July 11, 2022 at 12:24 pm #403729
Hi, wow, it’s had to know what to say.
I joined just to get some perspective on this.
I recently got married and it was a beautiful day.
However, there was a big cloud hanging over my head much of the time.
I used to be very close with my brother (he generally isn’t open or close with anyone).
The night before the wedding, he got really drunk and confessed that 10 years ago he’d let a man die. He said he was choking on his vomit and he could have just rolled him over but he really wanted to see a man die. He said he enjoyed it and it made him feel powerful. I was obviously beyond disgusted and told him that I think he should speak to a therapist and- while I am ok with him opening up to me- that I don’t appreciate being told something so awful the night before my wedding. Lots more awful details but anyway.. He stumbled to bed.
The day of the wedding he didn’t say a single word to me or anyone. Everyone noticed. He isn’t in any photos, including family shots. I feel sick and frequently cry myself to sleep. I’ve spoken to a counsellor and he advised me to write him a letter. I did this and, finally, today I posted it.
I told him I am hurt both by his confession and by his decision to tell me when he did and that I need space.
Anyway, I don’t know why I’m even posting this but I am consumed by it. I need comfort,July 11, 2022 at 1:21 pm #403807
Congratulations for getting married! I am sorry that you received such a terrible “gift” from your brother the night before your wedding. I understand your emotional reaction, it’s quite natural in the face of such a confession.
First thing that comes to my mind to tell you is this: the confession you heard does not indicate anything about you any more than it indicates anything about me (not being related to, and never having met your brother). His confession has nothing to do with you regardless of your relation to him.
“I used to be very close with my brother (he generally isn’t open or close with anyone)“- it could be that he was upset that you were getting married, upset about your new husband and/ or future kids taking away from him the closeness he had with you, and upset and drunk, he … gave you this terrible gift for your wedding.
Some things that people say, and you hear- they can’t unsay it and you can’t forget that you heard it. It is done, the terrible thing has been said. Hopefully, in 10 years since the incident, he has done nothing like that again, allowing- or worse- causing a person to die so to enjoy a feeling of power. I would suggest to you to be careful regarding your brother ever being alone with your future kids, if you have any, and otherwise, be cautious. Also, maybe you can consult with a professional, a clinical psychologist, a forensic psychologist Perhaps (a psychologist that works for or with the legal system)- in regard to what, if anything, you should do about what your brother told you.
As far as your relationship with your brother, if he shows signs of wanting to resume it, make it a condition that you and him get together in a psychotherapist’s (or a counselor’s) office to discuss his confession and if/ how to move forward.
anitaJuly 11, 2022 at 3:04 pm #403813
Thank you very much for your kind and thoughtful response.
The counsellor I spoke to also suggested he was having strange feelings about me getting married but I find the idea that he may have wanted to spoil my wedding (he didn’t, ultimately) hard to grasp. Maybe there is some truth in it but I’m struggling to get my head around it.
I’ve been discussing your other point with my husband already, actually. I don’t intend to be alone with him and wouldn’t intend to have him in any future childrens’ lives.
I suppose I’m starting to accept the way our relationship is different now. But I am sad for my parents because they love that we had a close relationship. We are the middle of four children and always gravitated to each other. I know that they know there is now some problem but I can’t let them find out why I need space from him. I think it would break their hearts. So I feel like I have to carry this burden forever.
Unfortunately, I think it’s going to be impossible to have him visit a therapist with me but I have an appointment with a psychotherapist at the end of the month, thankfully.
I feel bad for evening telling my husband because now he is also burdened with it.July 11, 2022 at 3:35 pm #403814
You are very welcome. “I feel bad for even telling my husband because now he is also burdened with it” – I think that you did the right thing telling him, because it was necessary. If for no other reason than for his need to know, as the future father of your children, so that he can protect his- your children.
“I find the idea that he may have wanted to spoil my wedding… I’m struggling to get my head around it” – I wasn’t thinking that he had planned to spoil your wedding, that he had such a cold-hearted intent and a plan, but rather that disinhibited, under the influence of alcohol, he did what he did.
“I don’t intend to be alone with him and wouldn’t intend to have him in any future children’s lives“- good thing.
