Narcissism - What is it?
Narcissism centers upon an excessive admiration of one’s own physical or mental attributes. The term narcissism originated in Greek mythology. Narkissos, a handsome youth, fell in love with his own reflection in a pool and was turned into the flower narcissus. This inordinate fascination with oneself results in self-centeredness, with a fixation of one’s own body. While some traits are not exclusive to narcissism, they are indicative of what lies behind a mask of ultra-confidence -- a fragile self-esteem. Narcissists frequently suffer from egotism, vanity, jealousy, as well as a lack of empathy/sympathy.
Approximately 1 percent of the population suffers from some sort of narcissism. Narcissistic Personality Disorder rests at the extreme end of the human psyche spectrum. Of those seeking therapy for NPD, three-quarters are men. Far more individuals exhibit narcissistic traits than those diagnosed with NPD. Narcissism doesn’t favor ethnics, genetics, or socio-economics. Age isn’t a factor and this negative behavior can manifest itself as a passing phase or a permanent state of NPD.
Narcissism - What is the Impact of Social Media
When used too frequently, social media sites like Twitter and Facebook can potentially breed narcissism. Studies have shown overuse or excessive self-promotion in social media participation can breed narcissism. When you rely on social media sites for promoting yourself or seeking attention, narcissism can develop.
"For people with narcissistic qualities...social networking sites are effective vehicles of self-promotion. Online, they can assemble armies of casual friends, choose the photos in which they look most attractive and, through quotes and comments about themselves, create a compelling personal narrative."1
Narcissism - What Does the Bible Say?
In the past, emphasis was placed on harmful behaviors such as depression, abusive tendencies, and eating disorders -- all the products of low self-esteem. However, there is now a general trend towards “too much” self-esteem, i.e. narcissism. Attitudes of self-love lead to such statements as “If I ruled the world, it would be a better place” and “I can live my life any way I want to.” Biblically speaking, narcissism is simply selfishness. Left unchecked, this fixation results in a breakdown of personal relationships, appearing emotionally “bulletproof.”
Philippians 2:3 addresses the true nature of narcissism. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourselves.” The mind-set of someone who is humble views others as being worthy of preferential treatment. A narcissist considers himself to be the center of the universe, disregarding the value of other lives, even displacing God from the throne of his life. His life soon becomes void of any peace. “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts . . . there you find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:14-16).
There is help for narcissism, for anyone battling issues of self-worth. Instead of drowning ourselves in a pool of our own distorted reflection, we can accept we were created in God’s image . . . how God reflects upon us. “How precious it is, Lord, to realize that You are thinking about me constantly! I can’t even count how many times a day Your thoughts turn towards me. And when I waken in the morning, You are still thinking of me!” (Psalm 139:17-18, TLB). God highly values us. By letting go of our self-centeredness, we grasp how highly God treasures us. The psalmist, David, reflected upon man’s position as God’s representative of all Creation. “What is man that you [God] are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:4-5).
In humility, Jesus Christ, God’s Son, came to earth, setting aside His divine nature. Jesus emptied Himself, laying aside His glory. “[Jesus] being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness . . . he humbled himself . . ." (Philippians 2:6-8). Through the power of Jesus living in us, our self-image becomes the image of Christ’s character and we are transformed.