When we think of bearing fruit, most of us automatically think of fruit that is good. For Christians, it is natural to think of the fruit of the Spirit, being fruitful in ministry, or doing good towards others. All this is great stuff, but unfortunately we need to be aware that there is another side to the ‘fruit equation’.
Good fruit has its opposite in bad fruit, and one type of bad fruit that is rotten to the core is the abuse of others.
Of course, any form of abuse is unacceptable, but when it is unseen it carries additional dangers. Certain types of abuse fly under the radar, unseen by the average person. Strange as it might sound, this can even apply to the actual victims themselves. They can be totally unaware of the reality of what is being done to them by their abuser. Because these kinds of abuse are so insidious and covert they can often go undetected for extremely long periods of time. This increases the likelihood of serious damage being done, even potentially including the death of the person being targeted. It would not be an exaggeration to say that these abusers are the very embodiment of what it means to be evil.
In recent years, This particular manifestation of evil has been given the label of ‘narcissistic abuse’. This term can be misleading as it automatically leads the average uninformed person to think we are referring to someone who simply has a high opinion or love of themselves. Sadly this could not be further from the truth.
‘Narcissistic abuse’ refers to a specific type of abuse practised by people with what are called ‘Cluster B’ personality disorders. ‘Cluster B’ is a category of pychological personality disorder that includes extremely insidious and abusive behaviours. This type of abuse can cause great harm to the unsuspecting victims.
Some of these abusive people have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (a totally different level to normal ‘narcissism’) or can be described as Malignant Narcissists. Others have Anti-Social Personality Disorder, which is the clinical term given to someone we would normally label a sociopath.
Similar to sociopaths are psychopaths. They are less impulsive, but much more dangerous as they are highly skilled in deceit and manipulation through the use of pathological lying.
There is also Machiavellianism, where the perpetrator disregards the feelings and needs of their victims in order the achieve their own selfish ends.
Elements of being Machiavellian, a Narcissistic and a Psychopath can combine to produce what is called Dark Triad. These people are the embodiment of the darkest evil existing in the world today.
Unfortunately, all these terms are loosely thrown about by commentators, leading to confusion and contributing to a lack of awareness about the damaging behaviours of this ‘family’ of abusers.
To those looking in from the outside, psychopaths look totally normal. They can exist in our workplace, or even lurk undetected among our family and friends. This illusion of normality is ruthlessly exploited by the psychopath. For their unsuspecting victims, being on the receiving end of the psychopath’s targeted and covert behaviour can be horrendous.
World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day
The 1st June has been designated as World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day. The intention of the organisers is to raise awareness of this very dangerous and destructive behaviour. Unfortunately it is not limited to the wider society, but is also very much present within the walls of our churches.
There are a whole host of websites describing the horrors of psychopathic/narcissistic abuse and how these pathological personalities operate. However, there are not many presenting the phenomenon from a biblical perspective. Yet the Bible has a great deal to say about this rotten fruit.
Ephesians 5:11 says ‘Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them’ (NIV).
We will do this by occasionally examining narcissistic/psychopathic abuse in the light of scripture. Hopefully this will in some small way raise awareness of this evil fruit within our churches, and protect potential future victims from these highly dangerous predatory individuals.
For further information about Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day see http://www.wnaad.com