#Narcissistic rage is a scary and, at the same time, kind of creepy sounding term. Personally, I don’t like it because, I think it’s a bit misleading. In any case, today’s post is all about a little thing called narcissistic rage. I hope I can shed some light on this aspect of the narcissistic personality. More importantly, I hope you can use this information, and the tips I give here, to help you avoid your narcissist’s rage when it surfaces.
What causes narcissistic rage?
First things, first. Narcissistic rage is the result of, what is called, a “#narcissistic injury“. In short, narcissistic injury occurs when you frustrate a narcissist, demean his awesome godliness, or poke a hole in his fantastical delusion of perfection. In other words- you insulted him, or hurt his pride/ego.
Narcissistic Injury can happen in any number of ways. Sometimes, it’s intentional- like when you call him out on a lie, or point out that he messed something up, in such a way that he can’t argue, or rationalize, his way out of it. Very often, a rage can be triggered by simply telling your narcissist ‘No’. Most of the time, though, especially when the rage occurs between intimate partners (as it most often does), I believe that the narcissistic injury is unintentionally delivered.
How does narcissistic injury occur?
The main reason I think that much of narcissistic injury is inflicted unintentionally is because, everyone wants to be accepted for who they are and, most often- within an intimate relationship- a narcissist will rage because he is not being treated that way.
I know what you’re thinking but, just give me a chance to explain…
I know it’s easy to see the narcissist as an unfeeling, monster. Trust me, I’m just as guilty on that front as the next woman who has been taken in by a narc. STILL… the truth of the matter is that narcissists DO have feelings, and as such, they want to be accepted for who they truly are just as much as you and I do.
So what does this have to do with narcissistic rage? Imagine this. Pretend you are an actress and, you play a recurring T.V. role as a total sex kitten; a woman who loves being treated like a sex object and loves to be talked to, complimented, and treated as though her looks were all that mattered. Now, imagine you go home to your husband and, not only does he expect you to keep playing the sex kitten role but, completely acts like THAT ROLE is exactly who you really are! How enraged would you be? (I know I’d be pretty pissed)
It’s pretty much the same thing with the narcissist. We all know that the mask of perfection, that the narcissist wears, is a total fake. Obviously. No one’s perfect. But, on a deeper level, the pretense that the narcissist is a considerate, responsible, honest & honorable, emotionally mature man is ALSO a total sham.
Narcissists, on an emotional level, have the emotional IQ of a 2-year-old, at best (and that’s the fact, not me trying to take a stab at narcissists…seriously). When they suffered the break in their personality, they became- sort of- emotionally frozen at that stage. This usually happens very early in life, from having care-takers who were unable to provide proper, healthy nurturing. It’s not always this way but- from my understanding of everything I’ve researched and studied- this is believed to be the most common scenario.
Because of this, the narcissist will come home, and just want to rest for a bit. Take off the mask for a while. Let the facade fall away. But, right at that moment, there you are…expecting him to act like a mature, considerate adult, and help with all the adult things that need to be done. From his point of view, you’re just one more person who was (in his mind) “stupid enough” to buy into his act.
You’re the woman who claims to love him, yet has no idea (again, in his mind) who he truly is. And so, tired of keeping up the act of being a real-live, mature adult… especially, in the one place where he ought to be able to let the mask fall… the narcissist rages.
In his mind, you- of all people- ought to know who he really is. You- of all people- ought to understand that he doesn’t have the skills needed to handle the responsibility of all that “grown-up stuff”. And yet, there you go, nagging at him to be a mature, responsible adult…again! This causes narcissistic injury by triggering feelings of shame & self-loathing around his true self being ‘defective’, or not good enough, as he is.
Now, PLEASE,do NOT think I’m saying that this justifies the narcissist’s behavior (his rages) IN ANY WAY. It certainly does NOT…AT ALL. My purpose is only to portray why the narcissistic injury occurs, from the narcissist’s perspective, so that you can be better equipped to avoid the rages as much as possible.
Another source of narcissistic injury is that the expectations placed on the narcissist are just too high. This is another aspect of the whole “not accepting who he truly is” concept. In this case, though, it’s the emotional, and interpersonal, skills you are expecting him to demonstrate.
For example, a 2-year-old would not be able to show sensitivity towards your emotional needs. Shit, a 2-year-old would have no concept that you even HAD emotional needs. Neither would a toddler think twice about lying to get what he wanted. Or manipulating you- with tears, hitting, throwing angry tantrums, guilt, hugs/cuddles/shameless flattery, etc.- into doing what he wanted. Toddlers aren’t very considerate, or dependable, either- I might add.
Is this starting to sound familiar to you????
For all the mothers of toddlers out there: Can you tell the class what happens when you place unrealistic expectations onto a toddler? If you said “Mind-shattering tantrums, defiance and, all-around- makes-you-almost-consider-sending-them-back -levels of shitty behavior”, then you’d be absolutely right!
