What the Bible says about Narcissistic behavior

Narcissism is addressed in the Bible in Paul’s second pastoral epistle to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:1-7) in the fall of A.D.67.  Paul seems to be concerned about the character and behavior of leaders within the church, so he warns Timothy to beware of those who act out of a “self love attitude”.  He says, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come.  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.  And from such people turn away.”  Here Paul names many of the attributes associated (in psychology) to-day with the narcissistic personality we are all becoming so familiar with.

The Science of Psychology and Narcissism as a scholarly study is relatively young, barely more than a century old in fact.  However, the term “Narcissism” is not confined to psychology alone, it is also seen through the lens of other disciplines, such as sociology (i.e. Narcissistic Culture); Political Science (i.e. Citizenship and Moral Narcissism); Criminology (i.e The Narcissist and Threatened Egotism); Theological Anthropology (i.e. Theism and Narcissism); Theology (i.e Hedonism and Narcissism).

In Psychology, the term “Narcissism” was first introduced by Alfred Binet (Sexologist) in 1887, however, its usage today has grown more from the notions of Freud’s work in 1914.   Mankind has been interested in all aspects of mental processes and behaviour over many millennium, as far back as two thousand years ago the Ancient Greeks explored the meaning of the mind through the myth of Narcissus.

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Submitted by Christine

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7 Comments

  1. I have always learned that (2 Timothy 3:1-7) was a LAST DAY event. These are the “Perilous Times!”— not the Church leaders of the First Century! It only makes sense…and I’m sticking to it!

    • You may be right, but according to Saint Peter, the “Last Days” began on the first Christian Pentecost, about 34 AD. Since Jesus Christ had been put to death just 50 days earlier, those times were, no doubt, perilous for Christians, as well.

      Acts 2:14-21 But Peter standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and spoke to them: Ye men of Judea, and all you that dwell in Jerusalem, be this known to you and with your ears receive my words. (15) For these are not drunk, as you suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day: (16) But this is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel: (17) And it shall come to pass, in the last days, (saith the Lord), I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy: and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. (18) And upon my servants indeed and upon my handmaids will I pour out in those days of my spirit: and they shall prophesy. (19) And I will shew wonders in the heaven above, and signs on the earth beneath: blood and fire, and vapor of smoke. (20) The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the great and manifest day of the Lord to come. (21) And it shalt come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

      Immediately after the descent of the Holy Spirit, Saint Peter stepped out into the street and declared to all present that the words of the OT Prophet Joel had been fulfilled before their eyes, through the work of Jesus Christ, on the cross.

      This is not to rule out the possibility of a similar, future fulfillment, but it does clearly define (at least) the very beginning of the “Last Days”.

      Like little children on a long journey, all we can do is watch, pray, and ask if we’re there yet!

      Doug

  2. OK, we get it. Narcissism: bad!

    The celebrity-besotted, self esteem-based “educational” culture has made us into a nation where self-absorbed sociopaths are becoming the majority.

    The whirlwind from the wind that we have sown. Or allowed to be sown.

    • And let’s not forget our Narcissist in Chief – President Barack Obama.

      Doug

    • Mark, if narcissism was just “bad” we could manage it, but actually it is down right dangerous if you happen to be a victim of this form of abuse. I am a therapist who works with victims who are suffering from a condition called Narcissistic Victim Syndrome (NVS), These victims experience abuse on every level of the self, the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. A great many suffer from Complex Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, Stockholm Syndrome, Infantile Regression, Soul Rape, and other symptoms that need to be attended to. It is time for us all to realize that we are not talking about a narcissistic personality where the person is just selfish, the one who keeps looking in the mirror at his/her own reflection….. if it were just that, then we could live with it in the Church and community.

      My post was in response to what Pope Francis called Theological Narcissism…….the Church’s fundamental illness: “ecclesiastical narcissism.” …where the Church is living in itself, of itself, for itself.

      Individuals with a narcissistic personality disorder live only for their own needs to be met, whatever the cost to others are merely incidental. But we must all remember that the Church (the whole assembly) is made up of individuals, some of which will be narcissistic….. living in themselves, of themselves, and for themselves. When this contagious spiritual sickness is within the clergy, it passes from clergy to laypeople, with terrible consequences for everybody.

      I work with an organization called Towards Healing. It is an organization that provides therapists such as myself to work with the victims who have suffered physical, emotional or sexual abuse by persons working for the Catholic Church in Ireland. Mopping up after clerical narcissism is no longer an option, it is time to deal with the problem directly. Amongst other things, I believe that It will require implementing improved methods of screening and training for candidates preparing for religious life. It could start from the point of better formation programmes where this type of personality (self-referential rather than missionary) can be identified and weeded out before ordination. It is these personality disordered individuals that have gone on to create the “theological narcissism” that the Pope is referring to. It may also be time to take a hard look at how the church itself can reinforce narcissistic tendencies in priests….(i.e. their sense of specialness because of their “calling” by God to serve others), this attitude may attract those men who already have narcissistic tendencies to apply.

      It is this form of narcissistic abuse that has caused the church to lose respect in the eyes of the world, and once the Church looses its audience, it is almost impossible to get them back. The job at hand is a difficult one, but if it is to survive, the church (with the help of its leader Pope Francis) needs to go from a somewhat pathological narcissistic church to a healthy narcissistic Church….. where it becomes more humble, where each man called to the Priesthood must be like St. Paul:
      “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Seminarians need to have a solid moral character, be prudent, able to relate to others with empathy and understanding, be good communicators, have a mature healthy narcissism, be respectful, able to take the role of a public person. and be able to generously give of himself to others in a responsible way…… a “mysterium lunae” Church.

      • Not seeking to belittle or minimize your words or efforts. Only pointing out that a huge step toward stemming the tide of narcissism in our country would be the abolition of government schools.

  3. Hi Mark, I did not feel belittled at all by your remark, and thank you for the comment. I probably take this subject a bit seriously at times, it is the fall out of seeing so many victims through my work. The best defense against narcissistic abuse is educating ourselves to recognize at least some of the behaviours…… that way we can be in a narcissist’s company without allowing them to bait us, and reel us in. Unfortunately narcissists do aim for the top ranking jobs, so they do get into high places where they can do enormous harm with great reward. Stay safe, and don’t fall for the seduction and manipulation the narcissist is so good at doing in order to get their “narcissistic supply”.


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