Salad With That? (And How to Toss It)



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You ought to have read Perfect Sense. If not, stop now and go and read it. If you already have, good, let’s proceed. The word salad is an occurrence of several disorders and is invariably an unintended consequence of certain mental health conditions. This differs when word salad is considered in the context of narcissism. What is it? It is where we communicate with you in a method which does not make sense, fails to progress a discussion or results in a lack of an outcome. As opposed to a stream of consciousness, it is a mechanism deployed by our kind to achieve several outcomes which I detail below. The use of word salad is most effective in a face to face discussion but it also appears in telephone conversations with our kind, text messages and e-mails.

How does it manifest? The Lesser Narcissist engages in this behaviour as a matter of instinctive reaction. He does not realise that he is doing it (which is one of the most confusing elements for the non-narcissist to grasp since it appears deliberate). With the Lesser it is an instinctive response by him in order to maintain the upper hand in the engagement with the victim. He does not deliberately engage it to achieve the various outcomes I will refer to, but instead he just does it. The Mid-Range engages in it and whilst he may recognise some force in the comments of the victim, his need to remain holding the whip hand in the discussion results in him immediately continuing to behave in this manner without being fully aware of what he is doing. The moment he might start to reflect on what the victim has said with regard to his conduct, his reflection is overruled by the need to deflect and deny and thus the word salad continues. If the victim makes reference to the behaviour once again, the reflection may start but as soon as it does, it is pushed aside by the need to deflect. It is akin to points on a railway starting to move but then a greater force comes along and pushes the points back to the original position. The Greater knows what he is doing. He knows the upper hand must be obtained and he revels in being obstructive, frustrating and evasive. He regards it as a game and is entirely aware of what he is doing as he deploys this manipulative technique.

Word salad can appear in many forms. For instance, there will be circular conversations where the topic just keeps repeating without there ever being a resolution. We will repeatedly project and we will also bring up the past (whether real or manufactured). It is common as well in this word salad to play the victim. We will make incredible leaps of logic which will make no sense to you, but make perfect sense to us because they are necessary in order to achieve our aims and to keep the upper hand. We will twist, contort and engage in all manner of spoken and written gymnastics to ensure that the effects we require or desire are achieved.

Why do we do it? There are several reasons why the word salad is deployed by us.

  1. Words are easy to use. They are low in terms of energy expenditure.
  2. If we engage in spoken word salad then words disappear into the ether once they have been spoken which allows us to deny what was just said and suggest that your recall of the conversation is impaired and that there is something wrong with you and not with us.
  3. We want to confuse you. If you are confused then you will struggle to drive through what is happening. You are also less likely to realise what is happening. By being caught in the web of confusion you will struggle to make sense of the word salad.
  4. Naturally using word salad provides us with the necessary fuel that we require. You will invariably become irritated, frustrated, angry and upset. All of which provides us with negative fuel. Furthermore, if you give up on the conversation, the relief that manifests when you do so also provides us with fuel.
  5. Word salad is used to control you. By keeping you on your toes, suggesting you are in the wrong, that we are not, we maintain control. Control is fundamental to the narcissistic relationship and we must always have control over you.
  6. Lack of accountability. We regard ourselves as blameless and that we have no culpability for our actions. Utilising word salad allows us to maintain this state.
  7. Entitlement. We can do as we please, say what we want and you are not allowed to stop us. By engaging in displays of word salad we are exercising our sense of entitlement.
  8. Guilt. We want you to feel guilty. By making it seem like you are the one at fault you may well become apologetic which asserts our superiority and provides us with fuel. This also assists us in asserting control because if you feel guilty you are more likely to do what we want.
  9. Deflect challenges. We do not like you to challenge us and therefore by unleashing a word salad against you, we can deflect your attempt to challenge us.
  10. Create obsession. The whole exchange will make no sense to you and therefore afterwards you will obsess over it because you want to try to make sense of what has happened. You will replay what was said, analyse the content of messages and most likely discuss it with third parties. This maintains control over you because you continue to talk and dwell on us which is something we want.
  11. Plausible deniability. By talking in riddles, in amorphous and vague terms this allows us to adopt plausible deniability which can later be used against you or to further our denials at a later stage.

Why does it affect people like you in particular? Anybody “normal” would be perplexed by such behaviour but it is especially effective against those empathetic victims who are intimate partner primary sources. There are a few reasons why this is the case (and this accords with why you are selected as our victims).

