The Narcissist’s Playbook
Written by Randi Fine, Narcissistic Abuse Expert
Narcissistic Abuse Awareness and Guidance with Randi Fine
Over the many years that I’ve been engaged in the field of narcissistic abuse recovery I have discovered something remarkable; narcissists far and wide seem to be operating from the same playbook. I don’t know who wrote it, when it was written or where a copy could be found, but it must exist because evidence shows time and time again that narcissists are the most unoriginal beings on the planet. They all do and say the same things.
Narcissists may appear human, may even act human, but they actually have more in common with undomesticated animals and insects than they do humankind. Like creatures of the wild they live their lives in survival mode; predators with no empathy on a perpetual hunt for vulnerable prey. And just as a lion on the prowl the execution of victim capturing may vary in detail, but the method of devouring the prey is always the same.
The survivors’ stories told to me are outrageous; believable only by those who have experienced the like. Survivors justifiably believe their experience is unique and that their abusers are more deviant than most. The word “malignant” is often used to preface the word “narcissist” because narcissism alone doesn’t seem to adequately describe the horror they’ve experienced.
Any experience had as a victim of narcissistic abuse is truly horrific. And while malignant narcissism does exist, it is rarely applicable to the average situation. Narcissists destroy their targets through mind-games. Malignant narcissists maim and murder. It doesn’t get any worse than that. Victims of malignant narcissists rarely survive to tell their story.
The patterns of narcissistic abuse, whether parental, spousal, romantic, work related or otherwise are so predictable I could tell everyone’s story before they tell me, though I don’t because that is not what survivors want or need from me. They desperately need to be heard, validated and supported–often for the first time ever. And they need a road map for recovery.
As horrendous and outrageous the stories are, as brilliant and powerful each narcissist is perceived, they are all versions of the same and all seemingly out of the same playbook. They are brilliant in the sense that they can calculate a complex campaign of abuse stretching out days, weeks, months and years in milliseconds. And they are powerful in their ability to intimidate and control, though that power is only effective with those who are under their spell. Once the veil is lifted and they are exposed for who they are they become powerless. It doesn’t seem that way because losing control over an emotional hostage incites a merciless vengeance that knows no bounds. There are no depths in which a vengeful narcissist will not stoop. But the pattern of vengeance seemingly follows a playbook as well. Again, largely unoriginal.
Narcissists are the most destructive beings on the planet. They seek to destroy every life they intimately touch. Survivors of this abuse have much to overcome in returning their upside down reality back to a healthy functioning one. Given the proper support and guidance, full recovery is absolutely possible.
It may seem that narcissists move on in life with nary a scratch while survivors are left to pick up the shattered remains of their nearly decimated lives. But like every other aspect of narcissistic abuse, that perception is illusory. Narcissists exist in a tormented, perpetual purgatory of their own doing from which they can never escape. Survivors have the ability to heal, become even better versions of themselves, and move on to live happy lives.
The power transfers once survivors gain access to the narcissist’s playbook. The playbook is elementary; anyone can learn it. The most difficult aspect of this education, one that feels totally unnatural to tenderhearted survivors, is the development of the shrewd, discerning character required to take their personal power back. Once done the rest is child’s play.
Randi Fine is the author of the groundbreaking book Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Healing, the most comprehensive, most well researched, and most up-to-date book on this subject. In addition to helping survivors recognize their abuse and heal from it, this book teaches mental health professionals how to recognize and properly treat the associated abuse syndrome. She is also the author of Cliffedge Road: A Memoir, the first and only book to characterize the life-long progression of complications caused by narcissistic child abuse.