He replied to my last article about what he says about Jesus Christ–twice. Once again he had to clarify a few things by providing links. One of the links provided talks about religion being a perfect way that narcissists can make themselves feel superior to nonbeliever (even though they must “submit” to a higher entity than themselves). They hold their nose and submit to a God or messiah because of the narcissistic thrill of self righteously being able to claim their piety makes them better than everyone else. I’ve seen this sort of thing going on in 12 step programs like AA too. In fact, my mother uses the AA program exactly like a religion and loves to use its slogans and dogma (and yes, it does have a dogma) to prove how righteous and sinless she is compared to non-teetolalers and everyone else, especially me.
I agree with what Vaknin writes in his post. I’ve seen way too many fundamentalist or evangelical Christians use their religion to intimidate (“you are going to hell”), make themselves feel special (“I know I’m going to heaven”), make threats (“unless you do X…you will go to hell”), not take responsibility for their actions (“God told me to do this” or “the devil made me do it”), and show a lack of empathy (“It’s God’s will”) and not acknowledge your concerns or questions (“It’s right here in the Bible or other holy text). This is especially prevalent in religious leaders, but is quite common in other people too.
Let me add that not all Christians are like this, and narcissistic behavior definitely applies to followers and leaders of other belief systems too, even atheism! (Self righteous, intolerant atheists are commoner than you would think).
Here is what he writes:
For the Love of God
“1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jan’nes and Jam’bres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.”
(The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to Timothy 3:1-9)
God is everything the narcissist ever wants to be: omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, admired, much discussed, and awe inspiring. God is the narcissist’s wet dream, his ultimate grandiose fantasy. But God comes handy in other ways as well.
The narcissist alternately idealizes and devalues figures of authority.
In the idealization phase, he strives to emulate them, he admires them, imitate them (often ludicrously), and defends them. They cannot go wrong, or be wrong. The narcissist regards them as bigger than life, infallible, perfect, whole, and brilliant. But as the narcissist’s unrealistic and inflated expectations are inevitably frustrated, he begins to devalue his former idols.
Now they are “human” (to the narcissist, a derogatory term). They are small, fragile, error-prone, pusillanimous, mean, dumb, and mediocre. The narcissist goes through the same cycle in his relationship with God, the quintessential authority figure.
But often, even when disillusionment and iconoclastic despair have set in – the narcissist continues to pretend to love God and follow Him. The narcissist maintains this deception because his continued proximity to God confers on him authority. Priests, leaders of the congregation, preachers, evangelists, cultists, politicians, intellectuals – all derive authority from their allegedly privileged relationship with God.
Religious authority allows the narcissist to indulge his sadistic urges and to exercise his misogynism freely and openly. Such a narcissist is likely to taunt and torment his followers, hector and chastise them, humiliate and berate them, abuse them spiritually, or even sexually. The narcissist whose source of authority is religious is looking for obedient and unquestioning slaves upon whom to exercise his capricious and wicked mastery. The narcissist transforms even the most innocuous and pure religious sentiments into a cultish ritual and a virulent hierarchy. He preys on the gullible. His flock become his hostages.
Religious authority also secures the narcissist’s Narcissistic Supply. His coreligionists, members of his congregation, his parish, his constituency, his audience – are transformed into loyal and stable Sources of Narcissistic Supply. They obey his commands, heed his admonitions, follow his creed, admire his personality, applaud his personal traits, satisfy his needs (sometimes even his carnal desires), revere and idolize him.
Moreover, being a part of a “bigger thing” is very gratifying narcissistically. Being a particle of God, being immersed in His grandeur, experiencing His power and blessings first hand, communing with him – are all Sources of unending Narcissistic Supply. The narcissist becomes God by observing His commandments, following His instructions, loving Him, obeying Him, succumbing to Him, merging with Him, communicating with Him – or even by defying him (the bigger the narcissist’s enemy – the more grandiosely important the narcissist feels).
Like everything else in the narcissist’s life, he mutates God into a kind of inverted narcissist. God becomes his dominant Source of Supply. He forms a personal relationship with this overwhelming and overpowering entity – in order to overwhelm and overpower others. He becomes God vicariously, by the proxy of his relationship with Him. He idealizes God, then devalues Him, then abuses Him. This is the classic narcissistic pattern and even God himself cannot escape it.