Narcissistic Rage and the Sense of Entitlement

While the manic phase in what is commonly known as ‘bipolar disorder’ usually involves manic flight into grandiose fantasy and impulsive behavior, on occasion it leads to rage, violence, suicide and even murder.  The DSM-IV refers to this as “dysphoric mania” or a mixed state, where manic and depressive symptoms occur simultaneously.  Outbursts of rage also occur in other disorders:  they feature in Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder and various types of narcissistic behavior; anyone dominated by feelings of shame may be prone to occasional outbursts of rage, which are often an intense form of blaming, one of the primary defenses against shame.  While the DSM-IV defines these disorders as unique categories of mental illness, with individual diagnosis codes, they actually exist along a spectrum and have much in common.  Most of the clients I’ve seen who demonstrated features of Borderline Personality Disorder or presented with Bipolar Disorder symptoms also displayed features of narcissistic behavior, often involving outbursts of rage.

In other posts, I’ve talked about the function of hatred and anger as a kind of psychic glue in the face of disintegration anxiety; I’ve tried to make room for the idea that rage, as destructive as its external effects may be, sometimes serves a positive psychic function when the alternative is the terror of a kind of psychic death.  Likewise, rage may function as a defense against shame that feels unbearable.  These two are connected:  shame, as I discussed in my early post on basic or toxic shame, is the emotional expression of our sense that we are damaged; that sense of damage can mean that the self is felt to be in pieces, in danger of collapse.  Hatred, anger and rage serve a defensive and cohesive function for these conditions, especially when there has been a narcissistic injury to one’s sense of self that stirs up unbearable shame.

Narcissistic rage may also express a frustrated sense of entitlement, by which I mean the feeling that one has a right to be given something which others believe should be obtained through effort, and unrealistic expectations of favorable treatment or automatic compliance with one’s expectations.  While this is a characteristic feature of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I’ve seen it in every borderline client I’ve treated, and in many clients with Bipolar Disorder symptoms, as well.  A sense of entitlement reflects an inflated view of one’s own importance and rights, which features intermittently  in many psychological states of mind.  No doubt you’ve known people who express this sense of entitlement, whether or not they fit into any of the diagnostic categories with which we’ve all become familiar.

I don’t know whether the phrase is still in current use, but when I was a young man, people used to say, “He thinks the world owes him a living.”  It was highly pejorative and usually said in a tone of irritation.  We tend to dislike people who convey a sense of entitlement, in part because they implicitly place themselves above everyone else, as if different standards should apply to them.  They may come across as condescending or patronizing; they may feel and express contempt for other people, as if they consider themselves to be superior.  They often expect to be taken care of financially and behave in exploitative ways in their relationships.

In my experience, these people have a very limited ability to tolerate frustration; they have trouble sustaining hard work over time and may become enraged when they must take a job or even undertake an onerous chore.  As a result, their academic and work histories are inconsistent:  they tend to drop out of school, have a hard time holding onto a job and accrue excessive debt because they hate the limitations of reality and spend beyond their means.  Behind such behavior lies an unconscious expectation that life should be perfect and ideal, where frustration never occurs and no effort is required to meet one’s needs:  the objects of our wishes and desires will simply come to us whenever we want them.  Many people with apparently different emotional difficulties harbor such an unconscious wish.

When the expectation is strong but meets with frustration, the response is often narcissistic rage — whether in Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality or any other superficially discrete category of diagnosis.  The person may spew venom at a friend or relation; she may become violent, either destroying objects in her environment or launching a physical assault on someone nearby; he may seek to belittle or destroy someone whom he envies.  In these cases, the element of rage is obvious, on the surface.

Sometimes it’s less easy to detect.  A person in manic flight may not appear to be enraged but nonetheless expresses hatred for the frustrating limitations of reality by defying them — going on a spending spree; attempting to do something all at once (rather than slowly over time) in order to get the desired benefit right now; behaving in omnipotent ways, as if they held magic powers, because they hate the demands of hard work.  In other words, I’m suggesting that most manic episodes in part reflect a hatred of and narcissistic rage against the frustrations of reality.

Behind this hatred lie profound feelings of shame and a sense of psychic damage; manic flight also represents an attempt to cure an internal problem by magic when it is felt to be hopelessly beyond repair.

Finding Your Own Way:

My goal here is to replace the illusion of discrete diagnostic categories constantly promoted by the medical profession and our media and instead to encourage an understanding of common psychological dynamics.  In my experience, this feeling of entitlement and the narcissistic rage that goes with it is not uncommon.  Can you identify with any of these feelings?  I certainly can.  In the sticky heat yesterday, as I was mowing the lawn when I had other work I preferred to do, Narcissistic Joe (or maybe Borderline Joe?) was raging.  Who exactly did I think I was, that I shouldn’t have to mow my own lawn and should be able to do whatever I wanted instead?  Maybe you’ve got a borderline inside of you, too.

Take a look at your friends and family.  I’m sure there are people whose life arc you can explain in these terms:  people who can’t seem to follow through because they expect life to be much easier and less frustrating than it actually is, who sometimes get very angry when things don’t go their way.  If you wanted, you might even be able to assign them a diagnostic label.  Physicians and psychiatrists do it all the time, handing out prescriptions that temporarily alleviate symptoms but never address the underlying emotional dynamics.

Don’t think “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”; think about unbearable shame and difficulties in tolerating frustration.

Don’t think “Bipolar Disorder”; consider the expression of rage against limitations that characterizes manic flight.

Don’t think “Borderline Personality Disorder”; look for the sense of entitlement in any of the people you may know.

By Joseph Burgo

Joe is the author and the owner of, one of the leading online mental health resources on the internet. Be sure to connect with him on Google+ and Linkedin.


  1. Very nice piece, your clear writing style makes the concepts accessible, and I couldn’t agree more with the need to look underneath the diagnostic labels! Shame is so powerful, so much happens to us during the lifespan, therapy is sometimes the only opportunity to uncover this powerful, unconscious engine driving so much difficulty and psychic change. Kudos for acknowledging the ‘necessity’ of this process.

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  2. Recovered borderline here. I did well at school and got a degree plus a post-graduate course. My long-term partner cannot understand the insistence of some people that everyone with BPD is abusive and explosive, because his only experience of the disorder is me, and I don’t fit this pattern at all. I used to have a very strong sense of entitlement, I suppose, but not any more.

    I know I’m only one example amongst God knows how many, but I think it’s still important to highlight that not everyone with the diagnoses discussed adhere to the patterns and behaviours to which you’ve alluded, especially when the stigma around personality disorder in particular is so prevalent and strong.

    1. If you’ve spent much time on my site, you probably know I don’t believe in diagnosis anyway. In my experience, I saw patterns in the psychodynamics of people who might loosely be described as “borderline” but I wouldn’t generalize to say that everyone who might be so described is the same.

      1. i am a former Air force Medic. My husband is a Academy Piolot graduate.I thank you for expression and explaining the why me I am to good for these mundain tasks. Every Saturday or sunday morning My spoue run s around the house after putting on dirty cloths he saves for about two months or more.This is his way f doung the trash that never getsw to our rural dump just a few miles out side a east coast city. It is almost a way of saying” Look i will be alone today and if you don t stand clear when i run out the door i will hit and push you.” This is many of the lying and physically reason I had to get aprotection order.He is crazy like a fox can act so good at bchurch and office.,Might you try to explain why he trying to demand I go with him and keep up his church calling of a high preist when he he stopped going I statred to go back years after he left He told afriend as you had described he was ashamed to go there without me.

        1. Not caring about hygiene because it is “illogical” if one is going to get dirty anyway could be an autistic trait. Only going to church with you sounds more narcissistic because he will have to answer questions as to why you are not in attendance with him. This will make him look bad in front of others (as he sees it) and bruise his ego. Without the belief that others are jealous of him, he devolves and lashes out. It’s that sense of entitlement thing again.

          I, seriously, want to go back in time and really observe their childhood upbringing. It may even be a subtle thing that was overlooked, but that one experience just warped the child’s mind too much to recover on their own. Maybe? I’d really like to know.

          I think a former abusive person in my life has Asperger’s Syndrome, but I don’t believe that is why he is abusive. Perhaps the un-diagnosed aspie is more susceptible to mental trauma where it can lead to long-term damage to emotional development. He was diagnosed bipolar and ADHD among other things.

          While diagnosis can narrow the scope and create stigma, I only use it as a word to add to a proper search for more research on the subject. People should never blindly use a diagnosis to judge others or assume that is all the person has. Those co-morbid things will get you! 🙂

        2. Has he been taking paxil. Sounds like my husband and son. They have been on paxil for yearss. Live them but am leaving them until they quit taking it. They said bye

      2. What if the case is extreme? The person is incapable of functioning in society due to these disorders? What is you input on that?

  3. How would you contrast a sense of entitlement with a sense of incapacity? I suppose that would be shame. I hate filling out job applications, for example, because I hate it when anyone knows my work history or lack thereof. I hate writing cover letters because I can’t think of anything good to say about myself that doesn’t sound completely phony. I had trouble doing projects in school because I was always convinced they’d be stupid, I had no ideas, I would do it wrong.

    Am I just rationalizing? Is this just my way of saying I don’t think I should have to do things that are difficult because I’m special?

    I am definitely seeing myself in your post, and in the description of shame turning to narcissistic rage. And yet I’m able to maintain a pretty decent social life, and now that I’m past adolescence, I rarely lose my temper in a way I come to regret. I rage internally.

    1. Andrea, I think you’re right: a feeling of incapacity could very well reflect shame. But as I discussed in my early post on self-criticism and self-hatred, harsh assaults on the self often reflect an underlying anger that life (and that would include oneself) hasn’t turned out the way one expected it to be), and that would like it again to rage and a sense of entitlement.

    2. well dude the first thing wich u said “I hate filling out job applications, for example, because I hate it when anyone knows my work history or lack thereof” is true for me…m diagonsed with NPD at lvl 7

  4. I found your article both compelling and informative. You’ve just described my 14 year old daughter, along with my mother and sister, both of whom have been diagnosed with BPD. We have recently started my daughter on Wellbutrin, but I don’t think medication will do it completely. She is flunking all her classes, flys into rages when we try to get her to do her homework, or clean her room, or really anything, and recently kicked me, hard. She refuses to go to therapy. Some will say that this is just her age, but her behavior goes way beyond what is normal for a teenager, and with our family history, I am extremely worried. WHAT DO WE DO??

    1. I wish I was in a position to give you some advice. I will say it doesn’t sound like normal adolescent behavior to me. Is it just individual therapy she objects to, or would she consider going if the whole family went?

    2. Hi Asker-

      You might consider making an appointment with a therapist, and then just going yourself, if your daughter won’t go. If nothing else, the therapist can coach you.

      The Love and Logic parenting books can be very helpful, especially with practical responses to practical issues (child won’t clean room, won’t do what they are asked to do, etc.)

      Her kicking you is pretty serious – we aren’t talking about a toddler here. Outside intervention, such as calling police, would be a natural consequence of such behavior. It may seem “extreme”, but violent behavior is extreme. And nothing tends to change in a system until one of the participants changes how they do things.

  5. I appreciate attempts to boil psychobabble down to the essential elements that create psychological suffering, and problems in relationships. I think this article does that. I’ve been enjoying your posts in general, and will continue to follow. As I read this article about narcissistic rage, I thought of the character Commodus in Gladiator – a very conflicted person who had no qualms about lashing out in rage if things didn’t go as he wished.
    In Nagy’s book “Between Give and Take”, he calls this Destructive Entitlement. In reaction to not getting what they think they deserve, people will react by punishing others, themselves, or generally becoming sadistic/masochistic.

