Narcissists suffer from what the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines as narcissistic injury: “vulnerability in self-esteem which makes narcissistic people very sensitive to ‘injury’ from criticism or defeat. Although they may not show it outwardly, criticism may haunt these individuals and may leave them feeling humiliated, degraded, hollow and empty. They react with disdain, rage, or defiant counterattack.”
While the narcissist may act arrogant and haughty and put on a show that nothing bothers them, this facade makes it difficult for you to see their inward self-loathing. You may be thinking, “Are you kidding me? He or she thinks they are the hottest thing on earth and no one can measure up to them!” But as they do not have a solid, developed sense of self, narcissists swing from depression to grandiosity with little in-between. Their presentation deceives most people until they get to know the narcissist. When the narcissists’ facade of charm and deception gets cracked, their whole world bursts apart. They will blame you for their feelings of inadequacy, lack of happiness, and lack of love.
When narcissists feel that they have lost or they feel rejected or abandoned, they don’t forget it. We have all felt abandoned or rejected at times in our lives, and most of us get over it with a little time and processing of feelings. We move on. But the narcissist does not do this. Narcissists are not enough in touch with their own feelings to move on. The issues remain in their mind as “It’s all your fault.” “How could you do this to me?” They want to strike back.
The counter attacks and force of disdain and rage from the narcissist can feel like you are being bullied with no restraint. It can come in the form of emails, texts, letters, verbal abuse, social media attacks, or in-person abuse. Their narcissistic rage seems to come out of nowhere and can leave you feeling confused and afraid. “What will they do next?” “Why did that person do this?” It really makes no rational sense because it is clearly the projection of their own feelings onto others.
The lack of accountability in the narcissist is astounding. When you expect they will see the error of their ways and apologize, you will find them defending themselves. Somehow, they find a way to make it all about you and it becomes your fault. “You made me react that way.” “You did this or that to create my rage.”
It is important to understand the concept of narcissistic injury so that it can be identified in our everyday lives. It may be found in our relationships, our leaders, our bosses and our families. It does affect people because it is harmful and abusive. It leaves one self-doubting and wondering what they did to cause the chaos and destructive behavior.
I see people struggling to come to terms with narcissistic behavior in the media, politics, families and love relationships. Because the narcissist also does not have the ability to give empathy, issues related to them, rarely get resolved. Watch out for this one. Ouch! It hurts.
If you want to share your story, please join in the discussion below and leave your comments. The more we share experience and educate others about narcissistic injury and how it works, the more people, organizations, and relationships we can help.
Additional Resources by the Author:
Published Books + Audio Versions:
Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers Virtual Workshop. Work recovery in the privacy of your own home, complete with video presentations and homework assignments.
Therapist Training for Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. Share the 5-Step recovery model with your clients.
Daughter & Son weekend intensives. One on one sessions with Dr. Karyl McBride.
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