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

  1. Anm says:

    Michael Jordan. Greater Narcissist?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Please see this ANM https://gum.co/vCWsW

  2. lickemtomorrow says:

    I think this is a very important explanation and understanding for people to come to with regard to narcissists.

    Always interesting to see the distinctions being made between the various schools of narcissist as well.

    I do wonder how well any health professionals do without this more insightful understanding. It is hugely beneficial in terms of being able to predict behaviours and also knowing how to combat them.

    1. Lily says:

      A lot could be gained if the scientific community draws from HG’s work. Unfortunately, empirical construct development in psychology moves at a glacial pace (and it’s usually a minefield) and they will likely ignore all this knowledge. Unless HG were to get a PhD in psychology and publish everything….

      1. lickemtomorrow says:

        That is the great shame, in my opinion, Lily.

        So many of the people who have those PhD’s could not come close to the understanding we have at our fingertips here and which HG provides. I wonder how many of them have helped someone escape from the narcissist, and written about its effects in all its forms – from defending children, to divorcing narcissists to dealing with the parental narcissist, not to mention narcissists in the workplace. It is great practical knowledge and insight, often applied with empathy (cognitive) and at times with a sense of humour, too. HG could not be more effective in assisting those impacted by narcissism. While the studies must go on and the research is valuable, I doubt a PhD or published paper is going to make the difference to the majority of people affected by narcissism.

        1. Lily says:


          Once upon a time, narcissists were (for me) that young man who fell in love with his image (& shunned Echo) and those with a penchant for selfies. Witnessing my confusion last year (thanks to an individual I met), a mentor told me to read up on narcissism – which I did systematically by reading scientific publications, then various books, then Psychology Today articles… and somehow stumbled into Narcsite. Since then, I haven’t gone back to the books (& very seldom to the scientific articles) as what struck me was the explanatory power of HG’s typologies and observations. The vast majority of the world, whether psychologists/therapists or victims, remain unaware that they could find answers here – and instead, remain in ignorance using incomplete/incorrect concepts and not even aware of what they are dealing with (recently came across some research that merely equated narcissism with extroversion).

          So why the PhD & publish everything (I was visualising a book magnum opus)? The sad reality in certain domains that one needs an advanced degree for researchers (or even practitioners) to take any hypotheses/results seriously…

          1. lickemtomorrow says:

            Hi Lily, I think you covered it well in that last sentence – “to take any hypotheses/results seriously”. That is the reality. We must all be serious about narcissism and its effects, but in order to be taken seriously society dictates the need for the things you mention. Not that I would dismiss the value of those things, but in terms of true insight and practical applications I find them sadly lacking. So much comes down to experience and many people can only relate to the issue based on experience. While I cannot disagree with the cool hard logic of science (such as determining a genetic predisposition, etc.) and the understanding it can lend, it doesn’t seem to take us much further down the road in terms of tackling the issue. And I think that is what is made possible here. Achieving freedom should be the ultimate aim in terms of putting narcissism under the microscope.

            I have also done a lot of reading around the subject from a layman’s point of view and while it did give some insight it afforded me little other relief. While I could identify it, I couldn’t deal with it. There is something unique about finding a place where you can reach right into the heart of narcissism and meet the reality of it while at the same time being given to tools to escape it. It is confrontational at times, but that is part of the medicine required to help overcome the cognitive dissonance we can all suffer from. As the old saying goes “the truth will set you free”.

        2. A Victor says:

          Agreed. Education can enhance but it’s not the end all, be all answer. Common sense and first hand experience are often more meaningful than any formal education.

          1. lickemtomorrow says:

            I think I would have to agree when it comes to narcissism. While the science and academic aspect of it can enlighten us in some ways, nothing beats first hand experience. I don’t know anyone else who can relate to the concept of narcissism except those who have been affected by it.

            I have been very frustrated in the last 24hrs to see one academic recommend people find another name or term to afix to narcissism. This greatly disturbed me, partly because the person has built a name and reputation for themselves using narcissism as the basis for their work and now are invalidating those affected by suggesting they refer to it as something else. That’s certainly how I felt. It was like a little patronising hand pat to say don’t ‘diagnose’ these people (i.e. narcissism is not a diagnosis) and yet there is no other way to describe the combination of behaviours or the fact they clearly come under the umbrella of narcissism. I don’t get it. There were suggested terms such as ‘toxic’ and so on for describing them.

            I am only putting this here, HG, because I was shocked at what I heard/read. And found it so invalidating. And coming from a professional per se it was beyond disheartening. No matter what word you put to it in terms of describing the person’s behaviours, in combination they all come under the umbrella of narcissism. And coming here is like a breath of fresh air in comparison. I’m sad to say I felt gaslit in the situation and wondered if this is the scientific/academic community trying to put a lid on the discussion around narcissism again. I’m actually quite pissed that the one thing we have to hold on to, that makes sense of it all and that encourages our escape, is the word being quashed.

          2. Lily says:

            The bane of academic research in the social sciences is the reliance on certain criteria governing concepts. Consequently, lots of research remain without significant practical implications/relevance.

            In any case, I recognise that my vision was utopic as it necessitates HG losing his anonymity to get an advanced degree (assuming he doesn’t; although, to be fair, his inductive and deductive thinking is more impressive than many known individuals with advanced degrees). So all I can hope and pray is that the victims & the curious consult the resources and help themselves.

            lickemtomorrow: I have come across this tendency to relabel the term- essentially, to water it down such that it offends no one. This is, however, I believe, more indicative of a general tendency to be PC about many terms. I have also come across work that praises individuals with such characteristics and my discussions with some organisational psychologists also found that they do not even believe that there is anything called narcissism. At the end of the day, it’s up to us to weigh the evidence. HG’s works may not be peer-reviewed and published in Nature/Science/ARP, but experience has shown that I can trust these more than the rest.

