Friday, February 23, 2007

Arguing Just to Argue

I think that my long experience with narcissists has given me a sore spot. I really am bugged by any irrationality in others. It's easy to see why. Narcissists use irrationality as a debating tactic. It's wall of flak they throw up to block communication. A way of making sure you make no point. A way of making sure nothing gets through the wall of flak they throw up.

Been there. So I have no patience with unreasonableness in others. This is odd, because I am very patient with others in just about any other way you care to name. But the moment they are being unreasonable, look out. I REALLY don't like that.

I guess we all (wrongly) assume others are like ourselves. When I am discussing or debating an issue with someone, I really believe what I'm saying. If you make a point or raise a valid, cogent argument against my opinion, or cite facts contradictory to to it, I won't just deny them and throw up a wall of straw men and irrationality and other rhetorical devices in an exercise of verbal dodgeball. I will consider what you say. I am open to changing my mind.

It wouldn't embarrass me at all to do that - to say, "Well, I guess you're right. You changed my mind."

This isn't because I'm not a competitive person. On a tennis court you should see how competitive I can be! But everything has its place, and competitiveness does not belong in friendly personal relations. At least not to my way of thinking.

So, the moment I sense the hypocrisy of arguing just to argue (like a narcissist does, because he or she MUST win), I get ticked off.

I wonder if others feel the same. I wonder if sensitivity to this isn't a result of long experience with (deliberately) irrational narcissists who argue just to argue at the level of a three-year-old.

In my case I think it is. I came to hate that blathering fog horn of irrational flak so much that the moment I sense anyone arguing just to argue, I am done with them. I have zero patience for that. Narcissists used it all up.

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12 Comments:

At 2:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to say that I to experience the same feelings that you have regarding this subject. It is going on 10 years that I have to watch as my husband's ex invents things in her own mind to argue about.

 
At 2:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think arguing is entertaining to some. Really, I'm just worn out by all of it. I get really frustrated though when I'm trying to work out a difference with them over something important and all they can see as important is their winning. They don't seem to understand that working out differences isn't about winning so we never get to what it is about. It makes me crazy, like a puppy chasing its tail...

Pam

 
At 2:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't remember where I read it but.... "Arguing with a narcissist is like wrestling with a pig in the mud. After a while, you realize that the pig is enjoying it."

 
At 3:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems they'd rather argue about who's to blame than rectify the actual problem.

I'm reminded of the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where Calvin advises "If you can't win by reason, go for volume." Adult Ns just have more subtle types of "volume"--of the hot air variety.

Graylor

 
At 3:20 PM, Anonymous dandelion said...

Some things bother me more than others. I think what you call irrationality, I call disregard for reality, and it's pretty high up there.

But one thing that really gives me the willies is when people are overly solicitous or subservient--it makes me look for hidden motives. I think it comes from N-mom doing this overly-polite thing, talking in an exaggeratedly soothing and solicitous way as if I were a wild animal that she was trying to tame.

So here comes a new co-worker that showers everyone in our group with little gifts and starts touching our clothes, hair, and belongings in the guise of helping or fixing things (like picking up and handing us our coffee mug at the end of a meeting). Ick! So far I haven't seen any malice, although she does seem to be more accident prone than normal. So, is her solicitous behavior meant to inspire goodwill and counter any damage she does inadvertently because she knows she's a klutz, or is it a passive-aggressive ploy to ward off blame when she interferes with our work? I inwardly cringe whenever I see her, but I realize that my gut could be wrong, because I'm so sensitized.

I think when we know about a sore spot we have, we should be a little more circumspect than usual about our conclusions. That includes you also, Kathy. I've noticed that you have disparaged some of my arguments as irrational or false logic when we couldn't come to an agreement on a matter of perception. (Not that I'm trying to start an argument, lol.) Reasonable people can disagree without one of them having to be illogical.

 
At 4:10 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

dandelion, I don't remember that. Was that about President Bush? Were you one of those who said he is like an N or something pathological?

I rememeber disparaging those perceptions, but I don't remember whose they were. Perceptions are not by definition right. They can be warped. There is willful blindness. There is imagining things. There is magical thinking. I am of the One Reality school.

In his case, people are blind to instances that show him in a good light, disregarding them, and they magnify beyond all porportion playing a guitar on the day there was a hurricane, magnifying that into a monumental case of "man's inhumanity to man." Perceptions.

I truly don't remember any other sharp disagreement. And I don't remember who thought what on that one. Was that what you mean?

