Many people mistakenly assume that, because narcissists lack empathy, they also lack feelings in general. But for the most part, narcissists do have feelings, just like anyone else.
They may feel certain feelings intensely and some not at all.
Anyone who has dealt with narcissistic abuse will be quick to tell you that narcissists can indeed feel extreme anger and will often refuse to let go of deep-seated resentments.
Every time a narcissist has their ego stroked, they feel happy and want more of those good feelings.
Even though narcissists are notorious for cheating, they still feel a sense of betrayal when someone else cheats on them.
However, there are some feelings that are common to narcissists but rarely felt amongst the general population, such as narcissistic injury.
While you’ll never find narcissistic injury on a feelings chart, this major ego blow can spawn an entire array of secondary emotions for a narcissist.
Although narcissists wouldn’t dare explore how normal human emotions feel, any gal who has fallen for a narcissist may wonder how it feels for a narcissist to have their ego completely crushed.
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Narcissistic injury has yet to be defined as an actual human emotion, but it’s a very real and intense feeling for a narcissist.
Narcissistic injury goes beyond the average ego blow and threatens a narcissist’s core being.
They’ll feel utter and complete humiliation and may fly into a narcissistic rage when the false persona they created is threatened with exposure.
Narcissistic rage can happen simply as a result of criticism – even if it’s worded in a polite and constructive manner.
Narcissists are emotionally like two-year-olds. They’ll flip out every time they don’t get their way due to their sense of superiority and entitlement.
But narcissistic injury can create the most intense of rages.
Deep down, they have very low self-esteem, which has led them to create a “false self.” Narcissistic injury is usually associated with the imminent threat of being exposed for who they truly are.
Narcissistic injury in a nutshell
Given how often narcissists hurt other people’s feelings, it can be hard for even the most empathetic person to care whether a narcissist has had their feelings hurt.
Additionally, narcissists are so sensitive to criticism that their “narcissistic injury” may seem as though they’re crying over spilled milk in the eyes of normal people.
The biggest fear of a narcissist is exposure, and this can create the most intense feeling of narcissistic injury and subsequently the most violent outbursts of rage.
But more subtle narcissistic injuries can occur because of mundane insults and well-intentioned criticism.
You could innocently make a comment that you don’t like their haircut or point out something minor that they did wrong and inadvertently injure their ego.
Since many narcissists don’t like to put their emotional vulnerabilities on display, they may not outwardly show that they are feeling narcissistic injury, but on the inside, they feel humiliated and degraded.
They also feel bitter, enraged, and resentful. Eventually, you’ll know about their narcissistic injury, and if you were the one who caused it, you should brace yourself for revenge.
Narcissists can’t handle being called out for the things that they do wrong.
For instance, if a narcissist prepared dinner and when asked whether you like it, you respond that it could use a little more salt, the narcissist would likely feel a mild injury and reply that they’ll never cook for you again.
They may even bring up the incident the next time you ask them to fix supper. In their mind, you insulted their cooking.
That may sound like the pettiest of examples, but it highlights the point that any type of insult or criticism can trigger narcissistic injury, regardless of how minor.
Even if you simply notice that a narcissist isn’t skilled at balancing a checkbook and point out errors that they made, you could also trigger narcissistic injury.
But the more blatant the criticism, the more likely the narcissist will fly off the handle.
Say your dad or brother doesn’t approve of the relationship and calls the narcissist a worthless scumbag or a colleague lands the promotion and corner office instead of the narcissist, then anger and retaliation will likely occur, even if only in a passive-aggressive manner.
Think about the most embarrassing moment that you ever had. Multiply that by ten.
Then think about the time in your life when you were the angriest, and also multiply that by ten. Imagine being that angry and humiliated at the same time.
That is essentially how narcissistic injury feels.
Of course, narcissistic injury can occur over the tiniest issues, which is why many victims of narcissistic abuse feel like they’re walking on eggshells around a narcissist.
You never really know what will set them off. And once a narcissist has been injured, they’ll never forget about it. They’ll carry the grudge to their grave.
If you really want to try to understand narcissistic injury, picture yourself as a child. Remember how upset you’d get when the boys teased you on the playground?
Or how inferior you felt when you didn’t make the cheerleading squad? Or what about the time that mean girl stole your boyfriend and you trashed her on social media?
Well, narcissists have never emotionally matured past that point.
While you may look back and laugh at those petty insults and minor ego blows from your childhood, the narcissist is likely still plotting revenge on a kid who threw dirt on them in the sandbox.
Even if you’re still on halfway-decent terms with your narcissistic mother or have been not-so-happily married to your narcissistic spouse for fifteen years, you can bet that they still have a mental record of everything you’ve ever said or done to cause them narcissistic injury.
They may act as though they’ve let it go, but they haven’t and never will. Instead, they’re waiting for the opportunity to use it against you.
While narcissistic relationship abuse can definitely include physical violence, most narcissists try to avoid there being any visible evidence of abuse lest it could expose them as the monster they are or even land them behind bars.
Oh, they’ll seek revenge alright, but it’s usually done in passive-aggressive ways, such as through blackmail or tarnishing the other person’s reputation.
Even so, some types of narcissistic injury, such as an affair or public exposure, can enrage a narcissist to the point where they lose control and become violent.
Given the pent-up resentments, they may flip out and seriously harm you.
Then, their next step is damage control, which can very well entail blaming you for the incident and even manipulating cops and judges.
Often, narcissists physically, emotionally, and financially drain their victims before ghosting them and moving on to the next supply.
They are also infamous for cheating on their partners, embarking on smear campaigns, destroying reputations, and using threats to gain control.
So, it’s perfectly understandable for survivors to want to purposely cause narcissistic injury.
Although this can easily be accomplished by exposing their lies and false selves, this could backfire and trigger the most intense forms of narcissistic rage.
It could also put your safety and even your life in jeopardy.
But since narcissistic injury can also be triggered by petty comments, chances are that you’ll still deal with an injured narcissist at some point.
When a narcissist is injured, it’s best to either just let them vent or remove yourself from the situation. The less you respond, the better.
It’s pointless to share your side of the story or try to place the situation in perspective.
Eventually, the narcissist will calm down, but they’ll nurse the grudge for the rest of their lives.