  6. Sounds kind of like the Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy point of view. Emotional distress is caused by false beliefs, very often (not always, but often) false beliefs about how life should be easy or trouble free.

    Learning to challenge those false beliefs and to accept that we would *prefer* things to be easier rather than that they *must* be easier leads to less distress.

    1. It does sound like RET, except that I view these “false beliefs” as an organized personality of its own, if that makes sense. It’s not just some beliefs you have to question and discard; rather, there’s an omnipotent and destructive person in there with you that you have to get under control and learn how to manage. He’s not going away.

      1. I have 4 sister and three brothers. My sister recently took out a false order of protection on me because I told her our mother and father could no longer live in her rental house that has a “black mold forest” growing on all four walls in the basement. Her and her husband gutted the basement 4 years ago because of mold and then shut the door and locked it tight. No dehumifiers. It started growing on the outside of the walls. In her order of protection she wanted me to be ordered to stay away from 6 of her other propertires as well, because they needed minor repairs and didn’t want them condemned. She has done these things all my life, but never so serious. Narccistic rage is brutal.

        1. It certainly is brutal. I’m sorry to hear about your difficult sister. I guess all you can do is keep your distance.

  7. Hi, i loved reading this article, i can relate so much, but i detected no shaming or labelling and this has really helped me, especially your last piece of advice, to look at the feelings beneathe,

    i have read alot of john bradshaw and he really helped me to identify how toxic shame has been crippling my life, and your article has now helped me further in taking the shame away from looking at the shame and also daring to look at the entitlement thing and frustration issues,

    am slowly but surely working through deep issues that have crippled my life, but i like your articles so much, they uncover but in a very support ive way,


  8. We recently tangled with a person over email who fits this description.

    Thanks–it at least made me feel better to make sense of what happened…

    Is there any constructive response when someone’s gone into attack mode over a breach of their sense of entitlement (something you’re unable to provide for them)? I felt bad for not being able to help & am praying that God will bring them healing.


    1. In my experience, it’s never wise to challenge such people as it just enrages them further. Even though it may sound “cowardly”, I find that the most constructive thing to do is roll over and say you’re sorry or express sympathy. You can’t do anything to help such a person in the long term (that means therapy); in the immediate moment, the best thing you can do is to defuse the situation and prevent it from escalating.

      1. I understand and I do that but it’s asking a lot time after time….What do I do with all the resentment that gets bottled up? It does pass on an individual basis, but I do notice that it spills over when it’s gets too big and then there’s the blowout of all blowouts….ugh.

  9. Thanks for your insights on this subject; a subject which, in my opinion, is right at the heart of things!

    The very mention of the word “narcissism” invokes, I would imagine universally, an entirely negative image. This image certainly pervades society at large, and no doubt permeates much of the psychiatric and psychotherapeutic community. Indeed, it seems to me that the perpetuation of the usage of the term may in part be responsible for the belief – which is reflected in the clinical evidence – that narcissism is nigh on “untreatable”. But, as you have eloquently pointed out, narcissism is a recurrent theme in many – if not all – of the major “personality disorders.”

    I wonder if we could go even further and assert the fact that “narcissism” – and “narcissistic rage” in particular – is in fact the only natural response to having not received the one thing we are ALL “entitled” to: love.

    Now, before I begin to sound idealistic and naive, let me say that “love” necessarily underpins such things as respect, compassion, forgiveness, understanding, empathy and so forth. And the LACK of the presence of these qualities in our lives is no doubt responsible for the sense of “entitlement” or frustration experienced in extremis (as opposed to with resignation or some kind of relative equanimity) by people with personality disorders. The inability to keep a sense of proportion about what one might reasonably expect from life (at least insofar as our external circumstances go) might well stem from having this fundamental entitlement violated. In my personal experience, it is the absence of a sense of trust and safety in my environment which has led to the need for grandiose/narcissistic fantasies and feelings of explosive rage when I am (especially unfairly) chastised or have my sense of security or dignity undermined.

    I could not agree more that shame is the root of rage and narcissism alike. Indeed, we shame ourselves and each other by continually seeking to label the symptoms of shame pejoratively, such as we do by diagnosing disorders of the personality (person!) and attempting to correct them. What needs to be corrected is the feeling that there was ever anything wrong with any one of us in the first place! The whole notion of “earning” anything is, in my opinion, greatly distorted and perhaps even semantically confused. “Earning” respect, for example, seems questionable. A person can garner disrespect for behaving antisocially or acting against our shared sense of humanity (for we do possess such a thing, I believe). But to therefore infer that we must conversely earn respect is an extrapolation. Respect is a basic human entitlement; and respect is just one example in this regard.

    Now, I am certainly not saying that it therefore follows that anyone who feels that they have not been respected by someone or by a group of people is justified in acting out their narcissistic rage. But what I AM saying is that people who have been respected (etc.) sufficiently and consistently (i.e., by their parents and their peers) are unlikely to react with narcissistic rage to later frustrations. I don’t think I need to really make this point on this website! However, accepting frustration and disappointment is not the summum bonum of therapy, and is certainly not the zenith of the human condition, either (and I’m not suggesting that this is what you are implying in your article). It IS an extremely difficult and consequently extremely valuable part of becoming an authentic human being, but there is surely more than this.

    We must look towards being ordinary with something more than resignation. Being ordinary is not about “not being special” or about “taming the ‘id'” or whatever we want to call it. It’s not about simply accepting that life isn’t fair and we’ll never be the perfect and special being we were dreaming we would one day be, though this is one of the most sobering sobrieties we must embrace. Surely it is about accepting that our ordinariness is perfect. Not special; not priveliged above others; not better than others; not entitled to more than others. Simply that there was never anything wrong with any one of us, and that we’re all entitled to the basic humanity we are born with. All the morals, all the knowledge, all the LIFE we’ll ever need are all already within each one of us, and there’s nothing wrong with any of it. In short, who or what we ARE is the foundation upon which all our other endeavours are built. If it means tearing down the house so that we can see the foundations for the first time, then we should be prepared to face icy winters; being turned away from friends’ doors in our hour of need; employing unreliable builders to help with the construction of the new house; setting unrealistic deadlines for completion of the work; going wildly over budget, and perhaps even eventually settling for a bungalow. But at least we’ll be building on the true foundations and our new home isn’t going to subside or even sink. We won’t discover one day that we didn’t obtain planning permission for the additional wings, north, east, south and west, which we hastily and ostentatiously erected, and which we have admired for so long; and which we now must pull down or face the consequences. You get the picture.

    What are we afraid we will become if the “psychic disintegration” you allude to isn’t feared or defended against? Is it really the self which is disintegrating, or is it the tightly coiled survival structure (that first, hastily built home) we employ to prevent further shame, humiliation, rejection, abandonment, ostracisation and punishment (I am aware that this disintegration can be extremely dangerous and damaging, and often is! But isn’t this just because of the amount of fear and shame which is associated with letting go of the controlling and repressing ego?)? Shame, by itself, can do nothing except cause us to repress that of which we are ashamed. The irony, of course, is that those of us who are battling with our narcissistic rage are also battling with our shame; which is being perpetuated by the repression of the “negative” traits which were provoked – yes, provoked – in us in the first place. So, what is underneath the rage, jealousy, grief, loneliness, ugliness and the need to be special? WHO WE ARE is underneath this. The person we are is who we are ashamed of! There never was anything to be ashamed of in the first place, though, as no-one is born immoral or undeserving.

    So, that’s my view, anyway! To sum it all up, I think the whole problem of dealing with the negative (shadow) side of our nature could be made so much less difficult if we understand that we are only split in two because we weren’t allowed to be what we are born to be: whole. “Getting better” is not about improving. It’s about accepting – truly accepting. Not becoming acceptable, but truly and finally accepting that what we are is exactly what we should be; and this involves discovering – usually for the very first time – just who this self is. This is all-or-nothing stuff, and involves risk, disappointment, disintegration, and alot of fear – terror, even. But in my honest opinion and my genuine and ongoing experience, this is what is underneath all the shame, which is underneath all the narcissistic rage.

    All that’s needed now is for everyone in the world to stop controlling, judging, punishing, dictating to, attacking, humiliating, hating, blaming and generally destroying each other, and recovery from psychological trauma would be easy!

    1. Apologies for not approving and responding to this comment sooner — I’ve been traveling cross-country and playing catch-up.

      I agree with much of what you have to say (and thank you so much for taking the time to say it, and so well). But I don’t think I agree with your conclusion, that underneath there is an ordinary self that is perfect in its own way, and the goal is to re-discover it. I don’t think that the problem is just the defenses. I think that facing shame means accepting the ways in which we really are damaged, in ways that can’t be entirely fixed. Bearing shame doesn’t mean you can’t ALSO develop feelings of pride and self-respect; but that basic shame never goes away entirely.

      1. Thanks for making time to respond.

        I guess I’m a bit confused about what you mean by “damaged.” I’m probably missing something very significant here, so I would be extremely grateful if you would say a few words by way of clarification.

        With thanks,


    2. your post is echoing my thoughts provoked by reading “Envy, Competition and Gender: Theory, Clinical Applications and Group Work by Leyla Navaro and Sharan L. Schwartzberg. we commonly apply negative connotation to the very fundamental to human nature things such as seeking an attention, anger, envy, sense of entitlement, narcissistic injury etc. sometimes these emotional states became the subjects of attention of clinicians and got the proper label of “diagnosis” taken from DSM-IVr. Too often we trying to correct them whereas they merely need to be understood and accepted as such.

  10. I found your writing on this subject to be more helpful to me then most. I have been abandoned recently by my fiance. Although, I recognized at the beginning of the relationship that he had issues. I have been working in mental health for some 30 years in the education dept. However, having been exposed to the usual inpatients; schizophrenia, Bi-Polar eetc., I would probably say no exposure to the Narcisstic Personality. Had I known the basis for the “rage” that would present itself intermittently and the deep seated shame and sense of entitlement I think I could have been better prepared to accept and have the appropriate responses to this individual that I so care about. My subsequent lack of knowledge and understanding of what could have been a better outcome for us both. I possibly could have made some better choices concerning this relationship and possibly avoided the termination of the relationship and also avoided the trauma and victimization that I have been feeling. Rest assured I don’t consider myself a victim as so many sites dedicated to this issue say that I am.
    You have placed some humanity to this puzzling and profound behavior that I “thought” was compulsive and Bi=Polar. Thank you for your refreshing and insightful thoughts on the subject.

    1. I’m sorry you had to go through that experience. You probably have found that few true narcissists seek treatment, so it’s no surprise you haven’t had a lot of exposure.

