Deflection is the art of saying, “I know you are, but what am I?” in your best Pee-Wee Herman voice. It is intentionally changing the subject away from the matter at hand, when and if the person hearing a statement does not want to validate another person’s assertion or perspective.
It can be used to frustrate a victim or save them, depending on whether or not it’s an abusive person or a target striving to deflect barbs likely to be thrown during any prospectively contentious conversations.
When an abuse victim repeats a deflection statement to a person verbally abusing them, it’s clearly seen as a joke or statement intended to be antagonistic. But when and if a person with a narcissistic personality or Cluster B temperament chooses to strive to deflect, they willfully, purposefully, and deliberately assign a projected statement on another person that reveals far more about the speaker than it ever does the target.
As a manipulative, gaslighting conversation tactic designed to impugn the reputation and social credibility of another, deflection statements can be quite powerfully harmful. Not only does an Abuser make a patently false decree while posturing in such a way as to strive to make themselves look like they have some sort of inside knowledge as an authoritarian figure, but they are also oftentimes so successful at puffing up and making sweeping assertions that even their targeted victims end up questioning their own credibility, thoughts, motivations, intentions, and lifestyle choices and or assertions.
By definition, deflection, as a verbal manipulation tactic, is the act of changing or causing something to change direction. When a person makes a gaslighting assertion in an authoritarian manner, listeners who fail to question authority are easily misled into believing not only is the Abuser in some way above them, but that the false or misdirected, spun phrase the speaker chose to assert some is some form of truth.
The more Machiavellian the speaker, the more likely they are to outright lie (consciously) while making misleading or misdirecting statements designed to steer listeners into making decisions that are likely to only benefit the Abuser at the expense of targets and victimized listeners.
Changing the subject to avoid dealing with something is a common conversation control technique uses by master manipulations in order to keep things like family secrets or obvious, toxic thinking patterns hidden. It can be used to stonewall a victim seeing resolution or validation trauma occurred, or it can be used to avoid having an unpleasant exchange in conversation.
As such, if a victim elects to deflect when and if a Verbal Abuser strives to provoke, it can be used as a coping mechanism (as changing the subject of a hot topic occasionally limits the Abuser’s ability to bait or make abusive statements to victims).
Other times it is a conversation manipulation tactic that can be used by a conscious Abuser seeking to verbally manipulate other people into feeling like banging their head on a desk might be easier than broaching a vexing subject with a narcissistic thinker in order to have an actual productive, enlightening, or legitimate two-way, mutually comprehended viewpoint type of factually reciprocal conversation.
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