A narcissistic injury is the mental anguish caused by a threat or hurt to a narcissist’s grandiose self-perception. They come in all different shapes and sizes and can be triggered by just about anything because of how fragile, insecure, and vulnerable narcissists are.

The biggest narcissistic injuries occur when a narcissist doesn’t get enough narcissistic supply. When this happens, the emotional stability of a narcissist is compromised because they are forced to acknowledge the painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions that they use narcissistic supply to suppress.

In this article we are going to explain the reason that a lack of narcissistic supply causes the biggest narcissistic injuries and then give you 7 scenarios of a narcissist experiencing a big narcissistic injury so you can learn as much as possible.

The Biggest Narcissistic Injuries Are Caused by a Lack of Narcissistic Supply

Narcissistic supply is the validation, admiration, reassurance, power, and control that narcissists receive from their external environment.

The reason that narcissists use narcissistic supply to suppress their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions is because they are emotionally incompetent.

Meaning that they are unable to manage their thoughts, feelings, and emotions at the same level as their age and culture expect.

Someone telling a narcissist that they are immature.

We will give you a resource that you can use to learn more about this but the emotional incompetency of a narcissist is believed to originate from their childhood upbringing.

During this childhood, the emotional neglect that they experienced prevented them from getting the healthy forms of validation, admiration, and reassurance that they needed to develop a realistic sense of self and have a healthy cognitive development.

As a result, they started believing that they were unlovable, unwanted, worthless, inadequate, and weak, but didn’t have the emotional skills required to manage their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

A kid with a lot of painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

To protect their emotional stability, narcissists turned to society to get the validation, admiration, and reassurance that their primary caregivers couldn’t give them so they could use it to suppress all of their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

As you can imagine, this only made matters worse and condemned them to a lifetime of chasing narcissistic supply (i.e. validation, admiration, reassurance, power, and control) to keep their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions suppressed.

Again, there’s a lot more to this story so here is a resource (see below) that we suggest you read!

Suggested Reading:

Our articleHow Are Narcissists Made? guides you through all of the different theories mental health professionals have on a narcissist’s origin story. If you have a narcissist in your life, having this information may help answer many of the questions that you have about their behavior.

Now, the reason that a lack of narcissistic supply triggers the biggest narcissistic injuries is because when a narcissist’s painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions bubble to their surface, it serves as a constant reminder of how unlovable, unwanted, inadequate, weak, and worthless they feel.

An adult with many painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

Ok. Now that we’ve explained the reason that a lack of narcissistic supply causes the biggest narcissistic injuries, let’s go through 7 scenarios of a narcissist experiencing a big narcissistic injury so you can learn as much as possible about narcissistic injuries.

7 Examples of a Narcissist Experiencing a Big Narcissistic Injury

You are about to read through examples of big narcissistic injuries being created by the narcissist being humiliated, criticized, minimized, ignored/overlooked, invalidated, mocked, and held accountable for their actions.

All of these events prevent a narcissist from getting the narcissistic supply that they need to feel emotionally stable. The inspiration for these 7 events came from a survey we conducted among 200 survivors of narcissistic abuse to learn about the most common events that trigger the biggest narcissistic injuries.

Here are the results of the survey (image below).

A survey about narcissistic injuries

When They Get Humiliated

Andrea, a narcissistic teenage girl, is competing in a cooking contest at her school for her home economics class. Andrea and one of her classmates have made it all the way to the final round and are tasked with baking a cake.

After 35 minutes, Andrea and her classmate are ready for their cake to be judged. The entire school is watching and Andrea is confident that her cake is the best. However, when the judge tastes Andrea’s cake, he spits it out because of how badly it tastes.

A narcissist being laughed at.

The entire school gasps and then starts laughing. Andrea’s excessive need for admiration is denied and her sense of specialness and uniqueness is invalidated. This is a humiliating situation for Andrea and causes a huge narcissistic injury.

When They Get Criticized

Micheal, a narcissistic man, has been working for one of the biggest real estate companies in New York for around three months. Today, he is shadowing the company’s top agent to learn the ins and outs of the business.

Micheal is insulted by the fact that he has to follow someone around who he thinks that he is better than, but does so anyway. At one of the properties, the agent allows Micheal to take the lead with the new client so he can sit back and observe.

