Do Narcissists Know What They Are Doing? The Mid Range Narcissists



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 (Types A and B) 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 expected to 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.

Understanding the Narcissistic Perspective

Which narcissist am I dealing with?

36 thoughts on “Do Narcissists Know What They Are Doing? The Mid Range Narcissists

  1. Pingback: The Narcissist's Spouse: How To Convince Them To Seek Help - Mental Health Matters Cofe
  2. Leela says:

    @Violetta and lisk: Thank you very much, guys, I really try to stay save. I already keep MAXIMUM distance to him and try NOT to hang out with him. Yes, he´s slurping up fuel like crazy. But what should I do? I just cannot say “f…you!” when we are with friends – you know, of course then it´s ME who is the “crazy one”. I read H.G.´s article about narc-“friends” 🙁 Cannot go “no contact”, just go “minimum contact” and still he´s slurping up fuel from me because I´m naturally a very emotional and empathic person. 🙁 I really wonder how long the provocations will stay benign. I´m already waiting for the devaluation, the passive aggression (he´s a mid-ranger passive aggressive covert narc). I already tried to escape once which resulted in MASSIVE hoovering!!! So he picked up some hoover-fuel as well. At the moment I just don´t know how to escape 🙁 that´s why I make “the best out of the situation”, but when the devaluations and the smear campaigns will start, I hope there will be another chance for a final escape.

    1. lisk says:

      But what should you do?

      Just walk away Renée.

    2. blackcoffee30 says:

      Adios Bitchachos!! Walk away. Do not be “friends.” In fact, you are not friends, you are an appliance. It’s really difficult, but the sooner you move on the faster and happier you will be. Consult with HG.

      1. HG Tudor says:

        Hg approves.

      2. Leela says:

        He does NOT LET me just “walk away”- I´m scared that he will become aggressive, start a smear campaign, whatever. Even though he´s a passive-aggressive one: Who knows what he´s gonna do? That´s why I had the idea just to sit that out and wait for the discard (which will happen anyway).

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Rather than allow your emotional thinking to make you scared, assert some control and find out what you are dealing with and then you will know what he is going to do, so you will know what to do. Do not sit paralysed.

          1. Leela says:

            I´m dealing with a passive-aggressive Mid-Ranger. An unsuccessful one. He used a lot of pity play to get me because he somehow knew that I´m ready to help people. He knew I was bullied at school as a child, so guess what? He “was bullied too”! Surprise, surprise! He´s very vague about his past, never tells anything about his ex girlfriends/wifes? He played the “poor loser” who was “so thankful” that I helped him (at this time I didn´t know he´s a narc, I thought I just helped a friend). At this time he started with the love bombing and I already felt that something was “not right here”. Something was off. First I thought he has BPD – until I got the first Silent Treatment just for a harmless joke (I accidentally wounded him). Then I realised that he´s very selfish and that this person has no empathy! He shows very few emotional reactions, actually it seems that he has no emotions at all? (Okay, fury, frustration, anger and all that). I noticed THE STARE. When I saw that the first time, I cringed! My goodness! I froze in that moment! I just thought “I wanna get away from here! NOW!” I just wanted to flee when he gave me that blank STARE! He loves to provoke emotional reactions. So, started the research. I already new about the Greater Narc but not about the covert ones. Didn´t even know before that something like “covert narcissism” exists.

          2. HG Tudor says:

            Covert narcissism is too wide and is not a term that finds favour here.

          3. Contagious says:

            I just sent someone to you. Hope she takes my advice to consult.

          4. HG Tudor says:

            Thank you for doing so.

  3. Leela says:

    Exactly! I´m currently dealing with an Angel with a Dirty Face as his NISS (Non-Intimate Secondary Source). This “friend” exactly matches the description above. Sees himself as a “good person”, a “good Christian” as somebody who is “nice and kind”, goes to church every Sunday, donates to several foundations, loves animals, loves children, sees himself as very sensitive person. Ah yeah? Get to know him closer and you see the REAL DEAL! You experience the Love Bombing, the Silent Treatments, the dissapearing, the Gaslighting, the Flying Monkeys words don´t match the actions, the name calling (barely calls people by their names), the hot fury (sometimes), the cold passive-aggressive fury (mostly), the pity play, the blame shifting, the lack of empathy, talking over you (only listens what you have to say when it fits the bills for himself!). Get really sick and you experience how “compassionate and kind” this person is – by finding zillions of excuses why he can´t be there for you right now. And when you have enough and want to escape then comes a MASSIVE hoovering! It took me a long time and hard work of research to find out WHO this person REALLY is! Haven´t heard of “covert narcissism” (or Mid Range narc) before and did a lot of reading – thanks to your books I could find out the truth. I already had felt before that there must be something off with this person. Something just felt not right. Something felt off. It´s so fascinating that I hear from this person almost EXACTLY the same sentences as it´s written in the book “Black Flags”! “You are too sensitive”, “You´re reading too much into the situation”, “You´re over-reacting” – that 100 % exactly what he uses to say when someone gets angry or asks too many questions. “You are the crazy one”, said one of his Flying Monkeys to me! Wow! How exactly this matches the books! Fascinating how exactly this matches what is written in the books! So, I became the NISS of such a person. Unfortunately cannot go “No Contact” for several reasons but it helps a LOT that I know now WHO he REALLY is – that I know who is the real deal! I make the best of the situation, stopped investing ANY emotions or expectations in that “friendship” and keep emotional distance and set boundaries. I´m fine with that at the moment and when the discard comes – I won´t be too sad 😉

