The more work I do to unravel my own reality from the reality that the Narcissist was desperately trying to drill into my head, the more I start to realize the various techniques that came into play to keep me continually confused.
Two of the main methods that my Narcissist used frequently were Cognitive Dissonance and Gaslighting. Cognitive dissonance is when a person experiences holding two or more contradictory thoughts or beliefs in their cognition at one time. (Example: The Narcissist claims to love me greater than anyone else, yet he makes me feel like shit all the time.) The result of this is a state of anxious confusion and a desire to reduce the overwhelming and unbalanced feelings. Gaslighting is when the abuser confuses and disorients the target causing them to doubt their own reality of a situation, as a way to maintain power and control. (I’ve previously talked a bit about gaslighting so you can read more there too.)
When I find myself trying to explain what a conversation with the Narcissist is like, I usually reference ‘going down the rabbit hole’ or entering ‘an emotional tornado’ because these are the best ways I can come up with to describe a bizarre experience. Generally I would go into a conversation feeling like I had been wronged by the Narcissist over something in particular. I would start off explaining my thoughts and feelings about whatever had happened. The Narcissist in a very calm and collected way (He would usually use his “therapist” voice) would then start to convince me slowly over the course of the conversation that what I thought had happened did not actually happen, and then convince me that my feelings were wrong or inappropriate.
Usually at some point I would find myself asking the Narcissist to put himself in my shoes, and try to show him what the experience felt like from my perspective…. and he would never sympathize, he could never empathize and understand. Somehow, every single time I would come out the other end of the conversation apologizing to the Narcissist for overreacting or for accusing him or for myself in general. These would be lengthy and draining conversations usually lasting 20 minutes to over an hour, and at times I felt so exhausted and drained through the process that I would just concede regardless of what I really thought, and other times I would walk away convinced by his tactics. It’s a giant freaking mind f*ck and is actually really difficult to explain to people.
Lately I have realized that one of the things that the Narcissist would do ALL THE TIME was make analogies… I am talking 5 or 6 different analogies about the same topic within the same few sentences. They would come to him almost instantly and I would often be amazed that he could draw parallels between such different things in a way that made so much sense without even stopping to think about it. I think he was using analogies as a way to distract me from what the original topic was, and convince me of his point while removing me from the emotional aspect of what I was originally upset about. This may seem like a minor and strange thing to hone in on, but I feel like there is something to this technique as I recently realized that the Vulture in my office does the same thing.
When the Vulture started making excessive analogies to me in meeting the other day I found myself getting anxious and irritated. In my mind I was no longer even listening to the things he was saying… I was thinking to myself “Okay already, I get your point lets just focus on what we are talking about!!” and “I’m not stupid here I get the point already!!” I walked away from the conversation feeling physically and emotionally affected.
Literally we were discussing our Company’s struggle with forecasting the business in the past. The Company has a bad reputation for forecasting sales goals, and then we never meet our bonus funding goals as a result. The Vulture within a second was able to draw the analogy of “It’s like if I graded you on how you packed for a vacation. You look at the weather forecast knowing that it is only going to be accurate 30% of the time and you pack shorts for your vacation. When you get to your destination, the weather man was wrong and you really needed pants… Imagine if I based your competence on how accurately you packed.” How do they instantly come up with this stuff???
So this might be totally unique to my situation. I have done some Googling to try to find if there are any parallels between personality disorders, smooth talking, and excessive use of analogies but I couldn’t find anything substantial.
I’m curious if anyone else has had this experience?