Are Narcissists Traumatized or Demonized? The Demonic Forces at Play Inside a Narcissist

understanding narcissism Mar 25, 2024

Are narcissists traumatized or demonized? The answer is "yes." They are both. In this blog, I'm going to dive into the connection between trauma and the demonic spirits at play in a narcissist. First, we’ll explore how narcissism is a post-traumatic stress response. Then, we’ll examine how demonic spirits come into play.

Narcissism as a Trauma Response

Narcissism starts off as a defense mechanism to trauma that the narcissist experienced when they were young. This trauma might involve the narcissist being met with criticism, abuse, or shaming for expressing negative emotions. This consistent punishment then affected their ability to self-soothe and cope with their negative feelings in a healthy way. So, to deal with the harshness of life around them, the narcissist constructed a false self with god-like qualities. This false self became a protective barrier to shield themselves from outside attacks, giving them the illusion of being invulnerable and superior. This false self, however, is deeply grandiose and demands constant affirmation and admiration from others. 

The narcissist, as a young child, never learned healthy coping mechanisms and emotional regulation. As a result, their false self became their strategy to navigate through life and prevented the development of genuine emotional maturity. This means that the narcissist enters into adulthood with arrested emotional development. They are a child in an adult body.

All the narcissist's traits, such as grandiosity, a sense of entitlement, and a lack of empathy, are not really who they are. They are merely constructs that a narcissist puts in place to substitute who they are in order to deal with their trauma. Tragically, these very constructs that a narcissist uses to protect themselves tend to produce the outcomes they are trying so hard to avoid. This vicious cycle only reinforces a narcissist’s narcissism further.

The extent that a narcissist as a child creates a false self is the extent to which their personalities become rigid and resistant to change. The more elaborate and entrenched the false self, the harder it is for a narcissist’s personality to flex and adapt. It's as if they've built a fortress around their true selves, making it challenging for any new understanding or personal growth to seep through.

Does the Narcissist’s Trauma Excuse their Abuse?

It is natural to feel compassion for the young version of the narcissist who experienced this trauma. However, while the suffering they endured might help explain why they created a false self, it absolutely does not justify their narcissism. There is no excuse for being abusive, for not doing the work necessary to heal and change, especially if they profess to be a follower of Jesus Christ. 

It is very difficult for a narcissist to change, probably impossible without the power of Jesus Christ. If the narcissist believes in Jesus Christ and professes to follow Him, then there is power accessible to them to change and step into their true God-given identity. Anyone with a fractured personality or a trauma-damaged identity can find full healing and restoration in Christ. They need to believe in Him, invite Him to be in the driver’s seat of their life, and pursue Jesus for their healing. These are the first and foundational steps for transformation.

Demonic Spirits and Narcissism

There can be many openings for demonic influence in a person's life. One of these is unhealed wounds. Just like untreated physical wounds can attract flies, our emotional or soul wounds can draw in demonic spirits. It’s as if they can smell our wounds. In Biblical times, the Pharisees referred to the devil as Beelzebul, which means ‘lord of the flies.’ This implies that there are some similarities between how flies and demons behave. Often, narcissism grows out of deep-seated soul wounds. As long as those wounds remain unhealed, they release a spiritual smell that demons are attracted to, just like flies swarm around garbage. As demons swarm, they try to influence the thinking, emotions, and behaviors of a narcissist. Because the narcissist operates out of a false self, instead of doing the work to cultivate their true identity in God, they are particularly vulnerable to the influence of the demonic on their thoughts and behaviors.

A second opening for the demonic is sin. Out of unhealed wounds, a narcissist may commit all kinds of sins of the heart and flesh. These sins also attract demonic spirits. When someone practices the sins of their flesh long enough without repenting and changing their ways, they become empowered by the demonic.

If you would like to understand which demonic spirits tend to be involved with narcissism, I highly recommend reading my blog, “The Demonic Forces Behind Narcissism,” where I focus on the doors that invite the demonic into a narcissist’s life.

Doors for the Demonic 

# 1 Pride and Arrogance: The Bible says that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:6, James 4:6). Because narcissists are arrogant, have a grandiose vision of themselves, and see themselves as superior to everyone else, God Himself resists them. Not only do narcissists face demonic influence, in everything they do, they are bumping against God. Narcissists who don’t deal with their pride and arrogance get no grace from God. Eventually, there comes a point where God doesn’t just resist them, He rivals them and distresses them in His displeasure against them (1 Peter 5:6, James 4:6, Psalm 2:1-6). You don’t want to be on the wrong side of God. But narcissists, because they hold on to a false self that is full of arrogance, they put themselves there. 

# 2 Sin of Idolatry. Idolatry is a big deal to God. The whole Old Testament is the story of God’s people falling into idolatry over and over again, despite God’s warning of the consequences (Exodus 20:4, Romans 1:24-27, 1 Corinthians 10). But, God’s people somehow couldn’t stop themselves.  They worshipped false gods anyway and reaped all kinds of terrible consequences. 
Narcissism often involves various forms of idolatry. Foremost among these is when the narcissist elevates their false self with all its god-like qualities above God. Not only does this false self assume god-like qualities, but it usurps God’s rightful position position at the center of the narcissist’s life. When the narcissist’s false self sits on the throne of their life, this is idolatry.

