Recognize and deal with a narcissist

(Rebekah DeWitt) #1

Does anyone here have insight and a Biblical perspective on recognizing and dealing with narcissism? How does one see it in oneself? How does one interact with someone who demonstrates disorders of this nature in a way that is healthy to both individuals?
Thank you.

(SeanO) #2

@Rebekah Here are some resources from psychology today on identifying a narcissist. However, they seem to caution that true narcissism is more than simply being a little too into yourself. The Bible does not use the term narcissism, but does deal with the issues like pride, not listening to advice from others, thinking you’re always right, etc. A prime example of a Biblical example of pride would be Nebuchadnezzar and his pride - sermon from Tim Keller below.

I think the key difference between a secular definition of narcissism and a Biblical definition of pride is that in the Bible humility begins with the fear of God and the expulsion of selfishness. In the secular world we are encouraged to seek self-esteem as long as we do not unduly harm / devalue others.

Some really simple diagnostic questions from Scripture might be:

  • am I quick to listen and slow to speak? Am I slow to become angry?
  • do I seek out advice from others or assume I am correct?
  • do I change my behavior when a well meaning person offers hard to accept feedback?
  • am I always thinking of myself or do I take time each day to help / pray for others?
  • do I allow God’s Word to overrule my own desires or do I twist God’s Word to match my desires?

An appropriate Biblical response in one’s own life might be Philippians 2:3-11:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Do you have a specific context in which you would like to know how to handle a narcissistic personality? It makes a big difference if it’s a work relationship versus a friend versus a romantic relationship.

Definition of Narcissism

Narcissistic personality disorder is indicated by five or more of the following symptoms:

  • Exaggerates own importance
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence or ideal romance
  • Believes he or she is special and can only be understood by other special people or institutions
  • Requires constant attention and admiration from others
  • Has unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment
  • Takes advantage of others to reach his or her own goals
  • Disregards the feelings of others, lacks empathy
  • Is often envious of others or believes other people are envious of him or her
  • Shows arrogant behaviors and attitudes

It’s easy to slap the “narcissist” label on someone who spends a bit too much time talking about his career or who never seems to doubt herself, but pathologically narcissistic personalities are relatively rare—an estimated 1 percent of the population. Narcissism, too, is more complicated than it may seem: It’s different from a surplus of self-esteem, encompassing a hunger for appreciation, a sense of specialness, and a lack of empathy, along with other attributes that can prove damaging in relationships. Interestingly, in addition to thinking they are better and more deserving than others, research suggests, highly narcissistic people often admit that they are more self-centered, too.

(Nancy J Berg) #3

I’m sorry as it sounds like you have a challenging relationship in your life. . This isn’t specific to narcissism, but Dan Allender wrote a book called “Bold Love” several years ago now. In it, he deals with very difficult interactions with troubling and/or abusive personalities. I found it to be very challenging but very biblical. He has a whole chapter each what it means to love a “normal sinner”, a “fool”, and an “evil” person as discussed/defined in scripture. He pulls alot from Proverbs and never lets the reader be settled in bitterness/unforgiveness. He pushes one to envision what walking in love with difficult people looks like and to long for their redemption, but not be a door mat either. I’d be interested if anyone else has read this older book and their thoughts on it. Here is the Amazon link.

(Nancy J Berg) #4

I hesitated to share this at first since he is not openly a Christian. But a new video came across my phone today and so I have reconsidered. This Dr Les Carter doesn’t say outright he is a Christian, but if you listen to his short, very practical videos, I think it is safe to assume he has a biblical world view. And at the very least, he believes in “God” and that there is right and wrong. All his videos have to do with dealing with a narcissist. I picked this one, because it is pretty good evidence thruout he is aligned with a biblical world view with all the Christian buzzwords he drops. I’ll let you and others discern it out too. You can scroll down his videos list and see what is pertinent for where you may be at now. Bless you as you seek the Lord’s leading and wisdom in a challenging situation. And BTW, I have a challenging relationship too, and these videos have been helpful, concrete tools for me.

(Michael Fitzgerald) #5

Was not the first Narcissist not Narcissus but Lucifer? Did not Eve and Adam join him when they disobeyed the only commandment? In dealing with this issue within myself, my belief is that only God can fix me, day by day, sin by sin, as I remain willing to change my mind (repent) on what I thought was right and come into line to what the Holy Spirit shows me. We have choices, decisions, day by day, moment by moment as to whether we will walk with the Lord or simply go our own way.

As far as dealing with, say, an individual who is unwilling to change, who thinks their way is right, their beliefs are correct, and who feels no need to repent–that is a person I have been dealing with for years now and I have yet to find breakthrough. So that is
a very good question, Rebekah. I look forward to the answers, too.