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25 Signs of Narcissistic Collapse

What does a narcissistic collapse look like? Let’s Understand in Details

Have you ever known someone who seems confident, and charming and “bombs” you with extreme displays of attention and affection first, but over time reveals a pattern of entitlement, lack of empathy, and need for excessive admiration? These could be signs of narcissistic personality disorder, a condition marked by an inflated sense of self-importance.

Few initial interpersonal dynamics feel more paradoxical than loving someone who wounds you. When that loved one is a narcissist — someone bombarding you with manipulation, control, and demands for sympathy — you may desperately hope they’ll change for the better with enough of your care and understanding. 

But what if they seem to deteriorate instead? When a narcissist crumbles, their downward spiral can leave their partners profoundly disoriented — and grieving who they wish their beloved could be. When the fragile facade of the narcissist begins to crack, it can lead to a collapse that is emotionally messy and confusing for those around them.

Narcissistic collapse transpires when a narcissist — whose ego was inflated by external validation — loses their source of admiration and approval. This loss of ego “supply” causes the grandiose false self masking their inner fragility to destabilize and crack. 

As the foundation propping up their superiority disintegrates, the narcissist’s suppressed negative emotions come flooding forth. Their poise gives way to extreme behaviors signaling inner distress.

Outwardly, a collapsed narcissist may seem erratic, vengeful, despairing, or vacant. Inwardly, they’re plunged into what feels like disintegration. The image sustaining their self-worth has been irrevocably shattered, forcing them to reckon with holes they’ve refused to see or mend within.

Watching this downfall can be intensely painful for those who’ve endured narcissists’ exploitation yet still longed for their redemption. Witnessing someone once larger than life become so broken feels tragic yet sobering too. It solidifies that fantasy will never manifest into reality with them — no matter how alluring their periodic glimpses of kindness seem.

While narcissistic collapse stems from narcissists losing external validation, its lessons relate to us all. Narcissists refused their shadows, projecting them outward and manipulating others to escape accountability. Now, their shadows consume them back. 

But perhaps their unraveling reflects that none can outrun themselves forever — not even with the most brilliant projections. Their collapse mirrors back our own need for integration, challenging polarizations of “light” and “dark” we overly rely upon.

In my over 7 years of practicing, writing on psychology, and studying personality disorders, I have seen many narcissists go through periods of collapse as life circumstances or aging start to shift the foundation of superiority and control that a narcissist depends on. It is truly a descent into a crisis that has the potential to inspire both concern and compassion from loved ones who bear witness.

As someone who specializes in narcissistic personality disorder, I have deep empathy for both the injured parties and navigating the complicated emotions that come up on both sides. The 25 signs of a collapsed narcissist outlined in this blog give a map to help discern when a narcissist in your life starts exhibiting symptoms of internal chaos, lost control, and acting out. 

From an expert lens, it provides insight into underlying wounds crying out for healing — the small injured self behind the protective ego armor.

The collapse of a narcissist can feel like having the rug pulled out from under the pretense of confidence and capability that drew people — or targets for supply — in initially. What is revealed underneath is a person lost in shadows of unresolved pain, overcome by cracks in the ability to self-regulate. It is a state of being out of integrity — disjointed from one’s highest self.

For those who have felt traumatized by narcissistic relationships, the collapse may illicit complicated feelings of validation but also guilt in witnessing suffering. It has the potential to open doors for forgiveness and compassion on both ends. To the narcissist, it also signals that the false self-created as a defensive compensation for deep wounds is no longer working. It is a reckoning and an opportunity.

As we unpack the multiple layers of the narcissistic downfall, remember that collapse often comes before the opportunity for breakthroughs. This opens the possibility for insights that can lead to positive change when examined with mindfulness and care. Are you interested in learning more? Let’s explore further…

1. Inability To Function Properly

Narcissists will have trouble at work, at home, or in social settings. They may not be able to complete tasks or projects they once could easily do, such as writing a report or completing an assignment on time for school.

“The problem with today’s world is that everyone believes they have the right to express their opinion AND have others listen to it.

The correct statement of individual rights is that everyone has the right to an opinion, but crucially, that opinion can be roundly ignored and even made fun of, particularly if it is demonstrably nonsense!”
― Brian Cox

They may even stop sleeping properly and taking proper rest because they can’t shut down their mind long enough for sleep to come naturally; instead, they toss and turn all night long as thoughts race through their heads about how terrible life is now that things aren’t going well anymore (and what people might think).

