The Narcissist’s Reality Gap

THE NARCISSIST'SREALITY GAP.jpg

The Lesser Narcissist. Whether it is the out and out loser that is the Lower Lesser, the usually useless Middle Lesser or the successful but overbearing bully that is the Upper Lesser, the three have certain common traits. One of these traits is their delusional state. The Lesser exists in a bubble convinced of his or her good looks or innate strength or irresistible sexiness. They think everybody likes them, they think if you don’t then you must be an idiot and you are not worth bothering with. They believe themselves to be great at sport, or writing, or whatever hobby and if they do not win or receive an accolade well the game was fixed, the paint was the wrong sort or the judges are retarded. After all, anybody who cannot see that the Lesser is a swaggering champion, well, they must need their head seeing to, right?

The Lesser cruises through life doing what he or she wants, taking whatever they want, behaving as they please and nobody is allowed to stop or interfere with this god-given right. They are completely oblivious to their shortcomings – that bloated beer belly just shows a certain joie de vivre, going bald is a sign of virility, wearing that same jacket is a mark of classic attire. Their narcissism enables them to maintain their perceived superiority (where often none exists) through the application of this delusion. They just do not see their failings, their inadequacies and failures. The self-defence mechanism of the Twin Lines of Defence will either deny any such failing or deflect it away by ascribing it to being the fault of someone or something else. Thus, the Lesser escapes culpability, maintains superiority, gathers fuel and barrels through his or her life wreaking havoc all around and never suffering consequences.

Now, the fuel crisis will cause the bubble to burst, but this article is not about the effect of the fuel crisis but rather the reality gap. When fuelled, the Lesser suffers no reality gap whatsoever. He or she is oblivious and served totally by the delusions of their narcissistic perspective because that is what enables them to exist and function.

What then of the Greater? There is no doubting that the Greater can point to substance to support those bold pronouncements. Look at the money, the high status career, the successful public life, the adoring crowds, the power that is wielded, the records made, the books sold, the art created, the countries invaded, the factories opened, the gadgets invented and the elections won. From captain of industry, Olympic champion, pop star, politician, royal, leader, spin doctor, fixer, striving executive, acclaimed actor, feted artists through to hundreds of other positions and roles, the Greater populates the higher echelons of achievement. His or her narcissism has enabled such an ascent. With no sense of remorse, no conscience, the desire to be the best, a total belief in one’s ability, a sense of entitlement and operating with absolute expediency it is little wonder that the Greater narcissists clamber into these positions.

Is there delusion with the Greater? Indeed and it manifests in the form of embellishment and exaggeration because the innate paranoia of the narcissist means that it is never enough. He may be popular but he sees that he is immensely popular because the narcissism demands it. The narcissism enabled him to scale the heights of political power to begin with and then feeds the need to stay there and want more and more and more because non sufficit orbit terrarum.

Thus the Greater will have considerable power but sees its reach as being even further. He has wealth but embellishes its degree. The narcissistic perspective insists on there being a reality greater than there is. It is even better than the real thing. The combination of that which has been achieved and the belief in added achievement results in the application of power on a tremendous scale, which in turns feeds the narcissism. Round and round it goes. There may be a reality gap, but similar to the Lesser, it is not apparent to the Greater save when the effects of a fuel crisis manifest.

What of the Mid-Range Narcissist? He or she can also achieve. Not on the scale of the Greater but beyond the Lesser. The Mid Range Narcissist, particular Middle Mid Range and Upper Mid Range will secure success, good jobs, excellent incomes, academic achievements, sporting achievements and so forth. Many friends, well-liked by family and the community (that good old facade at work there) and convinced of their own innate goodness.

However one of the fundamental differences between the Lesser and Greater Narcissists compared to the Mid Ranger is the basis on which the application the reality gap operates. The Lesser’s superiority is based on aggressive provocation, albeit in a rudimentary and base manner. The Greater’s superiority is also based on aggressive provocation but in a far more streamlined, refined and magnificent manner. The Mid-Ranger’s perceived superiority has its foundation placed on passive provocation – the silent treatments, the jealous smearing, the office politicking, the pity plays and so forth.