      1. Well, I am a 40 year old engineer and hydrologist and since age 17, I have been seeking help for this exact reason. Deep within myself I know that those feelings are completely wrong. That does not stop me for feeling it. Yes, I think the world is mine and I am the most important person in the world. I am jealous, envious, frustrated, shameful. I think that somewhere or sometime I became another person. I know it is wrong but that only makes me feel worse. At age 18 I tried Scientology, then Paxil, Zyprexa, Zoloft, Geodon, Depakote, Adderal, psychotherapy, ECT and a lot more etc. It does not matter what I try, it keeps getting worse with time. My psychiatrist only serves the purpose of providing me the drugs that I want to take. I know how to behave with him to get my result. The result being to get the prescription I feel like having. After 12 years of treatment with him, I know much more about him than he knows about me. Honestly, I do hate these feelings but after 23 years or about 55% of my life wasted in therapy and meds that only appear to alleviate the burden, there is really no hope anymore. I am not feeling bad right now, but soon I will again. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO CURE AND I HAVE NOT COMMITTED SUICIDE BECAUSE I AM AFRAID OF PAIN. I WISH I HAD AN OFF SWITCH BEHIND MY EAR AND TURN IT OFF FOR GOOD. Anyway, why do you study something that has no remedy in the first place? Isn’t that itself a feeling of narcissism of some kind? Probably to make a difference, even though you know deep inside that there is nothing you can do about it? Why so many names? Why so much structured nomenclature and work for a worthless cause? Thank you!

        1. You could discontinue the obviously useless therapy and find someone who knows how to work with these issues. Of course it’s hopeless if you keep traveling down a path you know is going nowhere.

  11. Wow! My issues are listed here I really need help thank you for posting this I can’t start to live and repair the damage and save my relationships with family and friends. 🙂
    Can relate to NPD and bipolar disorder and BPD where to start? Help?

    1. If these really are your issues, it would help to find a good psychotherapist who understands them and can work with you. These are not small challenges and you probably need a stable and ongoing psychotherapy relationship in which to work them out.

  12. Well, this article really hit close to home… apparently I’ve been suffering from this my whole life due to parental upbringing. The only thing that gives me hope is that now that I know I suffer from these kind of behavioral patterns, I can work on reversing them. great article, very insightful.

  13. Narcissism, at least in my case, comes from extreme child abuse, my father holding a gun to my head whenever I tried to protect my mother. I didn’t seek help because of severe hypochondria. Try to help your narcissist they are very damaged.

    1. There is never enough love from oustiders of the narcissist to ever help him/her. I’ve learned that the hard way. If you are serious about turning your life around and seeking peace and love, you need to love yourself first. Find some therapy and talk about your horrific childhood. Perhaps with this cleansing of talking and sorting through your feelings will help you find the honest, loving person inside. Disolving the heartache is the hardest part. Only until then you will find peace and self love… the happy life you crave will then begin to trickle in.

    2. I am sorry this happened to you a child. As a women that was abused like your mother, and as a child, abused by their father too, your bravery means everything. I am glad a man like you still exists. You are an angel from heaven, I promise! God bless you.

  14. Good Day from Johannesburg,
    After reading Steve Jobs book, there was mention of his narcissitic behaviour. I then came across your site which for the first time clarifies the behaviour of my 21 year old son. The feeling of entitlement is interesting in his personality which was somehow under control until his final year of High School, where he certainly was not an academic student. He was extremely respectful and warm before this time, when his personality seemed to undergo a complete about turn. He went to a party (one of the few) met a girl (his first) and turned this relationship into an all consuming obsession, to the exclusion of everything else, including myself (a single Mother)
    His hatred of me knew no bounds, from rages, to a devotion to gym and body building. He finally passed the end exams and instantly left home, together with all his designer brands clothing. He then lived on his own for 2 years – refusing any contact with me. Finally I went to see him at the shop where he was working and invited him to forget the past and try and repair our relationship.
    For the past 18 months, we had a relationship where he actually abused everything I did, however took advantage of any holidays, food, and a deposit on his first apartment. He still refused to call me anything as well as never looking me in the eye.
    Finally earlier this year, another girl entered the picture. Someone far below his social status, whom he would never have looked at. Same thing happened, walked out, ignored me, reported me to the Police!
    Bottom line, they are due to marry, are presently travelling abroad for Christmas, and a baby is due next year.
    I would like to add that I put my life on hold for 20 years for him and struggle with his complete inappropriate attitude and disprespect
    What can be done. if anything?

    Best regards


    1. Gillian, what a distressing story. Unfortunately, there’s very little you can do to change his behavior. My advice would be to take care of yourself, first of all, and keep very firm boundaries so that he can no longer ake advantage of you. In my view, you should never give him money, never let him stay with you, and never provide any kind of material aid until he gets help. He’s obviously very troubled and needs therapy, but until he does so, you need to protect yourself from further abuse.

  15. Thank You for the information. I was in a mentally abusive relationship by someone who clearly fits your “Narcissistic Rage and the Sense of Entitlement” diagnosis. Having some psychology background I did some reasearch as a last ditch effort to save the relationship and felt he was bi-polar, with psychotic tendencies. The manic episodes were severe and very frightening. I discussed this with him and his determination was that he was probably just borderline personality disorder and agreed to seek treatment and we could work everything out.. He never did, nothing changed and after a few more months of his accusations, rages, lies, insults, grandiose, and “its not me, its you” I finally found the strength to save save myself. This person is still berating and insulting others for his sense of intitlement. I advise anyone in a situation with this kind of person to get out before you are totally broken down.

  16. I was looking on the web for the “sense of entitlement” topic when I found this site. Although I agree with all what it is said in clinical terms, I want to comment on another side of the coin: what if somebody IS entitled to have certain rights and benefits but those rights are violated? Some people allow it for a long time. We call them ‘doormats’ or subservient. I would like to learn how to build up the sense of entitlement to the balanced level. How to cultivate it in self and others so the person could fulfill his or her ambitions and not feel envious and victimized.

    1. That’s the work of psychotherapy, over a long period of time. There’s no techniques or exercises that I know of to build up this sense of personal value and self-esteem.

  17. This is a great article. I’ve been married to a man with a long history of entitlement (inability to lose a board game to his children for example.) I’m going to search out your site more, but I’d be curious, what happens when family members simply stop feeling sorry for their sense of anxiety? Their inadequacy? Clearly, when one is entitled, they don’t seem to learn from the consequences of their own making. He has grown so bitter, yet is unable to make changes in his behavior. So sad.

    1. Without your sympathy to support and validate his point-of-view, he could become even more angry and bitter — “Nobody understand me!”. There’s a small chance it might force him to take a deeper look at himself and his sense of entitlement, but from your description, that doesn’t sound likely.

  18. hi

    i am confused as the narcissist in my life actually sought to push me hard off the pedestal he put me on by offering up a little scrap of anything then taking away much more with no regard. He actually seemed to delight in making me rage for him. I went from feeling cherished, sexy and almost over hounded by him (he used to say ‘does my intensity scare you’? did…he was ‘intense’ in loving me within a few weeks of meeting up with me) to being completely locked out of his life, gaslighted to the point of maximum frustration, he hid things from me (and most likely women) and ended up calling me a BPD (as he had labeled his ex wife who he said wouldnt put out for him) for daring to stand up for myself about his behaviour inconsistencies, hidden agendas and need to push me continually by breaking promises and overlooking key milestones in our lives that were important (bdays anniversaries..anything to hurt me on purpose). I became the unsexy, ignored intrusion in his life without warning. He also did horrific real damage in a court case (I was fighting in court to relocate back to the USA to be with him as my kids are aussie/american) by pulling out at the last minute after watching me go through a horrific ordeal in the courts for over a year. At the cusp of my getting the chance to put forward the relocation case, in which he was heavily implicated and he helped draft…., he pulled out and said ‘he didn’t sign up for my problem’. ouch. Massive OUCH. SO am I a BDP for responding when I started out being little miss thang and being accomodating and extra loving and nurturing and he made me feel old used and full of absolute anger? Never once did he ever EVER admit wrongdoing on even minor items, let alone biggies like gawking, adultery and other marginal behaviours…I just always made a big deal of things…(yet I never did these things to him as he could not have stood for it nor was it in my moral code to do so)…in the end he just abruptly said that he ‘tried everything he could and did everything for me but nothing was enough and he had to focus on him now (not sure when he was focused on anything else??)….Can a Narcissistic Passive Aggressive make you act out his rage for him while he seethes under the surface and gives a little but takes so much more behind the scenes to preserve his fragile ‘image’???? just curious as he has me believing i have a massive disorder…

    1. Oh yes, the entrenched narcissistic can do exactly what you’re describing. I’ve also seen other instances where such a man characterized the woman who dared to stand up for herself as borderline personality disorder and went about trying to assassinate her character — it’s a familiar dynamic. These people make you feel all sorts of projected feelings on their behalf — shame and worthlessness, primarily, but also rage, as you unhappily found. What a mess — I’m so sorry.

  19. I cannot thank you enough. This is the first validation I have gotten in all this mess. I just remember the horrors..they are still flooding back…the court case in particular. I was already made to feel nonhuman down here in Australia as I was told ‘i did not count’ literally by judges, family lawyers etc as I wanted to take the kids ‘home’ to the states where we had a fighting chance out of the poverty thrust upon me here and had a massive support system. As if recovering from being done in wasn’t enough, the day I went to face court alone…to tell them I could not go forward with the relocation after all that time fending for myself in court…I got a call from the NPA who happily chatted on about how he was at a Hard Rock Cafe and the burgers and music was great and he had wonderful conversations and networked with all sorts of people….he was still on his narcissistic high and when I said that I couldn’t talk about that as I had just been mentally destroyed in court that day and my dreams of going home shattered, no thanks to him pulling out…he snapped…’WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BE SO NEGATIVE ALL THE TIME. CAN”T YOU BE HAPPY FOR ME FOR ONCE!!!’….???? I felt beyond dead as I put down the phone and laid there mentally main lining it for hours trying to get it together to go get my kids. Going home was what I thought OUR collective goal was…for me to be with him back in of the free…all that…*shaking head still*….

  20. I have a funny feeling BPD is actually just a complicated veiw of aspergers syndrome in females.The sense of entitlement comes from the true genius that lies beneath that wishes to invent to make the world a better place but social difficulties and lack of acceptance repeatedly in society due to face blindness and the rejections associated induce rage at the frustration to be able to participate fully in life and aspies have a hard time holding down empolyment as well.The sense of or feeling of beign misunderstood that borderlines complain of is actually probably aspergers who are truly misunderstood-from a person diagnosed as BPD who turned out to be an aspie and all symptoms of shame rescued simply by realization I was highly functioning autistic and henceforth the sense of genius was not based in entitlement narcissism but a real genuine unrecognized ability to see things ina different way so as to truly make helpful contributions to society via inventions.Perhaps somewhere in there BPDs know theres been a mistake of identity.BPD upset by betrayal which happens often if you have aspergers and you are a girl you tend ot be betrayed often and bullies often so its not unfounded.I no longer feel ashamed.Aspies prone to being taken advantage of BPD usually have a history of sex abuse well go figure perhaps aspie girls are prone to being sexually abused as they are quite trusting.Just putting it out there for consideration after struggling for years misdiagnosed for nothing.Aspergers solutions actually worked for me bpd descriptions solutions were only critical and not in a positive or helpful way and never made any sense.Aspies perhaps would see the world in terms of black and white extremes life is all about extremes in anxiety.Theres alot of overlapping.I think it be sad to carry on diagnosing two conditons that are actually probably one-autism

  21. This sense of entitlement along with addictions can affect everyone they interract with long term and even short term. My mother, and two of my daughters seem to have narcissistic personalities along with rage, jealousy, and instability. They have made my life miserable with the drama. The self absorption is over the top with them, and even extends to children, which of course, I’m having to step in and raise due to addiction in one daughter. I truly believe the only way for myself and “normal” daughter to escape is to move and not leave a forwarding address. If this is inherited, a cure would be so nice, because some symptoms were there as children, my mother has never drank alcohol, there is no history of abuse, so it can’t all be brought on by addictions or the usual blame of abuse.