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2. Inability To Move Forward Or Complete Pending Projects

Narcissists are always working on something, but when they’re in their narcissistic collapse situation, it’s like there’s no energy left for anything else. 

They can’t get out of bed in the morning and they don’t have any appetite for food or sex; their minds are just consumed with self-doubt and anxiety over how they’re going to get through this terrible time period without anyone noticing how bad off they really are.

“Even though friends say they are interested in your life, they never really want to talk about you as much as you want them to.”
― Charise Mericle Harper

Their physical health suffers as well: if you’ve ever seen someone who has been through a serious bout with depression before — even if it was just once — you know how pale and lifeless their skin looks compared to normal people who aren’t depressed (and even compared to other depressed people).

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Narcissists experience something similar during narcissistic collapses because their entire life revolves around keeping up appearances at all times; when those appearances start falling apart due to stressors such as divorce proceedings or unemployment/underemployment etc., then we see signs like these emerge:

  • Loss of appetite (or overeating)
  • Not being able to finish what you start (for example, starting a business but never finishing it)
  • Not being able to get things done at work because you’re too busy worrying about what other people think of you
  • Having a lot of unfinished projects lying around your house and on their office table.

3. Inability To Work With Full Potential

They may have been working on something for months but never finish it because they get bored easily or lose interest in whatever project they are working on due to this narcissistic collapse situation. 

“Being a control freak is a weakness, not a strength. If you can’t allow others to shine, you’re exhibiting signs of narcissism and showing a lack of self-confidence. It is isolation through ego.”
― Stewart Stafford

They may also be unable to work at all and just sit around drinking coffee all day long while complaining about how hard their life is because they can’t find a job (even though they don’t really want one).

A narcissist might start dressing poorly because their clothes are dirty, ripped, or stained from sleeping on them instead of putting them in the laundry hamper after wearing them multiple days in a row without washing them first before wearing them again the next day, etc.

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4. Disheveled Appearance

Narcissists are always very concerned with their appearance, even if they don’t show it. They have an image to maintain, after all! That’s why you’ll often see a narcissist put time and effort into dressing well, keeping up their hair and makeup (if applicable), or wearing nice clothes that show off their body type.

“In a narcissist’s world you are not their one and only. You are an extension of that person and last place in their mind, while they secure back up narcissistic supply.”
― Shannon L. Alder

But when a narcissist is experiencing narcissistic collapse — or simply hasn’t been able to maintain that level of self-care — you’ll notice changes in how they present themselves physically: messy hair; wrinkled clothing; unkempt facial hair or nails; stains on clothing…the list goes on!

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This may seem like small stuff at first glance but pay attention next time you see someone who used to take pride in how they looked now seemingly forget how important it is for them to look good as well as feel good about themselves while interacting with others around them.

5. Sleeping On The Floor

When someone experiences this condition, it means that their brain stops working properly and they lose control over their emotions and actions.

“But both the narcissist and his partner do not really consider each other. Trapped in the moves of an all-consuming dance macabre, they follow the motions morbidly — semiconscious, desensitized, exhausted, and concerned only with survival.”
― Sam Vaknin

This type of disorder usually occurs when someone has low self-esteem and pretends to be of high value but at some point, in time he/she fantasizes how great he/she actually is (or thinks so).

The problem happens when someone becomes too obsessed with this idea and starts believing that everyone else around him/her doesn’t deserve any attention or love because they’re not as good as him/herself! This leads us back to our first point: “He thinks too highly about himself”.

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Therefore, when narcissist get exposed their self-worth get harmed. They start feeling low about themself. They start sleeping on the floor. They start doing many careless activities.

6. Drinking Or Using Other Drugs Or Substances To “Numb Out” The Pain

Narcissistic collapse can be a very painful experience for the narcissist, and they will do anything they can to avoid it. This includes using alcohol or cigarettes, weed, and drugs as a way of avoiding their feelings of depression, suffering, and anxiety.

“Lies don’t end relationships the truth does.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Many narcissists drink heavily, abuse prescription medication or street drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, etc., gamble compulsively — even when they know they’ll lose money on every bet — and engage in other addictive behaviors like cutting themselves or eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa.

Narcissists also have an extremely high rate of suicide attempts: if you see signs that your loved one is harming themselves physically or emotionally (or if you are), please get professional help immediately!

