We have all had experiences when a person we thought we knew suddenly turned on us with rage. Startled by the attack, we ask ourselves: “What have I done to make this person so angry?” Anger and rage are different. Anger is focused on specific issues. Anger has an end to it and often a justifiable reason. Rage has a different quality and force. Rage comes from deep inside a person. It is rooted at the core of the personality. We often observe volcanic rage in the narcissist. The narcissist is an individual who has a severe personality disorder distinguished by a sense of grandiosity, superiority, self-entitlement, manipulation, deceit, and lack of empathy.
The highly successful narcissist appears to be a very confident, self entitled, self assured individual. Often he is socially adept and can be very persuasive. He has a special way of drawing people to him. This is the mask that he (or she) presents so convincingly to the world. Often his audience responds with the praise, adulation and monetary rewards that the narcissist strongly pursues to prove how perfect and powerful he is.
There is a dark underside to the narcissistic personality that shows itself when he is crossed, when people don’t meet his unreasonable demands. Beneath the surface of his attractive outer shell, the narcissist is always seething. Narcissistic rage begins in early childhood. One classic theme is that of a parent or parents who focus on creating a perfect child. Rather than allow the child to be his natural spontaneous self, they impose a false self on him. They give him the impression that he is superior to others, that he can do no wrong, that he can treat others without respect, and that there are no consequences to his destructive and cruel behavior. At the base of the narcissistic rage is the unconscious feeling that he was never loved for being himself, but simply for the attributes that his parents saw in him: physical attractiveness, intellectual capacity, athletic prowess, artistic talent. He has been exploited by his parents to make them feel more powerful and worthy.
The unconscious source of narcissistic rage is self loathing. When the narcissist fumes like Vesuvius and smoke becomes explosive flames, the molten lava of his bottomless rage covers everything in its path. There are several ways to protect yourself from narcissistic rage. First, learn to identify the narcissistic personalities in your life. Second, maintain respect for yourself and make the discrimination that you are a separate unique individual from the narcissist (even if you are married to one). Third, be clearly aware that the fulminating narcissist is using a defense mechanism called projection. He cannot contain the horrible way that he feels about himself, so he projects this venom on to others, especially those close to him. Always remember, it’s not about you. Remain empowered, stay as calm as you can and maintain an emotional distance and psychological grounding in the truth.