I've posted before about my mother's lifelong narcissistic behaviour, and wondered whether this can run in the family? If I think about it, my mother's father (my grandfather) behaved like this, as did his sister and their mother, my great grandmother. Each of them had a scapegoat, and also they were all intensely selfish and prone to rages. Is this inherited or did they just copy behaviour they saw and grew up with during their formative years? I'm still trying to understand this condition.

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Thus far, academia and the medical field both describe it as a combination of nature + nurture.

That personality type usually pretends to be clueless, yet will rage if they're reminded that they hide their deplorable abusive behaviors and whisper abusive statements, YET they behave appropriately in public.
They choose to abuse and are 100% control of everything.

The easiest concept, to help you understand = They are VERY MUCH in 100% control of their behaviors and actions and statements. They know their actions are abusive and wrong, which is why they save their manipulation and control for their victims, and don't treat everyone in a deplorable manner.

Everything they do has an "agenda" and is purposed to control + provoke scapegoats and significant others; they play dumb to confuse and to upset their victims.
Their victims are trapped inside an abuse cycle, which is reinforced daily, with messages that get victims to believe that the abusive person will change permanently into the kind personality the abusive person pretends to be, when the victim is compliant, obeying the abusive person's implied and stated directives.

Read the book , "Why Does He Do That?" By Lundy Bancroft, which explains deliberate actions of abusive individuals, who reportedly claim they would never abuse their mothers, just their significant others, through a slow insidious process.

NEVER feel sorry for them. They love the power they feel when in full-abuse-mode. They will say things to get you to think that they can possibly "change," and to get you to think that you're the problem; when in truth, THEY are 100% the problem, and deliberately choose to be kinder to strangers than their victims.
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Reply to Screennamed
Chriscat83 Aug 22, 2020
Thanks Screennamed, you are so right about the bad behaviour often being in private so that others would not ever believe this kind of abuse could be happening. You are spot on about the pretending to be clueless about things, and I find the concept of this manipulation and control quite horrifying.
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I am no expert, but I can tell you this they seem to be in control of their behavior when it benefits them in some way, but if you challenge them with the facts or the truth of things they will lie, slander you, try to turn people against you, fool gullible vulnerable people and are as phony as a 3 dollar bill, they will rob you blind, charming to people in power, evil to family that they can not fool or bring down!
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Reply to LCPELC
lealonnie1 Aug 25, 2020
Amen. Just today, after insisting she's been 'throwing up and throwing up and throwing up for 2 weeks' at her Memory Care ALF, my mother told the doctor that she's fine, it's her 'daughter that makes up stories!' To the whole world, she's a sweet and charming, lovely old lady. To me, she's the devil personified. Everything you've said is spot on. Sadly enough.
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I have only had the 'pleasure' of knowing one true narcissist personally. I think we all have moments, some more than others of course. But a true narcissist is something else entirely. Understand that my father-in-law has not been diagnosed, but it is pretty clear. A lot of what is being said is one point for him. He was abused emotionally and verbally by his dad, potentially physically but that has never been talked about. His mother and grandmother, perhaps to counteract, spent all of their energy catering to his every need. As a result, he grew up under the impression that women especially were put on the Earth to provide for his needs. Until adulthood he never lifted a finger to do anything for himself. As an adult, he worked, but more at what he wanted, when he wanted. He married a wonderful woman who unfortunately perpetuated the belief that women were put here to wait on him hand and foot, even though she worked twice as hard as he did. He sees things through the lens of everyone on earth is here to take care of him, so it extends to waitstaff, home health, store staff, customer service. He will expect others to bend to his will, and at first he will will flirt or smile or turn on the charm, talk about all of his health issues, his age, the death of his wife etc. If that doesn't work they get accused of trying to scam him, taking advantage of an old sick man, etc. Typically these are unreasonable requests the person cannot fulfill to begin with.
I lean a little heavier on the 'learned' behavior simply because no one has ever really put him in his place and now we are fighting an uphill battle to be heard. He spent years grooming his children to take over for their mother and they have ingrained responses to his initial requests.
But I've found that the aging narcissist begins to falter, not get better but get even more committed because they are dealing with a dwindling supply line and fewer and fewer people who will take care of them. Over time, it is harder for them to keep up the 'pretty' shield and it becomes much more apparent who they really are and what their agenda is. As a result, they tend, or at least he does, to resort to anger and bullying to get those closest to them to continue the game.
As far as inherited traits. I periodically see certain traits in my husband and I call him out on them immediately. I see traits in our oldest daughter and I call her out on them. But over all neither are really ANYTHING like him, they just periodically exhibit a behavior we see in him. Their worst nightmare is to become like that. Sadly, at this point my FIL has almost no one left. He has run most away. And those of us he is stuck with aren't taking his crap anymore, and he's struggling because his long reign of terror has run out and now he has to deal with it.
But historically speaking, he has always been this way and will always be this way and aging is something he just can't come to terms with because it's not supposed to happen to him. My husband and I can basically tell him no and walk away, but I've seen it really get interesting since my sis-in-law, who lives with him, has started standing up to him and pushing back.
When it comes down to your needs, a narcissist isn't designed to really care except for how it impacts them. We keep telling ourselves it is a mental health issue, and that helps some, but there is a fine line and you have to protect yourself. You have to have boundaries, and you have to maintain them regardless of how hard they try to knock them down. And they will try, because they think if they push long enough you will give in. And if you do, you have to start all over again. It's not easy, but keeping those boundaries helps at least to protect yourself.
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Reply to BlueEyedGirl94
LadyMet Aug 25, 2020
I read. I read a lot. I actually “read” for profit, as I am a proof reader for publications. You are a WRITER. And a damn smart judge of the human element. Continued personal success with the issues at hand. However, if you have never taken a stab at writing in any formal way, you are a natural, and should think about lending this gift out more to the people who would appreciate good solid prose. It’s not a lost art, and there are plenty of people who still do read for pleasure, education and the sheer magnitude of a well constructed sentence. Bravo on all fronts. And BTW your advice was heart felt and helpful.
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Thank God I never have had to deal with this personality. But from what I have read, Narcissism is a personality disorder and as such I think you are born with it. They can show no empathy I don't think they can. The brain is just wired wrong. They don't go for help because they don't think they need it. Not saying that a child doesn't learn from this behaviour and mimics it. But as some wrote they realized later on that their actions were wrong. A don't think a true Narcissist ever sees where they are wrong.

