The Narcissist’s Silent Treatment

Silent Treatment
Silent Treatment
n. Informal

Maintenance of aloof silence toward another as an expression of one’s anger or disapproval

~TheFreeDictionary~

Although the narcissist’s frequent use of the silent treatment may seem like a relief from their criticism and rages, it can be just as damaging to the victim as other forms of emotional and psychological abuse.

 The Silent Treatment

The silent treatment is a common punishment in many relationships. It is manifested by one partner who completely ignores the other: going through their typical day as if the other person were invisible or absent, even if they are standing right in front of them or talking to them. Some have argued that the silent treatment is more abusive than physical harm as it can be more appropriately thought of as a form of torture. This is especially true the longer it goes on. It is usually used to express contempt or disapproval. The term was first coined in 1947; the silent treatment is very common and used by a lot of people.

Narcissistic Silent Treatment

The silent treatment is frequently utilized as a lever to gain control in the power struggles of many relationships. Never is this more evident than in the conflicts of a narcissistic relationship. When a narcissist uses the silent treatment with someone, they take it to the extreme. A narcissist may refuse to speak to or even acknowledge someone for great lengths of time- and then demand an apology that is out of proportion to the perceived offense. By demanding this apology, it supports the narcissist’s inflated view of himself or herself. The silent treatment is a common form of abuse used by people who cannot tolerate being on the receiving end of someone else’s self-assertiveness. The silent treatment effectually cuts the victim off from the abuser; it sends a clear message to the victim about how insignificant they are and how easy it is for the abuser to live without them. It is utilized by insecure people with a poor self image who cannot keep up their end of a relationship through dialogue. When the victim does something that displeases the narcissist, they cease to exist for a certain period of time-most often extensive and disproportionate amounts of time.

The narcissist also uses the silent treatment, apathy or a general current of hostility to throw their partner off balance. The narcissist does this to find out exactly how much control they have over their victim. The most typical reason is to “punish” their partner for something they failed to do or some wrong they did (and probably are unaware of). Of course, if the partner directly asks the narcissist about it they will deny it.

It seems plausible that the narcissist also uses the silent treatment as a way to get a reaction from his partner. All narcissists use the silent treatment as a way to validate and assess the amount of control they have over a person. Typically, the victim would ask a narcissist what is wrong, why are you ignoring me, etc. This gives the narcissist power and control. It allows him or her power to do whatever they wish; if the partner doesn’t accept their behavior, or rejects their behavior, narcissists will then use the silent treatment again to draw them back in to the cycle.

Learned Behavior

It’s theorized that some narcissistic personality traits, as well as the use of the silent treatment, are learned behaviors. If a child’s emotional needs are not being met, or if clear boundaries are not established, he or she may develop narcissistic personality traits as a response. Children may also observe others using the silent treatment and copy it as a way to punish others or get them to comply with the child’s wants. While these two things may be learned and displayed separately, often those children who learn narcissistic traits will also learn to use the silent treatment.

Vulnerability

The silent treatment is issued to hide vulnerabilities and awareness of who the narcissist really is. By completely ignoring their partner, the abuser does not have to deal with any outstanding issues; this is a very unhealthy way to cope with problems in a relationship.

References:

http://www.ehow.com/facts_5449219_silent-treatment-abuse.html

http://www.ehow.com/about_5231807_narcissist_s-silent-treatment.html

http://breakingupwithyournarcissist.com/narcissist_are_ignorant.html

 

 

 

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About Alexander Burgemeester

44 Responses to “The Narcissist’s Silent Treatment”

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  1. Catherine says:

    Hi Alexander, I have read a number of your articles and they all describe my husband’s behaviour accurately. For a long time I’ve been bewildered by his behaviour, from the very beginning of our relationship actually, 5 yrs ago. After a lot of reading and research I discovered he most probably had NPD and that allowed me to put a name and a reason to the things he did. Before knowing why I tried so hard to please him and when we spoke about our ‘problems’ he even gave me suggestions as to how I could please him, including sexually. Imagine my dismay when I followed his suggestions to the letter and still got nowhere with him and even was accused of not making any efforts at all. I discovered he watched porn a lot and was very deceitful in covering up just how much he did watch. Your comments in your article about relationships and sex very accurately described what he was doing to me. What I’m wondering though, you say not to play the game, not to catch the ball they are throwing. For a long time after reading a bit on how to deal with abusive behaviour authors say and I think you have also said to remove yourself from the situation saying that you have something to do etc, not just walk away or slam down the phone. What happens when I do that (probably obviously) is that enrages him even more, he follows me around harassing me, abusing me further or alternatively goes into a very long bout of silent treatment where he pointedly treats all around me with love and care, laughing and smiling. What should I do so as not to give him any power in the situation? What I currently do now I go about my daily business, working and doing whatever just keeping away from him. After a couple of days he will burst through my office door or bedroom door after I’ve gone to bed and say the most terrible, nasty, soul-destroying things to me, ending our relationship, talking about me as if I was leaving him and what he’s going to do after I’m gone. I have unfortunately reacted with such frustration with him standing at my door going for me I’ve lashed out at him and pushed him. I’ve also tried to punch him. He, whilst shocked I have attacked him, seems to revel in it, calling me crazy. I’ve gone to see a lawyer and gained some advice which I’m sure he hates. It seems that because I work from home and have my children who live with me from a former marriage I’m more entitled to stay in our house than he is and I can get a court order to remove him from the house if I want to. I have told him this and ever since he’s been trying (pretending) so hard not to cause any problems. He’s been ‘good’ for months now. Sam Vaknin in one of his videos says that if you can get the narcissist to be financially dependent upon you then you may be okay. Mine is financially dependent upon me. I am using the losing of the house and lawyers as leverage to keep him under control and so far it’s working. I shouldn’t have to live like this I know. Is there anything else I can do? I am pretty annoyed about the porn and his compulsive lying and sneaking about as well.

