Causes Of Narcissistic Rage

By: Stephanie Kirby

Updated June 19, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Sonya Bruner

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental condition in which a person has a personally inflated sense of self-importance and a deep need for excessive attention and admiration. It causes troubled relationships and a lack of empathy for others. A narcissist displays a great amount of pride and arrogance, and if they are put into a situation where they feel they are not receiving the admiration they deserve, it can lead to displays of narcissistic rage. Causes of narcissistic rage include the following, which we'll discuss in detail later in this article:

  • Challenged confidence
  • Injury to self-esteem
  • A false sense of self

If you have experienced one of these episodes, you are not the only one; there are ways to get help.

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If you struggle with narcissistic tendencies it can be hard to deal with situations where you feel like your ego is being threatened. When you feel like people are questioning your abilities and skills or that you aren't getting the appreciation and recognition that you deserve, it can stir up a lot of emotions. While emotions themselves aren't wrong, it's possible that they can lead you astray when not properly controlled. Specifically, they can lead to episodes of rage and aggression. Understanding the cause of these feelings and learning the right ways to respond can help you to live a more rewarding life.

Symptoms of NPD

Around 6% of the American population has this condition. Some basic signs and symptoms of narcissism may vary among different people, but can include any of the following:

  • An exaggerated sense of self-worth and personal achievements
  • Feeling of entitlement, with a need for constant, excessive admiration
  • Possessing self-superiority without supporting achievements
  • Having a self-superior nature- only willing to associate with equally superior people
  • Expect special favors and submission of others to their expectations
  • Inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Being envious of others, while believing all others envy them
  • Arrogance or haughty behavior, also appearing conceited, boastful, and pretentious

People with NPD also have trouble handling anything they perceive as criticism. They become impatient or angry when special treatment is denied. Narcissists feel easily downtrodden or negated when others act superior. It is hard for the narcissist to regulate emotions, behavior, stress, and change in their own life. Furthermore, narcissists often face depression, insecurity, shame or other reduced feelings because their attempts at perfection are not achieved.

Definition of Narcissistic Rage

The term "narcissist" is based on the Greek mythological figure Narcissus, in love with his reflection, with even more depth to the personality disorder. Larger than egotism, narcissism focuses on self-perfection and can bring about a strong rage when others downplay their image in any manner.


"Narcissistic rage" has been studied by several psychologists over the past century. In the narcissist, there is an intense feeling of being attacked when his or her grandiose sense of self-worth or overgrown ego are downplayed. Either a "narcissistic injury" or "narcissistic scar" causes this individual pain, and the response is intense. Without the ability to handle these situations calmly, the narcissist will often launch into an uncontrollable rage. This rage is a source of protection or defense from the perceived shame or pain that they are unable to face. Sometimes with the loss of an ability to defend or control oneself, these rages appear constant or continual, and anyone who experiences this rage is in need of assistance.

Narcissistic Rage Is Different From Basic Anger

Narcissistic rage is triggered easily by a range of things that would only slightly irritate another person. A narcissist may launch into violent rage from something that would appear trivial to others, for example small disagreements or denied desires and wishes. Any time you trigger any shameful feeling for the narcissist, he or she can launch into a rage.

For most people, anger goes through seven levels of emotion, each of which requires a proper amount of control. While these levels are different from one person to the next, according to psychology, they follow this general path:

1-Stress. Subconscious feelings of anger felt without expression.

2-Anxiety. Subtle clues used to express anger.

3-Agitation. Displeasure expressed publicly without blame.

4-Irritation. Some displeasure used to bring a response from the other.

5-Frustration. Facial expressions or harsh words to show anger.

6-Anger. Loud anger, vocal or yelling, along with dramatic expression.

7-Rage. Lose temper and then launch into rage or aggression.

Narcissists do not follow the common pathway of anger. They are often driven from agitation into an aggressive rage with a simple trigger. Any small play against their ego or perfectionism -or even the slightest action against their image of self-worth- may be enough to trigger this. The rage is perfectly acceptable to how the narcissist sees himself, though others usually don't understand it and it is not an acceptable expression of anger.

Causes of Narcissistic Rage

Without constant support and positive sense of self, the narcissist's ego is very fragile. They perceive any negative comments towards them as an immense humiliation. When this occurs, they can be thrown into a rage; this perceived negativity is often called a "narcissistic injury". The injury is usually caused by one of three things: challenged confidence, injured self-esteem or a false sense of self.

