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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69 thoughts on “The Narcissist’s Reality Gap”

  1. Oh my God, you’ve exactly described my husband (mrn.) Throughout our marriage there’s always been a huge crisis with his job because no one recognizes how great he is. He’s nearing the end of his career and is about to throw the biggest fit of his life at work because of all the perceived wrongs against him. While he is an extremely accomplished man, he is overly prideful, can’t accept criticism, and is sexist, so his lack of desired success isn’t completely undeserved. I am disabled, and so I am in great fear for our financial future. I’ve questioned whether or not he is a full blown narcissist our entire marriage, now there is little doubt. I look forward to browsing your site and learning more!

  2. This article is completely spot on. My most recent ex (the psychologist I became involved with) starting crying and moping after the shit show he put me through the night before when he was on a belligerent tirade full of like pure nastiness and rage.

    He wasn’t crying because he hurt me…. he was crying for himself. That became even more evident when he couldn’t even pretend to keep it together and be nice for the 24 hours following the even and all his Apologies….he already started telling me how I should talk and be…

    Real sorry right lol….🙄

  3. HG, this piece has helped me understand my N’s behavior immensely. Thank you.

    I was having a hard time reconciling a lot of her behaviors in my attempts to determine her level of narcissistic sophistication. This one really lit the bulb for me.

    I witnessed several of those moments of clarity in my N.
    Though they were often followed up with completely unexplainable behavior. Things no one would do considering the revelation just encountered. This is what seemed so calculated in the past and kept open the door of her being a greater. But now I understand that those glimpses of reality only served to help her play the victim, even when in the seat of power.

    It’s so easy to just be told, “oh they think different than everyone.” but actually being able to understand the N’s point of view helps me to lessen the burden of blame I place on myself(for allowing this to happen to me). Your writings, more than anything else, have helped me understand these motivations.

    This mid gap is so defining. Perhaps it should be worked into some of the condensed descriptions made of the mid in future articles.

  4. wow. The first narc I ever met was a mid-ranger and this exactly happened to him as we got older. He also would complain a LOT all the time. I met him when we were teens. In my diary I wrote about him. I literally wrote some like: “Wow this guy he is so fascinating. I feel very drawn to him…but he complains a lot and is a bit negative…” haha He would also constantly have these crisis were he would feel he was a loser and I would try to coach him and motivate him.

    The last conversation I had with him, He started to gaslight me. Calling me crazy, that I had lost my mind. My response to him, was that I made a ton more money than he did and was more successful. So it was unlikley that I had lost my mind since I had had to convince a lot more people that I was sane to give me money and allow my success. .. Thanks to this blog, I understand now that I was just giving him challenge fuel and negative fuel. I should just have ignored him. Anyway, that was my last conversation (its been over a year now). He has not hoovered and I have also not contacted him. I think being successful with a midrange helps a lot because it raises their hoover bar. A greater narc is also around my life. He is way more succesulf than my midranger works in his same field (politics) and I think that has really crushed the midranger. I put pictures with the greater on my social media profile. I feel that is my scarecrow with the midranger. hhaha
    However….I am trying to escape the greater now. its hard. they are so persistent.

    man this amazing. thank you for the great explanation and contextualization.

  5. Yes. The mid range I deal with …has these quiet often. Reality gaps. He seems to think we, .his family ,hold him back. When he is so fortunate to even have a family. It of course is perspective …and his is a different perspective . I can see the other perspective quite clearly . Sadly .

  6. This is a very difficult question to formulate in English but I will try my very best:

    If I understand correctly, you are stating (concerning the Greater) , that the delusion is sustained /feed by
    the successes achieved in many different areas which in turn feed the narcissism inhibiting the presence of a reality gap. If this is correct , then I understand the mechanism of how it happens.

    What about in the case of romantic relationships ?There is no success /evidence there that sustains /feeds the delusion. As I understand , the narcissist wants to succeed in finally finding “the one”. So that will mean that when the Greater does not succeed ( which invariably he/she doesn’t) , the failure of not being able to maintain a romantic relationship makes the reality gap more imminent to present itself concerning romantic relationships.

    After all, the Greater is able to see these failures ( but does not acknowledge them) as compared to the Lesser who can’t even see them.
    This leads me to the following question(s):
    How does the Greater compensate/ avoid this imminent reality gap in the romantic relationships to manifest itself?:
    – by blame-shifting as a conscious strategy or an instinctive defence mechanism?
    – by extracting as much fuel/supply as possible to prevent a fuel crisis?
    -and/ or by any other way? In that case : which?