    • San says:

      It will not get better. I spent 27 years trying to make it work. Run now while you still have your sanity! It took my health for me to finally say enough. I was crying and shaking a lot and knew if I didn’t get out I’d have a nervous breakdown.

  2. annony says:

    just get rid of him havent you enough already?

    • Gail says:

      It is not that easy Hun ! She has been brainwashed and mind manipulated..she needs time to figure it out in her own mind what happened and move through the stages of healing at her own pace ! It takes a very LONG time and one might still gave bad days after wards…the say 12- 24 months or more to heal…..your words to her are kind of lack misunderstanding and empathy on your part ! Right now she don’t need these kinds of comments ! When I read your words I could almost hear my ex NPD saying that to me sarcastically as if I was small and inferiors in his eyes…or as if I was making mountain our of molehills …! But after what we go through with these crazy people it feels more than a mountain to overcome !

  3. christine says:

    This article is so accurate and helpful as my partner does the silent and walking away treatment everytime I have an opinion…it Don’t even get to a row before he walks out and don’t contact me for weeks…..in which time he’s even been with other women….by reading this it helps to realise it’s not me with a problem it’s him…reading this makes me feel better and have the strength to stay away and try to gain some self worth back..thank you

  4. Eva says:

    My parents and siblings cut me out for a past time and it`s like some kind of torture. The crime I have commited to be eligible for their treatment is that I`ve learnt to have my own opinions and have gained a `voice` which is not the same as theirs. My family hate nothing more than people who are different from them. The description that fits them best is that they behave like a `cult`, our way or the highway attitude. My father is a dictator and has a reputation for cutting out people left, right and centre to regain his control of them. To date my father hasn`t spoken to me for 16 months, my mother 12 months, my brother 24 months and my sister 14 years!. They have also cut out various relatives along the way and periodically cut eachother out when a difference of opinion is given, they love playing the blame game and numerous other head numbing techniques. They are never wrong, never sorry and do not possess an ounce of empathy between the four of them. Sometimes I get very sad about my situation, today was one of those days and I could have cried all day, had it not been for my wonderful, kind Godmother who came to see me. Life goes on and I have two daughters of my own and a husband to look after. My blood family behave like a nest of vipers and I don`t want my own children being involved in or having to witness their weird, psycho behaviour. I never thought this would happen to me, I am shocked and apalled that my so called family of birth could be so downright vindictive and awful, verging on demonic. One day I hope to be free of them for good and for all. If I could have a lobotomy to remove them I would. Any thoughts on healing or anything else would be greatly appreciated. Empowerment grows through knowledge and knowledge is gained through others opinions and advice. Thanks in advance.

    • Michelle says:

      Eva,
      We must twins separated at birth! I have the same family, the same circumstances, almost the same time frame of “silent treatment” for the exact same reasons. I have seriously considered moving to another country with the hope that I never have to see any of them again!

      • Eva Armstrong says:

        Michelle,
        thankyou for your reply. It`s reasurring to know that their are others out there who have suffered and are suffering the same fate. However the time has now come to let go. Ultimately I know that there will be times when I feel dreadfully sad and struggle with the abuse I have received. But most importantly it is time to move on with life………..do you have any thoughts or ideas on healing and finding the best way forward? As always I am interested in hearing how others have managed to move on. Thanks.

    • Lacy says:

      What a bunch of malignant narcissists they really are!
      Some people love negativity.
      Are these adults or 8 year olds. One year may be one thing, but 14? People like that can’t have real love for anybody their too uptight and obviously plain nuts. Your lucky you don’t have to be around that energy anyway. I know the type, they’re usually very judgmental and critical people about everything and everybody right? Usually criticism of some kind dominates about 60% of their daily conversation. My sister has done the same to me, out of the blue. I did nothing personally to her, she just doesn’t like me. She was never apart of my life anyway so what’s the difference. Am I gonna miss something that was never there much? probably not. So, if she thinks she’s punishing me, ha. You are valuable Eva, and just as intelligent as anybody else, don’t let strange people drag you down! Many of us out here know what your talking about, and I hope you don’t take this the wrong way but your family is full of shit and are not loving people.