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Good to see my work has assisted you to this extent.
      1. Revisit this “cannot go no contact” – you may be able to and you will be able to improve your No Contact Regime.
      2. See The Truth About Flying Monkeys

      1. Leela says:

        Thank you very much, H.G.! You are really a GREAT help! I´really VERY thankful, don´t wanna know what would have happened to me if I hadn´t find out the truth about this person.

        1. HG Tudor says:

          You are welcome.

    2. Bubbles 🍾 says:

      Dear Leela,
      You are not alone lovely one
      You just described “the weasel”, our ex narcissist friend, to a tee
      No contact has been in place for quite some years now
      At least you know, more than what we knew
      Good luck precious
      Luv Bubbles xx 😘

      1. Leela says:

        Thank you very much, Bubbles! Well, cannot go completely no contact and he´s hoovering like crazy! :O Even though I have never been his intimate partner, just a friend. :O

        1. lisk says:


          Why cannot you go completely No Contact?

          1. Leela says:

            Because we are involved together in a lot of things like hobbies. I would have to give up beloved hobbies, friends, aquaintences, I would have to give up a big part of my life to go “no contact”. That´s why I decided to get a lot of knowledge and well….somehow learn to deal with the narc. I emotionally completely detached, I try to keep contact to an absolute minimum and fortunately, I´m only a non-intimate secondary source.

        2. Bubbles 🍾 says:

          Dear Leela,
          The weasel was a friend and hoovered heaps
          He was like an annoying mosquito, just couldn’t get rid of him
          I tried to end the friendship hmmmmmm at least 6 times from memory
          Killing him wasn’t an option
          You must be great fuel Leela, time to empty that pump
          Luv Bubbles xx 😘

        3. Bubbles 🍾 says:

          Dear Leela,
          As a friend, you need to stay strong for yourself
          It appears you have it under control emotionally
          If you have the knowledge, there’s the power
          Sounds like you can
          Good luck sweet pea
          Luv Bubbles xx 😘

          1. Leela says:

            Dear Bubbles,
            the most important thing is to have it emotionally under control. And knowlegde is POWER! I read a LOT about covert narcissim, read a lot of H.G.s books. I do not have any expectations from this person anymore, I know what he can and what he can´t do. I know, I´only a supply. He doesn´t see me as human being (he indeed gave me a pet-name, like H.G. wrote in one of his articles), I´m just FUEL! At the moment everything is pretty harmless: He loves to provoke emotional reactions. The provocations are benign at the moment (and even funny). I know what he wants from me (fuel, emotional reactions). I keep maximum distance and as long as his behavior is benign, I don´t mind. Fine with me. I stopped believing him ANYTHING! What he says are very probably just lies, just bla bla bla… fine with me. We get along well, we have some fun and that´s it. I don´t expect anything more. Of course it´s very interesting to study him, I like the stare 😀 It´s funny! I talk about some emotion: STARE! He doesn´t know how to react, which emotion to copy: STARE! He´s trying to draw fuel and studies me: STARE! 😀 😀 😀 Well, you see: I make the best of the situation. If he starts with Silent Treatments etc.: I just don´t care. 😉 No emotions, no expectations. 🙂

          2. Violetta says:


            Please read HG’s article “The Seven Truths About Narcissistic Friendships.”

            Then do a little searching on Daily Mail for recent stories about a) Meghan Markle and Jessica Mulroney; b) Anna Wintour and Andre Leon Talley; and c) JK Rowling and the actors who played the main kids in the Harry Potter movies.

            Then read HG’s article again, this time connecting each Truth with the celebrity gossip.

            You don’t want narcs as friends any more than you want them as enemies. If you’re not willing to drop all those common activities, then at least try not to interact with him beyond, “Hey, how’s it going?” (veering into another conversation before he can answer–better yet, skip the rhetorical questions and just say, “Hi, Fucky-Face” or whatever his name is).

