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I don't know if this is just my Dad's personality or if it has something to do with Alzheimer's. He tells lots of stories from either high school, college or during the WWII war years. Many have incidents where someone in the story that he knows personally has some sort of accident or misfortune. Each time he tells these stories he laughs at the incident. Now this could be "we can look back on this and laugh" but it doesn't feel right. Has anyone else experienced this with the ones they care for?

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my dad was just born to gloat at the misfortunes of others and it only got worse when he got older and demented. im learning to forgive. forgive myself for detesting the sob that is..
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It is worth noting that a loss of empathy and inappropriate reactions to other people's pain, loss, or misfortune is a particular hallmark of frontal temporal dementia (FTD).

My father has been diagnosed with this dementia (though I am relieved that so far, he has not exhibited any of the inappropriate social behaviors or decrease in empathy that some people with the disease experience). But while I was researching the disease, I read stories of FTD patients laughing and telling jokes at funerals, mocking people in tears, and becoming otherwise unable to connect, relate to, or empathize with other people ... or, therefore, to reach out to or comfort them.

I don't know if Alzheimer's similarly affects the lobes of the brain that support empathy, but of course, it is possible for a dementia patient to have more than one dementia disease process going on ... so if the person seems increasingly to be unaware of (or uncaring about or possibly even pleased about) the problems of others, keep in mind that it may be another symptom of brain atrophy.

And, of course, it is possible (as indicated in other replies here) for a dementia patient to have a mean or sociopathic streak that pre-dates the dementia.
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I think your first question should be "is this something new?" or has he always been like this? My mother delights in regaling me with tales of people's unfortunate, and sometimes, gross medical stories, or family issues, which are, of course, none of her business. She also enjoys the reaction she gets from telling people about child and animal abuse stories she has heard about in the news. Her favourite thing is to bring these up at mealtimes or family gatherings when she can get the biggest effect!
She also exhibits a very strange and twisted sense of humour if someone else is having a bad day, is upset, or is bothered by something......I think it is one of their defense mechanisms (it's not happening to me, thank goodness! so why should I care?)
If he has always done this then I think it is part of a personality disorder, as in my mother's case. But if he has just started doing this as a part of an Alzheimer's diagnoses then it is part and parcel of that.
The best way to handle it is to change the subject and ignore their glee in the misfortune or accident. If they don't get the reaction they want they go on to something else. It is very disturbing at times but sometimes it helps to pretend that they are a "stranger" -- and not your parent. (ie, you would react differently if a stranger was doing it where as you would if it is your parent).
In my mother's case she always did this, there is a narcissistic component to it, and I think she just liked the attention and reactions she would get, and it gave her importance to repeat these things. Now I just turn a deaf ear!
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Yep, sounds familiar. Both of my elderly parents delight in others misfortunes. They talk badly about people who lose their homes and/or jobs. And my pompous-ass father (who has been retired for 40 years) claims people are lazy who lose their jobs and can't find another one. He retired after working 20 years in the military, so I am sure he didn't pay into SS as much as he has gotten out of it. So, they live very well on tax payer dollars now! These are bitter old narcissistic people who think the universe revolves around them. It makes me wonder how my parents, who have a wonderful life, can be so negative and self-serving.
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Agreed, beautifulsc.....it seems like "schadenfreude" ( the delight in the misfortunes of others) is a huge part of narcissism. I think it makes them feel better to say to themselves, no, this isn't happening to ME, it's someone else, oh aren't I lucky. They ARE negative and self-serving and these habits an patterns arent going to change, especially as they age. They get older, they get worse.
My mother when she was hospitalized over the last ten years, has made terrible comments in front of people especially nurses etc. who are trying to help her. She thinks it's smart to comment on people's height, ethnicity etc. and does it out loud to make sure they, and others, will hear it. She has never had any boundaries or filters so you don't know what's coming next which is part of her strategy so she can get the upper hand. (and for shock value).
Reading on here about narcissism has helped me a lot. What you'll find is that under a cocoon of smart remarks, grandiose ideas about themselves, major attitude and huge self-entitlement are very insecure "wounded" people -- but they are just clever enough to hide in that and it allows them to carry out their sabotage against others.
These people, to others, are the very best people in the world. I constantly get phone calls telling me what a wonderful person she is -- but they don't have to live with her and her sarcastic remarks about everything on the planet!!
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I agree with seven13 that underneath all that obnoxiousness is woundedness. I would also put it this way: underneath all that obnoxiousness is fear. It is all about projecting scary stuff or bad feelings onto other people, in one of a couple different ways. Such as (1) if I judge everybody else and make comments about them, (a) I am getting the jump on being judged myself, and (b) I am convincing myself and everybody else that comments are ok. (2) If I can make light of bad things happening to other people then (a) I can be comforted that bad things aren't happening to me and (b) if bad things happen to me then I'm proving I can make light of them. So.... judging others, commenting on others, sneering or laughing at others' misfortunes is about fear of being judged, fear of being commented on, fear of misfortune. Twisted, eh? But that's how it works. This is happening on such a deep level that not only they would never want to admit it but they don't even really know it so they probably couldn't admit it even if they wanted to.
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My mother laughs this hollow, empty and unfunny laugh at the end of practically every sentence. It's very annoying. She's especially glad to laugh at me. It's a lifelong personality trait.
I'm guessing that she wants to appear to be fun and lighthearted, even tho she is not. Like she's trying to be in the in crowd. Or, maybe to feel included and sometimes she laughs so inappropriately....ugh.
I have to try to see her as a desperate, childish person when she does this. I have to withhold my feelings of annoyance. I have to be the grown up. I don't like it.
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Thank you all, you have all offered insight into this behavior. I don't have much of a history with my father, I have not had much contact with him over the years. I left home at 18 and I am now 58. He has been married 3 times so he hadn't done much to be involved in his first family. I was apparently the only place he could come to but I agree in both ways that it is narcissism as well as fear. I have a suspicion that he has always been somewhat like this and his disease has made it worse. Having him insert himself into my life and his brother and sister's lives was baffling but here he is and I am trying my best to make his final years comfortable, safe and peaceful. Happiness is probably too much to hope for as being a "Grumpy Gus" seems to be the norm, at least with me. When others are around he puts on the charm! Thanks again for letting me know I am not alone in dealing with this behavior.
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I am relieved (as strange as that sounds) to know that other people have experienced a parent laughing at other people's misfortunes. My mother has been doing this all my life and I have come to the defense of people that I don't even know. I have even thought of her doing this as a bit evil in her personality.
I only brought home a couple of friends while in school and didn't realize that my mother was insulting them because I was so conditioned to insults. I just knew that nobody ever wanted to hang out with me afterwards.
It took me until nearly age 60 to come to realize all this abusive behavior.
In my case, it is my mother laughing and seeming to enjoy that other people are suffering especially when it comes to finances or women being murdered. Its crazy, but I have heard her blame the women for being in the wrong place or with the wrong person and that is what they deserve.
Has anybody else out there on the forum experienced a parent blaming a female victim for their own murder?
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To StressSt.Pete, my mother also puts on the charm for about three or four days and then it breaks down to her normal "mean" personality.
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