The Collapsed Narcissist – The Devastating Effects of Public Humiliation and Failure

Narcissists typically present themselves as invincible, omnipotent beings, immune to the vulnerabilities that plague ordinary mortals. But what happens when this seemingly indestructible armor cracks?

What occurs when a narcissist is exposed to public humiliation or failure?

This phenomenon is referred to as the ‘collapse’ of a narcissist, a psychological state that can have devastating effects not only on the narcissist but also on those around them.

In this article, we delve into the world of the collapsed narcissist, exploring the catastrophic impact of public humiliation and failure on their meticulously constructed personas.

collapsed narcissist

Understanding the Collapsed Narcissist

A collapsed narcissist is a a narcissist who has been unable to maintain their grandiose self-image and has fallen into despair as a result.

This collapse can be triggered by a range of events such as public humiliation, loss of status, financial ruin, or the realization that they are not as special as they believed.

The Impact of Public Humiliation

Public humiliation can be devastating for anyone, but for a narcissist, it strikes at the very heart of their self-identity.

A narcissist derives their self-worth from the admiration and envy of others, so being publicly humiliated or shamed can lead to a severe psychological crisis.

This crisis often manifests as intense rage, depression, and a desperate need to regain their lost status. They may become manipulative, vengeful, or even violent in an attempt to restore their damaged self-image.

the impact of failure and public humiliation on a narcissist

The Consequences of Failure

Failure is another trigger that can cause a narcissist to collapse.

Narcissists view themselves as superior and infallible, so when they fail, it’s not just a setback – it’s an existential crisis.

The impact of failure on a narcissist is profound. They may respond with denial, blaming others for their mistakes, or spiraling into self-pity and despair.

In extreme cases, they may resort to self-harming behaviors or suicide attempts.

the impact of failure and public humiliation on a narcissist

The Main Characteristics of the Collapsed Narcissist

A collapsed narcissist is a term used to describe an individual with narcissistic tendencies who experiences a severe blow to their self-esteem or self-worth.

This can occur due to various reasons, including public humiliation, failure, or significant loss. Here, we delve into the key characteristics of a collapsed narcissist.

Impulsive Behavior

A narcissistic collapse often triggers a surge in impulsive behavior.

These knee-jerk reaction to situations are primarily driven by their need to regain control and restore their damaged self-image.

The collapsed narcissist will resort a series of quick, rash responses, acting on whims without considering the potential repercussions.

This erratic and unpredictable behavior can take various forms.

For instance, a narcissist experiencing collapse may engage in excessive drinking or substance abuse, make impulsive financial decisions, or display reckless habits.

They may also resort to impulsive behaviors as a means to distract themselves from their emotional pain or to seek validation and attention from others.

An individual suffering from a narcissistic collapse may also exhibit rage outbursts, spend a fortune on impulse purchases, or other thoughtless reactions.

These impulsive actions can be bewildering and exhausting for those around them, making it challenging to predict or understand their next move.

narcissistic collapse impulse buying


Depression is a prominent and debilitating symptom often associated with narcissistic collapse.

In the throes of this psychological crisis, the narcissist’s inflated sense of self-worth and grandiosity crumble, giving way to a profound sense of despair and hopelessness.

This emotional turmoil often stems from the narcissist’s inability to cope with perceived failures or challenges that threaten their exceptional self-image.

Heightened anxiety, shame, and a deep sense of worthlessness can overwhelm the narcissist, rendering them unable to function normally.

The depression experienced by a collapsed narcissist can manifest in various ways.

One of the most common signs is social withdrawal.

The narcissist might isolate themselves, avoiding social interactions and activities they once found enjoyable.

Apathy or lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities is another sign of depression in a collapsed narcissist. This could include hobbies, work, or even personal grooming.

This loss of interest is often accompanied by pervasive feelings of sadness and a sense of hopelessness about the future.

In severe cases, the depression resulting from a narcissistic collapse can drive the individual towards suicidal ideation or attempts.

This is particularly likely when the narcissist perceives themselves as having failed or when they feel utterly disconnected from their previous identity.

depression - collapsed narcissist


In their struggle to maintain control amidst a collapse, narcissists often resort to gaslighting.

This manipulative tactic involves distorting and denying reality to sow seeds of doubt in others, making them question their memory, perception, or sanity.

For instance, a narcissist may deny their wrongdoings, insist that events occurred differently than they actually did, or shift blame onto their current victim.

However, a less discussed aspect of gaslighting is that the narcissist may also attempt to gaslight themselves.

In the throes of a narcissistic collapse, they might distort their own reality as a defense mechanism.

They may deny their failures, insist on their invulnerability, or even rewrite their personal history to maintain their grandiose self-image.

This self-gaslighting can further complicate the narcissist’s mental state during a collapse.

It can lead to a cycle of denial and self-deception, perpetuating their distorted self-perception and delaying potential recovery.

Understanding this aspect of narcissistic behavior can provide deeper insights into their mindset.

It highlights the complexity of their psychological struggles and the lengths they may go to preserve their inflated self-concept.

collapsed narcissist

Mental Breakdown

A mental breakdown, in the form of extreme emotional or psychological distress, is a significant sign of a narcissistic collapse.

This could manifest in various ways, such as intense panic attacks, uncontrollable bouts of crying, or suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

For example, a narcissist might experience severe anxiety and panic when their fabricated persona is exposed or threatened.

collapsed narcissist

Hostile Blame and Rage

When faced with a threat to their grandiose self-image, narcissists often respond with intense rage and blame.

