He Has NPD
by Kenny Gardner

A psychologist named Misty Hook, who lives in McKinney, says that Bill Cosby may have NPD. If he does, then that would explain his apparent conflicting behavior: how he can be so good and so bad (allegedly) at the same time. “It’s hard to reconcile Cosby’s amazing accomplishments with who he may be as a person,” Dr. Hook observes. On the one hand, he has “stood for gentle family humor and the kindly patriarch who modeled what a respectful husband and loving father should be….He is a self-made man who worked hard to be a success….Later television shows he was responsible for, like Fat Albert and Little Bill, presented humorous and positive messages about tolerance and cooperation. Then there is all of his charitable work and mentoring of other performers.”

On the other hand, he is accused of drugging and raping women, humiliating people, insisting on getting his own way, and threatening people who cross him. “He sucker-punched comedian Tommy Smothers over a perceived slight,” Dr. Hook writes. She goes on: “Then there are the numerous stories of how Cosby threatened careers if people dared to ask him uncomfortable questions or refused to do his bidding.”

Then Dr. Hook starts drawing a conclusion:

So what are we to make of these disparities? How can one person simultaneously be so great and so awful? The answer could rest with mental illness. For example, it appears as though Cosby could meet the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). From the stories about his behavior, he seems to believe that he is special, demands excessive admiration and demonstrates arrogant attitudes. There also are definite signs that he has a sense of entitlement, is interpersonally exploitive and lacks empathy. (continued on second page) (continued from first page)

Now, before I start commenting on Dr. Hook’s article, there are two things I want to make very clear. I am not saying that Bill Cosby is or is not guilty, and I am not saying he is or is not mentally ill. He may be guilty, he may be mentally ill, I don’t know, and there’s no way I can know, at least not at this point. But there are a couple of observations I’d like to make about Dr. Hook’s comments.

First of all, we need to be careful we don’t excuse all sin as mental illness. I know there is such a thing as mental illness and some people may not know the difference between right and wrong, or may not be able to control themselves. Some people may very well need medication to help them cope. We all have our different deficiencies, weaknesses, and needs, and we need to be sympathetic and helpful to one another.

But by the same token each of us must accept responsibility for our conduct and attitudes and resolve to always do the right thing. When we read about people in the Bible who did bad things, they were always condemned, not only by God, but also by other people. People like Cain, Saul, Judas, Balaam, Absalom, the wicked people of Noah’s day, the wicked kings of Israel, the Jews leaders who killed Jesus, and on and on we could go—all these people were condemned. If Saul were alive today, we would all consider him mentally ill. Yet his actions, and the actions of others like him, such as Ahab and Jezebel (and the list could go on and on), their actions were never excused on the basis of mistreatment they had suffered, insufficient teaching or training they had received, or physical or mental deficiencies they were plagued with. If, in the middle of his overwhelming anguish, Job had cursed God, as his wife urged him to do, few of us would criticize him. But he is held up as an example for us to follow if we should find ourselves overwhelmed by misfortune, disease, pain, and whatever else adversity we might find ourselves facing. In the Bible, when people sinned, there was never any lengthy discussion or evaluation by others as to whether or not the malefactors were responsible for their actions. Their actions were sinful, plain and simple, and they were condemned for they did.

Now, obviously, as I have already said, we do indeed make allowances for people for really are not in their right minds. Some people truly are too young, too old, too mentally deficient, too something, to act right. All compassionate and right-thinking people understand that and sympathize with everyone who is struggling. But the fact of the matter is, we are all struggling to some extent. All of us have to deal with our disappointments, failures, embarrassments, and sins. Everyone is carrying a burden, some with heavier burdens than others, true, but everyone has his struggles and each of us must resolve to do our very best, along with the help from loving, sympathetic family and friends, to bear up under our burdens. We must keep in mind both Galatians 6: 2 and 5: “Bear one another burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (v. 2), and, “Each will have to bear his own load” (v. 5).

One final point. We don’t know if Bill Cosby is the kind of person Dr. Hooks describes, but we really need to understand that there are people like the kind of person she describes:

What is odd about people suffering from NPD is that they can be—and often are—charming, intelligent, witty, charismatic, talented and fun to be around. Sound familiar? In fact, given the strong desire of people with NPD for fame, fortune and power, many of them can be found in high positions within politics, religion and business.

People with NPD can be master manipulators. They often initially show interest and appreciation for others, making them feel good, but it’s all in service of their larger agenda.

Their charm draws people to them so they get what they want, but eventually people will figure it out. There are people who fit this description, and some of them become preachers and elders.