      • Nina Nonarchi says:

        Michelle and Eva …. it’s amazing how much power they THINK they have, but how little power they ACTUALLY have. All bluster. Horribly painful, tho! I also grew up in a viper pit; narcissistic and abusive mom, alcoholic and abusive father, narcissistic drama queen prima donna sister. The parents are dead (hope their rebirth is more gentle for them both) and the sister is doing the silent treatment in a passive aggressive way when I need her response to settle an estate. My attorney told me to let her know that on such-and-such a decision, if I don’t hear from her by such-and-such a date, I will presume agreement. It cuts right through her narc passive-aggressiveness, and I can get this work done. She thinks she’s punishing me, but I am soooo relieved to have finally pulled the plug on her!

  5. Ken says:

    I’m getting a good solid dose of the silent treatment at the moment from my vicious narcissist of a father. He’d been bubbling up for a row for some weeks, wasn’t getting enough fawning adoration I guess. I’m too old and exhausted to be his constant supply, and I’ve managed to scrape together enough self-respect recently to not let him walk all over me and manipulate me constantly.

    I’d already read about NPD, but never seen it painted in the extreme way sites like this do. Quite helpful to find all this after being subjected to one of his more extreme gaslighting rages when I, at that point, was together, secure and sobre and able to come away in no doubt that it was all about him, and probably unsaveable. I agonised over my kids, and what the impact of him being (or not being) in their lives would be, as well as the impact on the wider family.

    So I’m quite settled now to let “The Silent Treatment” evolve into “No Contact”, with presumably some stroppy and unpleasant interaction to be played out in the future. I see no point in making an effort to explain how I’m feeling, or what my reasons are. He’ll not recognise or take responsibility, and I believe now there’s no chance of him changing to a point where he could.

    I know this was an article about The Silent Treatment, and a strikingly insightful one from my perspective, I am curious whether I might be missing something in using it as the spring board to go No Contact … ?

  6. Eva Armstrong says:

    Ken,
    the point you`ve raised about the silent treatment becoming a springboard to no contact is a very valid point and not one that I`d considered until now. My parents are also incapable of taking any responsibility and either blame me or any one of my relatives for their problems. Still it`s very sad and there are times when I really miss elements of my Mum. It seems to me that narcissists cannot stand anyone having a voice that`s different from theirs. My parents became so controlling that they had started to insist that my husband and I should get the same type of dog as them (it was a lurcher), eat the same food as them, listen to the same music, have identical political views, get the same vehicle, and socialise only with people they deemed we socialise with! Crazy stuff.
    Their lurcher by the way killed my brothers` cat and when confronted with this, they said it was the cats fault and it shouldn`t have been where it was! Therefore taking no responsibility for their dogs behaviour. They offered NO aplogy to either my brother or his wife and quibbled over the vets bill to have the cat put out of its` misery. My father also made it clear that this incident should never be talked about again. In fact it was my brother who told me what had happened not them (denial).
    Anyway as adult children of these monters we all have so many awful stories to tell. Good luck.

  7. Zia says:

    Eva, I can totally relate. It’s so hurtful and sad. This upcoming September will be 3 years since I’ve seen my mother and siblings. I still have really bad days, and I don’t think there’s an easy cure for this. My guess is that it will just take time. It’s beyond me how blood family can turn their backs and never look back. I just keep reminding myself that it’s their loss and not mine, but still…
    Blessings

    • Eva Armstrong says:

      I live in the UK and there doesn`t seem to be any kind of support group for people like me. I think narcissism is a highly acknowleged problem in the USA but not her, as of yet.
      However this website has really helped me. It is all too easy to think that you`re the only person who has been ostracised by their family. So to come across this has been really helpful.
      I would like to have it out with my parents before they get too old and die. However I just don`t think they will ever, ever take responsibility and it would open up old wounds and make me even sadder. Narcissists are a flaming nightmare………..keep running.

      • Ken says:

        Understand that …

        The argument goes round and round in my head, the violence, the threats, the controlling behaviour all the way through my life, and then the refusal to accept any responsibility for anything.

        I wonder if the desire to confront, the idea that expressing your anger will lead somewhere, is just a facet of the manipulation? We both know the probable outcome …. denial, reversal, gaslighting just to make us more frustrated than we were before. Ultimately, all that happened, was we got sucked back in to the crazy whirlwind for another punishment for disloyalty.

        Also in the UK, although I just don’t know groups would be that helpful to me. The concept of “emotional abuse” is only beginning its journey to common understanding here.

        • LJ says:

          This is a post from a woman who blogs about dealing with Narcissists that I find very insightful

          When we unravel the puzzles of our life story, it usually takes a while for each piece to find its place. Sometimes we see the pieces and where they fit, but it takes a while longer for us to be ready to accept the pieces and their places. Then another period of time for us to accept what that means, and the different elements connected to the meaning it has for us.
          It’s not that you haven’t ‘conquered that demon’, you did and have, this is just the next step in the process of self-evolution and healing, and ‘demon conquering’. Each time we ‘conquer a demon’ we get an opportunity to face it again, to see our progress and to see what needs more work on our part. Then we do a bit more conquering, and we get another opportunity to see our progress at work, hands on, and to see how far we’ve come, and maybe the path ahead too. So you’re not ‘stuck’ where you were before, you’ve leveled-up and you’re facing the next stage of the challenge which will lead you to the next level. Things move in a spiral, not a flat circle, even if they seem to just be a flat circle.

