I am trying to better understand why my Dad who has narcissism, attempted suicide 1 month ago. According to certain studies found below and sourced from this website & writer, I have been able to put the pieces together..This is not my own writing but it perfectly matches my Dad’s suicide attempt & situation.
by E Ronningstam – 2008
”Pathological narcissism, that is, a personality structure that unreliably protects self–esteem and internal control, has been connected to suicide (Apter, Bleich, et al.,1993; Arie, Haruvi–Catalan, & Apter, 2005;King & Apter, 1997).
People with such functioning can balance suicide–related self–esteem-preserving grandiose ideas, on the one hand, and the actual suicidal behavior and its real self–destructive or lethal consequences on the other (Ronningstam & Maltsberger,1998). Intolerable affects, aroused by self–esteem-threatening life events such as loss of vital support, aspirations, and perfectionist ideals, can be denied and split off (Kernberg,1992; Krystal, 1998; Schore 1994).In such cases, suicide may preserve a sense of internal mastery and control, or it may shield against anticipated narcissistic threats and injuries, as the motto “death before dishonor” implies (Ronningstam & Maltsberger, 1998). Suicide-related aspects of morbid self–esteem regulation make narcissistic individuals reluctant (or even unable) to convey their suicidal intent to a clinician.
Furthermore, impulsivity, especially impulsive aggression, has been linked to suicide in personality disorders (Conner, Duberstein, et al., 2001; Horesh, Rolnick, etal., 1997; Kernberg, 2001).
Narcissistic rage and shame–based aggression can lead to suicide if turned against the self (Kohut, 1972; Baumeister, 1990). More recent studies suggest that impaired ability for self–disclosure may be associated with suicide (Apter, Horesh, et al., 2001). Reluctance or inability to share feelings and thoughts with others can force loneliness and isolation.
Such a deficit was considered a mediating risk factor for suicidal behavior when other risk factors such as hopelessness were present.
A history of significant maladjustment (Ernst,Lalovic, et al., 2004) and significant narcissistic vulnerability without Axis I pathology (Apter Bleich,et al., 1993) have been reported in people who commit suicide.
Axis II disorders may suddenly appear under stressful circumstances that cause narcissistic injury.”
”Narcissistic patients tend to manage emotional crises by denying, isolating, or splitting off intolerable feelings, while maintaining grandiose fantasies of superiority and in vulnerability (Kernberg, 1992;Krystal, 1998; Schore, 1994).”
Anger turned against self with revengeful intent – Freud (1917)
”The idea of destroying the other by destroying the self is an effort to take control but can also have a retaliatory intent. Several studies have shown that revenge can drive suicide (Baechler, 1975; Bancroft,1979; Bancroft, Skrimshire, & Simkin, 1976; Birtchnell & Alarcon, 1971; Boerges, Spirito, &Donaldson, 1998; Hawton, Cole,et al., 1982; Williams, 1986;). This suggests that suicide communicates anger and aims to punish. In addition, Kernberg (1984) described suicide associated with malignant narcissism as a vehicle of omnipotent wishes for sadistic control.
There is a suggestion at how effective suicide can be for ‘getting even’ against a partner who is filing for divorce. To prevent the divorce from happening, the narcissistic partner will commit suicide to gain control, while also leaving many more problems with the widowed partner.”
”Inability to tolerate emotional states is a source of narcissistic threat, in as much as it challenges both one’s sense of omnipotence and internal control. Trumbull (2003) suggested shame to be an acute stress response to interpersonal traumatization. As such, shame can mobilize depressive paralysis, narcissistic rage, and self–hurtful intent.
Envy may lead to shame as it implies inferiority of the subject and superiority of the object of envy”.
In the case of my Dad, ”he was flooded with threatening and intolerable feelings as he faced vanishing hope of reconciliation with his wife.
In addition, some of his shame–based aggression was triggered by loss of pride, value, and status. Humiliation and loss of pride and control left him powerless to repair his broken narcissism, and suicide was a way to reassert his pride and reclaim control”.
