Narcissistic abusers are common in society even though not everyone uses the term “narcissist.” Many classic movies feature a war of good against evil with an antagonist who shows clear narcissistic or sociopathic traits. For example, Gollum in Lord of the Rings, or Palpatine in Star Wars. These characters are manipulative, sneaky, two-faced, and evil. They behave just like the narcissists who frustrate us in “real life.” We aren’t the first to encounter these types of people. They are all through movies, literature, stories and religion. From a scholarly point of view, we can look at the characteristics and see behavior that fits mental health diagnoses, but in popular culture, the same behaviors are explained in different ways.
***Warning, this post is going to turn religious. I come from a generic Protestant Christian background, and I’m not a typical Bible-thumper, but I do believe. The book and ideas I’m going to refer to are unusual in some churches, but gave me something to think about
Online, I have read various pages and articles about narcissists as people with a “Jezebel” spirit. I will admit, the idea of demons and spiritual warfare is a bit out there for me, but I can relate because I think they are describing the same types of people and the same types of struggle in a different way. Here is one brief webpage that compares what we call narcissism with what others call the Jezebel spirit:
In my opinion, what we might call evil is the same attitude that runs in certain personality disorders. What we might call a demon is one and the same. These are all the same cruel, disordered behaviors no matter what we call them. I have posted before that I have struggled with my Christian faith because of the horrible things that have happened to me. My narcissistic mother is religious in public, but cruel and manipulative at home. She will trash people in private but flatter them to their faces. She will lie, lie, lie to get what she wants, and people are fooled every time. I just watch with my eyes widened wondering how someone can get away with being such a manipulative two-face! And I see similar in my ex narcopath. He doesn’t play sweet and vulnerable like my mother does because he is so aggressive and dominant, but still, he can fool people into believing his lies even when there is clear evidence that he is lying. How DO they do that!?!?!? Arggh! Sometimes I literally ask myself, am I really dealing with spiritual warfare? How is it I can scream the truth, but no one hears me? How do the bullies in my life keep trampling on me? Do they have some kind of supernatural help? But then I think, “no, that is crazy talk. This can all be explained by science and psychology.” Maybe there’s really a mix here. Yes, we know how narcissism works, but maybe some of what the Bible would call evil is the same thing?
The other day, I found a book that I would not normally read. I grew up in a very average, normal Christian school that didn’t really teach the “weird” stuff. There was very little talk of demons, spirits or anything like that. No speaking in tongues, no miracles. Just day-to-day living and trying to be good. But, I picked up this book because I had read the theory of the Jezebel spirit online, and wanted to see more of what others had to say. It is called Jezebel by Bob Larson. Jezebel The writer is literally a self-described exorcist, so I read the book with a grain of salt. (No offense meant to other beliefs, but this is not normally what I would believe.) But, despite my reluctance to look for demons and exorcisms, I found that much of what the author described in spiritual terms were things I could relate to in academic terms.
For example, he describes Jezebel in terms that remind me greatly of my mother: seductive, willing to commit adultery, religious to serve her own needs, two-faced, hypocritical, looking to destroy reputations, lying, self-centered, and more. He also describes inter-generational abuse. He describes mothers who abused their children because their parents abused them. That is the cycle I am breaking in my family! To me, it is a learned bad behavior, but to Larson, it is a demon attached to the family members and “invited” in by sin. I underlined many sentences in the book–including one section about how girls whose fathers abandon them grow up not knowing how a good man should behave. (Been there, done that!) The author described so many of the struggles I have endured–abusive mother, generationally abusive family, missing deadbeat father, abusive husband….
While I’m not going to go look for an exorcist for my mother, and I don’t literally believe everything in this book, I found that it makes a lot of sense figuratively. If we think of abuse and narcissism as a “demon” to overcome, it makes much more sense. Even though I cannot relate to every word, I did get a lot out of this book, and I think it can be beneficial to read it as a parable or an example of the “evils” we deal with while trying to escape abuse. If nothing else, Christians need to be strong and bold in their faith to overcome the cycles of abuse.