Why do anti-vaxxers harass the families of children who died of pertussis or flu? Narcissistic rage.


It is so vicious as to seem inexplicable.

According to CNN:

Not long ago, a 4-year-old boy died of the flu. His mother, under doctor’s orders, watched his two little brothers like a hawk, terrified they might get sick and die, too.

Grieving and frightened, just days after her son’s death she checked her Facebook page hoping to read messages of comfort from family and friends.

Instead, she found dozens of hateful comments: You’re a terrible mother. You killed your child. You deserved what happened to your son. This is all fake – your child doesn’t exist.

They are not the first family to suffer this additional horror and they won’t be the last:

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Anti-vaxxers experience the death of another person’s child from a vaccine preventable disease as a narcissistic injury and react with narcissistic rage.[/pullquote]

Interviews with mothers who’ve lost children and with those who spy on anti-vaccination groups, reveal a tactic employed by anti-vaxers: When a child dies, members of the group sometimes encourage each other to go on that parent’s Facebook page. The anti-vaxers then post messages telling the parents they’re lying and their child never existed, or that the parent murdered them, or that vaccines killed the child, or some combination of all of those.

What leads anti-vaxxers to such depraved behavior? Their monstrous vanity.

Wait, what? You thought the anti-vaccine lobby was concerned with the health of children? Think again.

The anti-vax movement has never been about children, and it hasn’t even been about vaccines. It’s about privileged parents and how they wish to view themselves.


Nothing screams “privilege” louder than ostentatiously refusing something that those less privileged wish to have. In a world where the underprivileged may trudge miles to the nearest clinic, desperate to save their babies from infectious scourges, nothing communicates the unbelievable ease and selfishness of modern American life like refusing the very same vaccines.


Anti-vaxxers are intellectual toddlers having an extended tantrum.

Unreflective acceptance of authority, whether that authority is the government or industry, is a bad thing. BUT unreflective defiance is no different. Oftentimes, the government, or industry, is right about a particular set of claims.

Experts in a particular topic, such as vaccines, really are experts. They really know things that the lay public does not. Moreover, it is not common to get a tremendous consensus among experts from different fields. Experts in immunology, pediatrics, public health and just about everything else you can think of have weighed in on the side of vaccines. Experts in immunology, pediatrics and public health give vaccines to their OWN children, rendering claims that they are engaged in a conspiracy to hide the dangers of vaccines to be nothing short of ludicrous.

Unfortunately, most anti-vax parents, like most toddlers, consider defiance of authority to be a source of pride, whether that defiance is objectively beneficial or not.


This is what is comes down to for most anti-vax parents: their egos. Anti-vax is a source of self-esteem for them. In their minds, they have “educated” themselves. How do they know they are “educated”? Because they’ve chosen to disregard experts (who appear to them as authority figures) in favor of quacks and charlatans, whom they admire for their own defiance of authority. The combination of self-education and defiance of authority is viewed by anti-vax parents as an empowering form of rugged individualism, marking out their own superiority from those pathetic “sheeple” who aren’t self-educated and who follow authority.

As a result, anti-vaxxers have monstrous egos that are pathetically fragile. Psychologically, they cannot tolerate being wrong about anti-vax ideology on which they have staked their identity and sense of self worth. Shockingly, they experience the death of a child from a vaccine preventable disease — a death their ideology tells them could not possibly have happened — an a narcissistic injury to themselves and react with all the fury that implies.

Anti-vaxxers lash out at the families of children who have died of vaccine preventable diseases in spasms of narcissistic rage.

Why do people with narcissism react so vehemently when threatened by a seemingly minor offense? …

Their grandiose views of themselves are threatened by perceived attacks. These grandiose views of themselves are necessary for their self-preservation. When threatened, they are not merely offended, but their entire sense of self is at stake…

Wikipedia describes it best:

…Narcissistic rage is the uncontrollable and unexpected anger that results from a narcissistic injury – a threat to a narcissist’s self-esteem or worth. Rage comes in many forms, but all pertain to the same important thing, revenge. Narcissistic rages are based on fear and will endure even after the threat is gone.

To the narcissist, the rage is directed towards the person that they feel has slighted them; to other people, the rage is incoherent and unjust… During the rage they are prone to shouting, fact distortion and making groundless accusations… [N]arcissists may even search for conflict to find a way to alleviate pain or suffering …

This narcissistic rage explains why anti-vaxxers will search out parents whose children died of vaccine preventable diseases to vent their terror — and shore up their fragile egos — through harassment, fact distortion and groundless (as well as heartless) accusations.

So when I see anti-vaxxers attacking the family of a child who died of pertussis or flu, my first thought is sympathy for that family, already grappling with unimaginable tragedy, being victimized over and over again by anti-vaxxers.

My second thought is pity for anti-vaxxers. Imagine the abject fear and rage that drives these people; fear that they have been wrong all along and rage that an innocent child dared to die in a way that exposes the hollowness of their ideology and fragility of their egos.

Anti-vaxxers are pathetic and I’m not just talking about their fundamental ignorance of immunology, science and statistics.