This article will touch on several areas, some of the things I have thought about for quite a while. So I will present some speculations with what I think is evidential material, run it up the flagpole, and see if anyone salutes it.
The Dubious Nature of Psychology
Last I knew, there were over two hundred schools of psychology. Some in the “hard sciences” look askance on psychology and other social sciences, as they have few characteristics necessary in those sciences. Definitions of, and treatments for, mental illnesses are constantly changing and resemble guesswork. Social sciences are also rooted in Darwinism and atheistic naturalism.
I’ll allow that I have some cognitive dissonance happening. I don’t trust humanistic psychology, but getting some kind of treatment for mental illness can be beneficial. However, some problems fade over time. Even medication (although scientists do not know why one works and treatment is often a crapshoot) can be necessary. Talking with a biblical counselor is most likely the best answer.
There are many unhealthy thinking patterns classified as personality disorders, but the groupings and labels are unhelpful since many have traits that overlap. Some of these resemble psychotic symptoms. Also, Autism Spectrum Disorder is a kind of mental illness. Some people have been misdiagnosed as having some other disorder until the patient was reevaluated. These things help indicate that the field is not exactly scientific.
People tend to throw around words to label others, acting as if they were licensed psychotherapists making diagnoses. “You have cognitive dissonance”, “That’s an example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect”, “You’re just paranoid”, and others. They probably don’t even know what the words mean other than spending five minutes looking them up on teh interwebs.
They should keep up with the news, as the Dunning-Krueger Effect was discovered to be nonsense.
Individuals have personality flaws, and will exhibit “symptoms” found in the lists for psychologists. It’s when some have several indications that a diagnosis could be made correctly. By an expert.
This expression seems to be relatively new. Generally speaking, toxic people bring harm to others, especially their mental well-being. Toxic people feed their own egos by rejoicing in (and causing) distress and harm to others. It is a serious problem in interpersonal relationships, especially when realizing that a family member is toxic. In many cases, they cannot be avoided, so the victim needs to learn skills to minimize the damage.
I was recently told about a woman who eventually left her physically-abusive husband, but he was able to turn the woman’s own sister against her! Fortunately, that was straightened out later.
What is frequently discussed is self-esteem. I’ve heard and read Christians who condemn self-esteem, but I reckon they’re on the prod about sinful pride. There is a reasonable amount of healthy self-esteem in people, including Christians. We don’t want people becoming damaged and feeling worthless!
Among the snap judgements that armchair psychologists make is to call someone a narcissist. A person may appear that way if they spend a bit too much time focusing on their appearance, for instance, or make their personal gratification a priority. Traits here and there do not necessarily make someone a narcissist.
Narcissists can be oh so charming, but will not build you up. They tend to tear you down, and even try to leverage your accomplishments for their benefit. Unfortunately, they seek out certain kinds of people to be their victims. Narcissists are not likely to be planning. Rather, it is a skill that comes naturally.
Sometimes intelligent people can be seen as narcissistic, but that may not be the case. I cannot find a script, but I’ll do this from memory: In an episode of Barney Miller, the genius Arthur Dietrich was making a rather heady remark. Nick Yemana, who had no idea of what Arthur was saying, replied, “I don’t think that’s necessarily true!” Instead of belittling Yemana, Dietrich said, “But it’s possible.” Yemana agreed thoughtfully, “It’s possible.” Great scene! Arthur was very intelligent, but didn’t lord it over others.
Check online and you’ll find many sites and articles dealing with narcissists in your life. People diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are comparatively rare, but that can be skewed because they may think there’s nothing wrong with them, so why seek treatment?
Consider this: People with inflated pride are more difficult to reach with the gospel of Jesus Christ because they see no reason to repent, and humbling themselves is unthinkable.
Whether someone has been diagnosed with NPD or not, if narcissistic traits are observed, the recipient of their manipulations should be on guard. There are various defensive methods to counteract it. Again, being aware of what’s going on is extremely helpful in and of itself. There are videos (a few are linked below) and articles available online. Unfortunately, spouses, children, and other family members may not admit that the other person has a problem.
These emotional abuses can also become physical. Yes, while it may seem like a harmless aberration, a narcissist can be physically as well as mentally dangerous.
This word has an interesting history. It came from a 1938 stage play, Gas Light, then the Gaslight movie in 1940 (at the moment, available for free on YouTube). The 1944 movie featuring Charles Boyer, Igrid Bergman, and Joseph Cotton is the version most people know. The evil husband wanted his wife’s riches, and when he searched in the attic, he turned on the gas light up there and it dimmed elsewhere in the house. He was trying to drive her insane, and one of his tricks was to tell her that no, the light never dimmed. It’s a tense psychological drama and I recommend it (having only seen the 1944 version). Also, it’s distressing to see what he put her through, even to doubt her own sanity.
