When Narcissists Collide – Part Two

when-narcissistscollide 

What is the dynamic when a Lesser Narcissist and a Mid-Range Narcissist become entangled with one another? Briefly, the Lesser is categorised by a lower level of cognitive function, low control threshold on the ignited fury, reduced levels of charm, a narrower stable of manipulations, an often chaotic life in terms of relationships,work, addictions and finance and a greater propensity for physical violence. The Mid-Range Narcissist is passive-aggressive, with increased charm and cognitive function compared to the Lesser, less likely to use physical violence but instead rely on silent treatments and sulking, makes use of pity plays and seeks sympathy, turns to others for assistance in manipulating individuals and has a wider array of manipulations to rely on. Again, neither of these individuals know what they are nor do they recognise their kind. How do these two types of narcissist interact with one another?

          As an overarching philosophy, the interaction of the Lesser and the Mid-Ranger is one of cat and mouse. Both are in the fight for fuel but have different tools to hand to achieve this. The Lesser will be the agent provocateur, with the Mid-Ranger playing the hard done to individual although he or she will unleash their passive aggressive manipulations as they fight for fuel from one another.

          Within the familial narcissistic dynamic, there is no seduction between the two as a consequence of the two individuals being brought together by reason of being related. Let us take the example of two adult sisters. The Lesser will look to draw fuel from the Mid-Range narcissist by competing. The Lesser is likely to be jealous of the Mid-Range who may well be perceived as more accomplished and successful, in terms of job, quality of home, social circle and such like. The Lesser will regard this success as an inherent criticism of the Lesser which will ignite her fury. She cannot help but lash out at her sister and will do so by accusing her of having her nose stuck in the air, being Lady Muck, suggesting her achievements are not her own but those of other people and so forth. Anything in order to achieve the upper hand in the dynamic between the two. The aggression exhibited by the Lesser Sister towards the Mid-Range Sister will provide the Mid-Range Sister with fuel but the nature of the challenge will mean that she will also look to draw fuel from other people by way of pity play and seeking sympathy. Thus one can expect in the context of say a family gathering, the Lesser will feel the need to verbally attack the Mid-Ranger, often with ad hominem insults such as “You’ve put on more weight since the last time I saw you” or “I have a dress like that, it does not suit me either.”

If the Lesser makes these comments in an angry or savage fashion, the Mid-Ranger gains fuel. If the Lesser (which is less likely) states them in a fuel free way, then this will wound the Mid-Ranger who will either retreat from the Lesser with a silent treatment and/or seek sympathy fuel from non-narcissist third parties. The Mid-Ranger’s hurt response will provide fuel to the Lesser. Thus when the Mid-Ranger bleats, “Why are you always picking on me?” or “Leave me alone, why do you have to be so hateful?” the Lesser gains fuel. Should the Mid-Range respond with a silent treatment then this does not provide the Lesser Sister with fuel, so she will pursue the Mid-Ranger trying to break the silent treatment. This pursuit is likely to give the Mid-Ranger more fuel as the Lesser Sister becomes more and more annoyed and frustrated by the silence. The Mid-Range will maintain the silent treatment until she receives sufficient fuel to heal the wound and will then speak again or the Lesser, deprived of fuel and furious because of the criticism which arises from silence, is forced to seek fuel elsewhere.

          If the two sisters are in isolation, any interaction will soon descend into an argument and the Mid-Ranger implementing a silent treatment in order to defend herself. The Lesser will keep goading the Mid-Ranger until she provides fuel again or will break off and storm away to lash out at somebody else, cursing the baby-like behaviour of her sister as she has her own temper tantrum.

          If the two sisters are with other family members, the Mid-Ranger will first turn to them for sympathy and help in halting the attack of the Lesser. This is likely to descend into allegation counter allegation and all manner of manipulations as there is triangulation, blame-shifting, projection and such like on an industrial scale. Either the Mid-Ranger will sit in sulking silence or slink away, with the Lesser continuing to goad. If this provoking behaviour does not yield results then the Lesser sister will turn to the other members of the family for the fuel that ought to have been provided by the Mid-Range sister.

          Where the two narcissists are friends, an interesting dynamic will occur. The Lesser will see the more successful Mid-Ranger as not only a fuel source but also someone who can provide residual benefits and character traits. Thus, the Lesser will be keen to seduce the Mid-Ranger as an inner circle friend. 

          The Mid-Ranger will see the aggression of the Lesser as useful in terms of securing this person as a Lieutenant and will aim to seduce the Lesser to become an inner circle friend who is then used for the purposes of carrying out the dirty work of the Mid-Ranger.

