What is at the core of narcissists is not what is often referred to as low self esteem. I don’t think that is accurate, but something that the people around them say to themselves to mollify their own rage at the narcissist, i.e. “Oh, they only act that way, because they lack self-esteem.”
What is really at the core of narcissists is an instability in their ability to feel and sustain feeling bigger, larger, smarter and more successful than everyone else which they need to feel stable. And just as Hamlet’s mother said, “the lady doth protest too much,” “the narcissist doth brag, scorn, talk down, primp and belittle too much” in order to continually prove to the world and themselves that they are larger than life. This is not to increase their self-esteem as much as it is to continually spackle the holes in their core that lead to a feeling of instability—and that, if not spackled, will lead to brittleness followed by fragmentation.
Narcissistic rage occurs when that core instability is threatened and furthermore threatened to destabilize them even further. Not unlike a wounded animal being the most vicious (because they think the next wound would kill them), narcissistic rage occurs when narcissists believe the next insult/assault to their grandiose based stability would shatter them.
In essence the reason narcissists are so self-centered is that their grandiosity based center needs to be constantly reinforced to remain stable.
Originally appeared in After Narcissistic Abuse
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