Do Narcissists Know What They Are Doing? The Lesser


Do narcissists know what they are doing? Most victims would answer a resounding ‘yes’ to this question. Comments such as these are common :-

“He is so calculating in the way he manipulates me, he knows what he is doing alright.”

“Oh she knows just how to wind me up, she knows she does because she always smirks when she is doing it.”

“He is an intelligent man, how can he not know what he is doing?”

“She must know how hurtful she is being when she starts slapping me.”

However, it is nowhere near as clear cut as that. There are two factors which govern the awareness of the narcissist. Firstly, the school of narcissist that you are involved with (Lesser, Mid-Range or Greater) and secondly the issue of control.

The Lesser School

The Lesser Narcissist (Lower Lesser, Middle Lesser or Upper Lesser) goes through life like a wrecking ball. It is his way, or the high way. Do not like what he is doing? Tough – deal with it – you are the problem. Stopping him doing what he wants? Expect a fist in your face. Trying to make him account for his actions? Good luck with that, you can expect a violent outburst and utter dismissal.

Does the Lesser know that he has punched you in the head? Of course he does. Does he know that he did that that as a consequence of the fact that you wounded him and his physical violence is a manifestation of his ignited fury? No, he does not.

Does the Lesser know that he is cheating on you with your sister? Of course he does. Does he regard it as wrong? No. Is he consumed by guilt at what he has done? No, he does not even know what guilt is.

Does the Lesser who verbally denigrates one of his workers know he is bullying that person? No. From his perspective, that worker is out of line, is too slow, has turned up late again, said the wrong thing, does not work hard enough and therefore his response is entirely justified. Don’t do what he wants, expect to be dealt with. It is not bullying, it is getting the problem sorted.

Does the Lesser know that his provocative comments about your appearance are hurtful and are being said to gain fuel? No. He has no empathy whatsoever, not even the cognitive (fake) empathy and therefore does not recognise that what he says is hurtful or could even be construed as hurtful. He does not understand why you are crying after he told you that you look like the Pilsbury Doughboy in that new purple dress. In his mind the comment was justified. If you push him to explain why he made the comment, expect the helpful reply of “Because I say so” or “It just is, right?”

The Lesser acts through instinct and instinct alone. Yes, if you have escaped him he may put together a plan to drive around to where you are now staying and kick in the door and drag you out by the hair back to where you supposedly belong – but that ‘plan’ remains an instinctive response. He knows what he is doing, but because of the need for control, he does not see his behaviour as wrong, inappropriate or hurtful. It is what needs to be done.

This overriding and ever present need for control means that the Lesser will respond with an instinctive act – whether it is physical violence, sexual violence, smashing up property, shouting in your face – but he sees nothing wrong with this. It is being done to gain fuel, it is being done to keep you in his fuel matrix, it is being done to assert his need for superiority over you, it is being done to quell any rebellion on your part and it is being done to reject any notion of accountability for his actions BUT he does not know this. He does not think, “I will shove her down the stairs because she is rejecting my control over her and needs to be punished.” He just commits the act. He does not think about why he is doing it, he does it and if asked why then you may not even get answer, possibly a shrug or just a growled “She deserved it.” If pressed as to why she deserved it, it is back to “Because she did.”

This behaviour is viewed through the different narcissistic perspective. You, as a victim, do not have that perspective. Your perspective invariably causes you to think that the narcissist does know what he is doing. This perspective of yours arises for two reasons

  1. You know why you do things, you know the rationale behind most of them (if not all) and the consequences and therefore you expect everyone else to behave in a similar way and thus have the similar level of awareness ; and
  2. Your emotional thinking drives you to believe that the narcissist knows what he is doing and why because this then causes you try to get the narcissist to address this behaviour. If he or she knows what they are doing, then surely they can listen to reason, reflect and recognise and take an alternative course of action? In short – they can change. As you know, this desire for change, to heal and to fix is at the core of the empathic victim. Your emotional thinking knows this and therefore, in order to keep you engaging with the narcissist (which is all your emotional thinking ever wants you to do) it cons you into thinking that the narcissist knows what he is doing because this then raises the hope (there’s that terrible word again) you can do something about it. Thus, rather than get out and stay out, you remain, trying to reason with the narcissist, trying to get him to understand how his actions impact on you, that they are wrong and how if only he would change then everything would be good.

