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.
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 On one end, a person may be aloof and withdrawn.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:
- paranoid delusion
- bipolar disorder
- depressive episodes
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.
(Video) How To Respond To A Narcissist's Irrational Anger
NPD can cause issues in a person’s life, relationships, work, and financial situation.
People with NPD often live with illusions of superiority, grandiosity, and entitlement. They may also face additional issues like addictive behavior and narcissistic rage.
But narcissistic rage and other NPD-related issues aren’t as simple as anger or stress.
A healthcare provider or a mental health specialist like a therapist or psychiatrist can diagnose symptoms of NPD. This can help someone with NPD and symptoms of rage find the proper help they need.
There are no definitive diagnostic tests. Instead, your healthcare provider will request and review your health history as well as behaviors and feedback from the people in your life.
how NPD is diagnosed
A mental health professional can determine if you have NPD based on:
- reported and observed symptoms
- physical exam to help rule out an underlying physical issue that could be causing symptoms
- psychological evaluation
- matching criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) by the American Psychiatric Association
- matching criteria in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10), a medical classification list by the World Health Organization (WHO)
People in your life who have NPD and episodes of narcissistic rage have many resources to get help.
But it can sometimes be challenging to find the right help, as many treatment options haven’t been validated by research.
According to a 2009 report published in the Psychiatric Annals, there haven’t been many studies done on treatments for NPD and people who experience narcissistic rage as a symptom of NPD.
So while psychotherapy may work for some people, it’s not necessarily effective for all people with NPD. And not all mental health professionals even agree as to exactly how to diagnose, treat, and manage this disorder.
A 2015 study published in The American Journal of Psychiatrysuggests that the variety of symptoms that can happen in each individual with NPD can make it challenging to make a firm diagnosis of what “type” of NPD someone has:
- Overt. Symptoms are obvious and easier to diagnose with the DSM-5 criteria.
- Covert. Symptoms aren’t always visible or obvious, and behaviors or mental health conditions associated with NPD, like resentment or depression, may be hard to diagnose.
- “High-functioning”. NPD symptoms may be difficult or impossible to consider separately from the person’s regular behavior or psychological state. They may just be identified as generally dysfunctional behaviors like pathological lying or serial infidelity.
Since conditions like NPD can often only be diagnosed by looking at observable symptoms, there may be many underlying personality traits or mental activities that are impossible to tease apart into a diagnosis.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek help. Try speaking with several mental health professionals and try different techniques to see what kind of treatment plan works best for you.
And while you or the person with NPD in your life are working through their behaviors and history, others might also find it beneficial to seek professional help for themselves.
You can learn techniques to manage narcissistic rage when it occurs or to prepare for future episodes to minimize or process the mental and emotional turmoil you might feel during an episode.
Limit engagement with the individual. Trust what they say but verify that what they’ve told you is either true or false.
People with NPD may talk up their accomplishments and abilities. But if you realize they can’t or don’t perform important tasks, prepare yourself to manage their future professional deficiencies.
Also, be cautious in giving direct feedback and criticism. This can spur an intense reaction in the moment, which may put you at personal or professional risk.
It’s not your responsibility to get the person to seek help. Your feedback or criticism may be one way you’re able to encourage the individual to seek help.
Talk to your manager or the other person’s manager or seek help from your company’s human resources (HR) department.
Here are some other strategies you can use to manage interactions with coworkers who may have narcissistic tendencies or episodes of rage:
- write down every interaction you have with them in as much detail as possible
- don’t escalate conflicts with the person, as this may end up causing harm to you or others in the workplace
- don’t take it personally or attempt to get revenge on the person
- don’t reveal too much personal information or express your opinions to the person that they may be able to use against you
- try not to be in the same room alone with them so that others can be witnesses to their behaviors
- report any illegal harassment, activities, or discrimination that you observe firsthand to your company HR department
In relationship partners
It’s possible to have a healthy, productive life with a person who has NPD and episodes of rage.
But both of you may need to seek out therapy and build behavior and communication strategies that work for your relationship.
People with narcissistic rage can be hurtful. Learning how to communicate with them may help you protect yourself from physical and emotional harm. Try some of the following strategies for coping with NPD:
- present the truest version of yourself to your partner, avoiding any lying or deception
- recognize NPD symptoms in your partner or yourself, and do your best to communicate what’s going through your head when you exhibit certain behaviors
- don’t hold yourself or your partner to difficult or impossible standards, as these may exacerbate feelings of insecurity or inadequacy that lead to narcissistic rage
- set forth specific rules or boundaries within your relationship so that you and your partner know what’s expected of them as a romantic partner, rather than react on a situational basis with no structure to your expectations
- seek therapy both individually and as a couple so that you can work on yourself and on the relationship in tandem
- don’t think of yourself or your partner as having anything “wrong” but identify areas that may be disruptive to the relationship that need work
- be confident in ending the relationship if you no longer believe a relationship is healthy for you or your partner
Limit your exposure to any friend who subjects you to physical, mental, or emotional harm from narcissistic rage.
