Are they unaware or cognizant of their abusive behavior?

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Love

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Are they unaware or cognizant of their abusive behavior?
« on: January 12, 2020, 12:45:41 AM »
During the holiday time my inlaws and their flying monkey amp up behavior a bit, we do expect it.  I like to say it is still shocking that people choose to act and behave in the abusive manner that my and all of your inlaws do but it’s not surprising anymore - if that makes sense. 
We have been NC for the better part of six years now.  I am less mad and more sad and a bit frustrated with the inlaws than when we first started coming Out of the FOG.  I’ve read a ton, researched a ton and gone to therapy, all of which have really helped.
One thing and perhaps their is no answer, that I always go back and forth about is do covert pd’s know what they are doing- being abusive, crazy making, mean as heck? 
I shouldn’t have but after a couple text and voicemails from mil and fm grandmother I snooped on social media.  I regret it and will try very hard not to do it again because it just angers and frustrates me.  It was stupid.  Anyway my mil posted a victim playing quote.  About how not to be like the people who hurt you. 
It’s stupid that it upset me, but it did.  Does she really believe we woke up one day and decided today would be a great day to hate mil.  Something she always says even if she’s been told a million times what led to our decision to protect ourselves, our family, and needed time to heel.
Mil always wants a list of what she’s done wrong.  In the beginning of all this I would say Dh May have told her a billion different ways a trillion different times and then we realized with this site and they help of others that it want healthy to repeat or tell mil Anymore, not for dh and not for his foo or for mil and fil.

They claims misery and we’ve ruined their lives.  But.... no changes no remorse no anything.  This is all perfectly good for us for the most part. Sad for them but healthier for us.

What do you guys think, do they know, do they not know?  I’d love to here everyone’s thoughts on this if your willing:). I just wonder why don’t they just change if they know?  Thanks for reading.


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Poison Ivy

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Re: Are they unaware or cognizant of their abusive behavior?
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2020, 01:29:14 AM »
My former father-in-law (I and his son were divorced a few years ago) died in October.  I think that ex-FIL had a personality disorder.  I wasn't the only person that he bullied but I think I was targeted more persistently than many other folks were.  I think that ex-FIL knew that he wasn't being nice when he bullied me, but there were things more important to him than being nice.  There are many mean, cruel people in the world.

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all4peace

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Re: Are they unaware or cognizant of their abusive behavior?
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2020, 10:27:21 AM »
I dont think this is an answerable question,  but I understand how confusing and frustrating it is to be faced with this type of behavior and total invalidation of your point of view.

I would ask you, how would it change your life and your course of action if they DID understand their behavior and its impact?

Would it change your course of action if you 100% knew they DIDN'T understand their behavior and its impact?

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candy

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Re: Are they unaware or cognizant of their abusive behavior?
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2020, 12:26:19 PM »
all4peace surely has a point. We just cannot know for sure what is in someone‘s head.
If I knew for sure they DID understand their behavior and its impact, I would feel validated in my choices and possibly never look back. But if they DIDN‘T understand, that would not change my course of action either. The second guessing about whether DH and I were firm enough of our boundaries or if we could have somehow helped them understand would stay in my life with the latter.

Anyway, as I have seen my IL‘s, NPDMIL and uNPDFIL, be very friendly with other people, like GCBIL’s extended family, I conclude they are capable of mean and manipulative behavior on the one hand and friendly, socially acceptable behavior on the other hand. There has to be some choice making going on.

I have also witnessed uNFIL ignoring me at a wedding celebration until the point we were both standing next to a former associate of him. This associate has a status and reputation uNFIL admires and would like to achieve himself, so he cares about what this person thinks of him. When DH and I were just saying goodbye to the group we were standing with, FIL suddenly walked up two steps towards me and gave me a hug  :aaauuugh:
I was so very surprised as I had been given the silent treatment for about 1.5 years until then, I couldn’t even react or refuse his hug quickly enough. We are since back to ST  :blink:

My point is uNFIL obviously cared for the associate‘s opinion of him. Consequently he chose to interact in a manner to me that told outsiders we must have had a close relationship. This was a deliberate action.

