Causes Of Narcissistic Rage

Updated October 5, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental condition with a personally inflated sense of self-importance and a deep need for excessive attention and admiration. Continue reading to learn more about NPD and other mental health conditions, signs of narcissistic rage, and the treatment options available such as online therapy.

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissistic Rage Can Negatively Affect All Of The Relationships In Your Life

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 romantic relationships and a lack of empathy for others. A person who experiences narcissism displays a great amount of pride and arrogance. If they are put into a situation where they feel they are not receiving the admiration they deserve, it can lead to displays of intense rage. Causes of narcissistic rage include the following, which we’ll discuss in detail later in this article:

  • Challenged confidence
  • Very low self esteem
  • A false sense of self

If you have experienced narcissistic rage or narcissistic abuse, you are not alone. There are ways to get help. If you struggle with tendencies like narcissistic rage or experienced a narcissistic injury, it can be hard to deal with situations where you feel like your ego is being threatened and you lose self control.

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, which can result in narcissistic rage. 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 narcissistic 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 Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Around 6% of the American population struggle with this personality type condition which is one of many mental disorders. According to the diagnostic and statistical manual (DSM-5) criteria, some basic signs of a narcissistic personality disorder may vary among different people and not all narcissists may experience all the symptoms but can include any of the following:

  • Having an exaggerated sense of self-worth and personal achievements
  • Feeling a sense of entitlement, with a need for constant, excessive admiration
  • Possessing self-superiority without supporting achievements
  • Constantly breaking rules as if they don’t apply to them
  • Having a self-superior nature and only willing to associate with equally superior people
  • Expecting special favors and submission of others to their expectations
  • Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Being envious of others, while believing all others envy them
  • Exhibiting arrogance or haughty behavior, also appearing conceited, boastful, and pretentious

Narcissists can have high functioning in society and can also be incredibly charming so you may not immediately know you’re dealing with a narcissist in the beginning.

If you or someone you love experiences any of these signs of narcissistic rage, you’re not alone. People with NPD and narcissistic rage also have trouble handling anything they perceive as criticism or a perceived offense. A narcissist feels impatient or angry when special treatment is denied and that may escalate conflicts.

Most narcissists who may experience narcissistic rage feel easily downtrodden or negated when others act superior. It is hard for them to stay come and regulate emotions, behavior, stress, and changes in their own life. Furthermore, people with narcissism often face depression, insecurity, shame, or other reduced feelings because their attempts at perfection are not achieved or if they receive anything other than positive feedback.

What Is The Definition of Narcissistic Rage?

The term “narcissist” is based on the Greek mythological figure Narcissus who was in love with his reflection. 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. For most narcissists, there is an intense feeling of being attacked when their grandiose sense of self-worth or overgrown ego is downplayed or they don’t get their own way. Without the ability to handle these situations calmly, narcissists will often launch into uncontrollable narcissistic rage and other narcissistic behavior. Sometimes with the loss of an ability to defend oneself where they are losing control, these rages appear constant or continual. Anyone who experiences this rage requires assistance.

The Difference From Basic Anger

This narcissistic rage is triggered easily by a range of things that would only slightly irritate another person resulting in intense anger or explosive rage. Narcissists tend to have thin skin and may launch into violent rage from something that would appear trivial to others, for example, small disagreements or denied desires and wishes or other factors. Any time you trigger any shameful feeling for the person with narcissism, they can launch into a rage.

For most people, rage 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 psychiatrist Adam Blatner, these are the path of signs of common rage:

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

2-Anxiety. Subtle clues are used to express anger.

3-Agitation. Displeasure is expressed publicly without blame.

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

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

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

7-Rage. Lose temper and then launch into narcissistic rage or aggression. Not all angry outbursts result in rage.

People who are narcissists and who experience narcissistic rage do not follow the common pathway of rage and not all angry outbursts will have every level of emotion. They are often driven from agitation into an aggressive rage with a simple trigger. Any small play against their ego, perfectionism, or narcissistic supply – or even the slightest action against their image of self-worth – may be enough to trigger narcissistic rage. Narcissists feel this rage is perfectly acceptable to how they see themselves, though others from an outside perspective usually don’t understand the signs of narcissistic rage and it is not an acceptable expression of rage.

