Narcissistic rage is the response of a narcissist to anything they perceive as a threat to their ego, their control or their power.
It is usually intense, out of proportion, often random and is used to manipulate.
Before looking at each of these items, a bit of background.
Narcissistic rage is said to occur in some paranoid delusions as well as some catatonic states but this article will only discuss the situation of narcissists.
Remember these are grandiose, self-centered individuals who believe they are superior to others, with an enormous sense of entitlement, who take sadistic pleasure in dominating others and who take whatever they want.
They have a huge but fragile ego, an inflated self-esteem and live in a world where, for all intents and purposes, they see themselves as perfect and expect others to live up to their ideals.
And they expect praise, adoration, respect and submission from those around them in order to bolster their ego and maintain their sense of importance. And they expect a lot of it, and regularly!
However, now and then their power is challenged, or someone criticizes them, or a partner or the husband of a narcissistic wife asks for their own needs to be put before that of the narcissist, or someone questions the entitlement of the narcissist.
These are a threat to the narcissist's ego and his sense of control and the term used is narcissistic injury. An injury can be a real threat or a perceived threat. So even if the narcissist thinks that there is a threat, he or she may respond with rage.
The narcissistic rage can vary from giving the cold shoulder to full blown violent episodes. But both of these things can be devastating to the person on the receiving end.
Remember, narcissists create a dependency in their victims so that the whole world of the partner or child revolves around the narcissist. This is explained in detail in the article on narcissistic parents.
If the narcissist withdraws 'affection' or deliberately pays no attention to the partner, the effect can be devastating. Only if you have suffered this can you know how deeply it can hurt.
And at the same time the narcissist may also be plotting how to get revenge on the person who dared to challenge them. So the person gets twice the punishment...!
At the other end of the spectrum is the violence, which can be verbal, sexual or physical. Malignant narcissists will throw things around a room, smashing items, furniture, doors and walls. And beating their 'attacker' is quite common, too.
And verbal violence is a speciality with them. The verbally abusive man or woman knows how to instantly make a person feel about 2 inches tall. They will go straight for the weakest points and they have no problem fighting dirty either.
The result is often that the supposed attacker ends up feeling guilty, ashamed, responsible and frustrated. And a loser... again!
Narcissistic rage is typically sudden and intense. The person subjected to it feels very much that they are being attacked. There is no doubt this. Even if they are getting the cold shoulder treatment, the effect is severe because of the level of dependency.
Watching someone destroy the walls of the room in a rage is intense. Having someone strangle you while screaming in your face is intense. Listening to someone you like or love belittling you, by attacking your weaknesses in a systematic, deliberate and cruel way, is intense.
Narcissistic rage is also often disproportionate in that the narcissist can react to something that he perceives as a threat, whereas no-one else would. This can be an innocuous comment, a tone of voice, or even a hand gesture. But it's enough to elicit full blown rage, much to the distress of those in the vicinity.
Narcissists are also inconsistent in their responses in general. This applies to their episodes of rage, too. One day something upsets them, the next day not. Or all of a sudden they decide that they don't like something and it sets them off.
The result is that the partners of narcissists or the children of a controlling mother become very sensitive to the moods of the narcissists. They become hypervigilant, all the time being careful not to upset the monster. And if course, this is great for the narcissist. People around him or her are giving them more attention and being submissive and taking more care of them and so on.
Most of all, the narcissistic rage is manipulative. It trains those around narcissists how to make decisions and how to behave. It is a way for the narcissist to punish unwanted behavior in their minions.
Some narcissists will even throw rages for no reason other than to show who's boss!
The rages are often confined to one situation. For example, they happen at home with the family but never outside. This allows the narcissist to maintain the persona of being friendly, helpful, a wonderful person to those outside while only the family gets to see the real creature.
And they become part of a vicious cycle, where the victim believes they are to blame for the rages, and so they try to be on their best behavior around the narcissist. But that does not always work because the narcissist moves the goal posts and the not knowing adds to the dependency of the victims. And they become more susceptible to the outbursts, and on and on and on...
Some web pages have advice about not taking the narcissistic rage personally. After all, it's all about the person with narcissistic personality disorder. You should keep calm, maintain your boundaries and explain later that such behavior is not acceptable to you.
And you should keep in mind at all times that the narcissistic rage is occurring because the narcissists ego is threatened, or they are facing shame over the prospect of failing, or they are unable to deal with the feelings of inadequacy...
This is all very nice in theory, but I suspect that these people have never been the target of narcissistic rage!
Even when narcissists are in the middle of an episode, they still have enough control to talk about aspects of you that you'd prefer were secret. They make it very personal. Intimately so.
I agree that they may be taking you down a peg or 10 so that they can feel better/superior/in charge, but they are still hammering you in a very personal manner, whether it's with a fist or a barrage of words. They are having a go specifically at you.
In a half an hour they may have a go at someone else but they will do it differently, depending on the person that they are attacking. It is very personal. Period.
This is why I maintain that the rages are manipulative and are part of the mind control narcissists use. The effect is to keep people dependent on the narcissist.
This also explains why people stay in abusive relationships. They are totally dependent on the abuser. Leaving is not a simple option.
Leaving is the best option. Get out of the relationship and stay out. No contact.
This, of course, means undoing the mind control, undoing the dependency, working to get your life back and taking control for yourself again.
There really is no way of dealing with narcissistic rage, or tolerating it, or getting used to it. Leaving yourself in a position where you are the target of this kind of anger and control is a waste of your life.
If you are looking for techniques to manage these situations, or ways to help the person with narcissistic disorder to change, please give it up!
Firstly, they will not change.
Secondly, being a target of these rages is destroying you. It is abusive and you should not have to tolerate such treatment.
There are no short cuts here and it takes courage, effort and time to get out of a relationship with a narcissist. But it's the only way to get free.
Currently, psychoeducation is the basis of treatment for getting rid of narcissists and working with a professional who deals exclusively with the area of mind control, narcissists and psychopaths is highly recommended so that the process is speeded up and you avoid the mistakes in dealing with narcissists.
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If you think you are or have been in a cult or a destructive relationship, or a friend or family member might be in a cult and you want to talk to someone, send me a message on the Contact page and we can arrange to talk. All communication will be treated in the strictest confidence.
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