Narcissistic Word Salad

When I was a kid we used to sing “the salad song.”
It was a song made up of random phrases
from several songs strung together.
If you start a song and someone else
wanted to sing the salad song,
you could end up singing a different song altogether
because once the salad song gets started
there’s no way to go back and
finish what you originally intended. 

This is what Word Salad is like when you try to reason with a Narcissist. In their right talking, self-protection process, the Narc will sing the same phrases over and over until you consider running with scissors or stabbing yourself in the eye with a fork. That’s because long before you thought of this confrontation, you were asked to play a game you can never win.

Word salad begins when the Narcissist doesn’t recognize your boundaries and you imagine confronting them will give you a better relationship in the future. (Cue evil witch laughing in the background.) Of course be careful NOT to use the word confrontation because that will just derail the conversation into one about the evils of confrontation. According to the narc, confrontation is abusive. You will then be asked:

“Why do you have to be so confrontational? No one else in the family causes the trouble that you do!” This will be followed by a lecture on how nice everyone is but you. You might feel like shouting I am NOT your kind of people, but it won’t matter to the Narc.

Even if you are wise enough to avoid the C word, word salad will just take another turn.

You might ask the narc to stop treating you with disrespect. To which the Narc will answer:

“Disrespect? How interesting you use that word…remember that time you disrespected me in front of your teacher?”

To which you might reply:

“I was in seventh grade.”

And now the Narc has pulled you into their web:

“Of course it was the seventh grade, but that just proves how disrespectful you’ve been your entire life.”

And if you are still crazy enough to imagine you can reason with the Narc, you might reply:

“I’d prefer to talk about our current relationship instead of events years ago.”

(Seems reasonable right?)

But the Narc will find a recent event to prove how you have shown a lack of respect:

“Okay, so how about the fact that you can’t even show up at your grandmother’s birthday dinner?”

Of course, they leave out the fact that they planned the dinner on the spur of the moment, on another day that wasn’t even her birthday and you had to work that day. Be careful here, you might try to defend this by suggesting true respect would be to consult you before the party was set, but that will just take you down another rabbit trail which like all rabbit trails will lead you back to where you started.

All of the Narc’s circular reasoning and arguments are simply a distraction to make you wonder if you are the real problem, but let me state this plainly:

You. Are. NOT. The. Problem.

Of course, you aren’t the problem. This concept only exists in the head of the Narc. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t do any of the things they accuse you of doing.

Bottom line:

The Narc needs a scapegoat and you have been selected. (Unlucky you.)

Most likely you have been the scapegoat since you were five, but if this thought crosses your mind and you happen to mention how you were belted for asking for breakfast at five, the Narc will deny it and gaslight you by accusing you of false memory syndrome and then ask:

“Why do you always have to live in the past?”

By now you might start slamming your head in the deep freeze, wishing you had never thought of confronting the Narc. Meanwhile, the Narc starts adding up all of your crimes since 1983. The Narc has a selective memory and while he doesn’t want you to remember the past, he brings it up whenever he thinks it will throw you off. Remember all of this word salad is not about trying to understand each other. The goal of the Narc is to keep talking past each other until you doubt your memories and yourself. It’s really all about mind control.

The truth is you can’t reason with unreasonable people, so next time you think of confronting the narc, just remember you are actually ordering a word salad–with a lot of baloney on the side.

Or maybe you could just save yourself the trouble and go No Contact.

 

25 comments

  1. Yes, I was raised by a very authoritarian and narcissistic mother. When I was 4 til 5, apparently I was so bad that she tied me up on a shoe chair (the chairs that have stairs on them that flip out); but I was actually thrilled to be able to see what was on the kitchen counters! My first day of kindergarten I realized how much easier the outside world was; and I felt sorry for my mother and tried to protect her til I was about ten, as she was a war child, but then the real battles started when I realized she would not treat me with any respect for things well done. The struggles still continue to this day. OMG this woman has made me miserable my entire life…and I think she’s finally won. The latest ploy to control me: instead of helping me get out from under my bills (she recently received a large inheritance), she will gift me with the both of us going on a cruise together! I could scream!! We don’t get along for more than a few hours together, and we’ve had several periods where we haven’t spoken at all…I just have to throw my hands up and scream. Again. 😠😩😭😭😭

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  2. Since starting to share my journey, I’ve found more and more blogs like yours that create such a support for me. I’m finally sharing my story and so grateful there are women like you helping to make sense of it all. THANK YOU! And word salad is a very real thing!!! Following.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lauren Ruth,

    I’m glad you are telling your story. It will be healing for you and for others who hear it. I am glad to help you make sense of it and I am sorry narcissism even needs to be written about, but it is a very real problem.

    Peace and freedom to you!

    Cherilyn

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  4. Hi Lana,
    I’m sorry you have had a hard time with a dysfunctional mother. I hope you can find some common ground. I have found the best way to deal with people like that is to never need anything from them, then I can free to be myself with them. Good luck!

    Peace and freedom to you!