    1. I think there’s no simple explanation for why people develop this way and it’s certainly an intractable problem. Sometimes breaking off contact is the only way to protect yourself.

  22. Is all rage narcissistic, or are we talking about one particular type?
    As some one with BPD, I found that my rage disappeared, when I learnt to communicate my needs in a assertive, but non-aggressive manner. I don’t have any sense of entitlement that all my needs will be met, but when you have an inability to recognise when you are feeling resentful, or taken for granted etc, it all merges into an unbearable amount of frustration and anger. Learning to ask myself , ‘If no one else mattered, what would I want to do’, meant I could consciously process when I was really unhappy with a situation and be able to make compromises or halt it all together.
    I don’t think my rage was narcissistic, just a total lack of skills to recognise and communicate my needs. Something that most other people learn in childhood, because the greater majority of their needs were if not met at least considered and respected.
    It also got rid of a lot of the mood lability as well.

    I just wanted to commend Berlake on some incredible insightful writing

    1. You strike me as one of those people who has been carelessly given the borderline label, or taken it on, when it doesn’t really fit you. You’re right, your rage doesn’t sound narcissistic or entitled, and you don’t sound at all like a borderline personality disorder.

  23. Please help with some advice. I came across this website accidently as I sought to understand and respond to my own circumstances. Firstly let me explain … I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. As a result of coming to terms with, and moving my life above and beyond my experiences, I have two beautiful, very successful, happy adult children, and two amazingly wonderful grandchildren. I live a life without bitterness, rage, blame or guilt, and know (as previously stated many times in your posts), I am what I am meant to be … happy and content that I successfully kept a promise I made 28 years ago, when I first became a mum, that no-one would ever hurt my babies like I had been. I broke the circle ! 🙂 Also I overcame all sorts of obstacles to gain a degree, and am now in a career I love (working with troubled teenagers), where I offer empathy, hope and inspiration to those who struggle like I once did.
    I am patient and caring, and live a peaceful life, and although I don’t always acknowledge the strength others see in me, I like to think I’m a good person.
    Here is my dilemma:-
    I recently discovered a member of my extended family, has been spreading malicious rumours about me which are devastating. I have been aware for years that to some degree or other this person has a real problem with me/my existance. I have tried over and over again through the years to simply ignore his apparent jealousy (dealt out always in letters, emails and verbal rants to others, but not a word of it to me, he’s always smiley and welcoming whenever I visit his now elderly mum, and take the time to listen to his success stories, to praise and congratuate him). But what he doesn’t tell me is that he blames me for everything that ever went wrong in his life, his family. He wants me to apologise for something connected to my abuse that I did not do! I realise after reading your posts that this is classic narcissistic rage. I always felt that confronting him would just make him worse, and possibly violent towards me. But the viciousness of this recent discovery (in an email sent to all other members of my family but me, and then forwarded to me by a recipient), has forced me to feel defensive and angry. I do not wish to feed these emotions as, as you suggest, they are toxic and therefore harmful to the very essence of who I am. However, I feel I cannot continue to ignore his lies, as well as being hurtful and damaging, they are slanderous and libellous.
    Should I just suggest he seeks help, or should I clearly and finally point out to him that he needs to stop, or I will seek legal advice ? I don’t want to antagonise him or hurt him back, I just want him to stop. Please advise

    1. Based on your description, my guess is that this person would not be open to the suggestion that he get therapy. If you feel that he is successfully influencing the way other people view you, then you need to do something. Doing what you can to rectify their mis-perceptions is one way; confronting him directly and letting him know you’ll seek legal advice is another. You don’t want it to escalate, so I’d pursue the legal option as a last resort. But if other people understand that he’s lying, I think you’re better off ignoring him. He will only damage himself by continuing to spread lies that no one believes.

  24. I am a little confused. I realize there is no”box” you can put a person in box but I am really trying to understand a current relationship! The gentleman is 32 and has a bizarre sense of right and wrong! He has extreme outbursts when he doesn’t get his way. He is manipulative and lies to hide the little things. He quit school but did get his GED. He is sweet when he’s sober but goes thru manic and depresesive phases almost simutaneously. He is a momma’s boy and she feeds his ego and sense of self importance. I am not sure why though! She had him late in life and may fear him. He has cost her finacially because he damages other property but not people. He doesn’t hurt animals actually seems to be his best relationships! He can cry at the drop of a hat and make want to fix everything for him. But there is always another hurls to prove you care! Nothing is ever quite enough! Could you give me a guess?

    1. He is a narcissist of one stripe or another. Sometimes this sort of person can feel deeply for animals because they ask nothing in return and love you uncritically. In human relationships, where people are less accepting, they often become enraged when they don’t get the uncritical love and admiration they want. Because the narcissist struggles with shame, no amount of “love” from others can ever satisfy them. As you say, nothing is ever enough.

      1. My brother is displaying violent outburst he’s overly argumentative paranoid feels same sense of entitlement if something doesn’t go his way he rages for 2-3 hours non stop throws things about possiably on drugs can’t hold a job down refuses to apply steals from my parents jumps through windows to get into bedroom to steal like a burgluar . Refuses to see the gp and my parents pussy foot around and blame me for inciting his rage where he breaks doors and furniture. He refuses to to the gp during his rages he says his ill but won’t take medication he attacks us I have lock myself in a room and has attacked is in the past he’s a 19 year old male what can I do ?

  25. Could I have developed a borderline narcissist personality in being married to an addict and habitual lier? I try and control my husbands choices in hopes to decrease the addictions and lies. I do get very frustrated and angry and am not always graceful with conflict. (rage?)
    If I “look the other way” the addict takes full advantage. Is it wrong to try and keep my husband from the addictions? (I have 3 teenagers)

    1. In general, I don’t think that an adult relationship can cause you to have a personality disorder if it’s not already there. In the few details you provide, it doesn’t sound as if you have one, anyway. Your responses may be extremely intense, but living with a chronic liar and an addict can be an infuriating experience.

  26. Good day, I was married for 26 years to an individual who received the following labels. Bipolar Disorder, Narcissistic Personality disorder, Attachment-bonding issues, and Asperger’s. Prior to these diagnoses (of which came beginning in 2000-2004) the explantation given by professionals was childhood abandonement, neglect, and dysthymia. He would withdraw for long periods, work long hours, ignore the children and I while pursuing ego fueling pursuits such as having the title “captain” in the volunteer fire department.
    He has experiences extended periods of mania, is grandiose, entitled, does not exhibit empathy or compassion, is at times paranoid, is unable to discern character, aligns himself with those lacking character and integrity, and his values change with the wind.
    He blames others for his mistakes, rages then acts as if nothing happened, projects, devalues, ignores the emotional needs of our family and I, mostly treating me as if I am invisible and don’t exist. He has lied to me and I discovered that he had also been lying about me for years.
    He had a long term affair with a woman that he worked with and refused to admit it for 5 years though there was substantial proof. He attaches to any woman that will worship him, and gets them to do things he won’t do for himself. He is criticical and pessimistic, lies when it would be easier to tell the truth, and molds himself to whomever he is pursuing at the moment. He lives by his own set of rules, sees no issue in breaking laws, commuting fraud and tax evasion. He can be very cold and vindictive if he does not get his way, he intimidates, manipulates, threatens, and has used to rage to break me.

    I divorced him 2 years ago, he set out to destroy my reputation with lies. He bought a luxurious RV and moved across the street from my home. He watched me and hired our son to photograph me. He broke the stipulations of the restraining order many times and was able to use his fire department standing to align himself with the police. I am struggling to make sense of the years. I loved a man who did not really exist. Our family has been devastated and divided, my son shows signs of narcissism as well, rage, lying, entitlement, breaking laws. My former husband did not love me or value me unless I was compliant and without needs.
    What an empty, lonely, frustrating way to live. He tells me he still loves me, will always love me, though his inaction speaks clearly. I want to free my mind and heart, and to heal. Thank you, this site has been helpful.

    1. That is one of the best (if chilling) descriptions of the destructive narcissist I’ve read. How awful for you. I have heard this before, about the way such men subsequently try to destroy their ex-wives reputation following divorce. I think at base, they are riddled with unbearable shame and a sense of being damaged; they will do anything not to feel that way and do everything in their power to inflict it on other people, especially their partners and ex-wives. I’m sorry.

  27. How do we escape these kind of people? I have found myself the target of one, who happens to be a former adjunct at my university. Her contract wasn’t renewed (she wasn’t exactly qualified for the position and when the University applied for regional accreditation, they had to cut 20 adjuncts to make room for more tenure)

    She immediately went to the media to charge that it was retaliation for her going to the media about another issue. She got quite a bit of attention which she appeared to enjoy, and provoke further. However, when it came to light that she had a history of having these kind of “blow ups” at every single University that she had attended, and that she did not have the experience that she claimed – she began attacking students.

    I became the one of the three main, and top focus of her attacks. She even went so far as to send a very strange, garbled email to my graduate department chair accusing me of being an “agent of the university” (among some other strange accusations). And attempted to slander me to professors in my program.

    I’m lucky that because of how hard I have worked in community service and helping out at the University, that her efforts have only brought more attention to her inconsistencies. However, this too seems to also provoke her anger, which seems to be tipping towards trying to instigate violence against myself and my family. =(

    I have filed with UPD and I hired a lawyer to serve a “cease and desist”, but she seems very fixated on me. (the secondary target was the intern of the person who notified her & the others that they would not be hired back for the Fall.)

    My fault, was pointing out that people shouldn’t jump to conclusions and that there was a logical explanation for why 20 adjuncts weren’t rehired. (regional accreditation – I linked the sites expectations.) Her media attention that she received (and is currently seeking out) brought her resume into question.

    The frightening part is that she is instigating strangers into launching attacks against myself and the other students that she is angry with. We’ve had numerous “Student Code of Conduct” complaints, all of which went no where but it was still frustrating to hear about. Our student email accounts got hacked and a few of us are even getting random hate mail (because the few that she had private information on, FERPA, she gave out publicly over the internet)

    How long until the fixation ends, or will it ever end?

    1. Hard to say. My guess is that it will eventually end. Fortunately, she’s so extreme that her pathology must be obvious to everyone by now. That doesn’t make it easier to bear her hatred, I understand, but you’re lucky she has so little credibility. I’ve seen other cases where more “convincing” narcissists have entirely destroyed the lives and reputations of their former spouse.

      1. Axis 2’s *sigh* is there ever a way for them to learn that the hot/cold, love/destroy thing doesn’t work?

        The ones who were able to destroy their families, that seems truly extreme and committed to the hostility. And, it seems anyone not familiar with Axis 2’s can’t read into the subtle hints of “hey, this is wonky”.

        Yes, I am lucky only because this person has been so addicted to the media, that there is public record of inconsistencies and restraining orders against them. So, when the person’s repeated their cycle (because it appears to be a cycle to me: find a University, work/study there, make a civil rights claim to the media, move. This is the 3rd instance.) when they repeated the cycle, the technology they were using worked against them.

  28. My daughter is bipolar or so all the the therapist and psychiatrist have said. It has been 30 years now and lately she has called me–yelled and screams–full of hatred and venom. she has accused me of things that never–never happened. After 30 years i am worn out. she has 3 sisters and she hates most of them. they have all tried to help her but to no avail. she still calls one sisters’ but gives her a lot of grief too. but that sister has the patience of a saint. She told me that she was seeing a phychiatrist but i don’t believe her. she also went to a therapist who has excellent and told her she had a personality disorder, and so she stopped seeing her. she races all the time and never lets you talk. I am at the end of my rope–74 yrs old and just plain worn out. i believe she is on meds something sounds like safras and probably other drugs. she has forgotten all the times i have taken her to see different doctors and paid for it. And so now if and when she calls me i must tell her that if she wants yell and scream at me, i cannot listen. but she is my daughter and i find it hard to divorce her. in fact i am sitting here now and crying over this situation. what can i do if anything to help her?