Accordingly, your empathic perspective causes you to think that the narcissist is calculated in his behaviour (hence why so many people are honestly mistaken when they think they have been ensnared by the rare Greater Narcissist when they have not) when actually the behaviour of the Lesser Narcissist is only ever instinct.

The Lesser has no concept of guilt, no concept of remorse, no conscience. He cannot have because this would render the defence mechanism that is his narcissism, ineffective and that cannot ever happen. The Lesser is unburdened from knowledge of why he acts as he does, he lacks the cognitive function to even articulate it in some way (which would of course would  be a lie if he could, again the narcissism protecting him) and thus this is why you get no explanations about his behaviour or if you do, they are rudimentary in nature and of the dismissive, curt type explained above.

The Lesser is aware of the actions he performs – he knows he has punched you, he knows he is smashing the windows on your car, he knows he is sleep raping you – but he does not plan, he sees nothing wrong with what he is doing (owing to the need for control through his sense of entitlement, the rejection of accountability, his lack of conscience) and does not see it as manipulative or reprehensible. It is purely what must be done, well, because it is, isn’t it? Now, stop questioning him and do as you are told. Or else.

19 thoughts on “Do Narcissists Know What They Are Doing? The Lesser

  1. Lorelei says:

    It would be so much easier if narcissists were all walking around filthy and punching people. *Sigh.

  2. NarcAngel says:

    This article is entirely (as always) accurate to my experience. SN ALWAYS claimed the violence was someone else’s fault or required for some reason (a reason that made sense to him but no one else). He would then act as if nothing happened and we were expected to adopt this attitude as well. I understood his acting like nothing happened as a future threat to us, but what I did not realize until I came here was that he was ‘reset’ after each incident so there was no referring back to it, and even if he did think of it, that there was no guilt or remorse because there could not be if he did not experience those feelings. The NDP at work. There is no cumulative “oh I have done this many things wrong and am a bad person” reckoning.

    1. Mercy says:

      NarcAngel, was SN ever arrested or put in jail because of his violence? I don’t know if you remember what I told you about the situation with BS and his primary about her being scared of him. Well she was right to be scared because he hit her and put her in the hospital last week. He’s currently facing serious charges.

      1. NarcAngel says:

        SN was not arrested or jailed for violence to my knowledge. Even when there were witnesses to his behaviours by guests in our home, they just distanced themselves (and it was our fault) but never addressed it. No one dared. He never even got arrested for drunk driving which he did all the time. He was so drunk he parked on the lawn next door once and the neighbour just laughed it off. It’s a wonder he never killed anyone. I imagine he would buddy buddy his way out if he were stopped. I do remember the situation you speak of. I hope she does not give in to his false remorse or have the charges dropped and that he faces punishment. How are you faring yourself of late Mercy?

        1. Mercy says:

          NarcAngel, I had a feeling you would say SN wasn’t jailed. They get away with so much. It’s a shame witnesses don’t want to speak out but it’s criminal when kids are involved.

          I’m ashamed to say I got pulled into the situation I mentioned above. I’m actually the one that took her to the hospital. I told myself I’d just help her so my conscience was clear but for 2 weeks I’ve been in a whirlwind of narc manipulation. I feel like a recovering alcoholic that thought I could handle 1 drink. I’m back, I need HGs logic to get me back on track. She is not going to press charges but the police are still investigating. I referred her to HG and now I’m washing my hands of it.