I do believe that the inner world PDs live in is a hostile place. And I came to believe they perceive their outer world as hostile too. IMO it is sad to be firmly convicted that the world one lives in may only be handled if one manipulates, controlls and is abusive towards others. Like you said: sad for them. I would not like to be part of a world like this.

For instance, when we were still in contact my NPDMIL accused me of hurting her feelings at an occasion which left me incredulously shaking my head:
A family get together at our home. Everyone was hungry and waiting for dinner to start. So DH and I announced we would start within minutes. As we were celebrating an achievement of DH, we wanted to start with a toast.
I had to change baby DD‘s diaper first. MIL asked if she could join. She would just wash her hands first on the grounds of hygienic considerations. Yes, I was fine with it.
Then I stood there waiting for MIL who didn’t come back from the bathroom. Meanwhile DD who was only weeks old at the time added some poo to her already wet nappy. After waiting 5 minutes for MIL, and having everyone else sitting at our table waiting for us, I decided to change the diaper on my own.

Some more minutes later MIL arrived from the bathroom to find me on my way back to our guests with DD wearing a fresh diaper in my arms. MIL started yelling that I did this on purpose, that I promised to wait for her and broke that promise with only one goal: to hurt her feelings.
I explained that I didn’t, wasn’t willing to let my newborn sit in a dirty diaper and guests were waiting.
MIL went on how mean and scheming I was for depriving her of her only grandchild until DH stopped her accusations.

Everyone could hear her, no one from the IL family said a word. Friends of DH later asked me what terrible thing had happened that made my MIL shout at me like this. Well, this had been about a dirty nappy  :stars:

I still find it confusing how she could seriously believe that a young mother would even think about anything else than her baby in that situation.
The PD world is self-centered, I think. You did them wrong, you must have done it on purpose - you deserve to be punished, you deserve to be abused.
To sum up: as for NPDs, yes, I think they do know. They just don’t care about others’ feelings getting hurt. And they don’t change bc they think they are right and others are wrong.

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Bloomie

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Re: Are they unaware or cognizant of their abusive behavior?
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2020, 02:00:45 PM »
Love - there is something compelling about this question, isn't there? As others have wondered, it might not make a difference really in how we respond in the end because we are here learning to respond to toxic behaviors and set boundaries and limits accordingly. Which is exactly what you and your DH are doing and bravo to you for holding a line that protects you and your FOC.

But for me anyway, on a moral and spiritual level it does matter to consider this as part of my understanding and coming to terms with the level of malevolence I have experienced at the hands of PD in laws. So, I really get where this question might be coming from.

If my family members who have caused so much pain and suffering are not sociopathic, which most experts believe are people without conscience, and they do not seem to be sociopathic, then what do I do with the reality that they can choose crushingly unkind behaviors and words, consistently over time, without any indication they have the slightest twinge of remorse, regrets, or insights around their behaviors?

I wrestle with the question of what to do with having witnessed in my in laws what seems to be some kind of a targeted social and spiritual conscience and an awareness of how to maintain a certain level of propriety in targeted relationships and certain communities of people, versus private behaviors toward intimate family members that are harshly critical, cruel, rejecting, immoral, and unjust?

How I have made some sense of this, or at least am beginning to, is from my observation that my harmful in laws are people who are self willed and self seeking and will have their way and put their needs first. Even if it means by harmful acts against others.  And then they will refuse to acknowledge their harmful act and do anything - lie, slander, verbally abuse, emotionally cut off, publicly humiliate, gaslight and project their intent on others, and the like - do anything to resist the intolerable pain of introspection and maintain the status quo. 

