

Now they still have all these problems plus one more, you! They continue to complain about all the problems they ask your help for but now they start calling others to complain. Included in this list of complaints is now you and your behavior that has offended them.

Take a moment to think about these episodes of attention seeking and try to remember if there was an increase in health issues from this family member when drama and chaos were at a low. I guess what I’m wondering about right now is if this narcissist has created some rifts in the family by causing drama or ruining relationships or if there is a lull in drama. Did they spend the holidays solo? Have they lost any other sources of supply for attention?  You might be surprised to notice that this person tends to get ill if other people in their lives have been staying away from them due to their toxic behavior and general destructiveness. You might also notice if things in the family have been peaceful and a little quiet there might be a sudden medical emergency they need help with.

  In my own experience with my Narcissistic mother she loved to create storms of drama.  She wasn’t able to function if there wasn’t some tragedy going on in her life.  When there was something awful going on she was at her best.  Happy, energetic, smiling, and on that phone gossiping with whoever would listen.  As we know about gossip and human nature people usually love to listen to what is going on with others and the same goes for tragedies and emergencies.

  When she couldn’t stir something up she became depressed and would stay in bed until 2 or 3 p.m.  She would come down with chronic illnesses acutely. Mark my words, as soon as some shit storm was stirred up again her illness was cured!  During the times she was ill she needed a caretaker, me.  Someone not to offer advice or possible solutions like “let’s go to the doctor” only to be told “no”.  She simply wanted attention, pampering, and someone around to cater to her needs. 

 I took care of the household, I took care of her emotions, and I took care of her own responsibilities like caring for other family members or getting a job at the age of 14 to make sure the bills were paid.  If I were not taking care of her needs there would be hell to pay. I would be told I was selfish and uncaring.  If I suggested she see a doctor there would be hell to pay because all she needs is for me to help with this or that and she knows how to fix what is wrong and how dare I question her expertise.  If I told anyone outside of our home what was going on there would be hell to pay. 

 My point, it is not your job to take care of this person’s needs.  So how do we deal with it? The only way to deal with a covert help-rejecting complainer is to protect yourself, stand your ground, enforce strong boundaries, and hopefully get the hell away from them as soon as possible and permanently! They do need help and it’s a help you will never be able to offer or suggest if this is a true narcissist.  This is the way it is.  If you suggest that they seek medical help and then they refuse there is nothing more you can do for them because it’s clear they do not want help. They are not looking for solutions.

 We are all adults and we all have the responsibility to take care of ourselves, including our own needs.   Back away slowly and keep your distance until/unless they decide to take the action necessary to get well again.  As always, this post will be shared.  Comments from readers as well as suggestions, advice, or a “me too” is always appreciated!


Regards,























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