Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Phenomenology of Charisma Part 3 of 3

Oakes devotes a whole chapter to the idea of the ‘charismatic moment’. This is described as an instant, or relatively brief interval of time, in which a person is willing to open up one’s heart, to lay bare one’s soul, to trust without reservation, to become totally vulnerable to another and surrender.

The charismatic moment is to experience an exhilarating, intoxicating, powerful, intense, electric blurring of boundaries between oneself and the ‘prophet/teacher/guide’ and/or the group which is led by such an individual. These moments are said to give expression to a primal, life impulse (which Weber refers to as ‘pure charisma’) that may be charged with sexual energy and are often steeped in a shroud of mystery, secrecy, tension, the unpredictable, a leap into the unknown, and an exhilarating, edgy sort of riskiness -- all of which may intensify one’s willingness to throw caution to the wind, abandon normal conventions, and become open to the moment.

According to Oakes’ the ‘charismatic prophet’ is someone who is accomplished in inducing such moments through, among other means, establishing rituals conducive to the generation of charismatic moments. Oakes believes that such rituals are one of the most creative accomplishments of a ‘charismatic prophet’.

However, Oakes also indicates (page 148) there often is a dimension of the whole process which is beyond the capacity of the ‘prophet/teacher/guide’, the group, or a follower, to control. More specifically, no one knows, for sure, whether, on any given occasion, the ‘spirit’ (or whatever it is that is transpiring at a given instant) will flow and the gathering will be anointed with the presence of a charismatic moment.

Apparently, charismatic moments do not necessarily flow through the teacher to the other participants. ‘Prophets/leaders/teachers’ cannot always produce these moments on demand. Consequently, while ‘prophets/teachers/guides’ may, or may not be, necessary conditions for the advent of a ‘charismatic moment’, they are not always sufficient conditions for such phenomena.

When reading Oakes one often is puzzled because he sometimes alternates among a variety of expressions which are not necessarily reducible to a single phenomenon. Sometimes he talks about charismatic prophets -- and, indeed, the title of his book is Prophetic Charisma -- as if they are the source of, or channel for, charisma. However, sometimes he talks about how charisma is a product of the way followers project their ultimate concerns onto a given ‘prophet/leader/guide’, and on still other occasions he talks about how charismatic prophets are very adept in creating rituals which can lead to the experience of charismatic moments and, yet, whether, or not, the spirit moves on such occasion seems to depend on something beyond what the ‘prophet/teacher/leader’ brings to the table in the way of creative rituals.

Oakes states that people who are narcissistic personalities are often perceived as individuals who project an image of unshakeable confidence and strength concerning their purpose, role, and mission in life. Oakes also describes such individuals as being perceived as courageous, even fearless, with respect to those who oppose her or him. Moreover, the capacity of many narcissists to exhibit an uncanny sensitivity to social and individual psychological dynamics lends them an aura of someone with supernatural powers. Finally, because narcissists have an inflated sense of their own self-importance, they also tend to be perceived as being positive and upbeat about life.

A narcissidividual may appear strong and self-confident because she or he cannot admit the possibility that he or she may not be whom she or he takes himself or herself to be. Such an admission is an anathema to the narcissist.

A narcissistic personality may appear courageous and fearless because, in a very real sense, their psychic survival depends on being able to oppose anything which would cast doubts upon, or bring into question, or cast aspersions and ridicule upon the narcissist’s beliefs about who she or he is and what role they play in the scheme of things. When opponents seek to put them in a corner, they often respond with the ferocity of someone fighting for survival -- a courage and fearlessness which can be camouflaged to appear as being in defense of truth and justice when it is really self-serving.

Oakes describes the charismatic prophet as someone who utilizes some of the strengths of his or her narcissistic condition to attract, influence, and manipulate seekers and followers. When people encounter someone who seems to be strong, self-confident, purposeful, committed, positive, courageous, fearless, and insightful, they may be induced to consider such individuals to be extraordinary personalities and quite different from most other individuals, and, depending on how adept the narcissist is in camouflaging the true significance and meaning of such qualities (that is, as expressions of a pathological strategy for coping in life rather than any form of spiritual accomplishment or realization), a narcissistic personality may, on the surface, seem like someone who possesses the ‘pure charisma’ which is believed to mark the ‘anointed ones’ of destiny or Divinity.

Oakes points out how the career choices of many people who go on to assume the role of a ‘prophet/leader/guide’ often have a connection to activities in which communication tends to play a central role. For example, on page 88, Oakes lists such careers as: entertainers, sales people, teachers, clergy, and counselors (especially in conjunction with alternative heath) as having prominence in the backgrounds of many of the people in his research.

