In our continuing saga of Margo and her diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder with sadistic tendencies, we jump forward a few years and Margo is in her thirties and having her house renovated. She has employed an Asian painter to paint the inside of her house and he speaks little English.
She phoned her sister Leah, who by this stage had restricted the number of encounters she had with her sister to effectively zero. However, whenever Margo had a gripe about their mother or in this instance, something “funny” to tell, she would ring her sister. She never noted that Leah didn’t contact her, however, this is typical of self-obsessed narcissistic behavior.
In this particular phone call, Margo could hardly speak as she was laughing so much. Leah found it hard to interpret what she was saying, but it turned out that the Asian painter was so unused to Western paint fumes that he was currently vomiting outside Margo’s home in her garden. Margo thought it was hysterical, so much so that she had to ring someone. The fact that she rang her estranged sister demonstrates that Margo could not discern that her sister would not be impressed by this call.
Leah was horrified but not surprised that Margo thought this man’s plight was funny. Her thoughts were that he had escaped the horror of the Vietnam war and attempting to make a new life for himself, which he was obviously finding difficult. With her inability to experience empathy, the middle aged Margo was displaying not only her narcissistic inability to see the pain of others, but she was actually enjoying it.
Leah had long realized that there was something terribly wrong with her sister but had no name for it. She just saw her treatment of herself, her parents, and Margo’s boyfriends as being just Margo’s personality. But in fact, she had been dealing all her life with a sister with a mental illness.
Before Leah had reached puberty, Margo used to regularly tell her how ugly she was. Once puberty hit, this behavior increased and Leah was subjected to almost daily insults regarding her looks. Possibly it was the overkill that helped Leah to get through this painful period of her life. Margo completely dissected her body: Her hair was horrible, her eyes were too wise apart, her knees were misshapen, her nose was too wide and looked “black”. At first, her breasts were too small, then with time, her breasts were too big.
Interestingly, the only thing Margo liked was Leah’s hands and she wanted them for herself. She repeatedly held them next to her own and said that Leah’s hands were “wasted on her” and she should have them. By now Leah was in high school and was beginning to think her sister’s behavior was not only sounding like something from Frankenstein, but that what her sister was saying was rubbish.
Leah was not ugly, as Margo delighted in telling her. She had lots of male admirers and so the legacy of Margo’s reign of power was broken.
In our next article, we will look at how Leah gained the final control over her mentally ill sister.