Help! I need to know about Narcissism

John SteleySKU: Help36 ISBN: 9781846256332



The word ‘narcissism’ may create images of people taking ‘selfies’, maintaining an attractive image on social media or something similar.  True narcissism however is something far more serious.  It destroys communities, churches, marriages, families and individuals.  It is not just a case of people showing-off.  True narcissism is destructive and needs to be understood.  In this booklet John Steley explores the effects of narcissism on the family and the church.  He also discusses how to recognise narcissism and provides a Christian response.


John Steley has worked as a psychologist in NHS and forensic settings.  He also spent ten years working with church, Christian mission and overseas aid staff.  He now has a private practice in London.

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Customer Reviews

Based on 3 reviews
Professor Leslie Francis

Narcissism is a recognised psychological pathology, a pathology subject to clinical diagnosis and a pathology that can carry unfortunate consequences both for the afflicted individual and for those to whom that individual relates, in the sense of family, friends, colleagues and clients. Like other clinical psychopathologies, narcissism is also prevalent in a subclinical form. Subclinical narcissism may thrive within a number of institutional contexts and may thrive particularly well within Christian communities and churches. Christian theologies may be particularly adept at providing cloaks within which subclinical narcissism may thrive. Doctrines of divine calling both empower narcissists to exert their power and to discourage others from challenging such power. Several recent studies have drawn attention to the ‘plague of narcissistic pastors’. In this brief and skilfully crafted booklet, John Steley wants to help lay Christians recognise the characteristic behaviour of ‘narcissism in the pulpit’. He writes as someone who ‘has worked as a psychologist in NHS and forensic settings’ and as someone who has worked in ‘church and Christian mission’ settings. He writes from professional expertise and from personal experience.

Professor Leslie Francis
Help! I need to know about narcissism PART 2

John Steley is aware, however, that narcissism may be visible not only in the pulpit but also in the pew. The same theological assumptions that empower and cloak the narcissistic pastor may also empower and cloak the narcissistic church member. Consequently, John Steley also
wants to help pastors and clergy recognise the characteristic behaviour of ‘narcissism in the pew’. Recognising, facing and managing the destructive consequences of narcissism hiding within the church of necessity raises large theological questions. John Steley’s professional expertise and personal experience does not allow him to shy away from these large theological questions. He asks the question, ‘Can narcissism be cured?’ and accepts the consensus of clinical judgement that ‘the lack of self-awareness and tendency to blame others can make any form of therapy extremely difficult’. Such an answer does not deny the reach of divine grace but accepts human responsibility for responding to such grace. He asks the question, ‘Why does God not deal with narcissistic people here and now?’ and draws on the Matthean parable of the landowner allowing weeds and wheat to grow together. Such an answer does not deny divine omnipotency but recognises divine self-limitation on such omnipotency. The proper recognition of clinical and subclinical pathologies may be essential for the cultivation of healthy churches and life-giving Christian communities.

Maurice Titmarsh
Help! I Need To Know About Narcissism

I have just read John Steley's book, in your 'Help!' series, on narcissism and found it extremely helpful. It's an eye-opener and makes a lot of past experiences with individuals throughout three decades or so of pastoral ministry make sense. Narcissism is not an easy thing to recognise for unqualified people, not even pastors. I trust this little booklet will be of help to other pastors and church leaders.
A clear presentation of a difficult problem. Much appreciated.

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