”His suicide can be seen as stopping the divorce process and seizing control over it”:
‘It is not you, who is filing for divorce, but me, through suicide’.
Loss of self–object
”Maltsberger (1986) suggested that losing exterior self–sustaining resources can precipitate suicidal crises in those who depend on them to keep self–esteem in balance.
Such losses precipitate three affects:
murderous rage, aloneness, and worthlessness. Combined they give rise to intolerable anguish”.
My Dad’s ideal self–state is ”closely tied to business success and his family. The gap between his ideal self–state and the contrasting unfolding development of his life forced him into powerlessness and worthlessness, driving him towards a state of giving up. Eventually he decided to attempt ending his life to avoid the experience of failure and defeat—he could not stand giving up.’‘
I am currently setting boundaries with my Dad after having transferred money from our shared account, into my separate account to protect him from making impulsive money decisions.I have said that I don’t trust his judgement right now, as I can clearly see he is ‘still’ functioning from a state of panic, due to his wife threatening to leave him. This is what happened before his suicide attempt.
He thinks that if he buys a piece of land now and starts building a house for his wife & son, that this will salvage their marriage & his wife won’t leave him. The current house they all live in was built by my father before his marriage to his wife. It is in his name only. I advised him to stop his financial control & just put half that house in his wife’s name, so there is equality in their relationship on some level. However, he wouldn’t do it and she also doesn’t want that house. She wants a new house built from scratch (she is also a narcissist). She demanded this before the suicide attempt and seems to be demanding this now, even though my Dad is still in no ‘logical place’ to be making such big decisions (especially when his savings are running out and he still has a 9 year old to put through school).
I advised him that it would be more sensible to sell the house he lives in now, and then with that money to buy a piece of land to build property. He can’t sell his house right now though, as the government aren’t issuing him his tax return for certain mistakes he made in the past. (Doesn’t make me feel very comfortable!!)
He is now guilt-tripping me saying that I took advantage of him after his suicide attempt, and took his money without asking him. That he didn’t expect ‘ME’ of all people to do this to him and that he wants his money back. He said that I stabbed him in the back, by taking his money.
Yes I took his money without asking him, however right after his attempt when he was still in ICU he was asking me to cancel all his cards as he thought his wife would steal all his money. I then decided to take the money from our joint account, firstly to protect him and secondly to protect myself from any possible debt he might have or will end up creating from his impulsiveness.
I will not touch that money. It currently is safe where it is. That’s how I see it. After his suicide attempt & his vulnerable situation, I believe that I have every right to manage ‘our’ shared bank account. After all, he added my name to this bank account just in case something happened. Well, in my eyes…Something did happen..and whether he died or not doesn’t make a difference, as he is still unstable and acting on impulse & panic.
Am I doing the right thing? I think so..Do I feel guilty? Yes I do, especially as my Dad has been great at guilt-tripping me all my life, so it’s so deeply ingrained inside me..
Am I worried that keeping this money from him will push him over the edge again? Yes, I am terrified.
However what pushed him over the edge in the first place, was his wrong choice of partner, his excessive spending, his excessive cheating & aggressive behaviour, his sense of entitlement and his general narcissistic self destructiveness.
I am done trying to pick up the pieces of his immaturity & impulsiveness! Yes he was a good Dad at times and has even secured a house in my name & his..Yes he keeps saying he loves me more than anything in the world.
However, this still doesn’t change the fact that his behaviour has to stop affecting those around him. He abandoned his whole family by attempting suicide..and why? because he doesn’t have the same wealth he used to and because his wife finally had enough of the cheating & lying..
Is it wrong that my empathy towards him has run out? It hurts like hell seeing your father in such a ‘sorry state’ but I am suffering greatly from all of this and I now have a family of my own to think about too, let alone MYSELF!
For those of you who might have read this, thank you. It is my way of getting my awful feelings of ptsd out of my mind!
If you think I am wrong in protecting my father & myself, please feel free to tell me…
If you think that by reading so much about narcissistic behaviour, I am analysing things too much, then please also tell me..It’s my way of understanding, having empathy and knowing I am doing the right thing..
Take care friends. Hugs!