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.
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”. 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.
Alternatively, according to Kohut, rages can be seen as a result of the shame at being faced with failure. 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.