An action that threatens to disrupt the grandiose, unrealistic sense of self that many narcissistic persons maintain is experienced as a narcissistic injury. Kohut (1972) noted that narcissistic rage—the disproportionate, compulsive pursuit of revenge that seeks to obliterate both the offense and the offender— is one of two possible responses to narcissistic injury:
‘It is easily observed that the narcissistically
vulnerable individual responds to actual (or
anticipated) narcissistic injury either with
shamefaced withdrawal (flight) or with
narcissistic rage (fight)’ (p. 379).
Tangney and Dearing (2002) pointed out, however, that rage is by far the more effective response for reconstituting a damaged sense of self:
‘Feelings of self-righteous anger can help the
shamed person regain some sense of agency
and control. Anger is an emotion of potency and
authority. In contrast, shame is an emotion of
the worthless, the paralyzed, the ineffective….
[B]y turning their anger outward, shamed
individuals become angry instead, reactivating
and bolstering the self (p. 93)’
So, narcissistic rage, although very unpleasant to experience, is nevertheless an understandable response to perceived narcissistic injury.”