illusion of the narcissist

Vanilla Sky – Unreality with the Narcissist

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You’ve come to realize the Illusion of the Narcissist.

…and that your relationship with the Narcissist was a reality warp.

No matter how many times you replay history in your mind, you can’t make sense of it or come to grips with what you now know was an illusion.

Hyperreality:  the inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from a simulation of reality; a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are seamlessly blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins.   Individuals may find themselves for different reasons, more in tune or involved with the hyperreal world and less with the physical real world.

This hyperreal world is the one we live in with the Narcissist.  Nothing can be taken at face value.  We take on the Narcissist’s version of reality  – the illusion of the narcissist – and apply it as our own.  Like Tom Cruise’s character in Vanilla Sky, we exist in a continuous lucid dream state, hoping against all hope that the false reality is real, in spite of the frequent implications otherwise. 

Carrie Reimer, author of the blog Lady With a Truck, writes about this reality warp with keen insight in her article, Sick Narcissistic S.O.B.’s.  Although she’d begun to pick up on reality towards the end of her abusive relationship, her article demonstrates how easy it is to assume the Narcissist’s attempts at being nice are sincere; although his “being a gentleman” can point dangerously to the opposite.

Reality Warp:  Imagine yourself in the setting she describes, entering the home of the Narcissist where he has your favorite drink ready for you.  He’s dressed nicely and has cleaned his home.  He invites you to take a shower and you accept.  As you cross his bedroom towards the shower, you notice a robe on the bed.  You believe he laid it out for you.  You take your shower, exit and put on the robe, go back to the kitchen and take a sip from your drink.  The Narcissist is playing the guitar and you think you’re being romanced.

Reality:  All of the provisions you’ve just taken part in were actually meant for another lover.  She may have left moments before you arrived, or perhaps is expected to arrive soon.

To the Narcissist, all lovers are one in the same person, in spite of how unique they claim we are in the beginning of the relationship.  (It’s important to remember that you ARE unique, only that the Narcissist is unable to see you that way).


The irony of hyperreality with the Narcissist is that our version of reality seems so real to us because we love and we want to believe.  And, to our detriment, the Narcissist produces symbols that represent things that do not actually exist.  These inauthentic symbols often manifest in the form of:

Hoovering – Creating the false illusion that he/she is sorry for their cruelty. 

Reality – They don’t love you; they only need you for supply and domination.

Dangling Carrots – Taking you to look at cars and shopping for homes or engagement rings.

Reality – They have no intention of following through on these things.  It’s simply a trick to keep you hopeful and hooked.

Torn Between Two Lovers – During one of their Silent Treatments, you implemented No Contact, and they put on a show of having been forced into the arms of another lover. 

Reality – They’ve been grooming new supply for some time now and your attempt at No Contact was the perfect opportunity for them to begin triangulating.

Escape From Plato’s Cave

One of the earliest indications of the awareness of hyperreality can be found in Plato’s Republic, specifically, in the Allegory of the Cave.   Socrates describes a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall, and begin to ascribe meanings to these shadows.

According to Socrates, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality.

And thus is life with the Narcissist.  The whole relationship is based on shadows.  They are the lie, from hello to goodbye…

Just as Plato’s prisoner is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not constitutive of reality at all, Tom Cruise’s character decides to wake up and conquer his fears by leaping from a rooftop.

Your awakening needn’t be so dramatic.  All you need to do is go No Contact in order to stop living in shadows and illusions.

I wanna wake up! Tech support! It’s a nightmare! Tech support! Tech support!” ~ David, Cruise’s character in Vanilla Sky

Forget everything you know about life, and just open your eyes…

This is a revolution of the mind

When did the dream become a nightmare?

Open your eyes.


How to Get Help

If you believe you’re experiencing narcissistic abuse, you don’t have to tolerate it. Consider whether or not the relationship is doing you more harm than good.

Don’t blame yourself. A person’s choice to be abusive isn’t because of anything you’re doing or not doing. You’re not the cause for their behavior, no matter what they say.

Taking care of yourself is the biggest priority, which may include breaking off the relationship. 

Here are some helpful resources:  

is a free resource that includes everything you need to get started on healing your life after narcissistic abuse.

The Break Free Program – Explore techniques derived from behavioral therapy (vetted by the psychological and neuro-psychological communities) to finally heal your life.

The Bottom Line

Everyone has the innate capacity to heal themselves. But, it’s likely you will need external support to heal the traumas that get in the way of your ability to tune into this gift.⠀Helpful tools and resources can assist you in developing effective ways to break free from narcissistic abuse. 

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Leave a Comment:

Marshall Dyson says April 9, 2021

I like what you’re written, and am glad to see this information out there So, curiosity question for you. Do you see as much narcissism in DC as I do? Why can’t more people see it? TIA.

