Narcissistic injury is the term used to describe a type of perceived psychological injury to people with narcissism. A narcissist has a false self-perception. Injury to this perception is through a threat to the perception itself, and generally leads to some form of narcissistic rage.
Narcissism is a person’s idea that he or she is superior to others. A narcissist believes that perfection and entitlement have been reached, whether real or imaginary. The narcissistic person has usually not accomplished anything that would warrant a sudden boost to the ego. Often, narcissists seek attention by whatever means in order to boost their self-perception. The term for this attention seeking is narcissistic supply because the compliments, fear, and admiration are supplying the ego.
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When there is any kind of threat to a narcissist’s belief, a defensive stance is taken. Facing narcissistic injury causes people with narcissism to often act aggressively. Narcissistic rage is the term used to describe this aggression and can include violence for narcissists who tend to exhibit violent tendencies. This anger that comes out as a response to criticism can be directed toward others or to the self.
Self-directed narcissistic rage is a common reaction to this type of injury. The narcissist turns the rejection and criticism inward. Shame, anxiety, and sudden depression occur with minimal criticism. Outward rage is usually directed specifically for the people who criticized the narcissist. In extreme cases, a narcissist singles out anyone who resembles the critical person.
The typical narcissist is often regarded poorly. Narcissists are stereotyped and labeled because of how they react to narcissistic injury. Many people believe that narcissism accompanies other severe psychological disorders such as paranoid schizophrenia. In truth, narcissism does not have to coincide with any other disorder.
While it is often found that narcissism is apparent in some psychiatric patients, it is not always assumed by the psychological community that a person with narcissism must also have other problems. There are many cases of people who are narcissistic who do not have any other conditions or disorders. In fact, many average people have narcissism. It is not until a response to narcissistic injury occurs that other people see the false self-perception.
For a person with narcissism, treatment is an ongoing process. Treating narcissism begins with understanding that the self-perception is not always true and is not based on things that have occurred to reach the level a person perceives. A narcissist must face consistent narcissistic injury without responding negatively to the criticism. Ego is reduced to normal ideals through this process as well. Narcissism recovery takes time and patience.