A Narcissist’s Layers Of Defense

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As we have seen throughout this blog a scoffer is the Biblical analog of a narcissist.  The Bible outlines how, in his pride, a scoffer creates layers of defense to prevent being proven wrong – as that would be an affront to his position of superiority.

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The Scoffer Fights against Being Wrong

A scoffer (“luts”, aka narcissist) actively fights against anyone who attempts to criticize him, give him advice, or tell him that he is wrong in any way.  These actions may be based on their strong determination to get their own way, their belief that they are fundamentally always right, or a strong drive to refuse anyone else telling them what to do (resistance of any authority over them).

In fact, a scoffer will actively push back against anyone who attempts it – even going as far as trying to destroy at least the credibility, if not the reputation of anyone who dares to diminish him.  There are layers to the narcissist’s resistance.

First

First, the scoffer (narcissist) will not seek counsel from someone who might see through him (“the wise”) or might possibly tell him he is wrong.

A scoffer does not love one who reproves him, he will not go to the wise. 

Proverbs 15:12

In my own experience, I can think of cases where a narcissistic, insolently proud scoffer was on a course of action that was both not helpful to them and damaging to someone else.  In each case, many people advised them that they were off-course and needed to change direction.  The narcissist refused to listen and refused to change course.  He thinks:

    • “I want what I want, and no one is going to get in my way.”
    • “My vision/faith/etc. is superior, and others just don’t get it.”
    • “Everyone talking to me is inferior/stupid/wrong/etc., so why should I listen to them?”

The result was that the narcissist pushed ahead and ran into a set of negative consequences – which, among other things, further isolated them.  Of course, even then, they were unable to learn from what happened.

Second

If the scoffer does receive a rebuke, he will not listen – out of a prideful self-delusion that he knows that he is right, and out of a total refusal to admit being wrong.

A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. 

Proverbs 13:1

The scoffer not only refuses to listen but may even attempt to shut down even the slightest objection to their plans or actions.  This may include pushing back disproportionately hard against any hint that what they are saying or doing is not correct.  Or it could mean impulsively dismissing a suggestion out of hand, with a bit of a condescending tone (hence the term scoffer).  The phrase “will not listen” could be somewhat passive, but it could also take a very aggressive form.

Third

In his battle to never be wrong, the narcissist further escalates the fight by looking to take you down.

He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself.  Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you.

 Proverbs 9:7-8

In his prideful refusal to be wrong, the scoffer secretly hates anyone who challenges him and his image of self-perfection.  A narcissist hates anything or anyone that gets in the way of their “glory.”  He will look to take down or trash (i.e. – dishonor) the person challenging his image, because if he succeeds, he is able to maintain his superiority.

He might do it by direct confrontation, in an aggressive attempt to get you to say you were wrong – making him correct and leaving his image intact.  While he may on occasion respond with an immediate full-frontal assault, he might also keep his feelings hidden until such a time that he can do the most damage.  In this case, he will try to disguise his hatred, speaking graciously even while hating you in his heart.  But don’t believe him.  He still fully intends to “trash” you or undermine you – waiting for a better time or opportunity to maybe even thrust the proverbial knife into your back in front of an audience of his choosing.

Like an earthen vessel overlaid with silver dross are burning lips and a wicked heart.  He who hates disguises it with his lips, but he lays up deceit in his heart.  When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart.  Though his hatred covers itself with guile, his wickedness will be revealed before the assembly.    

Proverbs 26:23-26

One reason that dealing with narcissists is so tricky is that they do not play honestly.  They readily employ deception to accomplish their purposes.  But, as Jesus said, what is in their heart must ultimately reveal itself.  Jesus said,

“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” 

Luke 6:45

The following illustrates the layers of protection which the scoffer puts in place, driven by his proud heart at the core.

 

 

Dealing With Narcissists – Boundaries and Consequences, Not Rebukes

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Proverbs 9:7-8

7 He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself.
8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, Reprove a wise man and he will love you.

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Proverbs 19:29

29 Judgments are prepared for scoffers, And blows for the back of fools.

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As we saw in a previous blog, if you rebuke a scoffer (aka narcissist) he will simply try to “trash” you in order to totally discount your validity and therefore the validity of what you’re saying.    They do this to make sure that they can stay on the pedestal which they have created for themselves.

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So what can you do?  Even though they may not respect you, they may respect (or rather, try to avoid) enforceable boundaries.   “Preparing Judgments” implies setting up consequences for violations of some clear standard.  So, rather than reproving a narcissist / scoffer, try the following:

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  1. Define a clear standard or boundary for the narcissist
  2. Explain to the narcissist a clear consequence (“judgment”) if the standard or boundary is violated
  3. Clearly and consistently execute the consequence if or when the standard is violated

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The narcissist will likely test this a few times to see if you’re serious.  But if you consistently apply it, and if the consequence or “judgment” is painful enough, the narcissist will learn over time to avoid triggering the consequence.

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It is important to understand this is one possible tool to use in dealing with narcissists, and how you apply it will depend on the situation and the relationship.

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Please see Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective for an overview of what this blog is all about

 

Dealing With Narcissists – The Narcissistic Adult Mother

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I have been a little “stuck” on how to move forward with this study on Biblical perspectives on narcissism.  There are subjects which I have started and not finished, and several more subjects to yet work through.  Several people have written to me asking for more practical advice on how to deal with specific situations.  Until now, I have avoided this, partly due to the fact that without finishing the foundational understanding of God’s plan of love, and His using evil for good as part of that plan, some practical solutions will not make sense to many readers.  In addition, it is very difficult to provide counsel remotely, as it is difficult to understand the true situation.

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However, I recently received the following comment from “M” (in Africa, I think), Continue reading

Narcissist Tactics – They Mock and Make Excuses (Pharisee Case Study)

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Luke 16:13-15

13 No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

14 Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. 15 And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.

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[Please see here and here for more on how we know the Pharisees were narcissists].

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This is one of the clearer examples of how narcissists work.  In their hearts, the Pharisees were focused on money and the “finer things of life” that it would bring.  But in their pride, they also wanted to be highly thought of by men for their piety (including the all-sufficiency of God).  Jesus called out their hypocrisy and created a dilemma for them with His statement that they could not make both God and money number one in their lives – with the clear implication that they had chosen money over God.

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The narcissistic Pharisees had two ways of dealing with this.

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First was to mock (or scoff at) the One telling them they could not have it both ways.  Their intent was to tear down, from a position of “superiority”, and discredit the one getting in way of their greed and pride.

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Proverbs 9:7-8

He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself,
And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself.
Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you,
Reprove a wise man and he will love you.

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Amos 5:10

10 They hate him who reproves in the gate,
And they abhor him who speaks with integrity.

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Second was to make justification (in modern terms – making excuses), or to construct a clever series of reasons, for what they were doing for the purpose of making people around them agree with them and continue to think highly of them.

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But Jesus made it clear to them that even though they may get away with fooling men, they were not fooling God.  God could clearly see what was in their hearts, and would judge them based on that – and not based on what the Pharisees had gotten men to believe.

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They might get short term kudos from men for how wonderful they are, but they would ultimately have to answer to God for the evil in their hearts.

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Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective