Do Narcissists Know What They Are Doing? The Mid Ranger


Previously I addressed whether the Lesser Narcissist knows what he or she is doing and why, but now let us examine the Mid Range Narcissist. You may well accept that the Lesser, unrefined battering ram that he or she is, just ploughs through life oblivious to the harm they cause, but surely the more cognitively blessed Mid Range narcissist is well aware of what he is doing? He plots and plans, yes? He knows precisely how to manipulate and thinks it through, scheming in advance to get the right result for him?


The Mid Range Narcissist (Lower Mid, Middle Mid and Upper Mid) has an increased level of cognitive function beyond the Lesser. The Mid Ranger also exhibits cognitive (fake) empathy, knowing enough of how he or she is expectedto behave in order to fit in, to con and thus ensnare. However, despite this increased cognitive function – and the Upper Mid Range Narcissist may be highly intelligent – it is instinct that once again rules the behaviours and response of the narcissist.

The Mid Ranger does not sit in a hollowed-out volcano like some Bond villain rubbing his hands together and scheming. He or she does not think about all the ways he or she can ruin the life of the empath in the forthcoming weeks. Their narcissism operates in a way, as ever, as a self-defence mechanism to enable the Mid Ranger to function and be effective – because he or she has not developed other coping mechanisms which non-narcissists have, to navigate a path through life. The operation of this is instinctive.

Does the Mid Ranger think that he will sit and sulk so he can assert control over his long-suffering spouse and gain fuel as she begs him to speak to her? No. He instinctively sits in silence because that is the optimum response as a consequence of him having been wounded. His narcissism operates to make him issue a silent treatment. This of course draws fuel and asserts his perceived superiority over the relevant appliance, but he does not decide to give a silent treatment, he just does it. He knows that he is not speaking to her.

Does the Mid Ranger decide that she will issue a pity play to her colleagues about the way she has been passed over for promotion, thus smearing the boss and gaining sympathy fuel from those listening? No, it is her manipulative response to having been wounded by not gaining the promotion.

Does the Mid Ranger recognise that his cold put downs upset you? Yes. He sees your tears, hears the hurt in your voice and your pained expression. This provides him with fuel (although he does not recognise as such) and he feels the power flowing from the provision of such fuel. This reaction to the flow of power might be to smile or smirk at you. You may then think, “He knows what he is doing.” No, he knows his action hurts you, but he feels no guilt, no remorse, no upset at behaving this way because as ever, from the narcissistic perspective, it is entirely justified.

To understand this further, imagine there is a Mid Range Narcissist and a victim. Husband and wife. Both have been at work during the day. The narcissist called his wife twice during the afternoon but she did not answer – this wounds him. She also failed to call him back. He is wounded again. His wife, as his Intimate Partner Primary Source is painted black as a consequence of his split thinking. Thus, from his narcissistic perspective everything she says and does will be viewed through a ‘black lens’ until she becomes painted white again. A normal, healthy person would work out that her failure to answer and return the call means she is busy, perhaps in a meeting. The narcissist, governed by paranoia and the overwhelming need to control is wounded. This person is not doing what he wants, his sense of entitlement (that she should be available) is dented. He feels like he is losing control. He starts to feel powerless and is reminded of a time when he once was regularly made to feel that way. This situation must be addressed – he must assert his superiority and his blackened view of his spouse will enable him to do this.

His wife is at home first. The husband walks through the door and she greets him with

“Hello darling, what have you been doing?”

An innocuous and pleasant question, enquiring thoughtfully about her husband’s day.

The husband does not regard it that way. His narcissism demands that he asserts control and that she is punished for her transgression. He does not think

“She did not answer my call, I must punish her. She did not call me back, I must assert control.”

Those needs for control and punishment are automatic and instinctive. Her question is viewed as prying, controlling and unnecessary.

“What’s it got to do with you?” he snaps at her. His blackened view of her meaning his response is provocative and unpleasant. His wife is taken aback, her expression changes to one of hurt and the narcissist receives fuel from this.

