13. For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Isaiah 14:13-14 (KJV)
What is a Narcissist?
The term narcissism gets thrown around a lot lately, but the concept has been around for thousands of years. So, exactly what is a narcissist?
According to Psychology Today, Narcissism involves an insatiable hunger for admiration, special treatment, or the desire to be the center of attention.
The important thing to remember about a narcissist is that while they may enjoy a good life for a while, it usually doesn’t end well for them. There is no one more miserable to be around than an aging narcissist. With beauty and health gone, with their sphere of influence diminishing, they either change or they spend their final years upping their efforts in ever failing attempts to force others to validate them. It’s also important to remember that God never expects you or me to consistently subject ourselves to narcissistic abuse.
Consider this admonishment by the Apostle Paul. In 2 Timothy 3, he does a fantastic job of describing every type of narcissist that a person can possibly encounter. And what does he tell the person who wants to walk in the Way to do?
Turn away. Yep, that’s right. Stay away from them as much as possible. Gray rock them. Run from them. Avoid them.
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
Clinical psychologist, Ramini Durvasula, estimates that as much as 10%-15% of the population are on the narcissism spectrum. However, diagnosable narcissistic personality disorder makes up about 1% of the population. Still, the 10-15% on the spectrum all share certain traits and tactics.
The Narcissistic Creed–Worship ME!
All of us need to feel valued and loved. We all want to be accepted and important to someone, but most of us don’t have the need to have others constantly fawning over us or kissing up to us, worshipping us, but people with strong narcissistic tendencies do.
Narcissists NEED admiration. They need to be associated with people whom they deem to be of high caliber. They seek external praise and admiration. Their need for this admiration is like a black hole, constantly sucking energy in until it completely drains those in close relationship/proximity to it.
Narcissists cannot stand to share the glory or credit with other people. They can’t stand it if others receive more validation or acknowledgement than they do. I suppose, in a sense, they really want to be served and worshipped.
Traits and Tactics of Narcissists
*Projection–they ignore who you really are and prescribe you a role to play.
*Manipulation and guilt–they twist your words, your motives, and your actions
*Controlling–they coerce or threaten you into accepting their viewpoints and doing things their way.
*Backhanded Compliments–some narcissists (especially covert ones) will give you a compliment that is actually a cleverly disguised insult or slur.
*Probing–they want to catch you in a fallacy or inconsistency, so they constantly push you for personal information.
*Pushing or Instigating–they will push your buttons until you have an emotional outburst that is completely out of character for you then they will say that you are either overly dramatic or brag about how much you must surely love them. They love the feeling of control and power over others that this gives them. Your pain is their pleasure.
*Evasive–they demand honesty and proclaim how they love the truth, yet they always conceal things about themselves.
*Denial–When confronted they will say things like, “I never said that.” Or “I didn’t do that.” “You’re imagining things.”
Superiority Complex–they see themselves as: Smarter or prettier or more accomplished, or more qualified–than you.
Devaluing Other Points of View–They view disagreements as you “not understanding.” They will devalue your viewpoint while touting their own as the way of wisdom.
Double Standards–What’s good for the goose is not good for the gander so to speak. For example, a narcissist who struggled with his own weight told his wife that he would leave her if she gained weight.
The Four Types of Narcissists
Charming, persuasive, confident, outgoing–they may be athletic or successful. They have big personalities. They’re bold, assertive and have no shortage on self-esteem. They are so big in relationships that they dominate others. It’s not uncommon for them to overestimate or overexaggerate their abilities or attributes. They are focused on achievement, usually strive to be attractive and are often in leadership roles. These aren’t bad qualities in the right amount, but a grandiose narcissist believes in living BIG and this tendency gets out of hand when they’re in positions of power.
They have a propensity to run roughshod over others without a realistic understanding or care for the havoc they wreck in other people’s lives. They are not intentionally mean, just unaware of the needs of others due to their intense focus on self.
It’s not uncommon for a grandiose narcissist to have multiple affairs, live in luxurious homes (if they can afford them), wear expensive clothes, and mingle with the most influential people they can find. They like to live the BIG life, hence the name–Grandiose.
For the grandiose narcissist there are only two games in town, well maybe three, sex, money and status. Everything and everyone around them exist to boost their egos and show the world just how great they are. They become intoxicated by the feeling of having power and they crave more and more of it.
The grandiose narcissist has no problems being center stage and when they’re not, you’re going to hear about it. This type of narcissist is arrogant, seeking validation and attention. They love attention, they love admiration and praise, and they get annoyed with anyone who fails to proclaim their greatness. This type of Narcissist will likely care for his family but lack empathy and run headlong over others to get ahead and receive validation. One comical example of this type of narcissist is Ben Stiller’s character in the movie Zoolander.
The malignant Narcissist is much like the grandiose Narcissist except they don’t just crave power, recognition and validation. They want to hurt you. They are vindictive and conniving. They take pleasure in doing things that actually destroy other’s lives and relationships.
They are a bit on the sociopathic side, like Dr. Smith on the television series, Lost in Space. The malignant Narcissist will lie, steal, cheat, play people against each other and take pleasure in the heartache they cause others. They may be dismissive of their spouses, having multiple affairs or being married multiple times, but failed relationships are NEVER their fault. The other person is always inferior and needs to be fixed so that they see how great the narcissist is!
