by Ellen cross posted from her blog When Church Hurts
My friend quixie over at quixoticfaith posted an excellent video about covert narcissists.
I have been told that I shouldn’t call my former pastor a narcissist because he isn’t an overt tyrant as many definitions indicate. The video you can watch from quixie’s blog post is an excellent description of a “covert” narcissist and aptly describes much of what I observed in my experience with spiritual abuse. Thank you, Quixie, for your post and video!
Perhaps the most important section of the video is at the end when he discusses the effect on the victim. I have written posts about how my self-confidence, my faith, my physical health, all suffered due to the spiritual abuse I experienced. Narcissists “slowly corrode your self-confidence” in a way that you cannot pinpoint. They gaslight, causing the victim to believe they are the crazy one. It is PSYCHOLOGICAL TORTURE.
The video is lengthy, so just to highlight the major points (these numbers do not match the listing of the video – they are just my main take-aways):
1) Just looking for information about what is happening to you indicates that you are being victimized.
2) Covert narcissist are self-proclaimed “shy” – my former pastor often told the congregation he is extremely shy – to the point that every Sunday morning before and between preaching at the three services, he would experience diarrhea.
3) Never wants to be judged – hypersensitive to criticism no matter how professional, constructive or gentle.
4) Will never apologize. If you’ve been following my blog at all, you know that rather than apologize to me, they tossed us out of the church.
5) Projects themself as a good person – charitable acts, church participation (can’t get much higher than pastor), benevolent – and morally superior. My former pastor would talk about being a tee-totaller, throwing out the swim suit edition of Sports Illustrated so his boys wouldn’t see it, his own level of tithing, various interactions with others that indicated what a wonderful person he is.
6) Even though they project themselves as #5, they know they are a fake.
7) Guilt-tripping – “Look at me! I’m being attacked!” In other words, they will claim that they are the victim when they are actually victimizing someone else. Always the biggest victim in the room even though they are the one hurting others (and, in my case, much of this was done through proxies).
8) Extremely self-centered – doesn’t have time for anyone or anything else. “I am a work-a-holic,” my former pastor would remind us. He was so busy he rarely slept more than 5 hours a night. Too busy to respond to questions. Too busy to schedule a meeting.
9) Paints a picture of a perfect childhood. “Our parents were stellar,” he would say. And he often told stories of how wonderful his parents were and are.
10) Lies their *sses off. And lying leads to the abuse. See my post on “How to Keep From Spiritually Abusing People.”
11) They are able to trick therapists (and others) into believing the victim is the narcissist. In my case, I believe he was able to convince leadership and those I considered friends into believing I am the perpetrator.
12) Can be very intellectual. Our former pastor would often tell us he is “highly educated” and “highly intellegent.”
The video has a great deal more information about covert narcissists. If you have been researching what is happening or has happened to you, give it a listen. And let me know if you can relate.
More about Ellen:
Read our hate mail at Jerks 4 Jesus