And we come along into a family system that often accommodates and rugsweeps and I,  at least, unwittingly trigger with boundaries and limits on unacceptable and toxic behaviors, what seems to be a huge internal fight to avoid the pain of their conscience and any type of accountability and responsibility for their own harmful acts.  I believe most importantly, avoidance of accountability to themselves because they are the ones who needs to be 'convinced' they have done something wrong.

Most of us hold ourselves to some kind of outer and inner standards of conduct and expression of our character in our relationships and have remorse and regret that leads to acknowledgment of wrongs we have done when we fall short of those standards we hold to. Through conversation with uPD family members I have been made to understand very clearly that the only standard they hold themselves to is their own. Despite declaration of common moral beliefs and values they do not live within the boundaries of those beliefs and values. They are not constrained by them, but they will hold others to those standards. (I hope this is making sense)  :blink:

When we speak the truth of how we experience these unhealthy family members we will be aggressively attacked - by overt and covert means.  If we disrupt the delicate balance of these family member's self perception and attempt to hold them accountable in the same way we hold ourselves accountable for our behaviors a predictable pattern of extreme discomfort and push back is the response.

I guess all of this is saying that for me, hope for any change or aha moment truly died when I realized that I am dealing with people who will fight to the death to maintain and to continue to bow down to the image they have created of themselves in their own mind and in certain circles that matter to them. They are people who seem to be hiding from their own conscience.

To explain ourselves over and again, to reprove, rebuke, or set limits of any kind with the hope of finding common ground and equal regard in the relationship, like it would with a healthier human, is futile ime.

In my own situation, I have learned to judge if it is necessary to say something, then say it one time, and then live out my limits and boundaries and distance myself from harm with the end goal of survival only - sadly, not restoration of the relationship. I am not dealing with people who have the capacity or interest in cleaning up their own messes and relating to others as equals.
"If you focus on the hurt, you will continue to suffer. If you focus on the lesson, you will continue to grow." Dr. Caroline Leaf

Bloomie 🌸

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Poison Ivy

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Re: Are they unaware or cognizant of their abusive behavior?
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2020, 02:27:04 PM »
Bloomie, I think yours is a hall of fame post.  Thank you for putting so eloquently into words the way I think my late father-in-law operated and why.

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p123

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Re: Are they unaware or cognizant of their abusive behavior?
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2020, 09:04:25 AM »
During the holiday time my inlaws and their flying monkey amp up behavior a bit, we do expect it.  I like to say it is still shocking that people choose to act and behave in the abusive manner that my and all of your inlaws do but it’s not surprising anymore - if that makes sense. 
We have been NC for the better part of six years now.  I am less mad and more sad and a bit frustrated with the inlaws than when we first started coming Out of the FOG.  I’ve read a ton, researched a ton and gone to therapy, all of which have really helped.
One thing and perhaps their is no answer, that I always go back and forth about is do covert pd’s know what they are doing- being abusive, crazy making, mean as heck? 
I shouldn’t have but after a couple text and voicemails from mil and fm grandmother I snooped on social media.  I regret it and will try very hard not to do it again because it just angers and frustrates me.  It was stupid.  Anyway my mil posted a victim playing quote.  About how not to be like the people who hurt you. 
It’s stupid that it upset me, but it did.  Does she really believe we woke up one day and decided today would be a great day to hate mil.  Something she always says even if she’s been told a million times what led to our decision to protect ourselves, our family, and needed time to heel.
Mil always wants a list of what she’s done wrong.  In the beginning of all this I would say Dh May have told her a billion different ways a trillion different times and then we realized with this site and they help of others that it want healthy to repeat or tell mil Anymore, not for dh and not for his foo or for mil and fil.

They claims misery and we’ve ruined their lives.  But.... no changes no remorse no anything.  This is all perfectly good for us for the most part. Sad for them but healthier for us.

What do you guys think, do they know, do they not know?  I’d love to here everyone’s thoughts on this if your willing:). I just wonder why don’t they just change if they know?  Thanks for reading.

I think my Dad knows deep down.....

