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Cousin of NPD seeks advice

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Cousin of NPD seeks advice

Postby CanadianCousin32 » Sat Jan 09, 2016 7:28 pm

Hello there,

This is my first time posting in a forum like this but I have a situation with a family member officially diagnosed with NPD and I want to approach it as thoughtfully as possible. I do not consider myself a victim in this situation but I am starting to ask myself if there is any point trying to help him or if I need to change my angle. If I do cut him off I want to know that I did everything possible to avoid that.

The person in question is my cousin, 'Ted', who I reestablished contact with last year when his father was dying. I had seen him every few years as a kid but I was older and we weren't really close. Ted's father was a wealthy alcoholic who never said 'no' to him and spoiled him endlessly. He had incredibly expensive toys, entertainment systems, and cars. He now feels entitled to a lifestyle he can't afford. Our other family members see him as a bad seed, whereas I feel like I would have turned out that way if I were raised in those conditions, so I feel sad for him. He clearly grew up with a combination of extreme material indulgence and emotional deprivation on account of his family dysfunction and this is how he turned out this way. I am very angry at his parents for allowing this to happen but that doesn't solve anything he is dealing with now. Ted told me that he had a therapist treating him for NPD but that he left therapy because this man was allegedly trying to psychologically harm him.

Now my uncle is dead and, having spent his money irresponsibly, left Ted with a relatively small inheritance that won't allow him to maintain his lifestyle. Ted spent that inheritance on a luxury car he refuses to part with and he refuses to find employment. He has asked all of the extended family, some of whom actually struggle to make ends meet, for money. He has a habit of picking fights over text message with our well-meaning aunt, who could have been a good resource to him but has kept her distance on account of his behaviour. He is abusive to his mother, who has frequently called the police on him for yelling and breaking her things.

I have maintained contact with him, because I promised his Dad I would. I am single and have no children and I have maintained fairly good boundaries with him/don't take his insults personally, so I am the member of the family who has the easiest time interacting with him. I also live a couple of hours away, so I can visit him from time to time while keeping a safe distance. Both of our fathers died in 2015, so he can't play the 'I'm grieving and everyone has to indulge me' card with me.

Ted is clearly in pain and lashes out in frustration because he has no friends, desperately wants a girlfriend and cannot manage his finances. He is not the kind of NPD who easily manipulates others because he is not especially bright and people see through him very quickly. My strategy so far has been to be as honest as possible with him while consistently asserting that I love him and only want the best for him. Things like 'I know you are in pain and I want you to feel better but you cannot scream and threaten your mother because that behaviour is abusive.'

I have offered advice for finding housing and employment, which he ignores. He makes misogynist comments about women who don't want to date him, and I tell him that these comments are misogynist and other men in our family would never make them. I am always very careful to specify that *he himself* is not bad, his behaviour is. There is a part of me that worries he will eventually do something violent to his mother or a romantic interest. My friends want me to be careful in case he targets me. He has a history of reacting somewhat violently to perceived threats and I am grateful that guns are harder for him to access as we live in Canada.

Lately he has been demanding phone dates with me, flaking out at the designated time, and sending passive aggressive texts. In our latest exchange I told him I thought his behaviour was isolating him and it would be a good idea to go back to his NPD therapist, or at least look at some Linehan workbooks. I wonder if this was too honest. He responded by trying to convince me that I am the one who needs professional help and it reminded me of a child saying 'NO YOU ARE' in a playground argument. I do not feel like a victim of his behaviour at all, nor do I take his attacks personally (I realize the situation would be different if I didn't have the benefit of distance or if he were a parent etc) but I am starting to wonder if there is any point trying to talk to him at all. I also feel slightly guilty because though I diplomatically try to be as direct as possible with Ted, I haven't exactly emphasized to him that dealing with him is a chore that I do out of obligation and a sense of feeling sad for him, not because I feel we have a real connection.

Before I cut off contact I want to review my responses to his behaviour to see if there's something I could do to be more effective. It makes me sad to think that he is hopeless, which is the conclusion that most of our family has come to. At the same time, I have been trying to communicate with him for a year and advise him on how adjusting behaviour would allow him to have real relationships with our aunts and other cousins, but he hasn't moved an inch.

Some examples of my responses to him are:

-reviewing his text fight with our aunt and pointing out where I think his perception is mistaken. Ted makes unreasonable demands and I have tried to give examples of how and when I ask for support from family while respecting that they will not always be able to offer me what I want or need.

-reviewing the judgments he makes about women and giving him examples from my past relationships with women who hurt my feelings etc, and how I learned to handle rejection and avoided disrespecting their boundaries or judging women as a group.

-responding to his stories of perceived judgments from strangers with the reminder that our self-worth is not determined by the opinions of strangers. Most of these stories appear to be distortions and I don't even try to point that out because I know the insult is real in his head.

