A little Narcissism

It’s Narcissist Friday!     


Over and over I read about how narcissism can be a good thing in our lives. I know that business and leadership seem to favor the narcissistic style because it gets things done. But most of those who talk about “healthy narcissism” mean we should all have a little of it.

I have written about this before, but it does bear repeating. If all we mean by narcissism is self-esteem, then of course it is healthy for all of us until it gets out of hand. But narcissism means something far more dangerous and destructive than self-esteem. Even if we mean self-interest or self-protection, there is a healthy limit for us. I believe the Bible teaches us a healthy self-love.

But narcissism is necessarily cruel and abusive. Narcissists don’t care about others, at least not apart from using them. Narcissism destroys marriages, families, businesses, churches, and more.

Years ago I was visiting with a group of pastors and noted that a few people had left our church to go to another. I was thankful they had left because they were disruptive and divisive. The church they went to was quite large, so I thought they wouldn’t be so much of a problem in that church. One of the pastors, a wise older man, said, “So, what you are saying is that a little cancer is okay, as long as the man is a big man.” I hadn’t thought of it like that before.

Narcissism devours relationships and victims much like cancer. A little can go a long way. A little fire can lead to big problems. Even the Scripture speaks of a little leaven/yeast making the whole batch of dough rise. One narcissist can destroy a church. A little narcissism can ruin a relationship.

I find it hard to see the good in narcissism of any kind. Yes, narcissists get things done, almost always at the expense of others. Yes, narcissists can make quick decisions, almost always without regard to the effect it will have on people. Anyone who is willing to think long term will see that narcissism is a negative.

So when you hear people say that narcissism can be a good quality, that there is such a thing as healthy narcissism, ask them which of the nine characteristics of narcissism is healthy. Ask how a disorder, one that is defined by consistently negative terms, can be positive. Ask them how a disorder that has destroyed so many marriages and families, that has caused victims so much depression and despair, can be good.

We don’t talk about a healthy murderous rage, or a healthy manipulative abuser, or a healthy inveterate liar—so why should we talk about a healthy narcissist? And if there isn’t such a thing as a healthy narcissist, then how can there be healthy narcissism?

Again, this is a popular way to affirm self-esteem or self-affirmation. But that’s what it is, not narcissism. Narcissism is evil.


Filed under Narcissism

28 responses to “A little Narcissism

  1. Lea Anna Curtis

    I agree…we don’t need any if it. Thanks Bro. Dave. You help me a lot.

  2. This article scares the daylights out of me. I’m one of those people who on introspection, sees personal acts that could be construed as narcissistic. I know the adage that if you are able to question whether or not your a narcissist, you most likely are no one. but wouldn’t a narcissist know that? I mean really, if they are intelligent and do the research, they would grab onto that particular aspect….wouldn’t they?
    I see many acts that I have done, in order to survive, as selfish and perhaps narcissistic in nature, at least on the surface. If I didn’t act in that manner I wouldn’t be alive to talk about it today. But on the flip side they could be seen as pure narcissistic acts. I’m so confused…. I’m really trying to come to grips with actions of mine that led to the downfall of my family….If I loved my children I would not have stayed and prayed, I would have run screaming from the house. Staying was an act of co-dependency and possible narcissism. Promising to do better, and promising to meet the abusers demands when I was trying to find a way not to, could be seen as narcissism in making empty promises, though they were an attempt to not be beaten or worse. Minimizing and trying to justify my actions are pure narcissistic in nature.
    I cant seem to get past this.

    • Selma

      Is it possible for a narcissist to know that they are a narcissist? Yes.

      Does a true narcissist care that they are a narcissist? No.

      Therefore, you are not a narcissist.

    • Seeing the Light

      I don’t have much time or energy right now to write, but please do not label yourself this way. Your very-likely traumatized response to another person’s abuse does not make you a narcissist. The way you are punishing yourself and doubting yourself is not characteristic of a narcissist. I have also condemned myself for my responses to my abuser, and I have made many, many mistakes, including some that have hurt my children. I understand your self-condemning fears. Please relax. I do not believe you are a narcissist.

    • Rebecca Farris

      I am the daughter of a narcassistic mother and a former wife to a narcassist. When I began to read and understand narcassism, I often questioned if I was one.

      Not because I had done the things they did to me, but because of my responses. Maybe asking yourself, was my response narcassistic or was my initial action?