His head is certainly chock full of stress and anxiety. As such, there is no space for anyone else or consideration thereof. Its urgent to him that he gets someone to do this and that. Nothing gets in - its got to be done this way. Other people then SHOULD act like this towards him because thats right.
He knows when he screws up because he changes. Not nicer but more to protect the facilities hes got. i.e. me. No good having me upset.
Same with things hes done in the past. He sweeps them from his mind  - they're gone now. Lets get on with what I need.


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all4peace

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Re: Are they unaware or cognizant of their abusive behavior?
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2020, 10:11:22 AM »
Bloomie says it well, and could be describing the dynamics in my own FOO and IL family.

For my own sanity, I had to leave this question to be sorted out between them and their God.

I continue to be amazed at how fragile and well defended the ego can be.

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Kat1984

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Re: Are they unaware or cognizant of their abusive behavior?
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2020, 11:40:48 AM »
I second what PoisonIvy said.   Very well stated, Bloomie.   I see all that you're saying in my PD sibling.
I think that the PD's inability to take accountability (and taking accountability to them feels like annihilation) causes them to ignore all normal person-to-person boundaries.  That's what I'm finally getting......it's my silbing's inability to respect my boundaries that really ticks me off.   I'm seeing that in my sib's case it all boils down to control and boundary issues.   Over and over......... In her mind, she "should" be able to control people, and she believes she can read peoples' minds.    She doesn't need to ask people what they are thinking, because she already knows, and she in fact knows more about them than they know about themselves.   And SHE should be in charge of the world because she knows best.   Boundary issues, differentiation issues.    Attachment issues from childhood, with likely a genetic predisposition to this way of thinking.     Sounds like hell for them, but it's also hell for us, until we can wrap our heads around it and bow out.

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Kat1984

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Re: Are they unaware or cognizant of their abusive behavior?
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2020, 11:53:08 AM »
I want to add that being PD seems to me like being one's worst self in one's most immature moments.

I can think of occasions where I have been demanding and self-centered and controlling and petulant and angry.   And I think I'm right and everyone else is wrong and unreasonable.   And I don't want to apologize for my behavior, partly because I think I was right, and partly because I'm very ashamed of what I did.  And there is a part of me that feels that if I apologize, that makes it all more real and scary and whatnot.   "Will they forgive me?   Am I a terrible human being?" I've wondered.   
 I think that's human, and a bit immature.   I've seen myself do it, and I've seen my very responsible non-PD friends do it (or they've told me they sometimes are this way with their spouse during an argument). 

It just seems like most of us evolve somehow to an understanding of ourselves as humans, and a willingness to do the scary work of apologizing.   The PD's don't.
They continue to act like tired, hungry little kids throwing a fit.

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GentleSoul

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Re: Are they unaware or cognizant of their abusive behavior?
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2020, 02:02:07 PM »
I am sure my uPD mum knew what she was doing was nasty but I think she felt she had the right to do it.

I am also sure my uPD husband knows too.  What he does is claim he doesn't remember.  He makes out he has a Jerkyl and Hyde thing going on and can't remember the nasty stuff he does!  Which personally I think is a load of utter rubbish.   He also uses his illness as an excuse, also rubbish!

It's not that he feels sorry, he doesn't want to take responsibility.

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Love

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Re: Are they unaware or cognizant of their abusive behavior?
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2020, 07:33:27 PM »
Thank you all.  One it’s just helpful to know others wrestle a bit with the question.  Whether wresting to push it out like All4peace states because I do understand how a lot of the questions dealing with pd behavior can be unhelpful like going down a rabbit hole of resentment and confusion. 

