Mom is 91, has moderately severe dementia and NPD. Brother, 60, is former meth addict, NPD, Borderline PD, TBI, and has moved in with her. He is the type of narcissist that can talk for 1 hour without taking a breath and doesn't even know it. He uses anger, self-pity and charm as forms of manipulation to get my mother to do whatever he wants. He is extremely competitive and jealous of anyone who has even a little bit of my mom's attention. I choose not to go no contact due to being in charge of her trust (there is a large inheritance that I don't want my brother to steal). I am working with a therapist who says I should study Gray Rock and recommends that as the way to go. Can anyone share some insight or tips from personal experience with me? Thank you

Regardless of the dysfunction, be it dementia or a personality disorder (or both), the last thing you want to do is hand over your power by letting them get a rise out of you. It's awkward at first. Practice makes perfect. I was astonished to discover how well Gray Rock worked with an Alzheimer's mother, whom I didn't think could learn anything, but she did! I began to dodge every provocation, every nasty word by not reacting. No exclamations. No cringing. No dismay. No frowning. No nothing. Not even smiling or laughing. Just pretend you're bored, standing in line at the bank! Each reaction is a reward to them. Don't let them have it. After awhile they move on to someone else, who hopefully knows the Gray Rock method, too. Wishing success for you!
Helpful Answer (22)
Reply to CantDance
lealonnie1 Jul 20, 2019
I just read an article about Alz/dementia and how it's literally impossible for them to be manipulative.........ahem, I wonder who wrote that article? Obviously someone who's never met OUR mothers, that's for sure! I also Googled 'gray rock method' because I'd never heard of it, and learned a lot! What a GREAT IDEA for dealing with toxic people, regardless of their medical diagnosis......toxic is toxic and muscle memory is stronger than ANY dementia on earth. My mother relies on getting a rise out of me and has for SO long that it's now carved into her memory bank. I read the gray rock article to DH before we went over to visit mother yesterday in memory care. She, of course, was hell-bent on pushing all of my buttons, as usual, and DH just kept saying Gray Rock over & over again. She's almost totally deaf so she couldn't hear what he was saying, but I could!! Boy it's HARD to remain totally expressionless, isn't it? LOL. But I did my best and didn't let her get to me. Practice makes perfect, you are absolutely right! I'm glad to have this forum to learn from, and others such as yourself in the same boat, who help me tremendously.
I deal with my own toxic brother in this way. He made a scene in the hospital, calling me a murderer while my father was on his deathbed. It took all the self-restraint in the world not to answer him, but I instinctively knew not answering and letting him hang himself with his own rope was the right thing to do. Since then, he has sent me numerous nasty, lengthy communications through different channels, demanding to know where "his" money is. If I absolutely have to answer, I speak only to facts. I offer no conjecture and no interest in his rantings. But for several months now I have not answered him and it has died down. I have all the communication and my responses or lack thereof saved. A judge might be interested someday. The behavior will stop if you do not reward it. Your reacting to it is their reward. Yell and scream IN PRIVATE. Write responses to him without sending them to help handle your own feelings. You must be cool as a cucumber in your actual dealings with him at all times. You will feel in complete control, you will safeguard your mental health and completely frustrate him in the process. WIN WIN WIN.
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Reply to alexis9368
DofNPDmother Jul 20, 2019
Your brother's behavior sounds very familiar. My husband and I recently spoke about keeping records, just like you mentioned. Great idea! I have been saving copies of checks that he has had my mother to sign to buy him loads of things. I am going to make copies of my Google calendar to show when I took care of Mom so he can't claim I didn't. I may record his rants. After using Gray Rock, he went from attacking my character to self pity ploys, including telling Mom he wanted to die. He cornered me when I went to her house to pick her up and take her out. I kept a deadpan face, turned around, and ignored him. My mother wanted me to stop and listen to him. I only spoke to her, but said no I am leaving. You can come with me if you want to. She did so. For right now he has stopped texting me (!) but is trying to get ahold of my husband. We agreed we will both go gray rock. I think documentation is vital because I know he will try to take me to court later on. Thank you for your input!
Did this for years with children, but did not use the term. Humorous example...
I was tutoring the child of a celebrity who had nannies and housekeepers waiting on them hand and foot. The child took his pet rat out of the cage and attempted to scare me with it. When he got no reaction, he said his nanny always screamed when he did that. With a blank face and monotone voice I said, "I have 2 children. There's nothing you can do that woul scare me."
He put the rat away and got to work.
Thank God it was not a snake. 😜
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Reply to Judysai422
CharK60 Jul 22, 2019
👍🏻 LMFAO!!!
There is a website called Out of the Fog, which you might find helpful. It is for dealing with people who have personality disorders. Do a search for it on the internet.
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Reply to Rosered6
thepianist Jul 21, 2019
What a great resource, thank you!
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My answer is very simple and I admit I don't have to deal with the extreme personality issues others have shared. Yet I do have occassions when I can be overwhelmed by some personality issues from some. I simply imagine a gray rock in my hand. All my focus goes to that. I try to then remove myself physically from the space that is being shared by what is causing the need for the gray rock. It may not always work and might take time but in those moments all my concentration is with the gray rock. Each time this happens I tell myself I really need to find an actual suitable rock. Of course I might be tempted to throw it which would negate the whole idea!
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Reply to Riverdale


I was doing exactly that with my toxic brother and didn't even KNOW it. I had learned the technique during some therapy sessions, but my therapist didn't call it "grey rock".

You cannot cure this type of personality problem, mostly because they do not WANT to be 'cured' and part of what makes them so hard to deal with is that they have zero interest in anyone else. They are right, all the time, no matter what evidence you may have to the contrary, they are always right.