          She goes on to say – When a scenario involves other people who have a different criteria for what is right and wrong, then we can get caught in trying to impose our view of right and wrong on them, and they may do the same with us. We usually end up in a stalemate, Usually when I get into a stalemate where I am being hurt by how I think other people should act or be with regards to me, I tend to ask myself if they are doing the same with me – which is often the case. They’re stuck trying to get me to be who they need me to be for them and refuse to accept me as I am, and this hurts them. Then I ask myself, why I am using this person to hurt myself? And – what do I want from them? Can I give it to myself? Am I withholding it from myself and expecting someone else to give it to me? If I don’t give it to myself, why would I expect anyone else to give it to me?

  8. JONESLVE says:

    Silent Treatment is the worst form of abuse. I am experiencing it now with a coworker who i use to date( useful tip never date where you work) Huge lesson learned by the way. But he has found a way to create a FORM of serious control technique by being completely SILENT” Ive never experienced this with anyone Ive ever dated before.. its quite sad to watch. Also, I feel like crap sometimes because we are on the same exact team and could be sitting right in front of each other but he wont acknowledge me or my presence. As if I am a piece of GARBAGE. For all of you experiencing this kind of treatment please remember its not YOU its them. All I do now is just pray for him and pick up my self esteem, my self worth, and realize I know GOD and he wont deceive me or be silent towards me NO MATTER WHAT….

  9. Priscilla says:

    Great read! It’s nice to read the comments and know that I am not alone. My parent’s have Npd they both manipulate, exploit and blame everyone but themselves. At the momment my mother is giving me the silent treatment she has done this my whole life I remember being as young as 5 and woundering “why is mommy not speaking to me at all this week?” I walked on egg shells trying so hard to get their love My mom gave me the silent treatment for 3 months after I bought my wedding dress because she was mad that my mother in law was invited she refused to go wedding dress shopping and ingnored me for that whole time and now I am 30 dealing with the same crap! My poor husband has had the same abuse from them too. We have put our foot down with lots of boundries but we are at the point were No contact is sounding great especially for our little girl’sake. I feel like I have spend to many days tolerating my parent’s abuse the tuff thing though is that my parent’s are CRAZY so if I do no contact I am really afraid of the huge tantrum they will have it could be to the point that I have to call law enforcement.

  10. Samantha says:

    Well I can relate to so much too. It’s comforting to know it’s not just happening to me but at the same time rather scary too that there’s so many people suffering because of Narcassism.

    It’s a good way to feel better reading about it. As being the victim you go backwards and forwards with feeling low and questioning yourself as to why it is the way it is.

    Thank you and good luck to you all. Not seeing these people is the only way to be free. It’s hard to get them out of your head from the years of torment but I feel free without my parents and sister in my life. They are poison.

    Sam

  11. Eva Armstrong says:

    Good luck people,
    it`s a huge tragedy to learn that the people you thought you could always rely on, turn out to be narcissists. I really loved my parents so, so much and there are times when I am absolutely heartbroken by their emotional abuse of silence treatment. I am going to write my mother a letter nearer her birthday, telling her that I forgive her for her abuse and that I understand the deep wounds she had when she was a child. I shall probably get a shed load of more abuse blaming me yet again for all the familys problems………….for the record I used to be the golden girl until I found my voice (which they hated), I was never rude, just simply spoke the truth and stuck up for myself, but ultimately I was going against the family law ie, it`s our way or the highway. They are like some horrible cult, alien species who I have no connection with anymore. I don`t understand their jealousy, their rages, their lack of empathy, their complete inability to see anyone elses views or opinions. My parents have dumped so many people it`s ridiculous……….however I still feel sorry for them, their lives must be hell. I mean what a way to live………never wanting to make things better or compromise……..dreadful. I switch between deep anger and deep sadness and I am forever asking myself, why me?

  12. boaterman says:

    Yeah my mother gave me the silent treatment for 5 years straight. She would return gifts and letters unopened, never answer the phone or respond is any way. Since I lived across the country, I had no way to contact her. After I while, I had to learn to live without her, and moved on with my life.

    When she decided to reinitiate contact, her first questions was “Why haven’t you called me?”

  13. San says:

    Wow, describes my 27 year marriage! I have a question…if they give you the silent treatment is that confirmation that you are correct? My husband would go out to dinner with woman alone on business trips or site seeing and whenever I’d question him I got the silent treatment and told I was impugning his honor. When I’d find things on his computer that looked like he’d bee to a porn site, the same thing. He not only would ignore me but make sure I knew how much he loved everyone else in the room. He told me for all those years that I disrespected him because I questioned him.