“I can’t let them find out why I need space from him. I think it would break their hearts. So I feel like I have to carry this burden forever“- you shared your burden with your husband and you shared it here. So you don’t have to carry this burden alone. You can post here anytime you need to express yourself.
There are serial killers whose motivation in killing has been to enjoy having power over their victims, a similar sentiment to what your brother expressed. I still think that it’s a good idea for you to somehow consult with a forensic psychologist, that is, a psychologist who works with or for the criminal system. Maybe the forensic psychologist will have some important input or advice for you.
anitaJuly 12, 2022 at 12:20 am #403821
Thanks again for your kindness and for listening.
Yes, my husband needed to know, of course. It just disturbs me because he is such a peaceful creature. I hate to have brought this into his life. But he’s being very supportive.
Strangely enough, he said he’d always gotten a dark vibe from my brother but obviously didn’t want to say anything before.
I’m feeling pretty conflicted in myself because it’s as if all and any love I had for my brother has been suddenly switched off. I’ve lost my belief in unconditional love and I’m ashamed of myself for it.
I expressed the idea of talking to forensic specialist to my counsellor and he said he’s certain it would be fruitless. Where this happened, wasn’t even on the same continent, let alone the same legal jurisdiction.
I feel conflicted also in that I sometimes wonder if his girlfriend, for example, has the right to know. They have 2 year old son who I’ve never met (despite trying) and that is just another example I suppose of strange my brother is.
I was awake very early this morning as I was having nightmares about him. I was with him in person but before he’d read my letter and kept pushing my boundariesJuly 12, 2022 at 10:29 am #403843
You are welcome, Lola.
“It just disturbs me because he is such a peaceful creature. I hate to have brought this into his life“- you couldn’t help it, you had to bring this information into your husband’s life. But you can promote his peaceful nature in other ways, every day.
“I’m feeling pretty conflicted in myself because it’s as if all and any love I had for my brother has been suddenly switched off. I’ve lost my belief in unconditional love and I’m ashamed of myself for it“- your brother is responsible for letting a man die and for letting your love for him die when he told you about what he did. The shame belongs with him, not with you.
In yet other words, your love having switched off is not a consequence of your inadequacy as a loving and loyal sister; it is a consequence of his severe wrongdoing and having told you about it, burdening you with this very disturbing information.
“I expressed the idea of talking to forensic specialist to my counsellor and he said he’s certain it would be fruitless. Where this happened, wasn’t even on the same continent, let alone the same legal jurisdiction“- I didn’t suggest seeing a forensic psychologist so to take legal action against your brother regarding the incident 10 years ago. I suggested it for the purpose of understanding better and finding out if there is anything at all that you can do toward preventing people from getting harmed by your brother.
In your original post you mentioned “Lots more awful details” to what he told you that night. A forensic psychologist may be able to put those details together into a better understanding of your brother and what a danger he poses to other people. And he may suggest what, if anything, you can do about it.
“I feel conflicted also in that I sometimes wonder if his girlfriend, for example, has the right to know. They have 2 year old son who I’ve never met“- this is a conflict that a forensic psychologist (one that specializes in the psychology behind criminal behavior) can help you with. I hope that his son and girlfriend are okay!
“I was awake very early this morning as I was having nightmares about him“- a consequence of what he told you.
Back to your original post: “10 years ago he’d let a man die. He said he was choking on his vomit and he could have just rolled him over but he really wanted to see a man die. He said he enjoyed it and it made him feel powerful“- to understand better, I will be doing a little study. It may help you understand better as well:
– Recently, in October 2021, a 37 year old former male nurse in Texas was convicted and sentenced to death for killing multiple patients back in 2017 and 2018 by injecting them with air “for fun”. One of his prosecutors in closing arguments said: “He enjoyed going into the rooms and injecting them with air. If you watch the video… he sat at the end of the hall and he watched those monitors and he waited. That’s because he liked it“.
Another nurse, a female nurse, worked as a nurse from around 1885 to 1902. She injected patients with a mixture of drugs and enjoyed watching them die, getting a sexual thrill out of it, “she got a powerful erotic charge“. She admitted that she aspired “to have killed more people — helpless people — than any other man or woman who ever lived”.
There were other nurses who enjoyed watching their patients die. learning mind. com: ” some angels of death simply kill for power or as a mode of stimulation. Normal life has lost its meaning for them… While most of the patients killed.. were elderly, there have been a handful of cases where children were involved… it’s safe to say, know your medical professionals before you put your life in their hands”.
