Well, That Escalated Quickly. Narcissistic Rage and How to Deal
When someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) or narcissistic traits perceives a slight or aggression they may act out in a number of hurtful ways. From passive aggressive silence to knock down drag out temper tantrums, the rage of a person with NPD can be traumatizing. In this post we explore what causes these outbursts, how to deal with them at work, home or in a friendship, and treatment options. It is important to note that if you suspect someone you love suffers from NPD, I accept new patients and treat NPD, but try to keep in mind there is no definitive diagnosis of NPD, only a trained therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist can diagnose. See my podcast on Narcissism here, https://www.undressingtheissue.com/what-is-a-narcissist-part-1/.
What the F*&% is going on? Narcissistic Rage Causes
Some types of rage or outbursts can be dramatic and hurtful, while others are silent and just as hurtful. Below are some of the causes for NPD rage.
Leggo my Ego: Challenge to Confidence
A challenge to the seemingly unfailing confidence of someone suffering from NPD will often end in an outburst. Grandiosity and positive regard are crucial to someone who may have NPD, so feeling like those things are being jeopardized can be a huge trigger.
Ouch ouch, that’s my self esteem: Challenge to Self Esteem
Those with NPD often exhibit uncharacteristically high self esteem, but it frequently masks deep seated low self esteem. Lashing out is a protective mechanism that gives that person a semblance of power and control.
Who am I? Challenge to Perception of Self
When a co worker or friend is challenged or their grandeur is outed, they will exhibit symptoms of rage. Their sense of self is disturbed and they want to recover their identity as infallible.
What can I do?
Loving someone or simply existing with someone with NPD can be a challenge if you feel you are always the one apologizing or are over-explaining your behaviors. Compounding the problem is that someone with NPD rarely takes accountability for their actions. Often times, the best course of action is simply to limit the time spent with this person to preserve your own mental health and sanity, but when you cannot or when that someone is a partner, here are some things you can work on.
Communicate Communicate Communicate. I can offer sessions with partners when one or both have NPD. The most important way to deal with this is effective communication to resolve why the NPD felt a challenge to their identity and to have their partner clarify their intention.
Friends and Family Rage
NPD in parents and siblings is a whole other episode and blog, coming soon, in the meantime, limit your exposure. The person suffering will either seek help or not, but your reaction to it, is most important.
Co Worker Rage
This is a complicated place to deal with NPD. Many suffering from this disorder inflate their accomplishments and when they are called on it, will launch into the reactive behavior of choice. Do not avoid feedback, just to appease an ego, it does you and the other person no good. Quicker cycles of this can spur a person to seek help.
Overall, regardless of the context of your relationship, the most effective strategy for ensuring your safety when you have to be around a person who may have NPD is to maintain very clear boundaries. The more you can remain firm in your needs and your expectations, the less likely the person with NPD will feel like they can manipulate you or exert their rage onto you. Remember, boundaries are not punishments, they are self-care!
You cannot force anyone into treatment or diagnose someone with NPD. If you are a partner, learning new techniques for communication and couples counseling is a great option. Treatment often includes talk therapy to help someone suffering from NPD understand their behaviors and how their rage affects others. In my practice I treat those with NPD who often have compound issues with NPD being a part of all of them. If you or someone you love is suffering, I offer comprehensive couples and individuals counseling in office or on Zoom. www.julialmft.com
More on Narcissism here, https://www.undressingtheissue.com/what-is-a-narcissist-part-1/.