Causes of Anger And Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Without constant support and a positive sense of self, the ego of the person who is a narcissist is very fragile. They perceive any negative comments toward them as an immense humiliation. When this occurs, they can be thrown into a narcissistic rage; this perceived negativity is often called a “narcissistic injury.” according to social psychology. The injury and resulting in narcissistic rage 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 the person who is a narcissist. Given the excessive demands placed on others in their relationships, they can often feel challenged and eventually angry. 
  2. Injury to Esteem – Injury to the self-esteem of the person with narcissism can induce feelings of shame or failure. Because they project entitlement and self-importance to extremes, any failures pointed out by others in their life that cause law self esteem 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 a false sense of identity and capabilities. While this can begin in childhood, supported by those around them, the narcissist often has an underlying sense of feeling unworthy or being unlovable by those close to them. They may acquire superficial relationships that nurture the false sense of self and can continue feeding those positive feelings. When an intimate lover or partner expresses doubts to the person with narcissism, a rage often surfaces. This can sometimes result in silent treatment, angry outbursts or other narcissistic abuse.

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 of these extreme outbursts. The person is often on the lookout for downplays from others –  from criticisms to disagreements to more. This can easily lead to humiliation or feelings of rejection, eventually manifesting as narcissistic rage.

They are 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 and make them prone to rage. There is often a reduction of the personal boundary between them and others, which can lead to feelings of helplessness or victimization. The person experiencing narcissism can sometimes feel as though others have left them abandoned, rejected, and alone. In this manner, it is hard for them to manage their feelings or honestly approach their issues.

The person with narcissism not only shows an unusual addiction to rage but also this is their method of fighting for attention. This way they gain the eyes and ears of everyone around them in every situation. People with narcissism 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 who they feel should care the most about them.

This rage is a way of scrambling to hold on to everyone and everything they feel slipping away at times.

Two Types of Anger: Explosive & Passive-Aggressive

Explosive narcissistic rage often appears completely unprovoked. Such outbursts usually appear highly volatile where the victim is attacked with physical or verbal abuse. Sometimes the person can damage others with their angry outbursts, either physically or emotionally, while in their rage. These episodes can escalate to extremely violent levels, even to the point of homicide in some cases. If you or someone you love is experiencing domestic abuse, it’s important to seek help right away. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available for confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They can be reached for free by calling 800.799.SAFE (7233). If you believe a person’s life is in immediate danger, seek help immediately by calling your local emergency number.

Medical reviewers claim narcissistic rage can also present itself in a passive-aggressive manner. This occurs when they punish the victim by withdrawing all communication with passive aggressive defense mechanisms like the silent treatment. The person with narcissism will sulk or retreat until they feel their message has been received by the other person.

Treatment Options

Narcissistic Personality Disorder causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school, or financial affairs. They may get caught breaking rules which may even lead to problems with the law. 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, also known as psychotherapy.

But there are other options available, including the following:


While there isn’t a medication that is specifically for narcissistic rage, there are prescription medications that can help, such as antidepressants and mood stabilizers. The type of medication that could work will depend on what symptoms they are living with and any other mental health challenges that they’re facing.


Peer reviewed studies suggests that meditating can help reduce your body’s response to anger and thus reducing rage. 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.

Support Groups

A support group can be incredibly helpful for narcissists to learn healthy coping skills from other individuals experiencing the same mental health issues.


As mentioned above, psychotherapy is an effective form of therapy for NPD and narcissistic rage. There are multiple types of “talk therapy” available. Some focus on helping you look and analyze situations in your life, while 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 person to accept treatment. If you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself, seeking out a doctor or an in-person or online counselor can help make your life more rewarding and enjoyable once the right treatment is initiated.

BetterHelp Offers A Convenient Solution For Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic Rage Can Negatively Affect All Of The Relationships In Your Life

If you’re interested in therapy options to cope with narcissistic rage within yourself or a loved one, 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.

BetterHelp Therapist 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!"
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"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."
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Therapy can help you cope with issues like narcissistic rage and other symptoms, and certified professionals can help you work through living with the pain narcissists may inflict on you and other factors. If you’re still wondering if therapy is right for you to cope with narcissistic rage, please reach out to a therapist BetterHelp.

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