7. Not Showing Up To Planned Events

  • The narcissist will not show up to family events and work events.
  • The narcissist will not show up to social events, such as weddings, funerals, and birthday parties (if it’s someone else’s birthday). They may even miss out on the birth of their own child if they don’t think it’s important enough for them or if they are too busy with other things in life.
  • Narcissists also tend to miss religious services or retreats because they believe they’re above all that stuff or simply don’t care about spirituality at all — again showing how selfish these people can be!

8. Not Returning Anyone’s Calls

When you have a relationship with somebody who is narcissistic and they start to experience their own personal collapse it will affect everyone around them.

For example, a narcissistic parent who requires continual praise and deference from their children may cut off all contact in a state of collapse, no longer able to manipulate the family dynamic that sustains them. 

“Hate is the complement of fear and narcissists like being feared. It imbues them with an intoxicating sensation of omnipotence.”
― Sam Vaknin

Or a narcissistic friend who expects others to always prioritize supporting them may disappear for days or weeks, not responding to concerned texts or voicemails. They are so emotionally ruptured that they block out external inputs entirely.

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

This cold withdrawal signifies how empty the narcissist feels internally, no longer able to keep up the charming, engaging facade. They retreat into isolation because their fragile inner scaffolding has been shattered, unable to reciprocate concern even from supportive allies. 

The promise of supply is meaningless as the narcissist’s world unravels. As their false self unravels, so do any obligations or meaningful connections, leaving abandoned relationships in their wake. Not answering calls speaks volumes about the severity of their inner turmoil.

The reason why this happens is because they become so wrapped up in themselves that they don’t care about anybody else anymore. They have literally forgotten how important it is for us humans to connect with each other on an emotional level — which means that we need each other!

“For the most part people are not curious except about themselves.”
― John Steinbeck

This can cause big problems between family members or friends if one person refuses contact with another person altogether (or even worse: tries making up excuses why they can’t talk).

9. Self-harm, Self-Destructive Behaviors And Self Injuries

With their ego weak and defenses depleted, they have little ability to self-soothe or tolerate emotional pain. This distress can manifest in extremely self-destructive behaviors.

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Self-harm and self-injury can emerge when a narcissist’s grandiose masking crumbles. This may include cutting, picking at wounds, hitting or bruising themselves, dangerous alcohol/substance misuse, or other impulsive high-risk behaviors. 

“I think writers are the most narcissistic people. Well, I musn’t say this, I like many of them, a great many of my friends are writers.”
― Sylvia Plath

These function as maladaptive coping attempts to process sudden rushes of anger turned inward, impulses of self-loathing, emptiness, or feelings of losing control. For example, a narcissistic spouse who is left by their partner may begin drinking excessively and getting into physical fights during their grief and rage. 

Or a narcissistic friend who is socially humiliated may begin severely cutting themselves in private, their emotional turmoil too much to bear. The self-destruction both reflects and exacerbates the narcissist’s internal chaos and compromised mental state.

Additionally, self-harm can function as an attempt to manipulate others as the narcissist grasps desperately to reestablish their fragile ego. Child-like magical thinking fuels beliefs that through demonstrative self-sabotage, they can coerce others into re-validating them or ending their abandonment. 

However, as collapse deepens, the narcissist loses touch with reality and the ability to function. Whether directed inward or outward, their unraveling psyche overwhelms their capacity to control themselves or the relationships that once sustained them. 

The collapse turns entirely destructive, both self-oriented and exploding outward. In this state, few psychological states are more hazardous and unpredictable.

Self-harm is not only about cutting or burning yourself. It can also be a sign of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health problems. It’s important to understand that self-harm is not a sign of weakness or lack of strength — it’s an attempt at coping with overwhelming feelings by creating physical pain that overrides the emotional pain you feel inside.

10. Looking For Something To Be Angry About

This is because anger gives them an outlet for their emotions and frees them from the feelings that they don’t want to experience. Anger can also serve as a defense mechanism against feeling weak or helpless because it makes them feel strong and powerful again.

“Stay away from lazy parasites, who perch on you just to satisfy their needs, they do not come to alleviate your burdens, hence, their mission is to distract, detract and extract, and make you live in abject poverty.”
― Michael Bassey Johnson

Narcissists often become angry when they don’t get what they want or when someone challenges their authority (especially if it’s someone who has been helpful). 

