A Theological and Psychological Provisional Definition of Narcissism

Volume 44
Spring 2016
A Theological and Psychological Provisional Definition of Narcissism

Wolfhart Pannenberg’s Christian anthropology along with Otto Kernberg and Heinz Kohut’s object relations modalities offer theological and psychological insights for arriving at an integrated provisional definition of narcissism from these two disciplines. Psychology provides intellectual insights and natural means for approaching such a definition. Likewise, theology employs these, but also contributes supernatural identifiers for our understanding. Pannenberg’s Christian anthropology of personhood asserts human beings experience the Fall as an unnatural narcissistic disturbance. According to Christian theology, we see only reflected features of our humanity, and are never fully known this side of eternity (see 1 Cor. 13:12). Psychology, through its continuing research and redefinition of various disorders, attests current diagnoses are not comprehensive but await further research. Hence, even the provisional definition here proposed is an approximation. This is a phenomenological definition to be used as a starting point for understanding narcissistic disturbances as experienced to some degree by all humans. It is a compassionate definition, not a label to be feared, which I hope opens new doors for pastoral and psychological treatments.

M. Bergner
87 - 98
Add to Cart $5.00