They lash out at those around them, blaming others for their downfall and expressing their anger in hostile and harmful ways.

For instance, if a narcissist fails to get the promotion he believes is his due, he may become irate and accuse others of betrayal or sabotage.

narcissistic collapse anxiety


In extreme cases, a narcissist experiencing a collapse may resort to self-harming behaviors.

This could be a desperate plea for help or a manifestation of the intense pain and self-loathing they are experiencing.

Examples of this could include substance abuse, reckless behavior, or physical self-harm.


Withdrawal is another common symptom of a narcissistic collapse.

The narcissist may isolate themselves from others to avoid facing the reality of their situation.

This isolation can further exacerbate feelings of loneliness and despair.

For example, a narcissist may stop attending social events or cut off communication with friends and family.


Victim Mentality

A narcissist in the throes of collapse often perceives themselves as the victim.

Instead of recognizing their own manipulative and exploitative behavior, they convince themselves that they have been unjustly treated and may seek sympathy or validation from others.

For instance, they might portray themselves as the innocent party in a conflict or exaggerate their hardships to gain sympathy.

mental breakdown collapsed narcissist

Dealing with a Collapsed Narcissist

When dealing with a collapsed narcissist, it’s crucial to approach the situation with care, understanding, and firm boundaries. Here are some strategies that can help:

Maintain Boundaries

A collapsed narcissist may try to manipulate you into taking responsibility for their emotional well-being.

While it’s natural to want to help, it’s important to remember that you’re not responsible for their happiness.

Example: If a collapsed narcissist blames you for their failure or humiliation, calmly but firmly state that you’re not responsible for their feelings.

narcissistic collapse anxiety

Don’t Take Their Behavior Personally

A collapsed narcissist may lash out in anger or desperation.

Try not to take their behavior personally.

It’s a reflection of their internal struggle, not your worth.

Example: If a collapsed narcissist insults you in a fit of rage, remind yourself that their words are a projection of their own insecurities.

Seek Professional Help

Dealing with a collapsed narcissist can be emotionally draining.

Don’t hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional who can provide support and guidance.

Example: A therapist or counselor can help you develop coping strategies, establish healthy boundaries, and ensure you’re taking care of your own mental health.

support - collapsed narcissist

Practice Self-Care

Being around a collapsed narcissist can be stressful.

Make sure to prioritize self-care and do things that help you relax and recharge.

Example: This could be anything from taking a walk in the park, reading a book, practicing mindfulness, or spending time with friends and family.

Consider Your Options

If a relationship with a collapsed narcissist is causing you significant distress, it may be time to consider whether it’s in your best interest to stay.

Example: If you’re constantly feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed because of a collapsed narcissist’s behavior, it might be time to consider ending the relationship or limiting contact.

Final Thoughts On The Collapsed Narcissist

The collapse of a narcissist is a complex and distressing process, both for the narcissist and those around them.

It serves as a stark reminder that beneath the grandiosity and bravado, narcissists are deeply vulnerable individuals whose self-worth is precariously balanced on the admiration and approval of others.

Understanding this can help us better navigate relationships with narcissists and support them through their struggles, all while protecting our own mental and emotional wellbeing.

Frequently Asked Questions about Narcissism

Frequently Asked Questions About The Collapsed Narcissist

What is a collapsed narcissist?

A collapsed narcissist is an individual with narcissistic personality disorder who has experienced a severe setback or failure that shatters their inflated self-image. This can lead to a state of deep depression, impulsivity, and unpredictable behavior.

What causes a narcissist to collapse?

A narcissist may collapse due to a major life event that contradicts their grandiose self-perception. This could be public humiliation, failure, rejection, or loss – anything that significantly damages their ego or public image.

How does a collapsed narcissist behave?

Collapsed narcissists often exhibit erratic and impulsive behavior. They may lash out in anger, seek constant attention, or make rash decisions without considering the consequences. Their behavior is typically driven by a desperate need to regain control and restore their damaged self-image.

Can a collapsed narcissist recover?

Yes, with proper psychological support and therapy, a collapsed narcissist can recover. However, it’s important to note that recovery requires the narcissist to acknowledge their condition and actively participate in the healing process, which can be challenging for individuals with narcissistic personality disorder.

Is it dangerous to be around a collapsed narcissist?

While not necessarily physically dangerous, being around a collapsed narcissist can be emotionally draining and stressful due to their unpredictable and impulsive behavior. If you feel threatened or excessively stressed, it’s important to seek help and consider limiting contact.

How can I protect myself when dealing with a collapsed narcissist?

Maintaining firm boundaries is crucial when dealing with a collapsed narcissist. Don’t take their behavior personally, prioritize self-care, and seek professional help if needed. If the relationship is causing significant distress, consider whether it’s in your best interest to stay.

Important information for anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please act immediately. Contact a mental health professional or call a suicide hotline in your area.

In the United States, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, as well as prevention and crisis resources.

You can call the Lifeline at +1 800 273 8255. They also have a chat function on their website that you can use if you do not feel like talking.

In Canada, the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention provides resources and support to those affected by suicide.

In the United Kingdom you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Helpline or call them on 0800 689 5652.

If you are in another country, please visit this page for a list of international suicide hotlines.

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