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.
45 thoughts on “Why Do Narcissists Operate From the Same Book?”
Can these traits be reversed? My daughter´s father is a greater narcissist by the sound of these descriptions, extremely intelligent, only used actual physical violence twice (both kicks, one when I was sitting and it felt like he was kicking for a goal, running from behind me as I hid from him on a beach party in Thailand- he broke his toe- and it was my fault).
I would invite you to use the Narc Detector to determine whether he is actually Greater as it is unlikely that he is owing to the rarity of that school.
“It is because we act in such similar ways that we are narcissists.”
Thank you, HG, for putting this thing clear.
I think our question (I will think about the above quote while phrasing it) can be put somewhat like this:
(And I here choose a behaviour which all schools of narcs engage in.)
How do some people from a very young age all collectively understand that triangulating is a must, in order to get control over other individuals?
By virtue of the awareness afforded by being an aware narcissist.
Aha, thank you.
That knowledge in the mind of the aware narcissist,
and built-in instinct in the Autopilot of the Lesser, Midrange, still amaze me.
Two of “my” narcs also meet the DSM 5 criteria for antisocial personality disorder (ULA, MMRA):
no regard for the safety of others
failed to make long term future goals
criminal activities: drug trafficing, fencing, product piracy, extremely reckless driving,
bringing themselves and others into great danger, both didn´t give a shit
extremely violent (destroying property, physical fights, domestic violence (already at an early age vs caregivers)
Haven´t seen that behavior in those with “only” NPD.
Really? This is the ASPD list? This is my ex, and more. But also, narcissists can do these things, I think? Are these the worse things we were asking HG about? How do we know the difference? We probably don’t need to. My parents did fewer of these things, dad not much at all. Maybe they were/are move purely narcissists?
Check out DSM 5 for the symptoms of ASPD, there are 9 traits. To spot the difference is very hard because the symptoms overlap. H.G. is also NPD-ASPD co morbid. H.G. is a psychopath, but not all ASPDs are psychopaths.
NPD-ASPDs are much more aggressive, callous, more often criminal, break the law, have no regard for their safety and those of others, they fail to make long term plans, get bored VERY easily, need constant stimulation.
Haven´t seen this extreme need for constant action, stimulation in “only” NPD people, or that extreme aggression, this callousness. It seemed to me like the NPD-ASPDs are way more dangerous, cold and VERY dark people. The NPDs are just “selfish as usual”, seeking fuel, with ASPD it becomes much more darker and sometimes criminal.
Thanks Leela. I read somewhere yesterday that HG said that it’s on a spectrum and that Mid-range and lessers can have these traits but not as likely to be (not possible?) full blown psychopaths. My ex definitely has most of these, if not all, at some level. My mother a few, my dad not many, if any. All three are mid range narcs but my ex is distinctly different and not in a good way. I don’t care anymore really, it’s more for the learning now that I think about it, but it is interesting, I appreciate you sharing. One thing that makes my ex more dangerous is that he is far more charming than either of my parents. I do think people could see through it sometimes, in a way, but still thought he was generally a good guy. So many people that knew us were so shocked when he left like he did, people thought we had a little paradise going on.
Hey Leela did you get detectors on those two? They sound like lessers.
Sounds a tad like “my” old Lower Midrange. Midrange with some lesser qualities.
Isn’t HG a genius.
My mid-ranger had most of these qualities also.
Yes, I got them. One is Upper Lesser A Somatic, and one is Middle Mid Range A Elite.
Disregard all paradigms except for that of the genius, HG. He really understands people in the most brilliant way.
Thank you Whitney.
Thank you for this.
Sorry to hear, I belive narc2 has ASPD as well.. (and my dad)
When I heard HG say they have no fear, I was taken back to an event. In 2017 we bought a house that was in need of renovation. The façade needed to be replaced and the house was 7 meters high, so a scaffolding was needed. I pointed out that he had to rent safety equipment but he insists it is not necessary.
When it’s time, we built the first floor (from the ground) together. None of us had built a scaffolding before. It was not difficult technically, but made of iron, the rods were heavy and as the longest ones were 2.30 meters long, they made it difficult to keep the balance.
He climbs up to the first floor and asks me to hand up rods to him. I do so. The rods are hooked into the outer corners so you have to stand at the edge to mount them. It is so far only the first floor, 2.30 meters high but I feel the stress pressing on and point out that he has to rent safety equipment but he again insists that it is not needed.
The second floor is finished and he wants me to hand in two rounds – first from the ground to him at the first floor and then from the first floor to the second floor.
4.60 meters up now and he is standing up there, on the edge with a 2.30 meter long iron bar and all I can think is -“Now he loses his balance and falls down” and sees pictures in my head of how it happens over and over again. I have a hard time describing how I felt, but as if my heart was about to explode, would probably be the closest description. I was extremely scared.
