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Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic RageBorderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Rage

Borderline Personality Disorder has many symptoms in common with Narcissism. In fact, the two disorders often overlap to some extent. This can cause a lot of confusion for the spouses and partners of these people as they go from seemingly normal and ok and you start thinking “well, maybe they aren’t a narc, maybe they were just having ________” (Insert whatever excuse you happen to go to when they’re behaving badly). Not everyone is 100% psychopathic Narcissist with the heart of a snake. As with anything in life, sometimes Narcissism comes in shades of grey.

All that said, Borderline Personality Disorder can express itself in ways very similar to Narcissism and one of the most common is in rage. The temper tantrums narcissists throw are very similar to a Borderline, though they are motivated by different things. Knowing these things may help you not only anticipate an explosion, but temper it as well.


Borderline Outburst

Unlike a Stone Cold Narcissist (who uses rages to manipulate, control, and assert his superiority) borderlines are extremely insecure and emotionally unstable. Nearly all their emotions go up and down (leading one to question Bipolar disorder) but anger is the most difficult for those around him/her to put up with. Their intense and fiery anger comes from a deep belief that you don’t care about them, are not listening to them or are otherwise not meeting their needs. They strike out in pain to punish the one who they believe is hurting them. Unfortunately, this may all be in their heads, and their pain could actually be coming from another source that they are not prepared to deal with or that they are otherwise bound to not be able to express anger at, so you become their emotional punching bag.

Those without an overlapping Narcissistic disorder may feel shame and embarrassment, and apologize when their emotions have calmed down a bit, for fear of losing you. Though they may feel remorse, their behavior will not get better unless they are in treatment. A Borderline with Narcissism though, will not make such overtures. Your perceived faults are deserving of their rage in their eyes and the punishment for your shortcomings in their eyes is their scorn and anger. They are more demeaning in their anger, and can be much more passive aggressive.


Narcissists RageBorderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Rage

A Narcissist needs only one thing from his/her “relationship” with you, and that is Narcissistic Supply. Your stroking of their ego is the only thing that keeps the peace between you and sustains their underdeveloped sense of self. When you fall short in maintaining this balance, you will pay the price. If you neglect your Narcissist, begin paying too much attention to others (even your children), criticize or blame them for anything, or stop giving him/her special treatment, you begin to threaten their fragile sense of superiority and entitlement and you cause a Narcissistic Injury.

Where a Borderline cannot stand the thought of abandonment and strives to avoid it at all costs, a Narcissist is over sensitive to anything that may cause a Narcissistic Injury. They are always looking for slights, and these may not necessarily be real, but only in their own perception of the world and those around him. They go on the defensive, striking first before you can further injure them. They will devalue you and reduce you to nothing in their eyes in order to lift themselves up and protect their own fragile sense of self. Narcissists in this state are desperate, irrational, and incapable of seeing things outside of their own point of view.

Often, after an injury, a Narcissist will self-medicate, this could be with drugs, alcohol, or buying something. Or, they find another source of supply. This could be by something as simple as crafting a “woe is me” story to a friend about how horribly they have been mistreated (by you) or by something as extreme as an affair. Rest assured though, your Narcissist isn’t “taking a lover”, they are using this person the same way they have been using you.

Protecting Yourself

Here is where we let go of the idea of being equal partners, having a say in the relationship, or standing up for yourself. When you see the signs of a BPD or Narcissistic rage coming (and if you have been around them long enough, you know the signs) DO NOT PROVOKE THEM. Do not contradict them. Do not verbally defend yourself against their accusations. Do not tell them they are acting out of control, or being a poor role model for the children, or a horrible partner. These things will not help the situation, they will not help you.

The best thing to do is affirm their feelings (not their actions or behaviors). Take responsibility for anything you actually did wrong, and apologize (because of course we are all human and make mistakes) but do NOT take responsibility for their actions or reactions to your actions. Stay calm and if the situation becomes out of control, especially when we are referring to a Narcissist, leave the house. Only you can gauge the true danger of the situation and only you can decide what you need to do to protect yourself.

