After being around a narcissist for an extended period of time, it is very common to wonder whether or not narcissists have emotions because of how emotionally numb they can come off.
Narcissists do have emotions. They experience fear, happiness, anger, sadness, insecurity, jealousy, envy, shame, contempt, and emptiness on a regular basis.
In this article we are going to guide you through the different emotions that narcissists have so you can grasp a better understanding of their behavior patterns.
There are two ways that the word fear is used. First, it is used to describe our emotional reaction to something that seems dangerous.
Second, it is used to name something that a person feels afraid of. For example, it is common for a person to fear situations that make them feel unsafe or unsure.
Fear is an emotion that narcissists have. The two things that narcissists fear the most are being exposed as a narcissist and being abandoned by others.
The best manifestation of this fear are flying monkeys.
A flying monkey is someone that a narcissist manipulates into helping them abuse others.
A narcissist will use a flying monkey to control, isolate, silence, and discredit the person that they are abusing when they fear that they are going to leave.
They do this because they don’t want the person that they are abusing to expose them to others and because they don’t want to be alone.
A narcissist’s fear of being abandoned and being exposed are the driving forces of many of their abusive tendencies and manipulation tactics.
The word happiness is used to describe a sense of well-being, joy, or contentment.
Happiness is an emotional state that everyone chases in one way or another.
Happiness is an emotional state that narcissists have.
Unfortunately, a narcissist’s happiness often comes at the expense of the happiness and overall well-being of others.
This is because a narcissist’s happiness is dependent on the amount of narcissistic supply they can get.
Narcissistic supply is the validation, admiration, reassurance, power, and control that narcissists get from their surrounding environment.
They abuse and manipulate others to get it.
For example, one of the biggest sources of narcissistic supply that a narcissist gets is the power and control that comes from narcissistic rage.
We will speak more about this in the next section but narcissistic rage is an explosive, unpredictable, and unjustifiable response that narcissists have to narcissistic injuries.
It can manifest in the form of physical, sexual, or psychological abuse.
It is terrifying and gives narcissists power and control over others.
Anger is an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong.
For those with emotional intelligence, anger can be a good thing.
When used correctly, anger can motivate you to find solutions to your problems.
Anger is an emotion that narcissists have.
However, due to their low emotional intelligence, they are incapable of managing their anger through healthy forms of emotional regulation.
Because of this, they are prone to narcissistic rage.
As we mentioned before, narcissistic rage is an explosive, unpredictable, and unjustifiable response that narcissists have to narcissistic injuries.
Narcissistic injuries are emotional traumas that overwhelm an individual’s defense mechanisms and devastate their pride and self worth.
Because of how fragile a narcissist’s ego is, they experience narcissistic injuries on a daily basis and over the most insignificant things.
For example, if you told the narcissist in your life that you wanted to go to sleep early instead of watching a movie because you were tired, this could cause a narcissistic injury.
Unable to manage their anger, they could go into a narcissistic rage and smash the television.
Our article “Why Do Narcissists Go Into a Rage?“ has a lot of helpful information about narcissistic rage.
Sadness is an emotional pain associated with, or characterized by, feelings of disadvantage, loss, despair, grief, helplessness, disappointment and sorrow.
Believe it or not, narcissists struggle with a tremendous amount of sadness on a daily basis.
This is because narcissists have many painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions that they suppress within themselves.
You see, deep down narcissists feel weak, worthless, unlovable, unwanted, and inadequate.
These thoughts, feelings, and emotions are believed to have come from an abusive or unhealthy childhood upbringing, but because of their low emotional intelligence, narcissists are incapable of managing them on their own.
What they do instead is use narcissistic supply to suppress all of their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
As you can imagine, over time this just makes their feelings of being unlovable, unwanted, weak, inadequate, and worthless even more profound.
Our article “How Are Narcissists Made?“ has a lot of helpful information that will help you understand where the painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions that narcissists have come from.
Insecurity is a feeling of lacking confidence and not being sure of your own abilities or of whether people like you.
Now, narcissists do a really good job at coming off as confident, charming, and articulate, but they are actually some of the most insecure people on the planet.
This is because they have something researchers call fragile high self-esteem.
What this means is that their feelings of self-worth are unstable, uncertain, and based on unrealistically positive self-views.
In addition to this, their feelings of self-worth are entirely dependent on external validation and self-deception.
Meaning that in order for them to feel good about themselves, they need to constantly be validated, admired, and reassured by others.
It is for this reason that a narcissist’s happiness is dependent on the amount of narcissistic supply that they have.
Now, to be fair, narcissists do a really good job at getting the narcissistic supply that they need to maintain a positive self-perception.
But because they have so many powerful painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions that they suppress, it makes their emotional state unstable and uncertain, hence the reason that they are so insecure.
The clearest manifestation of a narcissist’s insecurity is their fragile ego.
They can’t handle any type of criticism, setback, or disappointment because of how fragile, vulnerable, and insecure they are.
Our article “Do Narcissists Have Low Self-Esteem?“ will help you grasp a better understanding of a narcissist’s low self-esteem.
When someone feels jealous, it means that they are threatened, protective, or fearful of losing one’s position or situation to someone else.
Now, jealousy often gets confused with envy, a topic we will speak about next, but they aren’t the same thing.
A simple example of someone being jealous could be a man insulting one of his friends because they spent time with someone that the man didn’t like.