          1. NarcAngel says:

            I understand why you helped her, but her not pressing charges means it will likely continue and you must remove yourself from that shit sandwich of abuse on both sides for your own protection. You’ve shown her that help is available and I hope she finds her way here, but do not become the go to that allows her to stay in it and results in abuse to yourself. Go No Contact with both of them knowing that you’ve done your part in directing her and she has to do the rest.

            This story is a hint of what’s to come for those who wish to become the Primary source. Not enviable or glamorous at all.

            I’m glad you’re here where you have support and HG’s logic and guidance to get sorted and back on track.

          2. Mercy says:

            Your comment is further proof of why I need to be here. I feel as confused as I did the first time I found HGs site. I was surprised when you wrote about removing myself from the shit sandwich of abuse on both sides. That’s exactly what it turned into. I was so blindsided and confused by it because I’ve never experienced it from an empath before. Thank you for understanding. It’s hard to come back and admit messing up when I should have known better. I already feel better control over my emotions after reading HGs articles for the last few days.

  3. aapzonderstaart says:

    I believe in the dsm 5 the lesser is the anti-social,am i right? In the dsm they like to make things needlessly complicated,in my opinion that is.
    I find your schools and cadre’s a better approach. The lesser does have somewhat of a facade btw. They can fake social behavior in some instances. Now i know that ain’t much of a facade compared to the middle or greater,still its a facade.
    I’m going to e-mail consult you about your schools and cadres in the near future,have a lot of questions that i want to put on paper first.I’m not that quick.You’re pumping out articles faster then i can read,let alone comprehend.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      No, the Lesser is not the anti-social, albeit there may be elements of the anti-social about the Lesser (and also Mid Range and Greater). Thank you for the compliment and I welcome consulting with you in due course.

  4. Pingback: Do Narcissists Know What They Are Doing? The Lesser ⋆ NarcTopia
  5. empath007 says:

    Question. Do you regard ALL other people as weak? Even other Greater Narcissists?
    If someone escapes you for good (not sure if there have been any but I recall you saying there have been a small number who have) do you not think they are intelligent for getting themselves out?

    1. Lala says:

      Weak-minded and weak-willed people are around the magnet empaths you’ll see commenting on this site or malignant narcissists that abuse weak easy targets….such as Mr Weeks mistreatment of a wheelchair bound woman he serially cheats on, verbally abuses and physically abuses and his benign manipulative narcissist cheater daughter who smooth talks her way into appearing loving when in all truth she enjoys ruining peoples relationships for the thrill of it and is a pathological liar, “the other woman” dirty little secret thrill junkie, misery loves company bad advice giving, and a peeping tom voyeur who maliciously gets off on watching her fuck buddies screw their girlfriends or casual hookups to degrade them misogynistically by violating ttheir privacy in what they believe are intimate moments…thus humiliating unsuspecting women.

      So that is what is weak. Snow bully exclusion is an easy way to spot weakness.

      Yet, elsewhere shelf partners are not weak. They are too strong to keep as primary sources of fuel because narcissists prefer ignorant victims that do not question discrepancies.

  6. kaydiva3 says:

    But does the Lesser never find it odd that he is constantly making people angry or making people cry, that chaos seems to follow wherever he goes, and that he can’t maintain relationships? Would it never occur to him that HE is the only thing all these situations have in common? In my opinion that would not be emotional thinking, that would be logic.

    1. WhoCares says:


      In the beginning mine would share stories of his past where people wronged him (in the golden period; these events seemed plausible to me, given certain characteristics of my narc). Then, of course, the stories of him being wronged by others continued into the present: *he* was always being ‘targeted’ and “there must be someone or something behind it…” When, finally, towards the end of the relationship – realization dawning on me – I would say to him: “Do you not see that you are the common denominator in all these situations?!” 

      Of course, he could never accept that.

      And he was a Lower Mid-ranger…he could make the connections that *something* was going on (without his knowing) but that it must be some grand plan to ruin his life.

