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.

40 thoughts on “The Narcissist’s Reality Gap

  1. SMH says:

    Ha. My mid-ranger was exactly like this. Very cocky. He tried to get a CEO position and failed. He tried to get a new corporate management job and failed. Two weeks later, he received less than the pay/bonus or whatever he was expecting and so he quit the job he was in. He tried to start his own business but had to abandon it and do consulting. He finally landed a banking job. Boring. In the midst of it all, I escaped and the pity hoovers began, all about his work. I did not care (why should I? he was moving, I never benefited from his money, he didn’t do meaningful work that I respected, he treated me poorly, we weren’t ‘together’ anymore) but I pretended to care. At one point, he said, ‘don’t worry.’ I’m like huh? Why would I worry? It was weird because he acted so differently than he normally did. He really seemed to want my approval. At one point, he even appeared to respect my time – a miracle. I had to tell him that I was ‘proud’ of him for making a change. Seriously. I said to a friend, why does he keep contacting ME? Where is his wife? What does he want me to say? Why am I supposed to care? Suddenly I was his alt-wife instead of his shelf IPSS. Can you tell me why, HG? Did he actually respect me and need me deep down? Was it a test (in the end, I failed)? It must be exhausting to have this compulsion to be so inauthentic all the time…to be vulnerable and suddenly snap that mask back on.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      He primarily sought fuel from you. He may have been testing to see if there was any potential for your advancement from Shelf IPSS – it is difficult to state for sure on the information provided.
      Do not be taken in to think he respected you or your time (the fact he appeared to is just that, he appeared to because it caused a benefit for him).

      1. SMH says:

        He already knew I wasn’t IPPS material. I do not do marriage, stability, family life. I am not that sort of person (been there, done that). I think these were pity hoovers so yes, fuel through pretend respect because I had just escaped. He was trying to flip the script and regain control, which he succeeded at briefly because I ended up blowing a gasket. But I also managed to insult him for his life choices, his trajectory, his control freakishness, his psychopathy. I like to win too.

        Of course he has probably forgotten it all by now even though to me they were some of the hardest months of our ‘relationship,’ and they were technically post-escape!

  2. Aurora says:

    Hi HG, quick question…if you happen to see this!
    My ex N and I broke up 6 months ago but he continues to message me and I keep ignoring him. I want to block and delete him at this point because he won’t stop contacting me, but I’m worried this will antagonize him (he’s a ‘mid-range narcissist’ to the best of my understanding).
    I don’t care about a smear campaign…but I worry about stalking and physical harm.
    What are your thoughts on this?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      I would need more information about the situation to assess him and the likelihood of such further activity and therefore a consultation is the appropriate forum.

      1. Aurora says:

        Thanks HG. I will look into that.

    2. purpleinnature says:

      I feel the same way! I am completely ignoring my mid-ranger, but I am really uncomfortable blocking him. I want to know where his head’s at! Plus, I’m trying to serve him divorce papers, but it’s proving difficult. By not blocking him, I at least know that he knows I’m trying to serve him. Could prove useful in court if I absolutely can’t serve him. Right now, he’s begging me to postpone the divorce that he was so adamant about a few weeks ago, probably because I’m not giving him nearly as much money as he was expecting. I want to know when his sappy pathetic contrition turns into rage. This is a bit of a tangent, but I read his love letters and thought it was funny when he said “I don’t want it to end like this”. Lol. You mean with me in control? I bet you don’t want it to end like that!

      Anyways, I guess the real test will come when the divorce is final. Will I block him then? Or will I make excuses? On top of all the emotional crap, I’m also just extremely curious to see what he’ll do. It’s kind of fascinating. But curiosity killed the cat.

      1. Aurora says:

        Sorry to hear you’re going through something similar. I lol’ed at your commentary about why he’s not happy to have it ‘end like this’.

        Wishing you strength and clarity to decide whether to continue ‘grey rock’ or blocking him all together. We can do it sista.