I have dealt with personality disorders and it took me a while to realize that is what they were. My MIL was passive-aggressive. Got her way by just going ahead and doing what she felt was best even though she was told not to do it. Her sons got around it by just letting her do what she wanted. Drove me nuts. Eventually, I just let her do what she wanted. Saved me looking like the bad guy. She also lied.

Then I have a SIL that likes to play games. To friends she is the nicest person and treats them better than family. She is a b*tch to her family. Doesn't take her much to be mad at u for something. I didn't speak to her for 10 yrs for the way I was treated. Did she care, no. My FIL said she was jealous. Of what? She came from a family better off than mine. Has a very nice husband and 2 great kids besides her being the way she is. Not sure what her disorder is but she plays the victim. Her family tried to do an intervention and all she did was cry. She didn't see what they saw in her. Her way is better. And my problem, I have the personality that these type of people hone in on. I just stay away.

So I feel a true Narcissist is born that way. That it is genetic. There is something missing in the part of the brain that has emotions. They don't see what they do as wrong. It is a mental sickness that there is no cure for. For one, they don't seek help because they don't see where they do wrong. The best thing when coming up against this type of person, is to stay away because you will never win with them.
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Reply to JoAnn29

Hi there, I’ve been studying narcissism for 4 years now. We all have certain narcissistic traits from time to time. But Narcissistic Personality Disorder is what you are must likely speaking of. You may be born with certain personality tendencies, but your not born with NPD. It’s a defensive mechanism from with in, caused by traumatic situations that happened most of the time during childhood.

Tell tale signs are the lack of empathy, self centeredness, very controlling, and sometimes very passive aggressive behavior. The raging is one way to display it as well. Although that sounded a little more like a Bi Polar disorder.

I think a lot of our elderly become that way, especially those who live alone. They begin to feel that they are in survival mode and become selfish and self centered.

pray things work out for you.
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Reply to Ginnybg
Karena65 Aug 25, 2020
I think that's very possible. A learned reaction to severe trauma and abuse experienced as a vulnerable child, unable to defend oneself. People learn to cope in various ways to survive. Happening at such a young age, it probably shapes one's personality that carries on into adulthood. It's really heartbreaking when you think about it.
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I was thinking about this the other day. I remembered that up to the age of about 30 I behaved in the same way as my mother, which was needing to be a victim. Looking back, this behaviour was definitely learned from her. LuckilyI managed to get away from her aged 18 and moved away. However she moved my way 8 years ago and her behaviour never changed. In fact it got worse. She has lived with me for the past four years and I have hated every moment. She is not the sort of person I would ever choose to be with and her behaviour makes me cringe. Thank goodness I realised how i was and managed to change!!!!!
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Reply to NannaJ

