My name is Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
To understand narcissistic rage, we first must grapple with the concept of narcissistic injury.
Narcissistic injury is any threat, whether real or imagined, to the narcissist's grandiose and fantastic self-perception to his false self.
The narcissist holds himself to be perfect, all-powerful, omnipotent, all-knowing, omniscient, and entitled to special treatment and recognition, regardless of his real-life accomplishments, which are usually lacking and meager.
Narcissist actively solicits narcissistic supply. He goes around eliciting adulation, compliments, admiration, subservience, attention. Even being feared is a form of narcissistic supply. He needs this input and feedback from others in order to regulate and sustain his fragile and dysfunctional ego.
Thus, the narcissist constantly correlates people's praise and attention.
But as he does so, he also risks rejection, criticism, disagreement, and even ridicule and mockery.
The narcissist is dependent on other people. He is aware of this dependence and of the risks associated with it. He knows that his dependence is all-pervasive and essential.
But he resents his weakness. He dreads the possible disruptions in the flow of his drug, narcissistic supply.
The narcissist is caught between the rock of his habit and the hard place of his frustration.
No wonder if he is prone to raging, lashing, and acting out. No wonder if he is the slave of pathological, all-consuming entry. All these are expressions of aggression.
The very people whom the narcissist holds in contempt. He derides them. He regards them as inferior.
But they are also the source of his narcissistic supply, without which he will disintegrate, crumble, and be a rendered dysfunction.
Narcissistic king is valuable. In his own mind, the narcissist is brilliant, perfect, limited, omniscient, and unique.
So, compliments and observations that support this inflated self-image, that support the false self, these are taken for granted. It is a matter of course.
Narcissist believes that he deserves them. Having anticipated the priest is fully justified and in accordance with his reality. The narcissist feels that his traits, his behaviors, and his accomplishments have made the accolades and kudos happen.
He believes that he has generated this feedback and input from people. He believes that he has brought the narcissistic supply into being. He annexes positive input. He integrates positive feedback and thereby he feels, irrationally, that the source of this feedback and input is internal, not external. That it is emanating from inside himself, not from outside, independent sources.
The narcissist takes positive narcissistic supply lightly because he feels that he has made it happen.
On the other hand, the narcissist treats this harmonious input, such as criticism, disagreement, or data that negate his self-perception. He takes this completely differently.
He accords a far greater weight to these types of countervailing, challenging, and astonishing information because these are felt by him to be more real and coming really from the outside.
Obviously, the narcissist cannot cast himself as the cause and source of opprobrium, castigation, criticism, and mockery. So he accepts that these come genuinely from outside and are not caused by him.
The sourcing asymmetry, in the weighting asymmetry, the different levels of importance attached to positive supply and negative supply. This is the reason.
These are the reasons for the narcissist's disproportionate reactions to perceived insults.
The narcissist simply takes these insults as more real and serious than any praise.
The narcissist is constantly on the lookout for slights, for offenses. He is hyper-vigilant. He perceives every disagreement and criticism, and every critical remark is complete and humiliating rejection, nothing short of a threat.
Gradually, as he is exposed to more of these criticisms and disagreements, his mind turns into a chaotic battlefield of paranoia and ideas of reference.
The narcissist believes that he is locked, ridiculed, discussed, and gossiped behind his back even when this is not the case at all.
Most narcissists react defensively. They become conspicuously indignant, aggressive, and cold. They become abrasive and detach emotionally from fear of yet another narcissistic injury. They devalue the person who makes the disparaging remarks, the critical comment, the unflattering observation, the innocuous joke, and the injustices' expense.
By holding their critics in contempt, by diminishing the stature of the discordant conversant of the disagreeing interlocutor, the narcissist minimizes the impact of the disagreement, including the criticism on himself.
This is a defense mechanism that we know is cognitive dissonance. If the source of the disagreement and criticism is devalued, reduced, humiliated, and written off, then the criticism and disagreement themselves are meaningless.
Narcissists can be impertible, resilient to stress, and so on. Narcissistic rage is not a reaction to stress. It is a reaction to perceive slight insults, criticism, or disagreement. In other words, it's a reaction to narcissistic injury.
Narcissistic rage is intense and disproportional to the offense.
Raging narcissists usually perceive their reaction to have been triggered by an intentional provocation with a hostile intent and purpose.
Their targets, on the other hand, invariably regard raging narcissists as incoherent, unjust, capricious, and arbitrary.
Narcissists often vent their anger at insignificant people. They don't risk alienating their sources of supply, so they vent and they direct their rage at bystanders and innocent people.
So they yell at a waitress. They berate a taxi driver. They publicly child a subordinate or an underlink. They attack their own children. Alternatively, they sulk. They feel unhedonic and unable to feel pleasure. They are pathologically poor. They drink. They do drugs.
All these are forms of self-directed aggression.
From time to time, no one can be able to pretend to suppress their rage.
Narcissists have it out with the real source of their anger.
Then these narcissists lose all vestiges of self-control and rave like lunatics. They shout incoherently. They make absurd accusations. They distort facts. They air non-suppressed grievances, allegations, and suspicions.
These episodes of unbridled aggression are followed by periods of saccharine sentimentality, excessive flattering and submissiveness towards the victim of the latest rage attack.
Driven by the mortal fear of being abandoned or ignored, the narcissists repulsively debases and demeans them so.
And thanks for forgiveness.
Most narcissists are prone to be angry. Their anger is always sudden, raging, frightening, and without an apparent provocation by a downside agent.
It would seem that narcissists are in constant state of rage, which is effectively controlled most of the time, but not all the time.
This constant state of rage manifests itself only when the narcissist defenses are down, incapacitated, or adversely affected by circumstances, internal or external.
Pathological narcissistic anger is neither coherent nor externally induced. It emanates from the inside. It is diffuse. It is directed at the world at large, and it is injustice in general.
The narcissist is capable of identifying the immediate cause of his fury.
Still, upon cloth-scroting him, this immediate cause is likely to be found lacking, and the anger is likely to be found excessive, disproportionate, and incoherent. It might be more accurate to say that the narcissist is experiencing two layers of anger, simultaneously and always.
The first layer of superficial ire is indeed directed at an identified target, the alleged cause of the eruption, the provocateur.
The second layer, however, incorporates the narcissist's self-aimed wrath.
Narcissist's aggression is directed outside, but also inside, at himself.
Narcissistic rage has two forms. The explosive type, with the narcissist, flares out, attacks everyone in his immediate vicinity, causes damage to objects or people, and is verbally and psychologically abusive, and sometimes physically abusive, violent.
And then there is the passive-aggressive or pernicious type of narcissistic rage.
Here, the narcissist sulks, gives the silent treatment. He is plotting how to punch to transgress her and put her in her proper place.
These narcissists are vindictive. They often become stalkers, they harass, they haunt the objects of their frustration. They sabotage and damage the work and positions of people whom they regard to be the sources and the causes of their mounting wrath.