The Old Testament God Now has a Diagnosis: Narcissistic Personality Disorder

I just received my copy of Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Psychiatry, 2nd ed. to add to my library for general reading.

While randomly reading different chapters in Section II. Psychiatric Disorders in Adults, I happened across a very interesting diagnosis in Chapter 30. Personality Disorder and quickly realized I had come upon a list of symptoms which describes Yahweh, the God of the Israelites (also the God / father of Jesus and Christianity) under the diagnostic heading of Narcissistic Personality Disorder on page 528. The section opens with Essentials of Diagnosis
DSM-IV-TR Criteria

A. A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

(1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

(2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

(3) believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

(4) requires excessive admiration

(5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

(6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage or others to achieve his or her own ends

(7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs or others

(8) is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes


(The last paragraphs sums this section up well (pp 529 – 530)):
Cognitive interventions can be directed as the cognitive distortions of self and others that are typical in these patients. Such distortions often involve a magnification of the differences between the patient and other people whereby the difference favors the patient, and others are viewed with contempt. Conversely, if the difference favors another, the patient feels worthless and humiliated. This situation can be addressed by modifying the patient’s standards and goals to an internal frame of reference, rather than a comparison with others.


Little is known about the long-term prognosis of patients with narcissistic personality disorder. In the absence of treatment, and possibly with treatment, the features of the disorder are unlikely to diminish. Indeed, they tend to worsen during middle age and become more strongly associated with depression and despair. (I would reference the Book of Revelation here.)

The features of the disorder tend to self-perpetuate, with the patient’s devaluation of others eventually driving away those who might have provided the expected admiration. The significant depression resulting from such rejections is typically resolved by an increase in defensive self-aggrandizement that repeats the cycle. (This is indeed what can expected of the Judeo-Christian God!)


As an atheist, I would link Narcissistic Personality Disorder directly to the authors and redactors (the select groups of scribes) of the J,E,D,P sources of the Pentateuch Tradition as they projected their anthropological views on to אלהי, אל, יהוה (God).

Finally, Marcion of Sinope (and even the Gnostics) realized that the God of the Old Testament had a huge psychiatric disorder! In Marcion’s case, this Hebrew god needed to be completely edited out of any Bible used by the Church.