Causes Of Narcissistic Rage

Updated July 29, 2019

Reviewer Sonya Bruner

Definition Of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic Rage Can Negatively Affect All Of The Relationships In Your Life
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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. It causes troubled relationships and a lack of empathy for others. The term "narcissist" is based on the Greek mythological figure Narcissus, in love with his reflection, with even more depth to the personality disorder. A narcissist displays a great amount of pride and arrogance, while the excessive response to others in their life often leads to displays of narcissistic rage. Larger than egotism, narcissism focuses on self-perfection and brings a strong rage when others downplay their image in any manner.

Signs And Symptoms Of Narcissism

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
● The expectation of self-superiority without supporting achievements
● Having a self-superior nature only willing to associate with equally special people
● Expect special favors and un-denied submission to their expectations
● Inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
● They are envious of others while believing all others envy them
● Arrogance or haughty behavior, appearing conceited, boastful and pretentious

At the same time, people with NPD 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 his own life. Narcissists often face depression, insecurity, shame or other reduced feelings because attempted perfection is not achieved.

Definition Of Narcissistic Rage

"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 at all. 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.

The 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 definitely in need of assisted management.

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 while in a narcissistic rage, even to the level of homicide in some cases.

Narcissistic rage can also be demonstrated in a passive-aggressive manner where the narcissist will punish the victim by withdrawing all communication. He sulks or retreats to a form of invisibility until he feels his message has been received.

Narcissistic Rage Is Different From Basic Anger


Narcissists are triggered easily into a rage by something that would typically only provoke anger or irritation in someone else. A narcissist may launch into violent rage from something that would appear trivial to others; like disagreements, or denied desires or wishes. Any time you trigger any shameful feeling for the narcissist, he or she will launch into 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 right from agitation into an aggressive rage when the simplest trigger appears. 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.

Symptoms Of Narcissistic Rage

The narcissist faces feelings of vulnerability, humiliation or rejection by seeing his sense of self-worth plummet. The rage may not always be extreme or aggressive, but it is always focused on regaining personal self-worth rather than repairing the relationships with others in their life.

When the narcissist does not gain recognition or admiration from others a feeling of rejection or loss sets in. If a narcissist is asked to support their opinions or beliefs a rage can set in because that automatic sense of admiration or importance has diminished. As a narcissistic rage increases it may grow from mildly to incredibly violent.

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

Without constant support and positive sense of self, the narcissist's ego is very fragile. Any negative response or humiliation could throw them into a rage in the blink of an eye. This 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 - An appearance of confidence, self-assurance, and entitlement are significant to a narcissist with an underlying feeling of inadequacy and insecurity. Given the excessive demands placed on others in their relationships, they can often feel challenged and eventually angry. Immediately upon being 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. While the narcissist projects entitlement and self-importance to extremes, failures are pointed out by others in their life which eventually leads to their rage. This can be attempted revenge upon the accuser, along with 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 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 personal fear underlying these extreme outbursts against others, especially upon a response to what they perceive as personal injury. The narcissist is often on the lookout for downplays from others in his life, from criticism to disagreement or more. This can easily lead to humiliation or feelings of rejection, eventually turning toward the expression of rage.

With little to know the 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 the identity can become over-inflated at times, even without reason. With the mythical image of the "broken mirror" of Narcissus, there is often a reduction of personal boundary between the narcissist and others, making the reflection in the mirror a comparison to others, often leading back to those feelings of helplessness or victimization, sometimes feeling 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 a usual addiction to rage, but it is their method of fighting for attention along with a gain of the eyes and ears of everyone around them in every situation. It is the expression that everything needs to be about their wants and needs, and that it should be the priority to be met. Deep down this is more of a claim that 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.

When To See A Doctor 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 (psychotherapy).


Those with NPD usually don't think that anything could be wrong, making them unlikely to seek treatment. 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. 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.


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