Seeking expert counseling is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective.
You have described the classic symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder. Your sister-in-law is the narcissist and your brother is her main victim (source of "narcissistic supply", as it it is called).
Narcissists need admiration or control of others much as a mythical vampire needs the blood of others to flourish.
Here are the classical symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and you will plainly see that they match closely.
This comes from the psychiatric DSM-IV diagnostic manual:
Diagnostic criteria for 301.81 Narcissistic Personality Disorder
(DSM IV - TR)
A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
(1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
(2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
(3) believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
(4) requires excessive admiration
(5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
(6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
(7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
(8) is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
(9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
You cannot win with her. She is incapable of empathy, meaning she is a sociopath. It is not likely that she will change.
She is using everything, including passive-aggressive behavior (the silent treatment) to break you to her will, and your brother, who is completely subservient to her, will follow whatever she want him to do.
She will not seek treatment or recognize that anything is wrong with her.
Let me recommend an excellent book that will help you to deal with her (them).
Reading this book will open your eyes and guide you in the best manner of dealing with them, which is mostly staying away from them.
If I can be of further assistance, please get back to me. May goal is to give you the best help possible.
Elliott, MAE, LPCC, NCC, CCMHC
You said my sister-in-law is a narcissist and my brother is her main victim.
Does my brother also have,to a lesser extent,Narcissistic Personality Disorder ?