Riley Ann says September 12, 2020

It’s true, the part about all lovers being the same. Narcs never saw you as #1, and would never, ever, give you that place but easily take it away. I was engaged to a narc/inmate for over one year and he easily detached from the commitment, citing many excuses, and always blaming me for excuses. They are using defense mechanisms over and over, the pain for them must be terrible trying to repress whatever wounded them, hiding it from view and healing. Sad, I still love the narc for other aspects.

    Kim Saeed says September 13, 2020

    Hi Riley,

    Many people feel the same way you do. But, I don’t view narcissists as helpless, wounded individuals. But rather, the cruel and sadistic tormentors they really are. They may have been wounded as children and that’s unfortunate, for sure. But those children are long gone, leaving only an adult with an underdeveloped level of emotional maturity, non-existent emotional intelligence, and deficient attachment capabilities. What’s left in that child’s place is merely a scheming manipulator who doesn’t give a care about anyone except themselves.

    Instead of feeling sorry for a lost child who has grown into an adult who’s hell-bent on destruction and chaos at all costs, we should instead focus on the children we have in our families, our schools, and our societies. We should focus on removing our own children from toxic environments, when possible, so they have a chance at healing and developing a healthy sense of self. We should focus on the children we have now so we can heal generational dysfunction instead of perpetuating it.

    We shouldn’t forget about the past, because it’s often the past that keeps us from repeating mistakes and helps us stay motivated to keep moving forward…but we should stop counting on the “maybes” the “what ifs”, and the vain hope that narcissists might change. Instead, we must try to work on healing the damage they’ve done to our spirits and ending the chaos that they’ve brought into our lives so that future generations won’t have to learn, as we have had to learn, why narcissistic abuse is so damaging and feels so different than other forms of trauma.

Gabi Wenzelow says September 11, 2020

Great insight!

Anonymous says March 27, 2020

Boom! And just like that, you once again directed me to the post most relevant to my current day. It extends on my current thoughts and examines the topic more closely than I can on my own.

I draw a picture of reality. A steel, hammerheaded pendulum capable of swinging full circle. At rest, the lowest apex of the swing, is representative of physical reality. Hyperreality is represented by the highest apex of the swing. Any point between the two is any degree of reality, a mix between the two, the blending, where we mostly live. Higher on the swing, on either side, represents the hyperreality as dominant, the lower, of course, means physical reality dominates.

This is the mindbender for me: does the narcissist live at the top of the apex? Or do they just present it to their targets? Do they know the difference? I was wondering that perhaps my narc isn’t just a liar 24/7, but is in fact, a delusional person who actually has lost touch with reality. He maybe doesn’t know he’s lying? Maybe he thinks he is like God and speaking things makes them real? Within twenty minutes he told a number of Blanca the lies that were too easy to prove. For instance, “please dry the dishes before putting them away”, was answered with “I did dry them”, and when confronted with the proof of wet dishes stacked in the cupboard”. I thought I did”. This is after being told the same thing many times in the past. Is it an effort to trigger me? Gas lighting? Believing what he says?

Books should be titled, “The Man Who Didn’t Say What He Just Said”, followed by volume II, “The Man Who Didn’t Do What He Just Did”.

    Debi Tillman says September 11, 2020

    Oh so true ! You nailed it when he replied ” oh I thought I did “. I believe they know exactly what they are doing. They’re just never going to own up to being accountable for their actions and or behaviors. If he would of admitted that he lied about drying the dishes and responded by admitting he was caught lying to you then he would have to be responsible for his behavior . There would be a consequence for lying. And so its never their fault and or never their responsibility so they never will have any consequences to pay.

Steven Pomfrett says March 27, 2020

Hi Kim. Through out my years of mental torture with a narrsasistic wife. I created my own hyperrality sad but it was a kind of an escape for me. I guess my life was so busy back then. I would ride my cycle 120 miles a week to work In a fast heavy paced steel press shop. Working an average of 14 hrs a day getting home I would make my kids supper and then myself do a bit house work. Then go to bed and repeat every day. all whilst being told I don’t do anything anymore talk about not enough hrs in the day. I guess my mind just broke and creating a second life in my head on the rare occasion I was alone was a coping mechanism. In truth it kinda helped me leave her. Thinking of what should of been and how life can be so now this is where iam in this new chapter of me. Following your guidance and doing things for me and it working thanks for all your knowledge and support. Regard steven

    Debi Tillman says September 11, 2020

    I too work many hours every day its my only real world that I have. At home with my narcissistic husband is my other life …the hyper reality where I’m the blame …his personal punching bag.

BRENDA says March 26, 2020

I TRULY IDENTIFY with all of the content, but I was in total shock at the end of the relationshit, I thought I really knew the person

    Debi Tillman says September 11, 2020

    Been married for over 8 years and I feel like I don’t ever know him .