Now, think about how your narcissist reacts when you’re yelling at him, or arguing with him, about all of his toddler-like behavior. Think about the kinds of reactions you are likely to get. Noticing any crazy similarities to the description of toddler behavior, above? (If you’re anything like me, and this whole idea is new to you, then right about now you might be thinking something along the lines of, “OMG…I married a freaking toddler-man!” I don’t even want to get into what kind of crazy-making effect this had on me when I started considering the more “intimate” aspects of our marriage. I was totally…I don’t even have a word to describe the level of confusion/
WTF-ness/ trauma that this caused me, at first. *shudder)
So…What, exactly, IS a narcissistic rage?
This is where, I think, the term “narcissistic rage” could get a little misleading. Though the word “rage” is used, a narcissistic rage won’t always look like rage. It could include any number of immature behavior. From sulking, defensiveness and verbal attacks, to all-out rages, passive-aggressive threats, or the silent treatment. I’ve also experienced my husband’s more “long-term rages”, towards my unrealistic emotional expectations of him, as unbelievable defiance. I mean, to the point where he actually got himself arrested because he refused to make a stupid phone call to me. Seriously. That extreme.
Basically, narcissistic rage is any shit-behavior the narcissist exhibits, in response to a narcissistic injury. Some rages can be truly frightening. It can very much so include physical assault, or aggression. For example, once I was wanting my husband to offer some comfort to me, after I had found out I was pregnant and, was on the verge of a massive panic-attack because, I was absolutely TERRIFIED. He was tired and wanted to go to sleep and so, wasn’t really offering much emotional support- or comfort. Basically, he told me to come back in the morning.
Well, I got pretty angry and kept pressing him- telling him selfish and cold he was being by just abandoning me in my time of need- reminding him of how, when HE was upset, I dragged my happy-ass out of bed until 2-or-3, in the morning, to be there for HIM! His response was to put the bottom of his foot on my face, and tell me to “Sshhhh!”
I was absolutely stunned and shocked by the level of degradation I had just experienced that, for a moment, I just froze…silent. Then, he just rolled over to present me with his back…and, well….something just snapped in me, to be honest. I grabbed the pillow next to him, and hit him over the head with it as I got up to walk away.
Well, needless to say, that didn’t go over so well, and I found myself being gripped, rather firmly, by the wrists while my husband shouted in my face that I was a psycho. Couldn’t I see that he was TIRED, and NEEDED his rest? What about HIS needs?!
My bad…(Not)! I forgot one of the cardinal rules:
[clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]Never wake a sleeping baby. Or a narcissist.[/clickandtweet]
Obviously, his behavior was reprehensible, and absolutely unacceptable. But, could it have been completely avoided? Sadly, the answer is “Yes. It could have.”
Your best chance of avoiding a narcissistic rage.
The whole situation, above, along with many other such scenarios, could have been totally avoided if I had just accepted the fact that my husband does not possess the skills, or abilities, necessary for me to depend on him- or even expect him to behave like- a mature, responsible, reasonable, adult. He just doesn’t…and therefore, can’t.
I’m not going to sit here, and bitch and moan about how wrong that is, or how unfair, or whatever. The situation is what it is and, I think that the sooner you can recognize that, the better off- and safer- you will be. My only goal here is to help you learn how to avoid situations where you could possibly be in danger, or where there is a very good chance you will be subjected to abusive behavior. The rest doesn’t matter to me. We can deal with that later.
So, to that effect, I will tell you this: The best way to avoid a lot of situations, where narcissistic injury is likely to occur, is to stop expecting your narcissistic partner to behave the way you want- or think- a good husband/boyfriend/partner ought to. We both know that isn’t going to happen. You’re just beating your head against the wall by trying to change him, or his behavior. At least, in this situation, and with these kinds of tactics.
The best thing you can do to protect yourself from narcissistic rage- and your children, if you have them, from witnessing such things- is to let go of the expectation that your narcissist will be capable of acting like a good, healthy partner. He isn’t a healthy partner- so that expectation is completely unreasonable. Let go of the need to have him be there for you. Release the need to correct, or change, his behaviors. Let go of the need to be right, or to make him wrong.
The best thing you can do is expect, from a narcissist, what you would expect of a 2-year-old. Just assume you’re in charge of all the housework, the kids, and everything else. If you get upset, or angry, about something… don’t pretend that he has the skills you need him to, in order to be there for you. If he does do something that you like, be appreciative- but not over the top. (A simple ‘Thank you” will do).
Is this the ideal relationship? No. Of course, not. But you aren’t getting the things you want now. And continuing to fight a losing battle won’t get those things for you either. At least, this way, you are almost guaranteed to have a lot less narcissistic rage to do deal with and, more blissful peace.
When you’re married to a narcissist, every moment of peace, is a blessing straight from heaven.
How much of the arguments, or fights, with your narcissist are from unrealistic expectations of him, or wanting/needing him to be someone that he is not? If you were to let go of these, how much more peace might you have in your home? If you gave this idea a try, how did it work out for you? Let’s talk!
To Tantrum-Free Homes,
~The Narcissist’s Wife