7 minute read
Ever get the feeling when talking to the narcissist that you are in some kind of alternative reality where communication is not about relate to another human being but more like being at war? This would be because you are. Well, to be more accurate, they are, you just happen to be the target.
This ‘pseudo communication’ that issues forth from the narcissist is narc speak, a.k.a. word salad. In this piece we look at why the narcissist uses the different techniques of narc speak, to spar with you if you ever dare to raise anything that challenges their beliefs around being superior, omnipotent and in control.
In short, they use narc speak to derail you into submission and to silence you by using deflection as their weapon.
Let’s check it out.
Narc speak & deflection
Before zooming into the various deflection techniques they use on you, let’s do a quick refresher of terms (to check out more terminology used in the narcissistic recovery community, look up the Narc Wise Glossary).
Word salad or narc speak are labels applied to the pathological narcissist’s use of specific speech patterns. These include circular conversations & repetition, lack of logic, sweeping generalisations, use of words that are disjointed or unrelated to context, and contradictions. Essentially, narc speak consists of a lack of semantic fluidity.
Deflection is a defence mechanism which can be both consciously and subconsciously employed. Usually in response to perceived criticism or attack, it is the act of denying, avoiding and redirecting that threat.
When you roll narc speak and deflection together, you get classic narcissist gaslighting, and one of the central reasons why ‘working through things’ with a narcissist will never happen. Simply put, resolution, growth and peace are anathema to a mind that is wired for battle and uses communication as a weapon to keep you in your ‘place’.
This is how it rolls…
1. Absence of logic
The most overt sign of ‘narc speak’ in action, is unsurprisingly the nonsense that issues forth. It is the very epitome of verbal chaos.
You’ll find a bunch of unrelated words and concepts all smooshed together, including contradictions and disjointed phrases, or random irrelevant comments thrown at you.
The effect and very deliberate purpose is to throw you off track in following YOUR own logic and attempts at holding them to account for their behaviour.
2. Circular conversations
Similarly, this lack of logic extends beyond conceptual aberrations, and is also relates to how narc speak is structured.
Linearity is something the narc assiduously avoids. By frustrating the logical progression of a point of view from A to B to Z, the point is never made and accountability a non-event. The key tactics used are repetition and circular conversations that lead NOWHERE.
This strategy is employed not only to frustrate your argument, but also to induce you to relinquish further attempts to resolve the matter at hand.
Furthermore, the narcissist is also making the point that YOU are the problem. After all, if you were not, the poor exasperated narc would not need to keep stating the same things they have already told you ad infinitum!
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is marked by a set of pervasive behaviours which are underpinned by certain cognitive errors.
One of these is the tendency to overgeneralise which is due to their black and white thinking resulting from something called ‘splitting’. This is about the inability to intellectually integrate both negative and positive aspect within the one entity. This means that their world view is one of extremes (more info on how splitting works can be found here From ‘soul mate’ to worthless: What’s behind the narcissist’s 180?).
Within the context of narc speak you’ll cop a bunch of ‘you always…’ statements, because for the narc, if you do something once, they draw the conclusion that you always do so, and classify you accordingly in a certain light. You know the ones: you’re so sensitive, you always take things too seriously etc.
4. Projection & blaming
Projection happens when the narcissist handballs their flaws onto you. Unable to accept they are beyond reproach, anything that is unacceptable within them, is attributed as your failing.
You know it’s happening when their own traits, or the very matters you are raising to discuss with them, are being flung at you. ‘You’re so selfish’, ‘all you do is lie and deny’, ‘there’s something wrong with you, you are mentally unstable’ etc.
Equally, any relationship difficulties must be the fault of others. Specifically, yours.
They go to any extent as to why ‘the thing’ is your fault. No matter how patently ridiculous the finger pointing may be, you are blamed for everything. ‘It’s your fault I’m yelling at you, you’re making me do it’, ‘of course I’m sleeping around you are not attractive enough for me’ blah, blah, blah…Sound familiar?
3. Denial & gaslighting
Ah denial! The pathological narcissist’s best friend, and the great enabler of their existence!
Simply put, there is no indisputable evidence on this face of this earth that the narcissist in their hubris will not deny.
They make bold statements one second, and in the very next sentence proclaim, ‘I never said that’.
