By Dana Morningstar
Narcissistic rage is inappropriate displays of anger from a narcissist that occur on a spectrum ranging from passive-aggressive to aggressive and can span from aloofness or cruel indifference (often leading to the silent treatment) to irritation or annoyance, to serious outbursts, including verbal and/or physical abuse. Narcissistic rage generally happens after a narcissist receives a “narcissistic injury” or if they perceive that they are losing control over their target or over a situation. On the milder end of the spectrum, this narcissistic rage can come across as though the narcissist is being immature, bratty, or having an adult temper tantrum. On the more major end of the spectrum, this rage can be terrifying, and the abusers can quickly become violent or deadly.
Example: Jamie caught Todd texting other women…again. She confronted him about it, and he spun it around and began verbally and emotionally abusing her by calling her paranoid, fat, and worthless, and asking how dare she look at his phone or question him! Todd admitted that he was cheating and blamed Jamie because she was disgusting and had let herself go. After their fight was over and Todd left, Jamie found herself feeling confused about what happened, and wondered if Todd’s cheating and his resulting abuse were somehow her fault. Maybe she wasn’t home often enough, or maybe she really was all those things that he’d said. After all, she knew she had gained weight over the past year, and she had been concerned he’d been cheating on her for a while. It was all these kernels of truth surrounded by a big ball of a lie that kept her confused and wondering whether, if she changed, maybe he’d change, too. These seeds of insecurity that Todd’s abuse had planted began to erode her self-esteem and her sense of reality. And that was a big part of why she continued to stay with him. She thought she was the problem. And because she was caught up in the cycle of narcissistic abuse, Todd’s behavior had just become a new low…and a new normal for their relationship.
Example: Roger recently filed for divorce from his wife Sharon who was verbally and physically abusive. When Sharon got the papers, she flew into a rage, leaving a series of verbally abusive and threatening messages on his voice mail. He hoped that was the end of it, but then later found out she’d called the police on him, filed a protective order against him, and claimed he was abusing her! Her male friends began to harass him at work, and he was concerned that they might gang up on him, or try and make him lose his job. Even though Roger knew what Sharon was saying about him wasn’t true, he also realized that most people were probably going to believe her, since he was close to twice her size, and she was a woman. Roger knew she wouldn’t handle being served divorce papers well, but he didn’t expect her to go this far.
Example: Linda and Thomas had been dating for about six months when she began to see his temper surface on a more regular basis—the latest incident being him raging at her for leaving her dishes in the sink. She’d finally had enough of his anger and called things off with him. He didn’t handle it well and began screaming at her on the phone, calling her names and demanding that she talk to him and for her to not hang up on him. She immediately hung up on him and was scared he was going to show up at her door. She finally was able to calm down and go to sleep. When she awoke the next morning, she was shocked to find that Thomas had sent her a barrage of text messages threatening to kill her or whoever else she would date, claiming that she belonged to him and always would.
Dana Morningstar is a former psychiatric nurse turned domestic violence educator who specializes in abuse awareness and prevention. Her passion is working with survivors of abuse to reclaim and rebuild their self-esteem, boundaries, confidence, and identity. She is an author of multiple books on the subject, and also has a blog, podcast, and YouTube channel, as well as several online support groups, all of which you can find under the name “Thrive After Abuse.”