I am wondering if anyone has any tips of how I might better try to help him help himself. Thank you for your time.
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Re: Cousin of NPD seeks advice

Postby Philonoe » Sun Jan 10, 2016 9:19 am

It seems to me that you accept much responsibility

- from an alcoholic and abusive uncle, to stay in contact with his son

- from the mother of a spoiled kid to protect her from the consequences of this education, as an adult

- from other members of the family to protect them from one of them with who they allowed creating some money dependency

Besides, you seems really concerned by him and his future - if not, you probably wouldn't post here.

I think you need to take care of yourself. In my experience, those family dynamics are toxic and impossible to deal with.
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Re: Cousin of NPD seeks advice

Postby realityhere » Sun Jan 10, 2016 8:12 pm

"In our latest exchange I told him I thought his behaviour was isolating him and it would be a good idea to go back to his NPD therapist, or at least look at some Linehan workbooks. I wonder if this was too honest. He responded by trying to convince me that I am the one who needs professional help and it reminded me of a child saying 'NO YOU ARE' in a playground argument."

Ted is employing what is called projection. Your suggestion to him about returning to the therapist may have started the ID&D (idealization, devaluation & discard) process that some pwNPD use. A well-meaning remark gets construed as major criticism by him, and the devaluation starts. He has already done this to other relatives.

Have you considered that your "rescuer" role in this relationship is only enabling your cousin's behavior? Unfortunately Ted is in extensive denial yet feels a sense of entitlement at the same time but hasn't listened to your sound advice and tips.

This is a job for a professional therapist who has extensive experience with PDs, not yours. Unfortunately it may take hitting rock bottom before he realizes his 4 yo behavior is not working in an adult world. Or he may continue on as long as there are enablers in his life.
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Re: Cousin of NPD seeks advice

Postby Balfazar » Sun Jan 10, 2016 10:34 pm

Hello CanadianCousin32,

First off, thank you for taking the time to post and share your dilemma. I have a similar situation with my NPD friend, so I can understand what you are going through. (although my friend is much older than your cousin)You seem to be a man of your word, so the promise that you made your Uncle is not one you will break. (which is totally understandable)

Your cousin definitely needs help from a therapist, as he is still at an age where positive changes could be made. Also, a key step for him will be to become a self-aware NPD. It sounds like he going through the "I am not special at all" phase, and is on a wrecking path of anger and disdain. Being belligerent to everyone one, including people who care for him.

As far yourself, I wouldn't go no contact. Not yet at least. What hobbies/passions does he have? That can make for an easy conversation, and can lead to much growth on his part. Also, you can occasionally just go out and have a "guy's night out". Just enjoy the time you have together. Don't force things though. If you are too judgemental or open, that might push him back. Basically you want to get to a point where he can listen to you,trust you, and then you can proceed with suggesting him retry therapy.

You seem to realize that you can let his "outbursts" get to you. If you do, you are just enabling him even more. You are keeping your boundaries in place, which is good.Just continue to be there for him in your own way. I know it is a tough situation for you. You obviously want to do your best for him, and I don't think you would just "cut him off". If you did, you would have a hard time accepting that.
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Re: Cousin of NPD seeks advice

Postby CanadianCousin32 » Mon Jan 11, 2016 2:42 am

Thanks for your advice everyone.
I have not considered the possibility that I might be an enabler, mostly because I constantly confront his statements, though never in a mean way. I have never let a problematic comment slide without saying 'I think that is an unreasonable expectation' or 'that comment reflects a bad attitude toward women'. I have no illusions about being able to rescue him because I know only he can rescue himself. I have also told other family members not to give him money and explained that he is wasteful with it in order to prevent them from further enabling him.
I don't think I am capable of spending any time with him talking about hobbies etc if I can't confront the awful viewpoints he shares with me. I can't condone his statements about women, for example, for even a minute, and saying nothing is a tacit form of acceptance in my opinion.
Your responses have pushed me to focus on my own limits rather than the potential I may have to help him. I didn't respond to his latest outburst and I think the best course of action will be to leave it until he eventually comes back looking for advice about his next crisis, at which point I will reiterate that I think his behaviour doesn't serve him and therapy is the best option to alleviate his problems. I can only hope that eventually he will admit to himself that this is the only way forward. I have repeatedly told him that he deserves to feel better and I think he has potential to do that if he puts the work in. If I see evidence that he is actually doing that (if he stops asking for $ or gets a job) I will be more than willing to offer positive validation while maintaining boundaries.
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Re: Cousin of NPD seeks advice

Postby GRaven » Wed Oct 03, 2018 1:09 pm

Hey brother,

I would like to start by recognizing that you seem like a very strong and noble person with high morals in addition to the gift of loyalty. I am in a somewhat similar situation and am teetering between no contact and remaining in contact, in a supportive role. This whole situation is rather bleak. I was feeling a bit sad about it and then saw your post. I was wondering if you had any resolve?
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