Why Do Narcissists Operate From the Same Book?



It is an often repeated question that I am asked – why do narcissists operate from the same book or why do narcissists all behave in the same way? Is there some School of Narcissism, a University of Manipulation or a College of Coercion?

The fact that much of what I write about with regard to my own behaviours and those of my kind resonates with so many, many people naturally causes this question to be asked. How is it that narcissists know how to behave in such similar ways? What is behind narcissists using such familiar and well-experienced manipulations?

How do we learn to do this? Indeed, such is the similarity of experience that I am regularly asked by people whether I am their narcissist (I am not) and some even go so far as to write to me on a daily basis questioning my behaviour, pleading and chastising as they truly think I am the narcissist who is tormenting them (again I am not) but this is borne (in part) out of the recognition of similarity with regard to the operation of narcissists.

Do we all use the same book and if we do, how does this come about?

The first observation to make is that whilst there are similarities in the way that we operate there are also considerable differences. Of course, many of those who are ensnared by us find themselves ensnared by similar types (as in school and cadre) of narcissist, therefore the behaviours will indeed appear similar to the victim.

However, Lesser Narcissists have a smaller range of manipulations, are rudimentary in their activity, have smaller fuel matrices leading to more interruption to their fuel supply which in turn causes more volatile and haphazard behaviours and have a low threshold on their ignited fury which will invariably appear as heated fury. These are considerable differences from the Mid Range Narcissist and both Lesser and Mid Range are different again from the Greater School.

Now, a Lesser Narcissist may use a silent treatment (the hallmark of the Mid Range Narcissist) but it is rarer, there are cross overs between the schools in terms of certain behaviours. For instance, all schools may use physical violence, however Lesser Narcissists do so more often and more brutally and without regard for consequence, Mid Rangers do so far less often, tend to use pushing, holding, spitting and slapping rather than punching, kicking, biting or head butting and Greaters, where physical violence is used (which is rare) may do so through a proxy or will do so in a manner less likely to be detected. Thus there is a similarity with regard to the use of physical violence but considerable differences in its frequency and application. Similar behaviours but with variations.

How about achieving coercion and control? The Lesser is a blunt instrument relying on blind fear through physical aggression (to person and property). The Mid Ranger will rely on being kind and good-natured moving to pity and emotional blackmail before involving threat, albeit it remains that. The Greater uses charm and reward before the use of  implied threat (never express) which will be implemented if required. Thus all three schools engage in coercing and controlling victims but do so in differing ways.

What then of fuel matrices? The three articles I have previously written about those matrices show a commonality – we all need fuel – but significant differences in the composition and extent of those fuel matrices. The Lesser has a small fuel matrix with heavy reliance on the Intimate Partner Primary Source and is more likely to make use of a Non Intimate Partner Primary Source should the need arise. The Mid Ranger has a wider fuel matrix, but relies significantly on the IPPS also and less on a Non Intimate Partner Primary Source. The Greater has the widest and most varied fuel matrix and whilst there remains a reliance on the IPPS, it is not as great as the other two schools and indeed the Greater School can endure for far longer without a primary source at all compared to the other schools.

All three schools exhibit ignited fury when wounded (see the book Fury for more details in that regard) however the Lesser has a hair trigger in that regard and relies mostly, often exclusively on heated fury. The Mid-Ranger has more control than the Lesser but it is not substantially improved and their fury manifests more through cold fury. The Greater has a significant control over his or her ignited fury and will use both heated and cold fury should control not remain in place.

Not all narcissists are grandiose. Some are aggressive, others are passive aggressive. Some are haughty, others almost needy. Some focus on the physical, others on the cerebral. Some are successful and others are not.

Accordingly, it can be seen that there are similar strands with regard to narcissists, in terms of constitution, outlook and behaviour but with notable and significant differences between the schools. Therefore it is not accurate to state that all narcissists operate from the same playbook, but that it appears there are similarities. Again, as mentioned earlier, this appearance of it being the same may also be the experience of the victim because he or she has been ensnared by narcissists of the same school and cadre.

Yet, what if the differences I have explained above (and there are plenty more) are regarded as mere subtleties by victims and instead you point to the fact that we seduce victims, we love bomb, we devalue, we disengage, we suffer wounding, we hoover and we smear. Are those all not the operations of narcissists, are they not all the same? Do we not all regard people as objects as appliances?

