What is narcissistic rage? It’s what a narcissist unleashes when you challenge their delusions of grandeur. How does it happen? In the past, we believed all narcissists had a shaky sense of self-worth underneath their bravado. And we thought it decimated their fragile egos when they felt attacked. But we now know that many narcissists believe in their own greatness with conviction. So when you dare to challenge that belief it’s natural for them to have either a “How dare you!” or a “Just who do you think you are?!” response. After all, to those who truly feel superior, you’re simply insignificant. And they respond with righteous indignation when you dare to assert otherwise.
It’s important to understand narcissistic rage for what it really is. Far too many folks have remained in abusive relationships because they misunderstood its origins. Victims have sometimes believed their partners were hypersensitive. Others may have believed their abusers were struggling with inner insecurities. And while there are indeed some narcissists of the more “vulnerable” type, it’s simply not safe to assume that someone’s rage stems from inner trauma. (For more on this topic see: Two Main Varieties of Narcissists.)
Attitudes of Entitlement
Behind most narcissistic rage is an attitude of entitlement. That is, most narcissists lash out because they feel entitled to do so. As they see it, their special nature and status confers that entitlement. Seeing themselves as inherently superior, they have no compunction about putting and keeping you in the place they think you belong. And they will do so with as much fervor as they perceive it might take.
Victims of narcissistic rage rightfully experience intimidation. In their hearts, they know what a person determined to have the dominant position is capable of. They know what can happen if they dare to say “no,” or refuse to be subordinate. And they instinctively know what could possibly happen if they dare to wrest free of control. But living in fear of these things caries its own price. It’s also the reason folks get manipulated into remaining in such relationships. As long as you’re doing the narcissist’s bidding, all seems safe. But dare to question or not comply, and you face the rage. And in striving to keep the peace, you end up unhappily trapped.
You have to know your own worth and where that worth comes from to overcome intimidation. And you have to be particularly sure of your worth to withstand the gaslighting effects that come along with most narcissistic rage. So, in the next few articles, I’ll be having more to say on how to know and claim your true worth.