      2. NarcAngel says:


        If you want to know where his head is at check his ass, and remember-he lies through it too. Dont be curious, dont analyze, just go for the outcome YOU want and be done with him.

      3. J says:

        I have a completely different perspective on the “curiosity” issue. For however long, knowing the mental state of our Ns was crucial to our functioning and, for some, our very survival. OF COURSE we would feel like we needed to “keep an eye” on them. It’s a survival instinct. Obviously, we can and should eventually get to a place where that instinct is toned down and we feel safe enough to truly turn off and not give a shit, but until then, don’t be too hard on yourself, but do work toward getting completely NC.

      4. purpleinnature says:

        Thanks NarcAngel. Lol. Maybe I should print your comment out and tape it to my bathroom mirror. Lol.

  3. WhoCares says:

    Untrue. You are an artist. Just you use different tools.

    You are a wonderful weaver of words afterall.

  4. purpleinnature says:

    This make so so so so so much sense. Thank you for helping me make sense of the madness. I almost feel bad for my mid-ranger. He’s kind of a loser, and there were definitely times I could tell he could sense it. I was the breadwinner, and I honestly didn’t mind one bit. It’s better than being financially dependent on the greater. My mid-ranger sat home all day planning his grandiose business ideas, which never went anywhere and made a huge mess. Then he would get furious when I didn’t feel like coming home from a full time job and spending the rest of my night working on his delusional business ideas with him. Even if I did offer to help, he’d start goofing around and aimlessly talk in circles about the business, never giving me any direction on exactly what he wanted help with, and then weeks later he’d erupt in fury that I hadn’t done anything yet to help him with his business. Good god. Makes so much sense now that he must have been cycling between grandiose ideas and then the realization that he hadn’t accomplished anything, and there I was, an easy convenient target to blame. He’d erupt, gain a bunch of negative fuel from me, and all would be well again until the next cycle. Ugh. I wanted to strangle him.

    My greater would get mad at me for not helping manage the finances while he kept them completely hidden from me. That was fun too.

    My lesser just bankrupted me. I could probably write a book on narcissistic financial abuse.

  5. J says:

    In many articles, HG, you draw several similarities between Lessers and Greaters. You point out that they vary in degree, extremity, skill and, of course, intelligence resources, but share many commonalities. I wonder if you could comment on why it is the Mids who operate so differently from the other two. Don’t misunderstand. I do completely agree with everything said about Mids, but it seems rather counterintuitive that aggression would exist at the lower and higher ends of the scale, but passivity rule the middle. Any thoughts as to why that would be?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Agression is only one factor, the scale is linked (but not dominated) by cognitive function.

      1. windstorm says:

        I can see a logic in the lack of aggression in midrangers being because they are midrange in intelligence. They’re smart enough to see the dangers to themselves and their plans from being too aggressive. Yet they are not smart enough to plan out ways to protect themselves from discovery and prosecution. Therefore they tend to take the safer middle path.

        1. SMH says:

          That is exactly my experience with my mid-ranger, Windstorm. Very left brain smart – good with numbers, calculations, times, distances, but somewhat naive when it came to actual execution of his plans. Every time I would discover something he would act like it didn’t matter, which I now understand from HG was his narcissism kicking in to protect his self- esteem.

  6. Cindy says:

    Hi HG,
    Is the Mid Ranger in a reality gap when they start apologizing and admitting what they’ve done was wrong?
    Are they seeing our reality albeit brief and temporary?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Apologies and admissions will be part of the manipulation and are false in nature. They might be given during the reality gap, but do not lose their manipulative quality.

      1. purpleinnature says:

        While a mid-ranger’s apologies are manipulative, are they aware they’re being horrible? Or do they imagine that our behavior has forced them, a decent, honest person, to be uncharacteristically deceitful out of self-defense? I think I just answered my own question, but it still makes me want to throw up.

        I hate to say it, but I’ll take an intentionally evil Greater over a delusional mid-ranger any day. Even if a Greater delights in your anger, at least he understands why you’re angry.