You may want to consider removing yourself from your friendship entirely if you believe the friendship is no longer healthy or mutually beneficial.
If this is a close friend whose friendship you value, you might also seek help from a mental health professional.
They can help you learn behaviors that make coping easier. You may also learn behaviors that can help you better manage interactions and communicate with your friend during episodes of rage.
This can make your time together less frustrating and more fulfilling or productive.
From a stranger
The best option is to walk away. Neither you nor that person will likely be able to reach any constructive conclusion from your interaction.
But realize that your actions didn’t cause the reaction. It’s driven by underlying factors that you don’t in any way influence.
A mental health professional can help treat both NPD and rage.
They can use talk therapy, or psychotherapy, to help people with NPD understand their behaviors, choices, and consequences. Therapists may then work with the individual to address underlying factors.
Talk therapy can also help people with NPD create new plans for behavior to develop healthier coping and relationship skills.
Help if you feel threatened
- People with NPD and narcissistic rage can hurt people in their lives, even when they don’t realize it. You don’t need to live with the constant worry about future rage. You can take steps to protect yourself.
- If you’re afraid a person with NPD in your life may cross over from verbal abuse to physical abuse or you think you’re in immediate danger, call 911 or local emergency services.
- If the threat isn’t immediate, seek help from the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 800-799-7233. They can connect you with service providers, mental health professionals, and shelters in your area if you need assistance.
Help is available for people with NPD and narcissistic rage. With proper diagnosis and ongoing treatment, it’s possible to live a healthy, rewarding life.
In the moment, the rage may seem all-consuming and threatening. But encouraging a loved one (or yourself) to seek help may spur healthier choices for you, them, and everyone else in your lives.
It understandably causes an emotional reaction in the victim, which can, however, exacerbate the narcissistic rage. Narcissists thrive on attention, so even when it is conflict, they are getting what they want and feel they have power over you. Therefore, the best way to respond is to remain calm and not react.How do you calm down a narcissistic rage? ›
Stick to your boundaries, don't engage, and don't try to debate with them. When narcissists are in an angry state of mind, they cannot think clearly and there is no reasoning with them. It's okay to ignore them or walk away to protect yourself if they're becoming rageful or violent.What is an example of a narcissistic rage? ›
Examples of narcissistic rage range from intense outbursts and sudden fits of anger, to passive-aggressive acts such as simmering resentment, icy silence, deliberate neglect, or cutting sarcasm.What is the silent treatment for narcissistic rage? ›
Basically, the silent treatment is a passive-aggressive behavior by which an abuser communicates some sort of negative message to the intended victim that only the perpetrator and the victim recognize through nonverbal communication.What do you say to beat a narcissist? ›
- 1. “ ...
- “I Can't Control How You Feel About Me” ...
- “I Hear What You're Saying” ...
- “I'm Sorry You Feel That Way” ...
- “Everything Is Okay” ...
- “We Both Have a Right to Our Own Opinions” ...
- “I Can Accept How You Feel” ...
- “I Don't Like How You're Speaking to Me so I Will not Engage”
- Educate yourself about NPD. ...
- Build your self-esteem. ...
- Speak up for yourself. ...
- Set clear boundaries. ...
- Practice skills to keep calm. ...
- Find a support system. ...
- Insist on immediate action, not promises. ...
- Understand that a narcissistic person may need professional help.
The most effective weapon to fend off narcissists is self-love. When you love yourself, it is more difficult for the narcissist to manipulate you and get under your skin. It will hurt them to know that you do not need them, that you are better off without them, and that you love yourself exactly as you are.What are rage attacks typical of a narcissist? ›
According to researcher Arlin Cuncic, some of the signs of narcissistic rage can include the following: Powerful or explosive angry outbursts. Verbal or physical aggression. Episodes of rage when not given the praise or attention the narcissist thinks they deserve.What are narcissist weaknesses? ›
A monumental weakness in the narcissist is the failure to look internally and flesh out what needs to be worked on. Then, of course, the next step is to spend time improving. The narcissist sabotages any possibility of looking deep within.Does narcissistic rage ever stop? ›
Narcissistic rage can last for a long time. As some of the most self-loathing people on the planet, narcissists have a ton of internalized rage so in a sense, narcissistic rage never ends.
Narcissists do get worse as they get older. With age comes a lack of independence and narcissistic supply. So, aging narcissists tend to become the extreme versions of their worst selves. They don't develop a late-onset self-awareness, they just become more abusive, manipulative, hypersensitive, rageful, and entitled.What happens when you ignore narcissistic rage? ›
Ignoring the vicious narcissist
For vicious narcissists, ignoring their narcissistic rage makes them more inappropriately angry. If their victim is nearby, they will raise their voice. They may begin to throw increasingly toxic and hostile remarks at their victims. They may start to break things or throw things around.
