Possible Triggers of Narcissistic Rage

Angry woman

For people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), behind the polished facade and charming demeanor lies a powder keg waiting to explode.

People with narcissistic tendencies often exhibit explosive or scheming behavior when experiencing narcissistic rage.

During instances like this, their ultimate goal is to regain their sense of superiority or dominance and fix any perceived damage to their ego.

Explosive rage is characterized by intense displays of anger, such as shouting, making threats, engaging in physical violence, destroying objects, and other similar outbursts of fury.

Just as it can manifest explosively, it can also manifest in passive ways such as giving the silent treatment, withdrawing, avoiding, being hostile, and making passive-aggressive comments.

An example of a passive-aggressive comment is saying, "I'm not angry," but still acting distant and cold.

Individuals with narcissistic tendencies often harbor resentments and devise elaborate plans for retaliation, working on how they can inflict harm on anyone who wronged them.

People who have experienced narcissistic rage report that it is frightening and unpredictable and that it can occur suddenly and without any apparent reason, which is why support for narcissism is very important.

If you have NPD or you know someone who does, this is why you must know the triggers of narcissistic rage.

One of the possible triggers of narcissistic rage occurs when a narcissistic person feels like they are not getting enough attention.

Attention means everything to a narcissistic person, and whenever they feel like they are not getting it from those around them, they may feel slighted and react by lashing out.

Also another example of triggers of narcissistic rage is when they receive any form of criticism.

Narcissistic people don't like being criticized or even corrected about anything; when it does occur, they usually react angrily.

Narcissistic people use various tactics like gaslighting or other forms of manipulation to control others around them; whenever they feel they have lost this control, they tend to exhibit rage.

Read on for more details on the triggers of narcissistic rage.

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Dr. Michelle Palmieri, DSW, LSW

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Colorado Springs, Colorado
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They Are Not Getting Enough Attention

A narcissist needs a constant source of praise and attention to sustain their narcissistic supply and ego in order to continue feeling powerful and in control.

When those around them don't pay attention to them, they may resort to rage, verbal abuse, or shouting to refocus everyone's attention on themselves.

Consider a flamboyant executive who thrives on their employees' adulation and recognition.

If their accomplishments go unappreciated or are overshadowed by someone else's, their dissatisfaction might manifest as narcissistic rage.

When enraged, a narcissist can be extremely unpredictable and even dangerous.

They do not think rationally during these types of situations and may engage in behaviors that might seem strange to others. 

They Are Criticized

Despite having an exaggerated sense of self, people with NPD usually have fragile, easily damaged self-esteem.

Narcissists may act aggressively in response to being hurt or threatened as a defense method.

Narcissists are typically very sensitive to criticism due to their insatiable desire for validation and admiration.

The smallest hint of imperfection can spark an explosive response.

Picture a novelist whose most recent book is met with negative reviews.

The narcissistic artist could become enraged at the critiques rather than taking it in stride.

In other cases, they can turn to cutting someone out or using hurtful actions or words to defend their self-image.

This type of outburst is frequently out of proportion to the perceived slight and is often not reasonable.

They Feel a Loss of Control

When a narcissist feels like they have lost control of those around them, this can also lead to narcissistic rage.

They have an inherent need to feel as though they are always in control of everything and everyone around them.

Narcissists tend to manipulate people in their lives in a variety of ways.

They do this to remain in the spotlight and convince people they are better than everyone else.

Some of their methods of manipulation include lying and gaslighting.

They require an almost constant supply of adoration since they lack internal mechanisms that allow them to calm themselves and enhance their own self-esteem.

Their only play left is narcissistic rage when they realize that they can't always control what's going on around them.

Their rage response is typically quite intense, and it is their attempt to recover control.

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They Are Not Getting Their Way

It is well known that narcissists have unreasonable expectations of other people and their surroundings.

They think that everything else should come second to their needs and desires.

Consider a narcissistic partner who demands that their partner indulge all of their whims.

They may become angry if their demands are not satisfied or if they are refused.

They have unrealistic expectations, and when they are not met, they get upset.

They have convinced themselves and others around them that they are superior, and when they don't get their way, it poses a challenge to their self-perception. 

They Get Caught

Being held accountable for one's conduct makes one vulnerable.

Feelings of vulnerability are uncomfortable or perhaps unbearable for narcissists.

This is because, underneath their outward displays of confidence and charm, narcissists are usually deceptive and manipulative people.

As a result, if their activities are made public, they may react with rage.

Take the example of a company CEO exposed in a financial scandal. Or a well-known musician who, despite claiming to write all of their own songs, is discovered using ghostwriters.

These kinds of situations expose their shortcomings or lies, and they may lash out in an effort to evade responsibility or humiliation.

Sometimes, they could respond by turning the tables on others and making them feel guilty instead. 


If you have ever experienced narcissistic rage, the triggers discussed above can help you better navigate a relationship with narcissistic people.

These triggers of narcissistic rage serve as a reminder of the multifaceted nature of human behavior and emphasize the importance of support for narcissism.

Triggers of narcissistic rage occur when narcissistic people feel like they are not getting enough attention, they are criticized, they feel a loss of control, they are not getting their way, and they get caught.


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July 18th, 2024

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