People who have the gift of gab, people who are adept in the arts of social influence, people who have experience with using language skills to shape the ideas, opinions, values, and desires of other people -- all of these individuals are specialists in framing reality to serve their purposes … which need not mean that all such individuals are pursuing malevolent or exploitive purposes, but, under the right circumstances, this could be the case. Narcissists who enjoy strong skills of communication, persuasion, influence and the framing of reality tend to use such skills in manipulative, controlling, and destructive ways, but if a narcissist can succeed in inducing people to believe that something other than what is actually going on is going on, then, this can be an extremely powerful means of altering one’s sense of reality, identity, purpose, truth, meaning, right, and wrong.

Finally, if one adds to the foregoing set of qualities an element of what is referred to as love, the package can assume quite a powerful presence in the perception of a seeker. Only much later, if at all, will a seeker discover that such ‘love’ is really nothing more than a manipulative device devoid of all empathy and compassion for another and solely geared toward priming the pump of narcissistic supply which is the life blood of a narcissistic personality and which is sucked from other human beings like a vampire with an inexhaustible hunger for that which they do not have and which can only be provided by warm bodies and souls.

In the beginning, however, all of this is hidden from view. First, superficial impressions may dominate the perception of a seeker -- to the benefit of the narcissist and to the detriment of the seeker.

Presumably, it is the foregoing package of perceived qualities which helps a narcissistic personality to appear, to some, as a charismatic figure and, thereby, enable a ‘prophet/leader/guide’ to arrange for ‘charismatic moments’ which induce vulnerability, trust, surrender, and even a sense of complete abandon in some seekers/followers. The creation of such moments is part of the repertoire of tricks and stratagems the narcissist has picked up over the years to help manage his or her world in a way that permits a continuation in the flow of narcissistic supply to come her or his way as followers, caught up in the rapture, ecstasy, power, and release of such moments, shower the ‘prophet/leader/teacher’ with adulation, reverence, gratitude, and love.

The seeker/follower interprets such moments as a validation of the idea that truth and spiritual transcendence are being channeled through the ‘prophet/leader/teacher’. The ‘prophet/teacher/guide’ interprets such moments as a validation that he or she is who she or he believes himself/herself to be in the cosmic scheme of things and, therefore, that she or he has a right to the adulation and love which is being showered upon him/her.

Notwithstanding the foregoing considerations, one might still ask the question: What is the source of the charisma of a charismatic moment? Alternatively, what makes such moments charismatic?

If one defines charisma as the perceived embodiment of one’s ultimate concerns, then, seemingly, the charisma of a ‘charismatic moment’ would appear to be connected with the character of the experience which arises during that period of time. However, just because an experience is intense, powerful, inexplicable, mysterious, ineffable, emotionally moving, and ecstatic, does this necessarily make the experience a manifestation of the embodiment of one’s ultimate concerns?

LSD, nitrous oxide, Ecstasy, alcohol, sensory deprivation, marijuana, giving birth, falling in love, and holotrophic breathing can all lead to experiences which bear many of the characteristics of so-called ‘charismatic moments’. Many of the aforementioned qualities can be experienced when one looks up into the sky on a clear night sky away from the city lights, or when one sees a range of mountains, or watches ocean waves come crashing into shore, or witnesses the power of nature in the form of a tornado, hurricane, lightening, volcanic eruption, or earthquake. The right musical, artistic, cinematic, literary settings or performances (artistic, athletic, political, and so on) have the capacity to induce many of these same kinds of experiential qualities.

Charismatic moments can be manufactured or naturally occurring. These kinds of experience may, or may not, be about ultimate concerns, but, nonetheless, they have the capacity to move us in fundamental ways – often in ways about which we may become uncertain or confused as to exactly why we may feel moved or affected in the way we are.

On several occasions, Oakes refers to the work of Charles Lindholm in relation to the phenomenon of charisma. According to Lindholm, the primary, but hidden, purpose of a charismatic group is not necessarily to help people to discover their essential spiritual identity or to realize ultimate spiritual concerns but, rather, to experience itself again and again as a certain kind of collective. Charismatic moments give expression to these kinds of experience.