In this situation, the narcissist may lash out at others verbally or physically — even if no harm was intended on behalf of those being attacked by him/herself!

11. Abusive Written Communication Via Letter, Email Or Text

As the narcissist’s false sense of grandiose self starts to break down, the inflicted individual turns to letters, emails, texts, and social media to hurt and control others in an attempt to regain their lost sense of power and feed their crumbling ego.

“Half of the people lie with their lips; the other half with their tears”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The written attacks often begin when the narcissistic supply gets low. Narcissistic supply refers to the attention, praise, admiration, and affirmation that fuels the narcissist’s inflated sense of self. 

When their human targets — intimate partners, friends, colleagues, employees — stop providing sufficient levels of supply through confrontations, withdrawals of support, or simple availability, the narcissist suffers. 

Without that external validation and self-importance, their ego defenses start to crack. This crisis of collapse can feel life-threatening. As a result, they desperately lash out via abusive written diatribes to reassert some sense of control.

The written attacks serve to re-instill fear and manipulate the target. This fear is a narcissistic supply — it makes the narcissist feel in power again. They demean the target’s intellect, abilities, attractiveness, and character with exaggerated criticism, insults, threats, and accusations. 

They make sinister attacks related to secrets only an intimate partner would know after a relationship breakdown. They systematically detail past incidents from years ago as proof of the target’s eternal defective nature according to them. They send long letters and make legal threats to estranged family members about inheritances and relationship cut-offs.

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Under the cover of written words and distance, they let out all their pain, insecurity, inner wounds, envy, shame, and claims of betrayal consumed by the feeling that they are the true victims. Their attacks can be emotionally devastating for the recipient leading to anxiety, depression, illness, or in extreme cases, provoke suicide.

While victims despair under the weight of these written attacks, this kind of abusive outreach actually reveals the narcissist’s vulnerability and haunted, true self. Their grandiose posturing hides an inner sense of worthlessness and deficiency. 

“The sadistic narcissist perceives himself as Godlike, ruthless and devoid of scruples, capricious and unfathomable, emotion-less and non-sexual, omniscient, omnipotent and omni-present, a plague, a devastation, an inescapable verdict.”
― Sam Vaknin

But distressed written communications directed to punish others expose the narcissist’s fragility and represent their distorted efforts, however hurtful, to rebuild their broken inner scaffolding. With support, targets can disengage, recognize they are not the problem, and find healing, while allowing narcissists to sit with the uncomfortable hollow sadness that is their ultimate reality.

12. Violent, Angry Outbursts

This rage stems from the narcissist’s overwhelming inner lack of self-worth and deficiency that gets unmasked as their idealized mask starts to fall away. Unable to handle the truth of their damaged selves and diminished ego resources, they verbally and physically lash out at others in an attempt to regain dominance and control.

For example, a narcissistic partner who exhibits arrogant charm at first may erupt into a screaming rage of insults and name-calling over something minor when their relationship begins to wane. 

Or they may throw items or physically assault their spouse when abandonment fears arise. A previously confident CEO faced with bankruptcy and public humiliation might provoke yelling matches and get physically aggressive even over small disruptions from mousy inferiors.

“I don’t care what you think unless it is about me.”
― Kurt Cobain

A vulnerable aging narcissistic Hollywood icon obsessed with youth may beat up servers and staff in fits of rage when they feel invisible in public places lacking fame. 

Grown narcissistic adult children cut off financially may barge into a parent’s home and physically threaten while attempting extortion. Whatever the situation that exposes the narcissist’s suddenly meager ego resources, they discharge their unbearable shame and wounds through verbal tirades and demonstrations of physical force meant to re-establish their agency immediately.

These outbursts tend to differ from standard expressions of anger and frustration because they reach extremes out of proportion to an inciting incident. The raging serves to defend against acknowledging a meaningless existence now that the self’s structure has fallen apart. 

The violence becomes explanation, punishment, and diversion all in one attempt to prop up, even forcefully, the broken grandiose presentation that can no longer be sustained from the inside. 

13. Throwing Things

As the narcissist’s grandiose false self crumbles, they lose the ability to regulate their emotions and respond with violent outbursts directed at seemingly random targets — a mirror, electronics, dishes, furniture — that symbolize their state of utter loss of control.

For example, a narcissistic woman dumped by her boyfriend for someone younger might smash all framed photos documenting the relationship while cursing his name. 

