Narcissistic Injury: Narcissistic damage, sometimes referred to as a “narcissistic wound” or “wounded ego,” is a term for emotional traumas that overcome a person’s protective mechanisms and utterly destroy their sense of pride and self-worth. It is also referred to as a “narcissistic scar” when the shame or dishonor is so severe that the person will never again fully feel good about who they are.
According to Freud, “losses in love” and “losses linked with failure” frequently cause harm to a person’s self-esteem.
What is Narcissistic Injury?
A narcissist reacts with extreme hatred and harbors resentment when they are hurt or injured. Narcissists frequently lack comprehension and awareness of other people’s emotional reactions. The narcissist typically doesn’t feel any regret or empathy for hurting anyone’s feelings because of this cognitive gap—if they even acknowledge they were the cause of the damaged sentiments. They suffer an injury that they typically react to with wrath when they are made aware of their wrongdoing or someone they injured.
Narcissists have a “higher than thou” attitude toward themselves and think they are more unique and deserving of things than others. The traits of narcissistic personality disorder include grandiose thinking, an exaggerated sense of self, a lack of empathy, and a desire to be loved by everyone. They harbor deep-seated anxieties, concerns, and sometimes even sadness.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) states that people with narcissistic personality disorder are susceptible to “injury” from criticism or failure because they have low self-esteem. These people may be haunted by criticism and feel degraded, hollow, and empty, even if they may not express it openly. They might respond with contempt, hatred, or a relentless counterattack.
According to Adam Phillips, a therapeutic cure entails encouraging the patient to relive “a terrible narcissistic wound” — the child’s experience of exclusion by the parental alliance — to accept and learn the diminishing loss of omnipotence implied by the fundamental “facts of life.”
Narcissistic Injury Signs
5 Signals of narcissistic injury are:
1) Becoming Defensive
4) Extreme mood swings
5) Feelings of power imbalance (Superiority and Inferiority)
A narcissistic injury is frequently invisible at first glance. Narcissistic wounds, also known as narcissistic injuries, are commonly brought on by rejection, loss, or even a feeling of abandonment. Narcissistic personality disorder patients will appear overly defensive and hostile in response to criticism. The ordinary person would probably respond by showing vulnerability. Still, someone with a narcissistic wound will act oppositely, making them appear egotistical while hurting within. The selfish injury response is a mask for the genuine emotions of the person dealing with these issues.
A narcissistic injury may appear to others as gaslighting or blaming the other person. Due to their refusal to hear anything they are told they do not want to hear, a person may come out as hostile and manipulative. It is crucial for people with narcissistic wounds to make it apparent to others they verbally abuse that this is an illness rather than an intentional insult.
Although the cause of narcissistic personality disorder is unknown, how parents nurture their children and the nurturing they receive as children are likely to impact those who do significantly.
Children who are taught that failure results in less love and attention are more prone to narcissistic personality disorder and an obsession with perfection. When raising children, it’s crucial to emphasize the value of self-love and unconditional love to teach them that their feelings are always genuine, regardless of the circumstance or how well or poorly they do.
In his final book, numerous psychoanalysts have since expanded on Freud’s idea of “early injuries to the self (injuries to narcissism).” Karl Abraham believed that the childhood experience of a blow to narcissism due to the lack of narcissistic supply held the key to adult depression. Otto Fenichel broadened similar analyses to include borderline personalities and reaffirmed the significance of narcissistic injury in depressives.
While Annie Reich stressed how a blow to narcissism revealed the chasm between one’s ego ideal and everyday reality, Edmund Bergler emphasized the significance of infantile omnipotence in selfishness and the rage that follows any blow to that sense of selfish power. Lacanians linked Freud on the narcissistic wound to Lacan on the egocentric mirror stage.
The object relations theory also draws attention to patients’ anger at early environmental mistakes that made them feel awful about themselves when their sense of youthful omnipotence was too suddenly challenged.
Pseudo-perfectionists, like narcissists, frequently engineer circumstances where they are the center of attention. For narcissists to maintain their high sense of self, they must strive to appear faultless. If a perceived level of perfection is not attained, it can produce guilt, humiliation, rage, or worry because the person feels that if they are defective, others will stop loving and admiring them.
Some kids grow up thinking love is conditional, so they develop a chronic fixation with perfection. As a result, youngsters will experience narcissistic harm when they fail in any area of life and feel that they are no longer acceptable.
Children who struggle with perfectionism may manifest narcissistic injury for various reasons, such as academic failure, competition failure, rejection, interpersonal conflict, and constructive criticism. Self-psychology would identify prior traumatic damage to the grandiose self behind such perfectionism.
Kohut’s ideas may have occasionally become oversimplified due to their widespread use. You will frequently hear people declare, “Oh, I’m narcissistic,” or, “It was a wound to my narcissism,” as Neville Symington notes. Such remarks are superficial and do not honestly acknowledge the condition. Realizing one’s narcissism is incredibly upsetting and frequently accompanied by denial.