          3. HG Tudor says:

            Thank you for the compliment, Lily.

          4. A Victor says:

            Lily, I agree. And I second your compliment to HG.

            LET, regarding that patronizing academic, I have seen far too often in my life an importance placed on education that then makes those who have it believe they are superior to those who don’t. Also, who has the higher degree, which school is it from etc causing yet more judgement. It is discouraging and invalidating to see someone trying to change things as we’ve learned them and as they’ve been previously accepted. It’s like changing the meaning of the words in the dictionary to fit the new agenda, serves to make everything gray. What I love about this site and HG’s approach to educating people is the black and white of it. It leaves no room for ET. These are the facts, here are the outcomes dependent on the choices we make, done. If it were not presented this way, I would likely be talking to the narc today, thinking I could help him, thinking it won’t be as bad as everyone says etc.

            HG, I do have questions about this regarding The Shieldmaiden and your apparent decision to make it work with her. Is there something to read or watch with regard to this? Thank you.

          5. HG Tudor says:

            Search as against Shieldmaiden and anything pertinent to that will appear.

          6. lickemtomorrow says:

            I think what frustrated me on this occasion, AV, was the attempt to ‘water down’ the fact and reality of narcissism. I finally had something to take a hold of and it was like she decided to remove that in order to satisfy her own or someone else’s agenda. You can’t go bandying around the word narcissism while it’s the flavour of the month, make your money off that, and then just decide you are now going to abandon the concept. Unless you are a narcissist! And the whole issue of narcissism has gained great traction. I wonder how many people are piggybacking off that for their own purposes? And how when it no longer serves their purposes they will just abandon it and move on to the next thing. Maybe some people have jumped on a very convenient bandwagon. I will be keeping a watchful eye on those who profess to be experts and find this a convenient time to abandon ship.

  3. A Victor says:

    I’ve told many people in my life about this article, in an effort to explain narcissism to them. How it’s the behaviors that make one a narcissist and not the other way around. I have found many people don’t believe it can possibly be so consistent or that it’s not a choice the narcissist makes. I was also very confused by this until hearing this article on YT a while ago, it was a lightbulb moment. Very good to know and very well explained.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Thank you.

      1. A Victor says:

        You’re welcome. And really, the thanks is to you.

  4. Becoming Observant says:

    When you’re raised by narcs, your brain develops coping/survival strategies. In those formative toddler years, when narc parents are invalidating a child’s fears and feelings, gaslighting, triangulating, and all of the manipulations they practice, the child’s brain is forming patterns: for thinking, problem-solving, conflict resolution, bonding with other humans, et al.

    When the child grows up and isn’t a narcissist: are they projecting/imagining that so many ppl around them are narcs? Or do they truly attract/gravitate to nothing else?


    1. HG Tudor says:

      A child is unlikely to grow up thinking that so many people around them are narcissists as they will not know about narcissism. If the child is an empath, they are likely to find as they reach adulthood that they have repeated involvement with narcissists because they are an empath and for the reasons explained in The Addiction : Foundation.

    2. lickemtomorrow says:

      HG is right. You do not know your parent/s is a narcissist nor do you have any knowledge of it, so you basically run on automatic pilot or intuition which draws you into the same drama time and time again. Which is why I think HG has directed you to the Addiction Foundation. Narcissism is what you know, it feels familiar and you naturally gravitate towards it. Much like the narcissist has a gravitational pull towards the empath. It is a toxic dynamic which allows both to fulfill their needs but in a very unhealthy way – at least for the empath. Of course, there would be normals in the mix as well who may have a better chance of avoiding the narcissist due to them not being as empathic. And narcissists will not be attracted to the normals due to the fact empaths provide them with a much higher reserve (in terms of their fuel needs).

  5. Asp Emp says:

    Having said all that above (post-moderation) – we should all support HG and his aims.

  6. Asp Emp says:

    I wonder how many empaths have experienced a Lesser and an MRN as ‘intimate’ partners? There is a big difference between the two schools (cadres not really paramount, not necessarily – but can make a difference). Interestingly enough, I appeared to have ‘upgraded’ from a Lesser to an MRN. HG is correct, they don’t “operate from the same book”. They behave differently – within the schools – but similarly in their ‘needs’ – FUEL. It is all about FUEL. They gain it (or try to, if an empath has ‘escaped’) in different ways, in the schools. Either way, it is very, very draining. It is not easy to spot unless you have the knowledge to hand and have learnt enough to understand the behaviours. To me, it is not really or necessarily important to understand why they need the fuel but to understand how, in what way and where they (narcissists) obtain it from. Empaths. Empower yourselves. With knowledge. However, there are Empaths who need to know more and the sad thing is, the narcissist has a need to access ‘fuel’ to keep their ‘darkness’ at bay – I understand this, because I had my own “darkness” but I did not need control or manipulation to ‘feed’ me or my “darkness”. I just needed to be ‘me’. An Empath who needed to understand themselves. And why they exist. Not a narcissist’s food. Not a narcissist’s replacement of what they do not have. ‘The Creature : An Introduction’ gives a good insight but you need more information – it depends on your own circumstances and the school of narcissist you are dealing with. I don’t advocate the narcissist’s ‘ways’ yet I understand. It’s the ones in my past that I will not forgive or accept yet I have moved on (had a relapse – don’t we all, Empaths?). We are too good for them. We should support each other. Not the narcissist.

    1. A Victor says:

      Asp Emp, your comment is interesting and uplifting. I especially like your encouragement to empower ourselves and also the last two lines. No one else really understands, except those who have experienced a narcissist, so we can effectively support each other.

      1. Asp Emp says:

        Thank you AV – great to know 🙂

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