“Sorry? What’s wrong? Why are you being like that?” she asks in a hurt tone.

These questions are challenge fuel. Her emotion gives him fuel, but because she is querying him, she is challenging him and thus (viewed by the narcissist) continues to reject control and rebel against him.

The Mid Ranger does not think

“Ah good, she is upset and confused. I know I will keep this going.” Instead, his instinctive response, which is automatic and swift in order to preserve him as his self-defence mechanism should, causes him to respond

“There’s nothing wrong with me. It’s you, always prying, asking me questions, trying to control me.”

The wife is taken aback once again. She knows she is not controlling (but then she may start to doubt this of course) but she is confused. Her confusion is welcome, it makes her easier to control. Her responses keep fuelling the narcissist. The Mid Ranger however is not considering what he will say next in order to keep confusing her, he is not considering how to gain more fuel from her, he is not considering how to assert his control over her, it all happens as a matter of instinct. He knows she is upset, but it is her fault because the narcissism makes it anybody’s fault save that of the narcissist. He knows that his comments trouble her, but they are necessary because she is the aggressor.

A third party watching this scene would decide that the narcissist responded unpleasantly at the outset and thus he is the problem.

The narcissist does not and cannot see that. He thinks he is the victim. He thinks his spouse is the problem because she failed to answer his call and call him back. His narcissism makes him think she is controlling  and thus he RESPONDS to her abusive behaviour and accordingly he is not the instigator. This is why, coupled with a lack of remorse and guilt is why the Mid Range Narcissist sees nothing wrong with what he is doing because all he is doing is responding to the unreasonable behaviour of another and therefore he is in the right.

This increased cognitive awareness of the Mid Ranger also gives rise to the façade. A Lesser would have an affair and would not care who knows – the cuckolded spouse is at fault for whatever reason he chooses and anybody who dares to say anything bad about his infidelity is a moron. The Mid Range Narcissist knows that society regards infidelity as a bad thing. He does not and moreover his narcissism will give him plenty of reasons why he should commit it. However, because he has enough cognitive awareness to recognise that it is frowned upon, he will hide the affair (unless there is an overriding beneficial reason not to) which gives the appearance that he feels bad about his behaviour. Not so, he does not want his façade damaged, he does not want the aggravation of the steady home life (with its attendant fuel and residual benefits) damaged. but again he does not think in such terms, he just knows that people will frown on him for cheating on his wife, so he keeps it hidden.

It may seem that the Mid Range Narcissist does indeed feel guilty for his behaviour. That he is genuinely sorry and he will make amends. Not at all. Again, he knows enough from instinctive observation that not talking to someone for a week is hurtful and viewed as a ‘bad thing’ and will even go so far as to admit that BUT there will always be a reason or an excuse. He will say

“I know it hurts you when I do not speak to you for a week BUT if you didn’t nag me, I would not need a time out.”

He instinctively blame shifts within this moment of apparent contrition.

Some Middle Mid Rangers and Upper Mid Rangers may plan to correct the perceived wrongs they have suffered, but this remains an instinctive response. He does not think – “I know this is wrong what I am planning, but what the hell, I will do it anyway.” He knows people may regard it as wrong, but he knows that he is justified because he has been offended, hurt, wronged in some way – namely wounded or challenged – and thus his action is justified and necessary.

When the Mid Ranger lies, he does not know that he is lying. The lie is his truth because his narcissism causes it to be – his narcissism will deflect blame, apportion blame to you, revise history, deny and so forth – all part of the instinctive responses which are totally necessary for the narcissist to regain and maintain control and is as a result of the The Narcissist’s Twin Lines of Defence

When the Mid Ranger gas lights, he does not know he is doing so. He may be contradicting what he said five minutes ago but his narcissism blinds him to this, it has to so the defence mechanism remains intact and effective, and therefore he genuinely believes what he is saying is correct and moreover you are wrong and therefore you are the problem.

