The Tsunami of Narcissism

I wonder if the Psychologists and Psychiatrists would agree with me but I believe we are engulfed in tsunami of self obsession – “narcissism”. Our blogging and Facebook posts are only the tip of the iceberg.  I find I am encountering “Hitler” and “Assad” styled self belief, in otherwise ordinary people, daily.

The symptoms include the idea that they are beyond advice and criticism. An issue is always, without fail, the other person’s problem. They will defend to the death, preferably the other person’s, their right not to be criticised. They are strident in interpreting all events and actions in relation to themselves and fail to see the perspectives of others.

If I am right, and my own narcissistic tendencies tend to suggest I am, where does self obsession come from?

I would like to suggest three reasons. You may wish to add more intelligent ideas.

  1. As I have written previously, parents are  giving children, starting at a very young age, too much choice: when they eat, what they eat, what they wear, what they do … the daily list is endless. Children are becoming wise in their own eyes.  They are attributed maturity well beyond their years. In other words, some parents are setting a treacherous groundwork.
  2. The advertising industry lives off narcissism. It is their bread and butter. We encounter the subtle and not so subtle messages to make ourselves “No.1″ hourly. Their feeding of our narcissism is relentless.  Consciously or unconsciously we absorb the seductive message.
  3. Our hearts are wired to set our selves up as God. Our rebellious natures love the idea that we are the supreme being of our lives: we are the Captains of our destinies. We are ultimately only responsible to self. Incidentally, when for whatever reason this perspective is destroyed, one way out is, too often, suicide.

What is the antidote?

The solution is remarkably simple:  Essentially “Christ”.  In one fell swoop he is both the mirror that reveals the brokenness of our humanity and he also becomes our release from that brokenness and its impacts. He gives us perspective and promise.

A friend once said that we need to go to the cross, climb up and push the blood matted hair away from our Savior’s face and stare into his tortured eyes to understand the immense brokenness of our own heart, our motives, our actions, our words – our very being. The reason he was dying was for all of that and much more.  Then, no longer, can we put ourselves on a pedestal of immaculate self belief. We are awoken to an amazing and confronting awareness of the depth and seeming unwashability our own corruption.

And yet, that very awareness leads us back to the same cross so that we can say in all helplessness. “Lord, Save me! Cover my brokenness with your own pure righteousness.”

To get a glimpse of that truth is a powerful antidote to the darker side of our heart as it whispers, “It is all about me”.

Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Reflections, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “The Tsunami of Narcissism

  1. Another interesting aspect of this trend is the apparent self loathing which is also rife amongst individuals. This leads to addictive behaviour as the person does not see themselves as worthy when they compare themselves to others.For example they purchase the next item of clothing or make-up, or whatever the advertisers say they “need” in order to feel better about themselves.
    I find this fascinating and deeply concerning; this interplay and apparent polarity between narcissism (“pride” if you like), and the dis-ownership of our own preciousness (“grace” if you like)..

    • Great reflection Mick. The self loathing is still linked in some way with narcissism as it is still centres on the “I” albeit in a negative way. I don’t measure up to the idealistic images that others around me create for themselves. Either way, the answer lies in having an identity in Christ.

  2. An excellent post, Pieter. It is true and heralds the spirit of the anti-Christ; humanism thinks man can save man. Narcissism in essence is humanism on a micro scale. The antidote as you so profoundly stated, always has been and always will be Christ.
    And I also agree with Mick. Focus on self, negatively or positively, is still “self”-ish! When we look inward to ourselves for answers, if the only one home is “me”, then we have missed the point of Christ. Jesus tells us to not look at who we think we are, but only to look to Him for our true identity. Therein lies peace, love, and joy…not at all the wages of self-indulgence and narcissism.
    Be blessed my friend; thanks for the great post!
    Gideon

  3. mickqhs

    Here is another quote on the topic “Self loathing is only problematic insofar as one identifies with self. This very sentence exposes a paradox; that the “self” has as least two aspects; it can be the subject and the object of awareness. The subjective self never loathes itself, since one’s identity is never formed on the basis of one’s capacity to perceive. Rather, the objective self, or self-image is loath-able.

    I think narcissism involves a self-deception, which is rooted in a denial of one’s sin for the purposes of seeking approval about one’s own self-image from the subjective self. The false assumption is that we need to either choose between self-loathing and reality on one hand, or self-esteem and deception on the other. But the gospel says we can have love for a loath-worthy self, by seeing ourselves as God through Christ sees us – as justified. We can live with far greater self love that the most narcissistic by seeing ourselves as God sees us, and with greater honesty of self-evaluation than the most sober realist by seeing our sin as God sees it.

    The solution is not to change our objective self, but to see ourselves through the eyes of faith, which are inclined not to look at self for too long anyway. And that frees our objective self to not be defined or directed by our subjective needs, but rather, to live the life were created to live as image-bearers not of the self, but of God.
    Self loathing is only problematic insofar as one identifies with self. This very sentence exposes a paradox; that the “self” has as least two aspects; it can be the subject and the object of awareness. The subjective self never loathes itself, since one’s identity is never formed on the basis of one’s capacity to perceive. Rather, the objective self, or self-image is loath-able.

  4. Amen Brother!

  5. mickqhs

    Had a listen to Brene Brown on Ted as you advised. Thought it was excellent and recommend it to anyone as one of the best Ted presentations I have heard.The old Truths of the bible being put into modern psychological language by a well balanced presenter.

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