Or a narcissistic lawyer facing disbarment and public disgrace hurls law books around his office in a frenzy one night before sinking into despair over his lost identity. 

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

Aging narcissistic parents forced into a small apartment by insolvency might frequently pick fights with their children and destroy household objects from their former lavish estates like vases or art pieces.

In each case, the external cues triggering the collapse also represent a narcissistic wound or loss of supply — a partner, a career that inflates the ego, the grandeur of excess things as status symbols. 

As their inflated views of themselves deflate rapidly, they symbolically target those very items for destruction and announce the injury inflicted upon their selves. 

The smashed objects mirror the sudden fragmented self. By discarding prized possessions, they also detach from personal value associations in the outside world — a necessary letting go that acknowledges the charade can no longer go on because nothing external can quite match up anymore. The collapse means starting over from scratch to rebuild.

14. Punching Through The Wall

Few displays capture the raw violence of a narcissist physically attacking inanimate structures better than punching through walls and doors during their descent into collapse. It graphically signals the individual has run out of people to blame or direct their rage against and has failed to effectively prop up their fragmented psyche from within at the final hour.

A CEO released from his executive position for misconduct might punch holes through his drywall, ripping it to shreds on his way out of the corner office he clawed for decades to attain only to have it stripped unceremoniously at his peak. 

Or a narcissistic physician with a god complex sued for malpractice and facing the loss of medical licensure, punches a bathroom mirror while threatening his own staff in a paranoid delusional tantrum before being removed from the premises.

“Nice people don’t necessarily fall in love with nice people.”
― Jonathan Franzen, Freedom

A narcissistic homemaker on the brink of financial disaster as her fragile world comes crashing down around her repeatedly drills holes into the kitchen cabinets that once held heirloom china and sterling silver she can no longer afford. 

An aging rock star trashes his five-star hotel room to bits leaving dents and writing all over the walls while coked up after a poorly reviewed concert receiving boos rather than applause.

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The walls represent facades too. With their false self-projection abilities gone, the symbolic act of smashing through barriers reflects desperate physical attempts to demolish the entire pretense that has now collapsed fully. An effort to make the inner demolished landscape visible on the outside. 

Letting the world glimpse, even briefly, the true scope of internal damage. Also, an act of surrender by leveling what little remains standing around them that they can destroy. An embrace of self-destruction tendencies multiplicities unleashed at once.

15. Breaking Objects

Few visible warnings signal the internal shattering of a narcissist more drastically than dramatic acts of destroying their personal possessions and treasures. As the ego weakens its ability to maintain the fabricated self-image, outbursts occur that target the material things that embody self-worth.

A narcissistic executive fired from a VP role in a self-created scandal might enter his home office and smash his prized trophy collection accumulated over years of ruthless corporate ladder-climbing feats. 

“Half of the people lie with their lips; the other half with their tears”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Or an aging beauty queen star can no longer accept her expired glory days steps on her own crowns and smashes all her framed glamorous photos documenting the esteemed past. 

Meanwhile, a surgeon with narcissistic god-like delusions who loses his medical license after a series of fatal mistakes trashes his luxury car interior with his bare fists while feeling his celebrated career crash down.

In each case, breaking meaningful extensions of their acclaimed identities allows a brief violent release through destruction but ultimately confirms the depth of injury to their inner cores as fabulist selves. 

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As the fragile mirror of self-importance shatters abruptly, scattering the pieces through damaged tokens unexpectedly exposes a shameful vision many try to run from for years underneath the perfectly constructed facade for so long. Each destructive demonstration mourns the pivotal crossing into irreversible loss of control never to be restored fully again.

16. Bellowing

Few auditory warnings signal the internal unraveling of a narcissist more forcefully than outright bellowing outbursts of screams and shrieks echoing the deepest distress cries from their shattered inner core. 

As their fabricated self-image and assured dominance over situations free fall into failure unanticipated, their speech often gives way to primitive wailing.

“Narcissists are consumed with maintaining a shallow false self to others. They’re emotionally crippled souls that are addicted to attention. Because of this they use a multitude of games, in order to receive adoration. Sadly, they are the most ungodly of God’s creations because they don’t show remorse for their actions, take steps to make amends or have empathy for others. They are morally bankrupt.”
― Shannon L. Alder

A CEO facing an uprising of employee insurrection might start bellowing loudly and slamming fists on the boardroom-furnished tabletop overcome by pressures converging too swiftly. 