  14. emily says:

    Wow it’s so nice to find this and know I’m not the only one! I grew up with it like many of you and once I left home after coming of age and seeing what it is like to be around normal people I found my voice which none of them liked. If you don’t agree with any of them even on the tiniest issues there is hell to pay. Their silent treatment is what eventally set me me free because I used it as my excuse to make it no contact. I think that shocked them, in some sick way I think they thought I depended them and would grovel at their feet.
    My life as a single person was great, I had a huge group of friend’s, did well at work etc. but sadly when it comes to relationships I seem to be drawn to NPD like a moth to a flame. I am currently married to a NPD and am going through a bout of silent treatment at the moment because I got up from the table to feed our 14 month old who was whining because he was watching us eat (my husband has banned him from the table because he wants to eat in peace). He said I disrespected him and that he wanted to teach our son that he isn’t welcome at the table anymore because he wouldn’t eat his dinner two nights prior (he’s 14 months not 14 years!).
    I had a flat tire this evening which resulted in forced verbal communications with him. I was shocked that he responded and tried so hard to be as non-confortntational as possible. It led to an hour of basicly being told what an ungrateful witch I am and how so many women would love to have a man like him & how I don’t satisfy him sexually, or enjoy him fondeling me in public (I hate that, it makes me feel like property). I just sat there and took it, I know there is no point in arguing because he will always win and it will make me feel worse. It will not end I know until I apologise, admit that I have mental problems and promise to do better.
    I don’t want a divorce (at least while I have an underage child because he is so manipulative and charming I am sure to lose custody and be made out to be the bad guy) but I do want to find a way to improve my situation and make it more bearable for me and my child. I guess I was so damaged growing up that I ended up picking out someone just like my parent’s and sisters, how sad. I thought I was smart enough to avoid a NPD I guess not, I should have stayed single.

    • Brit says:

      The problem with this guy too, is that he must think everybody thinks the way he does or is doormat. Ha, Ha, I’m in my late 20s and I have never wanted a relationship. I don’t need it. I’ve never gone after it and I’ve never really responded to those who did try it. And I’m fairly attractive. I’m more introverted, but that doesn’t mean shy. It mean mentally preoccupied with other things. Like an Artist. I don’t miss it. I mean I don’t need people. Somebody like that has only met one type of person around him. He ain’t never been other types. He’d be at a loss if he did. He wouldn’t know what to think. I talk about big topics, like astro-theology, secret world societies, history. Things like that, people like your describing are not very centered mentally or emotionally. In all complete seriousness it’s better to be by yourself in life than have someone you don’t like around. Unless your bizarrely afraid of your own company. And you can have friends. People are like street cars, the ocean is full of them. And there all about as interesting as street cars, their a bunch of junk heads.

  15. AngryDaughter/Sibling says:

    Who are these people? Aren’t our parents supposed to lift us up and not make us feel guilty for our actions/choices, feelings? Everything is great with my mom until I don’t act “right” according to her. Silent Mode. I ask her mommy, please don’t go into these silent modes, talk to me, let me know what’s up. She’s mad about stupid things, like if someone’s an asshole to me, and I tell them they’re a shithead and not to mess with me, she holds it against me forever! Like I have to beg for my mom’s forgiveness for being myself!!! Dad, can’t consistently be nice for more than 3 days. Always glaring, belittling, talking shit. So I am totally over this asshole. Silent treatment isn’t for him, it’s more I’ve cut him out, though I live with him. This has been constant with these two my entire life. My sister?? Narcissistic fuckhead who always talks down to me, snaps at me. She snaps at my mom and other people, yet they ignore it because she’s the golden bitch. I mean why respect those who constantly disrespect you! I have so much anger and want to grieve and heal. It’s so cruel. They are emotionally unstable therefore I cannot seek my validation and love through people who never take accountability and make me their scapegoat. It hurts to my core, but I’m sick of trying to make things right with us, when they are constantly fucking with me. 32yrs with these people. My mom tried to work on herself, but really go right back, because they don’t care.

    • AngryDaughter/Sibling says:

      Continuation: My dad comes home drunk, my mom gets angry, but talks to him like everything is ok the next few minutes later. With me? Grudge Central. There is no love, and I told her it makes me feel bad when she ignores me. She says give her time. How much time? Last time 21 days? Fuck that, I am not waiting around for her to love me anymore. She later will say, don’t ever question my love for you, I always love you. Yea mom, I definitely feel it!

      • Eva Armstrong says:

        You sound like I sounded a couple of years ago. Narcissists are very good at upping the silence treatment to reflect their displeasure in you. My parents initially dished out a couple of weeks here and a couple of weeks there (designed to bring me back into line). When I still didn`t conform they tried months and now they haven`t spoken to me for 18 months, we`re heading for years. I know it hurts, I know you`re heart is breaking, I know you miss elements of your family. But believe me the only way to deal with these people is to get out of their game. Love is unconditional. Narcissists DO NOT give unconditional love…………The best and only advice I can give you is to be strong, be your own person, be proud of who you are becoming and don`t let the bastards manipulate you and bully you. You are grieving for what you don`t have, just like I am grieving for what I don`t have. Personally I know I will never go back to my family of origin. I have walked too far along the road to freedom and to go back to them would have huge repercussions on the progress I`ve made. Anyone who has suffered at the hands of a narcissist will get good days and bad days, abuse is abuse whether it be physical or emotional (narcissistic).
        One way I found really helpful in healing, was reading masses on the subject and talking or writing it down.
        You are like a butterfly breaking out of it`s chrysalis……fly free and believe in yourself.

