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.

21 thoughts on “The Narcissist’s Reality Gap

  1. Jane hall says:

    My x was a mid range.
    Always feeling sorry for himself. Jealous of anyone with more than he had. Pretending to be a nice guy.
    He would especially feel sorry for himself on his Birthday – moaning that nobody gave a shit about him, complaining that the gifts he had were crap.
    Christmas – I stopped buying him presents years ago – he would open each one and complain, or give me a look. Then say how he hadn’t got any thing for Christmas.

    He was the most pitiful person I ever met.

    he is living with his parents in a 2 bed house now – overlooking a busy roundabout. He did have a 5 bed house with me – it wasn’t perfect, but now he is living like a 13 year old again and finally has SOMETHING genuine to moan and complain about.
    Enjoy the roundabout dear.

    1. NarcAngel says:

      Roundabout seems apt lol.

  2. J says:

    I’m fairly certain I saw a manifestation of the Reality Gap a few times and on one occasion in particular. However, it didn’t look (to me anyway) like a classic panic attack, it looked like a robot malfunctioning… literally. He looked to be having trouble blinking both eyes at the same time, display of emotions was erratic, high level of paranoia and he seemed to not completely know where he was. It was the one time he really scared me as he seemed legitimately to not be human. If he had pulled off a mask and revealed a lizard man beneath, it would have made complete sense. He was so clearly just wearing a “man suit.”

  3. Em says:

    I had always assumed my most recent ex narc was a greater but having read this again he could be a mid ranger.
    He definitely has had a fall from grace in his high profile job. Forced to retire early and now building a career in isolation from his peers with minions around him. Based on money. He is nowhere near the biggest earner and now does far less important minor surgery.
    Hes bored and looks dreadful. The reality gap has hit him. He’s no longer important or influential in the same high profile sphere. He now only important to his minions in the minor clinics he runs. Lay people he manages to impress and trick. He’s trying to get attention and cause dramas. He can’t cope with the lack of importance regardless of the money.
    He is still managing to put a positive spin on what happened to him. He tries to say he planned it all. Or they tried to get rid of him because they were jealous.
    He also has tried to twist the fact that he had a gf for the whole time we were entangled. He says he thought I knew. My fault!! So he is being investigated at work for harassment but if I spoke up to corroborate her story he would twist it to suit him. Dilemma.

    1. Em says:

      I don’t know which article I read on here but it jogged my memory.
      Yesterday he tried to tempt me with mince pies ‘made from scratch’. HG you used this phrase when triangulating one source against another.
      I suspect he didn’t make them, she did. Poor girl she doesn’t know.

  4. Yes, indeed & chuckle. says:

    Whoever you are… you are damn good.

    1. NarcAngel says:

      Yes Indeed & Chuckle

      He is the very best on the subject. Welcome and keep reading. Everything will become clear.

  5. mommypino says:

    This has happened to a Mid-Ranger in my life. She had so much potential when she was young. But in her fifties all of her poor choices caught up with her. And then she started going downhill. Started ostracizing people and her abusive behavior got worse. She started to have the panic attacks described here.

  6. ifonlymommy says:

    What are you?
    When do narcissist, or do most realize, what they are?
    My ex husband has never said he knows but he did say some things that show that he is aware of feelings he lacks. Not that he’s affected by their absence just that he’s aware. I’m just curious if most are aware or just think as you described above.

    1. Em says:

      My greater was aware and told me. Not capable of love. My lesser didn’t know.

    2. K says:

      My understanding is that narcissists do not know what they are, save the greater, and even then they may not always know.

      MAY 1, 2017 AT 20:20
      “If you knew what we truly were then you would not offer your perfect love to us but we want it.”

      What ARE you HG?

      HG Tudor
      MAY 10, 2017 AT 14:56
      I am what I write about here VFH.

