I am currently continuing my reading on the writings of former Professor of Pastoral Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary Donald Capps. I hope to write a more detailed review of the book ‘The Depleted Self – sin in a narcissistic age’, but want to write something here that struck me about his one of his comments on psychotherapeutic literature relating to narcissism.
Firstly, narcissism is far more than mere obsessional “self-love”, following Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection, leading to his own suicide. Capps very helpfully takes the reader through a maze of discovery drawing on contemporary theories, and critiques the Church for failing to distinguish between the old cultural value of guilt and the contemporary ones of shame, a cause itself of anxiety. Theologians and Churches have rather denounced “narcissistic behaviour” and being locked into a “guilt” framework have thus focused on moralistic remedies that address superficial behaviours, and not underlying ontological causes and conditions.