The consequence of this is that this passive, defensive superiority, as opposed to the driving, thrusting aggressive superiority of the other two schools, results in the Mid Range Narcissist suffering periodic reality gaps. He of course will have them and in a massive way as a consequence of a fuel crisis but as stated above, that is not the subject of this article.

The Mid Range Narcissist is afflicted by episodic instances of a detachment between his narcissistic perspective and reality. This is part of his narcissism because this is what enables him or her to operate in a passive aggressive manner through seeking sympathy, exhibiting jealousy, inviting pity and demanding help and support. The Mid Range Narcissists will occasionally get a glimpse of what he is as opposed to what he wants to be. He suddenly sees he is the middle manager salary man and not on the fast track to the board. Whereas the Lesser sees he is holding a semi-skilled position on the factory floor he either sees that as what is best for him and he wouldn’t want to be a “white collar wanker” or he believes he has never made it to management because the existing managers are cocksuckers who are clueless and have no idea how to run a company. The Greater is either at the board already or on his way. The Mid Range Narcissist once believing he was destined for that executive position suddenly realises he is not. He once believed he brought influence to bear beyond his current status because he was talented and just ripe for promotion, he is suddenly aware that this is not the case. The football career was not as glittering as he wanted it to be. She is not as popular as she wants to be. She isn’t able to win the races as she desires to.

The shortfall between what the Mid Range wants to be and believes him or herself to be and what they actually are manifests and delivers a crushing blow to the Mid Range. It can come out of nowhere, a sudden fountain of self-loathing which surges up unexpected and unwelcome. The Mid Range Narcissist immediately seeks to escape this reality gap by complaining, raging, sulking or smearing. Their jealousy of those who are what the Mid Range wants to be is unfettered. Their dejection at their position requires immediate succour from those around them, to flow with pity and sympathy until the moment has passed and with it the danger to their existence.

Accordingly, should you ever witness a Mid Range Narcissist exhibiting some kind of panic attack, a wailing and bemoaning of his or her lot in life even though there is no fuel crisis evident, then you have witnessed the appearance of the Mid Range narcissist’s reality gap.

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65 Comments

  1. Hi HG, another question today sorry. Can a reality gap ever result in random behaviours such as silent treatments , wanting to be alone even though they were unprovoked? are these doled out in circumstances where the mid range is under stress? If so how is one supposed to behave during this?

  2. If you witness a narcsisst’s reality gap, how is one supposed to deal with this mourning period that they go through? Would it be similar to how a silent treatment is addressed? i.e. ignoring them?

  3. HG – Question. I have a person in my life that I am sure is a lower mid-range narcissist. Psychologist keep trying to label her bipolar and sometimes even borderline. I don’t think so. I think she has a chronic reality gap issue. Thoughts please?

    1. Psychologist may well be wrong. I recommend you organise a Narc Detector Consultation and we can get this matter resolved for you.

  4. Well looky there-it posted. But really? I have to fill out my email and name every time? Never had to previously. Guess my golden period is over.

      1. Hg, thank god ur back! I was starting to miss ex again. Now that ur back, i’m gonna control my emotional thinking! I missed the blog even tho it was just 2 days or something. U seem in a great mood. I assume u r well fuelled?

    1. NarcA— wordpress? oh it is working splendidly for me. it likes me. it gives me gifts….. the golden period is lovely.

    2. NA

      You are not the only one, some days I have to fill everything out other days i don’t. Then again my phone is possessed to….he he blame it on the device.

  5. Btw… anyone else having issues with WordPress? I was unable for days to reply or go to comments directly from my email as I have done forever. Then it started asking me to fill out email, name, and website below my comment to post it. It will not accept narcsite.com

    At one point it asked me to use my blog and then changed my name. Im about fed up. Im not tech savvy-if its not easy Im out. So if I disappear as some of the others have, well thats why. Dont even know why Im writing this as youll likely never see it.

