Worried About Story-Telling Brother

Reader’s Question

I have a 42-year-old brother I’m worried about. He’s never had a job and lives on monthly checks his father sends him. He drinks a fair amount. But the thing I’m worried about is, he constantly brags about his sexual exploits with women, more often than not in the most vulgar, most obscene and hostile manner toward women imaginable. He even regales his mother with these stories; how he’s slept with three women in one day and then recounting every possible detail. And when someone asks him to stop, he becomes verbally abusive and sometimes even physically threatening.

My brother sets off alarm bells every time I speak to him. At one point, I even purchased a pistol in case he became violent with me. But the rest of our family seems to think he’s simply “eccentric”.

What’s going on here?

Psychologist’s Reply

What’s going on is called a Personality Disorder. Individuals with a personality disorder have maladaptive attitudes, behaviors, and ways of relating to others. At the core of their personality we often find:

  1. A total denial of personal responsibility — nothing is ever their fault,
  2. Total disregard for the feelings or concerns of others,
  3. An incredible sense of entitlement — everybody owes them,
  4. Opposition toward any type of normal behavior, lifestyle, or responsibility,
  5. Severe selfishness and immaturity, and
  6. Manipulation, abuse, intimidation and use of others.

This is not being “eccentric” as those folks are typically interesting.

Your brother has combined alcoholism or alcohol abuse and a dependent lifestyle. His bragging about his female victims is a type of immature intimidation, showing that despite his lack of a normal adult lifestyle and level of responsibility, he is nonetheless powerful and controlling. He also has “narcissistic pride” and becomes enraged when anyone challenges his conquest story of the week.

He’s not likely to be a threat to you unless you confront his fantasies of being a romantic player. Your family may consider him eccentric but in truth, they have probably developed an effective strategy — listen, nod your head, smile, and quietly ignore everything he says. You will also need a strategy as this behavior is unlikely to change. Make your visits short, always be on your way to somewhere else, and protect your family/kids from his stories. When he starts an adventure story, begin the process of leaving. He uses these stories to keep himself at the center of attention. Talk longer if his stories are socially acceptable and eventually, he’ll stop the romantic stories — at least for you. This is not a psychiatric disorder than can be treated with medication and these folks rarely accept counseling as they feel totally self-justified in what they do and how they live. I suspect alcohol plays a big part in this as well.

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If he decides he needs help — focus on the alcohol issues first. If alcohol ever stops being a problem, you’ll find that he also has underlying vague medical complaints that will prevent him from joining the work force. The family will have a major issue when the monthly checks stop as he will then be scrambling for additional support. For additional reading, check out dependent, passive-aggressive, antisocial, and narcissistic personality disorders.

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