Narcissism is a broad term that is used to describe a range of different but related psychological phenomena and conditions relating to self-love and self-esteem or, more often, to self-obsession and exaggerated self-importance. According to some psychological theories, most notably Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis, some degree of narcissism is necessary for healthy psychological development. An individual who possesses an exaggerated sense of self-worth, often referred to as a "narcissist," is often unable to handle criticism or perceived attacks on his self-worth. Such an individual may become angry because of such perceived attacks and may, therefore, act out in revenge. Narcissism and revenge are, therefore, often closely connected as a perceived attack on a narcissist's value may lead to an act of vengeance.
The relationship between revenge and narcissism is complex as the personalities of narcissistic individuals can vary drastically. One individual may be insulted and may seek revenge because of a gesture or word that was not even intended as criticism or as an attack, while another may only respond in a vengeful manner to direct criticism, constructive or otherwise. The relationship between narcissism and revenge can also vary in terms of the methods used for vengeance. Some may simply attempt to devalue the achievements of or to socially undermine the perceived attacker, while others may fly into a rage and attempt to physically harm the "attacker."
A variety of different psychological theories give possible explanations for the connection between narcissism and revenge-seeking behaviors. Freud, for instance, posited that the various early traumas in childhood sexual development were responsible for narcissistic personalities that could lead one to feel a need for revenge for perceived wrongs. Other theories of narcissism and revenge are based on the narcissist's need to control his external environment as much as possible. Revenge is aimed at those who attempt to usurp that control and can be seen as an attempt to reassert control.
Narcissism and revenge-seeking behaviors based in narcissism tend to develop from various aspects of a child's upbringing. Children whose parents gave them excessive praise for even trivial accomplishments, for instance, tend to handle criticism poorly and may even respond poorly to a perceived lack of praise. Children who, on the other hand, receive constant harsh criticism may also find it difficult to handle criticism as adults and are likely to perceive attacks in casual comments or even in compliments. Such individuals may use revenge as a tool to re-establish self-worth and to re-assert their control over their environments.