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Family issue, narcissistic dynamic, sociopathic brother

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Family issue, narcissistic dynamic, sociopathic brother

Postby Insight » Sun Jun 30, 2019 8:50 am

I'm not sure this is the right place to post, so if it's not, please feel free to move or suggest a better forum where I can re-post.

I'm 41 and working on a PhD in Psychology. My brother is 45, and has always been the golden child. My mom has undiagnosed obsessive compulsive personality disorder, with narc traits, and my dad is her enabler. My brother was trained as an MD and also has an MBA from Oxford. He never worked in clinical practice seeing patients, but primarily in business related to genomics.

While earning my master's in counseling I was introduced to family systems theory and learned about personality disorders, but there wasn't that much time dedicated in the curriculum on these topics, and the examples of dysfunction in families presented in the literature didn't really reflect the problems in my own family. My nuclear and extended family was always pretty "upstanding," churchgoing, and high functioning (good educations and stable careers, no divorces, problems with the law, or substance use, etc.). Still, I remember thinking there were eerie similarities, but for the most part I didn't connect it to my family.

I left home at 16 and spent most of the time until two years ago away from the family, most of it in school. I also have an MBA, and graduate certificates in developmental disabilities and gerontology. I love learning and one thing I was always confident I could do well in was school. I got married after my masters program to a guy that I later realized most likely has Avoidant Personality Disorder. He also had a temper problem and smoked a lot of pot. I didn't think I would do well on internship living with him given the state my marriage was in, so I filed for divorce before going on internship. Internship went well, and I completed in the Fall of 2017. I moved back home with my parents who were now retired because they invited me, were lonely, and had empty rooms. The plan was to finish my dissertation while living at home and then get a job and move out at some point later.

During the early part of 2018 both my parents got diagnosed with incurable cancers. My dissertation co-chair died. Having conducted diagnostic assessments and therapy all the previous year I became a lot more familiar with personality disorders and capable of identifying traits than I was in school before internship. The parents' medical diagnoses, their retirement, and the stress I was going through losing my dissertation co-chair, created the opportunity for me to really see the narcissistic family dynamic in a way I had never realized existed before. My brother, who was the golden child, not only escalated in his narcissistic abuse over the years and I saw the progression with sadness and alarm, but now I realized how it fit with the rest of the family dynamic.

When the parents started talking about finally writing their will and my brother got involved, I recognized he had many sociopathic traits. My parents were going to split our inheritance 50/50, that was the plan as long as I ever knew, but I never gave it a lot of thought either. Now my brother over the past couple of years has taken it upon himself to convince both my parents that he should be executor, have power of attorney over them, given he's a medical doctor, and in essence I suspect he's trying to hijack my inheritance. Either that or use it to control me or make my life miserable in whatever way he can, and this would be an avenue he could use to do that. He came up with criteria I would have to meet, like how long I would have to be at a job and how much I would need to earn, for the Trust to disburse any money for a mortgage, etc. He has always been very critical of me and attempted to be controlling through emotional blackmail, etc. but even though it pained me I always gave him the benefit of the doubt and chucked it up to differences of opinion. Now I realize he's been assassinating my character to my parents for years, acting "concerned," but putting my situation in the worst light possible, basically. I have no debt, besides student loans, no history of mental illness, substance abuse, legal issues, etc. yet he exaggerates every issues I would ever have and assign clinical terms to them like he's trying to diagnose me, etc.

I told him last year at some point he could feel free to say anything he wants to me but to please use regular terms, like nervous or sad, etc. not triggering your anxiety or manic depression (or even, sociopathic tendencies, like wtf, project much?), since I don't have manic depression, or ever been diagnosed with anxiety, etc. I asked him to respectfully allow my psychologists/psychiatrists to diagnose me, and his response was that it wasn't his fault he just recognized these symptoms and called them like he sees them and just happens to be right so often. He said, just the other day his wife texted him about some problems she was having and he responded with "it must be your generalized anxiety disorder acting up..." and what did I know? Just that day, he said his wife texted him and let him know she'd been to the psychiatrist and they diagnosed her with exactly that. I asked him if he thought telling me actually helped him - he may have done it to his wife (get her diagnosed with whatever he suggested) but he wasn't going to do it to me. He just smirked, and he knows I know what he's insinuating, and that even if he does it with my parents present (my dad was there) they wouldn't catch onto it. We are first generation immigrants so they have a language barrier, and they are super religious, patriarchal, and by now just don't even really pay attention to what my brother is saying - they accept whatever it is without question just because it came from him.

