Trigger Warning: Religion and Religious Structures

Trigger Warning: This may be a difficult thread for those who’ve experienced or are in current forms of religious institution abuse.

I’ve been considering the ways narcissism works its way out through religion and religious structures and institutions, including congregations, non-profits, school structures, and the like. What is narcissism? Consider this explanation from Chuck Degroat who wrote the book When Narcissism Comes to Church:

There is the common psychological definition which includes grandiosity, a lack of empathy, and impairments of intimacy and identity, among others. That’s a fair place to start. But I’d also say that narcissism comes in a number of different guises, which sometimes look less grandiose but no are less sinister. Power can be abused in obvious and subtle ways, and narcissists are adept at manipulating, exploiting, and empowering themselves, all to protect a fragile sense of their own self-identity.” (Interview source.)

I want to hear your stories. Would you be willing to share (1) a paragraph or two of the ways you’ve seen manipulation, exploitation, or self-empowerment work out in religious institutions, (2) whether there was a specific language set that accompanied those forms of manipulation, and (3) how/if you found your way out of that institution?