Unfortunately, though one disorder can be treated and one cannot, both Borderline and Narcissism are personality disorders that cannot be cured. Do not expect to be able to change this behavior, no matter how well things may be going. The next outburst could be right around the corner.



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16 thoughts on “Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Rage

  1. Terry says:

    ‘Unfortunately, though one disorder can be treated and one cannot, both Borderline and Narcissism are personality disorders that cannot be cured. Do not expect to be able to change this behavior, no matter how well things may be going. The next outburst could be right around the corner.’

    This is so hard for me to hear. I had a pain in my stomach when reading this. I hope my wife will change, she has had some glimmer of wanting to change but hasn’t had concrete steps. We are separated and I have placed a no 30 day contact with her which she has agreed to. Let’s see what happens after this but I know through this website I will be well-armored when I meet her to see if there is a willingness to get help from her part.

    1. Nicole says:

      U r lucky u r away at least. Everything I read was 200% of Wht I deal w daily n find myself actually trying to be two steps ahead n not do anything to trigger only finding myself somehow still n the wrong or not doing rt by him!

      1. Angie says:

        agreed Nicole. same here

  2. l says:

    What do I do if I fear I exhibit some of these patterns, but I want to change? I’m getting a divorce from my narcissistic husband, and even though I’ve learned we had the narcissist-empath dynamic, I know that I still mirror his behavior and/or exhibit these qualities too (compounded by my upbringing as a “conarcissist” I believe it is called — excessive praise, emotional invalidation)

    I do not want to be like this, the things described in this article. And yet I know them too well. I am still confused about my identity because of the 7-year relationship with my ex, but I am now in a relationship with someone who perhaps might play the empath role while I become the full-blown narcissist — I hate this. I have a lot of emotional reactivity where I get stuck in one mindset. I get stuck on one thing that has happened in an argument, whether or not it is justified for me to feel wronged or not, and I play out some of this emotional “striking out in pain.” Once he was in tears saying he wishes he could understand why I feel so much pain, he doesn’t — I don’t need to feel so much pain if clearly this is just a sign of narcissism or BPD. My psychological state is very chaotic, and I do not want to mask my wounds by becoming the very type of person I consider a failure in life. I have a lot of love to give. These emotional handicaps, I feel, are a way I am wasting my life.

    Do you recommend a book for someone like me? I am overly-self-conscious at referring to myself so many times. 🙁 Thank you, community.

    1. Emoq says:

      I dont think you have NPD … maybe BPD, You can actually show BPD signs from years of narcissistic abuse. If you had NPD you wouldn’t feel sorry for your new partner at all and you wouldnt care about his feelings one bit. (His suffering and emotional reactions would actually make you feel good if you were a narc.)

      Seems like your exhusband destroyed your core identity and made you believe that you’re the one with the mental problems.

      Be careful with people trying to manipulate you by convincing you that they are the empath and you’re the narc. Because that is exactly what a narc would try to do.

  3. Stacey Bogle says:

    I love your blog posts as I have recently learned my husband of 8 years is narcissistic but this post did strike a chord with me. I am someone who does suffer from BPD and who is in counseling and the best counseling for people with BPD is cognitive behavioral therapy but extremely hard to find a counselor who has been trained in this special type of therapy. There may be no cure for someone with BPD but that doesn’t mean we are not aware of our mental health disorder and don’t try to do what we can to be better so we don’t hurt ourselves or those we love where are narcissist will never seek help because they don’t think they have a problem except for their partner of course. People with BPD can push people away but it isn’t intentional, and we live in our own hell. Not all people are the same even if they share the same disorder, some of us fight everyday to be better and to not let our mental health issues control us. Just thought I would give you the point of view from someone who has BPD and tries like hell to not let it control my life!!!

