This just in–you may be dating a narcissist. So said Chicago Tribune writer Heidi Stevens in her piece “Are You Dating a Narcissist?”.
“Narcissism is an epidemic in our society,” argues Lisa Scott, author of “It’s All About Him: How to Identify and Avoid the Narcissist Male Before You Get Hurt” ( CFI, 2009). “Our culture breeds it.”
Here are the nine signs that signal a person has fallen prey to “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” (you can’t make this stuff up). The American Psychological Association has identified these:
•Feels grandiose and self-important for reasons not supported by reality
•Obsesses with fantasies about unlimited success, fame, power or omnipotence
•Believes he/she is unique and special and can be understood by and associate with only other unique or high-status people
•Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation
•Feels a sense of entitlement
•Exploits others without guilt or remorse
•Is devoid of empathy
•Tends to be envious of others or believes others are envious of him/her
•Displays arrogant and haughty behavior
The biggest red flag, Scott says, is lack of empathy.
Here’s one hilarious testimony from an NPD survivor:
“My ex-husband and I were seeing a therapist, and she met with me privately and said, ‘He has NPD. The only thing we can do is continue meeting like this, and I can give him ways he should treat you, but he’ll never be able to do it on his own,’” Scott recalls. “They don’t comprehend that other people have feelings, and they never will.”
This is one of the funniest pieces I’ve read in a while. There is now a formal psychological diagnosis for narcissism, which is nothing other than the greatest human sin–pride–parading itself before others. You have to love the therapist–”the only thing we can do is continue meeting like this”. Won’t hurt, of course, that this exclusive form of redress comes to the tune of hundreds and probably thousands of dollars. How shocking to see the bottom line pop up in such a conversation.
On a more serious note, how maddening is it to see our society continue its transition from a theological foundation to a psychological one? It seems clear that pastors need to be reading modern psychologists, because these folks are some of the only ones in a postmodern world beside ministers who are tackling character issues. Of course, they are radically relabeling them and divesting them of spiritual content.
With that said, we might point out that narcissism does seem to be an epidemic these days. On a constant basis, people think about themselves, whine about their lives, speak loudly in public places to call attention to themselves, throw themselves at the merest opportunity to get “fame”, broadcast the details of their daily lives like mini-celebrities, and dress and act in garish ways to draw attention.
Many of us have NPD, it seems, and the only cure can’t be found in a therapist’s chair. We very much need wise pastors and biblical counselors to help our people to see that their narcissism is a matter of not loving Christ enough, not a mere quirk of their makeup.
By the way, does anyone else want to see Carl Trueman tackle this one?