    1. I’m afraid all you can do is protect yourself. Let her know you still care about her but terminate the call if she abuses you. This is actually the most helpful message you can give her.

      1. I have decided to tell her that we can’t have a pleasant conversation then we can’t talk to each other, but it still kills me because she is my daughter. Are there any meds she should be on?

  29. I’m going on a lot of assumptions. The counselor for my S.O. and I seems (now at the beginning) to be shying away from tentative reflections and theories I have had to pursue simply to retain any degree of sanity myself. I am concerned owing to my SO’s slightly higher status, said counselor may not want to give any credence (or sufficient attention) to my attempts to understand things. OTOH, perhaps it’s with good reason, so as not to turn my SO off to the sessions. I had a concern to begin with when she stated she was not familar with the term “gaslighting.” My question (in what net vernacular I’ve come across) has to do with the re-interpretation phase of offensive things which are said. I assume my SO may have NPD. I assume the things in question she says, whether mildly distancing or outright offensive, are instances of gaslighting. We are to the point where my opposition to her revisioning/redacting can go on for three days. Endless. True, I’m a little “punch drunk” with the horror of it all, and can sometimes perceive things in a state of hypervigilence (get things wrong once in a while for sure). My problem is I almost get convinced that my SO’s rational self believes 100% that I have characterized…due to misperception… whatever abrupt remark as: uncaring, cross, coarse, disdainful, resentful, bitter, foul, and in a tone as if hung over. And, to be truthful, she is so unparalleled in rationalizing…that my own rational self is sometimes on the border of believing these denials itself [I am constantly thinking of this very, very valuable love I have for her honest side, and that I may be losing it as a consequence of trying to explain that the pain I feel due to what she says is real]. Does her rational self literally block out the craziness of what was said, and create another version which it actually, literally believes 100%? To what degree is my SO conscious of the fact she is actually revising what was said?

    1. Narcissists are often completely taken in by their own lies. They also have a powerful ability to work up a sense of blame and indignation to bolster themselves in their false beliefs.

  30. I’ve had a great deal of experience, but your insights are spot on, and help me understand my past a bit better. I was raised by 2 mentally ill (or emotionally ill) parents. A mother who was “bi-polar” (in the 60’s was diagnosed as schizophrenic) and a father who was o/c. Been in counseling for decades, but nobody hit the nail on the head quite like your blog. Going to learn from your site!

    1. Thanks, Jen! When I talk about these very difficult emotions, especially with “bipolar” and “bpd”, I’m always glad to hear from people who feel understood.

  31. Hello,

    I stumbled onto your website when looking for a way to repair my relationship with my daughter-in-law. I wrote an e-mail to her that was so hateful, I nor my daughter can believe I wrote it. I’ve become bitter beyond who I really am, and I am sorry for it.
    My husband of 36 years (so to speak,) we’ve been together that many years but he did’nt actually marry me till our son was 10 years old and we’d been together for 13 years.

    Our daughter is getting married next month to a wonderful man. She broke off an emotional relationship with her father about six years ago. After college and thearpy she moved as far away as she could and I helped her do it. She suffers from Cystic Fibrosis and was physically unable to move on her own.

    After our daughter’s marriage and the holidays I plan to finally leave my husband, I don’t care about a divorce, I just want to get away. After years of verbal abuse from my husband which I know him to be a true narcissist I’ve decided along with friends, family and my doctor to leave him and salvage what I have left of my life. I am 58 years old and I have late onset Cystic Fibrosis. My physical illness has left my unable to stand up to my husband anymore, plus my depression has gotten horrible.

    My husband is 73 years old and I fear my leaving him will destroy him. He claims that he can’t help it but to love me and states “why do “we” go through these fights.” The so sorry thing is that there are so many positive attributes to my husband it’s incredible. He’s like a Jeckel and Hyde. Also he is severly ADHD always has been and never medicated because he refuses to admit anything can be wrong with him.

    As a young man my husband was very successful which he never stops talking about those years. During our marriage we had our own business in which I was president and truly lived up to that title. I ran our business and raised our kids and I always felt like I did it alone because the truth is I did. My husband stayed home and learned to day trade on paper for several years, then actually began trading. Day trading is gambling but he thinks he is smarter than anyone else. Plus he is always trying rangle everyone he knows into learning to trade and can’t understand why no one wants to listen to him.

    I was mocked for raising our kids Catholic and sending them to Catholic school. Now that they are adults my husband has become this born again Catholic and feels we are all being controlled by the devil. He feels he needs to save our souls.

    Several years ago my husband tried to get physically violent with me and I ended up lashing out back at him to get away. He called the police to have me arrested because I caused more damage to him than he could do to me. The police called me on the phone and insisted I tell them where I was, so I did. When they came to question me they decided to arrest my husband. He claims he took the arrest for me. He was court ordered to stay from me and have no contact. He was also ordered to anger management in which I thought would finally get him into therapy, even though it was forced. Previous times when I was in therapy and the therapist asked him to join he wouldn’t ever accept any responsibility for anything. That he was perfect. He says “there is God and then there is me,” which is really saying a lot because in earlier years it was “there is me and then there is God.”

    I could go on and on with what has happened thoughout our life together but I guess my true question is will he survive without me? Even though he is what he is I love him, obviously or I wouldn’t have stayed with him so long. I am so worried about the hurt I am about to leave him with. I have been the only “close to love” he has really known. Except for his dogs he just dosen’t know how to love.

    Do you have any suggestions? Should I give him one chance to seek therapy before I leave him. Should I see him after I leave him. I don’t hate him, at least right now I don’t. I do feel as though I won’t survive with him as he is and I don’t know what else to do.

    Thank you,


    1. It might be worth one more try, but you’d need to be very clear about your expectations, spell out the consequences and then stick to them. Either you go to therapy and stick with it, or I’m out of here.

      My guess is that he’ll survive. He may try to manipulate you in order to keep you tending to him and putting up with his abuse, but he’ll be forced to fall back on his own resources once you leave. That will be good for both of you.

  32. Hi. I stumbled upon this site when I searched for having rage attacks. I was diagnosed last March 2011 as having adult ADHD and accompanying BP II mood spectrum disorder. I was already on Paxil for anxiety attacks which I now know made the BPII and most likely the ADHD even worse. I finally got on Seroquel when I was diagnosed in March. I was having anger/rage issues intermittently ever since. My pdoc has played around with the dosage of the Seroquel and Paxil. Recently I was weaned off of the Paxil and began Lamictal. I’ve had some pretty bad rage attacks in the last few weeks. I’m just so confused as I’m 46 y.o. and also am in perimenopause years. My cycles have been getting worse and subsequently the mood swings way worse. My rage is not directed at any ONE, per say. It comes out as a rage against the world. Seem to take it out on God and then take a very “bring it on” attitude toward the Evil one who I blame for everything that doesn’t go right. I’m an extremely “normal” person aside from these crazy thoughts…homecoming court, cheerleader, peppiest sorority girl, successful in jobs, loving wife, mom…I have the rages when I’m alone and it may last for 1/2 day on and off…where I can fly off the handle at a blink. Just looking for some answers…I’m thinking perhaps it could involve some narcissism rage after reading this. I just want to be happy again!

    1. Take a look at this recent post about shame. I think your rage may be warding off some deeper experience of shame and damage. I suggest you also read my series of posts where I review Robert Whitaker’s book about psychiatric medications, or better yet read the book. You can find the first of those [posts here.

      1. Joseph:
        Thanks so much for your reply. I really appreciate it. I do think there may be something to the “shame” argument. My Dad was an alcoholic as I grew up. He would not come home sometimes for weeks at a time (week here and there). My Dad officially left the house when I was sophomore in college and divorced my Mom when sophomore in college. He just passed last March 2011…it was very traumatic (long story short…I found out on a Monday that he had been in intensive care since the Thursday prior..he lived in different city…that same Monday I also learned he was dying..rushed with my sis up where he was but didn’t make it in time to be with him…hadn’t seen him in person in 3 years). Although we did become close over phone calls and periodic visits before that 3 year mark…so needless to say lots of unresolved feelings of guilt…deep grief…etc. Plus truthfully I believe being in perimenopause that physically and psychologically I’m a bag of moods!! Thanks again for taking the time to answer…

  33. Loaded question(s) here. What do you think about the relationship of bipolar disorder, alcoholism, and narcissism… chicken and the egg? And is it really possible and/or healthy to continue a relationship in a situation where one and/or all of this has raised its ugly head to what seems to be epic proportions? (Even with counseling, albeit minimal, taking place) While this is not ‘generally speaking’ for me, I am wondering what someone such as yourself, with years of experience, finds to be the case – generally speaking – when it comes to the health of the partner in such a relationship. (uggh.. i hope that made sense)

    1. I’m not sure I understand what you’re asking because the subjects are unclear. Are you asking about the wisdom of remaining in a relationship with a partner who struggles with those issues? I’d need to know more, but in general, unless the partner is undergoing some intensive form of psychotherapy and fully acknowledges his or her difficulties, I think you’d be putting yourself at risk by keeping that relationship up.

  34. Very interesting article, but if I resume narcissistic wishes with one of your sentence : “unconscious expectation that life should be perfect and ideal, where frustration never occurs“, I would say, for many it’s perfectly conscious and there is nothing wrong with that! I mean it’s normal to wish for a better life and in parallel to empower oneself for change, and at the same time, if it’s possible to do it with as little effort as possible, great! As long as it does not involve pushing other people down or any-sort of wrong doing! By the way it’s exactly like that we managed to build useful technology, mostly with huge effort to then allow most occidental people to enjoy a physically effortless life style with motorizes transportation which is pushing many people down healthwise, but that’s another story.

    So in a nutshell (in my views) wishes for improvements or even perfection as far as it gives direction(s) is positive in the narcissist set of mind, troubles start when you start to deny reality to fit your ideal views! So we could probably define narcissism gravity as the amplitude of reality distortion to obtain a great image of oneself, the greater the reality distortion the more troubles ahead!

    On the borderline scale we could have a symmetrical definition as the amplitude of reality distortion to avoid abandonment. But this last definition seem quite incomplete, considering the complexity of the disorder, any better idea ?

    By the way I go an answer for you 🙂 “Who exactly did I think I was, that I shouldn’t have to mow my own lawn ?” let’s say there are plenty of reasons to NOT mow your lawn, like : it’s more ecological not to (you can scythe once a year and use a small stone track to go through, much nicer too with flowers etc. or use some grazing animals like sheep.) . also mowing is very unhealthy : fumes, vibrations, noises etc. and all that because of a strange culture of millimetric grass!

  35. Julie, my heart goes out to you. Yes, Joseph it’s a chilling account and very similar to our own. But in our case, it’s not a man but my husband’s ex wife. She too moved close to us and into the next street. The car thing is slightly different – she is driving a car my husband is still paying for and wrecked the other that was actually hers. Once she had wrecked it, she then offered that he could have it back!