        • AngryDaughter/Sibling says:

          Wow, thank you, you are so positive and glad you broke away from their game. I grieve for what I don’t have too. At times they reinforce the dream you have of them, when they are nice, and it’s hard to break away. My mom promised me she’d start communicating and stop the silent treatment; apparently that is her way of dealing with anger. I told her one of us could die the next day and we have wasted time not communicating and working through things. I will give her a chance as it came from her mouth she will try her best. She admitted she never grew up communicating her feelings. As far as my sister goes, I wouldn’t even let her borrow my used toilet paper. She will forever be an ungrateful, self entitled brat. I do not wish to be dragged into her misery, however, it’s harder now that I am an auntie to her 2 sons. Time with them is blissful, however my sister is a bitch to me, even in front of them and then wonders why I respond negatively. I try not to in front of them, however my sister is always bitchy. I learned from my therapist, we need to have small doses of these people. It sucks that they are so self absorbed, but really glad you were able to make a break. It’s hard to know who you are without the family dynamic, but I guess that part of finding yourself and having faith. I wish you the best as well. :-)

          • Karen says:

            Wow, it’s amazing to me that so many of us have had this experience. I worshipped my mother as a child, but the minute she was displeased, she would not only give me the silent treatment, but shut herself in her bedroom and lock me out for hours or days. I would beg and plead for forgiveness and slip notes under the door until she finally would come out like a cold and haughty monarch and do me the favor of just barely acknowledging my presence. She had to be the center of everything at all times, and she worked hard to make sure that my sisters and I did not have a relationship with each other (she talked bad about all of us behind our backs) or my father, who was the clueless enabler who pretty much tuned us all out. To outsiders she was just the sweetest person in the world.

            My mom has passed away and my oldest sister has seized control. She is an extremely sick product of years and years of being the target of the bulk of my mother’s disdain. She has to be in control of everything or she unleashes a horrible fury. My father now enables her the same way he did my mom. In our family, she is the leader of the crazy cult and she rules with intimidation and manipulation.

            I was the peacemaker and people pleaser for most of my life. I compare it to being the manager of a crazy high maintenance rock band. If they wanted all the brown M&Ms removed from the bowl, I was the one who picked them out to make everyone happy. They all fought like cats and dogs and I got along with all of them because I completely catered to whatever they wanted. I was ten years younger than my two sisters, so it was like having three nutty mothers and a clueless and sometimes mean father. I was outwardly “perfect” but inwardly deeply depressed and developed eating disorders. When I finally found my voice/started to get healthy and began to assert myself, everyone got angry with me and turned on me. They are so sick and toxic that I detest being around them. Thankfully I narrowly escaped marriage to a narcissist and married a very loving and wonderful man. I have two beautiful children that I am raising to be each other’s best friends and supporters (I know it may not happen, but I am trying). I also have wonderful friendships. Even having all of this, the pain of estrangement from my extended family is so difficult around the holidays (when everyone is getting together with family) that I struggle with deep depression from October through January. One of you said I am grieving what I have never had. This is so true! I want to let go of the pain and just enjoy my own family, and I try so hard, but I am so full of sorrow that we have no extended family to rely on. My husband’s family has major issues too, and they are scattered all across the country. I still have contact with one sister and my dad, and every interaction is phony and painful, but I can’t bring myself to completely cut myself off. It’s interesting how pathetic this sounds when I write it down.

  16. Eva Armstrong says:

    Dear Karen,
    Don`t put yourself down, your situation sounds so far from pathetic. Give yourself some credit in fact do more than that give yourself some love and a huge pat on the back for the traumas you have faced during your life. You are clearly a very strong person and none of what has happened is your fault. Do not allow yourself to carry the burden of your families toxicity, mentally throw it back to them and try and move on.
    I so understand how hard it is to put the past behind you, but use your knowledge to empower yourself and continue to grow. You will feel better it just takes time. When I first worked out that my family were abnormal and dysfunctional it was a huge shock and it left me reeling for a very long time. I have worked hard to get to where I am now, which is in a very good place. I no longer need them and life is full of positive energy and happiness. I can drive to where they live now and where I grew up and feel nothing………..I don`t know if that`s a good thing or not, but I don`t feel as though I`m grieving anymore………Concentrate on your fabulous family and work on being you. Listen to your inner voice, your intuition will tell you how to move forward. Keep strong, I`m rooting for you.

  17. ihatenarcs says:

    my crazy evil narcissistic mother is using this on me now suddenly…its difficult to deal with…it has been over a month and she is pretending shes the victim when shes the devil…its starting to break me down..we live apart of course but still…I live in a place my parents own and need to talk to her about certain things..how disgusting that she wont take my calls or talk to me at all yet sat around saying to people how much she loved me and how WORRIED she was about me 24/7…im in my 30’s! and no one thought this was strange…she held her ‘phone’ next to her all the time waiting for my call…in case I needed to talk to her…like im a confused teenager…now if she cant torment me or I fight back…now she has resorted to the silent treatment…it shows how vicious evil and cruel these monsters are….now when I think about it it starts to affect me…ie whereas SHE is affecting my life not even being in it!! but the silent treatment is a very cruel form of abuse and as this psychopathic monster creature is losing control in her own pathetic twisted life….she wants more control over me or my emotions…shes in her 60’s now and a worthless degenerate…shes also going to go visit my sisters baby when she has it and I fear for that child…she is a sociopath who is out of control and capable ofanything…im writing this too as a warning in case something does happen….look to HER for anything because she is not going to get old and just let things happen. in 10 years she has NEVER visited my sister where she lived…yet now shes going after she has the baby?? no I don’t think its to help her out…

