The Narcissist at Work

What is Narcissistic Rage?

Shannon, a part-time graphic designer for a small magazine, had been saving money for two years to make sure when she left Simon that she would never have to choose between going back to him, or becoming homeless.

She’d have gladly become homeless to escape from him, but she had a five-year old son to consider as well. She had saved enough money by secretly freelancing online to live on for a year if she couldn’t find a job. With her skills she knew finding work wouldn’t be a problem, but she wanted to be sure.

After getting a $2,000 deposit on a new freelance project  she learned that Simon was going out of state for a week on business. She took him to the airport, as he demanded, smiled and waved goodbye and watched to make sure his plane was in the air before literally running back to the car, racing home and packing everything  she owned into a U-haul trailer. She quit her job, put her son in the car and left town, heading cross-country to stay with a friend and “disappear” before Simon returned.

She’d left a note on the table that simply said, “I’m leaving you. Goodbye.” In the weeks and days to come  her attorney would also be in touch with Simon to ensure that he didn’t try to find her. Not that that mattered. For the next 15 years Simon, consumed with rage, spent every dime he could beg, borrow or steal. He looked for her until he violated a protection order and ended up in jail after assaulting a police officer. He was so intent on exacting his revenge for the pain he felt upon coming home and finding her gone that he couldn’t think straight. It didn’t matter that he had really been visiting his girlfriend of two years, and wasn’t away on business at all, or that he had planned to leave her the following month. All he could see was that she had hurt him and that he was the victim and she had to pay.

Narcissist never, ever, ever let go of their supply. And if that “supply” leaves them to the point they can no longer control them? Look out.

According to Wikipedia:

Narcissistic rage – a term first coined by Heinz Kohut in 1972 – is a reaction to narcissistic injury, a perceived threat to a narcissist’s self-esteem or self-worth. Narcissistic injury (or narcissistic scar) is a phrase used by Sigmund Freud in the 1920s: narcissistic wound and blow are further, almost interchangeable terms.[1]

Narcissistic rage is expressed on a continuum, from aloofness and the proverbial “cold shoulder,” or an expression of mild irritation or annoyance, to worse. Most narcissistic victims have experienced serious outbursts of rage, including violent physical attacks, screaming and emotional abuse to hysteria. Narcissistic rage is one of the classic defining traits of the narcissist! If you’ve ever wounded a narcissist through a casual comment, challenge to their self-esteem, or even with an innocent remark, you know exactly what a “blowup” and the resulting rage looks, feels and sounds like.

Narcissists are oversensitive and prone to rage by the very nature of their personality disorder. Narcissistic rage is related to narcissists’ need for total control of their environment, including “the need for revenge, for righting a wrong, for undoing a hurt by whatever means”.[19] It is an attempt by the narcissist to turn from a passive sense of victimization to an active role in giving pain to others, while at the same time attempting to rebuild their own (actually false) sense of self-worth. It may also involve self-protection and preservation, with rage serving to restore a sense of safety and power by destroying that which had threatened the narcissist.[19]

Alternatively, according to Kohut, rages can be seen as a result of the shame at being faced with failure.[20] Narcissistic rage is the uncontrollable and unexpected anger that results from a narcissistic injury – a threat to a narcissist’s self-esteem or worth. Rage comes in many forms, but all pertain to the same important thing, revenge. Narcissistic rages are based on fear and will endure even after the threat is gone.

Things that are most apt to trigger the narcissist rage deeper and more profoundly, and result in a tendency to seek revenge are things that  emphasize their victim’s independence from them. For instance, if you’re in a relationship with a narcissist and leave them before they leave you, they’re likely to go nuclear on you with rage. If you fire a narcissistic employee, or walk away from a narcissistic friend—same thing.

A narcissist will shout, rage, make blatantly absurd accusations and accuse people of all sorts of horrendous intents and acts for merely slighting them! So when they come one day to find you’ve packed everything you own and literally left them? They go insane with rage!

What happens next?

If you’ve triggered a narcissistic rage in your narcissist, then you’ve injured or wounded their self-esteem. Nothing will bring them relief until you have been punished for your deed. That usually includes raging, verbal abuse, and will often continue to escalate to physical violence. You’ll be stalked, harassed, abused and even attacked until they feel you’ve suffered enough for hurting THEM by leaving!

How do I avoid the narcissist’s rage?