Psychology today: “some people enter healthcare professions not to help others but to gain power, control, or attention. If they decide to harm or kill, victims and methods are readily available… A study published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences in November 2006 examined 90 cases from twenty countries of criminal prosecutions between 1970 and 2006… the number of suspicious deaths attributed to the confirmed killers in the study totaled over 2,000. Often they work alone… Several professionals who study these cases worldwide have listed traits and behaviors that should be taken seriously. While none is in itself sufficient to place someone under suspicion, a number of them occurring together is reason to pay attention. In retrospect, we know that nurses who turned out to be serial killers…. * were secretive * had a persistently difficult time with personal relationships…. * had been involved in other types of criminal activities. * had a substance abuse problem”.
You wrote that your brother in your original post that he “generally isn’t open or close with anyone“, which is one of the traits and behaviors listed above. I hope that he doesn’t work in a hospital because for people who enjoy watching people die, it’s the perfect place because the people to kill are readily available, their deaths is often not suspicious because they are sick, and the drugs and equipment to cause them to die are readily available.
I did this little study because for me, the more I understand, the saner I am. How do you feel about it?
anitaJuly 12, 2022 at 12:14 pm #403876
Anita, my apologies, I must have read your suggestion too quickly. Yes, you’re right, seeing a forensic psychologist in that sense would be a good idea. I think it would put me somewhat at ease knowing that I’ve at least tried to make sure there’s no further danger.
At the time he made this confession, he also proceeded to joke about killing one of our guests and to let him know if there is anyone I wouldn’t miss. He then proceeded to list the people that he wouldn’t let die. Disturbingly, one of my other brothers and my husband weren’t on his list..
Thankfully, he doesn’t work in a hospital – he has an office job.
Thank you for your research. It’s a little hard to stomach because he really does have these traits. His last relationship before his current partner lasted 16 years and he hid her for 8 of those. I remember sort of innocently getting him a bit tipsy so I could pry for information at the time and his defense for not bringing her to meet us was that it would be “too awkward”. So he definitely fits the bill for struggling with interpersonal relationships.
This is a bit disturbing also but he is 7 years older than me and once, when I was a child and he was maybe 14 or 15,we were playing. He was wrestling with me and came very, very close to strangling me. He had his arm around my neck and I started to lose my vision until he let go. He said he didn’t have any idea I was struggling. This incident had given more or less to the back of my mind (I know kids can be stupid sometimes when they’re playing!) but since his confession I’ve remembered it and it’s been haunting me a lot.
Have you ever read ‘American Psycho’? The main character’s personality actually reminds me a lot of my brother. He was always quite obsessed with that book and it was him who gave it to me to read.
That’s probably not super relevant but, for me, just sort of represents many disturbing details.
Moving forward with the rest of my family, I’m not sure what to do. I have two other brothers-one older and one younger- who don’t have much of a relationship with him. The family core has always felt very much like me, him and our parents and the other two brothers are outliers. So for me to disengage with my brother will be very obvious and cause a huge amount of distress to my parents. I told my mother that he really upset me but I can’t explain the extent of it without breaking her gentle heart. She thinks we will get over it and go back to the way we were but I don’t know how to explain that that isn’t possible.
Anyway, I know they aren’t really problems that you can personally solve but I do really appreciate you taking the time to help me think through it.July 12, 2022 at 12:46 pm #403877
You are welcome. If I can help just a bit in some way, that’s good enough for me.
“At the time he made this confession, he also proceeded to joke about killing one of our guests and to let him know if there is anyone I wouldn’t miss. He then proceeded to list the people that he wouldn’t let die… He was always quite obsessed with (American Psycho) and it was him who gave it to me to read“- reads to me that he is fascinating with thoughts and images of killing people and/ or watching people die. I guess he fantasizes a lot about it. I wonder if he is in the habit of watching violent movies that depict people dying. I also wonder how he treats animals, if he ever hurt animals and watched them die.