          The Lesser, once having seduced the Mid-Ranger will look to use the passive Mid-Ranger for the purposes of borrowing money, being available when nobody else might be to go out and generally extort the Mid-Ranger’s assets. The Mid-Ranger will comply initially as part of his or her own seduction of the Lesser. It is when then Mid-Ranger expects to “cash in” on their generosity that the problems begin. The Mid-Ranger will seek to manipulate the Lesser to do things for him or her. The Lesser may do so at first but after a while, his sense of entitlement means that he expects to be given things by the Mid-Ranger and need not do anything in return. He will reject this attempt at control and do so in a manner which will give the Mid-Ranger fuel. The Mid-Ranger, pushed by his own sense of entitlement expects the Lesser to carry out his wishes, based on past favours and will react in a feigned hurtful manner to the Lesser lashing out. With both expecting the other to do something based on either entitlement and/or past investment and not gaining the required response, there will be a clash. The Lesser will demand and the Mid-Range will back off. The likely withdrawal of the Mid-Range will cause the Lesser to break off in a fury and cause a temporary cessation of the connection as he seeks out other “friends” to give him what he is entitled to, non-narcissistic ones. The Mid-Ranger, hurt by this betrayal of friendship will retreat and bemoan the selfishness of the Lesser to anybody who will listen.

          They will however not discard one another because they perceive a useful need in one another. The Lesser sees the more successful Mid-Ranger as a provider of bounty, bounty to which he is entitled. The Mid-Ranger sees the Lesser as a useful blunt instrument Lieutenant, one to which he is entitled. Unfortunately for them, their sense of entitlement will lead to them clashing, not bothering with one another after a flare-up and then seeking one another out again drawn by the lure of usefulness to one another. Of course there is fuel to be gathered into the bargain but it is not as extensive as when dealing with an empathic individual and therefore it is actually the residual benefits and character traits that are the main draw between the Lesser and the Mid-Range in a social setting.

          Third parties will be dragged into their fallings out. The Lesser will name call the Mid-Range and attack verbally any other party who stands up for the Mid-Ranger. The Mid-Ranger will play the hard done to party to anybody who will listen and will manipulate them into trying to build a bridge again with the annoyed Lesser.

          What about the situation where a Lesser and a Mid-Range Narcissist are drawn together through work.? Again, this is an non-intimate scenario where there is a pre-existing connection between the two narcissists. Similar to the social setting described above,  the two narcissists will be looking to the other for fuel but moreover the sequestration of residual benefits. The Lesser will expect the Mid-Ranger to be doing him favours, such as lessening his workload, supporting him for promotion or a pay rise, doling out favourable work and such like since the Mid-Ranger is likely to hold a slightly superior position. The Mid-Ranger will expect to lord it over the Lesser and have him or her at the Mid-Ranger’s beck and call. Thus the Lesser will regard any failure of the Mid-Ranger to show him or her favouritism as a criticism. The Lesser’s fury will be ignited and unable to keep it under control, he will lash out at the Mid-Ranger (and others) causing disruption and potentially disciplinary action as the “hurt” Mid-Ranger goes running to HR.

          If the Lesser holds the superior role in the workplace, then he will expect the Mid-Ranger to be his lackey. He will delegate considerable amounts of work to the Mid-Ranger who will consider himself being picked on and singled out. He will not dare to complain direct to the Lesser but instead will gossip to peers, complain to a different boss and potentially raise matter via a grievance. The Lesser demands subservience from the Mid-Range narcissist as part of this ideal of control and omnipotence. The Mid-Ranger, considering himself above menial activity and accountable believes he is entitled to highlight the “mean and unfair” behaviour of the Lesser Narcissist. The two will continue to churn out fuel for one another with the Lesser’s scathing attacks against the Mid-Ranger for daring to defy him and with the Mid-Ranger responding by pleading with the Lesser to leave him alone, or asking why he is insists on making his life a misery. The two of them will certainly provide something a show to other employees whilst causing consternation to those who have to work alongside them or regulate their behaviours. They will effectively fight with one another, blaming and counter-blaming neither ever being at fault and it always being the fault of the other.

          In terms of tertiary source reaction, a Mid-Ranger is mainly likely to be pleasant to a Lesser tertiary source and provide positive fuel which the Lesser will accept. A Lesser however is more likely to be aggressive towards a Mid-Ranger or offend their readily offended sense of importance by pointing out that the Mid-Ranger tertiary source has done something wrong which will result in the imposition of the withdrawal of services which will in turn cause a sudden explosion from the Lesser. Any interaction will be short-lived and will either be the provision of positive fuel (Mid-Ranger to Lesser) or a burst of negative fuel (Lesser to Mid-Ranger).

