Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Are You Narcissistic?

I have been reading 1 & 2 Samuel, and books about 1 & 2 Samuel, for a while in the mornings and this morning I was finishing up the overview sermon Mark Dever wrote about 1 Samuel in The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made. To my shame sometimes I don't read the questions at the end of chapters in books, because sometimes it feels like I am being spoon fed. In my pride I don't realize how arrogant that is. I have the tendency to think, "why do I need their questions, I can think deeply about this on my own." How arrogant! Anyhow, I was reading the questions for reflection at the end of the chapter The Message of 1 Samuel: Faith in Faithless Times and there was a wonderful and very convicting question. Here it is:
"8. As Christians, we do not believe that narcissism is simply a 'psychiatric disorder,' as many might define it. It's sin. It's pride. Still, the American Psychiatric Association's definition of 'Narcissistic Personality Disorder' provides an apt profile of Saul as well as a good checklist for examining our own hearts! A person is 'narcissistic,' so they say, when he or she has 'a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behaviour), need for admiration, and lack of empathy.' More specifically, a narcissistic person displays some of the following qualities:
• A grandiose sense of self-importance: you tend to exaggerate achievements and talents; you expect to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements.

• A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love: really, you feel like you deserve these things.

• An opinion of oneself as 'special' or unique: you tend to feel understood by - or prefer associating with - other special or high-status people.

• Desirous of admiration from others.

• A sense of entitlement: you expect people (parents, spouses, employers, restaurant servers, anyone behind a counter) to grant you special treatment, or to automatically comply with your desires and expectations.

• Interpersonally exploitive: you quietly and subtly take advantage of others for your own ends.

• A lack of empathy: you are unwilling to recognize or identify yourself with the feelings and needs of others.

• Feelings of envy: you tend to be envious of others, and you like to think they are envious of you.

• Arrogance: you are often haughty in your behaviors or attitudes.

How would you feel about handing this list to two of your closest friends and asking them to evaluate you?"
[Mark footnotes that this list came from the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed. (Washington D. C.: APA, 2000), 717.]

I wasn't expecting it, but this was really pretty convicting to meditate on. I better start reading the questions at the end of chapters more often!

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