What’s a narcissistic insult? Some disturbed characters experience it when reality clashes with their grandiose sense of self. Of course, no one likes feeling insulted. But a narcissistic insult is different. Narcissists can take umbrage when no insult whatsoever is intended. All that’s necessary is for the truth of circumstances to challenge their inflated opinion of themselves. Narcissists hate to have their grandiose self-perceptions challenged. Traditionally, we’ve thought this is because they find such challenges threatening to an underlying fragile sense of self-worth. But some narcissists really believe in their greatness. So, it riles them to think someone or something wants to knock them off their perch. That’s also when they’re likely to fly into a rage.
The most malignant narcissists won’t hesitate to abuse when challenged. Insinuate they’re not as superior as they believe and they’ll be quick to attack. They can attack by demeaning or degrading. Or they will try to hurt and punish you. They want you to know how powerful and superior they are. So, they want to put you in your place. And they want you to rew the day you dared challenge them.
Folks who have to deal with narcissists know how rageful they can be. And sometimes they try to appease or placate them. But there’s no safety in this. You can’t buy loyalty from someone incapable of being loyal. To be capable of that, you have to genuinely care about others. Moreover, you have to let principle as opposed to pure self-interest govern your actions. Narcissists neither recognize nor respect any higher power or governing principles. (See also: Egotists: Above the Need for a Governing Higher Power.) They worship only the god of self-interest. So, when they experience narcissistic insult, they’re capable of just about anything.
Narcissistic Rage and the War on Truth
Narcissists refuse to recognize or subordinate themselves to any higher power or authority. They see themselves as above the need. Besides, in their own minds, they’re always right. Reality sometimes clashes with that distorted self-perception. For narcissists, objective truth is an obstacle. So, they prefer a reality of their own making. (See also: Narcissism and the War on Truth.) They can carry things to extremes, too, becoming truly delusional. (See: Delusional Grandiosity and Narcissism.)
We live in an age where reverence for the timelessly valuable is at an all time low. That includes reverence for the truth. In fact, it seems like we’ve even stopped humbly seeking the truth. Rather, we’ve all taken sides, becoming more polarized than ever. Each side claims ownership of the truth. And knowing they’re right, each side experiences narcissistic insult when challenged. That makes it too easy to condemn or mock the other side for not seeing things the “right” way. Of course, narcissists carry this dynamic to a pathological extreme. But the phenomenon is a prime feature of our narcissistic age.
What the World Needs Now
Our times demand a serious, honest, and humble dialog. We have lots of problems to solve. And we won’t solve them unless we overcome our pettiness . We have to listen more. We have to seek answers with an open heart and mind. This is particularly challenging in narcissistic times. But need could not be greater. The key lies in reclaiming true reverence for the truth. And that demands that we set ego aside.
Heeding the third “commandment” of character is hard. But revering and embracing truth truly saves us. Mostly, it saves us from the scourge of vanity. And that opens the door to true communion.
Next week we’ll be moving on to the spirituality of the fourth commandment. (Review those commandments in Character Disturbance.)