Posted by: Botolff | February 10, 2009

A little narcissism goes a long way.

WARNING…the first link (Christian Bale) in this post will take you to an audio clip filled with obscenities.  Just thought you should know. 

“The essential feature of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy that begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts.”   Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition)

Yesterday a friend of mine sent me an audio clip that apparently was captured on the filming set of “Terminator: Salvation”.  It’s Christian Bale, the lead, verbally destroying his director of cinematography.  It’s by far one of the most violent audible outbursts that I have ever heard one human being direct at another in real life.  If you choose to listen to it, go to a place where you can turn the audio up far enough to hear what people are saying in the background.  Listen to how much the people on the set cater to his violence to try and diffuse the tension.  When someone challenges anything of his perspective or approach, listen to how much his anger increases.  Welcome to a narcissistic outburst.  Is Christian Bale a diagnosable narcissist?  Most of us don’t have enough data to risk putting that kind of label on him, and frankly labels are really only important if someone is going to do something about it.  What is obvious however, is that his reaction was full of narcissism.  I think that could hardly be denied.       

The friend who sent me the clip said that his experience has been that there is the same level of violence that takes place in churches.  It’s just not this obvious.  I would tend to agree.  Not that all churches are filled with this kind of violence…but some of them are.  And all churches are filled with people who can be filled with this level of violence.  How do I know?  Well, remember, my name is Adam too, and I have the same potential as anyone else.  Second, because I have experienced some of the most violent behavior from people in churches.  At times it has come in outburts, but much more often it’s more covert, because somehow we have come to believe that if we just sugar coat our violence, it will look more like Jesus.  The problem is, Jesus wasn’t a violent man.  He was an honest man who was willing to express himself in tense moments with both confidence and kindness.  Violence and confidence are not the same thing.  Violence is about a demand for control, with conscious (or unconscious) disregard for who it hurts in order to get it.  Confidence is a boldness that speaks the truth with the understanding that the truth may hurt, but a hope that the pain will eventually lead to renewed relationship.  Violence is an attempt to keep people away and protect ourselves.  Confidence is an attempt to create a space where people can come together and deal with the tension of their differences and look for redemption in their relationships.  That seems like the Gospel to me.

Side note:  The “church” has worked so hard for years to deny the value of Psychology; and treat it not only as if it were a separate entity from Theology, but in many cases, that it was the root of all evil.   No wonder.  Maybe it’s because we don’t really want to be seen for the people who we really are/can be.  I think it would bode well for anyone in ministry to thumb through a DSM-IV-TR.  Because we can all find something of ourselves in there somewhere, and the people who don’t want to find and address their own tendencies or diagnosis, are likely to be the most violent ones in the seats.  And I’ve got names of real people throughout my years of ministry to prove it.



  1. Wow what a rant.

    Good preaching!


  2. Wow! I’d like someone in my life to read that post and ESPECIALLY the last paragragh! It hit the nail on the head with this person!

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