(Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.) Treachery is a mortal betrayal of trust, especially among family members. Covert narcissists are sly, smooth, and sneaky–very difficult to detect.
When the Covert Narcissist is your sibling, you are destined to have a painful and tumultuous relationship with him/her. (This post refers to male and female covert narcissists). This is particularly galling if the sibling is the golden child of the family, the chosen one who can do no wrong, always wins, and wears the family crown from birth. Mother and father never corrected their “darling” since he was viewed and treated as perfect–someone for you to emulate.
The life stories I hear from children who have had covert narcissistic siblings are horrific. From the beginning, the scapegoated child was at the mercy of the covert sibling who taunted, tricked, terrified, and threatened his victim. There are scenes of a small child being locked in a closet for hours while parents were away or oblivious. Getting pinched, scratched, smacked, dragged was the order of the day in some households. Of course, the perpetrator was never caught and if it was obvious that the golden monster was guilty, the parent covered it up and in some instances blamed the victimized child for simply being present.
As the covert narcissistic sibling reaches adulthood, the psychopathology remains unchanged and the victimization of the sibling continues in a cruel, cunning form. Narcissists are often obsessed with money–It is their god, their compass, their identity. They are convinced that any assets belonging to the parents belong to them alone. They spend years plotting how they will pilfer every cent belonging to the parents, leaving the other siblings without a penny. I have witnessed this behavior often; it is ugly and dark. The covert narcissist through a series of cunning maneuvers gains control of the family estate. Over time, using pseudo charm and empathy with just the right vintage of pressure and intimidation convinces the parents that he is the only family member who can be trusted with financial matters. By the time that the other siblings discover that they have been divested of their inheritance, it is too late.
Narcissistic siblings stop at nothing to snatch the gold, the cash, the property, the jewelry, stocks, trusts, etc. Nothing slows them down. They are giddy grabbing the loot. They are devoid of shame, conscience or mercy. In the aftermath the sibling(s) on the losing end is shocked, exhausted, and depleted. In some cases, these individuals develop health problems as a result of the severe chronic stress of coping with the emotional, psychological, and financial treacheries of the covert sibling.
Knowing now that your sibling has a severe personality disturbance is the beginning of unraveling, healing, and reconstituting yourself. The first step is to appreciate that young child who survived despite the painful treacherous years and the innumerable ordeals and traumas that you experienced.
Recognize the strength and courage of your true self and know now that you will continue to heal, grow and evolve. Put yourself first and take time each day to move into the calming part of the nervous system where you feel deep inner peace. Get the nourishment, sleep, downtime, creative time, fun time that you need and deserve.