Narcissistic collapse happens when a person with narcissistic personality disorder experiences a failure, humiliation, or other kind of damage to their perceived personality that they feel might wound their secretly fragile self-esteem.
Many people think of narcissists as people with high self-confidence and whose self-doubt is non-existent. Reality is far from this. People with unstable self-esteem are plagued by unresolved shame and worthlessness. They hugely rely on other people’s assessments to bulk up their own very fragile self-images. Narcissists, with their dependence on external validation and their emphasis on public image, can often undergo a catastrophic narcissistic collapse when they anticipate a humiliating public failure. A significant number of suicides by narcissists are actually because they view death as being more bearable than having one’s faults publicly displayed.
The very thought of exposure as a flawed person can produce a great deal of anxiety, interfering with their ability to muster up the grandiosity necessary to support their self-esteem. Frigid narcissistic people can suffer a shame-based depression in which a fit of fear for the future renders them dysfunctional in the present.
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