This is why Mid Range Narcissists believe that they are good people, indeed empathic people and that the other person (the real victim) is the problem. This is why the real victim is labelled as an abuser, a tormentor and even a narcissist and the Mid Range Narcissist truly believes this to be the case. He does not think “I know I am the problem and she is not, but I am going to mess with her head” – he really believes the victim is the trouble maker because that way his responses and actions have absolute conviction, have the best possible chance of a successful outcome (namely fuel and control) and thus the manipulation goes on and on with no prospect whatsoever for change.

17 thoughts on “Do Narcissists Know What They Are Doing? The Mid Ranger

  1. Rebecca says:

    Hg would an adult MR golden child oldest son of a narc ever get devalued by their narc parent? Please write more about golden children.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Yes, a Corrective Devaluation can be applied to a golden child.

  2. Abi says:

    HG, if a MR narc has two adult sons and one is a narc what are the odds the other son is also a narc? Are both siblings likely to be narcs or just one? I know you mentioned your sister is a codependent and not also a narc.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      One cannot provide a percentage chance.

  3. Rachel Vazquez says:

    I think I had hoped that my husband wasn’t a narcissist because that means I had to face life without my step kids. I thought, and other friends thought, he acted this way because of a cocaine addiction but I’ve been seeing horribly ugly sides to him that no one else sees. I blocked him on FB because I grew tired of seeing him change his status to “single” to punish me for seemingly small disagreements. He took my phone while I was in the shower, went into my FB profile, “unblocked” himself just so he could go and block me. He made me feel like I was forgetful and that’s why I couldn’t find my phone. I knew I wasn’t but he let me suffer an entire day before he said he found where I left it. He also must have seen where I’ve been religiously reading your blog because he threw that in my face today saying that in fact I was the narcissist and I look ridiculous to everyone because I’m clearly psychotic. If I talked to certain friends it was because I didn’t know what was going on with him and I wanted advice from other married couples to seek answers. I also felt alone with the painful patterns of pushing me then pulling me literally every other day. Now that I’m reading your blog I feel completely alone among my friends and family because I think they believe it’s because of his addiction and that our marriage can be healed but I saw just how disgusting and cruel he can be towards me again tonight. He got so close to my face and laughed at my tears it makes me feel small and worthless. I’m going to do the Narc Detector because being who I am and needing to fight a completely losing battle as it stands…I just have to know for sure.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Good move, Rachel. I look forward to assisting you through the Narc Detector Consultation.

  4. Misti M casinger says:

    Questions.. when I read “manipulated” a lot made sense. However, does he know hes doing THOSE things?

    What is the difference between me and him.. i do the hooving.. for me its wondering if things can work. Seeking clarity. Working things out. I’ve done this in the past. For me it’s taking space to clear my head and come back as adults to talk when emotion clears. That’s my thinking behind it.

    Last night he called and texted. Apologizing saying he misses me and hes sorry things are this way. That hes trying to understand how he lost me…someone he loves.. he asked me to just give him clarity so he can have closure and move on. Today he called and texted.

    I’ve thought about sending him these articles. If he isnt a narc I think he may look within to what I have been saying all along. And as I said I didnt get your response not to contact his exes until after I did. They confirmed what I am going through happened with them.

    But aside from me being the problem etc he loves to have fun.. spinning me around and laughing etc.

    Also.. I love bomb.. and do the things like play a special song for a moment to remember. And kissing under the orchard tree we did.. it was me. What’s the difference in him doing it or me?

    1. Mercy says:

      “For me it’s taking space to clear my head and come back as adults to talk when emotion clears.” – for him it’s taking space from you to focus on other fuel sources and to assert control.

      “Last night he called and texted. Apologizing saying he misses me and he’s sorry things are this way.”- His fuel is low. He’s filtering through his sources to see who will fill him up. You are one of many

      “I’ve thought about sending him these articles.” – Don’t waste your time. Nothing good will come if it. You will either wound him or challenge him. Both will cause a negative affect.

      “Also.. I love bomb..” – The difference is you do it for love, he does it for fuel. The N love bombing is to manipulate. It is not genuine.