Or an imperious surgeon for the elite informed of license suspension over evidence tampering howls almost inhuman-like once esteemed colleagues retrieve tools indicating his work arena banishment. 

Meanwhile, a manipulative mother financially cut off by adult children finally holding boundaries witnesses her once ironclad control meltdown into a flooding river of screams and gobbling cries receding from view permanently.

In each case, the bellowing vocally broadcasts the identity dissolution they cannot put into words any other way but by accessing those deeply embedded primal soundings. 

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By vocalizing loudly the shock, disbelief, and emotional agony experienced in that crisis moment of confrontation with their suddenly hollow self, it calls out unconsciously to unseen empathetic witnesses to help mirror the true self laid bare finally after so much life effort spent hiding its dangers from the world convincingly.

17. Stomping

A perceived insult, criticism, or even lack of attention can injure a narcissist’s fragile ego and self-esteem. Their excessive feelings of entitlement and need for constant validation are suddenly challenged. No longer able to maintain their grandiose persona, the narcissist will have an emotional meltdown. 

Stomping displays an adult tantrum-like response that reflects the narcissist’s inner rage, humiliation, and feelings of powerlessness when their ego is not being adequately propped up by those around them.

“Narcissists will never tell you the truth. They live with the fear of abandonment and can’t deal with facing their own shame. Therefore, they will twist the truth, downplay their behavior, blame others and say what ever it takes to remain the victim. They are master manipulators and conartists that don’t believe you are smart enough to figure out the depth of their disloyalty. Their needs will always be more important than telling you any truth that isn’t in their favor..”
― Shannon L. Alder

Extreme behaviors like yelling, throwing things, slamming doors, belittling others, and yes, stomping can ensue. It may seem childish to an outside observer, but it allows the narcissist to physically manifest their internal chaos. 

Their heightened emotional state literally overflows into an intense bodily display as a maladaptive coping mechanism. In the end, such responses only further perpetuate narcissists’ instability and alienate others in their lives.

18. Aggressive Stances

When a narcissist feels their false persona is under attack, they will go into fight mode, turning aggressively defensive. Intense rage and indignation take over to guard their inflated, yet fragile ego. 

This collapsed emotional state leads to aggressive postures as the narcissist tries to intimidate, humiliate, and reestablish their feelings of power over others.

For example, when contradicted or questioned, a narcissist is likely to get in someone’s physical space in a threatening way. They may lean over menacingly, plant themselves stubbornly in front or block exits, stab fingers in the air, grip a person’s arm, wave fists, or give terrifying glares. Their aggressive body language conveys their hair-trigger readiness to escalate matters.

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Verbal attacks often accompany aggressive stances. These can include vicious character assassinations, manipulation, gaslighting mind games, ruthless criticism, blame-shifting, cruel insults, or humiliation. Shouting with contempt, sneering, and spewing cuss words are also common.

In severe cases, aggressive stances show the narcissist’s desire to physically overpower victims as a reflection of their internal chaos. They may make sudden movements raise fists, throw objects near a person, slam hands on tables, kick chairs, or show signs they could become physically abusive. Their menacing postures demonstrate a scary loss of self-control during their ego collapse.

19. Physical Altercations

When a narcissist experiences an ego threat or emotional slight, they can rapidly descend into a collapsed state marked by explosive rage and violence. 

Their inflated self-image shatters, exposing profound inner fragility. In an attempt to defend their fragile ego and regain a sense of power, they lash out physically at the perceived source of their humiliation.

For example, a narcissistic partner may shake, shove, grab, restrain, pursue, corner, drive recklessly to frighten, throw things at, destroy the property of, slap, punch, kick, stomp, or otherwise physically assault their victim. The sheer intensity and lack of self-control displayed in their altercation reflects their internal sense of devastating loss over their failed persona.

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Even if it does not routinely escalate to that level, a pattern of intimidating physical gestures can communicate their collapsed state. Slamming fists, throwing things down, kicking chairs, hitting walls, blocking exits, invasions of personal space, and menacing stances can all erupt. 

Their body language explodes with the violent force of their inner rage, shame, and disintegration anxiety over their lost grandiosity and control. Tantrum-like meltdowns overwrap their psychic pain in abusive physical acting out.

