Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Prophets or Profiteers?

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Alright, alright.  Some of you were a bit frightened by the post on extreme narcissism; wondering whether or not that describes you.  If you were wondering it probably doesn’t.  An extreme narcissist wouldn’t care.   But that wasn’t my intent in the least.

There is nothing wrong with a little healthy narcissism.  By that, I mean, self-esteem.  If you feel confident in your abilities, if you think you can make a difference in this world, and if sometimes you realize you must put yourself first and don’t feel guilty about doing it this is healthy narcissism.  I envy you!

It is difficult to be in a relationship with an extreme narcissist and maintain any level of self-esteem.  So if you are the kind of person who is always self-seeking to the detriment of others, if you make those around you afraid of your reaction to constructive criticism, if you demand undying and unwavering attention and adoration, well, you might have a problem.

Extreme narcissism has an element of psychopathy wrapped up in it.  As one psychologist put it:

In my career as a psychologist, two areas of particular interest to me have been psychopathy and narcissism. Psychopathy is generally viewed as a particularly virulent form of narcissism, in which the person is not only very much focused on herself, or himself, but also highly manipulative, sometimes sadistic, and very much into control and power. One prominent characteristic of psychopathy is the presence of what is usually called a “glib, superficial charm.” These people are usually able, at least in the short term, to win over others very easily. They would generally be described as “very attractive” people (on the surface). Sometimes a person who merits the designation “psychopath” goes into a path of criminal activity (many, but not all, serial killers are psychopaths, and criminals known as “con artists” are often psychopaths); other times, the psychopath will be engaged in a legitimate career (politics, academia, corporate leadership). The key is not the type of activity the person engages in, but the degree of control s/he exercises over others.

Underneath the superficial charm, the narcissist/psychopath always has a “me-first” mentality. If you work with such a person, you may begin to see signs that s/he thinks that everything is about her; and, crucially, it will become clear that control/power is a major part of her game plan. However, this can be well concealed beneath a veneer of friendliness and concern for others; it may not become clearly evident until s/he receives what is known as a “narcissistic injury.” A person who is truly narcissistic will respond with extreme anger if s/he receives a challenge to her ego (an ego that is both fragile, and strongly defended). This response may look like an overblown rage fit, following a minor slight; or it may take the form of a cold vindictiveness, administered by acts of retaliation. These responses can be very shocking, even frightening, to the person who unwittingly triggered or evoked the narcissistic injury (by getting in the way of the narcissist’s plans, for example, or by displaying a lack of full approval and appreciation for the narcissist’s brilliant ideas).   ~Delaney Dean

Hopefully that explains a bit better the force and control that a true narcissist exhibits.  These are the characteristics of extreme narcissism:

  • grandiosity
  • need for admiration
  • lack of empathy
  • extreme self-absorption
  • intolerance of others’ perspectives
  • insensitivity to others’ needs
  • indifference to the effect of their own egocentric behavior

Add to that a level of psychopathy:

  • failure to conform to social norms; repeated unlawful behaviors
  • deceitfulness, repeated lying, manipulation
  • impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
  • irritability and physical aggressiveness
  • reckless disregard for safety of self or others
  • consistent irresponsibility
  • lack of remorse, indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt or mistreated another

You know those crime dramas that portray some mastermind deviant who brainwashes and controls a minion to do his bidding?  You think to yourself, that’s sick and twisted!  Who would do that and who would follow him?  Right?  It’s not all that far-fetched.  Look at all the carnage left in wake of religious extremism.

To keep the favor of a narcissistic/psychopathic tyrant you must please them.  And on nothing more than faith in them do their bidding all the while telling them how great they are and thanking them for allowing you the privilege.  Never do your own thinking and for heaven’s sake never go against them for fear of retaliation.

I’d have to agree with Cognitive Dissenter who said, “I’ve decided God gets a bad rap that is fundamentally unfair, given the fact that he’s an invisible imaginary dude. The perfect scapegoat for the real narcissists who hide behind him. Time to give credit where credit is due.  It’s high time we tore the curtain down and saw things the way they really are and the way they’ve really always been.  Are there really any prophets of a God?  Or are they just profiting off of those who are willing or have been frightened into being willing follow?

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36 thoughts on “Prophets or Profiteers?

  1. That also describes perfectly my most recent boss.
    Many of the prophets of god that I know would be horrified to be compared to narcissists and may even shed a tear over the thought that they could hurt someone. They’ve simply fooled themselves better than they fooled others since when asked directly about hurtful behaviours they have blamed the victims.

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    • That’s exactly what a narcissist does. They blame the victim and make them wonder if they’re the crazy ones. And in a sense the victim of this is a bit crazy because they kowtow to this behavior and enable it to a large degree. It is only when the victim decides enough is enough and breaks the crazy cycle, exactly like you did with your recent boss, that anything changes. Narcissists typically don’t change.