Do we not all lack emotional empathy? Do we not all experience envy, jealousy and hatred? Do we not all utilise black and white thinking? Do we not all have an overwhelming need for control of our environments? Again, these would be seen as significant ‘sames’ with regard to our kind and support the suggestion that we all operate in accordance with one, mystical, all-encompassing manual of narcissism.

It is clear from the many comments that I have read on my blog and social media platforms, from the e-mails I have received and the content of consultations that people have very similar experiences with regard to being a victim of our kind, whether it is romantic, familial, social or work entanglement. Thus it very much appears that we do indeed all operate from the same book and this raises the next question, how can that be? How is it that narcissists ‘know’ to operate this way, to have the same perspectives, to react in the same way and to deal with their victims in such similar ways?

That is a simple question to answer.

It is not the case that because one is a narcissist that one knows to operate in the same way as every other narcissist. No.

It is because we act in such similar ways that we are narcissists. If you do not act in this way, you are not one of us, if you do, you are and you belong to our club.

Manipulate, lack emotional empathy, regard people as appliances who belong to us forever, control people, need fuel, lack remorse, have no or poor boundary recognition, exhibit magical thinking, a sense of entitlement, have no concept of accountability, ensure it is never our fault, see only in black and white and so forth and you are a narcissist. Not the other way around.

It is the similarity in behaviour that makes us narcissists, not that we are narcissists so we behave similarly.

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9 thoughts on “Why Do Narcissists Operate From the Same Book?

  1. Asp Emp says:

    In response to lickemtomorrow’s sentence “Much the same as any diagnosed disorder or condition. They all have things in common which is what gives us the ability to diagnose them”, I agree.

    However, sometimes individuals can either a) get the incorrect diagnosis, or b) give people the impression that they have another ‘condition’ other than narcissism, or c) be correctly diagnosed.

    Why? My argument against the “system” that is not yet designed but I feel is required. There are thousands of professionals, “criteria” lists, tests, medical articles, opinions, nay-sayers, truth-sayers, ignorants, loads of reasons why some people can be diagnosed wrong.

    o my knowledge, there is no system available which can be simply a database listing all the health conditions known to afflict or not afflict the human race. I made such a statement in a room of people who has similar “condition” as me, psychologist, other medical professionals and also someone who professed to be an expert in the “condition” that I “afflicted” with. There is no system available where professionals can enter a few keywords to prompt the database to come up with a list of “conditions” to assist the pathway to initial and possibly a final / formal diagnosis.

    I class myself as an Expert by Experience. I am me. Some of my personality traits / characteristics may be viewed (by people who do not know me at all) as another “condition” yet I am confident that I am correctly diagnosed, because I know myself.

    Sometimes I feel that some “conditions” that have been “labelled” as such are not actually a condition – let’s take, for example, dogs or cats. How many different species or breeds are there on the whole planet? They are all identified usually by the appearance, colour, size etc. A cat or dog born with 3 legs is not labelled as disabled, or are they? A cat or dog that has lost one leg due to an illness, or accident is labelled as ‘disabled’? A cat or dog with an allergy to certain environmental factors is not usually given a “label”.

    There are people with different backgrounds, cultures, religions etc. There is the International Law, Human Rights Act etc, yet the separate / individual countries may or will have different variations of The Law. The way things are done in the UK may be different to those of Spain.

    If we were to apply a similar approach to the human race……. uh oh. I am not trying to start a debate or argument here. Could it be that the human race has different species, breeds etc? Has narcissism got different ‘breeds’? Are Empaths, Normals and Narcissistics different ‘species’?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      No, we are all Homo sapiens but there are differences within the species.

    2. lickemtomorrow says:

      Hi Asp Emp, I appreciate your thoughts on this one and I wasn’t in any way trying to box people off into various categories as I know there can be wide variations and even wider interpretations at times.

      It was more to offer a sense of comfort around having something a little firmer to work with. It could be any kind of condition where there are common denominators and it can be a relief to get a diagnosis and begin working on any issues at hand. The professionals don’t always get it right. At the same time when they do it can help to have it acknowledged and for people to get the support they need.

