ADVERTISING
 
Monday, March 27   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 
Flecha
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 
 

POLL
Faith at the workplace
Do you agree with the EU Court of Justice that religious and political symbols can be banned at the workplace?




SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Education
 

“Our culture of selfism is producing more narcissism and fragility”

“We need a realistic, grounded sense of self that is not pre-occupied with maintaining its own importance, but serving a purpose bigger than ‘me’”, says Psychiatrist Glynn Harrison, author of ‘The Big Ego Trip’.

AUTHOR Joel Forster 14 DECEMBER 2016 12:33 h GMT+1
The number of followers on social media is a new way of measuring personal success.

Some of the main influencers in the world at the moment are ‘youtubers’ and Instagram stars. Admired and followed by millions, they constantly work on growing their personal brand.



A strong “ego” seems to be the key for this kind of success: to know what your dreams are and to believe in yourself enough to achieve them.



But where does this self-centred worldview come from? And how does it contrast with what the Gospel says about personal success?



In his book The Big Ego Trip, Psychiatrist Glynn Harrison analyses the roots of the self-esteem movement and some of the tangible consequences it has had.



The former Professor and Head of Department of Psychiatry of the University of Bristol (UK) believes Christians often fall in the same unhelpful trends: “many churches are tempted to air-brush the call to ‘die to self’ that sits at the heart of the Gospel”.



Glynn Harrison responded to questions of Evangelical Focus in the following interview.



 



Glynn Harrison.

Q. Your book opens with a quote by Donald Trump: “Show me someone without an ego and I’ll show you a loser”. Is the success of the new President-elect of the USA an example of how people with a big ego succeed nowadays?



A. It depends what he meant by ‘ego’. But yes, excessive self-belief and an inflated sense of your own importance does create a drive to succeed. It works the other way around, however. People with a low sense of self-worth may also be driven to succeed because they are fighting to prove their worth.



Both extremes can cause stress, or problems such as narcissism, as I show in my book. In the end we need a realistic, grounded sense of self that isn’t pre-occupied with maintaining its own importance, but serving a purpose bigger than ‘me’.



Q. You say “boosterism” does not work. How would you define this trend in the field of education? Why is it failing to build a better society?



A. ‘Boosterism’ is talking up somebodies abilities and qualities in ways that have no relationship with reality: ‘you’re special!’ ‘You’re a star!’ It’s usually done with the right intentions - we want people to be confident and to flourish – but it creates a pre-occupation with ourselves and centres motivation around maintaining self-importance.



Psychologists have shown that kids ‘boosted’ like this tend to avoid difficult tasks that put their self-image at risk. Children need to be resilient learners who want to know everything about the world and make a difference.



Q. Another idea that comes out of your book is the idea that we are creating a society of frustrated people. How have we come to this point?



A. Because we are raising unrealistic expectations. When we over-boost our children in an attempt to raise self-esteem, we create a generation of self-absorbed youngsters who measure their worth in terms of success and celebrity.



It would be better to nurture resilient, outward-looking kids with a sense of their own uniqueness and individuality – not narcissists pre-occupied with their social celebrity and importance.



 



Harrison's book The Big Ego Trip.

Q. Your book was published in 2013. Now the social media are even more popular than three years ago. Will the trend of broadcasting and promoting oneself be a bubble that explodes at some time?



A. We’ll have to see. Most pendulums eventually swing back. More and more people are recognising that our culture of selfism is producing more narcissism and fragility.



The obsession with ‘safe spaces’ and identity politics on campuses appears to be the latest manifestation of the need that self-orientated people have to protect their fragile ego’s. But as more educationalists cotton on to the dangers, schools are beginning to talking more about building character and resilience rather than boosting self-esteem.



Q. Are churches falling into the cultural trend of sending wrong messages that only revolve around the felt needs of people?



A. Yes, I think they sometimes do. There are Christian versions of ‘you’re special!’. Many churches are tempted to air-brush the call to ‘die to self’ that sits at the heart of the Gospel.



Of course we have to ‘connect’ with where people are by showing what true Gospel flourishing looks like. But eventually the desire to flourish must be pointed down the path of self-denial. That is God’s way. So we need to be careful about ‘piggy-backing’ onto our feel-good culture with a feel-good Gospel.



Q. The so-called “prosperity gospel” has been widely criticised but continues to have a huge influence. Is this theology an example of the promotion of ego?



A. Absolutely yes. It appeals to our desires to ‘be more by having more’. Of course the Scriptures do promise that, in the long run, in the end, we truly flourish and prosper (in the broadest sense of that word) when we walk faithfully in God’s ways. But this flourishing sits uncomfortably alongside the easy promises of the prosperity gospel – because it always comes by way of the Cross.



Q. How does Grace give us the right view of ourselves and of God?



A. Because God’s grace is unconditional. The self-esteem movement was correct in its diagnosis: self-worth can’t be built on achievements, or other people’s approval, because these are ‘contingent variables’ outside of your control. They go up and down. But it was wrong in its prescription – ‘believe in yourself, you say how much you are worth’.