    1. NA, pls check if u have pending items to take care of. Indy mentioned this, and it mostly solved the prblm for me though i still dont receive all comments in my inbox. Also, Try logging out and back in. I really hope u dont leave.

      1. Jenna

        Thank you-I’m still sorting it out. Having some other Tech issues (well my issues but related to Tech) and have not been well, so either I was erupting with fuel or my fury was ignited. Maintaining anonymity is a must so couldnt just ask anyone here but I’ll work it out.

    2. NarcAngel,

      “it started asking me to fill out email, name, and website below my comment to post it.”

      This usually happens when you delete your browsing history like cookies with login information and passwords. If so, you have to login to your WP account again.

      If you did not clear your history manually, you may have been using a different device or browser lately which are set up to clear your history automatically when your browser is closed.

      1. EB

        Ah, thank you for you your assistance. Had trouble on ipad so was trying to navigate blog on phone (which for me is akin to painting a portrait on a grain of rice. I’ll have a look.

      2. Twilight

        Hello! I enjoyed your letter, but havent seen you around much otherwise (likely due to my tech issues) I hope all is well after your recent incident with Narcky boss.

        1. Narc Angel

          My letter…..Thank you.
          I am only checking in every so often.
          I hope you are feeling better!
          How are things up north?

          1. Hi Twilight

            Getting colder here now so I am taking a fur and leather inventory to prepare. Must also check footwear as a fab new pair of boots is also required each winter. I hope you dont get snow where you are and can continue to watch the rooster dance and lay out under the stars.

    3. I have a problem with posting also. Half of my comments just disappear.

      Today morning, my husband’s friend visited us. He is a IT guru. I told him about my problem. He has his own blog on WordPress also. He told me to visit his blog and write a random comment there and then to left his blog. He said he is going to watch my IP address behavior, whatever that means.

      He phoned my husband several hours ago and I talked to him also.
      He asked me “Did you visit my blog after writting your comment?”.
      I said “No”.
      He said “According to your IP behavior, you spent WHOLE DAY on my blog, “visiting” random topics… It is a VIRAL behavior and your provider is responsible for that. Do you want me to contact your provider to check the problem?”.
      I said “Yes, please”.

      Maybe that explains, why my comments disappear or go to Spam Dungeon. Maybe, the system “thinks”, that I’m some sort of virus or spammer. Lol.

      Tudor, may I ask you, how my IP does behave on your blog? Do I spend “whole days” on your blog also?

  6. Reality is as you decide it is – that is what pyschos and narcissists taught me. The question is – what you can live with? What physical and mental limits do you have? That is different between every individual, that is what divides us, and that is what makes us most afraid of abandonment.
    A psychopath hooks us by making us believe we have no limits. Maybe there is always an adaptable childish part of us that doesn’t feel attachment, in order to survive what the harsh environment brings us.
    What are your limits? What do you believe to be necessary? Can you accept there are multiple truths, and that this means sometimes you are idealised, sometimes discarded?

  7. One of the issues I have post-narc is the inability to dream big or feel enthusiastic about life-long goals. The lines have been blurred so much by the Greater N that when I hear someone talking passionately about dreams and aspirations I automatically think they’re being grandiose, arrogant and overly superior. Pre-narc, this kind of passion would always inspire and motivate me. It’s as if the narcs superiority complex has made me suspicious to any display of confidence, passion, achievement or leadership in others. I automatically see these as negative traits now. Which saddens me as I feel stuck and unable to move forward with my own goals in life. Like I’m afraid of fulfilling my potential. I’ve even wondered if this is a manifestation of my own narcissistic traits which leaves me feeling very confused!! Would be grateful to know if anyone else has experienced this?

    1. Miss Swain,
      YES!
      I hate the negativity that lives in my brain, now. I used to be ever the optimist. Where did that go?
      Where did my dreams and future plans go?
      Why am I so suspicious of just about everything that people say to me?

      I have experienced this.
      I am starting from scratch. And trying to suss out what it is that I want now.