Run. Leave, get out of town, out of the state, and as far away from them physically as you can. Then ignore any and all attempts they make to contact you, communicate with you, or engage with you in any form or fashion. They are masters at baiting and triggering people and sucking them back into their sick world. So if you decide to leave, make sure you are totally independent of them financially, physically and emotionally. The only thing that’s worse than being with a narcissist is leaving and then thinking you have to go back to them to survive!

How do I respond to narcissistic rage?

You don’t. Not unless you want things to continue to escalate. You will never, ever, ever “win” an argument with a narcissist. Depending on how strong you feel, or the situation you’re in your options vary. State your boundaries: “I do not allow myself to be treated or spoken to like this. I’m happy to talk about it when you’re calmer,”  and then leave the room, get out of the car, or walk away if at all possible. Chances are like 99.9% that they will follow you, screaming. But it is an option if you’re new to the relationship and haven’t been so beaten down that you’re afraid to speak up anymore.

Endure it, THEN leave ASAP.

Pretty much any response you give other than completely agreeing with anything the narcissist says, and sucking up to him and apologizing for hurting them, is going to feed the fire and fan the flames. If this is your first experience with the intensity of their rage, then you’ll be in too much shock to respond at all. If this is the case know that it only gets WORSE after the first time. Make plans to leave as soon as you can before the narcissist gets their hooks into your soul any deeper.


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26 Comments to "What is Narcissistic Rage?"

  1. Lynn says:

    OMG – this explains everything! I thought I could do nothing right in his eyes… Over 11 years, as I made sure to love him with all I had to give, and got less and less in return, expressing my own needs became a trigger for him. It was after 9 years that I experienced his full rage and have never been more afraid. Needless to say, since that time I’ve just tried harder to give, and get close to nothing in return. I get it. My gut has been telling me to leave for quite some time. Thank you! I feel validated and sane again. Yes, checking out of this for good!

    • Linda says:

      I knew after two years together that something was seriously wrong and I spent the next ten years trying to figure out how to leave. It wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I figured out it was NPD. Now we are days away from final divorce decree and he rages during every conversation. Too bad I have to deal with custody issues or I would disappear. I also contend with protecting the children from his narcissism. Any body know of places I can turn to learn about ways to bolster the girls’ self-esteem so he doesn’t wreck it but also not to disagree with him lest they trigger his rage? They shouldn’t have to walk the tightrope! THANKS!

      • admin says:

        We’re working on a how-to book for parents and kids. Until then keep explaining to the girls it’s HIS problem and that there is NOTHING wrong with them. Get them involved in esteem building activities and be sure and “debrief” them every time they’re around his BS. Ask them what happened, how they felt etc. Focus NOT on trashing or hating on him, but on learning to set and enforce boundaries, to acknowledge their feelings and to come up with scripts they can learn and use to deal with him when he is around. Let them know they have a right to set a boundary, enforce it and walk away even if he blows up. Let them know they can call 911 if they feel threatened and that they have a right to say “NO!” to him no matter who he is.

  2. Niels says:

    I have just experienced such a rage moment, which I guess the last time it happenned to such an extent was at teenage- or childhood. I have already read alot the narcissistic nature before this moment, and therefore I was subconsciously prepared to deal with this rage.

    I immediately diagnosed his condition in front of his face as “narcissistic rage”, which he ofcourse did not care about what it was called. But indeed, the only thing that you can do is leave, call it quits (“Quit game”), which at first may seem like to infuriate them more. However, not doing this at all will have you end up being cornered like a preyed animal. This ‘cornered’ situation must be absolutely avoided so you need to learn to stand up for your rights as an individual.

    A good physical condition is also extremely helpful for this will have them think twice before degrading to physical assault, and in case they then will resort to physical violence, they will more then likely end up being more hurt than yourself. The narcissist is ashamed of defeat (like a predator prefers to attack the weakest of the bunch) so a good physical condition (atleast better than your fellow narcissist) will increase your chances of not being physically assaulted tenfold.

    I’m still living here with him, but I will get out if the opportunity arises. However, my handling of the situation took him by surprise which ended up me getting the upper hand. Narcissists have no real self-esteem, it’s all a mask to hide their underlying void. Show them real self-esteem, preferably greater than their fake self-esteem, and they loose control. This loss of control is a good thing, if you can get out of it unscratched. If you can trigger narcissistic rage, it means you are freeing yourself from his/her clutches.