“Moving forward with the rest of my family, I’m not sure what to do…. The family core has always felt very much like me, him and our parents and the other two brothers are outliers…. She thinks we will get over it and go back to the way we were but I don’t know how to explain that that isn’t possible“- it just occurred to me to ask, what is his relationships with his/ your parents, any anger that he has toward them, or had as a child, feelings of powerlessness growing up?
anitaJuly 12, 2022 at 2:27 pm #403883
*Correction: “reads to me that he is fascinating with thoughts and images”=> reads to me that he is fascinated with thoughts and images…July 13, 2022 at 2:04 am #403912
He does engage with a lot of violent material. That’s not to say that’s to blame- I sometimes enjoy horror also.
I’m afraid he has been cruel to animals in the past, including one of our own dogs who eventually an away because of it. That’s not universal though- one of the dogs was exclusively his own and he never harmed her. But in general he has no concern for what animals feel, even though he really loves dogs. I’ve been vegetarian since I was 10 and vegan for the last 5 years. He always, always made fun of this which is normal enough as a teen but now he’s well into his late 30s and still talks about how silly it is, how it makes me a weakling etc. That seems a bit strange for a man of his age.
Something that gives me pause for thought is that he himself got extremely badly beaten one night in his 20s when he was out. He saw two men beating another man and decided to intervene. Then several of their friends appeared and beat him to the point of hospitalisation for trying to stop them. This would have been after the incident he confessed to.
I’ve been pondering over whether his telling me meant that he was dealing with guilt and he couldn’t hold it in and I did suggest that to him at the time but he says he has no remorse.
Not wanting to completely slander him, my brother has been loving in other ways though- some years ago, he gave me 400 euros when I was stuck trying to pay my postgraduate fees and never asked for it back. He just has a limited range of how to show love and I think money is one way. He is very frugal with his money so I did think this was a very generous donation. That said though, I value time over money and he has never come to visit me (I moved to a different country, albeit it’s less than an hour-long flight). It is always me going home to visit him. I don’t mind of course, I love to visit but I love where I live now too and wanted to show him but he refuses to visit. (he’s very well travelled so it’s not related to travel anxiety etc). He just doesn’t want to “waste holidays and money visiting a country that isn’t hot”. My husband has always commented on this being very weird behaviour and I always defended my brother with “that’s just his way” etc. I feel like my husband has always been aware of an edge to my brother that I just didn’t see or didn’t want to see.
I always explained away my family dynamics as “we’re just a weird family but what family isn’t” etc. I believed this too but the more I think lately, the more I feel it’s all just a bit beyond the realm of acceptably strange.
His relationship with my parents is really good. He and my dad have lots of fun stuff in common and my dad often goes to stay the night with him and hang out. My mother always loved him to absolute pieces- but she is a loving woman in general. She knows that he’s an oddball and frequently just smiles and says “your brother really is a strange fish”. She knows also that he has some struggles in his personal life and sympathises and tries to be supportive. He is difficult to support though because he doesn’t speak much. When I told her that he told me something that really upset me, she asked me not to push him away because I’m the only one he ever opens up to.
Unfortunately, I tend to be that person for a lot of people and have always tended to fill that role in the family and I am at the stage where I can’t do it any more. I have had some very serious struggles with my mental health and I feel like I can’t look after myself if I keep accepting other people’s burdens. The problem is, that seems really awful to anyone outside of myself. It seems very selfish. But I want to get myself to a really mentally healthy place before I start my own family. My husband and I both have demanding careers and there’s really only so much space I have in my head for stressors. It just so happens that the straw that broke the camel’s back in this instance was put there by a close family member.
Anyway, I’ve veered off- topic. So he has what I would call a good relationship with my parents and I never noticed any abnormal anger towards them- just the usual teenage angst, you know? So with no obvious issues, I will be the one creating a rift and I fear it will hurt my parents and that they might resent me for ruining the family. Now I do know that I am not responsible for ruining anything but rather I’ve just reached a point where I want to resolve and disengage from sources of trauma and not carry that forward to my own children.July 13, 2022 at 2:05 am #403913
Correction, *ran away because of it. The ‘r’ on my laptop is wonky!July 13, 2022 at 10:45 am #403926
This is the most important part of your recent post: “I have had some very serious struggles with my mental health and I feel like I can’t look after myself if I keep accepting other people’s burdens… I want to get myself to a really mentally healthy place before I start my own family. My husband and I both have demanding careers and there’s really only so much space I have in my head for stressors… I’ve just reached a point where I want to resolve and disengage from sources of trauma and not carry that forward to my own children“.
