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A Field Guide to Narcissism Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23

A Field Guide to Narcissism

How to identify and overcome our vanity problem, which is getting more absurd and outrageous every day.

“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).

The author of Ecclesiastes is convinced that the whole of human existence can be described by this single word.


In Hebrew, the writer of this book is known as Qoheleth, meaning Teacher. He takes a cold-eyed look at the world — and certainly isn’t the philosopher to turn to if you need some cheering up.

“All is vanity,” he insists. All is worthless, meaningless, absurd. As solid as vapor, fog and steam. The Teacher surveys society and spots extreme pride in human appearance and accomplishments. He looks around and sees narcissism — excessive self-love and admiration.

Our world has a vanity problem, according to the Teacher. And it’s only getting worse.

There’s the groom who won’t let his bride’s overweight friend be a bridesmaid because he doesn’t want her to mess up the wedding pictures.

The woman who has such confidence in her impeccable taste that she routinely redecorates her daughter’s home. Without asking.

The guy who...

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