In many ways, if the goal of a collection of people is to experience itself not just as a group but as a group which journeys through, or is opened up to, or is, to varying degrees, seeking to be immersed in intense, powerful, moving, primal, mysterious, emotional, joyous, ecstatic experiences, then, the phenomenon of charisma -- whether manufactured, illusory, delusional, or real -- becomes the raison d'etre underlying the structure, dynamics, and activities of the people in this sort of group. As such, certain kinds of experience become ends in themselves, rather than a possible means for struggling toward a spiritual understanding, knowledge, and insight concerning truths and realities which may transcend those experiences.

In such a context, ‘charismatic prophets’ are those individuals who serve as facilitators for arranging, manufacturing, and moving people in the direction of experiencing (or believing they are experiencing) charismatic moments. If this sort of facilitator is a narcissistic personality, then, the idea of a charismatic moment becomes the bait which is used to lure people to help the ‘prophet/leader/teacher’ catch what is necessary for his or her own charismatic moments … namely, to feed off the souls of the people who wander into the vampire’s lair. If the aforementioned facilitator is not a narcissistic personality, then, one has to carefully study the dynamics and structure of the group with which such a facilitator is affiliated in order to determine whether the group has any constructive, spiritual purpose other than as a venue for generating certain kinds of experiences.

People who troll the waters of life seeking charismatic moments need to understand that there are other beings who are also trolling the waters of life, and these latter beings are trolling such waters in search of people who are trolling the waters seeking charismatic moments. If one is only seeking certain kinds of experiences -- described as charismatic, trans-personal, mystical, or altered states of consciousness -- and if one is not interested in gaining knowledge, understanding, and insight in order to become better people with respect to developing and bringing into harmonious balance such character qualities as: patience, kindness, compassion, honesty, tolerance, love, forgiveness, fairness, generosity, integrity, nobility, peacefulness, altruism, modesty, and moral courage, then, one is a very good candidate for winding up on a milk carton as a soul who has become lost or missing somewhere along the way.

Elsewhere in this book (e.g., see the chapter entitled: ‘A Fate Worse Than Death), considerable time was spent describing some of the phenomenological boundary dynamics entailed by spiritual abuse and why disengaging from spiritual abuse, even when one may be aware that spiritual abuse is going on, can be very difficult to do. In addition, something also has been said within this book about how powerfully addictive certain kinds of operant conditioning learning schedules are which exhibit what are referred to as intermittent, variable-interval reinforcement properties.

Charismatic moments naturally lend themselves to becoming part of an intermittent, variable-interval reinforcement learning schedule in which the learned behaviors connected to seeking additional exposures to such moments can be very hard to extinguish once this sort of seeking behavior is set in motion. Once a person has had the experience of some sort of charismatic moment, this moment can be the point out of which emotional and psychological addiction arises.

In a sense, a narcissistic personality who is playing the role of a ‘charismatic prophet’ is pushing the charismatic moment like someone would push cocaine, heroin, or Ecstasy. The narcissistic personality is someone who, himself or herself, is addicted to a different drug -- namely, the narcissistic supply of adulation and surrender coming from others -- and uses this addiction to justify her or his efforts to make charismatic junkies of other human beings in order to preserve his or her own access to a constant source of narcissistic supply.

Irrespective of what one may believe about the existence of God or transcendent, spiritual truths, or the realization of essential identity and potential, a spiritual narcissist knows there are millions of people who believe in such things, each in their own way. This is the belief, this is the holy longing, to which a narcissistic, charismatic ‘prophet/leader/guide’ seeks to appeal and, subsequently, exploit or manipulate in the service of his or her pathology.

There is one other entry point to the issue of charisma which Oakes explores in an attempt to provide understanding with respect to the phenomenon of charisma. This additional avenue involves the work of Max Weber.

Although Oakes introduces his readers to the ideas of Weber fairly early in his book on Prophetic Charisma, I have left these ideas for the last part of the present article. I have done for a number of reasons but, perhaps, the primary one being that what Weber has to say dovetails with the way in which I wish to finish the discussion.

Oakes notes that Weber is the individual who is responsible for many of our modern ideas about the phenomenon of charisma. Weber describes charisma as a particular dimension of the personality of certain, special people which engenders in others a sense of feeling that the latter are in the presence of someone who is extraordinary, or someone who possesses supernatural capabilities, or someone who has some sort of close proximity and elevated status in relation to Divinity.

Weber indicates that charisma may be felt and manifested in non-religious contexts, but, nonetheless, he maintains that charisma is largely a religious or spiritual phenomenon. Furthermore, even though Weber was an advocate for seeking and providing social (rather than, say, psychological) explanations concerning the causes of a variety of individual and cultural dynamics, he also was of the opinion that ideas were capable of altering society and individuals in ways that could not be reduced down to purely social factors … this was especially the case in conjunction with religious ideas.

