When a Narcissist Gets Angry

Colleen Sheehy Orme

The Psychology Today article 8 Signs of Narcissistic Rage explores the impact of anger on an individual with Narcissistic personality disorder.

"Narcissistic rage can be defined as intense anger, aggression, or passive-aggression when a narcissist experiences a setback or disappointment, which shatters his (or her) illusions of grandiosity, entitlement, and superiority, and triggers inner adequacy, shame, and vulnerability."

I've spent over a decade in counseling and research on the topic of Narcissistic personality disorder. I've grappled with a question most survivors of narcissism ask themselves. Why doesn't the rest of the world witness their cruelty?

It led me to a discussion with my marriage counselor. What exposes a narcissist? Why are they rarely visible? Why do only a few people witness the other side of them? Ultimately the conversation ended with the conclusion that anger draws out a narcissist.

When a narcissist feels wounded they emerge. They attempt to re-establish their superiority through rage.

Psychology Today explains.

"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."

The article goes on to explain the following:

"What distinguishes narcissistic rage from normal anger is that it is usually unreasonable, disproportional, and cuttingly aggressive (or intensely passive-aggressive), all because the narcissists' wants and wishes are not being catered to. It's a blow to their superficial, idealized self-image."

On the surface, it seems confusing the narcissist wouldn't get angry more often. But the answer lies in the narcissist's critical lack of empathy. The narcissist lives within their own world. They don't have the self-reflection to see outside of their hemisphere and into the lives of others.

This makes the narcissist care less about the average interaction. If it doesn't impact their life they aren't moved with enough emotion to care. They might be slightly annoyed, inconvenienced, or aggravated.

But they don't feel outraged.

This is why the average person never sees the other side of the narcissist.

It's reserved for those closest to the narcissist. This is the person who can provoke the narcissist to the point of rage. Provoke may be the wrong use of words. Because one can never accuse someone who is victimized of having asked for it.

But in the mind of a narcissist, they have.

One of the most informative aspects of the aforementioned article is 'Eight scenarios when narcissistic rage occurs." It explains the indulged and spoiled nature of an individual with Narcissistic personality disorder.

The ultimate understatement.

In my own experience, anger was the root of the worst I endured. Without it, the person I loved was seemingly fun, humorous, laid-back, and charming. In retrospect, it seems simple. At the time, it was eternally confusing.

My charismatic guy became unrecognizable.

I couldn't decipher the pattern. The cause. The shift. The mechanism that made the best guy in the world someone I ran from. And then eventually, when the mood shifted, I ran back to. I understand now the absurdity.

But when I tell you he was good he was very, very good.

And when he was bad, he was very, very bad.

Love demands we see the best in people. I didn't understand it wasn't a mood or a moment. It wasn't a bad day or a bad hand. It wasn't stress or sadness. It wasn't disappointment or depression. It wasn't frustration or fatigue.

It was a personality disorder.

Narcissistic personality disorder and rage will expose it.

One that lived below the surface but was fueled by anger. Making it more confusing. Making it appear like a minute, a moment, a month. A temporary discretion.

Until rage reminds you it isn't.

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Colleen Sheehy Orme is a National Relationship Columnist, freelance journalist, and former business columnist. She writes about love, relationships, and self-restoration. She has spent more than a decade in research and counseling on the topics of divorce, relationships, and Narcissistic personality disorder.

Reston, VA
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