Learn About the Narcissistic Word Salad

If you have felt exhausted talking to a narcissist and come away questioning your own sanity, then you need this article. In it you will learn how a narcissistic speaks to confuse you by using what is called a narcissistic word salad.

I have had a close relationship with a narcissist almost my whole life, so this is not am academic article, but something real. I hope it will help you avoid the life changing effects of dealing with a narcissist.

Interacting with some one who has a narcissistic personality disorder has real consequences for your mental health.

(Note: in the article I use “he” for convenience, the same principles apply to a female narcissist)

What is a Narcissistic Word salad?

The term word salad refers to how a narcissist will try to confuse you by saying sentences that stringed together do not make sense. And do not have a logical thread connecting them.

They do this to control you and the conversation frame. It makes sure issues you bring to the narcissist will never get resolved. Make no mistake a world salad is no different to his other abusive reactions.

When you are having a conversation with a healthy person, even if you disagree, you are working towards mutually beneficial outcomes. A conversation with a narcissist is never like that, there is always a power play and manipulation involved.

Summary: The sentences in the narcissistic word salad individually makes sense. But together they do not have a connection. He does this confuse and control you.

What Triggers a Narcissistic Word Salad

Disagreement will lead to a word salad

There may not be a specific trigger you can pinpoint. However, underlying it all, is the narcissists need to have reality conform to his ideas.

Here are some possible reasons he will go into a narcissistic world salad…

Holding the Narcissist Accountable

When you bring up anything negative the narcissist has done it will trigger a narcissistic word salad. It’s an automatic response. He won’t let you hold him accountable because he does not see himself a accountable.

Not Giving in to His Demands

If the narcissist wants you to do something, or behave a certain way and you do not do that, he will go into a word salad.

The point of this is to guilt trip you, make you scared or feel abandonment anxiety. So that you will follow his demands.

You Have the Narcissist Take His Responsibilities Seriously

Just as the narcissist does not see himself as accountable, he also does not want to be responsible for anyone or anything.

If you tell him to take his responsibilities seriously, you will have to deal with a narcissist’s word salad.

We had an issue with a family member, who would go into a word salad when we reminded him he has a responsibility for his wife who had early onset dementia.

When You Don’t Conform to the Narcissists Idea of Who You Are

A narcissist does not see you as a separate individual with there own beliefs, emotions and thoughts ie a inner world. He has an idea of you in his head that is the “real you” to him.

When you act different to the his mental representation of you, he will go into a word salad to get you align with his inner image.

How Do You Know You Are Dealing With a Narcissistic Word Salad?

A confused woman listening to a narcissist

Overall the narcissist’s word salad is nonsense. But it’s not just a mishmash of unrelated words. Individually his statements have logic, that does not mean they are true, just that they make sense.

But the statements have zero, or at best a loose relationship to each other.

For instance if you say to a narcissist “ Why did you say that negative thing about me to my friends?”  

A world salad response would be “Why are you bringing this up now? You are just a unhappy person. I told you not to take that job”

He puts the statements together in a random way. However each statement is not made of random words, they make sense in a different context.

For instance, the job comment might be related to a past situation where he did not want you to take a job because it would make him insecure.

Irrelevant to what you are discussing at the moment.

Lets have a look at the mechanisms in the world salad…

Remember, he imbeds these in his word salad, but will also use them in everyday conversation.

If you find yourself talking to him and feeling drained and confused and wondering what is going on, look for a bunch of these and you will realize you are dealing with a narcissistic world salad.

Makes No Sense (no logic)

You will feel confused, question your reality and start to engage with him in order to resolve the confusion.

This will just lead to more of the same from him.


He will divert the conversation to something else, unrelated. A narcissist is good at this. You will be deep into it before you realise you are having a different conversation.

Punish and Belittle You

He will belittle and punish you for challenging his point of view. He will bring up your past mistakes. Say things that are not true. And hit your vulnerable points.

He will go so far as bringing up something that has been painful for you and laughing about it.

Make You Angry

You will feel angry because he is trying to make you angry. He will then say, look how angry you are, this is about you, not me.

He will use a condescending tone. This will also anger you. Then he will say something like, you are only saying this stuff to me because you are unhappy.

No matter how you bring the issue up, you will always end up in the same place with him, angered and frustrated.

He feeds of emotions. You will see later on one of the ways you can deal with a world salad is to not get emotionally involved.

He’s a Victim

The “no one understands/appreciates me” type of thing.

He can say this with bitterness, anger or pity for himself. He will turn something he has done to you and make it about how you made him feel.

You: “When you interfered in my relationship, it took me years to get over it”

Him: ” I can’t believe you are making me feel this way, look what you have done to me.”

Abandonment Anxiety

He will use abandonment anxiety to make you conform.

“I should never have worried about you as much as I did”.  When in reality he never worried about you at all.

What he is really saying is you are insignificant, unimportant and do not mean anything to him. he says this because he wants you to fight to get his love and validation back.

Circular Conversations

This is one of the most frustrating things about the whole experience. He will repeat things again and again. Just as you think you are getting to the bottom of it, he will go back to the start.

He will say I cannot do X because of my stomach issues. You reply Ok, let solve that. He says Ok.

You make suggestion after suggestion to help with his issue, which he shoots down.

He’ll say, what can I do? You say, I’ve told you, you don’t want to do any of them, what else can I say?