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  5. That’s not the definition of word salad. The definition of word salad is Word salad is a “confused or unintelligible mixture of seemingly random words and phrases”,[1] most often used to describe a symptom of a neurological or mental disorder. The words may or may not be grammatically correct, but are semantically confused to the point that the listener cannot extract any meaning from them. The term is often used in psychiatry as well as in theoretical linguistics to describe a type of grammatical acceptability judgment by native speakers, and in computer programming to describe textual randomization.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Beth,

    Thanks for bringing up the clinical definition of Word Salad. In the case of dealing with someone on the narcissistic personality scale, we can’t diagnose them, so we can’t truly know if they have a mental disorder, but what we do know is they will repeat words and scramble them either out of their own insanity or to confuse those they are speaking to. This is not the same as having a brain injury, but what we call “word salad” in narcissism is actually a form of manipulation. So no, most survivors of narcissism are not using the term like a psychologist would and we are simply using the term in a colloquial manner. I didn’t create this term for survivors, it is used commonly among support groups for Adult Children of Narcissists. I wrote the blog to show how it could happen, but even then it could be more random.

    Thanks again for stopping by!

    Peace and freedom to you,

    Cherilyn

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, I can’t believe it. And I thought my nmom was the only one who had inherited a lot of money and instead of helping me would spend it on the stupidest things. She keeps inviting me to go with her to Japan or England for months of vacation and meanwhile I am a broken depressed mess with no money or job who can barely function day to day. Her lack of empathy is truly something! She is also extremely authoritarian and controlling.

    Thank you Lana for posting your story. Really makes me feel like I’m not alone in this insanity.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. When there has been too much abuse and lies andbeing controlled deception, knowing that person is still thinking they have it together, for me it’s cut off and just keep in prayers and allow God’s change and healing for a new foundation and beginning. They have to own their own problems. When I mean a new foundation I mean not just a paint job, I need a new foundation on a solid rock, Christ Jesus, not my family or false leader. If I need a demolition so be it. It’s a new life in Christ. My problems really have been church related that included a family member. It’s amazing how they think cuz they are blood you have to keep tied to them. Totally wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi LIsa,

    Yes, this is why Jesus said, “Who are my mother and brothers? Those who do the will of my Father in heaven.” He was showing us the criteria of family is not including those who abuse us, but in Christ we have need family who do God’s will. This means we are not obligated to relatives who are not kind or fair and lie about us or abuse us in any way.

    I’m so glad you get it!

    Blessings!

    Cherilyn

    Liked by 1 person

  10. OMG, finally after years of this type of abuse, this confirms what I have been feeling all a lot. Thank you this may have saved my life.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Fantastic article. Thank you for helping to make sense of this madness! I’m an adult child of a narc. With enabling mum and gc / potential narc brother. Can you recommend a good support group? All Best wishes

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Bella,

    Are you on FaceBook? If you PM me at my page Little Red Survivor, I can give you a private message to find a group. I don’t run the groups myself, but I have access to several people who do and it is important to keep the groups and messages private to protect your privacy.

    Peace and Freedom to you!

    Cherilyn

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  13. Thank you for your article. Until today, I had never heard the term “word salad”, but I have experienced it from several narc family members all my life.

    Thank you for helping me to put a label on it. I am more likely to recognize it in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wow- word salad. Now I have a term to describe what my husband has used on me for 21 years. It literally does feel like stabbing your self in the eye with a fork! I googled ‘circular arguments’ and ‘narcissist’ and it brought me here. Thank you so much for this post, it has helped me a lot

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  15. I always thought that if we improved our relationship, that if we dealt with the rhetoric, we could improve our relationship in the future. The “countering” that runs through my head is so constant, that I can’t think straight anymore. I went to three different counselors in my life, two of them were amazing and one practiced this same tactic. The strawman arguments, the countering, the “give me some examples” and then to poke holes in everything I said, deny, evade, lie, quibble with every single word. I cannot even think straight half the time because I have had 30 years dealing with this. All of this makes sense to me. The counselor who was an abusive jerk to me wrote, after I fired him and got his “notes” on me said I was paranoid. This rhetorical tactic has sucked the life out of me.

    One more thing, there is a broken link on this page of something I wanted to read: https://littleredsurvivor.com/surviving-narcissim/a-game-you-can-never-win/

    Can you fix the link or send it to my email account?

    Like

  16. Hi R,

    It’s demoaaliszng to say the least when you’ve been gaslighted and it sounds like you had a counselor who was manipulative too. Remember not all counselors are safe people–some have gone to this career in order to chase away their own demons. This is why we must make sure we are comfortable with the person who is doing the counseling. I have several freinds who are counselors and they are wonderful people and would NOT play games with you.

    Those of us who grew up with abuse, do feel paranoid at times. There is a lesson babies learn in the first year and that is to trust and if that parent in charge of you was abusive, it can set you up to struggle with trusting other people.

    About the missing article. I rewrote it for Medium and you should be able to read it there even if you are not a member. They will ask you to pay $5 a month after reading or looking at three articles per month though. Medium is a social media platform for writers.

    Peace and freedom to you!

    Cherilyn

    Here is the link:

    View at Medium.com

    Like

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