The reaction of narcissists to insults and other slights, even simple truth-revealing sentiments, is so severe a special term was created to more accurately depict their response — narcissistic injury. This is not the typical reaction of someone who feels betrayed. Those without the disorder will likely stop talking to the person who’s slighted them, perhaps after sharing that their comments weren’t appreciated, and move on.
When an individual inflicts narcissistic injury, however, the narcissist immediately sets his sights on doing anything and everything possible to destroy this person. Nothing demands more attention. This is because pathological narcissism, or narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), develops from shame. Individuals with NPD, at their core, despise who they are, and in order to mask associated pain, they’ve created a false façade of self-grandiosity. They must make others believe they are everything everyone else aspires to be — kindhearted, accomplished, intelligent, wonderful partners, etc. Everything a narcissist does embodies this false image…until the truth is revealed.
Whenever the false persona is challenged, it is utterly unacceptable. Essentially, the deep-seated pain which lies at the narcissist’s core surfaces, and this individual is made to face shame head-on through the person who has inflicted injury. Since this “opponent” represents in a tangible way the shame the narcissist has avoided for so long, in order to destroy the shame and summon it back into the recesses of the narcissist’s mind, the person surfacing the shame must be destroyed.
Should you be afraid? Yes. But, not paranoid. Narcissists are disordered individuals. They are sociopathic, meaning they do not possess the same mental, physical and emotional boundaries as those without behavioral disorders. However, you must also understand that this is not someone who is going to blatantly attack you. To do so would not only further mar the narcissist’s reputation, but would actually prove you’re right.
The best analogy I’ve heard regarding how a narcissist retaliates is this: They won’t push you down a flight of stairs. But, they will tie a nearly invisible string halfway down and wait for you to trip.
In other words, the narcissist will seek revenge in a way that preserves the public’s opinion while showing the world “you’re the crazy one”. This is the ultimate triumph and discard, and why it’s so difficult to prove to the outside world the narcissist is sick. Only those in the abuser’s intimate space who live in an inevitable cycle of idealize, devalue, discard will feel the full wrath.
The best thing to do is not antagonize the narcissist unless you have solid proof backing your accusations and are fully prepared to go to war, go entirely no contact whenever possible, and never allow this person to suck you back in.
Break the silence. Break the cycle. By Sara Teller