Causes Of Narcissistic Rage

By: Stephanie Kirby

Updated March 08, 2021

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 person who is narcissistic 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 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 narcissistic rage, you are not alone. 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:

  • 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
  • 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

People with NPD also have trouble handling anything they perceive as criticism. They become impatient or angry when special treatment is denied. People with narcissism feel easily downtrodden or negated when others act superior. It is hard for them to 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.

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.

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"Narcissistic rage" has been studied by several psychologists over the past century. For people with narcissism, there is an intense feeling of being attacked when their 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, they 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. 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. People who are narcissistic 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 person with narcissism, they 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.

People who are 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 they sees themselves, 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 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 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 the person who is a narcissist. Given the excessive demands placed on others in their relationships, they can often feel challenged and eventually angry. Immediately upon feeling challenged, the person with narcissism feels attacked by the other, often responding in a rage to protect their ego or overpower others.
  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 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 false sense of identity and capabilities. While this can begin in childhood, supported by those around them, the person who is narcissistic 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 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 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 rage.

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With little to no protective barrier, the person who is a narcissist has minimal emotional skin. 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. There is often a reduction of personal boundary between the 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 the they feel 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 person who is narcissistic, is attacked verbally or physically. Sometimes the person damages others, either physically or emotionally, while in a narcissistic rage. These episodes can escalate to extremely violent levels, even to the point of homicide in some cases.

Narcissistic rage can also present itself in a passive-aggressive manner. This occurs when they punish the victim by withdrawing all communication. The person with narcissism will sulk or retreat until they feel their 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, also 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:

Medication

While there isn't medication that is specifically for NPD, 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.

Meditation

Research suggests that meditating 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.

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Psychotherapy

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, 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

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."


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