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  • Lynn Catalano

Narcissistic Rage Storms & Family Gatherings

We all have that one relative, the one who causes chaos, confusion, and drama for no reason. The one who is always the smartest person in the room. The one who has experienced everything you have, only better.

Well, what happens there’s a family gathering and they are there?

Knowing that you are usually a target for this person, you try your best to stay away. You are there for a specific occasion and do not want to create drama or take away from the reason you’re gathering in the first place. You make sure to be polite, respectful, and under the radar.

But then everything goes to hell anyway. This person is a one-man narcissistic rage storm, triggered by their own perceived slight, enabled and encouraged by their spouse.

I wrote about this in my book Wrecking Ball Relationships: How to Identify, Live With or Leave the Narcissist in Your Life.”

“Some people compare a narcissist’s rage storm to an actual storm like a hurricane. There often is some warning it’s coming if you see the signs. Once it hits, all you can do is ride it out until it’s over to see how much damage occurs. A narcissistic rage storm can take many forms: sometimes yelling and screaming and sometimes withdrawing into seething silence and passive-aggressive behaviors. The goal of the narcissist is always to hurt the other person as a defense mechanism because they feel injured. Sometimes the passive-aggressive rage storm comes in writing with caustic sarcasm or purposeful neglect. Rage storms often begin when a narc spin goes a little too far. A rage storm is a larger, more destructive narc spin. Remember, the narcissist always reacts to their perceived injury, as a blow to their inflated image.

Well-known examples of rage storms can be found in literature. One example is the play King Lear by Shakespeare. Even if you’ve never read King Lear, the story is relatable and relevant. Lear’s primary flaw is he values appearances above reality. He wants what narcissists always want, for people around him to pay attention, follow his directions and show respect, especially in public. When he doesn’t get what he wants, Lear flies into a rage storm. He’s angry when his daughters, Regan and Goneril tell him what to do. Regan has the unmitigated gall to tell Lear he’s at fault. He doesn’t appreciate Goneril and should apologize. You can almost feel the storm coming on from Lear’s reaction. In the above-referenced quote, Lear goes off on Goneril. He calls her a disease. This can happen when narcissists don’t get what they want.”


Narcissistic rage storms can be triggered by many different things.

Sometimes it’s as simple as the narcissist doesn’t get their way, even when it’s unreasonable. Or it could be that the narcissist is criticized or expected to be accountable for their actions. In my specific experience with a recent family gathering, the narcissist in question suffered a blow to their idealized ego by not getting the special treatment that they believed they were entitled.

Narcissists have a fragile sense of self

Their very fragile ego makes them easily triggered when things don’t go their way. If their grandiose sense of self-importance gets challenged or their preoccupation with power gets invalidated, they go into a nuclear meltdown or narcissistic rage storm.

Since I’ve been coaching people 1:1, I’ve found that survivors of narcissistic abuse need to experience all 3: clarity, validation and comfort. For those of you who are looking for a quick fix to this problem, you didn’t get here overnight. You’re going to need to do the work to survive narcissistic abuse.

I’m currently in the midst of leading my first group coaching program. I launched this group program in order to help more people who weren’t able to participate in the 1:1 program. It’s a great success. As a result, I’m launching the second cohort of the group program on July 19, 2023. We will meet once a week for an hour over 3 months for a total of 12 sessions covering the concepts of narcissistic abuse and providing strategies for you. These strategies will help protect your mental and emotional health as well as navigate narcissists or any high-conflict people you may encounter. I’m keeping the cohort small so please message me right away if you’re interested.

Learn more about me here:

Let’s talk. Click here to book a free session with me. Don’t wait another day.

You can find my book “Wrecking Ball Relationships” on Amazon and

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