    Narcissistic rage is nothing but a last, desperate attempt to control you. To escape the narcissist, your desire for freedom must be greater than their desire to control.

    Also avoid pointless argumentation, for this is a favoured method to corner you.

  3. karen says:

    me to Lyn.. omg it took 7 years for me to experience his full rage and by this time i was too far beaten down to speak up. if he didnt leave for another woman who feed his sick fantasies i would have been dead by now, i thanked her profusely, but my warning fell on deaf ears. Now, 18 months later, i have felt my first anger at it all… and ranted and screamed in my empty car at “him” trouble is, i cant run. we have a child together, he did not want to see him at all, until he heard that i had a new partner… then hell broke loose and he took me to court for ‘refusing” him access. now he is demanding full control of me and my child, i cant negotiate anything he has successfully stopped me from being able to work, or go away for a weekend. he is getting his revenge because, HOW DARE I move on and find happiness.

    • admin says:

      He is typical Karen. He doesn’t want the child. He wants the control. You’re right. He’s thinking, ‘How dare you be happy!” Yet—living WELL is the best and only way to “win” with a narcissist! Thanks for jumping in and sharing. Others can identify and see they are NOT the only ones who have experienced what you describe!

  4. Laura Lillian Best says:

    These are broken, conscientious less individuals who have no feelings or concerns for anyone other than themselves. They are broken and incapable of love. You can NEVER fix them as they can NEVER be fixed. Don’t waste anymore time on them because life is too precious and too short to waste on individuals possessed with this demonic personality disorder. Believe me, after 12 years of the pain, I know!

    • admin says:

      Amen!! You can NOT fix them, help them, save them or change them. 12 years is too many! Get out and enjoy life. YOU DESERVE IT!!

  5. Ignatio Clemency says:

    The one-sidedness of this article is extremely unfair and insensitive to the fact that Narcissism is in fact a mental disorder, just as autism and schizophrenia are. Ignoring this and making out narcissists to be villains is incredibly disrespectful and could possibly cause readers to add to the hardships that narcissists actually go through. Put yourself in our shoes. We have innate traits that alienate the people we love and care about, and when people actually understand that as most people I hold close do, narcissists and their loved ones can come to compromises that help reduce the severity of the narcissists condition. I used to go through very severe bursts of narcissistic rage but since my wife has learned to understand it it’s very rare to happen now because we supported each other in the problems it caused instead of running away. Now we’re very happy and understand each other and I’m barely affected by narcissism, and conceding in most arguments, debates and disagreements that occur.

    “How do I respond to narcissistic rage?”

    Learn to understand and discuss it calmly with your narcissist, often giving an ultimatum to either discuss it or you’re gone. Don’t go with the approach of demanding or bringing up other problems. Simply discuss the problems that it’s causing, although it may take many attempts to get through and have the discussion as it should be. Understand each other, realise your Narcissist doesn’t choose to be that way, and generally become completely understanding with each other. It’s very hard, but also very possible and a far better outcome than running away brings.

    • admin says:

      You may be the rare .0001% of narcissists that are trying to heal, grow and change, but the 99.999 out there are not. Good luck with that.

      • JBeez says:

        Ehh. The red flag I saw in the first comment was “I used to go through very severe bursts of narcissistic rage but since my wife has learned to understand it it’s very rare to happen now…”

        Isn’t this just a thinly-veiled way of saying, she learned how to supply him appropriately, and eliminated his need to rage? I hope you are trying to heal, but I’m not completely buying it.

    • Kelly says:

      Thank you for your post Ignatio. It brings some balance into this very lopsided conversation. Yes, narcissists behave in ways that are very hurtful to their significant others. But, it is also true that they were wounded in childhood and have developmental deficiencies and don’t know how to do things differently. No one is perfect. We all exhibit dysfunction in some form or the other so why judge them so severely? Like you said, understanding is the key. I too was very narcissistic in my 20s and my then boyfriend suffered for it. Now, I am in love with a narcissist and he reminds me so much of my younger self. Yet, I did change, it took me many years of work to build a real sense of self instead of the false self I was raging for and protecting, so I know that it’s not true to say they will never change. I used to have no empathy for people but, now I am a mental health professional my self. All I see is the wounded child that needs help, not a monster.

    • Nancy says:

      I have been married to a narcissist for over 25 years, and it does absolutely no good to speak to him calmly, or even to let him vent- any perceived slight or tone of voice he does not like (even if imagined)or words he does not like or look on my face that he interprets as anything other than blissful is used as an excuse to go full tilt.