      And I try to remember that all people are self centered, but not full blown like the narc. Normals don’t need from other people what narcs need to live their lives.

      But the paranoia is still with me.
      “I see Narc people”

  8. He started telling me he gets panic attacks after i told him i get panic attacks. I thought that was a bit coincidental. Then i found out abt narcicism and attributed it to mirroring and pity plays. Now i know it’s the mid-range reality gap.

    He admitted that he thinks he ‘can do anything’. When he doesn’t meet his expectations, he often looked frustrated, agitated, and unable to concentrate on anything other than that current goal (w respect to career).

    He was usually worried abt something or the other. Sigh… the mid-ranger.

      1. MR = most annoying. lessers are pathetic and like you say, cartoonish. they are who they appear to be. greaters are, in ways awesome (to be awed not ideal humans but stand apart, like prince:) they invoke awe. i can appreciate them. but MRs? ugg. kick it down a notch and be an obtuse lesser. or step up your game and be a real narcissist, greater. not middle of the road, passive aggressive, blame shifting blech pretending to be something they’re not. #annoying.

  9. Thanks for more information about the Mid-Range Narc. This explains why he was able to portray himself as wealthy and then disappear when the reality came to light that he was broke as a church mouse and almost homeless. This article speaks volumes about what I went through and why my discard and his disappearance happened the way it did.

  10. I guess, the “gap” isn’t a narcissistic issue exclusively. “Normal” people have it also. Middle-age crisis. Expectations. Dreams. And harsh reality…

    What differentiates us is how we deal with it. Bitterness. Regret. Acceptance. Down shifting. Anger. Hate. Depends…

  11. Ex Narc has jumped or rode a roller coaster between all ranges. He seems to be a Lower Mid-Range, but lost control exhibiting Lesser behaviors. He achieved some success at upper management, but the usual path for upper management to retire and become a board member was denied. He usual demeanor is flat. He is lost in delusions, confabulations, and total lies. His behaviors are mostly sulking, pity parties, smearing, lying, and silent treatments. I believe he is now so lost, mixed up, and delusional that he seems to have dementia.
    The difference between jealousy and envy, it seems, needs clarifying. As I understand, jealousy is caused by upset believing that something or someone you already have might be lost or taken from you. Envy is caused by anger that some quality, some thing, or someone that you don’t possess(and may never possess) is enjoyed by someone else. Envy leads to coveting. Envy at the extreme can push behaviors to destroy property and people. Envy is behind schadenfreud. Jealousy could lead to clinging. Mindfulness about jealousy actually leads to stepping back or rethinking and making changes together because if you can lose someone, then you probably never had their loyalty. Any thoughts about this are welcome. I do not know or guarantee that my understanding is correct.

  12. I was just thinking to myself…

    I feel as though something kind of like a shared psychotic disorder (Folie a deux) can develop when you are suffering narcissitic abuse and only when you are separated from the narcissist you can completely come back to yourself.

    Their thinking (mid rangers) borders on delusional – or you could say completely delusional lol – but the delusions aren’t as far fetched as saying they see purple people.

  13. This is so spot on it’s ridiculous. I can’t tell you have many times I used to look at my ex and the one before that like they were balls to the wall batshit crazy. Their thinking is like legit delusional. I used to feel like I was conversing with a mental patient lol!

  14. This was a great article it’s nice to know at least at some points the mid ranger steps into reality for a moment and realizes they are not what they think they are. My ex arc did something yesterday that helped me so much that exposed to me how stupid he really is intellectually ,I always thought he was intelligent until then. He frequents a page on Facebook that features Russian woman who are seeking marriage with American wealthy men as a means to get green cards, they are all beautiful , which they use to lure men into sponsoring them. In order to meet or talk to them you must pay or go on a paid tour to meet them . I thought this was obvious to anyone who visits the page. Being the stupid moron he apparently is he commented on one of the woman’s photos that she was a charming woman and he will see if she can meet the challenge of showing herself in deep to be a loving woman. No she won’t you dumbass your a poor non American she has no interest in you , your not American yourself , and don’t have a pot to piss in. She’s not after love, I could not believe he was so brainless and delusional to not understand how these sites operste. It really helped my addiction to realize that he is in fact a moron

    1. OT your comment reminded me of a time I was walking through the red light district in Amsterdam with my husband. We overheard some guys talking to each other, clearly lessers, one of them said to his friends, “did you see the way she looked at me and was calling me over, she’s desperate for me, she was literally begging for my ****” they are sooooooooo deluded !