There’s no evidence this works because in the end it’s just your own propaganda. Self-worth needs to be rooted in identity – an inner story about who we are, where we come from and what we are for. God’s grace not only confers this identity, it comes to us unconditionally in love.



Learning how to inhabit our identity as God’s children is a life-long journey. ‘My identity in Christ’ is easy to say, but hard to learn and to ‘live’. In my book I talk about various ‘techniques’ such as ‘judge the achievement not the person’ but in the end, it grows out of a life long deepening of the conviction that we are eternally loved by our creator:  unique bearers of the Divine Image called to go out and make more of his world.



 



ABOUT GLYNN HARRISON



Glynn Harrison (a husband, dad and grandfather) was formerly Professor and Head of Department of Psychiatry, University of Bristol, UK, where he was also a practising Consultant Psychiatrist. 



His main areas of academic research were in schizophrenia and psychoses, health service evaluation and epidemiology. He is a past President of the International Federation of Psychiatric Epidemiology and acted as an advisor to WHO. His clinical passion was for early intervention in psychotic disorders. Left untreated, these are among the most devastating and potentially long term disorders in psychiatry. 



Glynn speaks widely on issues at the interface between Christian faith and psychology, neuroscience and psychiatry.



Read more about by Glynn Harrison by visiting his personal website. You can also follow him on Twitter.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - “Our culture of selfism is producing more narcissism and fragility”
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Israel, the UN resolution and the long conflict Israel, the UN resolution and the long conflict

Shira Sorko-Ram, pastor and journalist in Israel, shares her views and a historical and biblical context on the latest events.

 
Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe

Is the arrival of thousands of Muslims to Europe a threat to Christianity? What is the growth of evangelical churches in Eastern and Southern Europe? An interview with theologian and Lausanne Movement representative Lindsay Brown.

 
Giovanni Traettino: “Pope Francis is my brother in Christ” Giovanni Traettino: “Pope Francis is my brother in Christ”

Evangelical Focus asked the well-known Pentecostal pastor about his “open” approach to Roman Catholicism. Traettino defended his position about ecumenism during the Italian Evangelical Alliance 2016 assembly (8-9 April, Rome).

 
Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

 
Thomas Bucher: Vision of the EEA Thomas Bucher: Vision of the EEA

Influence in society, evangelical identity and projects in Europe. An interview with Thomas Bucher, secretary general of the European Evangelical Alliance.

 
Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission

“We want to see the youth not just being equipped, but also being multipliers”, Evi Rodemann director of Mission-Net. The European Congress took place in Germany from December 28 to January 2.

 
Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

 
Pablo Martinez comments on Evangelical Focus’ launch Pablo Martinez comments on Evangelical Focus’ launch

Author and international speaker Dr Pablo Martínez discusses the main challenges in Europe nowadays and hopes Evangelical Focus will be a useful tool to help build bridges between churches and society.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
‘Reconciliation’ in the Basque Country ‘Reconciliation’ in the Basque Country

Bilbao hosted the Spanish Evangelical Alliance's annual meeting (assembly). Politicians, professors and evangelical representatives shared views on social reconciliation. The theme was also analysed from a theological perspective and in workshops. 

 
WPF17: A look at the world’s current issues WPF17: A look at the world’s current issues

A selection of pictures of World Press Photo 2017.

 
‘Progress of Europe, deeply connected to Bible’ ‘Progress of Europe, deeply connected to Bible’

Indian author Vishal Mangalwadi spoke about how the biblical worldview shaped the West. 300 professionals attended annual GBG meeting on faith and work in Cullera (Spain). Photos: J.P. Serrano, S. Vera.

 
Impressions of Lausanne's #ylg2016 Impressions of Lausanne's #ylg2016

Around 1,000 young Christian leaders from 150 countries are participating in the 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering, to reflect on global mission.

 
“Spain, we pray for you” “Spain, we pray for you”

Hundreds of evangelical Christians from many denominations marched in Madrid (Spain) to pray for their city, the authorities and asking God to bring hope to its society. Many gathered in other cities on June, 11.

 
VIDEO Video
 
How does erotic love feature in the Bible? How does erotic love feature in the Bible?

Richard Winter, Psychotherapist and Professor Emeritus of Covenant Theological Seminary, answers the question.

 
Proverbs 31 Proverbs 31

A powerful video recites Proverbs 31:10-31, from the Bible. Produced by World Relief. 

 
‘You are a… Christian?’ ‘You are a… Christian?’

A clip by Tracey Ullman's Show (BBC, in the UK) gives a humorous approach to how Christians are perceived in the labour market.

 
What historical obstacles do European missionaries need to overcome? What historical obstacles do European missionaries need to overcome?

Teaching Director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka Ajith Fernando answers the question.

 
You-To live-How? You-To live-How?

The Roldan Camacho are a Spanish couple with deafness. They tell us how the whole family experiences everyday life through sign language. A video report by Gabriela Pérez.

 
“Who can help me? I want to become a Christian” “Who can help me? I want to become a Christian”

Nikos Stefanidis of ‘Helping Hands’ in Athens (Greece) shares the story of an Afghan lady who decided to follow Jesus.

 
Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

 
An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.