    Same for us too – she’s systematically gone about trying to destroy both our reputations in a systematic character assassination with friends, family, acquaintances, step kids’ schools, police, social workers, local authorities. Then she wondered why we’re not one big happy, extended family and asked us to go to ‘hostile parenting classes’. Due to the harassment, we returned to court – my husband’s divorce order now reads like a mini restraining order. I know we are lucky in many respects though – too many people know us to believe her lies (and her shenanigans in other areas mean people have noticed her and don’t believe what she says). We have also been able to use the legal system to help significantly reduce harassment and some of the impact on my step kids. This really is about luck – both our lawyers are professional, have integrity and seem to work well together. She is skilled at making negative advocates out of anyone.

    Other similarities: a denied affair; lies even when it would suit her interests better to tell the truth and it doesn’t make sense; gets other people to do her dirty work (sends people to our home, often unwitting enablers, when she thinks it will get her into too much trouble to do it herself); no problems committing benefit/tax fraud/hiding income and lying to the step kids about my husband’s significant child support (she tells them he doesn’t contribute); regular attempts to intimidate and threaten, including false allegations to the police; using the kids as tools and extensions of herself. And yes, the final utter insult and hurt – she’s told my husband she still loves him and asked many times for a reconciliation.

    Julie, you can heal. My husband went to therapy and he said it was crucial for tearing down walls, healing, re-engaging with reality (she constantly tore him down and convinced him everything was his fault). A supportive network of friends and family, colleagues will also help you through. My heart felt best wishes to you. I wish we could have a coffee and compare stories – our book would be called, “Notes From A Suburban War Zone.”

  36. I have filed for divorce from my husband, a 34 year marriage. I didn’t know what I was living with. I just kept a happy family while worrying about what my husband was doing with money; loans, spending what he could not afford. During my whole marriage, I had a dark cloud hang over me. But I have raised to good young men, educated and successful. Meantime, my husband has escalated his debts (he’s been in real estate for 35 years) to a crazy and unsustainable level. If I had not done a credit report on him, he would still be keeping up the front. I have cleared up some of the debt, made him pay off the secret loan on our own home ($200,000). There are others.

    I wrote a six page letter to him and boxed enough for him to be out for a few days. He broke in while I was gone (totally legal in Idaho) with his friends and took some things.

    I’ve never seen him become violent. But decades ago he conditioned me to stop asking question or challenge him. He has no cash. I own the house and have savings left–I cut him off seven months ago. I have just realized I have been taking care of him for years.

    My question: I realize you can’t have the absolute answer, but I’m somewhat fearful of him; that he could be dangerous. I do believe he lives in a fantasy but I have blown that out of the water. Could he take it out on me–assault me, shoot me? He seems lazy and dislikes confrontation. Might he choose to avoid me and stay in his fantasy rather than become violent towards me?

    Big questions.
    Thank you.

    1. It’s hard to say, but it’s always possible. If there’s no evidence of violence or extremely vindictive behavior, that makes it less likely. What does your gut tell you about him?

  37. Thanks, doc, for granting my request and deleting those messages where I had said too much. This time I think I’ve left things non-specific enough.

    How often have you seen passive-aggressive traits amongst narcissists? Under the old classification in DSM III (I see you hesitate to pin an individual’s problems on one disorder only as catch all)…was it ever observed or acknowledged that many persons with the p-a disorder might never exhibit many of the characteristics until they got into a romance? My girlfriend claims none of her experiences with her ex’s were as dreadful as the one she’s having with me.

    I’m wondering if the following is a typical pattern. My girlfriend complains about my house, but as soon as I think a chance is gonna happen for us to do some straightening, it seems there arises distancing behavior. I am resentful. She denies it’s anything weird, and we might argue for half a day or all day. It kills me and keeps me up maybe half the night or more, while she goes out like a light. It feels like every hope I have is crushed, and like I have not one calorie of energy left for anything, for sure straightening the house.

    Arguments also seem to arise before weekends when I have to go in very, very, very early. Actually, it seems like the “intimacy block” really wants me worn to a frazzle. Say I come home extremely tired (she says I always do). But say I grant her wish and stay up til 11 watching a movie with her 2, 3, or 4 work nights. Then imagine that one night we both come in so exhausted that we were almost asleep at the wheel. But in order to relax she still needs “distraction.” I want to sleep but I grant her her wish once again and watch the movie. She goes to sleep three times during the flick, but will not suggest going to bed at any of those times. It doesn’t hit me til the end of the movie that one night out of the week she could grant what I want, and then I’m ticked cause I realize normalicy is being sacrificed due to some irrational meaning she assigns to going to bed when I want to. Fourteen months ago she wanted to be with me all the time, but now there’s this must-have-the-movie-thing. What do you make of it? Could she be staying just to have someone to control? I’m already wrestling with how to deal with distancing every third or fourth day…unless I’m over reacting. I’d like to show her this thing on p-a at psychology.wikia, but the piece itself gives me almost no hope she would consider its message. Most important, though, I want to be sure I’m getting close to what the problem really is. That’s why I’m writing this. One thing I know about a problem I have is that I did not suggest a break early enough or often enough for her to consider what I had to say about her switches in “moods.”

    I’d also like to know if a “block” can often seem to the recipient as if it has some kind of nearly conscious toxic design.

    1. Ed, there’s simply too much here for me to sort out, too many confusing dynamics and messages. If you’re serious about this relationship, I think you two should get some conjoint counseling. Maybe someone in the same room could help clear it.

  38. My girlfriend’s ex-husband has been diagnosed with NPD after undergoing a psychological exam during their divorce 10 years ago. They have a daughter together, but she has full custody..he has visitation.
    The man has never been gainfully employed, but has lived off of a family trust, using the money to create one business after another where he titled himself founder, president and CEO.
    All these businesses have failed, resulting in lawsuits by him against various business partners and consultants. No suits were won, but he did lose in a countersuit charging him with fraud in 2008.

    Now to my issue:
    he has recently stopped paying child support. He filed for a modification, but it was denied. He followed that up by threatening his ex-wife (my GF) with claims he would charge her with various crimes if she did not sign an agreement out of court releasing him from his child support obligations and arrears. she refused. he still hasn’t paid and is 15k in arrears and has since re-located out of state. he continues to harass via email and text message. the authorities have been notified of all this.

    Since he moved his visitation with their daughter has declined. She (the daughter) does not seem to mind. However every time he comes to visit he demands the we deliver her to him at the airport, hotel, or wherever he is whenever he wants. He degrades his ex with taunts about being a bad mother by depriving their daughter with visits with him if we protest (He is obligated to come and get her by the visitation agreement.)

    For his next visit he was to fly in and pick her up at our house. he has since refused to pick her up as he agreed to do, instead demanding she be brought to the airport to fly back with him for her holiday visit him, his new wife and 2 young children. we refused to agree to bring her to the airport for him, after which he called their daughter to tell her that her mom was a horrible person, etc etc. and it was her fault she couldn’t come to see him.

    However, He has suddenly and uncharacteristically changed plans, and this is what really concerns me. This man’s well crafted phony life has been falling in around his ears for the last 2 years. His mother has stopped giving him money and last company is now closed. he claims to have no money and be 250K in debt (his family is worth many millions, though). He claimed his flight up to pick up their daughter was paid for by frequent flier miles gifted to him by friends.

    suddenly he is flying in with his whole new family. that is 5 round trip plane tickets. He is staying in one of his family’s many local houses, and will pick up their daughter to visit with them here for a week.

    I have a horrible feeling of this narcissistic man who has had the world handed to him for 50 years and suddenly not getting anything he wants for 2 solid years, powerless to bully and manipulate those he pushed around for over a decade, going totally mad.
    Maybe I have been watching too much discovery ID, but could this man who is unwilling to share anything and seemingly unable to bear any resistance to his sense of entitlement planning to do something horrible, like kill himself and his family? How likely would this be for an NPD person?

    how likely does this sound? should we get an injunction to visitation asap?

  39. Well, this time may be it. Second Christmas ruined.

    I always realized the defense mechanism didn’t define her totally (save when it ticked me off). I loved the side of her her defense mechanism blocked so many times. I loved that person dearly and deeply. And still do. But the cost has been very, very, very high.

    It’s getting close to 24 hours. I already noticed a nice sky hits me weirdly just as the one did around 16 hours after my mother died. Pretty but just there (and same experience for months afterwards). Before I go farther on this trek I have some questions about the narcissist that can live in a humane dimension seemingly…almost in every phase of life except with respect to her/his significant other. Is it a rare kind of thing? Does it even exist? And if it does, what are typical antecedents? I’ve seen my significant other distance others, like not answering a peep when directly addressed by co-workers (with no authority figures around). But, by and large, otherwise it’s conscientiousness and patience usually everywhere else.

    How late can a defense mechanism be acquired? I ask this because I’ve come across another possible explanation (vs impacts in childhood) which may sound, on first hearing, prejudiced…though for sure it came from an astute source. I’ll try to limit the prejudicial ring of the thing by not naming the country. It was a generalization about how men can end up handled there. Actually, it’s only served as an “explanation” for me when I put my own supposition on top of it (whether right or wrong, having had no “general” first hand experience of the latter “it” myself, though possibly specific). If it were mostly men who committed atrocities in a given nation (which of course it was), could women of said nation end up distancing members of the opposite sex in a manner similar to those encumbered by the disorders discussed here? Say having experienced violent confrontation without detention?

    Qualifier: I’ve handled this thing badly. Our tumultuous saga has been as much my fault as it was hers, for I could have opted for space earlier on and insisted on counseling earlier on. Perhaps I am a latent narcissist, perhaps not. All my suppositions may be wrong, but I’ll still seek a little light.

  40. I love it that you dislike diagnoses so much, they are confusing, elusive, pretty much useless… So I don’t know if Momster is BPD or NPD or even adult Attachment disorder, but her rage, exploitation, abusive behaviour have always been there. She can be callous, unempathic ant at times her rages worried everyone, she looked like a mad dog, her eyes big and full of vemon. When I was a child I lived in constant fear that she might one day kill us all, because when she lost it her eyes were scary, they were hollow. Mother was dangerous, she was abusive and intrusive, one had to walk on eggshells around her as anything could set her off. We were not allowed to even use the restroom as often as we needed, let alone using the shower, could not move from one room to another or shut a door for privacy. She’d throw away our toys, clothes books or gave em away to other people. She had to buy this large house and forced dad to work like a dog to get her the house while we were almost starving. I suffered from cold when I was a kid, She exposed me and sis to her mother’s abuse. She keeps exploting dad, her sister and everybody else. She refuses to take responsibility for anything, lives in denial, rages against the people next door, has to always decide anything and everything, lacks insight and of course doesn’t want to see a shrink. What could be done with a disordered individual such as this?

    1. Not much, unfortunately. Somebody has to recognize that she has a problem and seek help before you can do anything for her.