According to Weber, the phenomenon of charisma gives expression to a continuum of possibilities. These range from: something that Weber referred to as ‘pure charisma’, to: relatively mechanical and derivative elements of charisma.

Weber considered instances of ‘pure charisma’ to be very rare and may only have been present during the very early, originating/creative stages in the formation of a group or movement when people first began to gather around a charismatic leader/personality. For Weber, the more routine manifestations of charisma usually arose after the founding force had passed away and/or when the original charisma had become diluted as that force is dispersed among secondary leaders and communities rather than being focused in one individual or the original group of followers.

On the one hand, Weber seems to believe that charisma was an expression of a fundamental, elemental, primitive life force. Yet, at the same time, Weber also appears to indicate that the source of charisma’s capacity to influence resides as much in the power which followers cede to a leader as it does in the qualities of charisma independent of such followers.

While it may be possible for a group of people to create the illusion of charisma being present in a given person when such is not the case (e.g., the manufactured charisma of celebrity status), nevertheless, presumably, there is a certain ‘something’ present in an individual which has the capacity to attract people and become inclined to place trust in that individual or to surrender, to varying degrees, to that individual. So, without wishing to dismiss the idea of manufactured charisma, Weber would seem to have something more in mind when he talks about ‘pure charisma’ -- ‘something’ which exists prior to, and independently of, group dynamics.

Somewhere between pure charisma and routine charisma lay several possibilities which Weber refers to, respectively, as ‘magical’ and ‘prophetic’ charisma. Magical charisma is said to be characteristic of shamans who use charisma to, on the one hand, introduce people to the realm of ecstasy, while, on the other hand, helping to maintain the basic structure of simple or primitive groups, communities, or society. As such, magical charisma is largely a conservative, stabilizing force.

Prophetic charisma is described by Weber as characteristic of more complex communities or societies. Such charisma supposedly is given expression through individuals who announce the sort of mission (often religious, but it could be political in nature) which is intended to lead to social change, if not revolution.

Through a charismatic force of personality, and/or through the performance of miracles and wondrous deeds, and/or through a capacity to induce intense, passionate, and ecstatic experiences in others, a person who possesses prophetic charisma is capable of affecting other human beings in ways which run very deep emotionally, psychologically, physically, spiritually, and socially.

According to Weber, some charismatic personalities use charisma to assist others to become explorers of ecstatic mysteries. Some charismatic personalities, referred to as ‘ethical prophets’, use charisma as an ethical instrument intended to lead people in the direction of developing a life devoid of aggression, hatred, anger, fear, and violence by inducing states of euphoria, enlightenment, as well as what would now be termed ‘born again’ conversion experiences. Still other charismatic personalities seek to arouse, shape, and channel the passions of people to serve, whether for good or evil, various political, financial, and social ends.

Weber believes that the experience of intense, euphoric, passionate, ecstatic states comes about when charisma is used to put an individual in touch with his or her own inner psychological/emotional primeval, instinctual depths which enables an individual to break away from, or become released from, the inhibiting forces of convention and repression which normally hold people in place within a given society. As such, Weber maintains that charisma is a life force that is inherently antagonistic to the forces of inhibition, constraint, convention, and conservation which normally modulate the dynamics of social interaction. For Weber, the natural inclination of charisma is to seek to overthrow, transform, or cast off all external values of conventional society as it initiates individuals into that which is located beyond the horizons of traditional social structure … something so ‘other’ that it is viewed as belonging to a divine realm that transcends normal society and conventions.

Weber considered charisma to be too irrational, unpredictable, unwieldy -- and, therefore, dangerous -- to be tamed and controlled in any responsible manner. Although he believed that charisma could serve as the creative spark which ignited the fires of social progress, he also was of the opinion that limiting the influence of charisma -- at least in any ‘pure’ sense -- to the early period of originating or creating would be the prudent thing to do.

The Qur’an speaks about ‘alastu bi rabikum’ – the time when, prior to being brought into this plane of existence, God gathered the spirits together and asked them: “Am I not your Lord?” Anything which resonates with that experience has a quality of jazb about it -- a euphoric, ecstatic condition as one is drawn back toward that moment, or as one is drawn toward a state which resonates, in some way, with that original, primal time of an aware, felt, intimate, loving, direct connection with the Divine presence.