    It seems to me that any way, it always turns to be a vicious circle leading the Greater back to square one every time.

      1. With all due respect HG and not wanting to be offensive:
        I believe that what you stated is a subjective truth that arises from the Greater’s perspective( a subjective reality of how he/she perceives it).

        That does not mean necessarily that is an objective reality.

        As you have taught us, our perspectives( as empaths) are as well determined by our perceptions which are tainted by certain emotions that blind us . Those perceptions are not always objective , not based in facts and not always in accordance to an objective reality.

        Couldn’t the same be applied then to the Narcissist’s perspective( in this specific case the Greater’s perspective) ?

        I do believe that in this case , there is an objective truth/reality based in facts and observations that is not always in accordance with the perceived subjective truth/ reality. An objective reality that completely exists independent of any conscious entity to observe it ( the outcome always being the same and that it is not always the “victim’s” failure).

        I was just trying to see it “from the outside” not speaking now about perspectives( perceptions) but rather about objective realities.
        I do understand though your perspective and I respect it.

          1. “tickety-boo,tickety-boo,tickety-boo?? “
            SX googling ,googling, googling….
            Ah! Good to know that K. A new expression for me. I like it.
            British English?

          2. Origin uncertain. Chiefly and originally British slang. Possibly from an Indo-Aryan language: compare Hindi ठीक है, बाबू (ṭhīk hai, bābū, “it’s all right, sir”). The phrase could have been picked up by British personnel in India before independence and spread in modified form to the United Kingdom and elsewhere in the Commonwealth. Alternately, it may be an extended version of that’s the ticket, possibly influenced by peekaboo.[1][2] Attested in English since the 1920s.

            I googled and found this

          3. Thank you Twilight for taking time for googling.
            I like the expression and even more now when I know the origin..

          4. Your welcome Superxena

            I don’t use the term often, it has been awhile sense I heard it and when I saw HG use it, it stirred memories and I was on a mission of useless knowledge one night, you and K reminded me of it….guess it wasn’t so useless after all. Thank you for showing me what I do when I am stressed isn’t so useless.

          5. “a mission of useless knowledge “.You made me laugh with that one Twilight. Google serves many purposes, that one as well.

            How many times per second do we (people in general) google? Let’s google that one…ha,ha!!

          6. Superxena

            Ha ha I did.
            I have an employee that asked once where I get some of the things I say, my answer “google”
            The truth is I wanted to talk with my ex and every time I had an urge I googled the first thing I thought of from a type of flower to different radioactive materials. On top of whatever subject I am obsessed with at that moment, back then it was NPD. Now it is a habit.

          7. Thank you K. Ups, that post I have not read. It is long,long before my time here! I must read it.
            Yes! Beautiful image , beautiful colours. Impressive.

            Do you know where it is from?

            HG: Is it English landscape?
            ( SX with insomnia about to break it)

          8. I am not sure SX but it looks like Twilight found some info on it. The landscape is located in Scotland.

          9. K

            Ha ha when I am bored I google all kinds of things. Try most alien looking places in earth. Unique and beautiful, strange and exotic.

            I have a lot of what I call useless knowledge, when I stress i read anything.

          10. Twilight
            You and me both. I call my computer The Google Machine. You want to look something up? Just Google it.

          11. Thank you Twilight, I strive for close-to-perfection, a.k.a. good enough.
            I would love a sister from another mother, especially an empath sister! We would just understand each other by using our natural telepathic-empathic powers.

          12. Thank you K about the landscape! It is beautiful, astonishing. Scotland seems to be worth a visit,
            Yes, Twilight did certainly some research of the expression.
            Warmest regards

          13. Indeed, MB and I are going next year to ferret out HG at the Atholl Highlanders Parade – Saturday 25th May 2019. Do you want to join in?

            HG Tudor
            AUGUST 27, 2018 AT 20:56
            Tossing the caber is a sight to behold. I regularly attend a Highland Games at Blair Castle in Scotland, the Duke of Atholl has a private army who parade before the games.

            P.S.
            Just kidding!

          14. K, I was getting excited, my butterflies were rising, and then…”just kidding”. I do want to visit the motherland and I shall do so with or without the HG scavenger hunt! I dream of having locals show me the sights and a good time. I would much prefer an immersive experience than a touristy one. I want to stay at the BNBs and visit the places the locals go as well as the must-see attractions while I’m there. Maybe HG would be so kind as to arrange an appropriate tour guide for a small town American empath to have safe travels. He does have an extensive network at his disposal after all!