Before your very eyes they undertake an act, look you straight in the eye and proclaim ‘that never happened’.
You may look at irrefutable proof like a written document in their own hand, or even footage of them busy at something, and they assert ‘it wasn’t me’.
Denial is all about protecting themselves from reality due their inability to cope with who and what they really are.
It’s also gaslighting in action. Repeatedly denying fact has the pleasing effect of having you question your take on reality, and whether you are indeed the problem (read this one for more info on gaslighting: 5 ways to counteract the narcissist’s gaslighting).
4. It’s all about winning at all costs
If you are in discussion with a pathological narcissist about matters of concern, you’re most likely coming from a place of wanting to relate better to one another.
Listen to the language they use. There is NOTHING that will issue forth from their mouth that is about finding solutions and relationship building. Their verbiage centres on establishing they are right, and you are wrong, wrong, wrong.
Every interaction for the pathological narcissist is a matter of competition. A battle. War.
They must, at all costs, maintain their belief in always being right. There is no room in their world for anything else.
No matter what you say, they will engage in a duel of words to establish you are wrong. They do this regarding EVERY utterance you make, even with completely inconsequential things.
To their minds if you they make you wrong about every little thing, you must also surely be wrong about any concerns you have about their behaviour (learn more on this aspect of the narc’s mindset in this peice Invalidation and narcissism: Why they slowly erase you.
5. Narc rage
This aspect of narc speak is terrifying.
In the true sense of narcissistic rage, it is the fury that is sparked by being unmasked. Being found out. Of realising that another sees them for what they really are…and more than this, it is their own flash of insight that they are not the false-self they spend a lifetime clinging to.
That indeed, underneath the denial, they are the very opposite of superior, always right, omnipotent and in control. And this moment of comprehension is the narcissistic injury that flips the switch on white hot fury expressed from verbal through to physical aggression.
Narcissistic rage is a very real thing. But…remember that the narc’s survival is built on cunning and manipulation.
They’ve learnt the impact this rage has. And like any bully, they will roll out similar tactics to intimidate you, and silence into submission even in the absence of a narcissistic injury.
Either way whether true narc rage or mimicry of it, remove yourself to safety (for more on narcissistic injury and rage, check out What happens).
Diffusing the weapon of ‘narc speak’
The purpose of all this is to deflect. To refuse to take accountability.
Using narc speak techniques is always about pushing ownership of their issues onto you, and to sidestep any situation which may lead to that dreaded narcissistic injury.
It is pretty clear when looking at each element piece by piece, that deflection is the key weapon. The only way to diffuse it, to stem the injuries caused to you that come hard and fast from standing in the line of fire of narc speak is to step out. How does one do this I hear you ask!
You do it by seeing through their tactics. And refusing to continue engaging in the same way.
Stop trying to find the logic where there is none. And please gorgeous one, no more self-questioning that you are the problem.
Practice the steps in Emotionally unhook yourself & starve the narcissist of supply: Here’s how and Reacting vs. responding: Overcoming legacy of abuse and narcissism and you will build yourself an armour based on detachment that no narc speak will penetrate.
Set yourself free. Time to silence their narc speak and derail them instead.
For more tools & knowledge building pieces related to the issues in this article read:
- Proof the narcissist abuses you intentionally and will never change
- How to starve the narcissist of supply
- Stop feeling sorry for the narcissist now
- Narcissistic Invalidation: How to stop them erasing you
- How No Contact supports narcissistic abuse recovery
As always, please share your thoughts, experiences, and insights on the issues in this article in the comments below. The more we share, the more we teach & help one another in reclaiming our freedom.
Is a narcissist in able to hear or receive criticism ? And do they always flip it back on the person ? That’s been my experience.
Dear Denise, great questions. In essence, the answer is no. This is contrary to the pathology of those who are diagnosable as having full blown NPD. Having said this, if there is something wanted at a given point in time that would be served by feigning capacity to receive criticism & refraining from flipping it back on the other person – then yes. They are very capable of doing this. For a given instance, ultimately reverting back to true form. It is recognisable by its hollowness & obvious lack of sincerity (as well as being out of the norm behaviourally). Light & love to you gorgeous one. Maggie x
You are amazing! Thank you for this 🙏