20. False Police Reports 

False reporting can provide them a quick ego fix — utilizing Drama Triangle tactics as either the victim, rescuer, or perpetrator. For example, a narcissistic partner may fabricate that their spouse, whom they feel rejected by, actually abused them. 

Or they may manipulate authorities into wrongly punishing or restraining their target for fictitious safety reasons. Their ability to so easily suck law enforcement into playing a role in their collapsed drama conveys their dangerous levels of cunning self-absorption and ease with deceiving others. 

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Their broken inner landscape pours out into sociopathic plotting that defies all fairness, empathy, or conscience. While normal people crumple inwardly when injured, narcissists vindictively implode their pain onto others. Weapons of lies and distortion prop up their disintegrating persona at all costs.

21. False Legal Claims

When a narcissist feels their false self threatened, they can descend into desperate legal maneuvering to regain control. Their inflated ego collapses, giving way to spiteful retaliation. False lawsuits, complaints, and legal accusations characterize their vengeful attack to reclaim power.

For example, a narcissistic ex-spouse may manufacture fictitious civil suits harassing their former partner over custody, support payments, or property disputes that have no legal merit. 

Or they may try to falsely criminalize them by distorting incidents or making up abuse. Their intention is to intimidate, bankrupt, and psychologically harm their target as they project their inner chaos outward.

Narcissists also display this ego collapse through excessive petty grievances and complaints aimed at sabotaging their victim’s credibility and reputation. 

They ragefully contact authorities levying an onslaught of unfounded allegations about code violations, workplace infractions, consumer dissatisfaction, or media slander. They manically try burying others in paper terrorism.

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Their ease at hijacking legal channels conveys their sociopathic vindictiveness and absence of conscience. Rather than coping inwardly with narcissistic injury, they pursue limitless outward destruction. 

Their frightening lack of boundaries inverts reality as they convince themselves their lies are true. False legal claims prop up their disintegrating self-worth at any cost.

22. Intentional Sabotage For Revenge (Breaking Something Dear To You, Ruining A Business Deal, Getting You Fired, Etc.,)

When a narcissist experiences a wound to their false self, they can launch into a vindictive campaign of intentional sabotage against their victim. 

Their sudden loss of control and intense feelings of humiliation, rage, and indignation literally collapse their psyche. As their fragile ego crumbles, they desperately try to restore their internal balance of power through revenge tactics aimed at harming whatever their target cherishes most.

For example, a narcissistic coworker who feels slighted may secretly undermine an upcoming presentation vital to their colleague’s promotion. 

They could delete files, hide equipment, share private data, turn colleagues against them through lies, or directly sabotage the talk itself. Or a narcissistic friend feeling abandoned may destroy a belonging precious to the other — whether an inherited family heirloom, beloved pet, or any possession that symbolizes happiness. 

Their quest to psychologically even the score mirrors their inner landscape devastation over losing their superior position.

Other scorched earth revenge can include a narcissistic partner purposefully ruining their spouse’s business, career opportunities, and reputations in the community through lies, custody matters through false allegations, or financially by hiding assets, running up debt, and destroying property in staged “accidents.” 

Their ease at devastating others conveys their sociopathic absence of empathy and outer projection of intolerable inner shame. As their false self disintegrates, their horrifying lack of humanity emerges. 

23. Abruptly Ending The Relationship Without Warning

This cycle tends to repeat as narcissists idealize new partners only to discard them when relationships get too real. Their inability to healthily bond intimately with others is driven by fear of exposing their fragile sense of self.

By abruptly abandoning relationships that threaten their inflated self-image, narcissists are trying to protect themselves from emotional annihilation. However, this pattern only perpetuates their inner lack of fulfillment in the long run.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

For example, a narcissist may have lavished a new romantic partner with affection, flattery, gifts, and proclamations that the partner is their soulmate. The recipient of this praise and attention is essentially being groomed to provide ongoing validation. 

However, the partner inevitably fails to meet the narcissist’s insatiable needs. Minor imperfections, differences of opinion, or wanting equal attention in return can cause the narcissist to recoil. 

Rather than communicate their wounded ego, they react by instantly cutting off all contact. For the unsuspecting partner, this can feel shocking and leave them bewildered as to what they did wrong.

24. Firing Employees

For example, a narcissistic boss may have initially praised an employee as their “rising star,” showering them with rewards and opportunities when they produced results that reflected well on the leader. 

