What should I do about my narcissistic brother?

The Details of the Question

- He has no love for anyone; he loves only himself. If he shows affection to anyone, he does it to approach his goals or because he finds someone helpful or because that person does not criticize him.
- If we shout at him, his anger will increase. If we ignore him, he sometimes increases his attacks. My mother lets him come to her house; after my mother orders him to leave when he does something wrong, she refuses to call the police.
- He insults my mother and me in every possible way. He is very afraid of confronting strong people; so, he gossips behind their backs and chooses the weak to curb his aggression, like me or my mother.
- He knows the security code of the house and my mother refuses to change the code, saying that he will be welcome there.
- How should I approach him (my brother)?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

We understand that you are in serious trouble because of your brother with narcissistic personality disorder. You are face to face with a difficult test. May our Lord always be your helper and increase your patience and endurance!

Try to Understand him

First, try to understand him because being a narcissist is not a personal choice of your brother.

Disturbing negative behavior of your brother toward you and your mother is a health problem just like other physical and mental illnesses. The root of this ailment lies in your brother’s childhood.

In particular, factors such as negative relationship between the parents, faulty child education, conditional love or lack of love toward the child or excessive praise probably led to narcissistic personality disorder in the future.

Narcissists cannot understand how they behave toward their environment because of this unhealthy condition they brought from their childhood. In addition, they are not fully aware of how their disturbing behavior can make the other person feel.

In addition, they often use many manipulation tactics without even realizing because they have a great sense of self; they regard themselves as superior to you and other people. They may believe that they should be treated better than other people.

Worse still, they do not have the ability to make up for their mistakes, apologize and repair them. Due to this lack of empathy and insight, they constantly have problems in their family relationships; they can put both themselves and their family members in a difficult situation.

As you can see, your brother is not the only one that is guilty …

Do not Get Angry with him; Approach him with Compassion

If you approach your brother from this point of view, he will not change much, but his negative effects on you will decrease because you will always look at him with pity, not with anger. It might lessen his anger a bit.

What can you do to have fewer problems with your brother?

Although it is difficult for your brother to go to therapy because narcissists do not believe that anyone can be better than them, the healthiest way is to seek help from a psychotherapist who is a specialist.

If you do not have such an opportunity, we recommend you the following:

- Never shout at your brother; do not enter into a discussion. If you are right in the discussion, he will likely be angry with or even resentful toward you. It is better not to discuss and to remain silent.

- However, do not be introverted, remaining silent. Introversion and withdrawal during a discussion, like reacting with anger, cause the narcissist to become more defensive and increase the dose of criticism.

- Control your anger toward your brother. Your angry behavior will make him even more aggressive

- The thing that narcissists are most uncomfortable with is being blamed. When they are blamed, they lose control. Instead of speaking in an accusatory way, express your own feelings. Speak openly and honestly about your feelings, and the pain you experienced.

You can say:

“Right now, I feel that you are belittling me and my mother. I feel very bad; I think we are worth nothing in your eyes.” You can express your feelings with a sentence like that:

For example, you can also say, “We feel bad and very upset when you are so rude to us. I feel so worthless when you act like that.”

- Although narcissists have a very high ego, their greatest fear is the feeling of worthlessness. Because of this, they overreact to words and behaviors that make them feel worthless. You can sometimes make a sentence that emphasizes how valuable he is: “You are precious to us; we do not want to upset you.”.

- Appreciate and reward your brother’s positive behavior toward you. They make promises that they will not keep to achieve their goals. Therefore, do not trust his promises. Just appreciate his behavior.

- Despite all this, do not expect a quick change from your brother; otherwise, you will be disappointed. It is not easy to change him; and it is quite difficult for him to change even if he wants to.

- Do your part; treat him compassionately and pray.

May Allah be your helper!

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