His response, “I have stomach issues.”

He will keep you listening to his complaints and criticisms , for hours, with this method, if you let him. 

Triggering You by Mentioning YOUR Past

He will trigger you by mentioning your past mistakes or his perception of your mistakes. As well blaming you for things you did not do or had no control over.

They do not have relevance to what you are talking about. The purpose is to muddy the waters and confuse you by emotionally triggering you.

You will recognize these as they are the same ones he uses all the time. He knows the ones that anger and upset you.

Over Generalisations – Missing Context

He over generalises. Using statements like “you always…” or “I am always….” Off course it’s negative about you and positive about himself.

Often, he will leave out the context.

He will accuse you of saying something to him and omit what lead up to that.

If you tell the narcissist that he is nasty because he is being horrible to someone else, he will say “I cannot believe you called me nasty, I never thought you were that type of person. ”

Ignoring his own behaviour that lead you saying that.


He will accuse of the the thing he did. If he went out of his way to use you financially. He will say you did that to him.

If he does something that puts you in low mood, he will say you did that to him.

When he gets drunk and acts like an idiot he will say you were drunk, even when you don’t drink. If you tell him you don’t drink he will circle back to something you were saying earlier.

Circling Through Different Personas

When he is the middle of a world salad you will notice he circles through many personas. He will be angry, kind, understanding, then insult you. Each one is different to the other. They don’t seem to have a common thread of personality.

Out Right Denial

Part of a world salad involves out right denial. If you caught him in the act, have photo’s or witnesses he will still say he did not do it. He will say “How ridiculous” when you bring up the evidence.

You Find Yourself Defining Basic Human Interactions

Bringing up evidence is one sign you are caught in his world salad, another is you find yourself explaining obvious and basic human emotions and dynamics.

Watch out for this one, he will take you down a rabbit hole that goes no where. Imagine explaining things to an adult about life that even a three year old knows.

You Feel Depleted and Exhausted.

Ultimately, the simplest way to know you are in the midst of a narcissistic world salad is you feel exhausted and depleted. Whereas the narcissist looks energized and happier than when the whole thing started.

I spent a three hours talking to a narcissist family member. I was shattered and he looked like he had hit the lottery. That was the last time I spent that much time caught in his world salad.

I woke up the next day angry and tired. Never again.

How to Deal With a Narcissistic Word Salad

Best way to deal with a narcissist's word salad is to walk away

Best not to. You cannot win. Even if he concedes, it’s momentary, the whole process will start again – today, tomorrow or next week. He will never sincerely acknowledge his own flaws.

Not getting involved is the only guarantee that you will not be abused and suffer trauma. Don’t waste your life trying to work him out and having to climb back to a healthy baseline after speaking to him.

If you have to deal with constant word salads, you can easily forget what a healthy relationship is supposed to be.

If you must engage him, here’s’ my advice…

Presence – Be Mindful of How You Feel.

Stay mindful as you speak to him. Mindful of how you feel, what he is trying to do, his language and his tone.

This way you will spot early that you are being abused and manipulated. You can either disengage or change you how you are communicating with him.

Recognise He is Repeating Himself

As you speak to him recognise you have heard it all before. A narcissist at the core is basic. He has no imagination, the same things keep cycling in his head.

When I was speaking to the family member one day, I noticed he was talking to me with his eyes closed and cycling through the same past situations he knew up upset me.

He would try one, if that did not have the desired reaction he would go the next one and the next. When I saw that, it did not affect in the same way.

When he realised I was not reacting, he changed his tone, to sound reasonable.

It was eye opening to watch the process. If I had been caught in my own emotions and had not been present and mindful I would never have seen it.

Stick to Facts

If you need to speak to him, stick to the facts. While he is spouting his nonsense, keep bringing him back to reality. I know, it’s easier said than done because he knows how to push your buttons.

This may not get the result you want, but at least you do not get sucked into it his fantasy world.

Let Him Know He is Not Making Sense

Let him know, he is not making sense. And that you do not know what to say to him. And walk away. This often makes him change his tone, you may get some sense out of hum. But don’t hold your breath.

Emotional Control

Don’t get emotional when involved in a word salad conversation. Use whatever strategies you have to not get triggered. Speak to him in a calm voice, and do not buy into his fantasy frame. I know it’s hard, but remain calm.

Conclusion – Narcissistic Word Salad Summary

The narcissistic word salad is a bunch of statements strung together that have little or no connection to each other. They are used to confuse you and bring you in line with the narcissists preferred way of looking at you and the world.

The narcissist has an inner word that he needs to keep in tact. When anything challenges it, he will go into a word salad.

They are not random words as some people suggest. His crazy making way of talking in circles, condescending tone and playing the eternal victim all have the same purpose.

The simplest way to look at it is this, if you disagree with with narcissist he will go into a word salad. He may not do this every time, but when he does this is the reason.

The best way to avoid getting caught in the never ending back and forth is to walk away. However if that is not possible, stick to the facts and do not get emotionally involved.

People who are not narcissists may use the same pattern of speech, however “word salad narcissism speak” is unique.

Dealing with a narcissistic word salad is not a trivial thing. It messes with your ability to look at the world in a useful, harmonious and practical way.

Now you understand the term word salad, it’s causes and what to look for…Stay away, don’t get caught in the endless loop, if you can.

See also 12 Traits of a Narcissist