So, In my examination of self this morning I am looking at the topic called Christian Narcissism. The bible strongly admonishes us to examine oneself ( 2 Corinthians 13:5). In this examination I found key discrepancies within my own temple. There are several point of views within this topic, especially related to Christianity. Instead of taking the critics standpoint I will take the optimistic and see what I can do to change myself from the erosion of my personality and witness to the world.
Narcissism , Freudian term, drawn from the Greek myth of Narcissus, indicating an exclusive self-absorption. In psychoanalysis, narcissism is considered a normal stage in the development of children. It is known as secondary narcissism when it occurs after puberty, and is said to indicate a libidinal energy directed exclusively toward oneself. A degree of narcissism is considered normal, where an individual has a healthy self-regard and realistic aspirations. The condition becomes pathological, and diagnosable as a personality disorder, when it significantly impairs social functioning. An individual with narcissistic personality disorder tends to harbor an exaggerated sense of his own self-importance and uniqueness. He is often excessively occupied with fantasies about his own attributes and potential for success, and usually depends upon others for reinforcement of his self-image. A narcissist tends to have difficulties maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships, stemming largely from a lack of empathy and a propensity for taking advantage of others in the interest of self-aggrandizement. It is often found in combination with antisocial personality disorder.
Narcissism describes the trait of excessive self-love, based on self-image or ego.
The term is derived from the Greek mythology of Narcissus. Narcissus was a handsome Greek youth who rejected the desperate advances of the nymph Echo. As punishment, he was doomed to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus pined away and changed into the flower that bears his name, the narcissus.
In psychology and psychiatry, excessive narcissism is recognized as a severe personality dysfunction or personality disorder, most characteristically Narcissistic personality disorder, also referred to as NPD.
Sigmund Freud believed that some narcissism is an essential part of all of us from birth and was the first to use the term in the reference to psychology.
Andrew Morrison claims that, in adults, a reasonable amount of healthy narcissism allows the individual’s perception of his needs to be balanced in relation to others.
The terms narcissism , narcissistic, and narcissist are often used as pejoratives, denoting vanity, conceit, egotism or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others.
A dandy is a man who places particular importance upon physical appearance, refined language, and the cultivation of leisurely hobbies. Some dandies, especially in Britain in the late 18th and 19th century, strove to affect aristocratic values even though many came from common backgrounds. Thus, a dandy could be considered a kind of snob.
“A Dandy is a clothes-wearing Man, a Man whose trade, office and existence consists in the wearing of Clothes. Every faculty of his soul, spirit, purse, and person is heroically consecrated to this one object, the wearing of Clothes wisely and well: so that the others dress to live, he lives to dress…And now, for all this perennial Martyrdom, and Poesy, and even Prophecy, what is it that the Dandy asks in return? Solely, we may say, that you would recognise his existence; would admit him to be a living object; or even failing this, a visual object, or thing that will reflect rays of light…”
Narcissism is the term used in psychology to describe a preoccupation with self. It is a Greek term taken from the name of the mythological Narcissus, who fell in love with his own image and was doomed to die because he would not turn away from it. A narcissist is a person who displays a high level of selfishness, vanity, and pride. He sees everything from a “how does this affect me?” perspective. Empathy is impossible for the narcissist because his only perspective is the one centered on self. In psychology, narcissism is seen as a broad spectrum of conditions ranging from normal to pathological.
The Bible says that we are born sinful since the fall (Romans 5:12). This means that we are born with only sinful tendencies and no ability to be “good” or righteous on our own. What we call “human nature” the Bible calls “the flesh” (Galatians 5:19-21). Part of our sin nature is a total focus on self. This focus, also called “egocentrism,” is how babies see and experience the world. Narcissism is like egocentrism in that the adult still relates to the world like an infant, a perspective that impedes personal growth and relationships.
Psychological theories about narcissism suggest that the narcissistic person uses defense mechanisms to idealize self so that he does not have to face his own mistakes (sin) or flaws (fallen state). The diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder outlines the behavior patterns of a narcissistic person as being haughty, non-empathetic, manipulative, and envious; he also possesses a sense of entitlement and grandiosity. From a biblical perspective, it is clear that these heart conditions are due to pride, which is sin (Proverbs 16:18). The Bible tells us to “look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). The narcissist routinely disobeys this command.
Pride is a reason people do not feel they need a savior or forgiveness. Pride tells them they are “good” people or have a “good” heart. Pride also blinds people to their own personal responsibility and accountability for sin. Narcissism (pride) masks sin, whereas the gospel reveals the truth that leads to remorse for sin. Narcissistic traits can be dangerous because, at their worst, they will lead a person to destroy others to satisfy the lust of the flesh (2 Timothy 3:2-8).
