Short video summary of the post
I have already discussed the potentially devastating effects a narcissistic parent may have on their child’s psychological development (eg click here). In this article, however, I wish to concentrate upon a particular symptom of narcissistic personality disorder, that of ‘NARCISSISTIC RAGE.’
The term ‘narcissistic rage’ was first coined by the psychologist Heinz Kohut in 1972. Kohut believed that it results from ‘narcissistic injury’. ‘Narcissistic injury’ can be defined as ‘A PERCEIVED THREAT TO (the narcissist’s) SELF-WORTH’.
Whilst, on the surface, a narcissist acts as if s/he is highly superior to others and has a greatly inflated, grandiose sense of self-worth, just beneath this superficial facade lies an extremely fragile, weak and vulnerable ego which the narcissist is desperate to protect from further damage.
It is because their ego, in reality, is so fragile and vulnerable, which the narcissist is desperate to protect at almost any cost, that even the slightest threat to their tenuous grip on their self-esteem, such as a very minor criticism, can trigger an outburst of extreme and disproportionate rage directed at the person who dared make the criticism.
In this way, extreme aggression becomes the narcissist’s form of defense.
This self-protective narcissistic rage can take on two forms :
1) Explosive rage
2) Passive-aggressive rage
Explosive rage: this type of rage is self-explanatory. My own mother would hysterically yell that she felt she ‘could knife’ me / felt ‘murderous towards’ me / felt ‘evil towards’ me / rued the day I was born / would throw me out of the house (this last one a threat that she carried out when I was thirteen years old.
Passive-aggressive rage: this type involves the narcissist becoming petulant, childishly sulky, and, often’ giving the object of her wrath ‘the silent treatment’ (click here to read my article about what ‘ the silent treatment’ entails).
The rage that the narcissist expresses can be extremely vindictive and is often employed as a way of seeking revenge on the person who (often inadvertently) upset them. The narcissist may well want the person punished and psychologically hurt ( or, indeed, physically hurt, as some narcissists will use physical as well as verbal violence in their inexorable pursuit of vengeance).
Narcissistic rage is a defense mechanism employed by the narcissist in a desperate attempt to preserve their extremely precarious and tenuous sense of self-confidence and self-esteem. They have an overwhelming need to maintain their false, superficial, grandiose view of themselves used to keep their deeper feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness at bay.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).