          Finally, what is the dynamic between a Lesser Narcissist and a Mid-Range Narcissist in the context of a romantic relationship? The Lesser, being the least cognitive able, may well seek to seduce a Mid-Range Narcissist. The Mid-Range will evidence some charm towards the Lesser which will certainly appeal to the Lesser who will press the seduction in order to try and secure the Mid-Range. The Mid-Range however is likely to regard the Lesser as not fulfilling the requisite empathic traits. Whilst the Mid-Ranger is not aware of specifically what he or she wants, he does have an instinctive awareness of the traits in a prospective romantic partner which make him feel “better”. These will be absent in the Lesser because not only are the empathic traits absent, the Lesser lacks the cunning and guile (and the energy and inclination) to feign them to the degree which would satisfy the Mid-Ranger. 

          Thus, unless the Mid-Ranger is desperate for a primary source he or she is unlikely to complete the seduction of a Lesser as a IPPS. They will look elsewhere and reject the overtures of the Lesser deeming them to not “tick the right boxes”. The Lesser will not try to press the seduction since this rejection by the Mid-Ranger will cause his fury to ignite as a consequence of this low control threshold. He will lash out at the Mid-Ranger and be forced to find a different primary source instead rather than selecting another narcissist. Thus in most cases the Lesser will flare up as his seduction is derailed and the Mid-Range will train his or her sights elsewhere.

          Even if the Lesser is in desperate straits to secure a primary source, he will not be able to ensnare the Mid-Ranger who will find his or her own needs unmet. However, if the Mid-Ranger is the party which is desperate to find a primary source, they may settle for the Lesser in such circumstances. Of course, the Lesser will be content for this to happen, the increased level of charm and complimentary behaviour of the Mid-Ranger satisfying, at least to begin with, the Lesser’s need for fuel. There are also likely to be character traits and residual benefits which will suit the needs of the Lesser. Thus, if the Lesser is the desperate party, but the Mid Ranger is not, then the Lesser will be denied. If the Mid-Ranger is the desperate party and the Lesser is or is not, then it is more likely that the two will form a romantic couple securing the other as the IPPS.

          In this scenario, the absence of sufficient positive fuel provision will soon surface. The Bronze Period behaviour of the Lesser will not suit the Mid-Range at all for his fuel needs. The selfishness and self-centredness of the Mid-Ranger will not suit the Lesser and therefore devaluation will soon follow after seduction. However, this is where an interesting dynamic will occur because it is actually in devaluation that the pair will meet one another’s needs for far longer than they did in seduction.

          The Lesser, disappointed and indeed infuriated with the Mid-Ranger’s poor positive fuel provision will commence the devaluation. Being on the attack, her angry words, her fury, her nastiness will all be excellent fuel to the Mid-Ranger. He of course will not welcome the challenges made to him by the pointing finger of the Lesser but he cannot resist the tasty fuel which accompanies it. He will lap up the fuel provided by her whilst responding with his own manipulations to keep the fuel flowing. He will blame-shift, deny and deflect and refuse to co-operate. He will roll out the pity plays, beg with the Lesser to stop the hurtful behaviour and so forth, all of which will be excellent fuel to the Lesser, so she will continue with the machinations. Back and forth they will go, cat playing with mouse, mouse evading cat in a scenario which causes them to provide sufficient negative fuel to one another. The Mid-Ranger will turn to the third parties, as is his want, pointing out the horrible behaviour of the Lesser. Such actions will be perceived as criticism by the Lesser and she will respond by further nasty behaviours and also seeking out a new primary source since devaluation is well on foot. Should the Lesser locate this potential new primary source, news of her behaviour will reach the Mid Ranger (either from third parties or from the less than subtle Lesser herself) and this will wound the Mid-Ranger. He will flounce off in a silent treatment and look to find his own replacement primary source. The Lesser will not respond to the silent treatment but instead focus on the new primary source. The Mid-Range seeing that the silent treatment has had no effect will establish contact again with the Lesser. This appeals to the Lesser as she believes she has the upper hand again, although the Mid-Ranger will believe that he has because he has caused the Lesser to engage again. Thus, they are brought together again for a brief Respite Period. Of course, neither will provide sufficient positive fuel during this Respite Period and therefore the devaluation begins again.

          The death knell for the intimate relationship between the Lesser and Mid-Range narcissist is when they both commence their search for a new primary source and find a suitable prospect. Up until that point, the negative fuel provided through devaluation is maintaining their required fuel levels because of the contrast (something as you know which always required by our kind) between their respective styles. The aggressive Lesser and the passive aggressive Mid-Ranger. Thus their devaluation can go on for some time but once one or both of these narcissists turns their attention to a new primary source then the end of the relationship will arrive promptly. Either one or both will ensnare a non-narcissist and the fuel provision from this individual (as an empathic individual) will cause the narcissist to focus on that person and discard either the Lesser or the Mid-Range narcissist they have erroneously installed as a primary source.

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30 thoughts on “When Narcissists Collide – Part Two”

  1. When I listen to most pop songs i laugh at the manipulative lyrics.
    The polarity flips also and they mirror each others shadow.
    The lesser narcs won’t even read this far, so it’s all hands on deck to help the codependents.