      While a narcissist may not choose to be so, they have the same options as anyone else does regarding taking responsibility for their own behavior and working to change the things about him/herself that alienate and even torture their family members. Not taking responsibility is the reason nothing ever changes with them- they refuse to believe that there is anything about them that they need to change. They need the world and those closest to revolve around them. They are the sun.

    • Nisha says:

      Narcissism is not a mental disorder. if you are a narc and are trying to change I suggest that you not use pity in order to do so. there’s no excuse for the behavior. Narcissists for the most part ARE villains and for the most part they don’t change and that is what the public should know. I have wasted too much of my precious time suffering because I had bad therapists who didn’t understand this.

  6. donna says:

    My narcissistic boyfriend of 5 years went on a vacation with his ex-wife and children without inviting me along or telling me. He did not admit to it until I confronted him. He refuses to apologize stating that he did nothing wrong. IN fact – he thinks I owe HIM an apology for “making him out to be a liar and his time with his ex wife to be “lurid”” Then, in front of our therapist, he grabbed me by my collar which choked me momentarily. I ran out of the office shaking. When I eventually returned home 6 hours later he told me that he MAY HAVE crossed a line when he grabbed me but he continued his rant about me owing him an apology. He had done something horrible and yet I was to blame. He then went 48 hours without any sleep – crying – then screaming at me – then talking crazy about wanting to stare at the north sky at 3am – then crying – then told me he was moving out all his stuff so he could get his thoughts together. Huh??? HE is the one who went away for 7 days with his ex-wife on vacation and I owe HIM an apology? Although I am 90% sure nothing happened between them and he probably took her along because he didn’t want to be responsible for his two teenagers who are out of control and she provides him with a good source of admiration when I’m not around, I am still upset that he did this (and he’s done it before). I told him we had agreed to not have him spend any more time alone with her unless I was along and I also told him he was a liar (he claimed he was NOT at his vacation home with her when he was…he later said yes, he was there but not WITH her…she was there but they were not WITH each other. Somantics?? You’ve got to be kidding me!!). I also told him he couldn’t be trusted. When I dared to question his actions he exploded. He told me he was PROUD of his actions and as far as he was concerned he only did great things. As usual, he does no wrong. If I ever even question him on something he takes it as criticism and rages. I once teased him about something silly (he said he saw a turtle but when I looked it was gone) and the normal response would be to laugh. Instead he raged on me and walked out of a restaurant asking me to never again make fun of him. Absolutely incredible stuff. So now he’s gone. Been 2 days. He’s texted me twice telling me he’s sad (he wants me to feel sorry for HIM!) and I have not responded. I love him when he acts like a normal person – but not when he turns crazy which is more often than I care to tolerate. I’m simply exhausted. Should I continue to not answer him or take him back? I’m asking although I already know the answer. Just need confirmation from people who have walked in my shoes and taken them back.

  7. alice says:

    leave and leave now, if your with a narcissist!! it only gets worse, you’ll be the one blamed for whatever happens.fear and fear alone kept me in a situation for 12 years, before i finally realized i had to be the one to make a move. he certainly wouldn’t have ever given me freedom, he only wanted to control me..he expected me to admire him and treat him like he was a king..while i got treated worse than a prisoner.He loved to humiliate me in public, go off into a screaming..cursing rage!Anything to lower my self-esteem he done.Just when i thought a human couldn’t get treated any worse..he showed me he could! After that, the next day..i told him i was leaving him!Of course all hell broke loose, police was torn up!He went to hide from the police, that gave me the time i needed to get what i needed and leave there!!His revenge came next, which i dealt with of all of his other victims had dealt with.There is no reason at all to stay with someone like that. they mean to do you harm, not love you..they know nothing about love.His revenge came in the form of telling people I was crazy and on drugs.he forgot to mention he was abusing me, not working and controlling nature! he was just hoping his true self would not be exposed to everyone.if he tells them i was crazy, maybe i would lie to..they saw through his lies!I was fortunate, almost everyone knew what i had been dealing with from him. his behavior is well known in our town!Didn’t stop him from trying though. when people would ignore him, or not believe him..he’d get very very mad!he hated it when others would take up for me, or believe me instead of him!