  18. melissa says:

    saying to people how much she loved me and how WORRIED she was about me 24/7…im in my 30’s! and no one thought this was strange…she held her ‘phone’ next to her all the time waiting for my call…in case I needed to talk to her…like im a confused teenager…now if she cant torment me or I fight back…now she has resorted to the silent treatment…it shows how vicious evil and cruel these monsters are….now when I think about it it starts to affect me…ie whereas SHE is affecting my life not even being in it!! but the silent treatment is a very cruel form of abuse and as this psychopathic monster creature is losing control in her own pathetic twisted life….she wants more control over me or my emotions…shes in her 60’s now and a worthless degenerate…shes also going to go visit my sisters baby when she has it and I fear for that child…she is a sociopath who is out of control and capable ofanything…im writing this too as a warning in case something does happen….look to HER for anything because she is not going to get old and just let things happen. in 10 years she has NEVER visited my sister where she lived…yet now shes going after she has the baby?? no I don’t think its to help her out…

  19. Bjørk says:

    Hi

    For almost 14 days my mothers had given me the silent treatment. I have known for some yrs that there was something wrong, but just couldn’t figure out what is was. But now I know she is a narcissist – whit this new knowledge I can see a lot of stuff clear now. My main problem is – my mom has the power over my 24 yr old daughter, so I can’t tell her. My mom has told my daughter a lot of bad stuff about me. And I can se in my daughters eyes how she don’t like me :-(thank you for your information on this great site :-)

  20. John Dizzle says:

    I think sometimes this may be correct. But I have to disagree on this being the case all the time. If you;re dealing with someone who repeatedly mistreats you even when you repeatedly express your displeasure….sometimes its time to just leave. Nothing left to talk about. For example, if a friend of mine gets abused repeatedly by their significant other and they chose to simply cut them off….how are they being narcissistic? Sometimes people need to see the consequences of their actions.

  21. Eva says:

    Hi John,
    with reference to your comment. Can I just say that my parents have mistreated me for years and part of that control was to cut me out of their lives for initially weeks and then months on end. The terrible deed that I committed was that I disagreed with some of their crazy actions and the way in which they spoke and treated me. The last time it happened was about 18 months ago and maybe I have used reverse pyschology on them for a change this time. Put it like this I certaintly having gone running back apologising to keep them happy (like I`ve done all my life). I`ve quite frankly and simply just given up. I`ve had enough of being treated so disrespectfully by them. It`s important to point though, that narcissists have a pattern of behaviour and I guess that is what this article is about. If someone has had enough of bad treatment and they say bye bye then that`s their perogative. But when the same person keeps on mistreating others in the same way then that`s a sure sign of a narcissistic personality disorder. My parents have abused every one of their relatives in the same way they have abused me. That`s the kind of pattern that is mental illness……..and that`s what has helped me as I now know that I`m not the only one to have been given the silent treatment. It`s fascinating stuff and it`s taken along time to learn about who I am, but I`m here and although abit battered and sad at times. I`m so glad I`ve moved on with my life.

  22. Question says:

    How would we differentiate going no or low contact from giving the silent treatment? I am afraid I might have some narc fleas from my narcissistic mother and sibling. After a traumatic event, I’ve realized I suffered and continue to suffer mentally and physically from my relationship with these two people and have tried to limit contact. How do I know if I am just as bad a narcissist as them? I know my mother is pained from our lack of a relationship, but I feel healthier and free from negativity being away. I don’t know how to even get them to understand the pain I’ve experienced from them. And how do I know whether I am just placing the blame elsewhere?

  23. Christy says:

    I feel for everyone here! I grew up with a manipulative rager on one side and the aloof dealer of the silent treatment on the other. I was the child between them. It wasn’t easy becoming whole, but I am no longer tormented by the scars from my parents behaviors. The one lives in another state and has been silent now for 10 years-whew I am so glad to be grown! Funny enough, I suffered an injury while on the job which cost me everything, and I now live with the other. This parent is still as sick as ever, and I deal with all sorts of irrationality every day, but it no longer hurts me because I see it for what it is, and know my own self worth, as well as what is logical and appropriate on an emotional level. I have one very miserable and frustrated old narcissist on my hands, but I have no fear of tantrums! 911 is on speed dial, and my main mission now that my parent is old is to keep self harm from being inflicted, for truly that is all that there is left. Light and Joy be with you all!

  24. Eva Armstrong says:

    It is still so sad though isn`t it. To be the child of a family who cannot communicate, admit when they get it wrong, have the ability to apologise and have no empathy. It really is so sad and I wish that it would transpire that I`m not their daughter and actually there is a fabulous, loving family waiting around the corner to love me back. I wish I hadn`t been born into my family of origin, I just wish I had normal folks who really cared about our non-existent relationship…………I feel very sad today and would give anything for a loving, caring Mother.

