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Ask Kym Tolson, LCSW, CSAC, NBCCH Your Ow...
Kym Tolson, LCSW, CSAC, NBCCH, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 251
Experience:  Over 15 years of experience as a substance abuse therapist. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker
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I think my sister in law has a narcissictic personality disorder.

Resolved Question:

I think my sister in law has a narcissictic personality disorder. She seems to garner attention by being sick all the time. It's all take and no give with her. It is very frustrating to deal with her because she is always the "victim" of something. We had a run in recently and she wants to talk to me about it for the third time, it really hard to reason with her, and my apologies to not seem to satisfy her. My husband says I have nothing to apologize for. At what point am I honest with her? I am afraid if I tell her what I just
told you might do something drastic. Do we keep walking around the elephant?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Kym Tolson, LCSW, CSAC, NBCCH replied 7 years ago.
At a certain point a person has to make a decision to step away from a relationship that seems toxic. It sounds like you have made attempts to apologize and that your attempts are unsuccessful. It seems like there is a long pattern of her having issues (being the victim) and if it is truly a personality disorder, most attempts at help will be thwarted with "yes, but" responses and this can seem very frustrating.

If you are concerned that she will do something drastic if you are honest with her, I would suggest leaving it alone and using statements that set boundaries with her. Such as, I'm sorry you are feeling that way but I'm don't feel I can discuss this issue any further. Continuously, setting similar boundaries will let her know that you are no longer interested in playing the game with her.
I would recommend reading this book:

Or a similar book.

I hope this answer has helped. Please feel free to ask any other questions.
Take care, Kym

If you've found answer helpful today, please leave Feedback after Accepting so that I can receive credit for my answer. Thank you!

Kym Tolson, LCSW, CSAC, NBCCH and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I agree with you, and fortunately she lives in Hawaii, so our boundaries are distance as well as minimal contact. However, we have our first family wedding coming up. Their oldest son chose to live near us for the past four years and we have become very close, he is engaged and his fiance lives with us now. I know this must be hard for my sister in law to take, but we can't help the choices our nephew has made. When ever Judy comes to visit I cater to her needs and try to be as benign as possible but I find as I get older it leaves my stomach in knots. My parents, who are both 80 and in good health, have dealt with this situation for years. After every visit there is anguish because none of us can do anything right for Judy and there is always an incident where my brother and his wife feel we have wronged them. Even if we have wronged them, we never feel like our injustices to them are forgiven and forgotten. They are accrued and pulled out over and over.
Expert:  Kym Tolson, LCSW, CSAC, NBCCH replied 7 years ago.
That is extremely difficult to have to tip-toe and cater to her. Maybe as your boundary setting gets better you might be able to put other safety measures in place so you are not subjected to her personality. I don't know your situation specifically but things such as having her stay somewhere else if she visits or having her son or your husband deal with her if she calls so you don't have to communicate often with her. Possibly seeing a therapist could help you further with the boundaries if it seems hard to do after reading about boundary setting.

Take care and good luck with this situation.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
It is difficult. Thank you for your suggestions. I really appreciate your immediate feed back. It's worth every penny. I will get the book you recommended and spend more time on my knees. In every life some rain must fall and I guess this is mine! Thankfully I have many wonderful friends and other family who love me well and I love them! I think God is big enough to fix this problem but in the mean time I have to take care of my own gut and you have helped me see with more clarity why I am so upset. From this tiny picture of you, you look too young to be so wise! Thanks Kym
Expert:  Kym Tolson, LCSW, CSAC, NBCCH replied 7 years ago.
You're welcome. I'm glad I could help. I'm so glad to hear you have such a support system. Thank you for the compliment, maybe I need an older looking picture, lol!
Take care, Kym