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

  1. Asp Emp says:

    Interesting to re-read my comments on earlier posts of this article. My audacity, to ask the question “Has narcissism got different ‘breeds’?“. This was in the early days of my learning but it is also my brain-wiring. It has been interesting to learn about the different yet similar characteristics of those with narcissism, the victims (empaths) who have narcissistic traits and being able to recognise how I was impacted by the narcissists of my past.

    I came across an early article that HG wrote in relation to the **character strands of narcissism, listing around 15 of these which could be measured by the intensity (levels) of each character strand. It is very similar to ‘systems’ that many medical / science people would use for ‘measuring’ patients / people for ‘diagnostic’ purposes ie for Aspergers.

    **HG may have, since, updated / expanded the list of character strands yet the ‘principles’ of narcissism would not have changed much.

    Hence my saying the other day that I have confidence that HG uses ‘systems’ that works and produces correct results.

  2. BC30 says:

    “once you are given the information your choice to stay is culpable.” — See, I told you so.

  3. dave w says:

    TO me the “playbook” aspect of things comes from the way in which narcissism is created- a combination of genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors that cause emotional processing to be “stuck” in a childhood phase of identity versus role. Narcissists are actors, role player and chameleons because of the void inside of identity. They become Frankenstein’s and absorb viable traits from their victims albeit temporarily. Thus they are role playing based on the victim until of course devaluation occurs when the flip side of those traits become triggers to ignite fuel. The combination of intellect, understanding, observation and some form of aberrant nurturing during childhood leads to an efficient survival mechanism. The tactics of that mechanism are common. The efficacy with which its delivered is determined by the above attributes of the narc lesser middle or higher/ultra. Smarter more observant and logical narcs are the “best: or the worst depending on your viewpoint. Empathy is not looked upon as pathologic and empaths can be “taught” to recognized their overblown and thus flawed characteristics (flawed in this current version of our 3D world). Thus we can be healed ironically by HG! But narcs cannot do not and will not. No matter how much you have suffered at the hands of a narc once you are given the information your choice to stay is culpable. We are 2 ends of the same spectrum of human behavior and while empaths are not responsible for narcs dysfunction at first, we are responsible for our response at last when we wake up. We consider narcissists evil because of our social order and structuring. But empathy carried to excess is also flawed its just turned inward and not outward so the damage is contained. Also is not really determined by intellect in most cases as witnessed by the infantile books on the topic! Thanks to HG I have learned a lot about this fascinating arena of narcs and empaths and as a result a lot about myself that i never considered. “Fool me once….”

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Sensible observations.

  4. strongernow says:

    My ex-narcissist used to tell me that he had read books about mirroring people. It was a technique he used for his job as a sales representative. At that time, I didn’t know he was a narcissist. Did he reveal himself on purpose? I assume he should be aware he is a narcissist?

    1. A Victor says:

      Hi Strongernow, they rarely are aware that they are narcissists, only the Greaters and the Ultra know this about themselves and they are a tiny minority. They do often present as if they know however, many present this way I believe. HG has articles and YouTube videos addressing this, The Narcissist and Awareness on the blog here is a good starting point. You can search on both the blog and YT for this specific title and also narcissist, narcissist and awareness etc. You’re in the best place for coming to understand! 🙂

      1. Strongernow says:

        Yes, I know they might not be aware they are a narcissist, but when I started realising there was something strange about him, I began to discuss his behaviour. He once said to me; you don’t think I’m a narcissist, do you? … so he must know?!

        1. Asp Emp says:

          Strongernow, they may be aware of narcissism but not their narcissism.

        2. A Victor says:

          They throw stuff out like that for various reasons, to test your reaction for example. If they actually knew, they would never tell you, it gives away too much power.

          1. Asp Emp says:

            Hey AV, I have ‘thrown’ comments out in the past – it was sometimes on purpose (via thought, laughing), other times it was done instinctively. I think it’s only the narcissists that have the ability to ‘calculate’ in order to “to test your reaction” ie the UMR (not always, nor all UMR – may be wrong on that one) or Greater.

            Hope you are doing ok 🙂

          2. A Victor says:

            Oh, I thought I read/heard something from HG about the lower echelon narcissists testing us by making leading comments like that, like that they are narcissists. Maybe not, and it wouldn’t necessarily be calculated if they did, it would likely be more instinctual. Anyway, thank you for your explanation. I am doing well, super busy at work right now so I’m struggling to keep my focus, haha. I wish I could earn money doing this!! Hope you’re doing well also!

          3. Asp Emp says:

            AV, them lower echelons are too fick 😉 Yup, instinctual, hence my explaining that I’ve done it too. Glad you’re doing ok. Yeah, I am doing ok thank you. Enjoying watching the birdies from where I’m sat – watching a wood pigeon and a magpie having a ‘face off’ was jaw-dropping. The pigeon won LOl.

          4. A Victor says:


  5. A Victor says:

    This article made a lot about the disorder fall into place for me the first time I saw it. Once I got this piece other things became easier to put together. Also, this article is useful for discussing narcissism with others who don’t understand it.

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