My mom's abuse of me has gotten much worse, she's always shaming me for something, claimed she recorded my private conversations (she didn't but she would if she knew how, I am certain of it), constantly invades my privacy, and her OCPD is so bad with all the stress I can't literally have a hair fallen on the bathroom floor or she goes nuts. My dad said he saw her sneak into my bathroom after I went to sleep several times to check if my toothbrush was wet, etc. So the problems are this:

1) I know suspect my brother is trying to hijack my inheritance, and this is very upsetting. I told my family I don't want anything if my brother is in any way in charge of it, because I am not after their money (never even crossed my mind, the whole inheritance thing, only thought of it when somebody brought it up and it was always stated as 50/50 so whatever, no big deal, I was fine with that). I told them I respected their decision about how to split it up and if they wanted to leave me just 2% that was cool with me, their choice, just to leave my brother out of it. But, my brother has them convinced for some reason these "American bankers" will cheat me, like I'm stupid, he also offered to do all the paperwork and invest the money and not charge for it, so to my parents having anyone do these things and charge is just irresponsible, and money thrown away, even if it was only $20. They have a very different mentality about money having gone trough a lot of tough times, they almost never ate out, went to the movies, subscribed to anything, etc.

2) The realization about my family, my brother, knowing what I know now and that it's likely to get worse (the narcissistic abuse, my brother's antics, my mom's shaming as she gets older), is just very disheartening. I loved my brother more than anything but once I realized he was like this it broke my heart. My dad's cancer is stage 4 and the only person who has ever loved me (even if he didn't do much to protect me from my brother and my mom), is likely to leave me soon and I'm devastated. I always told him "don't leave me with these two," and it looks like he very well might do just that. As a result of living back with the parents and dealing with these things I've had a really hard time focusing and working on my dissertation. Most people just don't realize how awful it is and of course my brother claims "you're not getting a beating every day and many do who are still better than you," and awful stuff like that. I tried to move out for a semester last Fall to finish my dissertation away from the family, got my old job back in Nebraska where my degree is from (I live with my parents in Arizona), got a studio apartment, and I was determined to go because I knew if I stayed here I might never finish this project. I am so close to my PhD, and I have this dissertation written in my head I could recite it. I know everything so well, but somehow I can't get the writing done. I used to write a 20 page paper in 2 hours but now I swear I developed a thinking disorder and I can spend 2 hours on one paragraph, sometimes one single sentence. Anyway, my mom found out I decided to move out for a few months to work on my dissertation and she totally flipped. She doesn't know there is a saying in English but she literally said in our native language she was going to curl up and die. Then she said she was refusing to go through with her stem cell transplant for her multiple myeloma, because "what's the point?" Basically she threatened to not undergo cancer treatment if I left home for a few months, because how dare I would pay rent when here it's free and I have "everything I need..." Maybe it's everything a scapegoat needs but I am a person and I can't live with the abuse and get things done. I have always been headstrong and determined (they never supported my studying psychology either, since according to them "everything you need to know is in the bible"). So I wasn't going to let her manipulate me and keep me from leaving with these antics. Then we found out she had to have the stem cell transplant within 30 days, and couldn't do it in a few months like she had planned or all her tests and other procedures would need to be done again. My brother was in Canada on vacation in an RV, so he didn't fly and said he and his wife "needed to stay" (and continue their vacation, couldn't fly to be with my mom). My dad had chemo on the same day for his colon cancer at the Mayo Clinic and so it was up to me to take them both so my dad could get the chemo and my mom could get her stem cell transplant. A friend of my mom's came into town to stay with her after the transplant but by the time the day of the transplant came around it was too late in the semester to really leave and I did the "dutiful" thing and stayed to help them. I scrapped the idea of going and was at the hospital with my mom. I'm so distraught and ashamed that my now I still haven't finished my dissertation and I don't know what to do to get myself able to write this thing.