  1. Challenged Confidence - The appearance of confidence, self-assurance, and entitlement are significant to a narcissist. Given the excessive demands placed on others in their relationships, narcissists can often feel challenged and eventually angry. Immediately upon feeling challenged, the narcissist feels attacked by the other, often responding in a rage in an attempt to protect their ego or overpower others.
  2. Injury to Esteem - Injury to the narcissist's self-esteem can be part of feelings of shame or failure. Because the narcissist projects entitlement and self-importance to extremes, any failures pointed out by others in their life eventually leads to their rage. This rage can be directed as revenge upon the accuser and may include acts of violence.
  3. False Sense of Self - This includes the narcissist's false sense of identity and his capabilities. While this can begin in childhood, supported by those around him, the narcissist often has an underlying sense of feeling unworthy or being unlovable by those close to him. The narcissist may acquire superficial relationships that nurture the false sense of self and can continue feeding those positive feelings. However, when an intimate lover or partner expresses doubts about the narcissist, a narcissistic rage often surfaces.

It is important to know that narcissistic rage is not a reaction to stress or simple anger at not having their needs met. There is usually a much larger, underlying, personal fear to these extreme outbursts. The narcissist is often on the lookout for downplays from others in his life- from criticisms to disagreement to more. This can easily lead to humiliation or feelings of rejection, eventually manifesting as rage.

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With little to no protective barrier, the narcissist has minimal emotional skin. He is ultra-sensitive, making personal experiences overly intense. With the inability to maintain a solid or true self, their identity can become over-inflated at times. There is often a reduction of personal boundary between the narcissist and others, which can lead to feelings of helplessness or victimization. The narcissist can sometimes feel as though others have left them abandoned, rejected, and alone. In this manner, it is hard for the narcissist to manage his feelings or honestly approach his issues.

The narcissist not only shows an unusual addiction to rage; it is their method of fighting for attention- gaining the eyes and ears of everyone around them in every situation. Narcissists want everything to be about their wants and needs. Deep down this is because they are afraid of losing everything important in their life, including the people that they feel should care the most about them. This rage is a way of scrambling to hold on to everyone and everything the narcissist feels slipping away at times.

Two Types of Narcissistic Rage: Explosive & Passive-Aggressive

Explosive narcissistic rage often appears completely unprovoked. Such outbursts usually appear highly volatile where the victim, even the narcissist himself at times, is attacked verbally or physically. Sometimes the narcissist damages others - either physically or emotionally- while in a narcissistic rage. Unfortunately, these episodes can escalate to extremely violent levels-even to the point of homicide in some cases.

Narcissistic rage present itself in a passive-aggressive manner. This occurs when the narcissist will punish the victim by withdrawing all communication. He sulks or retreats until he feels his message has been received by the other person.

Treatment options for Narcissistic Rage

NPD causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school, or financial affairs. Anyone with NPD may be generally unhappy and disappointed when they're not given the special favors or admiration they believe they deserve. They may find any or all relationships unfulfilling, and others in their life may not enjoy being around them. Treatment for NPD usually includes talk therapy, as known as psychotherapy.

Those with NPD usually don't think that anything could be wrong, making them unlikely to seek treatment. But there are other options available, including the following:


While there isn't medication that is specifically for NPD, there are prescription medications that can help. These include things like antidepressants and mood stabilizers. The type of medication that could work for you will depend on what symptoms you're living with and any other mental health challenges that you're facing.


Research suggests that meditating 20 minutes a day can help reduce your body's response to anger. If you engage in consistent meditation (several times a week), your ability to remain calm in anger-provoking situations will be enhanced. However, NPD can be more complex than simple anger. Seeking professional help is recommended.



As mentioned above, psychotherapy is an effective form of therapy for NPD and rage. There are multiple types of "talk therapy" available. Some focus on helping you look and analyze situations in your life, and others help you focus on learning to control your thoughts.

Typically, treatment is often sought for symptoms of depression, drug or alcohol use, or another mental health problem- instead of the core issue of narcissism. The perceived negation of their self-esteem can make it hard for the patient to accept treatment. If you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself, seeking out,a doctor or therapist can help make your life more rewarding and enjoyable once the right treatment is initiated.

BetterHelp Offers a Convenient Solution

If you're interested in therapy options, because you think this is an area of struggle for you, consider BetterHelp. BetterHelp offers online therapy that makes getting help convenient. You don't have to worry about going into an office and can discreetly talk with a therapist when and how you need it. You can read reviews of a few of our therapists below.