  41. I got married 3 months ago to a guy who i always wondered if he was narcissistic or bipolar .(Bipolar being his diagnostic)Today for first time I researched bipolar and narcissism as a combination.It led me to this website which made for exceptional reading.We have a child together, 13 years ago he was married to someone else at the time.I only knew him for 2 weeks but it was enough for me to worry and not name him on the birth certificate.When my son was 9 i found him again and he met our son.Cut a long story short his wife and him seperated and divorced and the last 4 years I have had stuff to do with him on and off but have mostly kept our son away from him.I married him 3 months ago and deeply regret it. A month ago he got angry with our son and grabbed him by the throat,diciplined him in the room while my son was hyperventilating.Which I found out later.That night when I questioned him about his disciplining of his kid and he got really angry with me and was poking me in the head even when i asked him to stop.He talked all night even screaming now and again.The next day I called the police so I could leave him.They didnt come so we had to endure a terrifying ride home.The police caught up with us 4 hours later and he was told to move out.I pressed charges against him and he goes to court this week. On a scale of one to 100, when he is angry I am scared of him 100.When I don’t challange him, and do what he wants i am not scared of him at all.I agree with what you said that to confront them only makes them worse.My brother said don’t go back but keep him on your good side.He reckons he’s phsycho and phsycho’s dont change they are just managed,ie like me apologizing when its not my fault.It calms him down.Im terrified of him at times,All he’s ever done is smash the kitchen table to splinters in a screaming rage once when I was alone with him and from that time on I know when to keep quiet and back off.Its weird but he’s always going on about how great he is, its weird because when i’m with him I get sucked into beleiving it, yet when im away from him I see things more clearly.I’ve read a lot about narcissism these last 4 years and wondered if he was that or bipolar not realizing you can be both till today.The police want me to do a victim impact statement but I don’t know if it is wize because it will make him more angry.The worst thing about him is that if I shake when he’s angry he gets even more angry that i’m shaking instead of empathetic he’s angry because according to him he’s not that sort of person and how dare I be scared of him.Despite what he’s done.Also 4 years ago he got really mad with me because I threw my phone in the toilet so he couldnt ring I was away from home at the time .He went to my home ,cleaned me out had a big bonfire and burned my photos and lifes memories up to 4 years ago.And I married him, I must be bonkers.Anyway he said no one has hurt him more than me in his whole life.He was sexualy abused at age 6 yet i’ve hurt him more than that according to him.He has no criminal history yet I am terrified of him.Do I have reason to be?Im 45 and last week I found out i’m pregnant to him again.I may be having a slow misscarrage I dont want him back.He wants to come back.I dont know what to do and how to get rid of him without making him angry.What do you think.Should I move house again.My son does not want to move.

  42. Dr, I am wondering what might happen if the one being manipulated simply removes themself from the situation they are in. The term killing them with kindness is essentially reversed, giving them no kindness at all, just complete removal of oneself. As the person who is being manipulated simply doesn’t have the skills or metal mindset to wrangle these persons into compliance nor control the individual but to release the reigns and walk away on them, how healthy is this for the afflicted person? A withdraw of kindess is equal to a withdraw from the respect and admiration they crave. How will being released affect that afflicted person? Will they comprehend their actions? Will they feel free? Will they be more frustrated because they liked the tension they created? Will they strike back because they no longer have an audience? I am simply wondering because it doesn’t seem they have the personal awareness skills other non affected people have. Any advice you provide will be appreciated. I am simply tired of being manipulated by certain family members so I can’t control them all, but releasing them all seems to be a healthy option. Thanks, Amy

  43. I don’t feel shame. I feel bitter disgust and hatred for everyone around me. Their obvious stupidity sickens me to the point of absolute contempt. Our societies choices in music and who we idolize leads me to believe that all the idiots have outbred the smart ones. Iresent everyone who does not recognize their own lack of intelligence and goes about the day as if everything is fine.

  44. Hello…I have recently been diagnosed bipolar and am struggling with self identity and internal peace. I was wondering if it may stem from having lived and worked with a narcissistic person in my family. Namely my father. Although I did have a little bit of wild personality when I was younger (late teens to young adult), I now no longer work for (or with) my father (whom I love very much by the way). The description of your narcissistic personality disorder kind of clearly describes my father. Controlling, obsessive, hyper focused on his business and devoted to sports and fitness. The family business (of which I was a part for several years) is now closed….however it was very difficult to work with this extremely demanding person. I am in psychotherapy, as I am currently off work due to my diagnosis and am slowly realizing that their may have been extreme pressure for me to perform (when I worked with him) with lots of hours and “business sales objectives” to be met, while he was off on holidays (at the extreme point, six or seven weeks per year). This is when I was working extremely hard to get some kind of “validation” from my father which never came. The first words I got from him as I picked them up at the airport from the vacation was “so, what were the sales like this week?”…Anyhow, my girlfriend at the time was realizing something was wrong as my thoughts started racing and I was at times “ice cold” as a personality. She finally asked me to stop working so much, and then subsequently left me as our relationship deteriorated. Following that (I lost 60 pounds in depression) I had a nervous breakdown and psychosis which led me to a psyche ward (inpatient) for 3 days. Finally back home (I was living with my parents at the time), I started going back to work slowly, but finally decided it was not for me and decided to leave the family business to go back to school. All hell broke loose with my father who said “I was not his son anymore”, “I was trying to destroy him”, “This place may not be here when you finish school”…etc. I was thrown out of the house and given the guilt trip from Mom as how hard my father was working, etc. I could go on for an entire book. But all this to say that even now that we live in separate homes, and I have my own job, I am struggling with put downs from my father. Did my bipolar condition come from this upbringing?, Do I possess the same personality dysfunction as my father?, When will my life find it’s proper course….of a peaceful, happy internal feeling free of anxiety, depression, not feeling good enough, etc…
    I feel that I am struggling through life with on/off work cycles due to stress (usually arising when I get less than perfect Performance reviews). Although I think I am working extremely hard, I struggle with building positive relationships at work and in my life. Nothing seems to be working…and I am finally realizing that although part of it may stem from that dysfunctional relationship, I now have to take it into my own hands and fix it to have a positive functional life. I struggle with anxiety about relationships, making enough money to one day have a family of my own, etc. Not a very healthy way to live. I personally don’t think that life should be so stressful. And as for the entitlement portion of it, sometimes I feel that I am entitled to some benefits for having works crazy hours, and having burned out, to help this narcissistic person build “his” business. Your advice would be very much appreciated.
    Kind Regards,

    1. I wish I had some good advice to give you. It sounds as if your therapist would be a better person to ask since he/she knows you much better that I do.

  45. Hello Dr. Burgo.
    Where is the intense shame behind the narcissistic behaviour come from ? Exactlly ? I actually went into full blown manic psychosis after confronting my terribly abusive and narcissistic mother. She never was abused but like you mentioned on your post about shame, rigid social expectations are probably the cause.

    I believe my psychosis at 40 arose from the sense of extreme disloyalty I felt towards her, in spite of the fact I was trying to regain self-respect after years of belittling and emotional abuse. As you so rightly point out, NBPD just can’t change. It would shatter their rigidly guarded protection.

    My problem is I believe I’m also narcissistic to some degree, like I’ve inherited it. Is there a way I can leave that behind and be less angry and not abuse people I love like she did ? As for shame, you are right, it will always be in me, with me, yet, I’ve become more loving towards myself after years of therapy..thankfully.

      1. Thank you for your directing me to a post. I had read it. It’s very enlightening. My question was 2 fold.

        I will reframe the last one: once I have worked on the shame, will I be able to clip the rage in me ?

        Lately, with depression lifted, I find I have tons of anger and I lash out at the people I love. Effectively pushing them away. And it saddens me….Perhaps you can direct me to a post that addresses this.
        PS: I tried buying your book from Kindle but could only buy a physical copy…

  46. Dear Dr. Burgo:

    I am in therapy for addictions, but these are really symptoms of deeper traumatic stress. Additionally, I am a solo practitioner lawyer who struggles to do my work. When I need to complete a project I feel overwhelmed with anxiety and fear, even if it is basically easy, and I have to put my head down on my desk. Generally I end up taking a nap and not doing the work. With my therapist I am now working under the theory that I have entitlement issues. My father never did anything in my house. He was a professor who played movies for his class instead of teaching. Every physical comfort of his had to be met by my mother, brothers and I. My mother ALWAYS did his bidding. I raged against this as a child and couldn’t understand why she married him. He emotionally abused and belittled me. Now I have a huge psychological block against doing work. I have been fired several times. I believe it is entitlement, but it manifests itself as fear of work — terror really. Can you point me in any directions on how I can get further help? Can you recommend any reading? Thank you very much.

    1. Entitlement issues are probably involved, but it also might be shame. I’ve seen difficulties with completing work such as yours where the dread is about feeling exposed and humiliated by the work-product, as if it will prove that the person is damaged and inferior.

  47. Thank you for this article. You described my sister. I am at my wits end. My question is how to get an adult to therapy, when their refusal to admit weakness stops them from believing anything is wrong.

  48. I have been tortured emotionally in the last couple of my 5 years of marriage.
    And physically in the beginning,, until a trip to jail put undeniable fear in the heart of my spouse. I could never understand his lack of empathy or sympathy or affection or passion or inability to be wrong about anything and believes he is correct about everything. I’ve been rediculed and blamed for every and all of his failures and his now boring life. Its my fault we spent a sum of money and paid for a house. He acts as if he’s spiteful of my inner and outer beauty and at 45 tells me I’m worn out and old and of no use to another if I part from him. He resents my relationship with God and I am far from perfect but he creates and nagnifys my shortcomings as he overlooks and totally disregards and ignores his own. I blamed it on alcohol, but I’ve known many alcoholics…No, now with a saddened heart I understand after researching the narcistic disorder, and I don’t see ever being complete with this man.I’m getting a clearer picture as why he want assist me in any of the upkeep of a three story condo neither inside or out..and why he’s cold and unfeeling..excepte does nit mind feeling sorry for himself..Thanks I feel better just releasing some of the pain!

  49. I have an older brother, who refuses he any type of treatment. He displays most the behavior you mentioned in your article. It has already led to physical violence and destroying of my property. He is unrealistic about his future, having pipe dreams about success, and will get frustrated when he is forced to come back to reality, leading to an uncontrollable rage. He constantly makes wrong decisions, causing problems with work and his relationships. He abuses alcohol and other drugs to cope, but they make him far worse. My family and I have suffered because of this, but we can’t force him to get treatment. He refuses he has a problem and always puts the blame on us. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’ve tried to separate myself from him, but that causes him to get even more enraged. He doesn’t sleep at night, calls me at absurd hours of the night, showing up at my doorstep. If there is any advise you can give, it would be very helpful. I know he has this problem but can’t convince him to seek treatment.

    1. My advice would have been to get some distance, but that doesn’t seem to be working. You might need to do something even more dramatic to put distance between you and your brother. Just be clear that you can’t help him until he’s ready to admit he needs help.

  50. I have a Sister-in-law that told me a few years ago ( she has been married to my brother for 27 years) that she was diagnosed with Bipolar. I always wondered why sometimes she was fun, while other times it was torture to spend any time at all with her. I never felt particularly close to her, but she seemed to think we were. I was always guarded around her. When my Mother had to go into Memory Care for Altzheimers, it was a terribly tense and difficult time for me and my brothers. I was named the POA for her health. My brother ( the one married to my SIL) wanted to have veto power as to where my Mom was placed. I told him by email that I had already made the decision. It was pretty ugly. Not long after that, my doorbell rings and my SIL ( who lives 3 hours away) is standing there asking for ” 10 minutes of your time.” She sat down and told me everything that was not ok about from about 1990 til the present. She criticized the job I was doing regarding my Mom. I said nothing until I had heard enough. I just said, ” We’re done.” She flew right up to my face and said, ” the next time I see you will be at your Moms funeral for your pity party!” I was stunned! She then screamed that I was a ” cold-hearted bitch.” Said she would be NEVER speak to me again until I apologized! That was two years ago and now my brother no longer will speak to me. There is a family wedding that I will not attend because she will be there. I feel like I just CAN’T allow her to have access to me ever again. She is SO unpredictable. She still fakes it really well with other family members that don’t know her very well. I am FURIOUS with her. She has major intitlement issues and thinks she is MUCH more important that she is. I am so sad that I am the one one the ” outs” now with the rest of the family. They won’t listen to what happened because they want to stay ” neutral!’ Yikes! She is just crazy making!

