The Narcissist’s Reality Gap


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.

28 thoughts on “The Narcissist’s Reality Gap

  1. J says:

    Great post! (Loving the new pieces so much!) Question: What if (due to circumstances genuinely beyond his control) a Mid-Ranger exhibited the panic attack, moaning phase where delusion and reality are in constant conflict for an extended period of time? Let’s say years. Would paranoia heighten? More fury? What type of behavior or reaction do you envision under such a scenario?

  2. Michael says:

    Hg if a midranger moves to a new town and changes jobs/careers are they more likely to discard their sources? If so why would that be? I have a friend that seems to change girlfriends everytime he changes jobs which is about every few years.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      No such thing as a discard. If the MRN moves to another town, he may

      1. Disengage from certain appliances ; and
      2. Place some on the shelf.

      He will identify new appliances in the new town because (in broadbrush terms) they will be easier to obtain fuel from (and more of it) by reason of physical proximity than the appliances in the old town. That does not mean that the old appliances are going to be left alone, but these factors of new appliances and the distance factor between new town and old town are relevant factors in the Hoover Execution Criteria. In isolation they raise the hoover bar BUT there might be other factors which lower the hoover bar which leads to appliances in old town still being hoovered.

  3. Bubbles🍾 says:

    Dear Mr Tudor,
    I believe I saw this with my mid ranger friend. He panicked on numerous occasions over nothing really, used to make things up. He did voluntary work but felt he should’ve been paid for it. He managed to get the sympathy vote from all involved and ended up with an award for it and still not happy. If only they knew the truth. In his club, instead of being happy to be a committee member, he felt he deserved to be the president. He was jealous of others, if someone was wearing a black tie dinner suit, he’d wear a red tie to up them. He played golf once in a blue moon, thought he was Gary Player. He felt he knew the rules of football so well, he thought he deserved to be the coach and run the club. He has a touch of Scottish heritage, so to prove a point, he rocked up in the whole kilt and feather bonnet.

    He believed himself to be a prolific writer, so he wrote and printed one copy of a 12 page guide booklet to brag to whomever. The complaining, sympathy seeking, self pitying and sulking was exceedingly draining on me.

    Thankyou for explaining and filling the “gap” of yet another crazy episode in the life of a narc.

    Excellent Mr Tudor

  4. WhoCares says:


    Can a Mid Ranger have enough awareness to know of other narcissists who may have their sights set on his empath?

    Could he have enough awareness to play those other narcs to cause his empath extra trouble?

    Would it even be possible for him to decide – if his empath became too much for him to handle – to ‘throw his empath to the wolves’ , so to speak; the wolves being those others competing for that empath’s fuel?


    1. HG Tudor says:

      1. Yes, but he would not know they are narcissists, he would see them as trouble-makers, marriage breakers etc.
      2. His self-defence mechanism may well respond in that fashion.
      3. Potentially, yes, but it would also depend on additional factors relevant at the time – for instance how well-fuelled he is, what is his fuel matrix like, is he better served trying to control the empath and keeping them rather than disposing of a primary source when there is no replacement on the horizon?

      1. WhoCares says:

        1. That makes sense to me; especially trouble-makers.

        2. So, he may respond in this way but it is not necessarily calculated?

        3. Okay, I believe he is well-fueled by a new primary source (but I lack evidence) and I have evidence that he is building his matrix.

        To continue to extract fuel from me he is forced to do it indirectly, cloaking it in benign actions, or simple things that fly under most people’s radar. I suspect that he is fairly well fuelled now and only wants to inflict damage, plus remind me that he can still cause me to act or react. (I’ve been shutting down nearly every avenue of contact; his reaction to this is, of course, to demonstrate that he can still control me.)

        Thank-you again for taking time to address my questions.

  5. Jess says:

    This was the cause of my latest breakup. I witnessed this after my MMRN had a few doctors appointments at the VA. The things he said about himself during this episode disturbed me greatly. “I am not what you think.” “I am not like I used to be nothing is the same.” “I am not myself I am different with my kids, my house and my dog.”

    This really scared me because he had a responsible facade. Seemed on top of everything. I was a huge fan of him but here he was telling me that he was not what he appeared. That I really didn’t know him. So I ran. Didn’t really look back. Every time I started to feel secure in the relationship he would give me a warning. This time it was accompanied by panic and overwhelm.

  6. Kate says:

    Not actually sure if my parents are Mid-Rangers. I would need help with this and should not have written that. Woops!

  7. Mini Duck says:

    Very good article and very informative

    Is it true that greater is never unsucessful and if a narc is unsucessful even though he or she is malicious, charming and with full Control on his or her temper, can never be greater?
    In order to be successful other factors like luck, right environment, supportive Family or peers, Finances to start something, etc play a role.

    So the question rises – that greater is born greater or circumstances made his or her like that? If greater is born in a poor Family in a war situation, will he or she still make it to the top?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      I assume you mean unsuccessful in terms of finance, status etc?
      Greaters are not unsuccessful in that regard.
      A Greater from a poor background would be unusual, but he or she would still achieve success.

  8. WhoCares says:

    Thank-you. This article was most enlightening.

  9. Kate says:

    Hello HG,

    Thank you so much for this article! Now I understand why you told me in the email consultation that the man who I wrote to you about is an Upper Lesser. Also, I think that my ex-husband’s father and step-father are also Upper Lessers. This would explain why the man who you consulted with me about didn’t scare me. My ex probably took on some character traits of those two awful bullies.