          15. MB
            C’mon, life is short. Let’s have fun with a little cloak-and-dagger activity. We can call it Mission Impossible Empath Nation and we will have a sketch made based on the description of HG and we can blend into the festivities at Blair Castle and ferret him out and take photos with our hidden cameras. There is plenty of time to visit haunted castles later on. Carpe Diem!

          16. K, I would relish the opportunity! Ferret him out?!? We wouldn’t have to. We will wear tiaras that say “Tudorites” holding a sign that says “HG or bust”.

          17. But K, you assume he wants to dodge us! He plainly said in his Q&A that he wishes he could meet all of his readers. Not saying I wouldn’t want to jump on HG, though. 😉

          18. MB
            He most certainly would love to meet his readers, however, it will be on his terms, not ours. Don’t forget he is a narcissist and he has to be in control.

          19. K, “Don’t forget he is a narcissist and he has to be in control.” Very well, I shall await my invitation…

          20. K
            You’ll know me straight away. I’ll be the one walking around head down with mirrors taped to the top of my shoes.

          21. NA
            Perfect, you can divert his attention with the mirrors while MB and I take photos surreptitiously.

          22. K! Even better :
            How about enrolling to participate in the competition instead? It seems there are several categories not just tossing the caber: putting the shot and throwing the hammer. Which one would you prefer?
            Oh no, wait! Perhaps it is just for “strongmen “and Scottish competitors?
            (Also kidding)

            In all seriousness, we have similar competitions/games in Sweden: “Stångaspelen “ which take place on Gotland , Sweden’s largest (and most beautiful ) island. That one I can invite you to participate in.

          23. Capital idea, SX! NA is in charge of mirroring and MB will be sporting a tiara and you can sign up for hammer throwing while I blend into the crowd with my hidden camera.

            I would love to visit Sweden!

          24. K the group is getting larger!

            Hammer throwing sounds great:
            Just put in front of me (at a considerable distance) a line of lessers and mids( I exclude the Greater‘s group on the line here for obvious reasons…) as a decoy/bait and I will certainly break distance records.

            By all means K . Sweden is an amazing country. Many interesting places to explore ( depending on the season) : Lapland, Gothenburg, Stockholm, Visby( Gotland) , Skåne, Kalmar, KEBNEKAISE , the viking Birka, Sigtuna etc.

            We even have an ice hotel: ICE HOTEL, JUKKASJÄRVI.

            K, You are invited: next Stångaspelen competitions July10-14 2019. Just be sure to be wearing a T-shirt with “K “ narcsite.com and I will know!

            P.S. Sorry. No tiaras this time. We would be wearing instead a “midsommarkrans “(Midsummer ribbon) : a ring-shaped wreath made of flowers and leaves. A midsommarkrans is usually worn during the Midsummer celebrations in Sweden.

            End of message before this comment turns up to be a trip advisor …
            Warmest regards.

          25. SX
            The more the merrier. That ice hotel looks epic (saw it on TV years ago) and I would love to see it in real life. Ok, so it is Scotland in May and Sweden in July. I will be sporting a midsommarkrans and narcsite T-shirt with the letter K. I do love midsummer.

          26. SuperXena, the midsommarkrans sound lovely. Way better than a tiara! Very delicate and ladylike. Perfect for a southern belle. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve never considered Sweden for travel. Now, you’re on my radar!

          27. Thanks for this K! Not only do I love the phrases but that is my mother, right there. The first time I caught the double face I was about 15 sitting at the kitchen table with some friends. I watched my mother come downstairs with a not so pucker look on her face but as soon as she saw the friends, it was all tickety boo. She did this just the other week. My father was trying to tell one of his granddaughters a story. As my mother was not the center of attention, she called over a young waitress she likes and literally interrupted my father mid-word to introduce the waitress to me and my niece. I got pissed off, as did my father. Anyway, she isn’t bad enough to really be a problem now but she was when we were growing up and we did not have the ‘key’ to solve the puzzle.

          28. My pleasure SMH
            I found the article and the phrase quite amusing and now that we have the ‘key” life is tickety boo again.

  7. Hmm. I think my mid ranger was extremely conflicted as I have been more successful ( being published, awards etc) in a field which is pretty much his life. On the one hand he wanted to tie me to him, on the other, he wanted me off the scene completely. The work I used to do was just that, work. Not my entire identity. Perhaps he wanted me to bridge his reality gap?