The Bible addresses the issues related to narcissism as part of our sinful natural self (Romans 7:5). We are slaves to the flesh until we place our faith in Jesus, who sets the captives free (Romans 7:14-25; John 8:34-36). Believers are then slaves to righteousness as the Holy Spirit begins the transforming work of sanctification in their lives. However, believers must surrender to the Lord and humble themselves in order to have God’s perspective rather than a selfish one (Mark 8:34). The process of sanctification is turning away from self (narcissism) and turning toward Jesus.
All people are narcissists until they either learn how to cover it and get along in the world or until they recognize their own flesh and repent of their sin. The Lord helps people to grow out of narcissism when they receive Jesus as their savior (Romans 3:19-26). The believer is empowered to begin loving others as himself (Mark 12:31).
I am inclined to believe that there is an epidemic of narcissism taking place as we speak in the world in Hollywood, churches, home and communities alike. I see from my perspective a prevalent outbreak within my community of interest “gangbangers” and the “disenfranchised” families and their children.
The narcissism epidemic involves two related processes. The first is the rise in narcissism among individuals, and the second is the change in the larger culture’s values, beliefs, and practices. I hope to address the cultural-level change one day soon as I further study and evaluate myself.
An epidemic is usually declared when more individuals are affected than would be expected in a population. If we use the recent past to formulate those expectations, there is clearly an epidemic of narcissism.
We know that narcissism has increased over time among individuals based on several datasets. College students now endorse more narcissistic traits than college students did in the 1980s and 1990s; in one large sample the change seemed to be accelerating after 2002. An Internet sample of the general population also showed higher narcissism scores among younger people than older people. Perhaps most disturbing, a 2005 study using a large, randomly selected sample of Americans found that nearly 1 out of 10 people in their twenties had experienced NPD — the more severe, clinical-level form of the trait. Only 1 out of 30 people over 64 had experienced NPD in their lifetime — even though they had lived 40 more years than the people in their twenties and thus had that much more time to experience the disorder. This suggests a large increase in NPD over time.
How did we get here?
There is no single cause of the narcissism epidemic; instead we point to several contributing factors in life. Admiring oneself is now considered crucial to success in life. This began in earnest in the 1970s, became more influential with the self-esteem movement in the 1980s and 1990s, and today is taken for granted in American culture. We see this in slogans like “You have to love yourself before you can love others” and at preschools with young children singing, “I am special/Look at me.”
At the core of narcissism is the fantasy that you are better than you really are (and better than those around you). Any process that allows that fantasy to exist despite the less glamorous reality is an opportunity for narcissism to thrive. For example, the Internet allows people to create phony images of themselves and seek fame and attention. Easy credit has allowed average Americans to pretend they are wealthy and successful (at least until the foreclosure sign went up). The inflation of grades and other feedback in schools has lets kids believe they are better students than they really are. And the list goes on.
Finally, the explosion of shallow celebrity culture promotes narcissism as not just acceptable but desirable. Celebrity gossip and happenings are now found on mainstream news channels. The social models we see are often advertisements for a narcissistic lifestyle.
Has the narcissism epidemic affected everyone?
Yes and no. No, not everyone is narcissistic. But the epidemic has sucked in non-narcissistic people too. At one time, only Hollywood types did things like get plastic surgery, whiten their teeth, and shape their eyebrows; now these appearance enhancers have trickled down to ordinary people. And many humble people have had to deal with the consequences of working with, dating, or otherwise associating with a narcissist at one time or another.
The epidemic has reached most groups in society. The trend appears in poor neighborhoods and rich ones, in all regions of the U.S., and across many different ethnic groups. As I continue my search for truth I will read the book called, the epidemic — now strongest in North America — also appears to be spreading to many cultures around the world.
There was one difference by group: Most data shows that the increase in narcissism is larger among girls and women. Males still score higher on narcissistic traits than females on average, but girls and women are catching up. This is not entirely surprising in an era of pedicure parties for 5-year-olds and breast implants for high school graduation. As parents of girls, we’re scared too.
Isn’t narcissism necessary in an increasingly competitive world?
Some degree of self-promotion is more necessary now than it was in the past. However, there is a big difference between being able to talk about your strengths at a job interview and talking about how great you are to your wife, kids, co-workers and anyone else who will listen. Not only is this kind of pervasive narcissism not necessary, but it will hurt you in the long run. Narcissists also tend to be overconfident and take too many risks. This works great during boom times but causes spectacular failure when things turn south. (If you remember 2008, this might sound familiar.)
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