Analogy Hell

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?

13 thoughts on “Analogy Hell

  1. Hey…I totally get it. Conversations with my ex husband were very taxing. I always walked away scratching my head. His methods of choice were anything that would further his agenda. He accused me of all kinds of things during and after the marriage. I used to ask him, “In what parallel dimension did this happen?” or “When did that conversation take place?” He would get mad and say I was trying to turn things around on him. My response, “…then stop lying.” He had a meltdown after that…terrible twos.

    I gotta’ say, I am inspired by your blog and may start one too. I think it is important to get the message out and let people know they are not alone.

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    1. Angie, thank you for reading and sharing. You should definitely start blogging and share your story as well. When I was making the tough decision to get out of my marriage I searched the internet trying to define what it was I was experiencing. If I hadn’t found other stories about narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic abuse I don’t think I would have felt ‘justified’ in leaving the way that I did.

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  2. There is a book called GAMES PEOPLE PLAY that addresses this issue. Games in this instance are not fun. The premise of the book is that the person who consciously or unconsciously starts the game is trying to avoid emotional intimacy. They set the game up so that your response is always the same. There never is a good ending or outcome. The game is played over and over again throughout the relationship. The reason you can call it gameplaying is because when you are through with the conversation you are always feeling negative. You are either angry, confused or hurt but you are never OK. It happened to me and it can happen to anyone. You don’t even have to be close to this person as in marriage or friendship. I had a neighbor who, for some reason, had an issue with me so every single time she was around me she either broke something of mine or spilled permanent things on my furniture or table cloths. How the game was set up was that each time she would apologize and I of course would tell her that that was OK. It was never ever any different and if I had confronted her she would have been offended that I would find an accident something to get upset about. The only way to manage this neighbor was to stop having anything to do with her. It was such a relief when I stopped. . I cannot imagine trying to live with this inside a marriage. That is only one game. There are many discussed in the book. His reasoning behind writing the book is to make readers aware that every time you have a negative feeling after an encounter there has been a game played. The problem is the person who starts the game is so invested in it that if you change your reaction they will ratchet it up until they get the desired result. In your case you have moved away from him but you are still so bound up in these games he plays with you that every time you have an encounter with him your reaction is the same and the outcome is the same. You wind up feeling horrible.

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  3. In any interaction there is always a payoff. If both people are healthy both get a good feeling. His payoff is you coming unglued. Next time you have to interact with him just ask yourself what his payoff is. Then ask yourself what yours is. If it is to get the hell out of there you have your answer.

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  4. Yep, same kind of experience, and it’s impossible to explain to someone who has not woken up to this kind of manipulation and abuse. XH had to “win” every conversation. We went into marriage counseling when I started waking up, and somehow I was able to see through some of it, not during the counseling, but afterwards while trying to negotiate some small concession I wanted from him. I watched and listened for over 30 minutes as he went through more than 10 reasons why I didn’t deserve to have this concession from him, some false accusations about my transgressions to support his view, what a good guy he was to me, how concerned he was about me that I’d even ask such a thing/ Ending with the bright smile that assumed my silence meant I agreed with him. I think another term for this is circular conversation.

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  5. This is a fascinating post, and yes I have something to add with regard to analogies. (I’m a writer, and like to use analogy in my writings.) I don’t think you’ve figured out the key, the missing element in this technique your narc has used on you, and I’d like to share.

    The narcissist uses false, or erroneous analogies. This is so important to realize. They are not true analogies at all, and therefore should not be acknowledged as such. The example you gave was perfect. How could someone judge a person on what clothing to pack, based on a situation beyond their control? The official forecast was in error, not those who responded to that forecast and selected clothing reasonably and appropriately. These false analogies are trick set ups, “double binds” (remember the narc thinks he/she is brilliant) and asks of you what a reasonable person would never expect. They are not really analogies at all. This is just a sneaky attempt by the narcissist to impose the blame of another, usually themselves, on their victim. They think we are stupid.

    A good response would be to counter, publicly, with a CORRECT analogy. “Let me get this clear. You mean you, our boss, are judging US, and holding us accountable, for something beyond our control” (the weather) “and blaming us for when the proper authority” (the weatherperson, the boss) “makes a mistake? How is this not like” (wait for it – the correct analogy)” an abusive, narcissist husband who would judge his wife for other men wrongly flirting with her? Are you saying you have a right to punish us, like when the abuser punches his wife in the nose, instead of the man who came onto her, because he’s jealous?” Then sit back and watch the narc’s face turn red and their eyes pop out.

    The frequent use of false analogies can even be symptomatic of thought disorder, because false analogies are not logical. They don’t make sense. My mother is a schizophrenic with severe narcissistic tendencies. Her thought disorder can go something like this: “I don’t like your blouse because it’s red. Some of the blouses I wore when I was young were low cut, because I wanted to attract men. Therefore because your blouse is red it is too low cut, and you are trying to attract men. The fact that your blouse is red therefore proves you are having sex with men in the back seat of my car.”

    This is thought disorder in a nutshell (pardon the pun) not analogy at all. Correct analogies will always prove the truth, not the other way around.

    Remember, when the narc tries to use false analogy to condemn you, it never really does, and you can flip it around on them with the corresponding correct analogy.

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    1. Judy, thank you this is so interesting!! I realized that analogies in any scenario were starting to trigger me and as I reflected back I realized that the Narcissist was always using them all of the time. I really appreciate your insights here, thank you!

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      1. I have always liked true (key word – true) analogy and paradox (not irony.). I like flipping error to find truth that sets me free. It is like in therapy after narcissistic abuse, that first moment when you realize…hmmm, whatever the narc told me, maybe the opposite is true? It is ironic that they blame their victim for what they are guilty of, but once you figure this out, the paradox is, their behavior, what they induce you to “fear” is really where your special talents and hidden gifts are, your authentic self. They do not want you to find out. A good analogy is the story of the “tar baby” yelling out whatever you do do not throw me in the briar patch!” when that’s what he wanted all along. Narc’s are not masters of analogy; they’re only masters of deceit.

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  6. YES. The excessive analogies is definitely a thing, at least in my experience. After a point, it seems to serve as a distraction. Because when they’re done, then they can argue that you were “not really listening, only waiting to respond” even though you had to because they were on a tangent for so long and never let you respond to the original statement!

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  7. I am at the end of more than twenty years with a Narc.

    Most of the time now (I do learn eventually) I see this kinda thing for what it is and shut it down.

    What helped me a lot at first was remembering something that happened to me when I worked as a cashier in high school. A customer came in, a young guy, and paid with cash for his small purchase.

    As I was handing him his change, he tried to do that thing about “Got two fives for the ten? Got ten singles for the five? Lemme give you thirty-eight cents, then you can give me back five-fifty;” real fast talking to confuse you into giving them back too much.

    Fortunately, I had my wits about me. I took the change I’d been about to give him, put it back into the register, handed him back the bill he’d paid me with, and

    SHUT. THE. DRAWER.

    “Now,” I said to him, “How would you like to pay?”

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