What Is Narcissistic Collapse And How To Protect Yourself From It

What is narcissistic collapse and how to protect yourself from it

Narcissistic breakdown is an intense reaction of anguish and anger when the narcissist faces criticism or a threat to his or her self-esteem. Protect yourself by setting clear boundaries and avoiding falling into their hands. Dealing with narcissistic people is usually not an easy task. In general, these are selfish and manipulative personalities who try to obtain personal benefit, even if it harms those closest to them.

As long as they dominate the situations they frequent, everything seems to be under control. However, very dangerous scenarios can unfold when narcissists are threatened by other people who can destabilize them. In this PsychologyFor article, we will provide you with information about What is narcissistic collapse and how to protect yourself from it.

What is narcissistic collapse

A narcissistic breakdown occurs when reality challenges the narcissist’s idealized self-image abruptly or intensely. This may be caused by harsh criticism, a loss of status or power, or failure at important goals.

This collapse can be very destabilizing both for the person who suffers it and for those around them. The intensity of the reactions and the duration of the breakdown can vary, but it is common for people with NPD to have difficulty managing these episodes without professional help.

Causes of a narcissist’s breakdown

Narcissistic breakdown can be triggered by various situations that challenge your sense of superiority and can result in an intense and dysfunctional emotional reaction. Here are the most common causes of narcissistic breakdown explained from the perspective of a professional psychologist:

  • Criticism or rejection: Narcissists have extremely fragile self-esteem and rely heavily on admiration and external validation. Criticism, rejection or any form of feedback negative can provoke a strong emotional reaction. It is possible that they experience intense anguish from criticism that threatens their own well-being. Discover in this article What is the worst thing you can say to a narcissist.
  • Failure or loss of status: Lack of recognition and admiration, whether professional, personal, or social, can be devastating for a narcissist. This includes losing a job, failing at an important project, or not meeting your own expectations for success. The loss of status directly affects his sense of self-worth.
  • Exposure: Narcissists often construct a facade of perfection and superiority. When this facade is unmasked and others see their weaknesses or flaws, the narcissist feels exposed and ashamed, leading to a breakdown.
  • Disappointments in love and friendship: When they achieve the love of a person, narcissists feel that they have lost control of the relationship. Likewise, it is very difficult for him to manage frustration and rejection. Close relationships can be particularly difficult for narcissists, as they often have unrealistic expectations and a lack of empathy.
  • Threats to the idealized image: Narcissists often have an idealized image of themselves and how they believe they should be perceived by others. Any threat to this image, whether through the revelation of mistakes, inappropriate behavior, or the inability to maintain control, can trigger a breakdown.

What is narcissistic breakdown and how to protect yourself from it - Causes of a narcissist's breakdown

How narcissistic collapse manifests itself

Although each person has unique and unrepeatable characteristics, the most common ways in which narcissistic collapse manifests itself are the following:

extreme emotions

Narcissists may react with uncontrollable anger and hostility towards those who criticize them or threaten their self-inflated self-image. They may become verbally or even physically aggressive toward those they perceive as responsible for their emotional destabilization.

Depression and hopelessness

Narcissistic collapse can manifest itself with a depressed mood. A lack of will and a loss of meaning may appear in particular moments of life. This may be accompanied by symptoms such as disinterest in activities you previously enjoyed, changes in appetite and sleep, and feelings of hopelessness.

Self-destructive behaviors

When a person with this personality experiences a narcissistic breakdown, they may resort to substance abuse dangerous sexual activities, body self-harm and interruptions of pleasant moments. In that case, this article can find information about Self-harming Behaviors and how to prevent them.

Social isolation

In many cases, narcissistic breakdown involves social withdrawal. Feeling humiliated or exposed, avoid social interactions even with close people, to protect your image and avoid facing more criticism or rejection. This can lead to the Consequences of Social Isolation described in this article.

How to protect yourself from narcissistic breakdown

Protecting yourself from narcissistic collapse is crucial to managing conflict situations with people who have narcissistic tendencies. Below, we present effective strategies to protect yourself from narcissistic breakdown:

  • Set clear boundaries – Firmly but respectfully communicate which behaviors are acceptable and which are not. That is essential to cope with a person who is going through a narcissistic breakdown. Additionally, you must be prepared to enforce those boundaries. As an example, you can tell her that you no longer want to communicate with her and not respond to messages. In this article we tell you how to set limits in relationships.
  • Don’t take their rejection personally: Remember that a narcissist’s criticism reflects more about him or her and his or her emotional fragility than about you. Maintain a clear perspective and separate personal emotions to mitigate the emotional impact.
  • Take care of your self-esteem and emotional well-being: Seek support from your loved ones and work on personal development. Many times, narcissists tend to monopolize attention with gestures and words. However, you can avoid problems by hanging out with people who make you really happy.
  • Ask for professional help if necessary: If you find yourself in a difficult situation with a narcissist that is seriously affecting your well-being, consider seeking help from a therapist. A professional will provide you with the strategies and emotional support you need to navigate these complicated social dynamics.

If you have contact with someone who is suffering or suffering from the consequences of narcissistic collapse, we suggest you go to a mental health center in order to get help.

What is narcissistic collapse and how to protect yourself from it - How to protect yourself from narcissistic collapse

This article is merely informative, at PsychologyFor we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.

If you want to read more articles similar to What is narcissistic collapse and how to protect yourself from it we recommend that you enter our Clinical Psychology category.


  • American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th edition). Arlington: Panamericana Medical Publishing House.
  • Serra Undurraga, J.K. (2016). The diagnosis of narcissism: a relational reading. Journal of the Spanish Association of Neuropsychiatry, 36 (129), 171-187.

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