If they give you the silent treatment, don't respond. Don't answer their calls or texts, don't check on them or care for them when they are sick and don't offer them any kind of support. –Walk away from the relationship.What does a narcissistic breakdown look like? ›
For the person on the receiving end, someone experiencing a narcissistic collapse may look out of control, extremely angry, and vindictive. In some cases, it may look like someone withdrawing altogether and giving them the silent treatment.What happens when you do silent treatment with a narcissist? ›
Impacts of Narcissist Silent Treatment
It is possible to develop mental health conditions, such as an anxiety disorder, depression, or narcissistic abuse syndrome, or even physical health manifestations of this stress exposure, such as frequently getting sick or experiencing chronic health conditions.
- Recognize you're dealing with a narcissist.
- Understand the behaviors they use to manipulate or control you.
- Create boundaries for yourself.
- Express those boundaries in advance.
- Share when your boundaries have been crossed.
- Don't be afraid to have open conversations in front of others.
Disconnect from the narcissist's emotional energy. Be vague and don't argue back: “That's interesting.” “I understand how you feel.” Sometimes no response is very powerful and will upset them. Insist on calm, respectful tone and words. Leave if they become angry.What are the 5 main habits of a narcissist? ›
- Inflated Ego. Those who suffer from narcissism usually seem themselves as superior to others. ...
- Lack of Empathy. ...
- Need for Attention. ...
- Repressed Insecurities. ...
- Few Boundaries.
- Don't give them ammunition. ...
- Don't take them at face value. ...
- Don't try to justify or explain yourself. ...
- Don't minimize their outrageous behavior. ...
- Don't expect them to own their part. ...
- Don't try to beat them at their own game. ...
- Don't expect loyalty.
- Criticize them.
- Take authority away from them.
- Say “no.”
- Go “no contact.”
- Expose their behavior in public.
- Succeed in areas they want to dominate.
- Make them jealous.
- Trick them into doing you a favor.
At the end of a relationship, narcissists may become combative, passive-aggressive, hostile, and even more controlling. People with NPD often fail to understand other people's needs and values. They are hyper focused on their egos, but do not account for how their actions affect others.What are the narcissists afraid of the most? ›
Although narcissists act superior, entitled and boastful, underneath their larger-than-life facade lies their greatest fear: That they are ordinary. For narcissists, attention is like oxygen. Narcissists believe only special people get attention.What destroys a narcissist? ›
- 1 Ignore their forms of manipulation.
- 2 Flaunt how happy you are without them.
- 3 Set boundaries to protect yourself.
- 4 Deny them what they want.
- 5 Stay calm when they try to upset you.
- 6 Cut off all contact with them if you can.
- 7 Be leery of future love bombing.
A trauma bond can be created through emotional abuse, which can include habitually lying, cheating, or calling you 'crazy.” Leaving them for good puts an end to control and manipulation. They'll become miserable to the point of losing their mind once they realize you cut off their narcissistic supply.What words not to say to a narcissist? ›
- Don't say, "It's not about you." ...
- Don't say, "You're not listening." ...
- Don't say, "Ina Garten did not get her lasagna recipe from you." ...
- Don't say, "Do you think it might be your fault?" ...
- Don't say, "You're being a bully." ...
- Don't say, "Stop playing the victim."
People high in narcissism are especially likely to act aggressively when they are provoked, insulted, humiliated, shamed, criticized, or threatened by others. But they need not be provoked to attack.How to drive a narcissist crazy? ›
- Talk to Someone, Anyone Else.
- Call Him Out On a Lie.
- Be Vague About Where You've Been.
- Celebrate a Milestone Relentlessly.
- Diffuse the Love Bombs.
- Abruptly Change Your Behavior.
- Do What You Want.
- Offer Some (Any) Criticism.
If there's one thing narcissists hate, it's being told what to do. When you push them into a situation where they have to answer to someone else, it's like their own personal hell. Figure out a way where you can get the narcissist in your life to be underneath an authority figure to really watch them squirm.What makes a narcissist hate someone? ›
The reason youve found yourself the target of narcissistic hatred is that they view love as a weakness and consequently, it repulses them. But, at the same time, it allows them to extract copious amounts of narcissistic supply. This is why they seem to hate you but wont let you go easily.What damage can a narcissist do to you? ›
Chronic abuse can lead to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), especially in victims who experienced other traumas. The result of narcissistic abuse can also include a pervasive sense of shame, overwhelming feelings of helplessness, and emotional flashbacks.
