Narcissistic rage is an outburst of intense anger or silence that can happen to someone with narcissistic personality disorder.
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) happens when someone has an exaggerated or overly inflated sense of their own importance. It’s different from narcissism because NPD is linked to genetics and your environment.
Someone experiencing narcissistic rage may feel that someone else or an event in their life is threatening or may injure their self-esteem or self-worth.
They may act and feel grandiose and superior to others. For example, they may demand special treatment and honor even if it appears that they’ve done nothing to earn it.
People with NPD may have an underlying feeling of insecurity and feel unable to handle anything they perceive as criticism.
When their “true self” is revealed, a person with NPD may also feel threatened, and their self-esteem is crushed.
As a result, they may react with a variety of emotions and actions. Rage is only one of them, but it’s often one of the most visible.
Repeated unreasonable reactions happen to people with other conditions, too. If you or a loved one is frequently having these rage episodes, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis and find the best treatment.
What does it look like?
We all desire attention and admiration from the people around us.
But people with NPD may react with narcissistic rage when they aren’t given the attention that they feel they deserve.
This rage may take the form of screaming and yelling. Selective silence and passive-aggressive avoidance can also happen with narcissistic rage.
Most episodes of narcissistic rage exist on a behavior continuum. On one end, a person may be aloof and withdrawn. Their goal may be to hurt another person by being absent.
On the other end are outbursts and explosive actions. Here again, the goal may be to turn the “hurt” they feel into an attack on another person as a form of defense.
It’s important to remember that not all angry outbursts are episodes of narcissistic rage. Anyone is capable of having an angry outburst, even if they don’t have a personality disorder.
Narcissistic rage is just one component of NPD. Other conditions might also cause episodes similar to narcissistic rage, including:
What can lead to episodes of narcissistic rage?
There are three primary reasons that narcissistic rage happens.
Injury to self-esteem or self-worth
Despite an oversized opinion of themselves, people with NPD are often hiding self-esteem that’s easily injured.
When they’re “hurt,” narcissists tend to lash out as their first line of defense. They may feel that cutting someone out or intentionally hurting them with words or violence can help them protect their persona.
A challenge to their confidence
People with NPD tend to try building up confidence in themselves by continually getting away with lies or false personas.
When someone pushes them and exposes a weakness, people with NPD may feel inadequate. That unwelcomed emotion can cause them to lash out as protection.
Sense of self is questioned
If people reveal that someone with NPD isn’t as capable or talented as they may pretend to be, this challenge to their sense of self may result in a cutting and aggressive outburst.