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  2. HG great article! Absolutely insightful! I’ve witnessed this and this is accurate. Question: let’s say a mid-range and lesser are each others ipps, but both are in relationships with non-narcs, how long do you think the golden period of their affair can last or the affair as a whole? Would they be successful since they both have positive/ipss at home?

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      1. Wow. It is amazing how well you understand these different types of relationships. While I’d never have thought this all out on my own, your detailed descriptions called to mind so many narc on narc relationships from my childhood. I’m really looking forward to the mid on mid and greater on mid installments! Thankfully all my lower narcs are long in my past. Again, HG, great descriptions! You obviously have tremendous powers of observation!

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  3. On the erroneous romantic connection between the Lesser and Mid-Range, once they’ve found new sources – and the discard has occurred, would either of them bother to Hoover one another if they’re bored one day or low on fuel? If so – which one would be more likely to Hoover?

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  4. A Narc copying the character traits of another Narc… who had previously copied them from a real human being. A knock-off of a knock-off. How pathetic. Hearing about Narcs colliding is quite delightful, I must say. I would pay good money to get a front row seat witnessing them tear each other apart. Like candy for a Narc-abused empath, yum.

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    1. Something I have seen is where a narc self-sabotages by copying another narc. For instance, I have seen a greater copy a lesser, presumably because he was in a real fix about how to address me. The result was very strange indeed, because the greater narc totally blew his cover by copying a lesser who had a totally different political ideology than himself. Since this greater was a cerebral narc, and the less was not, this strange effect was quite a thing to experience. Perhaps the greater did not understand that he was copying a lesser, I think, or perhaps this greater was so desperate he would have torn the clothing off anybody to put it on.

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  5. Hmmm…for a minute I thought my narc’s former wife was a lesser (seduced him, rageful, inability to hold job, etc). She would rip my narc to shreds while he’d just stand there—and then I’d tell him what a mean, horrible woman she was (and is)—he playing it up for sympathy. On the otherhand, she was quite charming, shrewd and calculating. She was diagnosed with Borderline Personality.

    Now, I am not so sure about her “level” as a narcissist. They were together for much longer (14 years) than most marriages nowadays.

    I am looking forward to reading the other couplings. These are great!

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  6. I once knew a dynamic like that, but with a Greater mixed in. A young mother (Lesser), her husband (Mid-Ranger) and his mother (Greater). His mother, bored and bitter, kept interfering in her son’s marriage on a daily basis. She would invite herself, give ‘advice’ on everything and anything unasked. The young mother was a rather entitled woman, who played along at first for the sake of keeping the peace, but as time passed, their egos clashed many times. The husband, a true Mummy’s boy, was often trapped between the two, both demanding being put first and defended against the other. He almost always chose Mummy, and would punish his wife with present silent treatments for days on end.

    Now, that I have words for these *absurd* behaviours I have clarity. At the time, it felt like watching animals at the zoo. 😀

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  7. HG great article! What if a married mid-range has an affair with a married lesser and they become one anothers’ ipps, do you think their relationship would last longer and be more successful since both have a non-narc mate??

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    1. They are unlikely to make one another the IPPS if they have a non-narc spouse. The non-narc spouse is more likely to be the IPPS and the narcissists would treat one another as IPSS.

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      1. Thanks..will they devalue and disengage although being each others’ secondary intimate source??

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  8. I’m really interested in the dynamic in the work place between a (I’m not sure the type but I think mid range if not elite) narc and a borderline/codependent. Have you written more articles that address narcs in the workplace? If not would you? Pretty please 🙂

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    1. ahhhh, i sure hope so!!! my narc was my direct manager for over five years. he is why i am still researching and still fascinated by the subject, even though i left the job and have not had any communication with him in over two years.

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  9. So, is this the dynamic of an inverted and classical narcissist? This is how Sam Vaknin described it. But honestly, I prefer your work. It’s more direct. I am interested on your intake on inverted narcissists. Are they codependents with narcissistic tendencies but not full blown narcissists? So, if they are codependents but not full blown narcissists, does that mean that they can feel empathy and guilt? I hope that I do not offend you by adding Sam Vaknin in this. I really would prefer your opinion on inverted narcissists.

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    1. Thank you Tara. I do not use the terms inverted and classical narcissists, I have my own lexicon. I recommend you read more of my work and then you may be able to see descriptions that accord with descriptions used by others. I find, for instance, the terms covert and overt to be too broad-brush and do not adequately reflect the various characteristics and traits of our kind, so much so I cringe when I see people writing those words to describe our kind.

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      1. Ohhh, you must have had a couple of cringe worthy moments in your interview with Bree Bonchay. She’s a fan of using “covert” and “overt”. Lol

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