Narcissists are very jealous people.
Their jealousy stems from their need for narcissistic supply, their fear of abandonment, and sense of entitlement to having the attention of others.
The most common manifestation of this is a narcissist’s tendency to isolate the people that they abuse.
When a narcissist is able to isolate the person that they are abusing from their family and friends, it does three things for them.
First, it puts them in a position from which they can have an unlimited amount of narcissistic supply.
Second, it soothes their fear of abandonment because they become the center of the person’s world.
Third, it guarantees that they will have the attention of the person that they are abusing at all times.
Now, the second that the person that they are abusing attempts to leave the narcissistic environment, make new friends, reconnect with their family, or spend time alone for once, narcissists get extremely jealous.
As a result, the narcissist will do anything to make the person that they are abusing feel bad about themselves.
Jealousy is an emotion that narcissists struggle with on a regular basis.
Our article “Why Do Narcissists Get So Jealous?“ has a lot of helpful information about a narcissist’s jealousy.
Envy is the painful feeling of wanting what someone else has, like attributes or possessions.
For example, imagine that you walk outside of your house and see your neighbor with a brand new car.
You feel a sense of resentment towards them because you want to get a new car also but haven’t been able to afford it yet.
This is envy. You feel a sense of resentment toward the individual for attaining something you want but have yet to achieve.
Narcissists struggle with envy on a regular basis.
One of the most common manifestations of their envy is their tendency to minimize and invalidate the successes of others.
A narcissist’s preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love makes it so that when they see someone succeed in any aspect of their life, they envy them.
But because of how fragile, vulnerable, and insecure they are, this envy that they feel triggers their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
Seeing others succeed makes narcissists feel unlovable, unwanted, inadequate, worthless, and weak.
To regain emotional stability, they invalidate and minimize the success of others so they can feel superior.
The envy that narcissists have is incredibly toxic.
Shame is a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.
Believe it or not, narcissists often struggle with a tremendous amount of shame.
The clearest manifestation of a narcissist’s shame is something called the shame-rage spiral.
When a narcissist goes into a narcissistic rage, it is because they feel threatened. As a result, they become enraged, lash out, and emotionally and/or physically hurt others.
It is very common for this aggressive response to trigger the narcissist’s shame, but not because of the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.
Their shame gets triggered because narcissists know that their aggressive response contradicted their grandiose public persona.
You see, narcissists work really hard to create a charming, charismatic, successful, articulate, and pleasant public persona.
They do this so they can get the narcissistic supply that they need to suppress their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
When a narcissist experiences a contradiction to their grandiose public persona, it triggers their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
Now, when a narcissist goes into a narcissistic rage, their behavior contradicts their public persona, and triggers their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
As a result, they begin to feel inadequate, worthless, weak, unwanted, and unlovable.
These thoughts, feelings, and emotions cause them to feel ashamed of themselves.
But because of their low emotional intelligence, they can’t manage their feelings of shame on their own so they go back into a narcissistic rage to project their feelings onto others.
Projection is when someone takes parts of their identity that they find unacceptable and places them onto someone else.
By going into a narcissistic rage, they are trying to make someone else feel as badly as they do about themselves so they can think to themselves, “I am not the shameful one, they are.”
This is projection.
The shame-rage spiral often looks like a narcissist floating in and out of a rage for hours, days, sometimes even weeks.
Shame is an emotion that narcissists struggle with on a regular basis.
Our article “How Do You Know When a Narcissist Is Projecting?“ will help you learn more about a narcissist’s relationship with projection.
Contempt is the feeling that a person or a thing is worthless or beneath consideration.
Narcissists have a tremendous amount of contempt for others.
You see, one of the ways that narcissists maintain their unrealistically positive self-perception is by maintaining a grandiose sense of superiority over others.
This is why narcissists go out of their way to invalidate, devalue, degrade, humiliate, and dehumanize the people that they abuse (image below).
Another thing that is worth mentioning here is that narcissists also have a tremendous amount of contempt for themselves.
Remember, deep down they struggle with painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions, with one of them being worthlessness.
They do a really good job at speaking highly about themselves but behind their falsified identity is an insecure, vulnerable, and fragile person who feels worthless and weak.
Narcissists struggle with feelings of emptiness on a daily basis.
This is because they depend on the admiration of others to build self-esteem.
The dependence that they have on others prevents them from developing a positive emotional connection with themselves.
Without a positive emotional connection with themselves, their loneliness, sadness, numbness, disconnectedness, and emptiness becomes even more profound.
Some of the most common signs of a someone who is struggling with feelings of emptiness are:
- Unfulfilling relationships
- Struggling with overdependence
- Feeling perpetually bored
- Being emotionally numb
- Being unhappy even though they have everything that they want.
In a survey we conducted among 100 survivors of narcissistic abuse, we told them the common signs that someone has feelings of emptiness and then asked “Did you ever notice that the narcissist in your life was struggling with feelings of emptiness?”
Unsurprisingly, 96 out of 100 of them said yes.
Our article “Why Do Narcissists Feel Empty Inside?“ has a lot of helpful information about the overwhelming sense of emptiness that narcissists have and some quotes from the survey we mentioned above.
About the Author
Hey, I’m Elijah.
I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years.
I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.
Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.
Krizan, Zlatan, and Omesh Johar. “Narcissistic rage revisited.” Journal of personality and social psychology 108.5 (2015): 784.