    Many years ago, after meeting my ex’s father, I told him that I didn’t like the way his father spoke to him. I don’t know how much later, but my ex quit his job working for his father. When we went to stay with his mother and step-father when we were first dating, his step-father made me cry, so my ex took me up to the room that we were using, then he went downstairs and I never heard such shouting! (my parents are both Mid-Rangers). I think these events were good for my ex.

    Anyway, it is making so much more sense! Thank you!!

  10. Vera says:

    That’s very interesting. I’ve seen quite a few MR panic attacks. They’ll also then blame the panic attacks on something totally unrelated, correct? I got blamed for all of them. He had panic attacks because I did or didn’t do X or because I said or didn’t say Y. And even though what I was accused of was usually a lie, it was never anything bad enough, or important enough, to cause a panic attack. It never made any sense. It makes so much more sense that it was the appearance of a reality gap.

  11. H. says:

    HG, sometimes you use the term somatic narc….where does this type fit in the scheme of things?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      That is a a cadre H. You have the schools – Lesser, Mid-Range and Greater, you then have the cadres which apply to the schools (although not all cadres apply to all schools).

  12. Bibi says:

    It sounds like of all the narcissists, the Mid Range is the most unhappy and dissatisfied. The Lesser gets on more simplistically, the Greater has the actual skills much of the time to achieve many of his aims, but the Mid Ranger flounders about, never quite achieving that level of success he desires.

  13. J says:

    Great post! (Loving the new pieces so much!) Question: What if (due to circumstances genuinely beyond his control) a Mid-Ranger exhibited the panic attack, moaning phase where delusion and reality are in constant conflict for an extended period of time? Let’s say years. Would paranoia heighten? More fury? What type of behavior or reaction do you envision under such a scenario?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      A breakdown would ensue most likely.

  14. Lanne says:

    It’s sounds like a lesser N is not very intelligent. I assume the higher you are on the spectrum the more intelligent you are? So the ‘greater’ has a higher IQ, while the ‘lesser’ is possibly in the special ed category? Just trying to understand it all.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      That is essentially correct, but it is not the sole factor.

      1. Kelly says:

        I find this aspect confusing too, HG. For example, one clear narc i know has worked at a good IT job for years and has a high income. He flies aeroplanes. He is, however, often physically violent to his IPPSs, including spitting, kicking and punching, and has a hair-trigger temper. His lack of self control leads to embarrassing (for him) episodes in public (he tried to attack a pastor’s wife) as well as easy triggering by the lawyer in the divorce court. No drugs, no drink. So, an intelligent upper lesser?

        Another I know is very intelligent but works at a two-bit job with a poor income coz he’s too lazy to follow through with his engineering career. He complains about his lack of money and mooches from his SO. His lack of emotional intelligence renders him clumsy though, and he doesn’t appear too bright? He’s violent behind closed doors only when it suits him, and although he will occasionally brag about which woman he hit, he tends to be more controlled in public – except when he’s drunk or high, which he often is. So, part-somatic, part-victim, intelligent LMR?

        It’s confusing.

        1. HG Tudor says:

          All narcissists can be violent, some do it openly, others behind the scenes, others without the victim knowing who the protagonist is. I am not in a position to provide accurate comment on a paragraph. I would require more information through the NDC to ensure an accurate assessment is provided. I would state that, subject to how often these public episodes are, he would most likely be UMR – if they are many and repeated that would alter my view, but of course subject to other information that I would need. Remember, the outcome is an amalgam of factors. The second individual gives the impression of LMR and of course the issue of intelligence is one open to interpretation – people sometimes state in consultation an individual is very intelligent or very charming, but that actually is a distortion occasioned by ET.

          1. Kelly says:

            Thks for your response. What is ET, and how can it colour our perception of intelligence?

          2. HG Tudor says:

            Emotional Thinking.
            You are made to think someone is far cleverer than they are because your perception of their activity is obscured, for instance empaths usually think the narcissist is acting in a calculated fashion but he is acting through instinct, ET makes them think that the narcissist is far cleverer than he is. Empaths owing to trust accept far more at face value and therefore someone who gives the impression of being intelligent (but would found not to be if cross examined) gets away with it because empaths tend to accept this and do not probe, verify or corroborate. If someone talks about Rome and its historical places of interest and gives the impression they have been there, if a narcissist , they may well not have done and they have acquired someone else’s experience but empaths rarely drill down beneath the veneer and are left thinking that person is well-travelled and of intelligence when actually they are not.

          3. NarcAngel says:

            Great question.

            Re: ET colouring the perception of intelligence.

            Am I correct in believing this is the main reason (there are others of course) that so many believe they have been with a Greater? They think there is calculation so there must be intelligence. This became much clearer to me when I grasped your explanation of most of them operating on instinct and in the NOW. Whatever satisfies the need or provides the fuel in the moment.

          4. HG Tudor says:


          5. Kelly says:

            I hear you. Nut my take has been that the narcs I have mentioned do NOT seem intelligent at all, yet they are both educated and the first (UMR) has a good job and income. The other is well-educated but has chosen to pursue a mediocre job in place of engineering. So they should both be intelligent but never came across that way. I found that confusing. I wondered if it is their low EQ that makes them appear a bit dim? Thks HG.

Vent Your Spleen! (Please see the Rules in Formal Info)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous article

Exposure During Devaluation

Next article

Exposure During Escape