I told him – I can’t help you anymore because I can’t look at you” and went into the house.
I do not know from what height we survive falls, but if you can survive a fall from 4.60 meters (I feel hesitant) then you would have serious injuries. In addition, he had fallen together with a 2.30 meter long iron bar.
I have thought that if he had felt only 10 percent of the fear I experienced, he would not have done it, but he did, because he felt no fear. He felt omnipotent and it was very visible.
Fear is experienced to protect us from danger.
Do you see a difference in the eyes between NPD and ASPD?
What I personally experienced is the extreme darkness in the eyes of the NPD-ASPDs. My Patri Narc has NPD, he lives a normal life, long term marriage with mom, he was a terrible, horrible parent of course, he abused me, he devalued me, but he´ is BY FAR not as aggressive as an NPD-ASPD! The callousness I saw in NPD-ASPDs is off the charts! This darkness! When I first met “my” MMRA, my gut feeling was screaming loudly: DANGER DANGER!! EVIL!
I think not every ASPD is fearless, it depends. It is true that the activity of their amygdala is down regulated, but not in all of them completely. Some of them have a little fear.
According to my personal experience NPD-ASPD or malignant narcissists (depends on the definition, there are several definitions and it´s not an official diagnosis in the DSM-5) those people are highly aggressive, highly paranoid and one of my narcs was highly sadistic. Not only a sadistic streak, it was an ego-syntonic sadism which was persistent.
Haven´t seen that in people who have “only” NPD. I would say the NPD-ASPDs have an extremely dark and “evil” look, their eyes and their facial expression are very dark and “evil” (my personal perception, no scientific proof).
Thank you so much for your response
I also experienced darkened eyes and evil facial expressions, but also a lot of charm as AV states above. While charming and benin I could not see it.
In my experience it was visible most in two instances. First while not interacting with anyone. Walking alone in the street for example. Secondly while in a rage.
Another thing that I suspect (but not sure about) is the staring eyes. Not that they have eyes and use them to stare at you for an inappropriate long time but rather that the look of their eyes are ‘staring’. Elisabeth Holmes shows a good example of theses ‘staring eyes’.
Highly paranoid – I’m surprised it doesn’t form part of the DSM-5 criteria.
Callous is a word I’m not familiar with. Translation gives me a word which I understand as insensitive. Is that correct?
Leigh, reading your comment made me think. MRN I knew was abused badly by father as a child – they did not really want to go into details yet wanted sympathy, or my anger (fuel, regardless). Then in their adult life, they experience a potentially fatal stabbing by their spouse. This would have certainly resulted in adding to the mental trauma that already existed, yet something as that kind of life ‘experience’ is likely to create a more (in my view) ‘feckless’ attitude (and probably more a larger ‘mind block’ than they already had) towards dangerous tasks such as you describe the narcissist to be doing. MRN wanted to gain ‘wow’, that’s brave’, or ‘bloody hell, that’s dangerous’ kind of response – in fact, he would brag about it and still got quite a bit of attention (praise, awe etc from those who were around and listening). He’d told me he did not fear death but he started to behave as if he does not have a lot of time to do the numerous things he had to do, getting all worked up with the ‘stress’ of it all, especially after having a stroke. In my view, major shocks like that would affect the rational mind within a narcissist in stronger ways than it would to a normal, or empath. I think it led to further reduced cognitive empathy within this MRN (as stroke damage would add to that neurologically in any case).
The point I am making is, that it may not necessarily be ASPD deriving from a genetic pre-disposition as it sometimes can be caused by injury to the brain (which can happen at any age, under various circumstances).
This is true! There are indeed such cases. People who turned psychopaths after a severe head injury, a stroke or a severe epileptic seizure. There is one famous mass murderer who in fact turned psychopath after a bad head trauma due to an accident (Can´t find the source, sorry).
LFS, thank you for your response. Yes, I did read up on secondary psychopathy as well. Muvver did something that could have led to further variation to my neurological patterns. Who knows for sure? I have said this before, we learn so much from being on this blog that we would not have learned otherwise.
There are even medical doctors and psychologists who deny the existence of narcissistic personality disorder! In my country this disorder is very poorly known and doctors don´t know a shit about NPD! Psychotherapists have no clue about narcissitic abuse. And there is a lot of victim-blaming and -shaming going on here. Terrible!
LFS, thank you for your response. RE: “There are even medical doctors and psychologists who deny the existence of narcissistic personality disorder!” – any wonder why? LOL, you reminded me of the one I had “sessions” with when I was 19…..I gained nothing from these ones. In my view, there is too large a ‘gap’ between the patients and those who work at ‘therapist’ level – it’s the people in between ie the doctor or organisation that does the ‘sign-posting’ (referrals) that also need to have better understanding of the human mind and emotions.