They have very little conscience or compassion. They lack empathy, even though they may care for their immediate families. These folks make great criminals and gravitate towards political offices and any place that gives them prominence and power over others.
Sociopaths embody these traits.
A covert Narcissist operates like a spy, secretly. They’re the bitter, whining cynic who sits back and criticizes others who have made accomplishments and cuts them down with backhanded compliments. For example, a covert Narcissist will point out the flaws in others who are receiving attention and say things like, “Well, I would be successful, too, if I had a rich daddy who paid for my start in life like his did.”
The covert Narcissist sees himself or herself as put upon by the world, as a victim and will play the victim or even the damsel in destress or the helpless reject in order to illicit feelings of guilt in others. This leads others to relentlessly trying to “help” them and keeping attention and focus on them. This feeds the covert narcissist.
They often feeling like life did them wrong and the world owes them something. They’re the, “Woe is me,” people who lament that everyone else is the blame for them not being as important as they deserve to be. They’re often critical of others, pointing out their flaws. They can even come across as depressed.
They’re hypersensitive to criticism. They throw tantrums, the world never got their greatness. They are always feeling like the victim. They have an arrogance to them and feel that no one gets their greatness.
And make no mistake about it. There are definitely CHRISTIAN narcissists. The WORST Narcissist of All (Christian Covert Narcissist) – YouTube
These folks are the glamourous, put-together beauty queens and kings all over social media, helping the “impoverished” in amazing photoshoots. They are always out there trying to save the world and they’re making sure that everyone knows it. Like all narcissists, they are hypersensitive to criticism.
They’re the folks who donate a ton of money to college or a church and insist that a building be named after them. They need a lot of recognition for their “good” and “selfless” deeds. They have no intention of giving in secret like Jesus talked about doing. They need everyone to know that they’re the super good guys.
They are all about giving but they really don’t have empathy for those they help, and they seek a lot of validation for all of their good works.
A FEW FACTS ABOUT NARCISSISM
*Men are more likely to be narcissists than women. But there are still women narcissists.
*Empathy, compassion, and true vulnerability are not valued in narcissists. (Note: they will feign vulnerability to get you to believe whatever they’re telling you.)
* They are very measured on achievement, superficial drives such as making more money, being more attractive, being more influential and in demand.
*They are many of our celebrities, athletes, music stars, and politicians.
Dr. Ramini Durvasula says that if she wrote a book on narcissism she might call it, A Guide on how to Achieve in the New World Order because today’s society rewards people for narcissistic behavior.
Narcissists in the Bible
Finally, I thought I’d do a run down on narcissists that I found in the Bible. There are SO many of them. I am only naming a few. Notice that in every case it didn’t end well for the narcissist.
*Serpent in the Garden–who gaslighted and coerced Eve into doubting her own reality and crossing a clear boundary in her life. The gaslighting line? “Hath God really said…” He caused her to question her own understanding of what God had said. His end? Belly crawling. How humiliating for a narcissistic creature.
*Lucifer–Grandiose Narcissist who wanted to exalt himself above God, who persuaded angels to worship him. His end? Loss of the throne and cast out of heaven.
*Satan–Malignant Narcissist who tried to gaslight and manipulate Jesus by saying, “If you are the son of God, say…” Forty days prior, Jesus had heard God say, “This is my beloved son,” but in the desert, Satan attempted to cause him to doubt what he had heard, to doubt his own reality. His end? Ultimately, he loses everything.
*Pharisees–Communal narcissists who were constantly making a show by reciting long prayers in public places and doing religious acts just to be seen by other people. Their end? Their glorious temple and all they took pride in was destroyed in 70 A.D.
*Saul–Cover narcissist who pretended to be David’s friend but was excessively critical and jealous of him. His end? He killed himself on the battlefield.
*Jezebel–Malignant narcissist who wanted Elijah dead because he questioned her authority. Her end? She was slaughtered and dogs ate her.
*Nebuchadnezzar–Grandiose Babylonian narcissist who demanded everyone bow down and worship a stature of him. His end? Well, he might have ended okay but he went crazy for a while and ate grass like a cow while crawling around on his hands and knees.
*Delilah–Covert narcissist who conned Samuel into giving up the secret to his strength. Her end? She most likely died when Solomon brought the temple of Dagon down.
*Haman–Malignant narcissist who planned to kill the innocent Mordecai and entire Jewish nation because Mordecai wouldn’t bow down to him. His end? He was hung on the gallows he built for Mordecai.
*Absolom–David’s malignantly narcissistic son. His end? His was killed in battle when his beautiful hair was caught in some tree branches.
*Pharoah–Grandiose narcissist who couldn’t led the Israelites leave. His end? He drowned in the Red Sea.
*Judas–Covert narcissist who sold Jesus out. His end? He committed suicide when he realized he had been played.
Well, I think I’ve only scratched the surface. There are far more narcissists in the Bible and in literature from all over the world. Most of the time narcissists end up miserable, bitter and alone with no one to admire them or praise them at all in the end and that is the ultimate, ironic and bitter end of being a narcissist.
Jesus once said, “The greatest amongst you is a servant.” Then he got down on his hands and knees and washed his students’ dirty feet. Those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted. And that is a foundational principle of the spiritual universe.
It is how followers of the Way conduct themselves.