      For my mother and ex-husband — it was ALWAYS their intent. For myself, it was always a response.

      Away from both of them, I do not question if I am one — I have a normal peaceful life now. I do not have ANY of the responses I use to.

      I’m daily amazed at what I survived! To God be the Glory, GREAT things He has rescued me from.

    • When we live with narcissism for a long time, it starts to stick to us. We develop outward responses that kind of look like the ones the narcissist in our life uses (my ex is very covert, very dependent). I am agreeing with what many here have already said: that when we are looking inside ourselves and agonizing over whether or not we are also narcissistic, that in itself proves we are not.

    • Thank you all for what you have said, I do understand in my head that most likely I am not one, but also I see where others might construe my actions as narcissistic because they don’t know the back story. I suppose that what it all comes down to is how God and I view me…In the end , that’s all that really matters.

  3. Gratefully Yours

    Beautifully stated. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Melody

    This. Exactly. “How can light have fellowship with darkness?”

  5. Annette

    People who claim that narcissism is good tend to be narcissists themselves.

  6. Flat-out amen, Dave. I wrote a post today on ” I did it my way,” and holy cow, that Sinatra song glorified a narcissistic viewpoint.

  7. Thanks again, Pastor Dave. I always love your posts.

  8. Georgette

    I’m so glad to have found this blog. It has helped me to keep no contact with the ex-N. People in the church still thinks he is the greatest since slice bread. He can quote scriptures, he prays, he can articulate (manipulate the scriptures for his benefit). I’m still trying to get past the betrayal of the church. I still have anxiety about even the possibility of running into him when I go grocery shopping. I make sure I do it early Sunday or in the early mornings like 2am on the weekend to avoid the N.

    • So sorry, Georgette. Hang on to Jesus, to who you are in Christ. That is truth. Everything the narcissist said to you were lies. You didn’t deserve what he did to you. What he did was all about him, and you are a precious daughter of the King!

    • Georgette, you are doing the absolute right thing with the No Contact. I was in the same situation. The Church Leaders would not deal with my N/Psychopath (violent as well). It was painful to attend the church and see him each Sunday working his stuff with the people. Always sitting with his ‘special friends’ who just happened to be an Assistant Pastor and his wife (who was a colleague of mine and he used her enormously to get information and try to get me to reconcile). He was besties with the female in ALL his couple relationships. He would do things which he knew would hurt or trigger me. He hardly attended Church when I wasn’t there. It was as if he drove by to see if my car was there and attended if it was. I ended up leaving that Church and going somewhere else, for my own sanity which really hurt. After I left he went roughly once in every 7 weeks (a friend informed me who happens to be a female Pastor). Once I left the town and moved closer to my daughter… he stopped attending there altogether. Now he is targeting someone else and doing the same grooming… etc which he did to me. Even using the SAME techniques. Fortunately God intervened and she contacted me. He is now stalking her by every communication possible even though she has blocked him… phoned her work (searched her number on the Internet), phoning her on someone else’s phone, leaving phone messages (she deleted them). She has managed to stay NO CONTACT ….. all this and he is 450km from her. It is 6 years since I left him and 4 years since I have seen him. One of the hardest things to deal with is the fact that they have they come across as Christians, using Scriptures and knowing the words and exactly when to use them to their advantage. Why would we be surprised as they use every tool in the book. The Bible is just one of them. They have no conscience so it is easy for them to do that. Gradually you will feel more comfortable and safe. He will move on to someone else. He must… they need more supply, they need a ‘woman’ on their arm to give them credibility, often using their finances as well. I believe these men use the Church to give them credibility. I believed him due to his friendship with that Pastor and his wife and that he was a ‘committed Christian’. I wasn’t young…. I was 59 when I married him (he was 55). I left after 2 years 9 months. It was hell on earth. Many believe his continued lies about me. The truth is who God tells us who we are…. not the Church Hierarchy and definately not a Narcissist/Sociopath/Psychopath. No matter his ‘label’ God knows the truth. Be at peace with who you are. If you do not get the love and support which should be natural in any Church you attend, you may need to consider, with careful prayer, to find another Church with more supportive people. If you are shopping early in the morning, it sounds like you are in a smaller community where it isn’t possible to shop elsewhere. I was in a community of 60,000 people and changed my shopping habits, but that may not be possible for you. I was on medication for Anxiety and also had treatment for PTSD and other Counselling from a Psychologist. I was able to be weaned off my medication after 3 years. I am not 100% but am so much happier and am stronger. Be strong in the Lord. Eventually you will have the strength to shop where you wish and go where you wish. I pray for your strength and feelings of safety to increase and your Anxiety to reduce. Bless you. PS a certain level of anxiety keeps us alert and safe and is a good thing. If your anxiety is interfering with your life maybe you need to consider speaking to your Medical Practitioner.