There are key traits and phrases that gaslighters have, but a couple here and there do not mean someone is a narcissist or gaslighting. You savvy that, pilgrim?
Unlike the story, to gaslight someone does not have an end goal in sight, but is a wicked method of manipulation. It is ongoing. Narcissists seek gratification, and gaslighting is one method. The gaslighter tells the victim what to think, they have no right to their feelings, plays the victim, and may even claim that they know you better than you know yourself.
Take note that the gaslighter will use other people against his or her targets. Victims are often belittled in front of their friends and family, and the accumulation can lead to the recipient having self-doubt, even to the point of questioning their perception of reality.
One note here is that gaslighting is a tactic of narcissists, but there are other toxic people that use it.
Atheism and Mental Illness
Yeah, I know, them’s fightin’ words. Well, deal with it because I’m going to lay out my controversial speculations.
There are several ways in which atheists display mental illnesses. I have used the word atheopath, coined by Dr. Jonathan Sarfati, to describe the irrational behavior exhibited by professing atheists. (I say professing because they know God exists, Romans 1:18-23.) In addition, there is a strong correlation between atheism and autism.
Atheists exhibit many of the characteristics of narcissists and sociopaths. (See “It All Adds Up: Many Atheists are Nuts,” where I discuss an article on narcissistic sociopaths.) You will frequently see, especially on social(ist) media, that atheists pretend to be smarter than “theists.” They also dehumanize Christians and creationists, which makes it easier to negate our views; some cannot say anything good about, or in agreement with, a Christian!
At other times, atheopaths will act like we’re all amigos on a first-name basis. I’ve been called by my first name, the atheist pretends to be patient and friendly — and told what I think and believe! (Take a look at “Further Adventures in Atheo-Fascism” for a more detailed analysis on how they dodge things they don’t like.) Internet atheists can be the most vile and underhanded.
Gaslighting is obviously most effective in personal relationships, but some attempt to do this online. Atheists ridicule, mock, demonize, and recruit others to join in. This can be used to destroy the Christian’s confidence, and even cause him or her to doubt their memory and thinking — perhaps even to doubt their faith.
- When pointing out on Fakebook that an atheopath used a logical fallacy, the response is a laughing emoji.
- Catch them in a lie, same response.
- Correct a misotheist about their own evolutionary mythology, same response.
- Keep one on topic, same response.
- Require one to keep to the standards they demand of us and back up their claims…you guessed it.
Do these things sound like characteristics of healthy minds? That’ll be the day! Atheists are exceptionally negative people, and what is deep inside comes out when being keyboard warriors in their safe spaces. Narcissists and sociopaths get furious — furious, I tell you! — when their manipulations fail. If you want to torment online misotheist troll, deny them the attention they crave.
Early on at this WordPress thing (it will never be the home of The Question Evolution Project), I was trolled by a site run by atheopaths. Personal attacks, ridicule, avoiding the content, the usual nonsense. When I blocked that site from commenting here, everything ceased. If they talk about the content here, I’m not aware of it.
I’ll allow it’s mighty difficult to refrain from getting wrapped up into equivalent retaliation, but Christians are not called to slap leather with every internet tinhorn, no matter how wicked and manipulative.
The Spiritual Aspect
When encountering knowledgeable Christians and creationists, Christophobes become even more obstreperous than usual. Why is that?
Non-Christians are the property of Satan. I believe atheists and occultists are closer to him than most people. We do know from Scripture that unbelievers hate Christ in us, and he told us they would hate us. But the one that is in us is greater than the one in the world (1 John 4:4). The spirit controlling them can see the Spirit that is in us.
Atheists are angry, and their fundamentally-flawed worldview is bleak and hopeless. The universe began by chance, life originated by chance from minerals (your mother was a rock and your father was rain), evolution happened through time, chance, random processes, mutations, natural selection — and when you die, you’re worm food. No Judgement, no rewards, no punishment. Yes, very bleak.
Why waste their time tormenting Christians and creationists? I doesn’t make sense to spend so much time seeking their identities and railing against the God they pretend doesn’t exist. But their father Satan requires it. Atheopaths are full of pride as well as wickedness, and it is extremely difficult to get narcissists to realize that they are sinners in need of humility and repentance. We need to pray, share the gospel, be firm but avoid being contentious. Their conversion is not up to us and our golden words (1 Cor. 2:1-2), that is the work of the Holy Spirit. We are to be faithful. And we know what — and who — is real.
Video Links of Interest
These come from secular perspectives, and most have something to sell. A couple are from people who claim to be actual licensed therapists, some are from people who have lived through their experiences. I embedded one below. They provide interesting and probably useful information, but I cannot endorse everything they say.