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Narcissistic disturbance in the church: A self psychology approach to consultation

13 December 1991


Pastors for years have reported being "burned out" at their jobs and/or "burned up" at their congregations. Parishioners have left churches angry and disappointed, blaming their pastors for not being all they needed them to be. The purpose of the present dissertation is to provide another framework for understanding conflict in churches, and to propose a consultation approach that may provide a service to churches and to those who would consult with I churches. Self psychology theory is utilized to define church conflict as narcissistic disturbance in self/self-object relations. A two-stage model and four-step process of church consultation is suggested to alleviate conflict and promote self development in pastor and parish. An overview of self psychology theory is offered, and the literature on pastor-parish conflict and consultation models is reviewed. The paper concludes with a discussion of the application of the proposed model to professional psychology.


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