  25. evilshellythenarc says:

    the silent treatment is an evil disgusting way of yes controlling someone. the victim isnt’ vulnerable..theyre just normal…its normal to want to talk to someone who is not talking to you suddenly. but to a predator or sociopath they see it as a power play…they are sick weak people..pathetic lowly people who seek to treat someone this way. the victim should feel empowered for not being as low as this disgusting predator who has NO power NO control but is really just a leech and sociopath…
    my evil evil twisted mother is giving me the silent treatment..it bothered me badly at first..2 months now..but whats affecting me is the energetic link–if they have been taking your power antyway and then give u the silent treatment..they will be stealing your energy and leeching you…it is torture…that is what is making me suffer the most..the energetic torture involved… my evil mother is doing this hoping I think that it hurts or kills me. she is just that bad…it is slowly killing me I think b/c of the energy involved…this woman is so evil and I hope that she is the one who somehow falls off a cliff…those who give the silent treatment..are weak pathetic lowly people…they are the cowards sheep…their victims are strong powerful people…who are way above these lowly disgusting pathetic torturing sociopaths….

  26. Cindy Aldridge says:

    Help me please. I moved out of the family home with my handicapped daughter 14 months ago.. After telling my husband that I want a divorce, he told me it was more important that he live in the home because people in the neighborhood need him more because he is the president of the homeowners association.
    During that time my husband attacked me in front of my daughter and she begged me to call the police. Now all he wants is revenge, even more than before. My daughter and I are being evicted from our apartment and we will be going to a homeless shelter. My husband told my family and friend that he gave me the money to pay my rent but I spent it on gambling. He is a lier. He has never given my money. He controls my money and he decides which bills to pay. This has completely destroyed my credit, my family believes him, and I am at the end of my rope.

    • Eva Armstrong says:

      Hi Cindy,
      I`m not sure if this is the right site for you. These blogs are about people who have to deal with being ostrasised by someone close to them. I think you may need to find a site that deals with domestic abuse. Good luck.

  27. Stronger Now says:

    I have a mother who was a terror when I was a child. She was incredibly punishing. I was her scapegoat.
    Then through most of my twenties she gave me the silent treatment to the point where, for all intents and purposes, I had no mother at all. She was hypercritical of me, emotionally abusive, deemed me to be a hopeless loser who would never amount to anything (I think this is how she felt justified in rejecting me). I accepted that I didn’t have a mother and moved on.
    In my thirties I became quite successful in a career that I loved and put me in the public eye a lot. Then she wanted me back — said she had changed, she was sorry, blah, blah, blah. I had my doubts and tried to keep my distance. She was very meddling and wanted me to disclose everything, saying she wanted to know me (as though she never really had before — which she hadn’t: all those years of the silent treatment means you don’t know me, Mom). I wouldn’t tell her everything because of what I remembered in childhood and for my entire twenties. I knew how cruel she could be. But against my better judgement, slowly began opening up to her, so that by my mid-forties I told her what she wanted to know (but still reserved spaces in my head where I wouldn’t let her in: spiritual experiences, intimacies with others, various quests — she could still be very disapproving and discount things).
    In my fifties, she surprised me by being non-judgemental about a spiritual experience I had. So, we became very close, or at least I thought so. Looking back on it, I shared a lot of myself with her, but she never did with me.
    In my late fifties, I came on hard times: lots of sicknesses, deaths, tragedies, financial hardships … she pulled away from me and got very critical again, very “blaming”. I was shocked. I thought: “At the worst time in my life you pull this?” So every time she brought up one of “the tragedies”, I would change the subject. This infuriated her. She kept telling me I could trust her. So, I finally gave in and sent her a well thought out letter. It was a long letter having to do with everything but her, but there was one sentence in the letter where I mentioned a childhood experience that involved her. To her this was the crime of the century and her response was that I “had to be punished.” In my late fifties with grown children?
    She is in her eighties now — and she’s giving me (and my whole family!) the silent treatment again. It’s been close to a year now.

  28. Eva Armstrong says:

    It`s a funny old thing this narcissism game. Has anyone else found that the longer they cut you out for the less you actually need them and the stronger you become………I`ve got to the point now with my parents and siblings whereby I don`t think about them anywhere as much as I used to……It`s true what they say that “Time is a great healer”. I`m so mentally far away from my family of origin now that I don`t even know what I`d say to any of them. I don`t think that we would have anything in common. Thankfully I`m very, very different to them The Horvaths. I can`t think why I didn`t see the light sooner.

    • Ken says:

      I’m looking forward to getting there, after 6 months of his silent treatment. I just decided to take the easy route and slide it to full and permanent NC after raging at myself for 3 weeks about the way he had behaved.
      It’s getting easier, more in focus, I’m constantly “re-remembering” the horrors of a dysfunctional and tortured childhood and putting them in context and putting them away.
      Sometimes my mind wanders to thinking how much better it would be if all this went away and we could be one big happy family again … except then I remember we never, ever were.
      Trying hard to make a better life with my wife and children. Whilst I’m damaged, stressed and have little frame of reference for normal parenting, at least I am not wasting time and energy on their insane dance any more. I’m not there yet, but I do know I’m handling life’s challenges better now.
      Your little post was an inspiration, thank you.

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