  8. Peter James says:

    In response to Ignatio Clemency. My experience of dealing with a narcissist is that attempted discussion of the problem leads to further rage due to the perceived attack on their very fragile ego. I believe that getting out of the situation is the only option as narcissists can’t change because they are unable to accept they have done anything wrong – the fault is all yours. Staying feeds them more making you lose all self esteem, increasing vulnerability and thus making you an easier target for the narcissist. My advice is get out and get away, go complete no contact, and be aware that healing will take a long time so start now.

  9. daisy dare says:

    NPD is incurable. The only way not to be their verbal punching bag is to calmly walk away.

  10. Marion Jones says:

    It’s a mental disorder, of that I am in no doubt. And yet it’s not recognized or treated as the danger it is. They walk among us, hurting people, and they get away with it Scot free. How many days lost at work, how many pointless court battles, how many people suffering from stalking, violence and emotional abuse, at the hands of these people? My narcissist had suffered no childhood trauma, he had lovely parents. And yet he was a very extreme narcissist. Unlucky for me the policeman who dealt with it when he beat me was also a narcissist and took my ex’s side. I’ve never known an abuser who was not a narcissist, nor a narcissist who did not abuse. Not just wife beaters but paedophiles too. When oh when will this get the recognition society needs it to get?!

  11. Insidious_Sid says:

    I know a woman who lives with a narcissist. She’s been a button pusher with every man I’ve ever seen her with. Now, when her latest guy blows up and melts down all over the place, she feels vindicated and self-righteous, despite the fact that these two are perfect for each-other. That’s right, for every narcissist out there there is a borderline or histrionic woman looking for a place to happen. But, so long as this is deemed the “heartless man” disease, and is seen as more of a character defect than a real personality disorder, laypersons and mental-health professionals alike will continue to show bias against people with this disorder.

  12. Biski says:

    I lived with one for a long time, I knew there was something different about him but I was not a doctor. I learned during a divorce that he was sick and he was a narciscist and believe me I was afraid of loosing my life. I move 6000 miles away, and after 7 years of my divorce he still trying to calling old friends to bring me back. I ignore him and I dont have any contact with him or my old friends. I was smart of getting new friends . I am happy and I live a good life. My advice run, dont ask for explanation, nothing makes sense. They are sick and they can hurt you in many ways.
    Save yourself. INDIFFERENCE is the key and be far away.

  13. Louise says:

    I know I have dodged a major bullet. I liked this extremely charming, popular and good looking guy for a few years. I never told him though, as I just felt there was no way he would ever want me. Then he started to like me and puruse me. But I started to get this feeling that something was not right. If I spent time alone he would snap and say something mean. If I spoke to a guy he would get really jealous. If I didn’t read his mind he would give me the silent treatment. It was so confusing, because at first he was so focused on me – and so adoting – and I loved the attention. I noticed he had a big problem with intimacy – alot of fear. I gently confronted him and then he started to come on to another woman – right in front of my eyes. He then seemed to realise that it was me he wanted and I gave him another chance. Yet again, when I did not read his mind over something, he started pursuing another woman. This time he started across the room at me (this was at a public event) with such hare in his eyes. But then again he realised it was me he wanted and he was remorseful!!! Then fate took a kindly hand and I went to stay with family in another country and have not been in his company ever since. I have since done alot of reading and realised that he has NPD. I know I have God to thank from removing this man from my life before things got serious. I know in his mind he wanted to marry me. This was going on after being together for four months!!! However, we share the same spiritual beliefs and I will be spending time around him in the future and I am worried about how to handle him. I know no contact is the best thing but I will be in group situations with him. Any advice?

    • admin says:

      SOoooooo glad you paid attention to your intuition! So many people don’t and they end up in a relationship with a narcissist! No contact is the best way to handle him. They can be very charismatic and lure you in with promises that they have “changed.” They haven’t. Think carefully about why you would be around him in the future. Must you be? Best way to handle him is to NEVER share anything personal with him on any level. He will use it against you in the future. Don’t share dreams, fears, hopes or concerns and ask others not to share your personal details of ANY kind with him either (they will anyway of course because they won’t believe you or think he’s evil). If you can avoid him, do so. You’re walking into a mine field to go back to a place where you must see him regularly, no matter what the reason.

  14. Lynn says:

    I read this and got chills. Literally nothing I do is right. He is always so angry at me. Even If I apologize. It doesn’t matter. He just tears me down and yells and screams. Literally nothing I do is ever good enough.

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