What Is Narcissistic Collapse and What Are Its Signs?

What Is Narcissistic Collapse and What Are Its Signs? what is narcissistic collapse and what are its signs?
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When a narcissist doesn’t receive the validation they feel entitled to, they may encounter significant emotional turmoil, ultimately resulting in what is known as a narcissistic collapse.

This collapse occurs when the façade of their grandiose self-image crumbles under the weight of perceived failure or criticism, leaving them feeling intensely vulnerable and emotionally distressed. Their inability to cope with the absence of constant admiration and special treatment exposes their deep-seated insecurities and fragile sense of self-worth.

In short, narcissist collapse happens when you don’t enable their behavior and they feel threatened or that their sense of control and dominance is dissipating.

So, what are some of the signs of narcissistic collapse?

1. Intense Anger and Defensiveness

This collapse of their self-image can often manifest as narcissistic rage, characterized by outbursts of anger and defensiveness as they desperately struggle to protect their fragile ego. The narcissistic rage serves as a defense mechanism to reassert their perceived superiority and control, redirecting their inner pain outwardly and blaming others for their shortcomings or failures.

2. Depression

When a covert narcissist experiences a collapse, their response can be quite different from the overt narcissist’s typical lashing out. Instead of openly expressing anger or aggression towards others, they tend to withdraw and internalize their distress. The collapse may lead them to become withdrawn, distant, and exhibit signs of depression.


They might isolate themselves, seeking solace in solitude, and may even sit in a corner or seclude themselves emotionally from others. Instead of seeking attention directly, they might adopt a bad attitude or resort to passive-aggressive behavior as a way to indirectly elicit sympathy or concern from those around them.

This covert way of seeking validation or attention allows them to manipulate the situation and maintain a sense of control while still trying to address their emotional turmoil. The collapse of a covert narcissist reveals their vulnerable side, contrasting with their usual hidden sense of superiority and self-importance.

3. Impulsive Behavior

When a narcissist is experiencing a collapse, they may engage in impulsive or risky behaviors to cope with their inner turmoil. They may resort to impulsive behavior as a way to distract themselves from their emotional pain or to seek validation and attention from others. Some of the common impulsive behaviors they might engage in include substance use, excessive drinking, reckless driving or gambling.

4. Increased Irritability

Another sign of a narcissistic collapse is the development of a heightened sense of irritability, wherein the individual becomes extremely sensitive to perceived slights or criticisms. This increased sensitivity leads to a lower tolerance for frustration and a tendency to react irritably even to minor triggers. The collapse of their grandiose self-image and the emotional turmoil they experience leave them feeling vulnerable and exposed.

5. Self-Harm

During a narcissistic collapse, some individuals may threaten to harm themselves or may even resort to self-harming behaviors, such as skin cutting or hair pulling, as maladaptive coping mechanisms to deal with the overwhelming emotional distress, deep-seated insecurities, and feelings of shame and worthlessness. Self-harm serves as a way to gain temporary relief from their intense emotional turmoil or to externalize their emotional pain.

How to Protect Yourself from Narcissistic Collapse

When dealing with a narcissistic individual and especially when you cannot avoid them, protecting yourself from a potential narcissistic collapse becomes even more crucial. The best option is always to avoid dealing with them as much as possible, but that scenario may not always be available at your disposal, especially when co-parenting or when you can’t leave them yet. In such situations, maintaining your emotional well-being and setting strong boundaries are essential. Here are some strategies to help you protect yourself in the presence of a narcissist, even when avoiding them is not possible:

1. Avoid Taking Responsibility & Understand Your Boundaries

Recognizing that you are not responsible for the narcissist’s emotional state is crucial in protecting yourself from being manipulated or burdened by their collapse. It’s essential to refrain from taking on the role of fixing or rescuing them, as it is not your responsibility to address their emotional distress.

If the narcissist threatens self-harm, it is essential not to bow down to their demands or attempt to handle the situation on your own. Instead, encourage them to seek professional help from a qualified mental health provider who is equipped to address their emotional struggles appropriately.

Remember, your primary responsibility is to take care of yourself and maintain your boundaries. While it’s natural to feel empathy and concern for others, attempting to save or change a narcissist can be emotionally draining and potentially harmful to your well-being. By focusing on self-care and setting clear boundaries, you can safeguard your own emotional health and avoid becoming entangled in the narcissist’s manipulative behavior.

2. Practice Emotional Detachment

Keeping a safe emotional distance from the narcissist’s manipulations and emotional outbursts is essential for protecting yourself from their harmful behavior. It’s crucial not to internalize their words or actions personally, as they often use manipulation to provoke reactions and gain control over others.

By maintaining emotional detachment, you can reduce the impact of their tactics on your emotional well-being. Recognize that the narcissist’s behavior reflects their own insecurities and not a true reflection of your worth or capabilities.

3. Limit Exposure

Minimizing contact with the narcissist, especially during periods of emotional turmoil or collapse, is a proactive measure to protect your well-being. Limiting exposure to their manipulative behavior and emotional outbursts can significantly reduce the negative impact they may have on your mental and emotional state.

During a narcissistic collapse, the narcissist may be even more unpredictable, emotionally volatile, and potentially harmful to those around them. Stepping back and creating distance allows you to shield yourself from their toxic behavior and avoid becoming a target of their emotional turmoil.

By reducing contact, you can create a safe space for yourself to process your own emotions and protect yourself from being drawn into their chaotic world. This can help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed or drained by their constant demands for attention or validation.


In conclusion, recognizing the signs of a narcissistic collapse is crucial for understanding the complexities of dealing with individuals facing this emotional turmoil. Protecting yourself in such situations demands setting firm boundaries, practicing emotional detachment, and limiting exposure to their manipulations.

However, it is important to acknowledge that breaking free from the cycle of toxicity may not always be easy, especially in scenarios like co-parenting or where immediate separation may not be feasible. During these challenging times, seeking professional help and support from friends or family can provide invaluable guidance and validation.

Choosing battles wisely and focusing on your own well-being empowers you to navigate interactions more effectively. Remember, the journey of breaking the toxic cycle is a process, and it requires commitment and effort. Taking small steps toward self-care and personal growth can lead to significant positive changes in your life. Never hesitate to reach out for assistance, and remember that you deserve to live a life free from the harmful impact of narcissistic behavior.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these subconscious patterns for good (in less than 2 months) using Mind Shifting, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.


1. https://psychcentral.com/disorders/narcissistic-personality-disorder/narcissistic-collapse

2. https://www.kaminiwood.com/6-signs-of-narcissistic-collapse-and-how-to-spot-them/

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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