      So, yes, I absolutely accept that the lesser has zero understanding of his responsibility in these situations and outbursts.

    2. Terramagica says:

      No the lesser does not understand, he acts instinctively and he lives in illusion that he creates. He is unaware of what he is doing, who he is, believes he’s own lies.

    3. Lala says:

      If you really listen to a lesser narcissist devaluing you then you’ll realize that most of the time they are telling you where they are inadequate.

      For example my ex told me things like:

      “You bring no value to my life.”
      (I have 18 acres with 2 homes,, a trailer, 2 workshops, a barn and 2 creeks with a private beacb area. its a $400,000 property. I live here alone. He owns a truck and his personal belongings. He meant he has nothing to offer me and he dislikes that as he wants to feel superior.)

      “I don’t need you.”
      (He meant you don’t need me.)

      “Our problem is you are always right and Im always wrong.”
      (He meant to say I always think I’m right but I’m wrong which is his normal deflection but he slipped and said the actual truth.)

      “I don’t want you.”
      (Only because you want me.)

      “Youre not on my team.”
      (He meant Im not on your side ever and I hate that you wont blindly follow my every lie without question, which is why youre the enemy when you should be one of my admiring fans.)

      “I dont know if I want the responsibility of a relationship.”
      (Meaning Im planning on cheating on you because my enablers have given me other options that take less effort and give me temporary benefits/fuel but I’ll keep you around to use you still since there is no reason to make an effort to replace you…yet.)

      “You’re wrong.”
      (I’m wrong.)

      “You dont deserve this or that.”
      (Only I get benefit from this relationship. How dare you expect reciprocation or equality when your only point is to cater to me while I respond with disdain to everything.)

      “You deserved it.”
      (I can abuse you whenever I feel like blaming you for my wrongs and indiscretions and you should have learned by now I will always add insult to injury and continue to worse and worse degrees until you break and accept my mistreatment so that I can then add you to my team of options. Also your refusal to be an option enrages me when my cheap options all encourage my selfishness in otder to compete amongst themselves and steal me away and I’m mad that you have standards as it implies my options are cheao ajd inferior, which they arw but I refuse ti admit that to anyone.)


      1. Anm says:

        Lala! I forgot about the “you’re not on my team” bs. I got that a lot too.

    4. blackunicorn123 says:

      KD3 – you would think so, wouldn’t you, that they’d work out it was them?
      I have just had to reconnect with my sister, whom I’ve distanced myself from for a number of years because she is impossible to deal with, and from being on here, I’ve come to realise she is a Lower or Mid Lesser. I’d forgotten just how bad she is. She is truly awful. She is abusive to everyone….and yet, she thinks it’s people having a go at her. She seems to look for arguments, and takes offence at anything, just to start a fight. It’s exhausting. She’s a car crash. I would also (unkindly) comment that she is too thick to understand logic, either that, or she can’t stop looking for offence long enough to give anything else much thought.

    5. Julie Damon says:

      I don’t believe they have any way of realizing that they are the problem in a relationship. Mine admitted in the beginning of our relationship that he has heard before that he does the same exact things he does with me. However he thinks it’s because we make him do these things. He does not believe something might have wrong with him but the things that he does acknowledge, his stubbornness, his rages, his argumentative behavior, he blames it completely on everyone else.
      It’s also hard for them to acknowledge that things are wrong, because they don’t see things the way they actually are. Like when I first met him, he told me that the relationship he was in for 12 years before me was mostly good. That they got along good most of the time, when they did fight it was pretty strong but for the most part they had a pretty good relationship. However when I talk to her a few years in to our relationship, she had said that it was awful, and that it was never good, but what he feels is good is us just zipping our lips and going along with everything. He doesn’t realize that we are miserable, he just thinks if we’re not arguing that it’s good. Really we’re just not arguing because we know it’s going to make everyone in the household go through hell. We just shut our mouths and smile. They take that as meaning that everything is fine. I think there is no way they are going to think it’s their fault

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