The Narcissists’ Playbook

One of the first steps out of Narcissistic abuse is the realization that one is, in fact, dealing with a Narcissist.  I’m going to generalize a lot here (quite legitimately, I believe), but first, here’s my definition of a Narcissist:

a person who deceives others in order to take, deplete, and consume their life energy (“soul”) because the Narcissist lacks it

I wrote an article explaining and expanding upon this definition here.

The Uniformity of Survivors’ Experience

Narcissists all seem to operate according to the same “playbook”–as if they were all receiving basically the same instruction or guidance from the same source.  This is why survivors of Narcissistic abuse can legitimately refer en masse to “Narc(issist)s” or “a/the Narc(issist)” without further qualification and still be understood by other survivors.

It is in comparing one’s own experiences with the experiences of others who have endured similar (Narcissistic) dysfunction and abuse, up close and personal, that one finally becomes aware of the problem of Narcissism and all that it entails. With awareness comes choice, and with choice comes change.

These survivors’ experiences are characteristically similar…sometimes eerily, uncannily, almost exactly similar.  There is a certain calling card or modus operandi in the behavior of a Narcissist.  These practically uniform behaviors seem to point in a single direction, to a single source, as if there were a “Narcissists’ Club” with certain rules and standards of behavior (however low they may be).

(Maybe there’s even a Secret Narcissist Handshake, accompanied by a wink and a smirk.  Notice that Narcissists tend to leave each other alone.)

The Unique Individual Narcissist

There is some variation, of course.  Narcissists are not all literally exactly like each other.  The possibly universal set of traits that comprise “Narcissism” are tempered in the individual by the personality:  the unique set of characteristics that are one’s own and nobody else’s.  This is the case even for Narcissists.

So not all Narcissists are identical to each other, though they all may be strikingly in accord with each other.  Even an army–the very model of uniformity!–has dozens of different jobs, each with its own set of behaviors, functions, and even equipment.

Still, one who is not a soldier, but who knows what a soldier looks like, can easily identify one by his or her appearance and behavior.  So also can one who knows what a Narcissist “looks like” can easily identify one by his or her appearance and behavior, despite his or her similarity to everybody else.

To others, alas, the Narcissist does look just like everybody else, and to point him or her out to others might make one look crazy to some people.  “He’s got a shirt and pants and shoes just like everybody else.  So what if he sulks a bit?  He’s just having a bad day/week/month/year/etc., that’s all.  Lighten up!”

But are Narcissists really “just like everybody else”?

Disorder, Distortion, and Dysfunction

I may risk seeming unnecessarily divisive here, but I submit:

I’m being necessarily divisive here because Narcissists are NOT “just like everybody else”.  They may LOOK just like everybody else, but on the inside…well, they use a different “playbook” than everybody else!

There obviously isn’t some physical book, issued to every Narcissist, that could be found and read and exposed and re-printed for all to see.  The “playbook” is a sort of mental blueprint or psychological programming.  It can be “read” by observing the Narcissist’s behaviors–especially up close and personal, such as in a romantic or familial relationship with a Narcissist.

Observing a Narcissist’s public display of “acceptable” behaviors generally will NOT reveal the inner workings of the Narcissist, who can and does (as a lifestyle) deceive therapists, co-workers, teachers, authorities, social acquaintances, business associates, and friends of the family.  There’s nothing necessarily wrong with the Narcissist’s intelligence (perhaps unfortunately).

The problem is in the Narcissist’s disordered thinking, distorted feeling, and dysfunctional behavior.  (Perhaps these are three chapters in The Narcissists’ Playbook.)

Public vs. Private Behaviors

There are certain rules and standards that are understood and agreed upon in human societies.  Some behaviors are acceptable and others are not.  Many that are not acceptable are considered crimes.  Most people do their best to go pretty much by the same rules and standards that “everybody else” goes by.

The Narcissist knows very well what those social rules and standards are.  In fact, his or her survival as a Narcissist (read: his or her double identity) depends on knowing them very well.

But, as already mentioned, the Narcissist has his or her own (read: secret) rules and standards, as demonstrated by the behaviors endured–again, almost universally–by survivors of Narcissistic abuse.  Moreover, the Narcissist is able to “behave” him- or herself in certain (read: public) scenarios, while being quite secretive about his or her more abusive and socially unacceptable, or even criminal, behaviors.

This is one reason why Narcissists aren’t considered “crazy” by mainstream society (apart from simple public ignorance of the problem).  The popular logic goes somewhat like this:

If the Narcissist doesn’t do it all the time, then he or she can control it and therefore is NOT “crazy” because crazy people can’t control their behavior!

But they can surely hide their many dysfunctions and abuses when it really matters, can’t they?  There are words that describe this sort of behavior in grown-ups, such as slimy, manipulative, shady, sketchy, two-faced, treacherous, devious, deceptive, lying, and insidious…but, of course, not crazy.

Crazy people can’t all follow the same playbook, can they?