      It’s like being here and confronting the issue of narcissism. We’re not going to get anywhere unless we acknowledge it. There are criteria which help to determine if someone is likely to be a narcissist and HG is generously offering us his own narcissistic perspective and even allowing us to pick his brain 🙂 Now, HG could certainly decide to be in denial of his narcissism, never be in a position to be diagnosed, regardless if
      everything about his behaviours indicate that he fits the template. But he has decided to tell the world he is a narcissist. This means he has a ‘label’. And is happy to share that with others. At the same time labels are not always comfortable things because they tend to take away our uniqueness. Easy to apply, everyone can judge by that label, and therefore we are neatly boxed up for others ‘consumption’. HG has found a unique way to apply his label and I think it’s entirely up to the individual if they want to apply a label to themselves while it is up to others to understand. An official diagnosis is helpful in terms of explaining and getting relevant supports. It’s not helpful if all it means is a label.

      And as we are learning there are variations when it comes to narcissists and empaths, etc. There is no ‘one size fits all’. So we need to make room for eachother. And I’m more than happy to wear the ’empath’ label.

      1. Asp Emp says:

        Hi lickemtomorrow, thank you for your response. I feel that maybe it’s got a bit mixed up. I was simply agreeing with you. And then I commented on what I did, not because of your comment. A month after I lost my role – I asked a friend who is a professional if I have narcissism – No. Asked if I was crazy – No. Asked if it was my fault – No. Asked if I am partly to blame – No. These were asked (8 months ago) before I started reading into narcissism (a month ago) and then I understood persons who had previously been in my life. I was “labelled” as all sorts (the smearing campaign indirectly started 21 months ago but I did not realise it as to what it is classed as until a month ago).

        However, I had been subject “labelling” from a very young age – simply because I am on another spectrum, not narcissism. Hence my saying about diagnosis etc. Some are hidden and misunderstood, misinterpreted etc. I am just not quite ready to take all my skeletons out of my wardrobes as yet (or bathtubs as HG describes in the Addiction Package – one narcissist = one bathtub, is my understanding and I have more than one bathtub in my ‘past’ as I am calling it now).

        Maybe a parent who was my ‘supporter’ passed away when I was very young and left me with the other parent that failed me as an individual and effectively I could have had more support (the right way of learning things etc) simply because I had absolutely no idea until I started reading KTN……. however, I do not see this in other members of family…… so. My grandmother was a lovely woman, I must have inherited her good & kind aspects which have been marred with the narcissistic.

        There’s more to the reasons I am the way I am. I’ve nothing to hide but I am still new to this site. Thank you again for your support 🙂

        1. Violetta says:


          I was diagnosed with ADHD at 9, which wasn’t as common as it is now. Everything I said was put through that filter. To this day, I prefer the Freaks-n-Geeks of theatre, punk, reenactors, LARP, and Theology Geeks who extol the superiority of the Latin Mass.

          Maybe Neurotypicals aren’t all self-righteous mid-rangers, but it’s a favorite place of theirs to hide.

          1. Asp Emp says:

            Thank you for sharing 🙂

          2. lickemtomorrow says:

            ADHD is one of the most misunderstood diagnoses out there. If I hear one more person say it doesn’t exist, it’s the parent’s fault, the child just needs better discipline, etc. I think I’ll scream. Plenty of nay sayers with no phucking experience of the havoc ADHD can wreak on the lives of the individual or their families.

            This is one label that bears the distinction of being disbelieved, demonized and disparaged like no other. And article after article condemns the use of medication which can be a life saver to these kids, their education and ability to socialize.

            No time for the nay sayers on this one and glad you shared your unique POV, Violetta. It can be incredibly difficult to get a diagnosis (as you say you diagnosis at age 9 was unusual at the time) even now because of the controversy surrounding ADHD.

            I’m glad you’ve found so many avenues to enjoy life and hopefully lots of people to accept you in your uniqueness <3

        2. lickemtomorrow says:

          Thank you for sharing more of your story Asp Emp <3

          I see there was a labelling aspect to the smear campaign which sucks. At least here you can get confirmation around some of those things, though it sounds like you have a good friend who was able to put you to rights on that as well. Sorry to hear you lost your job.

          The labelling occurring from a young age is tough as well. Especially if it's used to hurt you.

          I don't know your story and much of my own I haven't shared as well, so I can respect your position. Happy to offer support when I can 🙂

  2. lickemtomorrow says:

    Much the same as any diagnosed disorder or condition. They all have things in common which is what gives us the ability to diagnose them.

    Your first IPPS had to ability to pick up on the criteria associated with narcissism which is what in turn alerted you.

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