Narcissists – No Regrets Whatsoever
They may feign remorse or guilt in order to manipulate the people around them, but the reality is that they are incapable of feeling true regret. Their lack of empathy means they do not understand or care about the pain they cause others.
Shrugging off the praise, as if it doesn't matter to them. Attempting to one-up their success. Getting angry and telling you that you should be with that person instead. Discrediting the praise and blaming the person for lying, stealing, or manipulating.Is ignoring a narcissist the best revenge? ›
Does ignoring a narcissist work? First of all, narcissists hate being ignored, so ignoring them may be the best form of revenge. But, it should not be your primary motivation. The most essential thing here is to be mature enough to let go of toxic individuals in your life, no matter how difficult it is.What is the emotional age of a narcissist? ›
According to Thomaes & Brummelman, the development of narcissism begins at around the ages of 7 or 8. This is the time when children begin to evaluate themselves according to how they perceive others.Do narcissists eventually self destruct? ›
The narcissist often engages in self-defeating and self-destructive behaviours.What happens to narcissists in the long run? ›
According to Julie L. Hall, author of “The Narcissist in Your Life: Recognizing the Patterns and Learning to Break Free,” narcissists become more extreme versions of their worst selves as they age, which includes becoming more desperate, deluded, paranoid, angry, abusive, and isolated.When a narcissist is trying to destroy you? ›
They don't want you to know who you are, what you think, and feel. A narcissist must destroy or come in between you and your perception of self. They have to wiggle themselves in between you. In that space, they don't want you looking within anymore; they want you to focus solely on them.When a narcissist realizes they lost you? ›
A tactic that narcissists will often use once they realize that they've lost control over you is self-victimization. When a narcissist victimizes themselves it means that they label themselves as victims and blame their problems on external factors.Does the silent treatment hurt a narcissist? ›
Why Is the Silent Treatment Ineffective Against Narcissists? The silent treatment is actually a form of stonewalling, a narcissistic behavior pattern that occurs when a narcissist refuses to participate in the communication and connection of the relationship that they have with someone else.What is yellow rock method? ›
The yellow rock method is a spin on the gray rock method. It involves adding some niceties to gray rock communication. Its name comes from the idea that a yellow rock appears friendlier, warmer and more inviting than a gray rock.
Here, we define “narcissistic coldness” as the narcissistic tendency to feel less happy for successful others and less concern for unsuccessful others. To explain this coldness, theorists have traditionally posited mechanisms that emphasize “dark” or pathological bases.What triggers narcissistic collapse? ›
A narcissistic collapse represents an emotional reaction a narcissist experiences when their fragile self-esteem is threatened. So, any situation in which a person with NPD feels neglected, humiliated, or confronted may lead to a narcissistic collapse, causing them to stop functioning or harm themselves or others.What do narcissists cry about? ›
This means someone living with narcissistic traits may cry from regret or remorse, but not with empathy at its source. They may feel embarrassed, for example, about being criticized for their part in a distressing situation. They may feel sadness or regret that whatever happened paints them in a negative light.Does a narcissist know how much they hurt you? ›
Narcissists don't know they're hurting you. It doesn't even enter their minds. And, if you try to tell them how you feel, they get defensive and make you feel you're wrong again. In fact, they'll even rather “innocently” tell you: “I'm only trying to help you.”What medication do you give a narcissist? ›
Medicines. There are no medicines specifically used to treat narcissistic personality disorder. But if you have symptoms of depression, anxiety or other conditions, medicines such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medicines may be helpful.What is the GREY rock method? ›
The grey rock method is where you deliberately act unresponsive or unengaged so that an abusive person will lose interest in you. Abusive people thrive on emotions and drama. When you act indifferent and don't show your emotions, they may lose interest and stop bothering you. This is known as “grey rocking.”What does the Bible say about covert narcissists? ›
1 Corinthians 7: 15 tells us that if an unbeliever (this includes a narcissist [you can read my article about whether someone is a believer here]) can't live with you in peace, then let them live without you.What aggravates a narcissist? ›
Narcissists love attention, validation, and power. So what drives a narcissist crazy? Simply put, anything that jeopardizes their basic needs for superiority can quickly irritate them. If you want to know how to infuriate a narcissist, you can look no further than giving them nothing.What mind tricks do narcissists do? ›
- blame shifting.
- love bombing.
- playing the victim.
- Stop obsessing.
- Avoid trying to rationalize.
- Find ways to cope with your anxiety.
- Keep busy.
- Don't blame yourself.
- Focus on self-love.
- Prioritize your pleasure.
- Acknowledge your jealousy.
This is very effective that makes the loved one distressed. They'll react negatively to not receiving the attention or love they are addicted to getting from the narcissist.
The real reason why simply confronting a narcissist and calling them out for their behavior won't work is simple: they're not actually listening to you. If they truly are a narcissist, they have never been listening, and are especially unlikely to take any criticism or feedback on board.