Understanding Narcissistic Rage

Narcissistic Rage

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.

Overcoming Intimidation

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.

(See also: pp. 91-93 in In Sheep’s Clothing, pp. 140-141 in Character Disturbance, and pp. 99-101 in The Judas Syndrome.)

12 thoughts on “Understanding Narcissistic Rage

  1. One somewhat twisted element of narcissistic rage that I have noticed is that if we disagree, try to set a boundary, express a differing point of view, the superior entitled narcissist will then accuse US of being abusive to THEM! When challenged in any way, they almost always play the man, not the ball. They’ll respond with vicious personal insult and use old insecurities they know we have to hurt us as much as they can -crush a walnut with a sledgehammer – so enraged are they.
    Around narcissists, I find it best to stay silent, keep ones opinions to oneself, and as you say, stand strong inside ones own self worth.

    1. AND, if kids are witnessing this insane dynamic, they get very confused as to who the safe parent really is. This is so troublesome.

    2. Margot,
      You are spot on to what I experienced! I was called the abuser so many times if I expressed a different point of view, and God help me, if I let him know that he had hurt my feelings.
      My experience e-x-a-c-t-l-y. He could not have a debate that stayed on topic without digressing into old insults (only the ones that I had supposedly done to him). I once “spoke” to my ex on the phone, which I told him about – what a mistake – he brought that up EVERY TIME he raged. Why as a 53 year old woman did I allow some man to dictate who I could or could not talk too? Geez, it is so hard to not be angry at myself for falling for his BS love bombing!

      1. Dr Simon,
        Your sense of humor, blog, articles and Youtube videos on the subject of Manipulative People and Character Disturbances has been so bloody helpful seeing through the fog of what happened –

        Thank you!


  2. Thank you for this clarity. I have fallen for the ‘victim’ beneath the rage concept and thus tolerated abuse, thinking I could find a way through it to the ‘real’ person beneath. I feel such release and relief from what you describe here. Also regret at having invested so much of myself in patience and the next hopeful solution. I am clearer and clearer on my code and quality of life, and more and more confident on simply drawing a line on anything that undermines them. Thank you! Thank you so much.

  3. If you replace ‘Narcissistic’ with ‘Male’ and leave out the last two sentences of paragraph 2, you have society.

    Women dealing with male rage, intimidation, narcissism, entitlement, and supposed ‘superiority’.

    Carrying a gun and being ready to use it and defend oneself helps with male intimidation. Knowing about all the gaslighting men employ also helps with standing in one’s own sense of self-worth.

    As for narcissistic women, I find one of the defining characteristics is their incessantly expressed contempt for the fellow woman they target. And they sabotage and do whatever they can to ruin their victims. Narc women are truly scary as they manage to withstand all societal conditioning for women to be kind, loving, caring, gentle, helpful people.

    Narc men are basically the average guy. It’s like finding a needle in a haystack to locate a man who isn’t narcissistic, especially when interacting with women.

  4. My Mother

    “How dare you” think,
    “How dare you” breath,
    “How dare you”look
    “How dare you” see,
    “How dare you” are,
    “How dare you” be

      1. Lucy, Joey,


        Thank goodness we left them with their mouths hanging open.
        Thank goodness for No Contact, we had the last word.

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