  51. Dear DR .
    I browsed you site as i,am in dier need of some straight forward Typical advise .
    How do I help my partner in getting and admitting the need for therophy ??
    We are both 49 and have been seriuosly and deeply in love for 8 months , so much that we plan to be married in 6 months time. When we first met i was sat down on numerous accasions and asked by her to tell me all and every aspect of my life and sexual partners , good , bad , & ugly to which i openly did . She in return opened up as well (only partially ) . We have a ONE connection , but soon into the relationship I noticed some very irrational behaviuor at times . I put it down to PMT but soon I realized that the rages of Grandeur ,immence insecurity , sence of intitlement , paranoir and stories (lies) were triggered by certain topics , including , x wife calling about the children , People in general (woman & beauty) , pocessions and intitlements , etc . She used my initial imformation to push the point that i needed therophy as well .My issues are very shallow and happened some 35 years ago , lots of water under the bridge . She has expressed that she has issues but knows how to controll them . Never the less i feel somewhat deflated at her lack of control . I now know some of these triggers and avoid some very general conversation (walking on eggshells). She rages once every 2 weeks (especially after a 2nd wine) and i,am finding it very upsetting because we are so in love . She blames me at every instance for these rages , and I find myself having to agree with the lies when raging to put a stop to it . I,am at wits end but dont want to give up on that one special love of my life .
    I took her initial advise to saught therophy (Phyciatrist for piece of mind ) and are booked in . She has also (not by her choice) made an appointment but some 6 weeks later . We are going to the same DR but me first . What should i do DR .

  52. Hi doctor

    i have this problem of entitlement. Also i mess up with being able to accomplish things because of wanting to be perfect. I passed on job offers because i think i deserve better job. But I never worked for the jobs i want , as I was fear stricken and sort of entitlement.Also i am afraid to take care of myself because when i was brought up in my relatives house if you ask for something or give them trouble you are a bad person so i asked never for help or ask them for money.I want the good things to come to me but i am afraid to go and get that things as i would be seen as selfish and i am socially very awkward and not able to function properly but would like to be alone. Now to accept the reality and go on is very hard and i feel like losing my identity because i want to be seen as intellect and great. now i would be nothing , how to get over this?

  53. My daughter is 14 and we have been concerned about her behaviour since the age of around 6. She now shows all the signs of being a full blown narcissist. She is more defiant than ever and her rages are becoming more violent. She is currently living part time with her biological father as our family (including 4 other daughters) is completely exhausted from the chaos she creates in our life. Asking her to live some of the time with her Dad has not improved her treatment of us, but has enabled us to have a break from her diabolical behaviour. We are having problems with the various therapists we’ve tried recognising there is something more than normal adolescent behaviour going on. She is very intelligent, and is always able to take a kernel of truth and fabricate a lie around it to paint a picture of herself as the victim. Every form of therapy we’ve tried has always involved some degree of blame on our parenting skills, or the suggestion that she is simply a red flag or scape goat in a dysfunctional family. How can we help health professionals see that we are dealing with something more sinister here? I would dearly love to have her back home but can’t see how that will ever work until we can access some effective treatment. She does come along with us to sessions, but of course does not believe there is anything wrong with her. We are in Perth, Western Australia.

    1. Candidly, most therapists have no clue how to deal with someone like your daughter. The sad fact is that unless someone acknowledges she has a problem, there is no way to form a therapeutic alliance with her. I wish I had some useful guidance to offer. I suspect the best you can do at this point is to protect yourself from her destructive behavior with clearly stated expectations and predictable consequences for breaking the rules. You need to treat her like a much younger child who is out of control and needs severe boundaries.

  54. Dr. Burgo, I would like to thank you for your life’s work dealing with the illness of one’s mind. I am a continuing surviver of bipolar disorder, an adult child of a narcissis, anxiety and possible other disorders. I know you cannot give personal advise so if you could steer me in the direction to receive the type of help that will allow me to get over it and move on in my adult years and finish out life productively and to not continue this cycle of learned behaviors to be given to the next generation, my daughter. Thank you so much again for your life’s work, you are making a difference to those of us who were unfortunately given much to bear.

  55. Dr. Burgo, i have a 19 year son whom i dont know how to help. he was diagnosed years ago with bipolar, manic depressive, once he turned 18 he quit taking his meds he always said they made sick to his stomach and made it hur. but now the last 4 months at least once a month he has had out burst of rage with violet tendacies they last up to 30 minutes and once over he has so much remorse and not always a complete memory of what happened, he will cry and say he doesnt understand what is going on. i dont know where to turnor who to turn to. i would love to take him to someone who is a speicalist in this areea to determine what is really going on, and to make a new diagnosis. any suggestions?

  56. I don’t believe in all the labeling going on by the medical profession. We’re all human and everyone of us has quirks. Normal was an imaginary line drawn to distinguish one type of person from the next, but who sets these standards. Sure there are people with extreme cases that are in obvious need of help, but to be honest I’ve noticed hundreds of these coined illnesses are all dampened by practically the same medication. Doesn’t that say something? Most of these illnesses are one in the same and mis-diagnosed. Did you know anxiety in its different stages can appear to be a lot of these? I think people are being mis-informed.

  57. My stepdaughter is 14 and can be very sweet, but also difficult at times. She doesn’t care that her grades are dropping, because she is planning to move to California and become famous (no indication of how she is going to meet her goals). Often, if things don’t go her way, she flies into rages and shouts, screams, and slams doors. When she’s in these rages everyone else is an “idiot and shouldn’t be talking because they are too stupid”. She is extremely overweight and tall and uses her size to intimidate the family during arguments. She hasn’t physically hurt myself or her father, but sometimes we feel physically intimidated. She regularly talks about how everyone wishes they were as awesome as she is. She complains, or ignores us, when she’s asked to do mundane things around the house. She won’t wear second hand clothes and often says she wants designer clothing or something unaffordable. She ‘follows’ and chats with some semi-famous young men online and believes that they consider her their friend and that she could be in a romantic relationship with one of them. Her impression of how people see her seems unrealistic. She lies whenever she thinks it will save her from getting into trouble, but swears she is telling the truth and everyone else is lying. She often calls her father and I “liars”. If a teacher tells her off “unfairly’ at school, she will suddenly hate a teacher she loved yesterday, and she calls them stupid. She will say that her life sucks, and ,when she is here (and angry), she wants to go live with her mother permanently, but when she is there and angry she wants to live here. The grass is always greener elsewhere.

    As I mentioned, sometimes she can be sweet and funny and considerate, but when she turns (on a dime), everybody had better duck. She is reluctant to do anything to better herself, improve her grades, lose weight, or earn money (that she wants so she can buy nice things that her “selfish” parents won’t buy for her). She is great with little kids and wants to babysit, but when we suggest trying to meet the neighborhood families with kids, she makes excuses about why she can’t or why she doesn’t want to babysit for ‘that’ family.

    She was adopted (out of race) at birth and I’m not aware of any childhood trauma. Her adoptive father says she has always been very strong willed, and she has been hard to manage at times. She seems to fit your description here of someone with narcissistic rage, but I find it hard to imagine there is shame behind it. I believe there might be, but I don’t know how to identify it and how to help her deal with it. She seems to have built such a fortress around her persona, I can’t imagine even a therapist getting past the shell. Do you have any advice?

  58. I do not know how to work with such people, and sometimes I have to. One person in particular plagues me. He is retired (cannot hold a job) and comes to the church every day, and pushes into everything. He takes over every discussion, and shouts down and insults anyone who disagrees with him. He is the world’s expert, according to him, but does not follow through on anything he promises to do that he is such an expert on. Most of all, he takes it as a sign of his own great discriminating intelligence to criticize or find fault with every commentary, song, program, movie, and leadership effort of anyone else, no matter how valuable their contribution. I just don’t know what to do with him. I try to stay away from him, but it is impossible as this is the only church in town.

    1. That does sound like a problem. Although it’s not terribly “Christian,” you probably need to find a way to drive him out; he’s doing damage to the other church members and creating a bad environment for everyone else. If you confront him directly about his behavior, he might just drop out, although I understand how difficult that might be to do.

  59. This is weird to me, because I know a number of people who were diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (I was in a treatment center where it was fairly common), but I would not consider any of them entitled. Two of them I would instead describe as some of the most consistently hard working people I know.

    When I think of borderline, I think of people who respond to seemingly innocuous events with immensely strong (and often self-destructive) emotional responses. But for the ones I know, this is typically in response to a perceived slight, or to some sign they take to mean that someone they care for doesn’t care for them in return. I guess one could say they are expecting a stronger relationship than they have earned, but what I see more often is that they have worked very hard for that relationship, perhaps even too hard.

  60. I read your article and felt some relief; you seemed to be saying that it’s possible for people to experience narcissistic injury and rage without necessarily having npd and that we should avoid diagnoses and think about human beings responding to shame and having unmet expectations etc. But then in the comments all I see is narc bashing. I just want to say that no ine asks to be abused when tbey’re a child. No one asks for an alcoholic selfish parent who alternates between beating them, ignoring them, psychologucally abusing them and them forcing them to swallow any feelings of their own in order to feed them sympathy and be their therapist. No one wants that. No one wants to grow up with that kind of damage, without the basic ability to feel good around other people, without the ability to ever be vulnerable or express your true feelings and pain, and to generally live in a state of endless limbo where nothing is ever achieved and no headway with people is ever made because no matter how much introspection you do the woumd is always as painful and engulfing as it ever was. No one enjoys living that life. Just so you all know.

  61. There is someone living on the same floor in my building who has the hallmarks as you describe, she is very negative, controlling, manipulative and has extremes of spending too much and borrowing money, I got too close to her in the last 2 years and she decided that everything she says is true and wouldn’t believe anything I say. She would ask for help with catching spiders that woke her up whenever she fell asleep, but wouldn’t actually accept they weren’t real after none were caught and all measures taken to spray for them. In the end all I got were arguments and anger, because I “wasn’t on her side” just because I didn’t believe her. The friendship ended when she ran me ragged knocking on my door multiple times a night, asking me to call an ambulance because she had heart palpitations which always disappeared once the ambos arrived. I got advice from a psychologist that she was so much like my mother (they both have schizophrenia and exhibit narcissism) that the damage from dealing with my mother’s condition had damaged my psyche, and she recommended strongly there be no more contact, which was all I needed. I just needed to know it was “okay” to cease contact. It has been much more calm and trouble free for the 3 months since I did that, but now someone in the room next to her got her riled up tonight, trying to get her to turn down her music, and she flew into a rage, yelling and abusive, saying that the building super would “definitely be on her side about this.” That entitlement and that rage. So glad I separated myself from her.
    She refuses to learn to cook using the stove, won’t wear glasses that she really needs because she is so vain, leaves rubbish on the benches in the kitchen, refuses to separate regular and recycling, used to ply people with gifts to buy their friendship, then complain that she has done so much for them. You get the drift. While she felt she “owned me” her behaviour got dodgier by the week, but once I pulled the plug and stuck to my guns, she has finally let go. She still gave me a serve tonight when I admonished her disrespectful behaviour and confrontation towards the other tenant. My mistake. She never sees reason, she just focuses on what she wants, always.

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