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Alternative Reality-An Insight Into How Narcissists Think

She is 100% convinced that her version of reality is true. She’s completely sane. In possession of her faculties. Fully functional. Successful. Famous.

But she’s also a narcissist and 100% wrong about reality.

But watching her bash, insult and fight her way through a month on a popular UK Reality TV show gives us some invaluable insights into the confusing machinations of the narcissistic mind.

Are They Nuts!?!

My readers often write comments to the effect, “What is it with narcissists!?! Are they sane? Their version of reality is totally different than real reality? Why don’t they get it? What is with them!?!”

No, narcissists aren’t insane. If they were, a diagnosis of narcissism would be a valid defense admissible in a court of law. But it isn’t. No, they’re sane and thus responsible for their actions.

But we can all agree that narcissists live in an Alternative Version of Reality. So what gives?

Dukes Up!

Over the last three painful weeks of watching the “lady” in question on Reality TV, I’m convinced that she truly, honestly and sincerely believes everyone is a clone of her abusive mother. To her, her alcoholic Mother was the model of normalcy. The mother who assigned the role of Black Sheep to her from birth. The mother who severely neglected, hated and beat her. To her, that’s how everyone is. It’s normal.

Naturally, from babyhood she learned to “have her dukes up.” At fifteen, she ran away from home. But she carries her Mother always in her mind. Everyone she meets is her “Mother.” Everyone she meets is “out to get her” like Mother was. Everyone she meets is playing the same games her Mother played.

Over seventy years later, she still has her dukes up. It’s how she reconnoiters life. That’s why she came into the Reality TV House with her dukes up. That’s why she’s shouted, finger-waved and threatened for the past three weeks. And she’ll continue to live this way for the rest of her life.

Explaining Nice, Normal People to Narcissists

What never occurred to her is that everyone genuinely wanted to like her when she entered the House. For once, the house was populated with a collection of fairly normal, peace-loving people. People who just wanted to get to know her and share friendly conversation. They wanted to live together in peace and have a few laughs. After all, they didn’t know her from Adam so they certainly didn’t “have it in” for her.

It was she who made peace impossible by having her dukes up from the get-go. She defending herself when no defense was necessary by going on the offensive against all and sundry. It was she who began lecturing, haranguing and insulting within minutes of entering the House.

Did she piss ’em off!? Of course she pissed ’em off!

One woman had the lady-balls to stand up to her. Naturally, the other housemates backed her up.

Instantly, the narcissist concluded they were a gang. She called them “gang-handed,” “vile,” “arseholes” and “horrible.” “Can’t you see what’s going on here!?!” she says, trying to woo allies over to her side. Unfortunately, she never actually says WHAT is going on nor WHAT lies are being told about her.

But she never, never, never doubts her Alternative Reality.

Genuine Personality Confused with Game-Playing

In a quiet chat, she was asked if she believed her housemates were “real.” The question sent her into gales of laughter. “No, my love,” she simpered. “They’re all playing games.”

Hang on. Thirty days in a house with perfect strangers and nothing to do. Even John Barrymore couldn’t keep up a façade under those circumstances. No one does. Sooner or later, everyone cracks. Loses their temper. Sobs. Gets upset.

What she believes is fakery and game-playing is actually normal, nice people just trying to be kind and keep the peace. But her past has been so abusive, so cruel, so warped that she doesn’t believe it’s real. It’s never occurred to her that nice people actually do exist!

That’s the root of narcissists’ Alternative Reality. Everyone is their enemy. Everyone is out to criticize and destroy them. That explains why I heard a close family member sob to our narcissist once: “Remember me!?! I’m your friend. I’m not your enemy!” Suddenly, that statement makes perfect sense.

The Exception

There’s one exception to the “Everyone’s My Enemy” assumption.

Narcissists love those who kiss their ass. Who do whatever they ask. Who don’t have a backbone nor a boundary to their name. Who back them up. Tell them, “You’re so right. Everyone else is just bullying you. They’re so jealous of you. They’re out to get you.” Those who support, confirm and affirm their Alternative Version of Reality.

Such people are few and far between, which explains why narcissists don’t have many friends. Fellow narcissists who share in their Alternative Version of Reality would make the perfect friends, but alas, narcissists usually don’t get along with each. “Two of a trade never agree,” goes the old adage. They tend to compete with each other.

In Conclusion

I dunno about you, but it was a great relief to get this tiny glimpse into the narcissistic mind. It’s always a temptation to obsess, trying to figure out how the heck the narcissistic mind works. It can be helpful, but it’s almost hopeless and can be a distraction from our own recovery. Still, I found this glimpse into narcissistic Alternative Reality fascinating and hope you did too.

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Alternative Reality-An Insight Into How Narcissists Think

Lenora Thompson

Lenora Thompson is a syndicated Huffington Post freelance writer and food blogger. Her readers call her the "Edward Snowden" and "Wikileaks" of narcissism because of her no-holds-barred-take-no-prisoners approach to writing about narcissism. “Narcissism Meets Normalcy” is the real-life, ongoing story of her healing journey from being held “hostage” by a multi-generational, cult-like narcissistic family. It's gritty and real, bloody and bruised, humorous and sarcastic. Lenora Thompson considers herself a “whistleblower,” shining a spotlight on narcissistic abuse so others can also claim their freedom and experience healing. To learn more about Lenora, her husband Michael's heroic battle with Pulmonary Alveolar Proteinosis and to read her writings about food, please visit Thank you!

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APA Reference
Thompson, L. (2017). Alternative Reality-An Insight Into How Narcissists Think. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 12, 2020, from


Last updated: 2 Feb 2017
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