            You might think it’s funny, but he’s still getting fuel. I’m still working on the distinction between challenge fuel and wounding, but I suspect you’re doing the first–he knows you’re watching him to see his reaction to your supposed lack of reaction. Some of those bastards can read the flicker of a single eyelash, so even when we think we’re hiding our emotions, they’re probably slurping up fuel, made doubly tasty by the fact that we think we’ve fooled them and only fooled ourselves.

            And if you are wounding him, he’ll want revenge. The benign provocations may not stay benign.

            There are a few narcs in my reenactment organization. I won’t quit the whole organization, but I make sure I hang out with a different bunch of people at any event where people break into small groups.

          3. lisk says:


            Please stay safe.

  4. Whitney says:

    HG, the God. I normally know when someone is a narc, right away. Then they change their tune with me, very quickly. They behave more nicely and calmer. Even the lower lesser. It’s because they are relaxed from the fuel.

    1. Leela says:

      Noticed that too. When they are saturated with fuel they become nice and calm, sometimes even ask how your day was or at least ask a couple of questions about you. 🙂 When they don´t have enough fuel, they just “overhear” what you have to say and change the topic just right away to themselves. 🙂

  5. lickemtomorrow says:

    Another very insightful article and my narc more than likely fit into this category. The only question mark I would raise over that is he once used the term ‘primary’ to refer to our relationship. I know it caught me by surprise, and I was inclined to question him over the use of the word but did not. For obvious reasons. No one refers to relationships this way unless they know what they are talking about. He was not oblivious. Not in my opinion.

    1. lisk says:

      Not necessarily.

      Often when people have had therapy, they will be more familiar with that term, where an adult would consider their primary relationship to be with their intimate partner and their secondary relationships with their children or parents, for example.

      1. lickemtomorrow says:

        Ah yes, good point Lisk! He only said it once, and it struck me as odd when he said it as it’s not a term I would generally use. I may have worn it as a feather in my cap at the time.

        He was very calculating though as well. I would more than likely class him in the upper range. I think he knew what he was doing. Although, I doubt he would have admitted it even if I’d said so.

        1. lisk says:

          Mine said it often. He had a lot of psychoanalysis and marriage therapy (with his ex-wife).

          I always thought he meant our intimate relationship was his primary one, and that his relationships with his children or cousins were his secondary. Now I know that the latter were his tertiary.

          Do I think he was calculating? Absolutely. Upper? Probably.

          But he wasn’t really that good at it.

          1. lickemtomorrow says:

            Haha to he wasn’t that good at it 😛

            Mine was good at it because I let my emotional thinking take over. So, I made him good at it!

            At least we know better now xox

            Did he know he was a narcissist? (after doing all that therapy, which I’m guessing didn’t help)

            And when you say the latter were his tertiary, do you mean you realized at some point you had become a secondary rather than primary source? (Hope you don’t mind me asking and feel free to ignore the questioning if needs be).

          2. lisk says:

            He certainly hinted that he knew and/or gave me the warning: “My ex-wife used to tell me that I’m a narcissist.” (I forget what HG calls that kind of foreshadowing.)

            I’m sure the therapy helped him manipulate better. I used to laugh at the stories he would tell me about how he would outwit his ex in couples therapy because, of course, she was my competitor as he so nicely set up that triangulation. I would be so happy for his victory over his ex, which I’m sure fueled him.

            Of course, he still saw that couples therapist as a regular therapist, who conveniently also happened to be a sex therapist, after their divorce. As I think about it right now, I can see him talking to the therapist about me to get information so he could manipulate me (and others) better. She (did I mention therapist was a woman?) did seem to always side with me on the therapy stories he told me. He would change his bad behavior after a session, at least for a while. Why wouldn’t he when it only got him great fuel?

            Sorry, if primary, secondary, tertiary are being misused here. I’m not speaking in KTN parlance, but rather in terms of how I see the hierarchy looking back. I was primary source and the kids and the cousins were tertiary, with who-know-how-many other sources rolling around in the middle.

  6. Bad Toaster says:

    I’m sure you will have explained this before, so apologies for my ignorance, but what’s the distinction between Types A and B of the Middle Mid-Ranger, please?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Type A is the Anodyne, Overwhelming Angel, Type B is the Cry Baby who thinks everything is against him and the universe has cursed him. See the Understanding the Narcissistic Perspective, The Bolt Ons and Understanding the Fuel Matrix for more information.

      1. Empath007 says:

        Type A and B should date ! Perfect couple ! Saviour constantly coming to the rescue of the cry baby… and no one gets hurt… because no feelings are involved.

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Ha ha, useful observation.

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