        Does a mid-ranger have the slightest bit of awareness of how horrible they really are?

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Not at all.

  7. Kate says:

    Hi HG,

    The artwork that is so eye-catching for each of your postings has me thinking that you may be an artist. It would be so interested to know if you are and I hope you might let us know..

    Thank you!

    1. HG Tudor says:

      I can draw, but I am not an artist.

      1. Kate says:

        Thank you for answering, HG!

        I love the visual arts, but was not given much natural ability or got any training to develop any that I may possess. When I took a painting class in college, somehow I always got paint on my clothes, face or in my hair! What a disaster! Photography was a better class for me.

        I imagine that you enjoy art museums, and you also seem to have knowledge of classical music. Do you play a musical instrument?

        I hope that you don’t mind my asking.

        1. HG Tudor says:

          The piano.

          1. Kate says:

            Yay! I am so happy that you chose to answer!

            I grew up with a baby grand and started lessons at the age of 4 or 5 and never took to it. My mother was quite skilled at it and I have recently tried to get her to start again because I think it would be good mental exercise for her.

            I am so excited that you let us know!! Thank you!

      2. nikitalondon says:

        The new design is cool HG!

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Thank you

          1. windstorm says:

            I hadn’t noticed the new pic unti Nakita mentioned it. I agree. It denotes strength and power and the light of knowledge while keeping the warning of danger and caution. Very appropriate.

      3. Catherine Parr R says:

        Yes a very nice new logo design. Light and understated. Why is there a dot after the H and not the T? (I may have posted this question twice. Please delete one or both if you wish!)

  8. Melissa Flood says:

    Thank You Hg…..🙋

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You are welcome.

  9. Supernova DE says:

    I have seen this play out for several days at a time when not getting a promotion at work or getting fired at work because unable to talk himself out of a situation. Would those situations bring this on for an upper mid ranger?

  10. Daniela says:

    I experienced the reality gap. This came just after the loving bomb phase. Shortly after the panic caused by reality gap, he initiated the devaluation phase, blaming me for a bunch of strange things, but i think he considered that i was not a good enough fuel to gave avoided the reality he was in. His reality gap crisis took around 5 month, he didn’t discard initially but i got the silence, ghosting and smear treatment, in parallel with “ i
    Love you still”. I assume he was searching for a new fuel in the meantime. Then got colder and unaccessible, every now and then was contacting me, without a clear intention or situation we were in. I got no contact but he is not even hoovering, because he understood i saw underneath his mask. I hope him all the best, he is only a person who is not well and i am sorry for his bad experiences as a child. I learned a lot about myself while i was in this relation. I learned patience, which i always lacked, self control, acceptance and surrender when things are not in my hands to control. I tried so hard to be there for him, i fighted so hard for our story…. i got a severe cognitive dissonance, it couldn’t be that he who was very present and carefull for years, is treating me as i am garbage and talks bad about me behind my back… it took time to accept that in fact it can simply be as it is, think about his and my patterns… to understand that he is indeed a middle level narcissist and me not really an empath but a love addict. Thanks to him, i understood and working on it.

    HT, thank you for your posts and especially for their frequency. They come in my inbox in the right time when doubts are hitting me “ what if it was indeed my fault?”, “what if i didn’t need to search so harf for the truth?” … then comes one of your posting and in an incredible way, describe my story…same as the story of a lot others… in the end, the narcs are not even so creative apart of lying 🙂 once one knows the type, they are so predictible 🙂

  11. Lisbeth says:

    Funny! While Reading this I was made aware that my last relationship was actually with a lesser when I thought he was a greater. I also was made aware that my ex-husband was a greater. I don’t know whether to be happy or sad!! They reality check you mentioned I witnessed with both of them. Now that I’ve educated myself I can look back and actually feel pity for both of them..