      • Georgette…. just another thought, from Dave’s Blog about ‘a little Narcissism being a good thing’. I think it is that attitude which enables the Church hierarchy (and congregation for that matter) to see the Perpetrator as a ‘good, Godly and strong man!’ they refuse to see the dangers of a Narcissist and many of them probably have those tendencies themselves. They see what they perceive as the Narcs ‘behaviour as strength’. The Church refuses to believe it is any more than that. We know the truth. It is so much more and very very dangerous.

  9. HealingInHim

    Narcissism is evil. YES! 😦

  10. Hephzibah

    It seems to me that the idea that “a little narcissism is a good thing” comes either from people who are narcissists, as Annette says, or more commonly, probably, from people who have never dealt personally with a true narcissist (i.e. person who fits the description of NPD). These fortunate but clueless folks are prone to (mis)understand “narcissistic” as meaning something along the lines of “self-confident” or “self-driven” and pretty much ignore the signature quality of a total lack of empathy (and its outworkings.)
    The media tends to present such portrayals of narcissism, ignoring or downplaying the fact that behind every “get-things-done” narcissist there are a good number of people suffering verbal and/or emotional abuse and constantly scrambling to smooth things over and pick up the pieces that the narcissist leaves in his wake for “someone else” to deal with while he does “more important” things.
    And of course narcissism is not cut and dried. People can and do have varying degrees of narcissistic behaviour, and even full-blown covert narcissists can handily appear flawless, even long term, to the casual observer. All of this muddies the waters and makes varying impressions and descriptions of narcissism not only possible, but even likely. But for those of us who HAVE personally experienced long term the true outworking of narcissistic behaviour, the suggestion that ANYTHING about narcissism is good or desirable or even tolerable brings an immediate gut reaction of “You’ve gotta be kidding!!” (Or something less kind…)
    Maybe someone should start a Narcissism Awareness campaign, like they have for many less-well-known genetic disorders, syndromes, etc.??? Too many people are clueless and therefore in danger of becoming ensnared in a relationship with a narcissist, or taking too long to realize it once they have been ensnared, and too many narcissists are getting away with murder – sometimes very literally!

    • HealingInHim

      Hephzibah– Your comment is timely. I’ve been trying to educate others on how the man I married has been a covert abuser. I keep hearing about how we should have more compassion for ‘mental health’ … meaning the health of the abuser but they never stop to consider the so-called mental health of the abused?
      There have been deaths of many including children due to the so-called mental health façade. Men have murdered their children and then suicide for themselves. Recently, someone felt pity for this ‘father’? This guy was self-medicating himself and as he was headed over to the courts knowing that the wife would get the children because of his mental health, well, poor guy felt that at least him and the children could be together through death. I’m hearing more and more of this type of talk.
      What they are saying is that if my quiet covert ‘man’ were to murder me, well, poor guy …
      I shudder at this very evil thinking. “Dear precious Lord and Savior. I ask for Your protection on all who live at risk and that the truth of all lives be revealed for only You know the true intentions of every heart.”

  11. guardyourheart

    great article. there seems to be some confusion with some experts using the term to describe activities such as eating, washing our hair, going for a haircut having some confidence etc… and use the term ‘pathological’ narcissism to describe negative destructive behaviours. you are right these things above are simply self esteem and self – protection and preservation.

  12. guardyourheart

    …..Self-esteem differs from narcissism in that it represents an attitude built on accomplishments we’ve mastered, values we’ve adhered to, and care we’ve shown toward others….


  13. Penny

    And, again I say Amen.

    “Now this is the basis for judging: that the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil.”
    John 3:19

    “Their deeds are evil”.
    Narcissists love the darkness. The LOVE keeping others in the dark. They LOVE causing confusion & fumbling in the dark.

    Because their deeds are evil.

  14. Self-esteem is one thing; self-absorption is quite another. Thank you, Dave, for your insights.

  15. recently realized that my ex of 25 years is narcissistic. Time to go to the counselor! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s