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  2. My former best friend from years ago, a born-again Christian and true “narcissist” did in fact almost and I do mean almost drive me crazy. If it hadn’t been for Biker Dude I think I would have ended up on a psyche ward. I thought she’d change but instead when I finally stood my ground she went at me with pure unadulterated hatred. That is what finally left me near the brink of craziness. I had been worn down to a pulp and was almost to the point of believeing it was me that was nuts and not her. After reading a four page scathing letter that she wrote to me, Biker Dude had to hold me for 90 minutes to keep me grounded and focused on just who was really nuts . . . not me.

    I hope you don’t me going personal here but for those who are wondering about the narcissist in your life . . . one day after she tore into me in the letter I decided I would speak to four of my other friends. None of them would know I had spoken to the others. To each of them I asked this question: “What do you think of my friend Ms. Know-it-all Christian? To my amazement each and everyone of them answered me basically the same way. Each of them said: Well, to tell you the truth Zoe, I’ve been very concerned for your well-being. It’s like she’s a leech and sucked all the energy and joy out of you. Four friends saw it and it took me years to see it!

    Then I asked my friends why they never said anything to me about it. All of them told me it’s because they figured I was very intelligent and knew better than them what I was doing and they knew I was trying to help the girl. Honestly, I was upset. But maybe if they had told me I wouldn’t have listened? Who knows? All said and done but looking back, she was one of many many Christians who fit the narcissist mode. They’d say it was “all about Christ” but more than anything it was “all about them.”

    I want to thank you for writing these two posts. Given me food for thought.

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    • These posts have been about my relationship with God and my being codependent, but I was also married to a narcissist. And what you said about your friends, all my friends have said to me. They all, to a person, knew something was wrong and never said a word. It wouldn’t have mattered if they had because I wasn’t ready to hear it. It was something I had to see for myself.

      Anyway, the things your friends said about her being like a leach…my term is a black hole. They suck everything in their path into the void and never are filled, never are satisfied. And, yes, it does suck! The life right out of you.

      I’m gonna bring this all together in the next post. 🙂

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  3. I look forward to the next post.

    I’ve been wanting to comment but needing the time to really think this over. I never once thought about God as a narcissist and honestly I’m stitting here thinking, Why didn’t I see it? And even now as a person who holds no belief in God, I have a hard time wrapping myself around His narcissistic qualities. My brain is churning on this one because I’m the one that felt like the narcissist . . . but again, maybe that’s the narcissist’s plan and that’s what keeps us co-dependent.

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  4. This is an excellent series. I just went through 7 years with a pathologically narcissistic minister who hated women. It took that long for the congregation to wake up and finally get well enough to get rid of him. There were waaay too many codependents surrounding him, but eventually his divide and conquer and intimidation/dole out his “blessings” tactics became evident to a few people in leadership. People get well in their own time, I couldn’t force it. Sigh….

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  5. Reblogged this on Out From Under the Umbrella and commented:

    Is an invisible, imaginary God narcissistic or are the real narcissists those who conjured him up?

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  6. I heard Joel Osteen’s “church” was robbed last week of $600,000 cash, just lying around. That’s some serious faith right there.

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  7. Have you heard of compensatory narcissism? My doctor once explained it to me in the context of my family- it’s fascinating. In some cases people are so gutted that they can only respond by creating walls around themselves and the example they have to follow is that of the narcissist who got them into that state in the first place.
    My grandfather was/is a classic narcissist. Hugely successful, famous etc.
    My father (his first and only male child) lived in the shadow of that, so he created a strange world adopting the same manner, but in a very different way as not even he believed his own hype.
    I like to make the distinction because although they seem the same from the outside, one is a ‘natural’, and the other is a reaction to difficulties. I think many religious fanatics (of the suicide bombing variety), for example, fall into the compensatory range.

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    • No, I hadn’t heard of compensatory narcissism. It does make sense, though. I can see where they would manifest themselves the same way. Do you make the distinction because you think the ‘reaction to difficulties’ type actually do have remorse for the pain they cause? How would you know the difference? For instance, how do you know your father isn’t a classic narcissist? Do you think he wouldn’t be a narcissist were it not for his father? Does he display signs of not being a narcissist? I’m very curious? My ex certainly could be a compensatory narcissist since his father is a classic narcissist. But I didn’t know his father’s father so I don’t know how far up the line it goes.

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      • They don’t have remorse either. But I don’t think he would have been a narcissist had it not been for his father.
        The major difference is one is born in the genuine belief of superiority, the other is a much more tangled web. The compensatory is the classical ‘chip on shoulder’ person. He’s obsessively got something to prove and the proof comes in the form of comparison with those around them. A mythical world where they always win.
        We actually have a friend who’s a compensatory and he/she’s fascinating to watch. Terribly tragic. Their entire life is dedicated to this fantasy world.
        The major difference I’ve found in dealing with both is that one is the classic is confident and the compensatory is incredibly fragile.

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  8. correction: in dealing with both is that the classic is confident and the compensatory is incredibly fragile.

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