For those who live with a narcissist, perceptive awareness and assertive communication are essential for your protection. More importantly, you cannot allow a narcissist to get in under your skin and negatively impact your self-esteem. Simply being aware that your partner is a narcissist does not mean that you are protected from his / her destructive behavior. As mental health professional will tell you, the worst combination in a relationship is an extreme narcissist and an individual with low self-esteem. Like a shark picking up the scent of blood in the water, a narcissist will capitalize on your vulnerabilities and inflict damage upon you emotionally and at the same time, call you crazy or unstable. Learn the warning signs.
Narcissistic rage has been 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 inadequacy, shame, and vulnerability. 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. 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 is a blow to their superficial, idealized self-image. Below are several common warning signs to look out for:
- The narcissist doesn’t get his or her way, even when it’s unreasonable. 2. The narcissist is criticized in some way, even when the critique is made diplomatically, reasonably, and constructively. 3. The narcissist isn’t treated as the center of attention, even when there are other priorities. 4. The narcissist is caught breaking rules, violating social norms, or disregarding boundaries. 5. The narcissist is asked to be accountable for his or her actions. 6. The narcissist suffers a blow to his or her idealized, egotistical self-image (such as when being told he will not be given “exception to the rule”, or be granted “special treatment”). 7. The narcissist is reminded of his or her charade, manipulation, exploitation, inadequacy, shame, or self-loathing. 8. The narcissist feels (fears) not in control of their relational or physical surroundings.
In each of the settings listed above, narcissistic rage is used as a manipulative tool on the outside. Like a spoiled child who throws a tantrum when not catered to, the narcissist attempts to use their “rage” to coerce their victims to give in. The heavy price many narcissists pay for their “rage”, as well as for their narcissistic behavior in general, may include one or more of the following:
- Family Estrangement. 2. Relational Dissolution & Divorce. 3. Relationship Cut-Offs – Since narcissists “use” rather than “relate”, they tend to leave many broken relationships behind. Narcissists also experience relationship cut-offs from others feeling let down, disappointed, lied to, used, manipulated, violated, exploited, betrayed, ripped-off, demeaned, invalidated, or ignored. 4. Lonelinessand Isolation – most narcissists have few, if any healthy, close and lasting relationships. 5. Missed Opportunities – From a lack of true substance and/or connectedness. 6. Financial, Career, or Legal Trouble – From rule breaking, gross irresponsibility, careless indulgence, or other indiscretions. 7. Damaged Reputation – From personal and/or professional lack of credibility, reliability, and trustworthiness. 8. Deep-Seated Fearof Rejection / Being Unimportant – This is the core of narcissistic rage.
Can a narcissist change for the better? Probably not. But if he or she is highly aware of the inappropriateness of their actions and are willing to go through the process of self-examination, change is possible but if you start to find yourself second guessing each of your actions and start to find yourself becoming isolated from family and friends to save your relationship, it may be time to reexamine the relationship in a counselling setting with a competent mental health professional – before its too late.