If you know of someone who’s a narcissist, you’ve probably experienced what is known as narcissistic rage.
While all people get angry sometimes, it’s typically because of some real injustice. However, for the narcissist, this rage typically comes from more trivial and perceived wrongdoings against him or her.
What Is Narcissistic Rage?
Narcissistic rage is extreme anger that is out of proportion to the situation.
It can take the form of an intense, potentially violent, outburst, or it may occur more subtly with extended silent treatment, passive-aggressive behaviors, avoidance, or in the form of sarcastic comments.
A narcissist’s emotional growth is far less developed than someone who does not have this disorder. This person doesn’t understand how to express himself or herself as others can.
This leads to excessive and unreasonable responses to situations that sometimes make the narcissist feel hurt, belittled, or shamed.
For a narcissist, this rage is a way for this person to feel like he or she has some control over the outside world while also avoiding the pain that the individual feels inside due to the perceived slight.
The majority of people have several stages of anger. These stages, including frustration and agitation, are generally proportional to the perceived offense.
That is, the level of anger you feel is based on what happened to you.
Rather than going through various stages of anger as those without NPD do, the narcissist will go from zero to all in right away no matter how small the infraction may seem to an outside observer.
It’s important to know that not all episodes of extreme anger or rage are considered to be the narcissistic rage.
Similar outbursts can occur with anyone who experiences sudden or excessive anger unrelated to narcissistic personality disorder.
Additionally, those with other mental health issues, such as those with bipolar disorder, may also experience extreme outbursts of anger that should not be confused with narcissistic rage.
The key factor regarding narcissistic rage is that the anger is way out of proportion to what triggered this response.
What Triggers a Narcissist’s Rage?
When a narcissist doesn’t receive his or her narcissistic supply or experiences narcissistic injury, this person may fly off the handle, leaving those around him or her completely confused about why this is happening.
Narcissistic supply is the recognition and attention given to the narcissist by others. This person may have singled you out as someone who has previously fulfilled this need, making you a potential target for rage.
There are many reasons why a narcissist will feel and express this rage, and these are based on real or imagined attacks to this person’s overly inflated and extremely fragile self-esteem.
This person may rage for reasons such as the following:
- Not being the center of attention
- Not receiving the recognition he or she feels is deserved
- Feeling criticized even if it’s given in a constructive or helpful way
- Being told he or she is wrong
- Not getting his or her way even if it’s unrealistic
- Getting called out for his or her actions
- Not feeling in control of a situation
- Being made to be accountable for his or her actions
- Not getting special treatment
- Feeling envious of others
The cause of this rage stems from unmet needs, usually occurring during childhood.
When the current needs of the narcissist aren’t met, this person will respond with basic human emotions because he or she hasn’t progressed for growth and maturity during his or her childhood.
A narcissist is typically full of shame, and the grandiose personality that this person develops for himself or herself is a way to deal with that.
However, anything that triggers those feelings of shame and reduces this inflated sense of self will result in narcissistic rage.
Be aware that someone with a narcissistic personality disorder is hypervigilant about his or her environment and how others treat him or her.
This individual is always looking for excessive positive attention and can’t deal with the real or imagined slights that might occur.
Anything that doesn’t fit in with the narcissist’s idea of how he or she should be treated can be perceived as a threat to this person’s fragile identity. He or she is likely to lash out to hurt someone else as a way to feel better.
Ways to Deal with a Narcissist’s Rage
Although the narcissist is likely to blame you, or someone else, for his or her anger, it’s important that you remember it’s not your fault at all. The narcissist has very primitive emotions that he or she can’t deal with the way you do.
Also, because the narcissist likes to place blame, realize this fact so that you don’t take responsibility for something you didn’t do.
Additionally, a narcissist is prone to blame others for his or her actions. This projection is a protective measure so that the narcissist doesn’t have to face up to his or her shortcomings.
This doesn’t mean that you have to tolerate bad behavior in any form. You may have already learned ways to avoid triggering the narcissist, but walking on eggshells all the time doesn’t help your wellness.
The best thing to do is to cut the narcissist out of your life for good. Make sure you have no contact, directly, indirectly, or through a third party.
Any contact will give this person an opening to reel you back into the damaging roller coaster.
However, if this isn’t possible, there are some ways that you can deal with a narcissist’s rage.
Things You Can Do
First of all, it’s important that you stay safe. Remove yourself from the situation if possible, especially if any type of abuse occurs.
You may call law enforcement if the situation gets out of hand.
If the narcissist is using more cover rage, such as passive aggression, the best thing you can do is ignore it and continue with what you’re doing.
Don’t respond with anger. You can’t win an argument with a narcissist. Stay calm and focused, and don’t get sidetracked by the narcissist’s argument and reasoning.
Don’t blame yourself or accept responsibility for the narcissist’s behavior. This person must be accountable for the way that he or she behaves.
Additionally, don’t try to explain the situation logically and why this person is overreacting. The roots of narcissistic rage lay in emotion rather than logic or common sense.
Instead, try to understand where the narcissist is coming from, and validate his or her feelings. Validation doesn’t mean you have to agree with this person; it’s simply acknowledging that the individual feels the way he or she does.
It’s best if you don’t agree with the narcissist’s point and reason for his or her anger because this just plays into the individual’s game and can promote future abusive behavior.
Set boundaries with the narcissist regarding how he or she acts toward you. However, if you do set boundaries, make sure that you stick to them, or the narcissist will push even harder the next time.
Make sure that you take care of yourself. Get the help of a trusted friend, family member, or therapist who can keep you from being gaslighted by the narcissist.
This third party can keep you focused on the reality of a situation so that you don’t fall into the narcissist’s trap.
Dealing with a Narcissist in the Work Environment
In addition to using the tips above for dealing with narcissistic rage, there are other things you can do if you work with a narcissist.
Create a journal where you write down the date, time, and details of the narcissist’s rage you witnessed, directed at you or a coworker.
Avoid being alone with this person. You want to have others around to witness any potentially abusive behavior.
If the narcissist is causing your work environment to be stressful, use your journal and notes to file a complaint with the human resources department where you’re employed.
If you’re in a management position, take all accounts of narcissistic rage against subordinates at face value.
Even if the narcissist is otherwise a good employee, you may have to let this person go if he or she is creating a toxic work environment for others.
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