“For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy….” 2 Timothy 3:2
Popular psychology has for years declared that troubled young people, especially those who become violent, suffer from low self esteem. But three studies released in the summer of 1999 conclude the opposite: young people who become violent have too much self esteem.
One of the studies, published by the American Psychological Association, observed 540 undergraduate students. After answering standard questions designed to measure self esteem and narcissism, the students were put into different situations. They were given the opportunity to act aggressively against someone who had praised them, insulted them or did nothing to them. Researchers found that the most narcissistic students were the most likely to react violently. They also found that narcissists were especially aggressive against anyone who had offended them.
Another study found narcissism is prevalent among prisoners convicted of rape, murder, assault, armed robbery and similar crimes. When their self esteem was measured against the general population, it was found to be above average. The researchers involved in this study pointed out that the primary focus of prison rehabilitation is on building self esteem. This, they concluded, is definitely the wrong approach, since such people already have an inflated view of themselves.
The Bible warns against narcissism. Many of the problems in our society today are undoubtedly the result of this condition.