 
At 7:34 PM, Anonymous dandelion said...

Well, yes, we do disagree on Bush. I said he set off my N-radar and gave some reasons, and disagreed with your reasons for believing he's not (some of which were how he acts in public, and faithfulness in his marriage). I do see his good side, and I do see people unfairly picking on and slandering him (as well as justifiably picking on him). But then again I also see the good side of my N's, which is why dealing with them is such a struggle.

At any rate, some of our disagreements that come to mind have to do with the value/legitimacy of making a distinction between psychopaths and narcissists, the argument that someone who lashes out at a child can't have a conscience, and the enjoyment of steak.

With this last one, for instance, you said it wasn't legitimate to split that hair, by which I believe you were referring to the distinction I was trying to make between the narcissist being aware of and enjoying hurting the other vs. acting more out of a compulsion to have a certain effect, but without necessarily understanding how they're affecting that person. Saying that it's not legitimate to make the distinction comes across much differently than saying you don't agree that there is a difference.

 
At 1:13 PM, Anonymous gh said...

It is pretty amazing how the Ns sensitize us to particular categories of abuse. For example, if someone expresses an interest in knowing much about my personal life, the radar goes off. Really dumb in the abstract. But my experience has been with Ns who use their knowledge of my particular vulnerabilities to hit where it hurts. Self-preservation requires me to be a little more vigilant about who gets to see my vulnerable side, which probably means I wind up shutting out -- and thereby offending! -- some perfectly decent people whose interest is in fact genuine, but that's the price I pay to avoid letting the wrong sort get too close again. Someone who's been subjected to the withholding sort of N-abuser -- the one who refuses to give any attention at all -- can easily misread my self-protective guardedness as that sort of narcissistic coldness.

If I had to guess from your exchange, dandelion and kathy, (and forgive me if I'm being overly presumptuous!), I would guess Kathy has dealt with a devaluing variety of N -- the sort who disagrees for the sake of disagreeing -- and is therefore perhaps a bit sensitized to be skeptical of the reasoning underlying disagreements. I would also guess dandelion has dealt more with the trivializing N and is a bit sensitized to feel like her reasoning is being rejected without being sincerely considered. It's certainly hard when our different sensitivities cross paths, and even harder to relax the defenses when we're not entirely certain of the others' motives.

 
At 2:32 PM, Anonymous dandelion said...

Quite astute, gh--I am indeed "sensitized to feel like (my) reasoning is being rejected without being sincerely considered," because this is what happened to me throughout my childhood as I was trying futilely to make sense of everything. I shut down my emotions because I couldn't make sense of them, and truly believed I would never be able to understand people and relationships because they were too complex.

I'm very much aware that people abuse logic to beat others over the head or get their way. But in the right hands, it's a beautiful thing. When logic is used properly and holistically, it accounts for the valuable information you get from your gut, and true learning can take place.

 
At 1:41 PM, Anonymous gh said...

dandelion -- I'm glad I was astute rather thatn out of line! I reread my comment after posting and thought maybe I should have bit my tongue. I think the toughest part is that, while we may each recognize the particular variants of abuse to which we've become sensitized, it remains very hard to discern whether our sensitivity is making us see demons that aren't really there or is giving us a valuable, protective heads up. I'm right there with you about listening to your gut, subject to some logical analysis. If I've learned one thing, it's that you really can't afford to ignore your gut!

 
At 10:37 PM, Blogger frankiefoghorner said...

All that flak that comes along in the discussion is not to stop you arguing. It is there to take the conversation away from the NPD's heart. Again it is urgent priority in NPD that the sick one never catches the tiniest glimpse of their inner self.

Some times the loved one gets really close to the nitty gritty and the behaviour gets really wierd. Some of the things said and done are absolutely outrageous.

Isn't it strange that they dont care if other people see this craziness. They really dont care what anyone else sees, just so long as they dont ever have to internalize anything.

 
At 10:39 PM, Blogger frankiefoghorner said...

All that flak that comes along in the discussion is not to stop you arguing. It is there to take the conversation away from the NPD's heart. Again it is urgent priority in NPD that the sick one never catches the tiniest glimpse of their inner self.

Some times the loved one gets really close to the nitty gritty and the behaviour gets really wierd. Some of the things said and done are absolutely outrageous.

Isn't it strange that they dont care if other people see this craziness. They really dont care what anyone else sees, just so long as they dont ever have to internalize anything.

 

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