    1. Astrid Vahlström says:

      I also have BPD and is in counceling because of it. It was pretty recently that I got my diagnosis and my psychologist said something that I think the end of this article wants to express. “Personality disorders like borderline are like edges in your personality that got shaped from your experiences. These edges cannot be removed but they can be smoothed out. It’s like making a V into a U.”

  4. Angie says:

    this was a revelation for me. I am an Empath married to a Narcissist for almost 10 years. Recently just gone through his second affair which left me wounded beyond repair. I keep flip flopping back and forth between thinking I have done something wrong which resulted in him having another affair, hoping that he will truly love me and then knowing in my heart that I have to get divorced. I still feel responsible for him if that makes any sense. I worry about where he will live and who will love him in his future after we are divorced. I still feel like I need to protect him. I feel selfish for putting myself first. It is overwhelming to know that I will have support from you all as you understand what our daily lives entail.

  5. chillyla says:

    I’m trying to figure out if I try to manipulate him (I think I do sometimes) And if I could just stop doing that he would not be in such a bad mood most of the time, and have these fits of rage. Is it because I’m not considerate enough of his feelings? Or am I just a person who makes mistakes and can’t live up to his standards. Sometimes it seems like I’m the one with the personality disorder. Gosh knows I’ve tried to do everything I can to do better. But he also says he tries to “make me happy” but that I keep doing things that “frustrate” him. He always denies being angry. And I had better not say “I’m angry” because according to him I have nothing to be angry about. I’m like the person above; I “flip-flop” between two extremes: being the offender and being the victim.

    1. Ann says:

      Dear Chillyla,

      That is how you know you are with a narcissist. It is called ghosting, and it is why it is so hard to leave them. They have an amazing ability to make us think that it is our fault, that it is what we are doing that is the problem. They try so hard to make us happy, but we ruin it with our insecurities, our not being happy with what we have, and our making a big deal out of nothing. If we would just…….. So we stay, because we can fix this, because they told us we can fix it. When we do decide that this is it, we’re done, then they love bomb you, and become the person you always wanted them to be so you think “this is it! We can finally be happy”! But the vicious cycle starts all over again. Please google ghosting, and narcissistic abuse. You find so many blogs and articles that will open your eyes, and make you see what is really going on. It is amazing to see that other people are experiencing the exact same thing that you are, word for word, action for action. Your confusion of what is happening to you, will be lightened.

  6. Philip J. says:

    I have been victimized all my life by a borderline mother who is also a stone cold narcissist. I used to say to myself that she was a “rage-a-holic,” a term I coined before I understood the condition. She has it bad, screaming at anything, at everything, at my very existence, from morning to bedtime, and gaslighting constantly. My personhood needs to be invalidated by her at every turn. Of course she would say that I am making this all up as some conspiratorial fantasy, NEVER allowing any challenge to her behavior whatsoever. I had no confidence as a child, and was completely afraid of females until middle age, suffered two complete nervous breakdowns, attempted suicide three times, and became an insomniac of the worst order. It took me years of introspection, self examination, and therapy to understand what I was doing to cause such evil treatment. But I finally realized that I was not the cause of her problems. No indeed, her personal demons pre-dated me. And her defenses are so impregnable that she is beyond correction, and thus beyond hope. I pray God forgives her, and that I can. But she seems utterly self-justified. To tell a victim of this treatment not to react in anger, or defend oneself, is somewhat laughable. I have tried NOT reacting, saying absolutely nothing, and this only incenses her further, screaming at me “YOU SURLY BUGGER!!!” The only thing to do is get out of Dodge. I’m through being nice. I have almost no love left for my own mother. The very thought of her is toxic to my life. If she ends up in hell, that’s on her, because I have prayed and done my duty, and I’m through. I suppose my point is this: Narcissistic Rage is NOT acceptable, should NEVER be tolerated, and, beyond the age of accountability, is utterly the fault of the perpetrator.

  7. Ben says:

    This is really very interesting. Recently I was told to share some personality traits with the ones mentioned in BPD but this really is similiar to that what I experienced e.g. outburst when somebody didnt listen to me when I was talking too the person.

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