Narcissistic Rage & Injury: Definition, Symptoms & Examples

Instructor: Millicent Kelly

Millicent has been teaching at the university level since 2004. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and a Master's degree in Human Resources.

Narcissistic personality disorder diagnosis seems to be increasing amongst Americans. This lesson will define narcissism and discuss how this can give rise to narcissistic rage and injury. Symptoms and examples will also be provided.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder - An Example

From a very young age, John has been rather difficult to get along with. In junior high and high school he was known for being inflexible and always blaming his problems on other people. Nothing was ever his fault. When he lost his favorite t-shirt, he claimed his mother took it or when a teacher gave him a poor grade on an assignment he claimed it was because she did not like him.

John did not have many friends because he was not easy to be around and was incapable of admitting he made a mistake. Now as an adult, he has difficulty maintaining steady relationships and just dealt with yet another breakup. As a result, John seeks out counseling and after a few sessions the counselor suspects John might be suffering from narcissistic personality disorder.

Narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissism is a term used by mental health to describe a condition that leaves an individual with the inability to care about others or show empathy and compassion. A narcissist often displays the following personality traits:

  • only their opinions are valuable and they are dismissive of the opinions of others
  • poor listeners
  • exaggerate successes
  • tremendous concern for themselves and very little or none for others
  • inability to admit mistakes or accept responsibility for errors
  • blameful of others
  • superiority to others
  • easily angered by criticism
  • feel as though they don't need to abide by societal rules or laws

Admittedly, everyone at one point or another has exaggerated or overinflated their ego. The difference with narcissists is that they continue engaging in this behavior over time. When narcissism starts to impact the quality of life, mental health professionals might diagnose someone as having narcissistic personality disorder which is the clinical term used for narcissism.

Narcissistic Rage

A narcissistic individual might be prone to narcissistic rage. Narcissistic rage is the response to narcissistic injury. Narcissistic injury occurs when a narcissistic individual perceives to be criticized so deeply that it creates severe emotional pain or scarring. It throws them from the invisible throne of superiority down into the masses. Suddenly they feel inferior and rage can set in as a response. To the non-narcissistic individual; however, the perceived criticism is hardly a criticism at all.

Narcissistic rage can be mild, such as showing disagreement or engaging in a vocal argument, or it can be a full-blown episode of violent and aggressive rage. When narcissistic rage is violent, it is seen by non-narcissistic individuals as an extreme overreaction to a seemingly normal event. At times, the episodes of rage can become so severe that individuals may need mental health evaluation and in-patient treatment in order to avoid dangerous and potential legal consequences.

An Example of Narcissistic Rage

Let's take a look at an example of what may throw a narcissistic individual into a an episode of narcissistic rage. Andrew and Evan are both 17 years old and enjoy working out together at the local gym. Andrew has a narcissistic personality and believes himself to be better than Evan at everything, including lifting weights. When Evan is able to complete a set that Andrew is not, Andrew feels defeated and inferior (narcissistic injury). As a result, he takes his phone and violently slams it onto the weight bench breaking the screen (narcissistic rage).

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