The Science of Spiritual Narcissism

The Science of Spiritual Narcissism

Perhaps on the whole, spiritual practices really do help quiet the ego, and spiritual narcissism isn’t that widespread. SELF-CENTRALITY AND SPIRITUALITYIn the past few years, a number of high-quality studies have started to unearth the existence of spiritual narcissism and self-enhancement among spiritual practices that purport to quiet the ego. SPIRITUAL SUPERIORITY AND SPIRITUAL PRACTICESIn a more recent set of studies, Roos Vonk and Anouk Visser conducted an exploration of “spiritual superiority.” They interviewed several psychologists, spiritual trainers and lay people, and asked them to describe people who use spirituality as a self-enhancement tool. Interestingly, their scale of spiritual superiority was more strongly correlated with communal narcissism than self-esteem, providing evidence for the notion of “spiritual narcissism.” Indeed, it’s important to distinguish between healthy self-esteem and narcissism. Increases in healthy self-esteem as a result of spiritual practices may be a good thing, and are not necessarily indicative of spiritual narcissism, which is why it’s good that the researchers were able to tie their measure of spiritual superiority to a specific form of narcissism: communal narcissism.

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