    1. Persephone,

      My field is not related to MRN’s current work but he does have a higher science degree, which he emphasized at our first meeting. Towards the end, in a fluke I was asked to be on a huge project closer to his field than to mine (my degree is higher and my profession quite different). The project’s focus is a part of the world I do not know but where he spent lots of time.

      I was excited to tell him and ask for his input. He should have been interested but he was wary and hardly asked questions. He never brought it up again, even when we out of the FR and trying to be friends.

      I wasn’t competing because, like you, it’s not my whole identity. I don’t even work full time. But he was competing and couldn’t ‘win’ at anything but manipulations and fuel extraction. What battle are you fighting with yourself? I asked at the end. It was part of the way he broke me down – made me who he wanted me to be instead of letting me tell him who I was.

      Really, the only thing he does better is make money but I don’t need his money. I had to tell him over and over, I am not one of your dependents.

      Fragile masculinity meet toxic masculinity.

  8. HG, has all of this insight and the interactions from these posts- changed you at all in your personal life?

      1. I was glad to see you have had some changes within your personal life.
        Do you think you may open up to someone in your personal life of your perspective and let them love you? I am going with maybe a possibility that being Kim sense she has been with you through all of this.
        I will understand if you decide not to answer.

  9. I think my MRN had a reality gap. He is very successful in the broader scheme of things but everything is somewhat middling. Several degrees but from only okay schools, good jobs, but never top dog. He’d apply for, say, a CEO position, be somewhat cocky and then not get it. He’d pretend it didn’t matter. He was also this way about his family, once describing one of his kids as ‘not that special.’

    I don’t think I ever made him feel inadequate. I sincerely admired his intelligence but he needed a lot of affirmation. He was perfectly successful – just not as ‘special’ as he imagined. Not king of the hill. He disliked his boss and seemed threatened by the other alpha males, didn’t get his expected bonus, and quit his job. Wanted to start his own business but couldn’t bridge the gap. Now he is one of dozens or hundreds of identical looking men doing identical things in a huge company, no longer living abroad. He is in a world city but not in a center of the universe city. That would be me, living in two :-).

      1. LOL, Amanda. I told mine that I grew up the way he currently lives but I rejected a lot of it, probably because my parents’ marriage sucks. Of course MRN’s also sucks.

        I can mostly live where I want. I can travel when and where I want. I have a higher degree than MRN does. I only work half time, make way less money and haven’t inherited anything, but I have been clever with what I have. I could lose my job tomorrow and be just fine. He has many dependents (or ‘obligations,’ as he refers to his family) and is of the very aspirational middle class. He thought I was some exotic hippie chick. I thought he was a frat boy. We were partially right about each other.

  10. It is so bizarre to read this again. I’m pretty sure I actually might have witnessed this.

    It was right before the N moved, he called and was telling me how grateful he was for the friendship, how much he loved victim A and was actually crying. I was extremely shocked. That occurrence always stuck in my head.

  11. Would this be something one can see if the narcissist sees a secondary source doing something the narcissist wanted to do but knows he never will? Would this lead to disengagement of the secondary source?

  12. This sounds mostly spot-on for my father, though I don’t think the classification lines are quite so thick. My father was extremely successful. He rose from a poor kid of a single mom (just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit) to well-paid jobs with a good amount of power. He got two beautiful, brilliant, caring, successful wives (in succession), both of whom he drove away and then hoovered back in repeatedly until they couldn’t take any more.

    He lost everything through his own determination to keep drinking. And keep drinking. And keep drinking more. Between his large and devoted friends group, his family, his education, and his upper middle class status, he had far more chances than most people could ever dream.

    He is definitely a narcissist, but he doesn’t fit easily into your classifications. I’d put him as a Victim-Somatic-Mid-Range, though he’s also very proud of his intelligence and always sought out women who were even smarter than him. He rose to a height that would be admirable for anyone, and was particularly so for someone in his circumstances. He used to have a massive rage every week for fuel (from both me and my mother, though as I got older he directed it at me more), then turn around and turn on the charm, which he had in massive amounts before he destroyed most of it with alcohol.

    A lot of this sounds like what you’d call Greater, but he’s always played the victim and I think he never fully knew what he was doing. He certainly didn’t appreciate how wonderful his life was, possibly because he believed he was a failure for not being massively wealthy, famous, and powerful, though his outer life was one most people would envy. What’s particularly strange to me is now that he’s fallen so far, entirely through his own doing — most people would be deeply depressed. He’s not. His mood is never any different than it ever was, and subject to things I can’t see.

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