Hi Asp Emp,
Sorry for giving you a late response.
After studying narcissim for a long time now, it almost feels like I could take a degree! I think many of us feel this way. ☺ Resently I’ve been wondering how many hours I’ve spent leaning about narcisissm?
– Almost all videos on the old YT channel ‘knowing the narsissist’
– Almost all videos on ‘the ultra’ (leaving aside those with instrumental mix)
– A number of books
– Interactions with others here on the blog and reading comments.
However, I have little idea about ASPD. I’ve listened to a few videos on YT and read a few articles but nothing that really gave a good understanding. Do you know any good source? Someone who explains how the criteria, like ‘extrem hostility’ would look like IRL? I need those examples, such as HG provides, to be able to determine if I’ve experienced similar.
It was interesting to read your story about the MRN you knew. I recognise much of what your experienced with him but with other narcissists in my life than the ex on the scaffolding.
He never wanted any sympathy for having suffered from child abuse. On contrary, he claimed that his upbringing was stable, without worries. He admitted to his father being strict but it was only ever to raise them well..
However I felt the stress every time he interacted with his father and a rainy day telling him to take the umbrella (had told him to do so a number of times before) he said -“I don’t like umbrellas, coz when I was a child my parents bought me one of bad ‘China’ quality so it broke and when I got home with the broke umbrella I got punished.” It wasn’t said because he wanted sympathy (and I didn’t ask about what punishment he had received- it was clear he didn’t want to talk about it) he just wanted me to stop keep mentioning the umbrella.
Never heard him brag about the dangerous task either. Can’t say for sure that he never did, but I don’t think so? Most would percive it as insanity and I belive he did have enough cognitive function to understand that?He showed up the new house facade, yes.
It makes total sense that injury to the brain can cause ASPD. I had never thought about it. Thank you for the enlightenment!
Hi Leigh, no worries RE: response, you obviously want to know more, to be able to understand further. You can type ‘traumatic brain injury (TBI) and personality changes’. When researching, it is good to consider sites like NHS that are well-known. Then again, I would consider HG’s ‘To Control is to Cope – The Creation of Narcissism’ in mind as you are reading up / researching, this particular article may give you some prompts and lead to ‘light-bulb’ moments and you make that connection. Also consider that maybe, just maybe, the narcissist could be ‘re-writing’ history in relation to his childhood? Your words “it was clear he didn’t want to talk about it’ is a clue. The word ‘umbrella’ may be a ‘trigger point’ for the narcissist = another clue……
Jasmin, I think this may be of use in relation to your comment about brain injury & traumatic shock – looking at it in a different way. https://narcsite.com/2021/02/28/the-narcissist-and-feelings-8/#comment-399154
Jasmin, not Leigh….sorry!!!
No problem Asp Emp!
I’m still progressing and thinking about your comment. I’ll give you a response any time soon.🥰
I think this depends also on the co morbidities? Many NPDs are co morbid with other personality disorders like antisocial, schizoid, schizotypal, paranoid.
Adding to my earlier comment to this article…..
Woah, watching tonight’s BBC News, our HRH The Queen uses the rights to ‘The Freedom of Speech’ and she is actually quite right to voice her ‘irritation’ on the Climate Change….good on you, Ma’am, tell it as it is.
I don’t know if you have seen that new TV programme on ITV called Angela Black. It is about the lives of a seemingly happy married couple. The perfect couple. The story surrounds the hidden case of domestic abuse and the story so far is that the husband is behind the scenes going to be divorcing the wife and applying for full custody of the children on the pretext that the wife has some affliction or is crazy and is not capable of caring for the children. Watching the show, it struck me that perhaps the main male lead character could be a Greater. If you have seen the show, would you be in agreement.
Because they are narcissists! 😉
Ok, (being a good girl now, hmm)……I have not actually ‘researched’ into this, I wonder if similar genetic codes within the brain that is passed on via ancestors DNA.
After all, ‘conditions’ of any kind have similarities in thought processes; behaviours; emotional responses, even physical ‘differences’.
Yet, the ‘conditions’ have been applied with ‘labels’. Effectively, because of the ‘labels’, there are so many ‘compartmentalisations’ that have further ‘compartments’ within these.
In the last Century alone, scientists and medical professionals have ‘created’ so many of these “compartments” that has in fact, led to so many ‘divisions’ within society as a whole.
Using HG’s video ‘Woke : The Rise of Narcissism to the Left’ as an example of historical ‘societies’, the ‘division’ of societies were probably and most likely “caused” by narcissists from thousands of years ago. The precedent was ‘set’ all that time ago and has not changed since. In my view and from what I have learned to date, more ‘divisions’ will be created and more ‘compartmentalising’ will result.
