A narcissist’s moods exist on a hair trigger. Aside from the passive aggressive silent treatment he will have periods where there will be a sudden, explosive and usually unexpected tirade of verbal, physical or emotional abuse, (raging), that is completely out of proportion to what is actually happening. At these moments he is like a desperate cornered animal striking out wildly at the source of his frustration.
In these rages the blame will always be projected squarely back onto the other person and can often pre-empt the silent treatment. They generally occur behind the scenes in private where nobody can witness his beastly alter ego (after all he doesn’t want everyone to see Mr Nasty when he has spent so much time perfecting Mr Nice), but occasionally ‘a show’ will be put on for the general public or family members, if he really wants to embarrass you or make a point. In this public show you will be made to look like you are the one at fault. The first time a partner experiences raging she is generally left completely shell-shocked.
So why does he rage? A narcissist has a very fragile ego and is hyper sensitive to anything he perceives as criticism. He genuinely sees himself as superior and if you should dare to suggest he is anything other than absolutely perfect – perhaps you questioned something he did, idly or directly, (‘How come you didn’t call back last night when you said you would?’) then he perceives that you have criticized him. How dare you, don’t you realize how amazing he is? This causes him narcissistic injury, he can’t possibly be in the wrong because he is perfect therefore he must hit back out at the person he sees as inflicting the pain. He is not thinking clearly or rationally – you have threatened his sense of superiority for daring to suppose that he is anything other than wonderful and you must be retaliated against. Only when he has hurled the biggest volley of insults and accusations at you, twisting the facts and projecting the fault back onto you, the perpetrator, does he take the heat off himself and feel back in control of the situation. Meanwhile his partner finds herself in a state of total bewilderment, shock and hurt from the unexpected verbal assault and sheer violence of his words.
Excerpt from Planet Ben: Inside the World of a Narcissist (copyright Susan Williams 2014)