3) And now the latest... my dad is at my brother's in San Diego and just had stoma reversal surgery. I was told a few weeks ago they might enroll my dad in an experimental treatment that uses a similar procedure to the stem cell transplant my mom had for her multiple myeloma. That sort of treatment is very common in multiple myeloma but not in colon cancer, and for her treatment she donated her own stem cells, for my dad's treatment, my mom said, the collection would need to come from a donor. She told me I might need to be tested to see if I were a match, along with my brother and a couple of my dad's sisters. My brother has a genetic disease that might make him a poor candidate, my dad's sisters are not gravely sick or anything but they also have some health issues. My mom said I might be the healthiest donor and that it may come down to me to donate and for several weeks now she's upped her fat shaming, telling me to not eat crap, to eat healthy, etc. on every single conversation. I have no health issues besides being overweight but if you were to ask her I have everything wrong with me (or it's not been diagnosed yet I probably do but just don't know it, or am bound to come down with it like, tomorrow). And it's all my fault because I don't take care of myself the way she thinks I should. Honestly I just want to hide from her and I know I've been neglecting a lot of things about my health, etc. but there is no making the woman happy and I wish I was stronger and these things didn't impact me, but I have a really hard time doing some things I know I need to do in this environment. Anyway, the stem cell transplant thing was a possibility for some time in the future, but I found out last week that it needs to happen immediately. They also can't test if I'm a match here in AZ so I have to fly out to San Diego and get my blood drawn next week. I am not looking forward to it.

After I told my brother to stop assassinating my character and to not use diagnostic terms to refer to my behavior or emotions he got offended and told me I had to stop insisting on that or else. I told him he could say anything he wanted to me and I was fine but if he used diagnostic criteria or made derogatory references to my character ("you're the kind of person who, etc.") I would not back down from insisting he not do that. He used a veiled threat again "you can take this as a threat/warning, if you don't stop I will have to take matters into my own hands," and I told him he can do whatever he wants but I was not going to back off on that. (I suspect he's trying to build a case to show later he's seen these "symptoms in me for years" and use the emails with these terms as evidence). He got pissed off, sent an awful email to my dad (remember he has stage 4 cancer) saying he could not talk to me himself anymore because I was paranoid, lacked insight into the problems we're having and took no responsibility for my part in them. And that my dad would have to moderate between us if we were going to talk anymore because he just couldn't even. I told my brother to not put my dad in the middle of this, it was so petty and immature, and the last thing my dad needed, and my brother proceeded to then give me the cold shoulder, which lasted since last August until very recently. The thing is he never wanted to have my dad moderate anything, he threatened me to stop standing up for myself trying to set some boundaries for respectful communication from him, and when I said I wouldn't back down and didn't care what he did, he decided to hurt my dad in order to hurt me. That's when I knew who my brother really was, for sure, it took the person I loved most in the world hurting the person I loved the second most, to make me finally admit it, but here we are and as much as I don't want this to be happening I know my brother is willing to hurt the person I love the most, even if it's our own dad who has stage 4 cancer, to get me to obey him. And I want to go no contact from him the second my parents are no longer here, but he is trying to use the inheritance executorship to have some leverage. I will likely walk away from any money he's in control of to go no contact because I don't want him to know who I am dating, if anyone, or where I work, or anything about me in the future, but he probably thinks I won't and this way he'll still be able to know things about me and get to me. I really don't want to imagine what he'll be capable of when the parents are gone. There are a lot of other things he said/did that make me suspect very unfavorable things, but point is, I am about to go see him for the first time in over a year next week and I really don't want to have anything to do wit him.

When he got back in touch he first said it was my fault we didn't speak because he decided to interpret that when I replied to his email in which he cc'd my dad and told my dad he would have to moderate that I wanted him to leave my father out of this as saying I didn't want to communicate with him at all. The second thing he said was that he still thought this was not a "good thing" for the family, us not talking, it was putting a lot of strain on the parents, stressing dad out especially bad, and he thought we should make up and make an effort to keep things "positive." I told him I never insinuated we should not talk, just didn't think we should put dad in the middle of it, and he has always been more then welcome to say especially positive things to me. But even though he is the one that decided to give and maintain the silent treatment over the past year he's managed to convince my mom immediately it was my idea/fault and later even make my dad believe it because as I suspected my dad didn't really read what was in that email, he just listened to what my brother said. And now he looks like he's the one who decided to be the bigger person and offer to connect again, positively. But I know the silent treatment was strategic; and one of the reasons is because it's easier for him to work on the inheritance hijacking in secrecy. He also intends to be the one who defines what is "positive" in our communication (whatever he says) and what is not (whatever I say he doesn't like) and he probably thinks hurting my dad to hurt me and the silent treatment drove home the point I better not even question who gets to define what is positive or challenge him. I also know if he does become executor of any trust for me he would refuse to talk to me but use the money in my inheritance to pay someone to do it, since after the parents are gone he won't care not to speak to me again either.

