Monday, October 1, 2018

Easy to diagnose. . . hard to treat. . .

It has become fashionable to call President Trump a narcissist.  I have no expertise in this field and I will not render a layman's diagnosis either.  But narcissism is a more common malady than we think and, it would seem, more easily diagnosed than treated.  Those whom we might label "narcissistic” are always difficult people to deal with.  The disorder itself is not a simple malady but a critical handicap.  The narcissist is unable to recognize or respect boundaries. Quite literally they want to run everything. This is most certainly because they see everything in the world as revolving around them.  They are the literal centers not only of their universe but of everyone's.  The problems are always ours and never theirs.  We are the ones with faulty judgment, not them.  We are weak and they are strong.  We are confused or blind and they see everything clearly.  This is not a disorder simply for the therapist (no medicines apply) but is a spiritual ill as well.

Many things in our age not only appeal to the narcissist in us but encourage him or her.  We as people are governed above all things by preference and desire, feelings being the final arbiter or everything, including truth. Indeed, we do not acknowledge inconvenient truth or unpleasant truth.  It is not truth at all.  Some of the interests and avenues of our culture and community are by their nature appealing to the narcissist in us.  Facebook is just such a medium.  We take endless photos of us doing things we have judged cute or noble and we believe everyone needs to see them.  We delight in reporting our complaints or our feelings to people most of whom we have never met.  When people have the nerve to disagree with us, we shame them or unfriend them and so they cease to exist to us anymore.

I have no clue how you treat narcissism medically or therapeutically but I know how you must treat it theologically.  It has to be killed.  The only good narcissist is a dead one and this is exactly what God does to the self so enamored with intellect, wisdom, ability, and goodness.  God takes the narcissist to the waters of baptism and there drowns him under the water until dead, until no hint of life is left in him.  Then God raises him up a new creation, created in Christ Jesus, the one and true anti-narcissist.  And then the work of the Spirit begins -- beating down the old and dying voice of self and raising up the new person through daily repentance and forgiveness.  Pointing daily back to the new beginning and weekly feasting upon the Bread of Heaven and the Cup of Salvation, the narcissist is replaced by the new creation that loves the Lord and seeks to do His will.  It is not painless but the fruits of this redeeming work have promise beyond imagination for now and forever.

The most true words that ever come out of our mouth are the words that the Spirit teaches.  I am a sinner by birth, lost and condemned with sins of thought, word, and deed, of omission and commission.  And with that admission the confession of the God whose mercy is not simply new but profound, powerful enough to forgive, restore, and renew, that I may walk in His ways and delight in His Will to the glory of His holy name.  And for all of this what can we say but "Thanks be to God!"

7 comments:

Carl Vehse said...

"It has become fashionable to call President Trump a narcissist."

Perhaps fashionable among NeverTrumpistas who have forgotten or ignored the overflowing narcissism of the previous White House squatter with his "I... me... my"-filled speeches and selfies, including a "funeral selfie."

Anonymous said...

Another form of narcissism reveals itself when a person persists in posting irrelevant comments anywhere he can, under a fake name, impersonating a long dead person, repeating himself ad nauseum.

Such a person probably would do well to seek some form of professional psychiatric medical care.

Carl Vehse said...

An irrelevant comment comes from an anonymous person (on October 1, 2018 at 10:20 AM) incapable of noting my post providing evidence related to the narcissism discussed in the column.

In trying to cover up his incapacity, the anonymous person also resorts to his previous pattern of psychological projection.

Carl Vehse said...

"We take endless photos of us doing things we have judged cute or noble and we believe everyone needs to see them."

And such narcissistic selfies have become deadly.

Carl Vehse said...

"The narcissist is unable to recognize or respect boundaries."

Including the boundaries of addressing oneself and being addressed as "Dr." based only on having an honorary doctorate.

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Anonymous said...

I would add that narcissists are incapable of empathy. Sometimes it requires Divine intervention to correct:

Acts 8:3

But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison