Back in sixth grade, my class put on a play. After the play, my girlfriend and I snuck off to an empty classroom.
We were quite excited as we never had the chance to be alone during school. In my excitement I forgot about my narcissistic mother.
But I quickly remembered her when she burst through the class room door. Anger roiled off her like a demon who broke his bonds.
In her anger, she didn’t care about maintaining appearances in front of my girlfriend. She started raging right in front of her. She yelled, “How dare you leave me in the auditorium alone? I was waiting and waiting for your thoughtless ass.” Of course she threw in question of how could I do this after everything she does for me.
She told me she put aside some money to take me out after the play. “There’s no way we’re doing that now,” she said. “I only take out my children that love me. And you’re clearly not one of them.”
I followed her out to the car. She stomped through the hallways, ignoring those who said hi to her. In the car she really let me have it. She screamed at me as she stomped on the gas and weaved in and out of traffic.
At home, she informed me I was grounded without TV or phone privileges. She tossed items around the house and told me to get out of her site. Feeling perplexed at her level of rage, but guilty for it none the less, I tried to say I am sorry and that I loved her.
“No son of mine who loved me would have left me alone to go off with some tart,” she said.
I went to my room and fantasized about running away. Something I dreamed of regularly
Narcissistic Injury, the Cause of Narcissistic Rage
What caused my mother to react so enraged to me stealing a few moments with my girlfriend? I’m sure you have plenty of similar incidents from your past and wonder the same thing.
Before getting to the explanation, it’s helpful to review a few facts about narcissists. We’ll need these facts to explain their rage attacks.
Remember that the narcissist’s true self has been crushed to a point of near non-existence. Without a true sense of self, the narcissist must construct a mask (a self) that he presents to the world. It is with this false-self that a narcissists stands before the world and says, “This is who I am!”
The narcissist has fantasies that he is grandiose, desirable, loved, even omnipotent and omniscient. He can be very charismatic and charming. You may have been surprised by the way your narcissistic parent acted with other people. And you may have been more surprised at the affection they showed him or her. This was your parent manipulating other people so they would supply your parent with narcissistic supply.
Harvesting narcissistic supply is a narcissist’s main goal—just as harvesting blood is a vampire’s. Narcissistic supply comes in the form of compliments, adoration, shows of affection, sex, being included in an exclusive group—anything that builds one up. Fear and hatred can be narcissistic supply if it makes the narcissist feel more powerful.
The narcissist has a story about how great he his running in his head all the time. The story is what creates the false-self. Narcissistic supply is the fuel that keep the false-self in place for the narcissist. Without the false-self, the narcissist would be overwhelmed with depression, humiliation, and the truth of his low self-esteem. So the narcissist is on guard to threats to the false-self.
As much as the narcissist tries to control the world, he cannot. Like any of us, he is subject to insults, slights, disagreements, and criticism. These negative interactions, he gives more weight to—as self-proclaimed narcissist Sam Vaknin points out.
If the insults, criticisms, or other negative words directed at the narcissist, disrupt the storyline in his head, narcissistic injury will occur. The injury is caused by the competing information streams. The first stream is the story he’s constantly living in his head. The adoration, admiration, and subservience of others streaming his way—i.e. the narcissistic supply—boost his false self and fuel the story.
The second stream of information is the insults, criticisms, and other slights coming his way. These contradict his beliefs about himself. When he believes the information coming from this stream, narcissistic injury occurs. The injury results in a threat to the narcissist’s false-self and the view that he is superior, perfect and entitled to special treatment and recognition.
In the story I told at the beginning, I opened a narcissistic wound on my mother by not going to her like a little lapdog after the play. The wound got deeper when she couldn’t find me. And deeper yet when I was found to have abandoned her for another girl
A narcissist will not standby and let his false-self crumble. To do so would be to face his inadequacies and the falsehoods he has been telling himself.
So, the narcissist will launch into narcissistic rage to repair the image in his false-self
What is Narcissistic Rage?
Narcissistic rage is the narcissist’s reaction to his narcissistic injury. Narcissistic rage can take the form of cool aloofness as a means regain his superiority. He may show mild irritation or demonstrate annoyance. Or he may have serious out bursts that can include violent attacks. Source
Taking these steps, the narcissist elevates himself—in his mind—above the attacker. He minimizes the effect of the insult, slight, or criticism on himself.
Narcissists are oversensitive. Their personality disorder pulls them toward rage on the anger spectrum. Narcissistic rage is related to the needs narcissists have to exercise total control over their environment. Narcissistic rage should not be viewed at a mere tantrum. It is the narcissists attempt to stop being the victim of whoever inflicted the narcissistic injury. In turn he is actively giving pain to others while simultaneously rebuilding his false self.
The removal of the threat will not stop the rage. The narcissist will rage long after the threat is gone.
Things that especially evoke narcissistic rage on a deep level are events that emphasize a narcissist’s mate, child, employee, etc. gaining their independence from the narcissist. They will tend to seek revenge, especially on lovers who leave them.
If you injure a narcissist, nothing will appease them until he has found some way to punish you. Punishment can mean cutting off financial support if it’s your parent. He may rage at you and inflict verbal abuse. Physical violence is possible. At the least, expect to be stalked and harassed—at work, at home, by mail, by phone.
My mother got her revenge on me by making me leave my girlfriend, by not taking me out that night, and grounding me while taking away my TV and phone privileges.
Don’t argue with someone with narcissistic rage. No one wins an argument with a narcissist, he just gets more enraged. And don’t hurl more insults or criticism at him no matter how fun that seems. He’ll just get angrier and might be pushed over the edge to physical violence.
What you can do is say that you don’t allow anyone to speak to you that way. After saying that, leave. Most likely he will follow, ranting or raving.
If you have a car, get in quickly and lock the doors. Drive away fast. Don’t go home to where you’ll be alone. If he follows you, stick to busy streets. Drive to a police station. Say you want to take out a restraining order.
If you’re walking, get to a busy street. Call a cab or a friend for a ride. If you live alone, go stay with a friend for a couple of nights. Someone he doesn’t know. Get a restraining order against the narcissist. That way you can have him arrested if he comes near.
Recognize when a narcissistic injury occurs with any narcissists that you have contact with. Don’t stick around and try to soothe the narcissist. Leave. Even if you didn’t cause the narcissistic injury. Nothing can be gained by sticking around.
You deserve a calm peaceful life free of any of the anger and conflict that narcissistic rage brings. The best way to avoid the rage is to not have contact with any narcissist you know.
I wish you warm healing and a life of happiness.
Thank you for reading these words.
When in you childhood did you experience narcissistic rage?
Tell us about it in the comments below.