  12. Jess says:

    I left my victim MMRN when he reality gapped. He was in stranger mode (4 weeks). I gave him space. He started self loathing “I’m not a good person.” “I’m not like I used to be with my kids, my job, my dog.” “I am fucked up, the USMC did this to me and now they are going to have to pay.”

    I giggled at this knowing he was a narcissist. 7 months into our second try at engaging I knew he was probably “fucked” long before the military. I wasn’t indulging him other than to say he was being to hard on himself. I thought, “maybe he isn’t a good person. If he says he isn’t being himself then maybe he’s been fake this whole time.”

    I withdrew and mirrored his stranger mode. He tried everything he could to push my buttons but bc of the facade he didn’t land any major blows. He gave me his phone to play some songs and I looked at his text messages. He was whining to other girls. He was blocked that day and has been ever since. No contact, minus a two week long hoover attempt, for 6 months.

    I agree with you MMRN are pathetic.. He was fired from a very good job and spent 7 months off hangignit with me. I learned that he was charged with sexual harassment at work. He was probably suffering from lack of work fuel. He had no real friends. Lots of fuel from his family who seemed to be afraid of him. Since I work for myself I think he was jealous bc I could make friends with anyone and I didn’t have to work 9-5. His reality gap happened on the verge of having to go back to work.

    Thank you for giving me a place to write these things down.

    1. Penelope says:

      Jess, thanks for your post. I am only 2 1/2 months post escape. There are no words to describe the eye opening, immense knowledge I now possess having read Tudor books, consult, email and this Blog.
      Finally someone as urself mentioned the military man. I went to a tailor to have 2 dresses tailored. Jess, u know how the Greater must present himself . . . so many narcs in the USA military.
      In walks this physically gorgeous man . . . probably 6’6, not an ounce of fat . . . muscular, wearing fatigues. Handsome face. I looked. But ahhhh I am in my ‘freshman year’ at Tudor Institute . . . he smiles at me. I give him the snake eye. He sits waiting his turn to talk with the tailor. I tried on my dresses, parading in front of him. Flipping my hair. Thinking “FU.”
      I looked at him as I was leaving the shop. Guess whar? He was curled up, shrunken to a little boy with a sad 5-year-old little boy look on his face. Beaten by lack of fuel.
      Ladies, if ur with a military man, more likely than not, your with a narc.
      ILU all. Thanks for your sharing. Happy Memorial Day in the USA. Memorial in more ways than one!!

      1. Jess says:


        If I’m reading this correctly you have escaped a Greater. Good for you. They are charming and beautiful…..not easy to stay away from. Learning from HG is like taking the red pill in the Matrix. A hard dose of reality that you can’t unsee. I hope that what you have learned serves you well.

        I wish someone had told me at 2.5 months escape..don’t check FB. Not unless you like pain. The new IPPS was my polar opposite, his hands always on her….them at the beach, boating, concerts. MY most favorite things to do. Things he once expressed a dislike for… My favorite band!! He didn’t get to see it but….OUCH. It wasn’t until HG that I learned, it was all on purpose.

        I am 2 years post escape from the LGN. I miss is the way we communicated with our eyes. We didn’t need to speak. A sharp contrast to my volatile ULN…he was like sitting in front of a calm lake. The fiery pistol I used to be learned control and to speak with purpose. Valuable lessons.

        Happy healing to you.

  13. windstorm says:

    I really enjoyed this article. Don’t remember reading it before.
    Ive been seeing midrangers deal with these reality gaps all my life – whining and complaining. Seen the lessers making excuses for why they’re unsuccessful too, but thankfully not many lessers in my life and those few stay out in the periphery.

    And while the greaters don’t whine or make excuses, they do live in a kind of delusion where they pretend everything is like they want it to be. That used to drive me up the wall with my exhusband. He has the ability to ignore anything that he doesn’t want to acknowledge. I just couldn’t live in his fantasyland. If the roof is leaking on my head, I want it repaired – not to pretend it doesn’t leak. I never was any good at pretend.

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