I didn't fight with OB (he has since passed, and had such PEACE after he died. How sad to die and have maybe 3 people who cared) I just listened to him rant. And, yes, a one hour, nonstop talk session wasn't unusual. I actually recorded one, just out of curiosity sake--played it back to DH who was pleading with me to turn it off NOW. Just random nonsensical blathering.

He was able to talk my parents out of the equity in their home, their silverware (real silver, people don't really have that anymore) coin collections, Indian artifacts, cars, and simply the cash in their wallets. And somehow they bought into all the lies and stuff he told them. It was beyond sad.

He was never 'cured' although he had plenty of psychiatric help. The only was we in the family could deal with him was by being, well, rude. we'd call him out on his lies and didn't support him with anything beyond maybe a meal and $20 here or there.

My mom is a little bit that way.She isn't very sympathetic and does most things to 'look good'. I have to sometimes take long breaks from her. I mean, 6+ months of no contact.

Do go google this. It is a pretty effective way to handle the narcissists in your life, and believe me, we all have some.
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Reply to Midkid58

DofNPDmother, this sounds serious and extreme and Gray Rock sounds like a great approach for you and your situation - and for many on this thread. However I just want to sound a note of caution. Seven years of caregiving with my Mother swung me back to being an empath from someone who was towards the Narcissistic / Self Absorbed end of the spectrum. It was a kind of redemption - actually it moved me to being self-negating and that needed to be recovered from. I'm saying these things to be frank, as before going "Gray Rock" the people on this thread absolutely need to be sure that they are not dealing with an "empath" or empathetic person who has become a warrior for a loved one's care. I faced 5 years of denial, which I came to realize was strategic denial of Mum's Alz Dem so it would largely not affect their financial situation. But they created a story that it was about me taking advantage of my mother and perhaps being a narcissist or having a personality disorder - I have dyslexia so I'm not neuro-normal. I stayed with my Mother right through till her death, my business went bankrupt but I saw my Mother right through in such a good way that I have no regrets. There was not inheritance so it was not about money. It was just that my Brother's family could not understand why I was doing what I was doing with seemingly nothing to gain. The caregiving was its own reward and transformative. I just say to others reading this - please make sure of the persons motivation or intention before going "Gray Rock." I faced it and I had good intent and it was devastating. I certainly do not mean don't do this with toxic people. But don't be too quick to label people toxic, they might just be getting frustrated trying to communicate something that we are not listening to. This happens all too often in families dealing with the huge challenges of dementia care in a culture that has not yet learnt to support informal caregivers. My best to each of you. I mean no disrespect to the importance of finding healthy ways of dealing with toxic people on this thread.
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Reply to MarkJohn
thepianist Jul 21, 2019
"The caregiving was its own reward and transformative."

This is so true, especially recognizing how transformative it can be to try to be altruistic rather than narcissistic. Thank you for this post.
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I'd never heard of the gray rock method so thanks for asking about it and to those of you who have explained it. Might even have been used on me already. I do hope it will help you deal with your brother, DofNPDmother.

We have so much to deal with as caregivers & in life in general & need to find ways to cope. This discussion made me think about when it's obvious that someone is using a learned technique on me. If I wasn't so darned angry & frustrated it almost makes me laugh sometimes. At Mom's nursing home, after usually listening politely to me complain or request something, I see the social workers' eyes go blank, they then promise to do whatever they think I want to hear, and then that's the last of it.... until I bring it up again later. Then... Listen politely, Promise, Ignore.... Repeat.

My brother is a doctor. When we were kids he often made a point of taunting & riling me up to the point of tears. As an adult he still does it occasionally, but now he knows when to shift to his Calm Doctor Voice & Demeanor, especially if anyone else is around, so it makes me seem like a raving lunatic. Will definitely try Gray Rock with him.
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Reply to karenjoy

A narcissist will tear you down and destroy your self esteem. I have had to deal with narcissists. As much as I try, I can't break them. They will keep coming at you, and they think they are invincible. They are mean and nasty. All you can do is not respond and get as far away from them as possible. Good luck.
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Reply to Isabelsdaughter

Hell of a deal! My late wife was like that. She'd get in my face and say:
"I hate you, why don't you die, I want you dead' and such crap. I got where when she did that, I'd reach up and twist my hand like turning her off. That really blew things up. Not long later I got hearing aids and would make a show of turning them off.

The big thing about Hate is: "Hate will destroy the hater long before the hated"
I've seen that several times. I just reply: "that means I won't have to put up with you much longer" "what do you mean?" "your hate will kill you soon". Couple neighbors, wife, a girl friend, guy at work that thought i'd one upped him and never knew what I'd done he was referring to. One thing in common: They're all dead!

I bought a big old boat and when she'd get to ragging I'd just go fishing and spend the night about 60 nights a year just to get away from it all.

I'd never heard of gray rock til this.

Here's another thing many of you may not know. Wife sprayed furniture wax in my face one day after I'd asked her to wait til I got out of the room. Since then I've had bad allergy problems. She knew strong smells attacked me bad. While she was dying from cancer she got some of the most obnoxious stinking stuff in a bottle and set it around. It took my breath so bad one day I went to the allergy clinic nearby and had to go thru three full treatments before testing showed my breath was still just a third what it should be.

When I told the dr. he called and told her: "IF you put anything out with smells that bothers him again I will call the law and report you, knowing it bothers him and still do it is the same as pulling a knife or gun on someone and the court will put you where you can't do it again". Then he wrote the same thing in a letter and had it signature to addressee ONLY so she had to sign it.

Best wishes to everyone dealing with these people.
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Reply to Georgeld
DofNPDmother Jul 21, 2019
Amazing how far some people will go to dominate you! I agree, the object is not to hate them, but to protect yourself from being emotionally destroyed if it is not possible to go no contact. :)
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