While I love delving into a variety of psychology topics, I seem to have developed an acute interest in researching, understanding, and explaining Narcissistic behavior. Perhaps it is because I grew up with an abusive, alcoholic “N” father and was left with a lifetime of questions I’ve been working to answer. I also seem to meet a lot of narcissists and even date them (Freud. Is that you?). As time has gone on I’ve gotten far better at recognizing the red flags and have healed so I walk away a lot faster and minimize the damage done to myself.
Recently I was reading an FAQ on Sam Vankin’s website, who is a narcissist himself and writes extensively on what it is like from a 1st person perspective. For whatever reason, his description about the two different “geneotypes” of narcissism; somatic and cerebral struck a different cord for me.
It made me think about religion and its long standing relationship to misogyny and narcissism.
First and foremost, narcissistic men hate women. So do most religions. It is hatred of an irrational and passionate kind. Narcissistic men despise women who are independently minded—those they cannot fool and know instantly who they really are. So they hate women in general and independent women especially. Keep in mind, that they are aware enough to realize that this is not appropriate, so they have learned to repress it. But it is always lurking beneath ready to burst out with the right irresistible trigger. In religion the hatred is couched as acceptable simply by saying it is “tradition”.
The second thing that it important to know is the definition of the two genotypes and that if you stick around long enough you’ll witnesss both. One is default or dominant, but both will show depending on circumstances:
Cerebral narcissists – basically trying to impress you with their brains, intellectual accomplishments, “the know-it-alls” define this dominant type.
Somatic narcissists – these are the ones that are into their bodies, sex as conquest, the philanderers. They treat women as objects to get off. If you ever felt like you were having sex with a man that felt like he was basically using your body to masturbate, you may have been with this dominant type.
In an excerpt regarding Narcissists, Sex and Fidelity, Sam Vankin, a dominantly cerebral narcissist writes, “The somatic narcissist uses sex to “conquer” and “secure” new sources of narcissistic supply. Consequently, the somatic rarely gets emotionally-involved with his “targets”. His is a mechanical act, devoid of intimacy and commitment. The cerebral narcissist feels that sex is demeaning and degrading. Acting on one’s sex drive is a primitive, basic, and common impulse. The cerebral narcissist convinces himself that he is above all that, endowed as he is with superior intelligence and superhuman self-control.”
This made me think about about religion. Let’s take a look at what St. Paul has to say in 1 Timothy 2:12: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she must be silent.”
Then I remember that at the core narcissists hate women. Finally, I went back once more and thought about why religion remains a pervasive part of our society even though we supposedly have equality. How could parents bring their children to a mass that condones this kind of sexism? I thought about the horrors women still face and the very real danger they are often in.
There is a clear endorsement of female subservience in Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit to you husbands as to the Lord”; and similar advice for slaves in 1 Peter 2:18: “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.” One truly cannot discern a difference between being a woman or a slave.
Another blood-curdling tale from the Book of Judges, where an Israelite man is trapped in a house by a hostile crowd, and sends out his concubine to placate them:
“So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight. When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, ‘Get up; let’s go.’ But there was no answer. Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.” (Judges 19:25-28)
Fundamentally at the core of religion is the degradation of women. The fact that both genders still participate is an act of consent to the precepts both written and preached.
As I consider narcissism and the misogyny that exists at its core, I cannot help but be convinced by the overwhelming evidence that the very founders of most world religions were themselves narcissists. I imagine two types of narcissist priests – the somatic who has urges he tries to repress (they are the ones we eventually hear stories about) and the cerebral narcissists who find sex disgusting anyway so it is not that hard to abstain. These are the ones making the sexist, degrading laws. All because they have a dysfunctional relationship to their bodies, women and sexuality.
The more traditional the country, the more easily it is bound by religion. The worse it is for women. But even here in the USA where we are in the land of the free and we supposedly have equality, day after day women continue to support religion as a front for their own degradation simply because they show up and self-identify! And puuuhlease, even though I hear this all the time, NO! You cannot pick and choose the parts of religion that you’ll support or not support either. Every time you show up and keep quiet, every time you donate your time or your money, you condone it all – part and parcel.
Do you know that there are 3 rules to keep a dysfunctional family intact: Don’t Talk, Don’t Trust and Don’t Feel. As long as you feel that you are being treated badly and don’t say anything, you are complicit. You are enabling the behavior to continue. And when it comes to religion, if you are woman supporting a religion in any way that categorically degrades women into a lesser position, then you are saying “it is ok” to treat me like less, my daughter like less. It is ok to expect less. It is ok to be dominated and silent. And as a man you are also agreeing to treat your wife, daughter, sister in this unequal manner and to teach them that this is what it is to be a man.
If we had any kind of real equality, religion either wouldn’t exist or it wouldn’t put the genders in a one-up, one-down position. But in the competitive society in which we live, we can’t even imagine a world where both people are equal. There has to be a dominant and submissive model in play. Do you realize that research shows that only 1 in 4 relationships have women in the one-up or dominant position? That mean 75% of our “romantic” relationships have men dominating women and women in the “one-down or devalued position”. And of course the culture punishes the men by calling them “wimps” and the women “bitches” in hopes that it will get them back in line.
Do you see that all of this perpetuates the idea that narcissism and misogyny is ok? Do you see that religion sticks around because our society keeps generationally reinforcing that this model works even when it doesn’t. The social pressure to conform feels like too much. So we stay quiet in public and dissent in private.
Don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel. It masks reality. It gives way to learned helplessness, drama, and victimhood. Instead of empowering yourself, you become “the one who survived” each life event and think that measures your success.
Woman or Man – If you want to change how you’re being treated… If you want to leave the Narcissist in your life/dysfunctional relationship… If you want to live in a healthy society and have healthy relationships between and among genders….
… Then do 3 things: TALK, TRUST, FEEL.
– with love from aneternaltraveler 😉