When They Don’t Care

It’s Narcissist Friday!


From time to time I indulge in a little “light” reading.  Okay, murder mysteries and scifi.  I just finished a book by Simon Brett called, “A Shock to the System.”  Not anything spectacular, no particular recommendation from me.  However, it was an adventure in narcissism.

The anti-hero was an interesting study on the ability to depersonalize other people.  He felt frustration and anger and took it out on a homeless person on the street.  He discovered that the emotions others seemed to feel about murder didn’t rise in him.  All his life he had felt oppressed by others and this was the first time he had real power.  In fact, he felt stronger when he thought of himself as a murderer.  Murder became a real option in his life when faced with people problems, an option he used throughout the remainder of the book.

I think most people would identify more with the lead character of “Crime and Punishment” by Dostoyevsky.   Guilt, fear, remorse—these are normal emotions.  The drive to be free by confession and absolution or to be justly punished for sin.   Some may say this is simple conscience, others suggest it is conviction from the Holy Spirit, but my point is that when we realize we have hurt someone we normally feel negative emotions.

But narcissists have great difficulty believing that others are real, particularly as real and as valuable as they are.  For the narcissist, another person is part of the environment.  He or she may be taught that a person should be treated with respect and worth, but the narcissist rarely feels that another person is valuable—except as a tool or a toy.   He may be able to fake empathy, to act as though he understands the emotions of those around him, but he does not connect with the feelings of others.

The literature generally agrees that narcissists are not usually violent.  Their primary motivation is self-preservation and violence opens the door to things that can’t be controlled.  Narcissists know the legal limits and the consequences of wrong actions.  That’s why they develop means to manipulate and hurt from positions that provide safety for themselves.  Fearing the loss of power and privilege keeps them from starting something that could backfire.

On the other hand, the ability to depersonalize others allows the narcissist to use and discard people without caring.  Sexual abuse, bullying, terrorizing, and even murder are acts which come much easier for those who don’t care.  We see these things every day in the news.

Narcissism is not a normal way of thinking and not to be taken lightly.  The narcissist may not have a goal of hurting others, but he will do so and he won’t care.   These words may be blunt and even harsh, but those who are in relationships with narcissists need our understanding.

I want always to leave the door open for true change, but only the brokenness and rebirth provided in Christ can change the narcissist.

Your thoughts?


Filed under Narcissism

16 responses to “When They Don’t Care

  1. Romans 7:24

    “I want always to leave the door open for true change, but only the brokenness and rebirth provided in Christ can change the narcissist.”

    My thoughts exactly. It is far more important for the narcissist to come to grips with his spiritual condition first. The natural man is powerless and unwilling to change – whether a narcissist or not. We should want him to be saved first for his own good, but also knowing that the narcissist’s salvation will bring healing to our lives as well. It may come slowly but Philipians 1:6 is true for the narcissistic believer. The only hope for the people in the narcissist’s life is the intervention of God. But it needs to be at the level of his basic need for Christ, which is the same regardless if he is a narcissist or just an unbelieving do-gooder who spends his days volunteering at soup kitchens but doesn’t know Christ.

    • I know you are right and I do agree, but I think I speak for many when I say that I will believe it when I see it. Not whether Christ can save or change a narcissist, that I believe. The question is whether a narcissist will ever want to change, at least in the way the rest of us wants to change. Because narcissism is a core problem, it is so difficult for the narcissist to even begin to believe that he is doing anything wrong. Even the definition of wrong is so bound to the experience and perspective of the narcissist that one must question whether he actually sees his actions as morally wrong or just unproductive.

      Part of the problem in my perspective, I suspect, is that I want to distance myself from the narcissist so much. The more I learn and the more I see of them, the less I want to think that I could be like that in any way. The truth, of course, is that the same depravity from which I was saved is what is evident in the narcissist and the same Lord who loved me loves him.

      Just being honest.

  2. Kelly

    My ex husband is a malignant narcissist and the biggest enlightment I had to face was that no amount of anything could get him to face up to the incredible betrayal he committed. For all practical purposes, I discovered that EVERYTHING seems to occur outside himself and is someone else’s fault. I really believe Jesus Christ can change a heart like that, but HE is the only one.

    • Thanks! I confess that it is difficult to get back into writing. I have such fantasies of being able to focus and produce, but I am surrounded by distractions that are fully worthy of my attention. I could sit and watch birds for long periods. Already the eagle has been here, the osprey has plucked fish from the water, the deer stand across the river and look at the house, the muskrat adds more to his home all the time, and it goes on and on. Besides all of this, I become a plumber, groundskeeper, carpenter, small engine repairman, and more. It’s great!

