I have suspected for years that my late mother and my brother may have had a personality disorder in common. Both of them would lie and manipulate others, sometimes to get something they wanted (usually money) and other times they seemed to do it for simple enjoyment. They were also very irritable, short-tempered and seemed to find some kind of satisfaction in deliberately causing emotional pain or embarrassment to others. When called on their behavior, they would either simply deny they had said/done anything wrong, that they were just joking or that the person in question “must have a wild imagination”. Both of them could quickly become very aggressive, but with my mother it was (mostly) verbal in nature while my brother’s aggression was equally verbal and physical. But there differences as well. My mother seemed to see me as female competition and would become very seductive and sexually aggressive towards any man who showed interest in me. She also went out of her way to discourage any steps towards independence on my part and displayed extreme jealousy towards me, often saying “must be nice!” when I was successful at something. My brother, on the other hand, committed various petty criminal acts (mostly theft or conning people out of money) and had been arrested several times from his early teens onward. He frequently mistreated and tormented our family pets (for example, putting one of our cats in a pillowcase and swinging her around). He also seemed to have a fascination with fire and, when we were kids, took great delight in tossing lit matches in my bedroom doorway. My brother ended up spending a large portion of his teen years in and out of juvenile facilities for domestic violence towards both me and my mother. Oddly, though, my mother always showed favor towards him, even though he repeatedly stole from her as well as me. In fact, I had long believed that I was my mother’s victim of choice until she passed. At that point I was able to have a long talk with my grandmother and learned that my mother had demonstrated similar behavior towards her, also since she was a teen. What is your opinion of their behavior?
From your description, it sounds as though your mother may have been showing signs of Borderline Disorder. Borderline Disorder can occur as a result of societal, genetic, or biological factors. This disorder can create a very unstable and unpredictable environment for the individual as well as those surrounding them. Because your brother was raised in your mother’s instability, this may have resulted in him displaying symptoms of Conduct Disorder throughout childhood. Symptoms of these are similar to what you have described: aggression towards humans and animals, violation of rules and societal expectations, destruction of property, deceitfulness (such as theft), and a general lack of empathy or remorse. If these symptoms were displayed more so in adulthood, your brother may have been experiencing Antisocial Personality Disorder. Antisocial Personality Disorder shows similar symptoms as Conduct Disorder, however, it occurs in adults, rather than children. This is a general look of the possible issues involved with your mother and brother. However, because these disorders require a specified age of onset for diagnosis, more information is needed to further explore the issues. Living in such a combination can create a toxic environment for any individual, therefore, I would recommend speaking to someone about these issues to provide an opportunity for processing these experiences.