Narcissistic Behavior Among Siblings

More often than not having a sibling is a blessing, someone to share experiences with, someone who can understand your story in ways no one else can because they experienced the same roots; however, there are times when having a sibling can become a peril–this can be the result of many factors but today we will focus on one in particular…narcissism.

Narcissistic siblings are the result of an unequal and discriminatory upbringing that built in them a distorted identity. This identity was nourished by the internalization of narratives which from very early on allowed them to assume that they and only they, were worthy of all forms of love and attention. Many times, this particular sibling was the one who got away with almost anything, yet in their mind facts become distorted and their difficulties become “sufferings” of tremendous proportions, while the neglect and perhaps even abuse of the other siblings become simply “complaints” over “nothing”.

“Fabricating” a narcissist is easier than we think. It is enough to reinforce the child’s egocentrism and deactivate his empathy. Educate him from an inflated vision of himself or to let him get away with too much. These children, grow up to be masters of the social scene, showing very little; if any; trouble socializing and acting overly amicable or overly caring while being watched–it is very important for them to convince people that they are someone to be trusted. On the other hand, the siblings who grew up enduring neglect and perhaps abuse from their caregivers, tend to be more reserved within big gatherings–as they tend to prefer the safety and familiarity of small circles.

Little by little, block by block, the harmful personality that was erected within the narcissistic becomes more pronounced and harmful. However, in the eyes of a narcissistic, their behavior is more than reasonable and valid. Research by the University of Amsterdam highlights this fact, as well as clarifying that a person who fits this personality profile is often one who considers his or herself someone of good standing; for they do not like to rock the boat–that is unless it is in private and only to those they see as “less” (the other siblings).

Characteristics of a narcissist:

  • From a very young age they need and demand more attention and recognition than the rest of the family.
  • They only take into account their own needs and troubles.
  • They love to socialize, for they need constant validation.
  • They are experts at being “diplomatic”, that way they avoid any responsibility.
  • They are passive aggressive.
  • They blame others in the family for any disagreement or family problem.
  • They love to play the role of savior but only if others are watching.
  • They always project a clear antagonism towards their siblings, but not in public.
  • Only their opinions are valid and barely listen when another sibling is trying to confide–unless there is something for them to gain.
  • They are skilled at twisting facts so they may be the ones who are seen as “victims”, specially by their parents.
  • They have a severe dislike for people who are straightforward or who make them question the validity of their motivation; such dislike is never expressed openly.

The complex thing about having to deal with a narcissistic sibling is that we also have to deal with a family hierarchy. The one in which we are at the bottom of the ladder and the golden son/daughter at the top. Sometimes we cannot distance ourselves from one or the other. In that case, it is advisable to take into account the following:

Don’t expect anything from them. Accept reality, that is until that person is willing to accept his or her own shortcomings, that particular sibling will not take your feelings, opinions or needs into account. Therefore, avoid depending on him in any aspect and stop hoping for a miraculous change.

Reaffirm your limits. If you can’t help having to maintain contact with that particular sibling, make it clear what he can and cannot expect from you. Not everything goes and it is necessary to clarify it as soon as possible; otherwise, any misunderstandings that may rise in the future will be blamed on you.

A Narcissistic sibling is a bone of contention. They are the disruptive element; they are the trigger of all discussions yet somehow it is the other siblings who end up paying for the battles started by a narcissist. Because of this, it is common to end up keeping distance or severing any type of relationship with a family that is clearly dysfunctional in origin. When the love of the family is not unconditional and when the parent responsible for the narcissist refuses to acknowledge the past and attempt to heal the dysfunctionality within the family, that so called “filial” bond will fester and suffer.

If what is best for you is to sever contact with a family who is hurting you because of their dysfunctionality, as painful as it is, you might need to do that. It is important to recognize that malice cover up as benevolence and understanding is not love. It is true every family is dysfunctional, but not every family hurts one another and chooses to pretend all is good; you don’t have to normalize behavior based on fear–their fear–fear of facing their own shortcomings, and so someone else has to be the escape goat; that person is usually the one who refuses to pretend all is good when is not.

As beautiful and admirable as it may be to want to confront the dysfunctionality of a family tree, you need to pick your battles wisely. If the battle is one which won’t lead anywhere but leaving you even more hurt than you are, then is best that you do something even more heroic–choose yourself and build a life that goes beyond the superficial. More importantly heal your past wounds; you have grown up in a dysfunctional family that only focused affection, attention or understanding on a particular sibling–you have experiences to heal, do so. Take your time, be gentle with yourself and do not hesitate to seek help.


By Sofia Falcone

I passionately believe one person can make a difference. I write from my own experiences and interests. It is my greatest hope that by writing about my own challenges, victories, hopes and learnings, others may feel inspired to believe more in their inner power and to fully embrace themselves!

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