  1. You try to understand somebody else’s position. A normal may give up and walk away in frustration but you feel obligated to try to understand what we are talking about;
  2. You place considerable value in resolving matters and you want to achieve this with us, which causes you to continue engaging with us;
  3. You need to be heard. You want to have your say and feel that you must be listened to. Of course we never listen to what you have to say, we only want your fuel, but you fail to recognise this and your repeated attempts to say your piece, speak your mind and air your views will play repeatedly into our hands.
  4. You need to understand. You want to work out what is going on. In the maelstrom of devaluation you do not know what you are engaging with. You think you are dealing with someone normal and intelligent who should understand what is happening and you need to understand why we do not appear to understand.
  5. You need to get us to understand. In tandem with your desire to heal and fix, you feel a considerable urge to make us understand that what we are doing makes no sense. You are on a hiding to nothing. The Lesser and Mid-Range have no insight and the Greater will not allow you to know he has insight.
  6. You feel you have to defend yourself against what is being said as you hate the world and especially us to have the wrong impression of who and what you are.

The consequence of all of this is that you are very easily drawn into the effects of a word salad and you remain gripped by it.

How do you toss the salad aside then?

  1. The most important step is to understand that you will never ever win the argument or the discussion. Stop trying to achieve this. It just will not happen and the more you try, the more you play into our hands. Once you have grasped that you cannot succeed you will then be able to cope with the word salad much more effectively.
  2. State your position once and leave it at that. You then know you have set out your position and you have told us. Therefore you know that you have spoken up and asserted your position which will make you feel better. You have not backed down.
  3. Understand that if you state your position seven times you have done so six times too many and wasted your energy. Learn to save your energy. You need it for other things when you are caught in the devaluation.
  4. Do not feel that you must defend yourself. The allegations we make are invariably projection but you fall for it every time. Do not do so. State that you have nothing to say on the matter rather than become drawn in.
  5. Avoid providing fuel. This becomes easier once you apply steps 1-4 above. It will also eventually bring the word salad to an end when we realise it is no longer proving effective.
  6. Walk away. Remaining and staying embroiled in the word salad is not going to achieve anything. Remove yourself from it. Do not just go into another room but leave the vicinity and go elsewhere. Your removal will be regarded as a criticism which will ignite our fury but if you are not there to be the recipient of this fury we will have to seek fuel elsewhere and you avoid the ramifications of this ignited fury.
  7. Eat some steak instead. It is tasty.




  1. Good strategies at end for dealing with word salad. I have to say that to dealt with the narc’s word salad in mediation very well using these same tactics.
    I said once at the beginning what I wanted. (My money back)
    Then I just let him talk.
    I didn’t interject, react, argue or respond.
    I also wrote down on a post-it note:
    ‘Do NOT defend
    do NOT explain
    Do NOT justify’

    I kept this close by. (It was phone mediation). In this way I conserved all my energy and didn’t expose or make myself vulnerable. I just let him think he was right. Annoying as that is, I achieved my objective.
    If I’d argued every contradiction, lie, insane comment, accusation, distortion that he presented, I’d have been there for a week.
    Far better to let him talk.

  2. A remarkable insight!
    I have been surrounded by alot of mid rangers thought my life.
    You are absolutely on point.

    1. Thankyou CR12. I like the idea of the Angel’s Arsenal, a companion piece to the Devil’s Toolkit, you have just given me an idea! BY way of reward I promise not to hoover you.

  3. Circular conversations. You said it better. Yes. Walk away. One of my favorite posts. The one’s where you deliver your wisdom with a caring tone…those are touching.

    You are also funny. Eat some steak instead. Yum. I’ll take mine medium rare with a side of mushrooms that were braised in merlot. How do you like your steak, HG?

      1. As long as it isn’t moving and it has no parasites, do the tartar. Have you seen the show called My Strange Addiction? One of the first episodes had a dude that ate raw red meat and drank the juice. He ended up getting parasites…it would be fairly ironic. I wonder if they would stay away from you…professional courtesy and all.

