Narcisisists have what is referred to as a grandiosity gap – ie the difference on the one hand between the reality of their real self, and on the other their grandiose visions of who they would like to be.
Climbing a Greasy Pole
It’s easiest to consider The Grandiosity Gap as a pole. At the bottom lies reality – fundamentally the narcissist is insecure, full of self-loathing and lacking in self-esteem. They are empty, emotionless, toxic souls.
At the top of the pole is someone universally admired, attractive, successful, omnipotent, intelligent, skilled, acclaimed, applauded, influential (the list goes on – but you get the drift).
Their life’s mission is to escape their reality – the pile at the bottom of the pole – and reach the top, both in how others perceive them, but also with their own self-perception. In essence to move from Real Self to False Self.
Pulling themselves up
They climb the pole by pulling hard with their arms to lift their bodies upwards. Each bit of positive narcissistic supply they are able to garner lifts them a notch – so bring on the compliments, adoration, sexual conquests, promotion, money, material objects that signify success etc.
Pushing other down
But they also use their legs to push others down. Stamping on others by dishing out narcissistic abuse, perversely to their nearest and dearest most often, gets them up a notch every time too. So passive-aggressive comments, belittling, insulting, physical and sexually abusing, controlling, sabotaging other’s successes, are all forms of narcissistic abuse that give them a psychological leg-up that pole.
Slides and Mishaps
Greasing that pole, causing them to slide down, are criticism, rebuke, humiliation, abandonment, ridicule, getting fired from work, age (and their perception of what that entails). And it’s hard climbing that pole – so you can understand how these why anyone that makes them slip is treated to their volcanic narcissistic rage. Mishaps are not welcome.
To understand the Grandiosity Gap as explained by self-confessed narcissist Sam Vaknin – The Delusional Way Out: The Narcissist’s Reactions to Deficient Narcissistic Supply