Authentic Prophets do not call us back to some biological state of the womb in which one, allegedly, felt one with the universe, nor do authentic Prophets call us back to some mythical state in which all boundaries between the mother and the self were dissolved so that the mother and the individual were felt to be as one, nor do authentic Prophets call us back to a condition of primary narcissism when, supposedly, we feel ourselves to be omnipotent, sacred, god-like creatures around which the universe rotates and in whose service the universe has come into existence, nor do authentic Prophets call us back to some instinctual, primeval, emotional depths that is seeking to release from the conventions and values of society.

Authentic Prophets call us to seek the truth concerning the purpose, meaning, possibilities, dangers, and nature of existence. Authentic Prophets call us to inquire into our essential identities and potentials. Prophets call us to honor the rights of all aspects of creation, as well as to learn how to engage life through justice, integrity, gratitude, love, sincerity, courage, compassion, sacrifice, kindness, honesty, patience, and humility. Authentic Prophets call us to discover the true nature of our relationship with all of Being and to go in search of the essential meaning of worship.

Authentic Prophets are the individuals chosen by Divinity who are provided with a charismatic authoritativeness (said by traditions to consist of 47 different parts, one of which concerns the ability to provide correct interpretation of dreams) as a Divine gift to enable such individuals to carry out their mission, as best individual capacity and God permit, to call people back on a journey of return to their spiritual origins, nature, identity, purpose, potential, and destiny. In such individuals, charisma is the felt manifestation of the presence of this Divine gift. In such individuals, charisma is a reflection of the Realities being expressed through ‘alastu bi rabikum’: “Am I not your Lord?” because no one else other than God has provided the gift of charisma which marks this point of resonance with the Divine Presence.

If one accepts the principle that there is no reality but Divinity, then, the passion play of Divine Names and Attributes forms the woof, warp, and fabric through which the tapestry of creation and every modality of manifestation is woven. Everything to which we are attracted bears, to one degree or another, the imprint of the underlying Reality.

There are many kinds of charisma. There is a form of charisma associated with every manner in which Divinity discloses something of the Divine Presence. Natural wonders the mysterious, incredible athletic performances, great musical or artistic talent, literary masterpieces, extraordinary heroic deeds, works of great intelligence or profound inventiveness and creativity … all of these attract according to the degree that they give manifestation to the charisma inherent in the Divine Presence which is peeking through the veils of Creation.

Power carries an aura of charisma because none other than God’s will permits, for Divine purposes, someone to ascend the throne of power. Even Satanic power and capabilities may have a quality of charisma to them because such powers and capabilities are exercised only by God’s leave and to serve, in a way that God understands but Satanic forces do not, Divine purposes.

The natural inclination inherent in the pure charisma which is given expression through the lives of authentic Prophets is constructive, not destructive … it is benevolent, not malevolent … it is peaceful, not aggressive and hostile … it is committed to the distribution of fairness, justice, and the honoring of the rights of all facets of Creation, rather than given to the generation of upheaval, discord, and rebellion … it is oriented toward the acquisition of essential knowledge, wisdom and understanding through which the constructive potential of life, both individually and collectively, can be released and set free, rather than being oriented toward primitive forms of physical and emotional release associated with the individual desires, whims, and wishes of the nafs or carnal soul.

If God wishes, authentic Prophetic charisma offers spiritual nourishment to both individuals and communities. God willing, people become strengthened and constructively energized through the presence of authentic Prophetic charisma.

The desire to be in the presence of authentic Prophetic charisma is part of the holy longing which seeks to feel re-connected, in an intimate way, with the Divine … to be returned to the sacredness of the occasion of ‘alastu bi rabikum’. Authentic Prophetic charisma is the catalyst provided by Divinity that is intended to help facilitate such a connection and return.

It is unfortunate that Oakes has used the term ‘prophetic charisma’ to refer primarily to pathological attempts to counterfeit authentic expressions of ‘prophetic charisma’. This has happened, I believe, because the sample which Oakes used to develop his notion of a prophet was problematic and skewed in certain, pathological directions.

The ‘package’ of qualities which is manifested through narcissistic personalities attempting to convince others (and themselves) that they possess the charisma of an authentic Prophet is but a counterfeit of the qualities which are in evidence in an authentic Prophet. This package is an illusory/delusional framework which is intended to create an impression that qualities like: confidence, purpose, strength, courage, fearlessness, meaning, identity, love, social insight, creativity, powers of communication, persuasiveness, transformation, and transcendent experiences of spiritual ecstasy are present in an authentic, sacred way when such is not the case.