Looking after your mental health, disengaging from other people’s burdens (your brother’s and parents’ included), minimizing your stressors, focusing on your new family and on your demanding career, resolving and disengaging from sources of trauma and not carrying that forward to your children- these are the best goals I can think of, admirable goals and I say: they should be in the forefront of your mind as you choose your attitudes and behaviors every single day.
For the sake of your mental health, you will need to abandon your childhood-and-onward role in your family of origin, you will need to reverse the role reversal that took place. I’ve been studying your thread for over 4 hours and I think that I am getting a feel for what has been happening, this is my best understanding at this point, my theory, you can call it:
“I told my mother that he really upset me but I can’t explain the extent of it without breaking her gentle heart“- I think that growing up, neither of your parents was a strong figure in the family. I think that your mother was child-like, not mature/ not emotionally resourceful, and therefore unable to effectively mother her children. The results: two of your adult brothers are not involved with the family, being “outliers” as you put it, the brother we are discussing is significantly disturbed and you are the anxious “mother” of the remaining three members of the family: your parents and brother.
I think that since an early age, you viewed your mother as a child with a gentle-child-heart, a heart that can easily break. Therefore you took on the role of the adult in your family who’s job is to protect your mother and keep the family together.
“My mother always loved him… She knows that he’s an oddball and frequently just smiles and says ‘your brother really is a strange fish‘”- she always loved your brother not as a mother who is engaged with her son. She loved him from a removed- detached position, as if indeed she was watching a fish in an aquarium, pondering how strange the fish is.
“When I told her that he told me something that really upset me, she asked me not to push him away because I’m the only one he ever opens up to. Unfortunately, I… have always tended to fill that role in the family“-
– your mother knows that her son doesn’t ever open up to her, so she assigned you the role (and/ or you took on the role) early on to be for your brother what his mother was not able to be for him. There has been a Role Reversal happening in your family and you took on the strong adult/ mother role, filling in the gap left by your parents.
“for me to disengage with my brother will be very obvious and cause a huge amount of distress to my parents… I will be the one creating a rift and I fear it will hurt my parents and that they might resent me for ruining the family“- there has been a rift, a gap.. a hole in your family, left by the absence of a single strong parent, and so, your role was to fill that hole, to bridge that gap. Currently, in your 30s, you still identify with that role and you feel guilty about abandoning it, as if your family will be ruined if you do, as if the rift will become too much and the family will break apart completely.
“(husband) said he’d always gotten a dark vibe from my brother… I always explained away my family dynamics as ‘we’re just a weird family but what family isn’t’ etc. I believed this too but the more I think lately, the more I feel it’s all just a bit beyond the realm of acceptably strange“- the darkness, weirdness and strangeness was in the family before your brother was born into it. He did not invent the darkness etc., he grew up with it.
Let’s review the darkness in your brother’s mind and heart in a chronological order: he was cruel to one of the family’s dogs, abusing the dog, and as a result of the abuse, the dog ran away. He was cruel to other animals as well, “in general he has no concern for what animals feel“, but he loved and never harmed (?) one of the family dogs, the one who was exclusively his own. When he was about 14, he was playing-wrestling with you (7-years-old), his arm around your neck so tight, choking you, that you started to lose your vision. He then let go and said that he had no idea that you were struggling. Ever since you were 10 and chose to be a vegetarian, he made fun of you and accused you of being “a weakling etc.” for not eating meat. He still does more than two decades later.
In his late 20s he watched a man choke on his vomit, could have saved him by rolling him over, but chose not to because “he enjoyed it and it made him feel powerful“. Sometime later, still in his late 20s, he was out one night and saw 2 men beating a third man. He intervened in behalf of the third men and was badly beaten for it to the point of getting hospitalized. During that time, he was in a relationship with a woman (for a total of 16 years), but didn’t bring her to meet his family for 8 years (keeping her a secret), because it would have been “too awkward” to introduce her to the family, he said.
The night before your wedding (he is in his late 30s) , while drunk, he confessed about having enjoyed watching a man die ten years earlier. You asked him if he felt guilty for it and he said that “he has no remorse“. He also joked about killing any one of your wedding guests, asking if there is someone at your wedding that you’d miss. He then proceeded to list the people he wouldn’t let die. On your wedding day, he didn’t say a single word to you or to anyone and wasn’t in any of the family photos. He currently has an office job, a girlfriend and a 2-year-old son. He didn’t introduce you to his son and when you tried to meet his son, he didn’t make it possible for you.