Bloomie you did so well articulate why I do or we do consider this question.  For me it would slightly change my approach.  Awareness on my inlaws part would give me freedom to walk away.  To me awareness would solidify the condition of their hearts and enable me the freedom to let it all go and move on.
For my part I wrestle with it but deep down I do believe they know.  I do believe it is intentional.  However they know how to play the victim or stupid and it throws you on occasion.  Lately we’ve received very light heart seemingly kind text.  To anyone else looking in they would think dh and I monsters for holding a magnifying glass to their “seemingly” harmless texts. 
As most of us know one little sentence from a pd can say so very much and make us look crazy for responding with boundaries and defenses.  But as many of you said.  How can these pd’s be charming and kind in certain situations and then switch moments later to abuse and attack you. 
All of this being said to me it is a choice between remaining in control, whatever that means to pd’s and/or losing all they have by Leaving their post (coming down out of their sniper tower post and laying down their vicious weapons of destruction).  I just think they believe that to be to scary as well many of you mentioned.  It’s like to war has ended, for the most part we would perceive they lost, but no one officially said the wars over so they are not coming down and they are not laying down their weapons.

My mil is a mighty victim, sincerely she is accomplished with her immediate family.  Dh will admit this from time to time.  Sometimes I won’t filter my response and I let slip something like “how dumb is she” and I see that he is coming around to real world logic to fog just came in for the morning commute but now it’s gone. 
I guess it’s just strange because so many times I’ve been on edge thinking, mil could turn this around with the right wording and small behavior modification (even for a brief phone call) and dh and I would feel compelled to allow them in.  I mean she could have a little bit of her only son back, she could maybe gain a little time in public with her grandkids, she could maybe have an ounce of joy or happiness.  And the like always she reminds you that she’s in the sniper post by buzzing a bullet right by your head.
I do believe they know, but what compels them to stay in their miserable lives?  Perhaps I’ve got the answer but I just don’t except it?  A simple phrase my dad would always say reminding him to check any ego at the door “would you rather be right or would you rather be happy”.  I guess they would rather be right. What a sad life they lead. 

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Penny Lane

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Re: Are they unaware or cognizant of their abusive behavior?
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2020, 08:03:05 PM »
I think about this a lot although I agree with the others who say the answer, ultimately, doesn't affect my behavior.

I think that they do know that they're treating others badly, at least my husband's ex wife does. She doesn't often acknowledge when she's been caught in a lie or abusive behavior - but when she does she just laughs it off, like OF COURSE she was going to behave badly and she deserves to treat people this way. Even when shown repeatedly that her bad behavior is having an extreme negative effect on her own children, she continues and never expresses any kind of remorse.

But, I also think many PDs don't really have the capacity to change. No one taught them healthy interpersonal skills. She does things that harm her own self-interest, over and over. And she has the same three reactions to it (try to charm people into doing what she wants, try to bully people into doing what she wants, and ignore it altogether). Although she is a genius at manipulation, once you see what she is doing, it's easy to resist. It's clear how badly she wants things to go her way . I really do believe that if she had the capacity to act differently in a way that got her more of what she wants, she would do so. So, my conclusion is that she can't really help it in some ways. But I don't think she'd change her actions if she suddenly had an epiphany of how terrible she's being - she would only change it in order to get more of what she wants.

Although that does allow me to feel some empathy - and, in my very kindest moments, even feel sorry for her - it doesn't mean that I can let my boundaries down. And it doesn't mean that the harm she causes is real. So then you're back to, well in terms of behavior it's a moot point.

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p123

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Re: Are they unaware or cognizant of their abusive behavior?
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2020, 06:36:34 AM »
I am sure my uPD mum knew what she was doing was nasty but I think she felt she had the right to do it.

I am also sure my uPD husband knows too.  What he does is claim he doesn't remember.  He makes out he has a Jerkyl and Hyde thing going on and can't remember the nasty stuff he does!  Which personally I think is a load of utter rubbish.   He also uses his illness as an excuse, also rubbish!

It's not that he feels sorry, he doesn't want to take responsibility.

I would 2nd that entitlement thing. His excuse is often he does it because thats just him "you know me if I've got something to say I've got to say it".....

And of course "well I am 86, so thats the way it is".