Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Churches Attract Many Lost Souls

Church is meant to be a refuge for us all, because none of us are perfect. So, if you put a bunch of imperfect people in one setting, and they start to work closely together, problems will inevitably arise. Churches also attract a certain proportion of people on the margins. They are unable to hold a job, for one reason or another. So, in addition to having a place to worship, they also need a place to hang their hats, so to speak. They then become over involved in the workings of a parish.

However, most of the people you'll encounter in a Christian setting are absolutely delightful. A minority may also be deeply disturbed, which is something that caught me off guard. By this I mean they may suffer from a personality disorder, such as malignant narcissism. This isn't always apparent in the beginning though. Someone returning to their faith, or someone new to a particular place of worship, is probably most at risk of being ensnared in an unhealthy dynamic.

Again, the best way to avoid being caught up in a bad situation at church, especially if you have children, is to attend with your eyes open. Go there to pray. Stay away from projects and politics. Not getting too involved is your best insurance against a bad experience at church.

Flickr photo by marc falardeau

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Special Problem of Female Bullies in Church

Female bullies are often more problematic than male bullies. That's because women can be very sneaky as they attempt to undermine a rival. With a smiling face, they manufacture all kinds of traps for their hapless target. Meanwhile, they stay in the background watching the plot unfold. This is known as covert bullying or covert narcissistic abuse.

Malignant narcissists who are female are found in all walks of life, even in the pews. That's why we still need to exercise discernment in church, which, sadly, is not always a place you can let your guard down.

The reason you need to be cautious in church, especially if you get involved in parish projects, is because if God is a priority in your life, you'll want to spend time in His house. Bullying would be a big distraction, at the very least. It could also result in having to change parishes, which is never an easy thing to do. Also, with increased mergers and closings, we don't always have the choice to go somewhere else.

Because I hope to shed light on the special problem of female bullying, so I started a separate blog dedicated to the problem of female malignant narcissism. There is also much overlap with another condition psychologists call histrionic personality disorder. People who suffer from these problems, which appear to be spiritual in origin, have a propensity to sow discord. Although we need to pray for them, we do not need to become involved in their drama. It's also important that we don't make the mistake of sharing secrets with people who have personality disorders, as any information gleaned can and will be used against you, at church and elsewhere.

Flickr photo by RTD Photography

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Are Bullies Born that Way, or is it the Result of Sin?

Are bullies born that way? Or is this a result of a bad upbringing? Or is the nasty behavior the result of sin? I don't really know the answer, and I have yet to pose this question to a Catholic priest. So, at the moment, I'm only just guessing. In church, we tend to hear more about sin, than about narcissism, although Pope Francis has recently spoken out against clerical narcissism.

Actually, I think all three factors, inborn temperament, our formation and sin play a role in whether someone chooses to abuse another. Grace is not distributed equally, so this would have something to do with the way we are born. Our upbringing certainly shapes us. Parents who push people around often have offspring who do the same. So, in a sense, we're looking at a learned behavior.

Sin can also cause spiritual blindness and hardness of heart. It takes a very stony heart to intentionally hurt another.

Narcissistic personality disorder, according to psychological literature, is a fixed condition that can't be changed. However, as Christians, we know that God can do anything. Yet it seems as if it would take a miracle to change some hearts. But we know it's possible, because all things are possible with God.

Flickr photo by Paralog