    2. OT
      Devils advocate:

      Were you once not attracted to this poor non-American dumbass with no pot to piss in? So why would it be such a stretch for him to think she might go for him? Especially if he throws some cash around.

      A sure thing to help your addiction would be to stop looking to see what the hung like a hamster with shit smelling breath dumbass with no pot to piss in is doing. Why follow a turd after you flush it?

      1. Lol IMO he’s a gorgeous sexy man but he doesn’t have cash to throw around literally none my point is the website doesn’t even have the woman’s name only an I’d number its run by a tour agency in order for her to see his comments or him to talk to her he has to pay to join the sight and then he has to pay to fly to Russia to meet him and the sight specifically says the woman want to meet and marry american citizens he is not an american citizen he lives in Algeria in a house with no shower or toilet so yes plenty of woman would find him attractive or fall in love with him but the woman he was commenting to could not see his comment it was a stock photo with an id number attached to it this is why I said he’s stupid unless he pays he can’t speak to her and no he can’t pay he doesn’t even have a credit card or bank account

        1. OT

          Well given all that, I think its obvious then hes doing it because he knows you (and god knows who else) is looking and will see it. Mission accomplished.

          1. I doubt he knows I’m doing it I figured out a way to stalk him online these things he’s posting are under one of his many fake online profiles I discovered he has an elaborate amount of woman he speaks to follows flirts with along with extensive use of fetish websites and websites looking for foreigners to marry so he can obtain a green card even though he’s still technically married to me I think he would be amazed at how thoroughly his every online move is being stalked by me.but at the end of the day your right I am the one following and stalking him do to my own inability to let go but I’m working on it little by little

  15. Thank you for another interesting and insightful article! This explains why the MRN I know show those behaviours described above although they get plenty of fuel from their IPPSs.

    Many MRNs I know look bored, upset, unhappy or frustrated, even when good things are happening to them like a new baby in the family or a great holiday. Nothing seems to please them and they are not able to enjoy anything in life. Reality and their own thoughts remind them of what they are not.

  16. “Accordingly, should you ever witness a Mid Range Narcissist exhibiting some kind of panic attack, a wailing and bemoaning of his or her lot in life even though there is no fuel crisis evident, then you have witnessed the appearance of the Mid Range narcissist’s reality gap.”

    Bemoaning of his life….yes!!! I lost count of the number of times he said “I am 33 and have nothing to show for my life”…. and that is always the reason why he is so depressed, just one of my “blue” days, guilt and shame mixed in and blah blah blah…. Oh and the reason for his silence which I should not take personally as it is not just me. Yeah. Uh huh.

    Everything you write about the mid-range is so eerily accurate, HG. I wish my emotional thinking was not such shit because the stuff you write really describes my mid-ranger so specifically.

  17. This is a fascinating article and responds to an issue I have rolled around in my head for a long time. My Midranger was faced with a VERY sharp slap when reality didn’t match his perception of self. And these were multiple slaps for about 8 years. Yet he continued to persevere in his belief that he could turn it around (admirable perseverance or pathological delusion, depending on your point of view). And… he did! My question is this: What effect do you think YEARS of facing the Reality Gap would do to a Mid? It seemed to me it brought more to the fore his extant N traits (more paranoid, more oblivious, more heartless) and even “brightened” their intensity (to quote HG)… or he was just always that bad and I didn’t see it.

  18. Yes, there is a total reality gap. If they exaggerate their achievements or underestimate them, it is never the reality.
    I observed that fascinated and amused in the beginning. This was my reality gap.