The Matrix of Narcissistic Abuse Recovery - Kim Saeed: Narcissistic Abuse Recovery & Personal Growth says December 18, 2018

[…] Read:  Vanilla Sky – Unreality with the Narcissist […]

venbaxter says July 23, 2016

I opened this article in a new tab on the day that you posted it and I tried to read it. After Two paragraphs, I had to stop. My brain wasn’t comprehending it, wasn’t able to digest it.

I was too deep in hyperreality myself, too busy tracing the seamless seam separating fact from fiction. Too much energy was tied up in holding the line, sticking to boundaries, not letting the seam melt back into seamlessness.

In the parlance of Dianetics, I didn’t have enough “attention units” free to give to reading on the subject. But today, with the seam clearly visible, the line secure, the boundaries in place, and the “attention units” freed (and the toddler napping), I finally got to read it from start to finish.

Brilliant article, Kim! Now I’ll go read the one that inspired it. And maybe watch Vanilla Sky again soon. 🙂

Breaking Up with a Narcissist | Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed says February 4, 2015

[…] hoovering move that is almost always the death of No Contact.  Such tactics involve a plethora of reality-bending schemes, such as the three examples listed […]

Narcissistic Supply, Bad Faith, and Insurance Against Loneliness | Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed says September 3, 2014

[…] Vanilla Sky – Unreality with the Narcissist […]

Kev says July 26, 2014

Vanilla Sky is one of my favourite movies, Kim. 🙂

    Kim Saeed says July 26, 2014

    Mine, too, Kev 🙂

Hunt FOR Truth says July 26, 2014

TY Kim – as always, I humbly and wholly appreciate the thoroughness of your work and I do truly appreciate as best I can what recovery may require as I read here and blogs by many that I follow – that teach us about the haunting sufferings. This truly is a blessing for me in my mission.
Peace, love and joy for you I pray;
~ Eric

Vanilla Sky – Unreality with the Narcissist | My Blog says July 25, 2014

[…] Vanilla Sky – Unreality with the Narcissist. […]

Holistic Wayfarer says July 22, 2014

Huh. Hoovering.

Maria says July 20, 2014

Narcissists actually have the ability to fully believe the warped reality they are simulating (which is unimaginable to normal people). That’s why they come off as so damn genuine.. in their mind, at that very moment, they are..

aveline07 says July 19, 2014

Yes yes yes yes yes…no contact is so important in order to see things with clarity and begin to separate, live one’s own life. I can see this as I look back at my own writing and healing process even in just a few short months…that shift that has happened, and continues to happen in spades. Thanks for continuing to push the ‘no contact’ Kim with your readers, it is so important. No amount of therapy or other self-care is as important as the ‘no contact’.

Constance says July 19, 2014

Reblogged this on thephoenixagain and commented:
I remember when I realized it was all a lie. The whole relationshit from start to finish was one big act on his part. It was the only thing that finally made sense in all the craziness. So glad to be out of that living nightmare.

Nikita says July 19, 2014

It’s amazing how seamlessly the narcs blend reality and their pretend self. It’s what keeps us running in circles, trying to figure out what’s going on. They are calculating and very aware of what they do – unlike us, their victims!!

    Kim Saeed says July 19, 2014

    Indeed, Nikita! Thank goodness I found my way out of the cave <3

Dree says July 19, 2014

Reblogged this on Raised In The Rain and commented:
This post is very poignant…

    Kim Saeed says August 9, 2014

    Thank you for the re-blog <3

lyn says July 19, 2014

Ahh, yes, the dangling carrots! Cant even count how many houses we looked at! (although it involved me and my daughter moving an hour away from her Dad, school and grandparents and my job). Funny though, because he never once kept followed thorough on any action for either me or himself!

Carrie Reimer says July 19, 2014

Thank you for the plug Kim 🙂 Your article complimented and clarified mine perfectly.

    Kim Saeed says July 19, 2014

    🙂 And thank you! Your article gave me some food for thought as I’ve been tossing this article around for several days <3

inspiredbythedivine1 says July 19, 2014

I find your posts insightful, honest, helpful, true, and stated in a positive, supportive way. Very helpful stuff.

    Kim Saeed says July 19, 2014

    Why thank you 🙂

Tothineownselfbetrue says July 19, 2014

This website is the best – I love the articles and it helps me every time I start to doubt myself!!! Thank you!!

    Kim Saeed says July 19, 2014

    Thank you for sharing that! It means I’m helping 🙂

      Anonymous says August 9, 2015

      Thank you so much for education on this epidemic. So grateful for your passion. The articles have kept me from having any regrets or second guessing myself.

        Kim Saeed says September 21, 2015

        Anon, thank you for letting me know that my articles have helped you. I sincerely hope I can continue to write healing and motivational articles that will change peoples’ lives <3

    Princess says August 9, 2015

    I feel the same way too. I started to doubt myself after almost 18 months of NC. Then I opened FB and saw this article. It quickly put me back on the right path. Thanks Kim.

      Kim Saeed says August 9, 2015

      Thank you, Princess. I’m so glad to know my article helped you stay the course <3

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