Hi I’m no expert on this but after doing a lot of reading on the subject
at least I’ve learned it’s not me.
And this type of person is sensational, pleasant and generous to people outside the family
Within the family they start with one victim , and chip away one by one as that victim gets their number

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Reply to Arcmiddle14
guiltandanger Aug 25, 2020
My mother was the sweetest person to everyone outside the family, and to my nieces and nephews. To me, she was emotionally abusive, nasty, contrary, negative and bitter. My brother was the golden-haired boy. Until I stopped subjecting myself to her abuse. It took me decades to learn to and decide to set specific boundaries. I told her I would not tolerate her abuse any longer. I told her if she started verbally abusing me on the phone that I would hang up. And I did. If we were together in person and she started the emotional or verbal abuse, I would leave. She always screeched that she wasn't being abusive. It broke my heart. I nearly had a heart attack from the stress. When I stopped taking the abuse, she turned on my brother. She lived the last year of her life in his house, being mean-spirited, and emotionally and verbally abusive to him. He told me he finally understood why I would hang up on my mother. I don't know if this is an inherited or learned behavior or disorder. I just know that I do not want to be like her. I want to enjoy life as long as I have it. I told my husband to let me know if I ever started behaving like her. She wasted so many years being unhappy and bitter. Nothing anyone could say, do or offer helped. She rejected all forms of help, including vacations. I can't explain it. I know it was draining, exhausting, and utterly heartbreaking to be the object of her bitterness. I thought she hated me.
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I’ve been very interested in this question as well. I recently read Soul Signs by Rosemary Altea. She provides incredible insight on this topic and explains how we’re each wired (so to speak) a given way and behave accordingly. With conscious effort we can adjust ourselves, but it can feel like swimming upstream. Most people don’t even register a real need to make alterations to themselves. I was fascinated by the book and it shed light on my mother’s and my lifelong struggles with our relationship. I now understand it was her makeup, not my behavior that made it nearly impossible to please her. Weight off my shoulders! Truly insightful book- find time & check it out!
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Reply to DadsGurl

Yes, narcissists ARE in control, 100%. And, the older they get, the longer they have functioned in that mode, the more they have learned when to cover it up and appear to be 100% innocent of any claims that they are a narcissist !!! In fact, they are so good at it that they can even "fool" many well-trained psychologists or psychiatrists as well as knowledgeable, intelligent people until later, often much later, when 20/20 hindsight enlightens the victim in an "aha" moment.

As such, narcissists can be totally dangerous people. Psychological/mental behaviors can overlay one another. The person I speak of here crossed the line into "Munchausen by Proxy" and nearly killed someone near and dear to me. After drugging her, she became virtually comatose for 3 days. Then he sprung to her rescue, taking her to the hospital, and it appeared to her and her family that he had "saved" her, for which he was more than happy to take credit.

But there were ongoing repercussions for her health as she healed from the poisoning, and his subsequent behavior eventually revealed the depth of his deception. But only in private to her. He had managed to isolate her in such a way that everything appeared to be her fault, or her problem. Even today, some of her family still think of him as a good guy.

She has regained her health and moved on in a positive way. The sad thing is that he will undoubtedly live the rest of his life as the narcissist that he is and, with no ability to prove what he did, he is likely to repeat his destructive and egregious behavior with others. When it comes to narcissism, be aware that the narcissist is a real pro at camouflage. There is plenty of good information available to assist one in recognizing narcissism, so study up and protect yourself !!!
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Reply to CarolLynn
Isthisrealyreal Aug 25, 2020
The FBI and CIA actually class narsisistic behavior as psychopathic individuals. Not much difference in the lows they will go too to get their own way. It made me stand up when I read that. Makes you truly understand what you are dealing with.
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I will continue to plead with everyone to take an antidepressant if they need it. I was on Prozac back in 1998 after my father died and it literally saved my life!! I was on it for a whole year. I did therapy and took Prozac and I’m not ashamed of any of it!! I was in a deep dark hole and the only thing that pulled me out was Prozac. It is a chemical imbalance. People are suicidal when they have a chemical imbalance. Prozac literally saved my life. I was on it for one year and never had to be on it again. Don’t ever be ashamed to take an antidepressant to save you from killing yourself!!!! If I didn’t take it back in 1998, I wouldn’t be here right now!!!!!
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Reply to elaine1962

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