A narcissistic real estate agent losing a client.

Micheal does horribly and loses the client. The agent tries to give Micheal some constructive criticism but Micheal is too angry to listen. The combination of the advice the top agent gave Micheal and the fact that Micheal lost the client contradicted his fantasies of unlimited success and triggered a huge narcissistic injury.

When They Get Minimized

Jessica, a narcissistic woman, has just been promoted to assistant manager at the bank that she works at. She has worked really hard to get the promotion so everyone in the bank is really proud of her.

Little does she know, her boss is also a narcissist and hates that she is getting all the attention. He calls her into his office for a meeting and begins to minimize her promotion.

A narcissistic boss minimizing his employee.

His mean comments contradicts Jessica’s sense of specialness and causes her to experience a big narcissistic injury.

When They Get Ignored or Overlooked

Tommy, a narcissistic teenage boy, is giving his sister the silent treatment because she will not let him borrow her car. It is very common for Tommy to manipulate those in his surrounding environment with passive-aggressive tactics such as the silent treatment.

But Tommy’s sister has been researching tactics that she can use to protect herself from her narcissistic brother and has learned that she can restrain herself from engaging in meaningful interactions with Tommy to protect herself.

A woman learning about the Gray Rock Method.

As a result, instead of responding to Tommy’s silent treatment, she goes Gray Rock on him and ignores it. This causes a huge narcissistic injury because the Gray Rock Method invalidates Tommy’s grandiose sense of self-importance and denies him from getting the narcissistic supply that he was looking for.

When They Get Invalidated

Emily, a narcissistic woman, is at Six Flags with her family. There are so many people and the lines for the rides have an hour wait time. This is unacceptable for Emily. In her mind, she has been to Six Flags so many times, meaning that she has spent so much money there, that she practically pays the employee’s salary.

Her arrogance and sense of entitlement encourages her to cut the line and walk all the way to the front with her family. When she gets to the front, the employee tells her that she has to wait in line just like everyone else and refuses to let her get on.

A narcissistic woman at a theme park.

Blinded by her arrogance and entitlement, Emily tries to explain to the employee that she can do what she wants because she has spent so much money at Six Flags over the years.

The employee laughs and says, “You’re not that big of a deal. Get to the back of the line or I’ll call security.” This is deeply invalidating for Emily and triggers a massive narcissistic injury.

When They Get Mocked

Bobby, a narcissistic man, is going for a bike ride with his mountain biking club. On this ride, one of the other members accidentally cuts Bobby off. When they get to the first checkpoint, Bobby goes into a narcissistic rage and screams at the other member.

“You could have caused an accident! What the f*ck were you thinking?!” When he finished screaming, he went to kick the member’s bike but accidentally smashed his own shin on the metal. The rest of the members, who at this point are sick and tired of Bobby’s antics, burst into laughter and begin to mock his limp.

A narcissist going into a narcissistic rage.

Being mocked causes a huge narcissistic injury for Bobby because it is invalidating. Seeing everyone mock him forces Bobby to acknowledge that he isn’t as important, special, powerful, feared, unique, etc., as he thinks he is and this triggers all of the painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions that he has.

When They Are Held Accountable for Their Actions

Amanda, a narcissistic woman, has been going to couples therapy with her husband for a month. She hasn’t made any attempts to change her behavior and the therapist calls her out on it.

A therapist holding a narcissist accountable for her actions.

Being held accountable is one of the worst things that can happen to a narcissist. It contradicts their grandiose sense of self-importance, fantasies, belief that they are special and unique, need for excessive admiration, and their sense of entitlement.

Being held accountable by her therapist causes Amanda to experience a huge narcissistic injury.

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

The biggest narcissistic injuries are caused by a lack of narcissistic supply because when a narcissist doesn’t have enough narcissistic supply, they can’t keep all of their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions suppressed. This compromises their emotional stability, triggers a narcissistic injury, and typically throws them into a rage.

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All of the content that Unfilteredd creates is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for clinical care — please visit here for qualified organizations and here for qualified professionals that you can reach out to for help. This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.

References:

American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5)

Vaknin, Sam, and READ THIS. “Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) at a Glance.” (2006).