Narcissism and the Church

Simply put, Narcissism is the "Abuse of Power."

At the LA Book Expo in 2008 where I found my publisher, none of the publishers I tried to talk to were at all interested in publishing a book on narcissism. Most of them suffered from it themselves! No joke!

You should have seen the look of disgust I got from some publishers when presenting my book to them. One guy handed it back to me and said, "Psssh, this is the reason my sister-in-law gave for divorcing my brother" and handed it back to me with a look that could kill.

Interestingly enough, it wasn't until I met some very progressive LDS publishers that anyone wanted to listen to my story. These wonderful men (my current publishers:) are interested in building awareness on narcissism because they see it as a problem in their church, community, families and workplace. They see women in their own lives struggling as a result of being subjected to narcissistic abuse.

These men are true leaders as they are courageous enough to acknowledge this phenomenon and build awareness in their community. In their religion, they commonly refer to narcissism as "Unrighteous Dominion." If you refer to the Blog Post on "What the Bible says about Narcissism" you will find the definition of narcissism according to the scriptures.

My point to this long story is that it's a shame how some religious leaders abuse their power. There is a high correlation between narcissism and religious leaders and it's quite sad. It gives all the good leaders a bad name.

Attached is a link to an article I found interesting on the subject. As the author states:

"The church as an institution needs to confess a pattern of genteel toleration of leaders who are motivated more by their own ego needs and less by the call to serve."

I couldn't agree more.

Oct 8 - 10AM
Susan32's picture

Abuse of power

Yesterday on NPR's "Talk of the Nation",the subject was clergy abuse/the abuse of power. It was an excellent discussion, with speakers such as Rabbi Lawrence Kushner. Rabbi Kushner said he had to remember he was a human being, a flawed human, and NOT to confuse himself with God, whom he represented. He spoke powerfully of carrying the Torah. Another pastor spoke of how she sets "firm boundaries" with laity who try to get too close. Unfortunately, the ex-Psych professor would use the excuse of setting boundaries for the emotional abuse. He acted as if I had been the one abusing him, when in fact he crossed the boundaries into humiliation and abuse. This was the teacher who engaged in nasty personal attacks when I lost my grandfather. He abused his power as a teacher... just as the clergy have abused their power. There's a local church that suffered a terrible scandal when a pastor basically used it for $$$, ran off with his mistress, and left the church broke. They're still recovering from the betrayal, though it happened at least a decade ago. They trusted their shepherd, they didn't think he'd fleece them.
Oct 3 - 2PM
TraumaMama's picture

Unrighteous Dominion

Thanks for your post Lisa. I am grateful for the progressive LDS publishers who want to educate others like me with your book. I have seen "Its All About Him" in LDS bookstores in my area! I had a terrible time when I left my EXNH, also an LDS church leader at the time. He had been guilty of unrighteous dominion (infidelity and abuse of all kinds) throughout the entire marriage. Narcissists are manipulative and mine had worked behind my back to turn all my good but confused church leaders against me. I had no support from the men in church. My bishop even told me to that I "provoke him" when I called during a fight where I had been beaten by him with my baby in my arms. I taught the children at church with fingerprint bruises around my neck that day. My cunning EXNH had convinced the leaders that HE was the victim of abuse and had been subjected to MY rages. I called 911. It was embarrassing to have my EXNH's name (also a local doctor) in the newspaper for domestic assault. After the incident my EXNH met with the church leaders to discuss MY anger problem. I was sent to anger management therapy and we went to marriage counseling together! He was diagnosed with NPD and I was diagnosed as a victim of domestic violence with PTSD. I had hidden this because I wanted to present a happy family image to the outside world. I had not been raised to believe that anything else was possible. In the end, the EXNH abused me at the church in front of the bishop. The men immediately helped me move and gave me FULL support. My EXNH lost his membership in the church on the grounds of extreme unrighteous dominion. To this day, he has no remorse and blames me for all of the infidelity and abuse. I understand that my bishop had never been exposed to the kind of evil cruelty that a narcissist is capable of and didn't recognize it. Women like me can also be naive because we are taught from birth that people are good, kind, loving, and trust worthy. We are also taught to be submissive, obedient, and stay with RIGHTEOUS husband forever. Divorce is not an option and accepting that your spouse is disordered is not either. I just wanted him to repent! I thought when I met my EXNH at church that I had found a "keeper." Although grateful for my children, I had no idea of what would transpire. Women from all walks of life, especially those from patriarchal-based religions and cultures, need your book! I was naive. I had no idea that NPD even existed. I have such good men in my family and there are so many good ones in the church, too. It is especially sad when a disordered man gets into a leadership position and preys on the vulnerable. We can't change them but we can be smarter!
Oct 3 - 5PM (Reply to #1)
Lisa E. Scott
Lisa E. Scott's picture


Thanks for sharing. Wow, I am so glad that the men in your church finally saw his true colors and started helping you! You're right that as women we're taught that people are good and trustworthy and to stand by them. Unfortunately, the reality is that some people are evil and do abuse their power. I've always been told I'm gullible, but I have just always wanted to believe in the good of people. While I still believe that there is more lightness than darkness, I am now much more mindful of who I trust and who I don't. Like you said, it is tragic when an unrighteous man is in a position of power and while we can't change them, we can be smarter and help others be smarter based on what we have learned! Thanks for being here! xoxo