Counselor Reviews

"Regina helped me pinpoint where my anger issue stemmed from in the very first session, and has been helping me become more self aware of my warning triggers. Very insightful and helpful!"

"Josh has been really helpful to me and helping me find ways to control my anger. I am more positive now and it's all thanks to Josh for helping me get strategies."

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the 9 traits of a narcissist?

There are more than 9 traits associated with narcissism. There are many symptoms, or traits, that someone that is narcissistic may present. Nine traits to note include: feeling they are self-important, feeling entitled, a need to be recognized, belief that they are superior, they expect to be praised, using others to get what they want, exaggerating their abilities or accomplishments, talking bad about people, and feeling they are better than everyone else, where no one is on their level. If someone you know experiences these traits, they may need help to overcome their pathological narcissism.

Are Narcissists aggressive?

Narcissists can be aggressive sometimes, especially when they don’t get what they want. For example, when a person is exhibiting narcissistic behavior, they may get aggressive or angry when they are not treated as though they are special or don’t receive better treatment than others. Narcissists may enter fits of rage at times, since they often have problems with their feelings and the way that they express them. At the same time, you should not expect all narcissists to be aggressive.

What do narcissists do when confronted?

Narcissists tend to not notice that they are experiencing some of the symptoms they have, even if they are fairly obvious to the people around them. If you confront a narcissist about something they have done, they may feel like you are against them and become defensive about it. Be as respectful as you can anytime you talk to a narcissist, since you would want someone to be nice to you if you were experiencing narcissistic symptoms. Otherwise, you may end up causing a narcissist to go into episodes of narcissistic rage. This is unlikely to help you get through to them and should be avoided at all costs.

How do you break up with a narcissist?

Breaking up with a narcissist may be a bit different than breaking up with someone that does not experience narcissistic behavior. For instance, the person you are breaking up with may feel like the breakup is sudden and a harsh decision. They may also beg you to reconsider and promise changes in the relationship. You will need to be strong and be comfortable with the decision you made. If you decide you don’t want a narcissist in my life anymore, you might have to stay away from social media sites, as well as mutual friends that you had with your partner.

How does a narcissistic mother behave?

There are a few signs to watch for if you think your mother is a narcissist. She may only provide you with love under certain conditions and does her best to control you. Other signs include she does not think she has to obey rules, she puts you down or makes you the butt of jokes, and she sometimes plays into your fears. Your mom may also exhibit unpredictable behavior, where she goes into episodes of narcissistic rage at times. Moreover, she will refuse to validate your point of view. If any of these things are familiar to you and remind you of your mother, please know that there is help available to you. You may need therapy to move past having a narcissistic mother.

What does a narcissist need?

Essentially, a narcissist needs to be the most important person in the room. They often have a grand sense of self-esteem, so they feel that they are the most accomplished and smartest person in the room. When others act towards them in that manner, there are generally no issues. However, if someone disagrees or does not treat a narcissist in the way that they want to be treated, there may be episodes of narcissistic rage that must be dealt with.

How do you calm a narcissistic rage?

NPD and rage can go hand in hand, since a narcissist may have trouble with their emotions, at times. If you want to calm narcissistic rage, you will likely have to get through the outburst first. Next, you should do what you can to convince your friend or loved one that they are exhibiting narcissistic behavior. If the person that is having episodes of narcissistic rage is a co-worker or stranger, you may want to avoid them as much as you can. It is also important to note that you do not have to accept a physical altercation with anyone. If someone with narcissism harms you in a physical manner, you may find that it’s necessary to contact the police or authorities.

How do you convince a narcissist?

If you are trying to convince a narcissist to agree with something you have said or done, this might be difficult. Since you know that there is a relationship between narcissism and a great love for one’s self, you may have to appeal to a narcissist by telling them what you like about them first. Then you can move onto the part of the conversation where you may need to offer a counterpoint or convince them of something. If you are trying to convince them to get treatment, you will need to be kind and patient with them, and let them know that you care about them and their well-being. In other words, you may need to up their narcissistic supply, or the attention they need to receive, first before they will consider hearing you out at all.


If you feel you suffer from NPD and are prone to narcissistic rages, there are ways to change your behavior and get help. There are options. Treatment, such as psychotherapy, can help you gain control of these negative and difficult emotions. You can find a more fulfilling life, with more rewarding relationships. Take the first step today.

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