“Narcissistic personality disorder is a condition in which there is an inflated sense of self-importance and an extreme preoccupation with one's self.” (Healthline.com)
A few of its symptoms are: Narcissists take advantage of other people to achieve their own goals - are preoccupied with fantasies of ideal love - require constant attention - disregard the feelings of others - lack empathy - and pursue mainly selfish goals.
Let’s review a few of the symptoms of narcissism as they pertain to adultery:
1. Takes advantage of others to achieve their own goals:
Adultery, at the least, takes advantage of spouses and children; and it’s done for the sole purpose of achieving a sexual relationship that we value more than everything else in this world…and the next.
2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of ideal love:
As a Christian lay minister/counselor, I have come to know that adulterers, once having made the fatal decision to betray their families, can literally think of nothing except their new “soul mate.” Every act and thought is devoted to their next tryst. Once that relationship collapses, which it almost always does, they go from one adultery to the next, never finding the true love they say they so desperately seek.
3. Requires constant attention:
Adulterers, whether male or female, are high-maintenance people. As they put themselves first in all things, they find it hard to believe that others don’t have the same reverence to what they perceive to be the natural order of things. They are, in their own little worlds, more important than everyone they know, including God.
4. Disregards the feelings of others:
Virtually all adulteries end in divorce. The statistics regarding the effect of divorce on children are devastating and not debatable. Unlike the self-serving rationalizations of the “I can have it all” adulterer, society has been forced to understand that most children never recover from the betrayal of adultery.
One woman told me, when questioned about her numerous adulteries, that she had a right to be happy. It never occurred to her and others like her, that in any decent society, no one has a right to be happy at the expense of others.
5. Lacks empathy:
There is probably no single emotion (other than the death of a loved one) more devastating than betrayal, especially when we are betrayed by the person with whom we had children and shared deep personal intimacies, and who promised to be faithful until death, no matter what.
But an adulterer never thinks of the consequences to others. Simply put, they just don’t care. Everything must be subordinated to their wants. It is impossible for them to be empathetic, as all their emotions are directed inward.
6. Pursues mainly selfish goals:
Adultery is nothing if not pure selfishness. It is the worship of self to a degree that it is unfathomable to most of us.
As a society we’ve tried everything to make adultery acceptable and hip, and those who cling to their wedding vows are ridiculed in order to give comfort to those who lie and cheat.
But that doesn’t change the truth -- even the adulterer knows what they are doing is wrong. If they thought they were doing nothing wrong, there would be no reason to lie as all adulterers do.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of narcissism, as even the psychiatric community begrudgingly admits, is that there is no cure. There are questionable treatments, like never-ending psychotherapy, but there is no cure.
The medical community fails because it treats the worldly manifestations, when the real problem is spiritual -- and for that we must turn to God.
As bad as the sin of adultery is, the psychiatric profession has under-estimated its true potential to destroy not only the victims of the narcissist, but the narcissist as well. “Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He [who] does so destroys his own soul.” (Proverbs 6:32 NKJV) Adultery never ends well -- for anyone.
So, as they said in the movie, “Houston, we have a problem.”
Narcissists, blinded by their selfishness, commit adultery without being able to see the potential danger. When they come to understand they’ve taken a wrong turn in their lives, usually after they are caught, they invariably turn to the medical profession (psychiatry) that, as noted, quietly admits that there is little it can do.
There is an old joke that goes, “What’s the difference between God and a doctor?” Answer: “God doesn’t think he’s a doctor.” Put another way, those of us of faith know that God can do what man cannot. “But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With men [it is] impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.’” (Mark 10:27)
It is impossible to be a narcissist and a practicing Christian at the same time. They are mutually exclusive. On the other hand, when God, instead of self, becomes the center of our universe, suddenly the natural flow of life becomes obvious -- and makes sense.
Psychiatrists and psychologists cannot cure our choice to be selfish at the expense of others, but God can and will.
Edward Mrkvicka is an award winning Christian author, lay minister/counselor, and lifelong Bible student.
He is the author of The Prayer Promise of Christ, named Christian Book of the Year by Books & Authors.net.
His newest book, No Innocent Affair: Making Right the Wrong of Adultery, will be available on September 20, 2011. It can be preordered at: http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=9781617777684
Ed’s web site is located at: www.EdwardFMrkvickaJr.com