      But I am back!

      • good to have you back bro.

        your reply is poetic 🙂

        like a musician pauses for a dotted eight rest, it takes some skill to strike the next sixteenth note.

        the pen is mightier than the sword, but the word of God is mightier than both.

        – grace and peace

  3. joniw

    i agree that we all need to come to the end of ourselves before christ can work the miracles and change needed in our hearts. We still must take responsibility for our acts.

    • you are so right…

      we have to realized that Christ’s death for us is the greatest miracle, and that He died while yet we are sinners. long before we repented, the miracle has happened already. all we need to do is acknowledge it.

      – grace and peace

  4. I am going through a time of intense persecution right now from 2 sisters (n family) , one whom the Lord revealed was operating under the spirit of Jezebel and has been influencing the other. Researching this out, I came to understand that the worldly definition is akin to NPD and I came across your blog Needless to say, I realize that they don’t care and this has gone so far beyond cruelty. It is spiritual warfare. (We battle not against flesh and blood…)Then the Lord gave me this simple devotion this morning …another opportunity for me to learn more of the cross:

    “They overcame [the dragon] by
    the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony;
    and they did not love their lives to the death.”
    REVELATION 12:11

    No one can overcome a spiritual adversary unless they embrace the
    Cross. The ones who overcome the dragon do so by the blood of the
    Lamb and by not loving their own lives. Their testimony is: “not I,
    but Christ.” The blood, and loving not their life, and their
    testimony, all point to the same thing: these are people of the
    Cross. They did not love their own lives, but they gave up their
    lives; therefore God has raised them from the dead and they have
    entered into the victory of Christ.

    You cannot kill a dead man. You cannot defeat a person who has
    already died. What more can you do to a man once he has died and
    been raised to life again?

    Source: “Embrace the Cross” by Chip Brogden

    • Thanks for sharing this. There is victory in Jesus!

      One important thing to remember when in the midst of such a battle: their lies do not define you. You are not what they say. We are used to hearing things about us and accepting those things as true, but their words are not true. So you cannot change yourself to their standards or defend your actions to them. When they lie, they release you from answering.

      Keep going and keep me posted! I care and I am praying for you.

      • Thank you so much for your encouragement and prayers. I never know when an attack will come. This situation reached newer heights when my father became ill and passed away recently. He had named me as his Durable Power of Attorney for his health decisions and also Executor of his will. My youngest sister had tried to sneak a will through with her named as executor when my father had previously been hospitalized in ICU about 11/2 years ago. This was within a week of my mom passing and the day before her services. Long story short is my dad caught it and refused to sign the will! He had it redrawn with my name as executor.

        My other sister is an alcoholic with severe manic/depressive type episodes. She is staying at my father’s home and refusing to leave so the house can be sold. They both have been very contentious and hateful as I have gone about trying to settle my father’s affairs. The youngest one physically attacked me and screamed that I was a witch and evil and I deserved to be burned on my front side as well. ( I was burned in an accident a year ago and suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns on 18% of my body …back,legs and buttocks.) She is supposedly a professing believer! The other sister goes into foul and cruel verbal attacks as well. They both have spread slander and lies about me to other members of the extended family.

        The Lord really opened my eyes to the spiritual battle that was taking place and revealed that this was the spirit of Jezebel fighting for control and power at all costs. It was as if she was putting a curse on me. The Lord has thus far delivered me through this all and I have the blessings and support of a loving husband, children and brother. My heart is to do my heavenly Father’s will and honorably carry out my earthly father’s will. I pray for strength and that Jesus would be glorified somehow in the midst of this. I praise Him in these trials and trust that He is working all things together for good…I know that what they intend for evil, God will turn it for good at His appointed time. I pray to be able to say with Paul, “not I, but Christ” and with Jesus, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

        I thought I would give you more of the back story on this in the event you might have a word for me. I am grateful for this forum and “safe” place to share in my family of God.

        Thank you again, dear brother and many blessings in Jesus.


  5. larainge

    The depersonalization of others who the narcissist deems as “not valuable” was probably the first indication to me that the assoc. pastor & his wife at the church that I was let go from might possibly have this disorder or at least some of the traits of narcissism. They did not fit the stereotypical description of the narcissist in that they were not exactly smooth-talking or interested in flattering others. They weren’t braggarts, at least not on the surface. For a long time they presented this front as being no-nonsense yet caring in their approach. It took about 2 yrs and the mass exodus of most of the church staff, including the senior pastor and the music minister to realize they probably had something to do with it yet it wasn’t until they began to target me & another co-worker that I began to suspect something was really wrong. By then it was too late.

    I began to notice a distinct difference over time in the way they treated the people they deemed important vs the “peons” in the church. One of the many examples I noticed was last summer, when the outside temps. got as high as 110 degrees, they would leave some employees working as many as 6 or 7 hours without any air condition whereas if they or any of the “important” church members entered those some areas they would turn the air on for themselves. It did not matter if they were only going to be in there for 30 minutes doing non-strenous work, they would always make sure they were comfortable. When they left, they would turn the air-off even when the “less important” employees were still in the same area they had been in. I have a mast-cell disorder and I am extremely sensitive to extreme heat and cold. I can actually go into anaphylactic shock when exposed to extreme temps. very similar to what a person who is allergic to something like peanuts of shellfish experiences after eating those foods. That actually happened to me there about 2yrs ago & I had to have a church staff member rush me to the ER to get a shot of epinephrine and steroids. It was triggered by working in the extreme heat. They knew that & even then made no attempts to change anything. They would actually get very angry if I or any other of the staff members turned on the air. Of course, the rules didn’t apply to them. That, to me, showed a distinct lack of empathy for others they did not consider important or useful to them.

    Another thing was there was this unspoken rule that you do not challenge them in any way even if what you bring to their attention is legitimate and needs to be addressed. If it goes against their agenda and you are not an important person in their eyes, your opinion meant nothing. If you spoke up to them or stood up for yourself, you were then blacklisted from the church. This was usually done passive aggressively as in the case of what happened to the senior pastor or to anyone else who they did not like. If you stood up to them directly then you were usually terminated immediately as that is what happened to me. I had poured my heart and soul into that church in the few yrs I was there. All it took was for me to stand up for a fellow employee who was being bullied & nit-picked to death by the pastors wife. That event occurred on a Friday & I was terminated the following Monday with no explanation and banned from returning on the church property . If they do not like you, they would throw you out like a used-up piece of tissue and not think nothing of it.

    I had attended a church a few yrs ago with a pastor who was a stereotypical narcissist–you know the kind that are almost cartoon-like characters. I have an aunt who is also a minister & also has very pronounced NPD traits. I can deal with the obvious narcissists. If you know anything at all about NPD then you know what to expect with the obvious kinds. The assoc. pastor & his wife were a different breed and it took a long time to see through them………a long time. That’s why I feel so much betrayal & anger. I guess I’m also mad at myself for not seeing this sooner as I had always prided myself on being able to read people really well. I suspect that their is more than one type of narcissists & some are harder to detect than others.

    The hardest thing to accept was some of us meant nothing to them.

  6. joniw

    i have a question is the loss of power the same as loss of control?

    • This is an interesting question. I think, for the narcissist, the answer is yes. To be out of control is to be out of power. Power is always associated with control for the narcissist. It is how he handles his fear.

      I think this is true in the lives of all people who live in fear. That takes it beyond the narcissist. When fear is out of the picture, however, the need for control is also gone. Perhaps this is why the Christian message is so strongly focused on trusting the Lord who loves you. Once you can see past the fear and realize that He is with you and will carry you through the trouble, you don’t have to be in control. You can let Him be in control.

      Easier said than done, of course. The natural response to fear is either to hide or control (and what is hiding but an attempt to control your situation?). If being out of power makes you afraid, then you will want to control and never be out of power. I think that is the connection.

  7. LoyaltoJesus

    I think I am married to a Christian narcissist and this is the first time any of the last 14 years has made any sense to me. I don’t believe in divorce and know Jesus’ love too well to be destroyed by my husband. I know I can’t change him – is it a situation simply to endure or is there hope?

    • Penny

      LoyaltoJesus: welcome to this site, and know you are “safe” and understood. I would encourage you to read this post by Pastor Dave “the christian narcissist”; perhaps it is a good starting point:

      You are correct in saying that you cannot change him–that is for the Holy Spirit to do. What you CAN change is how you respond to him, and that is challenging. As Pastor Dave has recently said, keep reading here the stories and the encouragement, and keep your eyes on the cross. One of the most difficult and often subtle things with the “Christian” narc is that they keep turning you AWAY from the cross to focus on THEM, often using scripture to do it. It’s crazy-making, and often is spiritual abuse.
      Keep coming here for wisdom & clarification. I will pray for you.

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