However, the same employee may find themselves harshly disciplined or terminated over small mistakes. This drastic change often owes to paranoia on the narcissist’s part around being upstaged.

Other common scenarios include employees asking reasonable questions about workflows or policies. Despite no wrongdoing, daring to question the leader’s judgment is enough to provoke rage and retaliation. In the narcissist’s distorted mindset, constructive advice from underlings amounts to insubordination and lack of deference.

Ultimately, the fragile egos of narcissists mean they interpret any perceived challenge to their perceived superiority as an existential attack. 

Firing competent direct reports with little logical justification allows them to reassert dominance and control. Of course, this chronic dysfunction takes a toll on organizational success. The underlying emotional instability at play leads narcissistic leaders and the enterprises they helm toward inevitable self-destruction.

25. Threatening To Ruin One’s Reputation

For example, if a narcissistic boss feels questioned or undermined by an employee, they may spread vicious office rumors or threaten to blacklist that person in their industry. 

Or, in the context of a romantic relationship, if a narcissistic partner fears being left by their significant other, they might threaten to tell the community lies that destroy their reputation.

The motivation is to reestablish the power differential and validate their idealized self-image by making the other person suffer. The willingness to use malicious lies and misinformation to destroy lives reflects the collapsed psychology of someone who cannot handle anything less than full affirmation. 

It is among the most disturbing manifestations of narcissists’ ability to dehumanize those whom they feel have betrayed their expectations. Few things could be more revelatory of disordered thinking than a calculated, expressed desire to turn an entire community against an individual as an act of revenge. Threatening reputational ruin is a sign that the narcissist’s façade has cracked, providing a glimpse of their true capacity for cruelty.

Final Thoughts

As we have explored, the downfall of those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is often triggered when their false self begins to unravel. 

The grandiose ego, fragile self-esteem, and delusional fantasies that prop up the narcissist’s inner world become increasingly difficult to sustain. Their masks start to slip and coping strategies are woefully inadequate.

The 25 signs detailed illustrate that collapse is a profoundly disorienting experience for narcissists. Their self-worth is reliant on external validation, and losing sources of supply can lead narcissists to behave erratically, often desperately grasping to regain control over others. 

Their fabricated persona under threat, intense rage, vindictiveness, and paranoia are triggered. As their attacks escalate, we see vengeful threats, unpredictable rages, delusions about being persecuted, and poisonous projections that leave devastating harm in their wake.

In many ways, understanding the narcissist’s downfall requires comprehending their arrested emotional development. Their turmoil reflects a child’s magical thinking, fragility, and primitive defenses against acknowledging truths that pierce their grandiosity bubble. 

Tragically for those entangled with them, the narcissist harbors a fundamental incapacity to process emotions in adult ways. All energy is directed toward maintaining deluded egoic fantasies, when these fantasies start to fall apart, the center cannot hold.

Yet their suffering offers little solace, often only heralding more turmoil unleashed on others. And victims may underestimate the lengths narcissists will go to Nursing wounds from an intolerable narcissistic injury. 

It is essential to recognize that few psychological states are more hazardous and unpredictable than a narcissist in collapse, sending shockwaves of instability into every domain of their life. Awareness and detachment must be a priority for victims when signs emerge.

The irony, perhaps, is that collapse marks the beginning of potential healing for the narcissist. Rock bottom sparks change in ways stability does not. Hitting walls of reality, some — through intense therapy — slowly recognize false self-constructs. 

The process is exhausting and lengthy, impossible without confronting dysfunctional behaviors. Even still, relapse risks ever present with personality disorders. Victims must ready themselves for disruption and better educate communities on cluster B disorders. Even seasoned therapists have described a few phenomena as taxing as treating those with NPD.

The collapsed narcissist signifies disturbance spilling into public space — it compels us to see the private turmoil now exposed. Their arrested inner world signifies much about how human development can falter without secure attachment and empathic responsiveness. 

We must grapple with why narcissistic disorders manifest and how social systems might tacitly enable them. This necessitates difficult but needed reflection, as codes of conduct evolve. Here, the collapsed narcissist offers not just peril but an invitation to deeper dialogue if we have the courage to truly engage.

About the Author :

Som Dutt, Top writer in Philosophy & Psychology on I make people Think, Relate, Feel & Move. Let's Embrace Inner Chaos and Appreciate Deep, Novel & Heavy Thoughts.

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