Other forms of idolatry manifest in the way that narcissists relate to others. Narcissists have an insatiable need for the attention, validation, and admiration of other people (which is called narcissistic supply). When a narcissist looks to other people for narcissistic supply instead of looking to God to fill their needs and insecurities, they are committing idolatry.  Similarly, by idealizing certain individuals, showering them with praise and adoration that should be reserved for God, they engage in idolatry. The flip side of this same idolatry is when the narcissist expects perfection from other humans, making unreasonable demands and not having a tolerance for other people’s limits. In this way, a narcissist expects other people to be like God to them. There is no perfect person except for Jesus Christ Himself. When a narcissist continues to engage in these forms of idolatry, they reap serious consequences, including opening the door to the demonic.

# 3 Unforgiveness and Bitterness. An attitude of unforgiveness and bitterness can open the door for the demonic. It is understandable for someone who has faced injustice and trauma to struggle with unforgiveness and bitterness, but it is not healthy to remain there. Unfortunately, in their attempt to avoid facing the trauma they have experienced, narcissists often remain in this place. Let me explain: When a narcissist becomes a perpetrator or abuser, they find a way to make the narrative about how they have been the victim or suffered betrayal. As you may have experienced, the narcissist often carries unforgiveness and bitterness against the people who called them out or tried to hold them accountable. By constantly amplifying how hurt, betrayed, or victimized they feel, narcissists attempt to dodge responsibility when they are confronted about their behavior. 

Narcissists commonly engage in splitting, a cognitive distortion where they perceive individuals as either wholly good or entirely bad. Consequently, when confronted or criticized, they often perceive those addressing them as enemies, failing to acknowledge their well-intentioned efforts to foster a healthy relationship. This black-and-white thinking prevents narcissists from recognizing the complexities of human nature, making it challenging for them to view individuals as multifaceted beings with both positive and negative attributes.  Moreover, narcissists may struggle with forgiveness and harbor bitterness, further exacerbating their cognitive distortions. This unforgiving attitude not only perpetuates their inability to see the nuances of human behavior but also leaves them vulnerable to torment by demonic influences.

When a narcissist refuses to forgive the people they believe have hurt or injured them, and they carry offense and vengeance in their hearts, they enter into demonic torment. This applies to anyone who walks in unforgiveness, but it is worse for a narcissist because of the compounding effect of the other demonic forces that operate inside them in other areas. You can see these dynamics play out in the life of Saul (1 Samuel 9-31) and again in a sobering parable by Jesus in Matthew 18:21-35. Jesus tells the story of a servant who had an outstanding debt. In compassion, the master forgave this servant’s debt. However, after being forgiven his debt, the servant refused to forgive the debt of his fellow worker. So the servant’s master put him in jail until he could pay off all that he owed. After Jesus told this parable, he said, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart” (Matthew 18:34-35). You see, metaphorically, when a narcissist, or anyone for that matter, holds on to unforgiveness, they end up in prison.

The other close cousin to unforgiveness is bitterness. Hebrews 12:13-15 says, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

There is a connection in this verse between living in peace with everyone and not letting a bitter root grow up inside. For a narcissist operating out of a false self, this can be quite the challenge because they are addicted to conflict. On top of that, they require that others fawn and work hard, turn themselves into pretzels, and apologize profusely to be at peace with them. They don’t see that they have any role in living at peace with others. In fact, they thrive on conflict. The narcissist’s need for narcissistic supply drives them to cause drama and provoke and antagonize people constantly. This flies in the face of God's command. So when a narcissist refuses to take responsibility for their part in keeping peace, but instead, they choose to be in conflict and at odds with people, they open the door to demons of bitterness.

#4 Not Loving the Truth, but Loving Lies. The love of lies is serious because Satan is called the Father of lies. Jesus said about the religious narcissists of his day, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). When a narcissist rejects the truth and remains committed to lies, deceptions, and distortions, God judges them. The Bible says, “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). Not loving the truth is a big issue here because a narcissist is not just dealing with the force of demons influencing them, but also the force of God Himself pushing them further into their lies and deceptions.

#5 The Spirit of Division: Narcissists are at the center of all kinds of divisions and splits between friends, couples, families, and communities. They create these splits by slandering people and engaging in  smear campaigns. A spirit of division is an offense against God. The Bible says, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community” (Proverbs 6:16-20). Narcissists are notorious for pouring out lies and stirring up conflicts in communities. They triangulate people against each other and keep their role in the division undercover. This is yet another destructive spirit that narcissists operate in on top of the other ones.

#6 Entitlement. Narcissists are highly entitled, believing that everyone owes them, so they don’t have gratitude in their hearts. They are more prone to grumbling and complaining than giving thanks. This sense of entitlement mirrors the attitude that prevented the Israelites from entering their promised land, leaving them stuck in the desert. When narcissists continue to walk in entitlement, ungratefulness, grumbling, and complaining, this also opens the door to the demonic. The Bible says, “because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21). In Romans 1:28, it says that eventually, when we are stubborn against Him, God gives us over to the depravity of our own minds.

#7 Envy and Self-interest Narcissists are envious and look out for their own interests. This also opens the door to the demonic. In James 3:14-17 it says, “But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above but is earthly, sensual, and demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.”

Conclusion

I hope this blog was helpful in shedding light on the connection between the narcissist’s trauma, their creation of a false self with god-like qualities, and how these things attract demonic spirits to influence and empower the narcissist. It is clear that narcissism is a complex issue, it’s not just demonic, it typically has roots in trauma. 

If you would like some strategic prayer points on how to pray for healing for a narcissist, you can find a downloadable prayer guide here

Thank you for reading with me! See you in next week’s blog.
 

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