My thoughts regarding your brother’s darkness and strangeness: in general he has no concern for how animals feel because he was not shown concern for how he felt growing up. He grew up lost, and lonely, like a fish alone in an aquarium, eternally swimming in still, silent water. He felt powerless, a weakling, unable to make waves, and he hated that feeling. He needed to feel powerful, he needed to make waves, so he hit his dog, he choked you, he beat people on the street, and he felt powerful letting a man die.
Perhaps growing up, your brother- alone in the ever still, quiet water, being observed by people on the outside (people he desperately needed to be emotionally engage with him)- felt like he was dying day after day for what felt like eternity. Fast forward, watching the man dying, maybe he felt that this time, he was the one on the outside of the aquarium watching another man die inside. It felt powerful to be on the other side of death.
“I never noticed any abnormal anger towards them- just the usual teenage angst, you know? So with no obvious issues, I will be the one creating a rift“- you never noticed any abnormal anger in your brother toward your parents not because his abnormal (intense, long-term, dangerous) anger does not exist. What if he dissociated from his abnormal anger toward his parents, and has projected it elsewhere. His abnormal anger does exist, so there is an obvious issue. You did not create this issue. And the rift that you are scared of creating: it’s been there all along, it’s not for you to create because it was created before you were born.
When he told you that it would have been too awkward to introduce his (former) girlfriend to his family, maybe he meant that it would have been too awkward to introduce his family… to his girlfriend. Maybe he didn’t want her to see the darkness that’s in his family.
“I’ve just reached a point where I want to resolve and disengage from sources of trauma and not carry that forward to my own children“- a healthy goal: to reverse that Role Reversal, to no longer support the darkness and strangeness, to be kind and wise and … disengage.
anitaJuly 13, 2022 at 3:34 pm #403935
Good evening, Anita.
That’s some interesting thinking and I appreciate the thought you’ve put into your detailed response.
To be honest, my parents are actually pretty fantastic though. My mother especially raised me exceptionally well. And I could see- and can still see- that she tries her absolute best with my brothers and I. She is involved, insightful and actively loving. I should clarify that the “strange fish” comment was one she picked up from an old friend of his, as that’s what he used to call him. She tried very hard to get him to open up to her and, by her own admission to me, was always just worried that if she pressed him too hard that she’d ultimately push him away. She has very high emotional intelligence and is a really admirable mother.
My dad is not as emotionally fine- tuned as my mother but he tried very hard with all of us to talk to us and guide us in the right direction. There was genuinely never a shortage of love or attention. But I do understand why you might have extrapolated that from my other replies. It does, however, make my brother much harder to understand.
I was speaking with my husband about the situation earlier and he thinks the best way forward may be to just pretend to my parents that my brother and I have resolved things and it’s fine. Sounds dreadful but we don’t live in the same county so it may actually be the simplest option.July 13, 2022 at 3:38 pm #403936
Thinking of your response again, it’s wild for me to hear an outside perspective that there was potentially always darkness in the family. Because I really can understand why someone would think that. But genuinely, my parents complete beings of joy and love. They are not perfect but there isn’t a single particle of darkness between them. If it helps at all, I have actually been in psychotherapy with them and the therapist never sensed anything but love and concern from them. I just get more and more confused as to how my brother came to be like this.July 13, 2022 at 4:14 pm #403937
I will be able to reply more thoroughly later, maybe in as long as in 14 hours, but for now: like I said, what I presented to you in my previous post is a theory, an effort to explain something based on true principles, but the content of the theory is not necessarily true.
“I just get more and more confused as to how my brother came to be like this“- one of the true principles on which my theory was based is that children are not born… morally defected, unempathetic or sadistic: inclined to enjoy watching someone suffer and/ or die.
“She is involved, insightful and actively loving… She has very high emotional intelligence“- and yet she has no idea why her son is… an odd fish, not a single clue?
I was wondering about your other two brothers, about why they are not involved with the family and how they are doing. You don’t have to answer any of my questions of course, only if you want to keep looking into things.