Quite frequently, when people encounter spiritual abuse, this experience tends to destroy a person’s faith and capacity to trust. Once one has felt betrayed in an essential way – which is at the heart of all forms of spiritual abuse -- regaining a sincere desire to continue on one’s quest to realize one’s holy longing is very difficult to do.

A mistake which many people make who write about spiritual abuse is to approach the issue from an excessively rational, philosophical, and psychological perspective … one which seems to tend to preclude the possibility that the phenomenon of Prophetic charisma as a expression of the Presence of Divinity in our midst, -- calling us back to a journey of return to our spiritual potential and essential identities -- is not a myth, fantasy, delusion, or mere belief.
Although I believe that Oakes’ work on ‘Prophetic Charisma’ contains much that is interesting, insightful, and useful, I also feel that, ultimately, his study fails to place the phenomenon of charisma in a proper spiritual perspective. One of the reasons why narcissistic personalities can fool people -- and some narcissists are much better at this than are others -- is because individuals in the throes of narcissistic personality disorder are able to turn people’s natural vulnerabilities concerning issues of holy longing against them.

In other words, even when someone seeks the sacred out of a sincere desire for the truth and not out of the ‘extraordinary needs’ of, say, unresolved, developmental issues involving the alleged infantile stage of primary narcissism, nonetheless, such an individual doesn’t really know precisely what they are longing for. There are many kinds of experiences and circumstances which can resonate with the condition of ‘alasti bi rabikum (Am I not your Lord)? in a misleading manner.

A narcissistic personality who is trying to pass herself or himself off as a charismatic prophet/leader/teacher knows that seekers don’t know -- that is why the latter group of people are seeking answers from others about how to satisfy their sense of holy longing … because they don’t know how to do this on their own. Even with sincere people, what they don’t know constitutes a source of vulnerability through which such sincerity can be misinformed, led astray, corrupted, or entangled in a variety of ways.

Narcissistic personalities are often masters at re-framing experience to make it appear to be other than what it is. Satan is the prototypic role model for such a narcissistic personality disorder.

At one point, Oakes mentions that in The Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad, through the character Marlow, suggests that a “fool is always safe”. In other words, an individual who doesn’t care about the holy longing within, who is not sincere about matters of essential importance to existence, will rarely be fooled by those who -- through manufactured or natural charisma of one kind or another -- seek to use the attractiveness of such charisma to mislead people into supposing that something essentially substantial is being offered when such is not the case. Fools are always safe from being misled in this manner because they have no interest in, and feel no attraction for, things that actually matter.

Intelligent, sincere, decent people are vulnerable to the presence of counterfeit spiritual charisma. Mistakes of judgment concerning whether, or not, some individual is capable of helping one fulfill one’s holy longing are relatively easy to make, and, unfortunately, once made, not all of these mistakes admit to easy solutions.

Short of God’s Grace, there is no fool-proof way to identify or avoid narcissistic personalities who seek to prey on holy longing. However, one point that may well be worth reflecting on in this respect is the following: Any use of charisma which invites one to abandon basic principles of decency, kindness, honesty, integrity, compassion, generosity, fairness, modesty, humility, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, peacefulness, and love toward one’s family or other human beings, irrespective of their beliefs, should be considered to be a tell-tale sign that spiritual abuse is being perpetrated. This is so no matter how euphoric and ecstatic various ‘charismatic moments’ may be which are associated with such a use of charisma.

There is a fundamental problem with any use of charisma that does not assist one to become a better human being, with a more fully developed and realized moral character which is encouraged to be actively practiced and not just thought about as an abstract ideal. However, sometimes -- depending on the forces at play in a given set of circumstances and depending on the skills of the narcissistic perpetrator who is busy weaving a tapestry of illusions, delusions, and manipulative deceit -- discovering that such a problem exists can be a long difficult process, and, furthermore, disengaging from such circumstances once this problem has been discovered is not an easy, painless, straightforward thing to accomplish … indeed, sometimes long after one has left a narcissistic personality who has been posing as a charismatic prophet remnants of the toxicity continue to flow through one’s system … not because one wishes this to be the case but because this is often part and parcel of the destructive, insidious nature of the ramifications ensuing from spiritual abuse

Anab Whitehouse

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"In other words, an individual who doesn’t care about the holy longing within, who is not sincere about matters of essential importance to existence, will rarely be fooled by those who -- through manufactured or natural charisma of one kind or another -- seek to use the attractiveness of such charisma to mislead people into supposing that something essentially substantial is being offered when such is not the case."
This is true wisdom and highest intelligence. Think for yourself.