If you ever came across someone with narcissistic personality disorder, the term narcissistic rage shouldn’t sound alien to you. Sometimes, even when everything seems to be go going well, you can witness a narcissist throw a sudden temper tantrum. This display of anger can be either excessive and hysterical or a bit more passive aggressive. Narcissistic rage can be shocking and frightening, and it’s also quite meaningless. Even the constructive criticism the narcissists face look like an unforgivable mistake and insults to them. As a result, they can tell you unspeakable things, they can yell at you or try to punish you with silent treatment. Until they are the winners of the argument, until they force you to retreat or until you decide how badly you hurt them and apologize to them; the rage continues.
Alright, but what kind of situations cause the narcissists to lose control like that? Why do conflicts most people could call mundane hurt the narcissists to the point where they lose control of their emotional stabilities?
In order to answer these questions, we need to examine the term narcissistic injury first. Although the narcissists look confident and self-assured on the outside, that’s actually their way of defending themselves. They’ve abandoned their original identities for a new, stable one back when they were mere children in an attempt to cope with feelings like shame and loneliness they all feel deep inside. At this point, narcissists may not even be aware of these negative feelings and attachment traumas which still hide in their bodies. They’ve drifted away from their original selves and became one with their fake identities. But this fake identity is not as stable as it looks and certain incidents can damage it greatly.
*The first incident that creates a narcissistic injury is the narcissist facing criticism. Whether it’s a real criticism or something the narcissist takes as criticism; being criticized affects the narcissists (especially covert narcissists) greatly. Even the lightest criticism can ruin the illusion they have created for themselves in their heads. But this illusion is everything to them, they cannot let it be destroyed.
*A conflict with their inner circle can easily anger the narcissists. Narcissists find it hard to see other people (especially those who are close to them) as separate individuals and instead perceive them as mere extensions of themselves. Although this mostly occurs with their children, they can also treat their spouses, partners or friends as such. Therefore, when you don’t agree with the narcissist, it can cause them to get a narcissistic injury. Especially if you stated this disagreement in public rather than when you were alone with them, they can take this as an open threat. If it happened in public, the narcissist is unlikely to overreact because they can’t do anything that could damage their own public image. But once you’re alone, you can face the narcissist’s wrath or ice-cold silence. This delayed active or passive rage can be quite confusing. You didn’t even know there was a problem to begin with, and yet you’re being punished because of it.
* Another incident occurs when people try to set boundaries between themselves and the narcissist. Narcissists are extremely controlling people and they systematically invade other people’s boundaries. If the narcissist’s victim realizes that at some point and decides to rebel against the narcissist; they see that they’re losing control and the possibility of losing the narcissistic resources can cause them to panic and overreact. One of the reasons why no contact rule is so hard to follow is the fear of facing the narcissistic rage.
* When someone tries to confront the narcissist about how poorly they are being treated by them, the narcissistic rage can emerge. Narcissists are horrible at accepting their own faults. In fact, most of the time they prefer projecting their own mistakes onto others. The victims of the narcissists, on the other hand, tend to blame themselves for everything. Though the narcissist’s attempt at projection does not always work and sometimes the victims don’t buy these lies and manipulations. At that point, the possibility of others seeing their true colors can cause the narcissist great stress and lead them to overreact.
* Also, when someone attempts to take away the admiration, attention, special treatment and praise they crave so desperately; the narcissist can lose control. Narcissists are addicted to their narcissistic nutrition like an alcoholic is addicted to alcohol.
People who face narcissistic rage can feel guilty. As I’ve mentioned above, someone who’s with a narcissist can continue feeling like they are the ones to blame even if they’re obviously the victim here. Therefore, they can feel like they rubbed the other party the wrong way and thus, feel guilty about hitting their soft underbelly. They can even apologize to the narcissist. The problem is, the narcissists’ real confidence tend to be so low that they have multiple soft underbellies. At that point, people who can never satisfy the narcissist or be good enough in their eyes no matter what, do start feeling a deep resentment, sadness and rage inside them. These rapidly growing feelings which often target themselves instead of the actual guilty party eventually lead to severe depression.
Another reaction is to answer rage with rage. In that case, sometimes people feel a certain degree of relief. Because they think as such: “I’m not letting them treat me poorly. I’m standing up for myself. I’m not staying silent and just taking it, I’m fighting against it.” On the other hand, this attitude sadly doesn’t really work because just because you’re reacting it doesn’t mean the bad treatment won’t continue. Although reacting can make the victim feel a tad better about themselves, this incident also occurs when they fail to accept the severity of the situation. People who react to negativity with negativity find it even harder to see that they’re being abused just because they’re not taking it silently. The first step to end narcissistic abuse is to accept that it exists. Even if words like “victim” sound unpleasant to someone who suffered at the hands of a narcissist, unfortunately you cannot get out of this situation (denial) until you accept the fact you are indeed a victim.
Another natural reaction to narcissistic rage is fear. The unexpected outburst of the narcissist can frighten others and in order to soothe their anger, they can be inclined to give the narcissist what they demand and try to avoid angering them in the future by doing as they’re told. Eventually, they can stop being themselves and turn into a shadow who’s constantly walking on eggshells.
If you’re still with the narcissist or if you still feel yourself under their influence despite having removed them from your life, know that the narcissistic injury isn’t about you. What makes the narcissist upset, angry or unhappy has nothing to do with you. They’ve been damaged deeply and beyond repair long before you entered their life and therefore, it is neither your fault nor your responsibility. You cannot fix or cure the narcissist. All you can do is to focus on your own injuries and try to fix the damage they left behind.
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You can also find the articles on https://medium.com/@narsistsiz:
Ross Rosenberg. “Narcissistic Injuries: What They Are and How to Protect Yourself from Them”. Access 8 October, 2018. https://psychcentral.com/lib/narcissistic-injuries-what-they-are-and-how-to-protect-yourself-from-them/.
Neil J Lavender. “The Narcissistic Wound”. Access 10 January, 2014. https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/impossible-please/201401/the-narcissistic-wound.