Individuals living with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are known to have many commonalities, such as an inflated sense of self or believing that they are deserving or entitled to the best of everything. However, few people recognize that these individuals also suffer from a fragile ego which creates areas of vulnerability for the narcissist.
Narcissistic Injury and Narcissistic Rage
One such vulnerability comes in the form of Narcissistic Injury. Narcissistic Injury is defined as the real, perceived or imagined threats to self that the narcissist may experience. This can be in the form of criticism, disapproval, rejection, or other ways in which the individual feels damaged, unwanted, or unappreciated. In situations where a narcissist has experienced this Narcissistic Injury, there is a resulting reaction that must also be mentioned; Narcissistic Rage.
Unlike others, a Narcissist will hold on to any experience that has caused them to experience negative feelings about their selves or their self-worth. This trait results in the Narcissist blaming those closest to them for their shortcomings, inability to feel happy or even loss of love. This, in turn, can result in episodes of Narcissistic Rage.
Narcissistic Rage is explained as the reaction to the experiences of Narcissistic Injury which damage or threaten to damage the fragile ego and façade of the individual as being grandiose or superior to others. Narcissistic Rage can manifest as a counter-attack to the individual or group of individuals who inflicted the injury on the narcissist. Narcissists are often unable to manage or process their emotional responses, particularly when those responses conflict with the image the narcissist is attempting to present. Once this image is cracked, altered or destroyed, the narcissist loses their control, and they become hyper-focused on blame and retribution for those who caused the Narcissistic Injury.
Many individuals living with Narcissistic Personality Disorder rely on the admiration, attention, and affection of others to maintain their delicate egos. When situations arise that jeopardize the ability to receive or feel these experiences from others, many narcissists will explode into rage. The may lash out in the form of bullying through social media, text messaging, phone calls, or other forms in which their victims can experience public humiliation or shame. Their goal is to generate the same negative experiences for those who caused the Narcissistic Injury to themselves. Their attacks can become extreme and may even include face-to-face bullying and sometimes violence.
The narcissist will not recognize that these reactions are abusive, inappropriate or immoral. They will not take responsibility for the damage they cause as they believe that it is justified. Their pattern of behavior when confronted about their attacks typically results in the narcissist blaming the person they are attacking stating that it is their fault, that the individual forced or caused the narcissist to explode and therefore the narcissist is not responsible for the behavior.
Narcissists often have a desperate need for attention, respect, affection or support from others. They begin to crave these factors in the same manner that a drug addict craves a fix. When other individuals in the narcissists’ life provide these feelings, it is known as Narcissistic Supply. Friends, relatives or partners can often easily become a ‘Supply Source’ for the narcissist. However, while the narcissist has a dire need for the ‘supply’, they are also in denial that it is a vital component for them.
The narcissist has a fragile ego that demands this ‘supply’ to maintain their sense of self. However, they also require power, feeling in control and superior to others. When a narcissist has found a ‘supply source’, they often engage in manipulative tactics to ensure that their supply source will be constant and be there because the narcissist wants them rather than needs them. In other words, the ‘supply source’ is there to be of service to the narcissist rather than due to the individuals’ own feelings about their engagement with the narcissist.
The narcissist refuses to believe that they depend on these ‘supply sources’ for anything, choosing instead to believe that he or she is providing something to those individuals by allowing them to be a part of the narcissist’s life. They believe that are providing their ‘supply sources’ with the opportunity to be around such a magnificent person and that those experiences of attention, admiration, and approval are deserved from being so generous with their time and intimate connections.
With Narcissistic Supply, there are both positive and negative sources from which the narcissist can meet the demands of their addiction. When given the chance, the narcissist prefers to seek out good sources from those that they may admire or emulate themselves. If the narcissist has someone they view as superior to others, powerful, or more attractive, they will attempt to work themselves into a place of importance in that person’s life. They will then manipulate this individual into becoming a source of Narcissistic Supply. When this goal has been achieved, the narcissist experiences inward positive feelings, as they have attained a ‘trophy’ that demonstrates their importance.
However, despite the increased feelings experienced with obtaining their trophy, a narcissist will eventually absorb as much from this ‘supply’ as possible before exhausting the relationship and eventually result in terminating the relationship. Like the episodes of Narcissistic Rage, when a Narcissist has decided that their ‘supply source’ is no longer needed or valuable, they will begin engaging in tactics of manipulation which diminish or weaken the individual they have used.
The qualities which made the ‘source’ attractive and desirable at the beginning of the relationship eventually become the same qualities that the narcissist exaggerates as problematic or undesirable. This pattern of behavior serves two purposes: to exhibit their own power of others and to remove any vulnerability that they have exposed to this individual as being an inflated rumor or resulting wound from the loss of the narcissist’s love and appreciation. As with drug addicts, the narcissist will continue engaging in this cycle of social behavior to meet the needs of their ‘supply’.