  4. I have had word salad so many times. Once I realized what he was doing, I simply just hung up. By the way HG, I had a really good and tasty steak tonight. 🙂

  5. Walking away works for me every time! Especially when I could care less about what he is saying!! Plus it drives him crazy to be ignored and of no importance!!! Win win for me!!!! Thank you HG!!! Xxx

  6. Hahaha as always your timing is perfect HG !!

    Tonight I asked a favour of him (he’s still full on hoovering) so I knew he would do it. Well he didn’t immediately but said he would later. I told him I no longer wanted this favour in a flirty but joky way. Anywya later he did the favour I told him he was lucky I still let him do this favour as I don’t ever do second chances. He said to me, well I know that’s not true. Ha that really piased me off but I ignored it. Despite all my lnowlege I still felt annoyed and perplexed but obviously didn’t let that show. He has not used word salad on me for over two years so I had forgotten. He bloody knows j don’t do second chances, he never had one not did his best friend after coming on to me for months then outright asking me to ‘fuck him’ when his ‘subtleties’ had failed he deleted me from FB, j never added him back when he sent me a friend request a few weeks later. when his other leiutenant gave me the ST for the first time, I didn’t engage with him again.

    But on my way home I thought about it, made sense of it that he was purposely trying to confuse me.

    So then when I arrived home, reading your post was just perfect.

    Wow, if after all my learning I was still temporarily confused. What hope does someone with no knowledge have ??

  7. The last Hoover attempt by N2 I let a friend I was with read the text & all they could is “that person is insane, block them, change your number & possibly move.” Let a normal read it. They’ll help you. I like steak.

  8. confusion, control, fuel… so very obvious now!! i ate
    thanks very much HG.. if I would have seen this sooo man years ago.. maybe I would look younger of all the energies I lost eating salad..

  9. I love steak!
    I guess I learned about not engaging like this with someone who wants to put me in the salad spinner many years ago. It was when I didn’t want to play. I was, at one time, very talented for recalling conversations verbatim. I took pride in it actually. I used it as a weapon. Now I have too much in my brain to care. I would rather play. I like playing.

    Great articles. H.G. Thanks for reinforcing my tactics. But will you dispose of someone who will not engage in this game of salad spinner? ( tossing the salad is just WRONG to use. Look up Chris Rock Toss Salad Man on this topic) Use Salad spinner instead, have you seen one? Spins the greens to get some of the water off after you rinse the leaves.

    I see my son and his girlfriend engage in this word game.

    1. Toss the salad is apt Steeviann (see my other answer to you) and salad spinner is too close to circular conversations which form part of the word salad.

      1. So I guess this means we all now have one more description title to add to those degrading weapon letters to their workplace you suggested once along side of chief cookie cutter, we now have as a choice “Head Salad Tosser”

  10. Hells yes! Do not negotiate with terrorists!

    I have made my point. I won’t continue to repeat myself. The silence he is receiving is well deserved. There is nothing left to argue about…nothing left worth fighting for. My silence says….GO AWAY….no word salad needed here. Less is more. 😉

  11. Beautifully written and executed HG. many thanks. Once again all the answers I and anyone else will ever need laid at our feet. I have done them all and then some in 32 years of dealing with my partner in total. Walking away and administering no contact only leaves me still with no way to divorce. He always finds a way out of allowing that to happen for me by not allowing it to go through. I bet he was good at dodge ball when young.He will keep this up for the rest of our lives I know this on top of everything else he does and doesn’t do, because of who this has all made him into now, and because of the endless result it is having on me that he can see and hear and wants. I am no better in a different way. (I am 51, he is 58 btw). I too as usual sabotage because of the particular needs I still have to do so for my own f’ed up reasons. I was not able to live any other way for so long and so now the confusion and hurt and agony that he and all this brings me and then I bring on myself, have combined as he has seen fit to its compounding. all this constant confusion and madness is worse than ever as per his plan. All along I wanted back in after I left. the lover the fixer and the the sadist in me that had stuck around though it all. yes sir. I was groomed from a young age to live no other way. I was not allowed to have true needs. well that’s not quite true. Have them, yes, but never expect to have them met, unless you can meet all them yourself and most of theirs too. ah , now that was the trick, the riddle, the hidden contract. Expect people that can never meet them, to meet them. who the hell in their right mind would pick that for their life, right?, nuff said. They convince us and others so well that they can and will meet our needs that when it doesn’t happen for us, it must be our fault. right. so naturally when their needs aren’t met either it’s naturally our fault too or who ever else they are willing to blame trying to get off the hook for the failure to perform big or small. So they won’t be found if measured, wanting. I didn’t see all of him coming as he was a midrange to greater and did not fit the whole lesser to midrange image of control and rage of my past I grew up with and I didn’t know I was secretly on a trajectory path with the cosmos to the real reason, which was in the end, to find out why. When the normal and loving me was purposefully repeatedly used over and over , I lost me in the process.and became an extension of my father and mother first, then him while in the process of trying to get away from them. I was in other words due to my past & desire to get out, vulnerable to the next, I was left after over 27 years of this ( now going on 32 including our seperation) with no identity of my own anymore. no sense of true self. I thought I knew who I was and why I did everything based on my past and how I knew I grew up already before I met him and then with him. I cast myself in a role too. Unfortunately it was one he was not able to play the straight man to. You see in the end I never wanted to leave, just stop the torture between us, but there was and is apparently no such thing. I know that now. Eventually some actually divorce you first, (the ultimate discard) or allow you to get granted a divorce, How the hell do I accomplish this then HG in the situation I am in? to this day, I still do not want it, a divorce, and you know all the reasons why. but I beg him for it and try to take the steps sometimes to see it to fruition as I see no other way to no longer see each other as each others chattel or fixers of life’s woes.The constant trying to get back in now though, is going on at the same time I am begging for him to let me go. I sabotage any moves now he may make to pretend he is cooperating with this though or with any new agreements he needs from me to go through the courts without a divorce now in order to keep authorities at bay for him. I do this to avoid the big discard and not allow him to be free of me either I guess. But what am I stopping if he wont allow it anyway. He loves good and bad publicity. doesn’t care what happens to either of us. Do not let this mess, this marathon dancing happen to you dear readers. take Hg’s advice take it to heart and also learn from the examples here before it is too late for you too. best wishes and much love sent to all. x’s