      If you are unsure if he is a narcissist you should do a narc detector consult. It looks like you are seeking answers in the right place though. My responses are based on my experience. HG is the expert. What you write is typical narc behavior from what I’ve learned here, but you should get confirmation from The Man.

  5. cogra002 says:

    Since the Narc is a mid ranger, excellent info for me! I do think he knows a fair amount of what he’s doing, though. Reading your material more than I interact with the Narc is really shifting my thinking and responses. Nearly always, his behavior is right out of your articles, so I recognize it as such. And certainly don’t take things personally (mostly) anymore. You have made a big difference for me! 👏🙏

    1. HG Tudor says:

      I am pleased that is the case, Cogra002.

  6. Dorion says:

    This is a lot like the narc therapist I saw in the past. It was extremely confusing when we started having conflicts because his reactions very often didn’t make any sense to me, it was very surprising what he said and did because the same would have never occurred to me. For a good while I was thinking he must have been consciously scheming and manipulating, because the reactions indeed came out manipulative. But that was weird as well because the actual things he said were often rather dumb and out of place and superficial at best. I couldn’t imagine how someone would come up with such sloppy things if they wanted to manipulate me as I don’t buy BS easily and I would have imagined he knew me that much by then. In the end I just concluded what you also describe as the Mid Ranger’s half-baked, largely instinct-driven maneuvers. I am glad that your theories confirm my speculations, HG.

    The narc mind must indeed operate very differently. I remember telling him that the two of us must live in parallel universes because we really couldn’t understand each-other. He often misunderstood and misinterpreted me, it was astonishing how he could twist things. But I’ve come to understand that most of his interpretations were his own projections – that fit because they reflected him much more than me (I got to know a lot about him so it was clear). He also sometimes kinda re-wrote my history and I was confused because he incorporated things that never happened to me. First I thought perhaps he genuinely confused some of my stories with other clients’, but now I’m inclined to think it was more projection, but somehow he believed them to be real. The other article about narcs re-writing history reminded me of that.

    The guy also fit the notion of believing himself to be a good person and highly empathic – after all, a therapist. My impression of him was very different, he dismissed things that obviously upset me and sometimes blew small stuff that didn’t concern me at all – again, must have been his projections into my stories. And lots of blame shifting, deflecting, and never ever owning anything. I’m glad that I got away from that guy relatively quickly, heard so many stories where clients get enmeshed and stay with abusive therapists for years and truly horrible things happen to them. It can be just as bad as being manipulated by an intimate partner, if not worse, given that clients usually want to trust a therapist and pay them to be reliable. Sometimes they take exactly the pain of narcissistic abuse into therapy and then are exposed to the same there for a fee, by someone they assume to know what they are doing.

  7. Lamb says:


    Isn’t hiding money from your spouse, secret email accounts, etc- deliberate? They are things that had to be carefully thought out and planned. The level of deception involved was disturbing.
    Some of his gaslighting in the past was insidious . I can’t print here what he did, but it was awful, and most definitely planned.
    I can understand perhaps the silent treatment being instinctive, but not the other things I mentioned.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Not necessarily, such actions can fall within instinctive planning.

  8. Misti M casinger says:

    Wow… I’ve always wondered if he knew what he was doing. All of this sounds so much like us at the time. I was always to blame. Deflecting. He said he was responding to me. That the reason he doesnt spend time with me is because there is always a problem. I cant even put into words.. HG I havent gotten back to you yet because I am so drained. I am having a hard time thinking about everything and doing the narc detector. I just cry.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      The only way you will stop crying is by doing the Narc Detector and consulting so I give you the tools to move forward.

  9. Jess says:

    Do you have a “simple” definition of each range you speak of (Lesser, Mid, Greater)? I feel like my ex fits all of them based on what i have read in many of your posts…but i want to see it all on one page…like a check list of sorts. haha!

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Hello Jess, I recommend you use the search facility with regard to each school but more importantly, use there Narc Detector Consultation and enlist the expert.

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