      1. ifonlymommy says:

        My ex knew he didn’t have feelings like I did towards our children or to anyone else. He admitted to being number one to himself and that he put his needs above our children’s. He said, “I don’t feel things like you do.” “I don’t know why I just know don’t.” “I never have.” We’ve never spoke labels but it confirmed what I’d already suspected. Pretty sad moment.

        Thank you!

        1. K says:

          My pleasure ifonlymommy.

  7. Michelle says:

    Last I heard, my Narc Ex, whom I believe to be Upper Lesser, was cleaning toilets despite holding an advanced degree. He is intelligent enough and once had a far better career, but he can’t hold his emotions together enough to function in any sort of meaningful work and nearly didn’t finish the required internship with his graduate degree.

    My Narc Friend has a white collar job in a major city. He grew up in a big family and I asked him once if he was competitive with his brothers and sisters growing up. He essentially dodged the question, saying that he was the best at sports and that was all that really mattered. When I saw him last, he was bragging about how he had climbed in the company he was working for in just a few months and said he was poised for a comeback. At least one of his siblings is very financially successful and I think there is some simmering jealousy there. He repeatedly pointed out the high-class neighborhood he lived in, which meant little to me since it is in a different country and I have no real reference point there. He mentioned his salary in his previous career as well. He seemed aware that he was not living up to his potential and that his career was largely unimpressive, and appeared to try to shore things up. At the time I read this as typical male “peacocking” and trying to impress me, but it becomes increasingly clear that he’s a Mid-Ranger and was trying to sell both of us on the idea of his success. He has definite charm and mystique, but when push comes to shove, he’s a pretty average guy.

    HG, your articles on the Mid-Range narcissist are most enlightening. I think that most people recognize the more aggressive grandiosity of the Lesser and Greater, but the Mid-Range narcissist slips under the radar. This is the only kind of narcissist that I really struggle to identify.

  8. Alice says:

    Dear HG,

    Compliments of the season to you.

    I would be grateful if you could clarify a couple of things for me please?

    re the MRN:

    1) Is it possible for him to value “good” memories of past enjoyable experiences with his IPPS/IPSS or is it the case that the past is the past and he is only interested in the here and now?

    2) How would he perceive and react to a) occasional and b) more frequent friendly texts initiated by me as a DLS who is currently on the shelf?

    Thank you, HG, for your consideration of my questions at this busy time of year.


    1. HG Tudor says:

      Likewise Alice.

      1. The memories will be good when you are painted white and either dismissed or twisted when you are painted black. It is how you are viewed NOW which affects what you do now, what you have done in the past and what you may do in the future.
      e.g. Painted White – Do you remember when we went to Rome, it was a wonderful holiday wasn’t it, so romantic? Narcissist : Absolutely, you looked so beautiful in that picture on the Spanish Steps, we must go again.
      Painted Black – Do you remember when we went to Rome, it was a wonderful holiday wasn’t it, so romantic? Narcissist : Did we go to Rome? I know I went with Joanne (the ex), are you sure we went? OR It was okay, I prefer Barcelona myself. Weren’t you ill most of the time anyway so we couldn’t do anything in Rome.

      2. Depends on whether you are painted black or white on the shelf and what is happening in the fuel matrix. You should be adhering to GOSO, not texting him.

      1. Michelle says:

        HG, how does being black and on the shelf affect hoover potential? Does it place one farther down the line or make one a less desirable hoover candidate?

        1. HG Tudor says:

          You may get a malign hoover, but it means that you are less likely to be taken off the shelf because you have been viewed as problematic and your placing on the shelf will be as part of a silent treatment, so should you text the narcissist, expect to be ignored and deliberately ignored.

      2. Michelle says:

        Am I correct in understanding that one can also be painted white — at the narcissist’s whim, of course — and taken off the shelf in the future, with all transgressions minimized or forgotten? I feel like this has happened to me before . . .

        Hell would freeze over before I’d text him.

        1. HG Tudor says:


      3. Alice says:

        Dear HG,

        I am most grateful for your reply to both questions.

        You are right, of course, about GOSO….. although I will probably have occasion to correspond with you again….

        Thank you,


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