  12. Oh dear….I`m afraid my mind went somewhere else when I read the title of this post.

    Absolutely brilliant, HG!!!! I love the way this one and Perfect Sense go hand in hand.

    Though I admit, Perfect Sense made Perfect Sense to me.

  13. I love salads etc always have..not a vegan but won’t swallow meat…never have… sorry 🙂 and You are master definitely…

  14. Abuse….plain and simple. Sounds all too familiar, the behaviour, circular conversation and even the wording. The narcissist knows they are In the wrong so they deflect and project and place blame onto their partner.
    MCN wasn’t too smart on this count, I tricked into admitting about his Porn addiction. He tried to “fix” it by claiming the women only ever looked like me and I should take that as a compliment. Guess what happened next…..blame for not being complimented and silent treatment for being too knowing.

    1. This reply was actually written on the perfect sense post, but it is applicable here as well. I always stand my ground when being verbally abused in this manner. He always feels he needs to have the definitive last word on Everything before he runs away. It is true you can’t win an argument with someone who only ever sees their own position. They are not worth the breath you expend to utter the words and frustrate yourself. It is a pathetic display of control by the Narcissist to use words to disorient and convolute conversation.

  15. Excuse me, Not to make lite of this title but “toss the salad” has a whole other meaning in the US. And I had to chuckle just a moment.

    Now I will go read BOTH post and then get serious.

    Wonder why I have so much time to play on here? My cat of 15 years is transitioning and I spend time just sitting with him. I do have a life but his is coming to an end and I want to give him comfort until the day I have to call the doctor to help him leave me.

    1. And that was the intention of using that title in order to capitalise on the innuendo and if you think it through, it defines you getting one over on the narcissist.

      What is your cat called?

  16. HG , this is a strange question and I don’t want you to confuse it with me asking if any girlfriend wasn’t fuel . I understand fuel is not love or caring etc etc . But has there ever been one person or maybe more than one , that you were still a narcissist to and you still did your usual stuff but maybe to a lesser degree . You could have gone further or been worse but you chose not to ?

        1. Why? Because I perceived a longer term advantage from taking this course of action.
          Who? A former girlfriend.
          What was different? The circumstances whereby I could see a larger advantage in exerting restraint.

        1. I saw a longer term advantage from doing so. I have written about it in the Asylum of the Grotesque and you will be able to see and understand far more detail about what happened and why once that book is available.

          1. I see. I would think it depends too on the level of connectivity with the person which you can feel that. Like for instance, it is obvious you have disdain for It Girl (Lesley). I can’t see you spending a lot of energy pursuing her in any way unless she basically drops an opportunity right under your nose and then you’re just going to play your mind f**ckery.
            Now Karen, you consistently have written about her in a completely different tone. I don’t get the sense you would only interact with her in a malign way if given the opportunity.

          2. HG did you restrain from going to far with some victims because you didn’t want to burn your bridges completely with certain ones ?

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