How Narcissists React When Confronted with Their Own Behavior

When you confront a narcissist with the truth, their reactions can range from denial and deflection to anger and aggression. They may resort to what is known as narcissistic rage, which can manifest as explosive or passive-aggressive behavior. Narcissists are often skilled at manipulating situations, and they may respond to confrontation with more lies, blaming you for the situation, or dismissing your concerns altogether source.

In some cases, a narcissist may emotionally detach, become aggressive, attempt to devalue you, or even verbally or physically abuse you when confronted with the truth source. They might also increase their manipulative tactics, such as enhancing their charm or giving you the silent treatment source.

Psychologists generally advise against confronting narcissists about their behavior. If they are truly narcissistic, they are unlikely to listen or take any criticism or feedback into account. Instead, you should focus on standing up for yourself and setting clear boundaries source.

Dealing with a narcissist can be challenging and emotionally draining. If you find yourself in this situation, consider seeking support from mental health professionals or trusted individuals in your life.

Here are a few things that happen when you confront a narcissist with the truth


Narcissists have a distorted sense of self and often believe they are superior to others, which can make them extremely resistant to criticism or any suggestion that they may be at fault. This is why they are likely to deny the truth, even when confronted with solid evidence.

This denial isn’t just a conscious choice; it’s a defense mechanism protecting their inflated self-image. If they were to accept the truth – particularly if it implies fault or failure on their part – it would shatter their illusion of perfection and superiority.

In many cases, narcissists don’t just deny the truth; they rewrite it, creating their own version that supports their worldview. This can be highly confusing and distressing for those around them, as it can lead to what is known as “gaslighting” – a manipulative tactic where someone questions your memories and perception of events, making you doubt your sanity.

When dealing with a narcissist, it’s important to remember this tendency to deny reality. Trying to convince them of the truth can often be a futile and frustrating endeavor. Instead, focus on maintaining your own understanding of the truth and seek support from others who can validate your experiences.


Narcissists often have an inflated sense of self-importance and a deep-seated fear of being seen as flawed or imperfect. Because of this, they may attempt to change the subject or shift the blame onto someone else when confronted with the truth about their actions. This is a defense mechanism to avoid taking responsibility for their behavior, as acknowledging their mistakes would mean admitting that they are not perfect.

For example, if a narcissist is confronted about a mistake they made at work, they might immediately bring up a completely different issue to distract from the conversation. Or they might blame a colleague for not providing them with the correct information, even if it’s clear that they were the ones at fault.

This tendency to evade responsibility can be incredibly frustrating for those dealing with a narcissist. It’s important to remember that this is a reflection of the narcissist’s insecurities and not a reflection of your own perceptions or understanding of the situation. When engaging with a narcissist, it can be helpful to stay focused on the topic at hand and not allow them to derail the conversation.

Narcissistic Rage

Narcissistic rage is a term that refers to intense anger, aggression, or passive-aggressive behavior that can arise when narcissists feel their self-esteem or self-worth is threatened. This rage comes in two main forms: explosive and passive.

Explosive narcissistic rage is characterized by outbursts of anger, threats, screaming, and even physical aggression. The person may break or throw things, and their fury can seem out of control, seeking revenge and destruction through any means possible

On the other hand, passive narcissistic rage, also known as simmering resentment, is more subtle. It manifests in passive-aggressive behaviors like giving the silent treatment, spreading rumors, or using sarcasm and backhanded compliments. This type of rage is often harder to detect and can be equally damaging

Narcissistic rage can be triggered by various factors. Narcissists may lash out when they perceive others are questioning their abilities, or they are not receiving the attention or admiration they believe they deserve. Setbacks in their life, job, or relationships that bruise their ego or result in a loss of control can also trigger this rage

Remember, dealing with a raging narcissist can be challenging and potentially dangerous. It’s crucial to prioritize your safety and mental health and consider seeking professional help if needed.


Narcissists are often very skilled at using charm and emotional appeal to manipulate others and divert attention away from the truth. This behavior is rooted in their need to maintain a positive self-image and avoid any criticism or blame.

When confronted with the truth, especially if it threatens their self-perception, a narcissist might switch to being exceptionally charming or emotionally appealing. They may compliment you, flatter you, or play on your sympathies to distract you from the issue at hand. This can also serve to confuse you, making it harder for you to stick to your point or remember why you were upset in the first place.

For example, if a narcissist is confronted about a lie they told, they might suddenly start praising your intelligence and insight, saying things like “You’re so smart, I didn’t think you’d catch that,” or “I only lied because I didn’t want to upset you, I know how sensitive you are.”

This manipulation tactic can be difficult to resist because it appeals to our natural desire for approval and validation. However, it’s important to stay focused on the issue at hand and not let yourself be swayed by their charm or emotional manipulation.

Emotional detachment

Narcissists may emotionally detach from a situation as a defense mechanism to protect their inflated self-image and avoid confronting uncomfortable truths about themselves. This detachment can manifest in various ways, such as denial, distortion, projection, and even dissociation.

According to an article in Psychology Today, narcissists often use the defense mechanisms of idealization and devaluation to gain emotional control over others source.

Depersonalization, a form of dissociation where one feels detached or disconnected from oneself, is another survival mechanism for narcissistic abuse victims source.

In essence, narcissists don’t emotionally detach because they don’t form a healthy emotional attachment in the first place. They are often driven by feelings of shame and guilt, conscious or unconscious, and when a narcissist loses control of a situation, they are likely to be enraged and may lash out at others source.

It’s essential to remember that dealing with a narcissist can be challenging and potentially harmful. Prioritizing your own mental health and safety is crucial, and professional help may be needed.

How Should You Confront Them?

Confronting a narcissist can be daunting, but it’s important to do so in a way that protects your mental and emotional health. Here are some tips:

Be Prepared

Before confronting a narcissist, prepare yourself for the potential reactions. They may react with anger, denial, or even try to manipulate you. Being aware of these possibilities can help you stay calm and focused during the confrontation.

Stay Calm

Keeping your emotions in check can prevent the situation from escalating. Try to speak in a neutral tone and avoid raising your voice, as this may trigger an aggressive response.

Use “I” Statements

Instead of blaming or criticizing the narcissist, express how their actions make you feel. For example, say “I feel upset when you dismiss my opinions” rather than “You always ignore me”.

Set Boundaries

Make it clear what behavior is acceptable and what is not. If the narcissist continues to cross these boundaries, consider reducing contact or seeking professional help.

Seek Professional Help

Dealing with a narcissist can be emotionally draining. A mental health professional can provide strategies and support to help you navigate this challenging situation.

Remember, your well-being is important. If confronting a narcissist puts you in danger or causes significant distress, it may be best to distance yourself and seek support from trusted friends, family members, or professionals.

Final Thought

Confronting a narcissist can be a challenging task given their inherent defense mechanisms and inability to accept criticism. It requires a strong sense of self, clear boundaries, and a calm yet assertive approach. However, it’s crucial to remember that the primary goal is to protect your own emotional and mental well-being.

While you can attempt to manage your relationship with a narcissist, lasting change can only come from them recognizing their behavior and seeking professional help. If confrontation leads to escalation or if the relationship becomes harmful to your well-being, consider seeking support from mental health professionals or trusted individuals in your life.

Ultimately, dealing with a narcissist can be a journey of personal growth, resilience, and self-care. It’s an opportunity to reinforce your boundaries, strengthen your self-esteem, and cultivate healthy relationships.

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