8 Responses to The Narcissists’ Playbook

  1. JB says:

    Where do Inbefin? Everything you read and hear about a narcissist is true. I was with my ex for 20 years. The first two years were the best part of our relationship. That’s when they sweep you off your feet, then cast their web and you get stuck and tangled up in it. The web isn’t the thing that is spinning. Your mind is spinning too. When you read about “smoke in mirrors” and “flags lighting” it is true. That is when the shoot their poisonous venom into you. You get so stunned and turned around, you cannot figure out what just happened. You no longer trust your gut instincts. Everything around you. Infuses you because you get tangled up in their web of lies. If you feel your significant other might be a narc, turn and run fast and don’t look back.

    • venbaxter says:

      Thank you for sharing that description of your past relationship with a Narcissistic ex. I’m glad that you finally got away!

  2. […] may LOOK just like everybody else, but on the inside…they use a different “playbook” than everybody else.  The “playbook” is a sort of mental blueprint or psychological […]

  3. Jenn says:

    Unfortunately, I suspect many crazy people can & do follow the same general playbook, consciously or not, through the wonders/horrors of science – more specifically, the systematic application of social engineering at pretty much every level of society including our media, organized religion, our educational, scientific, & medical communities, & more…

    I would suggest learning about the man who LITERALLY wrote the book on Propaganda – Edward Bernays. (I believe the “epidemic” of narcissism has been deliberately orchestrated & systematically implemented with very specific outcomes in mind.)

    Have a gander at some of these quotes:

    “In place of thoughts it has impulses, habits, and emotions.”

    [The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.
    ~Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda
    Tags: group-think, manipulation, mind-control, psychology]

    • Excellent comment, Jenn! I’m vaguely familiar with Bernays (and his wife), and you might be on to something here by linking his “public relations” (propaganda) efforts to what I see today as society-wide Narcissism–“Narcissism disguised as social justice,” you might call it.

      Because of your comment here, I will look more into Bernays and whatever links there might be between his mass manipulation techniques (to say nothing of his influence on government agencies and practices) a century ago and today’s highly emotionalized and wickedly ill-informed sociopolitical atmosphere in the USA.

      Hell, based on his résumé, he might be a major early contributor to what some people now call the Deep State in this country.



      • You are very welcome, Ven. Edward Bernays changed the world, alright… I believe he may even have apologized for it prior to his death…

        I’m glad you intend to explore these intrinsically interrelated topics, & hope others do the same, however I feel obligated to warn you & any silent readers who may do the same… this is what is referred to as “Going Down the Rabbit Hole”, many are ill-prepared for what they will find through objective due-diligence on such a course, that sort of thing leaves no one unscathed, & not all survive it.

        This all ties into pretty much every aspect of what passes for our “civilization”, has everything to do with control, & is thinly veiled slavery on an unprecedented scale… I have quite a few theories I intend to continue exploring as well.

        Alongside Bernays, might look into:

        * the term “Regulatory Capture” and how the concept applies to the strategies & tactics employed by “The Robber Barons” who effectively hacked & hijacked the infrastructure of the United States in the early 1900s
        * how both alcohol & cannabis prohibition were rackets used as multipurpose tools/weapons in their arsenal to protect their financial interests while furthering their ambitious power grabs at every level of governance – with an endgame of full, global governance & the mitigation of our capacity for healthy human relations.
        * Declassified CIA documents on such topics as “Operation Mockingbird”, MK-Ultra”
        * Bigoted, sexist, narcissistic, dehumanizing vintage advertisements

        I suspect the vast majority of regulatory agencies were intended to be controlled opposition from their inception to serve manifold functions, but the principle of piracy masquerading as philanthropy can be applied just as effectively across pretty much any type of group/organization/institution & there is no cause so noble that it (and those who sincerely believe in it) cannot be exploited in service of insidious agendas.

        CS Lewis was wrong in that the cupidity of the Robber Barons would ever be satiated… and they are at least as effective at manipulating the moral busybodies to do their work as exploiting the avarice of their more overtly wicked brethren…

        “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” ~C.S. Lewis

        Here’s a few resources I thought I’d share. ~Jenn

        Regulatory Capture: What the Experts Have Found

        Regulatory capture Wiki

        Captured Media

        Schoolhouse Rock: Media-opoly

        (While you may or may not like stuff from this FB page for various reasons – you will find some important topics being addressed there.)

        Fascist Media – How Would You Like This Wrapped?

      • Hi, Jenn! Sorry for the delayed response.

        I’ve reviewed the info that you shared above. It jibes with much of what I’ve learned while going down the “rabbit hole” myself, although I’ve never explored “regulatory capture” per se. It’s reassuring when new info fits neatly into one’s pre-existing mental model of a system–in this case, the American financial-media-political apparatus.

        This is an area that I’ve delved deeply into, along with (and largely as a consequence of) my own inner exploration. As I’ve deleted old, dysfunctional ideas “in here”, the larger picture “out there”–and its attendant corruption–becomes ever clearer.

        Interestingly, I watched this video and shared it last month on Facebook:

        This is how I first learned about Edward Bernays (and his wife) and his influence on politics and media, particularly where what we now call the “deep state” is concerned. This has much to do with current events, which is how I came across it to begin with. Your nudging on the subject, then, was timely, as the seed was already in the soil.

        If you wish to share your theories with me (not necessarily publicly) as you continue exploring, please feel free. I’m interested in hearing them, and I might have a theory or two of my own that would complement yours.

      • Here’s a blog entry that shows a bit of my understanding of the topic of the subject of media propaganda.

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