Even something as majorly serious as Climate Change is not necessarily bringing the ‘people’ together. There remains so many ‘obstacles’ in the way……are there too many narcissists in ‘power’ leading to more narcissists colliding when it comes to making decisions in regard to the environment as a whole?
It was interesting, albeit amusing in some points on my previous comments on this article. It was also interesting to see the ‘mind-sets’ from earlier comments to now.
Hi Asp EMP – you sent my mind whirling about the different possibilities = thank you 🙂
Nurture vs nature…
I have so many thoughts on this. Not all can be blamed on narcissists.? On a psychological level we judge others and have in and out crowds. To some extent – does this also create layers within society?
With Global Warming – something I am concerned about. Is inaction fully down to narcissists? It would be easy to blame them and resolve ourselves of responsibility. Hand on heart – can we?
On one hand – one could say that the powers which be – may consider they will be long dead before it impacts them and have no empathy for those it effects afterwards. I can fully believe this to be the case.
Than we have the most recent Davos event – the world economic forum and their agenda – ‘You will own nothing and be happy’. Their solution to the climate crisis. Presumably they will own everything – what could possibly go wrong? Never say they cannot turn any crisis to their advantage…
Then we have a bunch of people who deny it. Not narcissists. They may do so out of fear, be resistant to change – or worry about the financial impact on them. Funny – because most will agree a volcano emitting gasses will cause either extreme heat – or ice ages – but than deny humans emitting them could cause the same – go figure..
Than we have those who do not deny – but do not actually do anything to promote change. I am not talking about recycling or – buying an electric car (if they can afford one). In the UK activists are vilified = people have to get to work. Yet people are not doing anything to push the agenda to the top of priority for politicians. (I fall in this category).
Hi PAWA, thank you for your response.
I agree. Not necessarily all be blamed on narcissists. Normals and empaths can also be ‘drawn’ into the ‘sheep herding’ mindset (mentality) that has been planted by wherever it originated from. I am going to use HG’s wording in relation to ‘go by the evidence’. Evidence speaks for itself. Not gossip. Not malingering. Go by the evidence.
We witnessed the treatment to the statues in response to George Floyd’s death. How many of those people were narcissists / normals / empaths? Yet, “layers within society” resulted from one incident to others. I used this as an example.
How many of the world’s leaders are narcissists? Well, Boris is one. Biden is another. They will ‘act’ only because scientific evidence on the Global Warming requires it. Your next paragraph answers the question – it does not “impact” them in their life-time.
Thank you for the heads-up on the Davos info, I will read into that…..
It was said that the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in Europe. So, this, in my opinion, should incentivise the UK Government to put a stop to building on Green Belt land and start re-using what is considered ‘brownfield’ land. There are lots of empty council owned properties that have been left to decompose. Lots of things. Lots to consider. Yet, they have had years to act. Talk and scratch their balls all day instead……
Them Sasquatches (nasty neighbour narcissists) poured unused concrete down the main drain in the road……sigh. Why did he not let the concrete harden and take it as a lump or two to the recycling place and put it into the rubble container? Better still, why did he not calculate better how much concrete to mix?!?! And, he could not even mix the stuff in the first place – weakened fence post footings resulted…….ah, bloody hell…….
I definitely will do what I can do, within my means, my abilities and my capabilities to alleviate the issues on Climate Change. But I draw the line at scratching Boris’s balls for him !
But I draw the line at scratching Boris’s balls for him !
hahaha love it 😉
Asp Emp!! They poured concrete down the main drain??? Wow, who does that?! If you have said that elsewhere, I missed it, but wow. Narcissists indeed, needing to focus only on their own, immediate concern and no one else. Okay, in my horrified shock I have still been laughing, your delivery is always so spot on! And I agree, no Johnson ball scratching, haha!
Yup, concrete in the drain. I think he knew exactly what he was doing. Every time he did something. Even if he did not know he is a Sasquatch (laughing).
Why do you think some of them like to stand behind lecturns? 😉
Asp Emp, “Because they are narcissists!” such a simple answer, why is it so difficult to grasp? It took me hearing HG explain it at least twice before it started to sink in and then a couple more before I could explain it reasonably well to someone else.
AV, sometimes less is more 😉
They all operate in similar ways because it is the same spirit they all have. A jezebel spirit. That is what narcissists truly are. Jezebel spirits.
No, there is no such thing as a jezebel spirit.
HG, you do make me laugh……
You are nothing like me ex. Yet there is an intangible quality – the way you express yourself and your words which reminds me of him. Sometimes you hit a nerve, revive a memory. It is hard for me to explain. I also think it is why you caught my attention and made me truly open my eyes.