Another Tack: Temper Tantrum Tactics

In most individuals, shock and awe antics abate over the years. But not always. (Norman Rockwell illustration, 1921)

In most individuals, shock and awe antics abate over the years. But not always. (Norman Rockwell illustration, 1921)

When preschoolers don’t get their way, they sometimes attempt to intimidate us into giving in. They throw terrifying temper tantrums, some more frequently and frighteningly than others. The rule of thumb is that the more spoiled a kid is, the worse the whining, crying, screaming, kicking, hitting, rolling on the floor and breath-holding.

According to the preeminent Jewish psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut, the tantrum-thrower’s “core is likely to contain a self-centered, grandiose-exhibitionist part,” and the outbursts represent “narcissistic rages at the blow to the inflated self-image.” Therefore, various refusals, “regardless of their justifications, will automatically provoke fury since they offend the child’s sense of omnipotence.”

In most individuals such shock and awe antics abate over the years. But not always. When immaturity – irrespective of chronological age – coincides with privilege and a sense of entitlement, it’s liable to produce adult petulance and a proclivity for spiteful rants. Continue reading