Conversations with narcissists often start out like this. You make a statement about something that matters to you. It doesn’t matter what it is exactly, but the fact that it holds some meaning or significance to you is what the narc hones in on. The narc then demeans the thing you care about, through either dismissing it or making excuses why it doesn’t matter. Then they make some unrelated accusation that accuses you of the opposite of your actions and intentions. Next, they twist what you said to make you wrong, and accuse you of they very thing they are blatantly doing. Fun, huh?
Let’s take a look at an example of this. You say you love kittens, and hope to foster them someday. Not too controversial, right? Just a statement about something you care about. A narcissist says kittens are stupid, and there’s too many of them anyway. Then they tell you you’re just encouraging all those losers that don’t neuter their pets. You’re probably going out there breeding cats on purpose just so you can play with kittens. You’re so selfish. Don’t you ever think about how your actions impact others?
Narcs love to get it twisted, and are true masters at gaslighting and doublespeak. For the rest of us, it’s mind-numbing. It can be extremely disorienting, especially if we aren’t aware of what’s going on. The multi-step process of devaluation and accusation puts us on the defense, while our brains are trying to sort out their nonsensical reasoning. Because we are distracted, it is easy to miss the obvious. Narcs say these things on purpose, with an intent to harm. Narcissists by definition lack empathy, so when you bring up something you care about, they must attack it like a virus.
Those who spend their time drinking narc Kool-aid will often repeat this nonsensical pattern. Anyone who enables this form of psychological abuse is just as toxic as the original abuser. In some cases, “normal” people who enable narcissistic behavior are more harmful than narcissists themselves. Because most are capable of empathy and understanding, it hurts more when a non-narc chooses an abusive response instead of a loving one.
I have been exposed to so much of this toxic behavior, I get migraines around doublespeak and gaslighting. I simply cannot be around it. It triggers a physiological stress response in me that takes days to recover. While I have come a long way in debunking the narcissists’ lies, I am not immune to their effects. Survivors of this form of insidious abuse must first realize what is happening, and then take whatever steps are necessary to remove themselves from people who get it twisted.