So, I know this is long (I type fast and a lot of times it's a lot quicker for me to write a lot than to edit it for length, but please feel free to provide tips on conveying the pertinent issues in a more helpful format, right now my writing ability is a bit messed up and right now...) , but I could use any recommendations/tips for strategies to handle these three issues. My mom's ongoing abuse/scapegoating tactics that I don't take to heart anymore as in they hurt me emotionally, but mentally they mess with my head, and ability to think, a lot. Second, I've always been the scapegoat and didn't fit in with the family but now I might be a match and the one asked to donate my stem cells. I am willing to walk away from any inheritance when it comes to actual money but I really don't like my brother is trying to do what he's doing (put himself in charge of all of it). I don't want him to get away with it because I do think he's using covert tactics to enact undue influence but it's not something that would be easy to prove. My mom has a PD but it's undiagnosed and she's not likely to go for an assessment just because I ask. She is very easy for him to manipulate. My dad is more and more dependent on him for medical care as it's my brother who is in charge of all the paperwork, connected with all the doctors, makes all the decisions basically and provides any explanations. My dad did admit to me one time he recognized some of my brother's tactics are unfair but said "look at my situation, what can I do?" and I know he doesn't feel comfortable going against what my brother wants. Now that this stem cell thing is coming up and it's so experimental there is a possibility if it goes well there may even be publications and because whatever tests they do are for my dad there's a high likelihood some of the information I would like to keep private will be seen by my brother and my mom as well. Like I said I'm not sick but I don't want her to even know my weight or blood level of whatever what my brother can make her think is indicative of something he exaggerates. I know I could walk away, go no contact, and all that, but without my dissertation finished I would have a really hard time. I don't want to take on a full time job in this mental state as I'm not sure if moved out and worked how long it will take my mind to get to a point I can write sensibly again like I used to. I would look like I'm abandoning my parents who need me right as they got diagnosed with cancer so no matter how you slice it that will look quite terrible, and they are such a "perfect family" from the outside nobody would suspect my mom or brother of ever doing the things I would say about them. Plus I don't tell these things to other people but I do feel extremely alone and heartbroken and I could use any advice moving forward. Than you.
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Re: Family issue, narcissistic dynamic, sociopathic brother

Postby DaturaInnoxia » Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:22 pm


You can't change them.
Therapy for you to look at your own codependency.

After everything you mentioned, you live at home at 41.
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Re: Family issue, narcissistic dynamic, sociopathic brother

Postby Cassandre » Wed Jul 10, 2019 8:29 pm

I second Datura.

A few more advice:

- "I told him he could say anything he wanted to me" -> this is you setting yourself up for abuse. You deserve respect.
- be careful with idealizing your Dad, he maybe the person you feel the most connected to in the family but he is also someone who failed to protect you.
- seek legal advice discretely for your inheritance, you do have rights.
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Re: Family issue, narcissistic dynamic, sociopathic brother

Postby Biden1984 » Sat Jul 13, 2019 4:05 am

This sounds like the situation I am in exactly except my MD brother being the executor wants me to quit gambling, take my meds, even quit smoking when the time comes to distribute the inheritance. I wanted to say, try and be in good terms with him. They make so much money it’s ridiculous and I hope he will help you in other ways as well as financially. Who knows what the future will be and don’t become like me and stress 24/7 about it. I hope he does as planned and makes sure
ur taken care of. We can only really trust family when it comes down to it as friends, even though you knew them since even high school will eventually not accept the baggage I have.

I guarantee he will help you. My brother became lacking empathy after med school even though he was hard on me my entire life since my parents were really my grandparents cause they had me so late. You gotta always trust immediate family.
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Re: Family issue, narcissistic dynamic, sociopathic brother

Postby realityhere » Sat Jul 13, 2019 7:38 pm

It's understandable that you're under a lot of stress, trying to do the right thing by your parents who have terminal cancers and dealing with a brother's toxic influence/ gaslighting, plus putting off your dissertation.

I seem to think your biggest issue is why you have put off your dissertation. Your parents' health issues and your brother's tactics are the bees in your bonnet preoccupying your brain effort, when you really should be focusing on your unfinished dissertation or getting a job that is fulfilling to you. If you let your family issues run your life, then you're not the captain of your own ship. Perhaps therapy may help you re-direct your sails.
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