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Church fights are more than just money down the drain.
Here's the article creating all the commotion.

Paranoia, Cognitive Dissonance, and Narcissistic Churches

Narcissist pastors tend to be paranoid, believing that unnamed “others” and staff are plotting against them out of jealousy. If the church has isolated itself and believes it is unique and superior to surrounding churches, it too may become paranoid. One of the results of paranoia is the general and even pointed rejection of complaints and criticism while the paranoia grows wider and deeper.

Organizational paranoia can lead to the organization losing touch with reality and becomes more and more deeply enmeshed in its own self-deceiving truth-story to the point where all other truth-stories and inconvenient facts are summarily rejected. In normal organizations, knowledge is acquired and understanding and application sought through thought, word, and experience. Rational distortion in narcissistic organizations warps meaning and the understanding of intentions, leading to incorrect, but thoroughly accepted, conclusions.

Information that contradicts what we believe creates tension in our minds between what we believe to be true and authoritative information that contradicts that belief. This confusing tension  is called “cognitive dissonance.” It rests on the premise that people desire to view themselves as rational and uniform in both thought and action; therefore, they consciously choose how they respond to information or behaviors that challenge their way of thinking. One respected researcher proposed three ways humans do this: minimize the importance of the dissonant thought, outweigh the dissonant thought with consonant thoughts, or incorporate the dissonant thought into one’s current belief system. 

An uneasy tension spreads through the narcissistic church when what is expected and what actually happens are different. When there is cognitive dissonance between what the organization believes and what is observed outside the organization, the organization as a whole may tend towards such psychotic traits as “compulsion, anxiety, depression, attention seeking, fantasies, irrational fears, paranoia, shyness or narcissistic behavior.” 

Paranoia is always focused on the present with fantasies of imminent attack or sabotage. The result is that the church withdraws further and further while becoming more and more cult-like.

Let's compare how individuals and groups of individuals (churches) relate to perceived outside threats:

  • Individuals deny the reality of demands and resource constraints, facts about themselves, and features of past occurrences.   Organizations deny facts about themselves through spokespersons, propaganda campaigns, annual reports, and myths.
  • Individuals rationalize decisions and actions to mitigate negative outcomes. Organizations provide rationalizations that structure thought, after-the-fact justify their actions, inaction, and responsibility.
  • Individuals engage in fantasies of omnipotence, exhibit grandiosity and exhibitionism, create cultures in their own image, narrate stories that flatter themselves, make nonsensical acquisitions, engage in ego-boosting rituals, and write self-aggrandizing autobiographies. Organizations endow themselves with rightness, make claims to uniqueness, commission corporate histories, and deploy their office layouts and architecture as expressions of status, prestige, and vanity.
  • Individuals blame external authority for their plight, and narrate stories that contain self-enhancing explanations. Organizations use annual reports to blame unfavorable results on external factors and attribute positive outcomes to themselves.
  • Individuals are exploitative, lack empathy, engage is social relationships that lack depth, and favor their interests over shareholders. Organizations are structured according to principles of entitlement. Organizations assume entitlement to continued existence.
  • Individuals suffer internally, experience deprivation and emptiness, are paralyzed by personal anxiety and tension, and struggle to maintain a sense of self-worth. Organizations suffer from social instability due to a breakdown of standards and values and alienation, requiring shared culture, moral order, a common sense of purpose, leadership attempts to secure commitment.

And things fall apart…


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