  19. So when they’re suffering some form of reality gap crisis is the most powerful time to deliver an unfuelled criticism.

    Or even when they’re on top form, just point out to them in an unemotional manner what a failure they actually are, because they’re still cocksucking and arselicking and it’s never actually got them anywhere ! They’re still just middle management, not good enough for the board.

    Does it hurt them daily when their IP is more successful than them

    Nice one HG – thaaaaanks

    1. During seduction, your success is an attracting factor, during devaluation it is an annoying factor because you are the competition.

      1. During seduction, your success is an attracting factor, during devaluation it is an annoying factor because you are the competition.

        ^ THAT!! the most hurtful and confusing part. if that is a thing. i would pick it. hot shit. piece of shit. all over the same stuff. it was maddening. in an angry way yes. but caused the insanity loop to run wondered what the actual hell was wrong with me (mission accomplished in other words for the control tactic.)

  20. Insightful new material makes a happy Friday.

    This explains so much of something I could see but not put my finger on. Seemingly random cold fury unleashed on me simply because of his own feelings of inadequacy due to self sabotaging behavior :)

    Thanks for the validation and for showing me that I can choose to ignore him. My empathy doesn’t have to be a flaw.

  21. I can see we’re all going to need to review our Latin..

    HG, you are enough.

    Something I’ve been wondering for awhile – how in the world does it work?? How do assholes who never accept responsibility nor accountability wind up in charge??
    No offense 😉

    … Is it possible that a successful relationship be appropriated by the narc? ex. an IPPS has a great relationship w a friend – can the narc claim that good relationship?

    1. Because we have the tools to get to the top quicker than others and once there others become the fall guys and girls with regard to the issue of accountability. Not all of our kind of course get into such a position, but such positions do have a lot of our kind in place. The ability to want that success, not be concerned about who you trample on there to get there, the ability to cripple the opposition without remorse and having a wide skillset by which to do so, the lack of concern for people when tough decisions are made, charm and magnetism, being persuasive and many other elements all enable us to get there above others and also stay there.

      1. Um, yeah.. we get that you’re awesomeness & ruthlessness serve you well – that part of my comment was a bit rhetorical – but I don’t mind giving you a chance to expound on your maniacal skills –

        However, I am really interested in your point of view on a narc appropriating a relationship? Is it a residual benefit like a nice car that can be seen, by extension, as belonging to or due to the narc?

      2. How do assholes who never accept responsibility nor accountability wind up in charge??
        No offense 😉

        ^ good one.

      3. I am currently reading Fury – it is a difficult read for me.. – hopefully I will understand better as I continue – the appropriation of character traits is something I struggle to understand…

        ..but i think this is what I experienced –

        our lives (mine & my MR narc) had a lot in common.. only his was crumbling while mine looked successful to him –

        i felt a dangerous pathological envy about my life – job.. family..

        .. i even said to him once ‘you don’t want me, you want my life’

        – he responded ‘i can’t steal your life’

        ..i still fear he’d like to destroy what i have bc he can’t have it/it’s not his.. but if, through our entanglement, he can claim my ‘success’ as his.. he’s achieved it somehow?

      4. HG, this is another incredibly enlightening post… I am amazed not only by your understanding of so much human experience, but also of the clearly outlined, detailed description.. that enables my/our understanding..

        Thank you.

        I found the Prime Aims post very helpful along w this post as well:
        https://narcsite.com/2017/03/07/the-prime-aims/

  22. HG

    Thank you for another very clear and well written puzzle piece. It is especially helpful to me at present, so timely as well. I would have previously considered your last paragraph as witnessing a Mid in victim mode and I see there can still be a fine line, but good to know they do experience moments of reality. which I can also contribute to. No, I dont mean in taking the opportunity to reason with or try to get through to him/her in these moments of clarity (that is not the point you are making but being Empaths, there are those who will grasp at that to justify further dealings with them), but to rather add to those moments (as I have done recently) with carefully thought out and fuel free wounding remarks.

    What can I say? Im a giver.

    So close to 7 Million. To you I give my respect and thanks.

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