Islam, the control freak religion — or, rule by narcissists

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two types of control freaks in this world:  those who prize self-control and those who try to control others.  I fall in the former category.  I often fall short of the mark, but I consider myself a self-improvement work in progress.  I may drive myself crazy, but I seldom visit my own obsessions onto others or, if I do so, it only tangentially affects them.

And then there are those who live to exercise control over others.  These people go beyond merely being bossy.  Their sense of self is defined by their ability to bend others to their will.  Whether polite or crude, they are bullies.  I’ve worked and lived with people in this latter category, and I can tell you a lot about them.

The primary characteristic they all share is that they fall neatly within the clinical definition of a narcissist:

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  3. believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  4. requires excessive admiration
  5. has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  6. is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  7. lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  8. is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
  9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

It is also a requirement of DSM-IV that a diagnosis of any specific personality disorder also satisfies a set of general personality disorder criteria.

I’ve long suspected, having dealt with narcissists, that many of their control issues arise because of their own sense that they are out of control.  Because they have no inner sense of self, they have no strong internal guides to help them understand what to do or say in a given situation.  By forcefully controlling those around them, they create a reality in which their behavior is normative.  He’s not a bully; his wife has just been forcefully directed into being appropriately submissive.  She’s not arrogant; it’s just that everyone has been sufficiently cowed into respecting her wonderfulness.  Other people aren’t humans with feelings.  Instead, they are chess pieces the narcissist moves around to feed his grandiosity, fill his emptiness, and put him at the center of a universe in which his behavior is appropriate, and everyone else can be derided as pathetic, abnormal and inferior.

In the paragraphs above, I’ve described individuals, but it occurs to me that the entire Islamic faith, when taken to its logical extremes (as so many individuals and nations do), is a religion of complete narcissism.  Just look at the 10 steps of narcissism as set out in the DSM-IV, and watch how beautifully the same factors mesh with Islam:

1.  has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements) — We are routinely told that Islam is the one and only religion before which all nations and people must eventually bow.  There is no room for pluralism in Islam.  Islam seeks its rightful place of world dominance.

2.  is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love — See above.  Despite the fact that the nations that are predominantly Muslim are usually Third World nations, with only a few raised above that heap through the wonders of oil money, Islamists are certain that they represent the perfect fulfillment of human destiny, and that others will be grateful for the bomb, sword or WMD that bring them within the fold.

3.  believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions) — Ditto.

4.  requires excessive admiration — Islam is the only modern religion that prohibits any criticism.  We’ve seen this played out time and time again.  The first time the Western world became aware of this trait was when the fatwa was issued against Salman Rushdie.  We managed to forget about that until the Danish cartoons made us aware, again, that Islam cannot be criticized.  And of course, the UN, with the Obami’s complicity, is moving towards enacting a proposal that forbids the denigration of any religion.  We know, of course, that means that the UN will act to suppress any anti-Islamic speech around the world.  Anti-anything else speech will be conveniently ignored, with antisemitic speech continuing to be wildly encouraged.

5.  has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations — If there’s one thing we’ve seen over and over again in the past few years, it’s the endless demands from Islamists, demands that are aimed at elevating that faith, and its practitioners, above all others.  Taxi drivers refusing to take people carrying alcohol; universities pressured to remodel their bathrooms and pray rooms; nations (that would be England) urged to rejigger their “offensive” national flags; pigs, including Piglet and other pig images, forced out of the public eye; ice cream containers redacted.  The list of demands is endless.  And lest you think that these demands are appropriate in a religiously tolerant culture, I’d like you to give me examples of other non-dominant religions that make the similar demands on the majority culture.

6.  is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends — One word:  Iran.

7.  lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others — I really don’t know quite how to write about this as a separate category of Islamic behavior.  The fact that Islam has absolutely no room for other faiths, however, and it’s fanatic desire to destroy all other cultures, is itself indicative of any sense of empathy.   Multiculturalism, of course, has become a sickness in the opposite direction, with the western world so empathetic to other cultures that it’s learned to loath its own.

8.  is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her — One phrase:  9/11

9.  shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes — I think being called dogs, swine, pigs, apes, apostates, etc., is pretty much evidence of arrogance on the part of the Islamists.

The one other aspect of Islam that, to me, is the dead giveaway that it is a control freak, narcissist religion, is its attitude towards women.  Islam doesn’t hate women, as so many believe.  It fears women.  Women have the ability to destroy a man’s self-control, which is anathema to the control-freak narcissist.  He wants to be in charge.  He wants to manipulate.  He wants to dominate and direct.  But when a woman enters the picture, he fears that his intense response to her sexuality will destroy his fragile self control.  He will be a slave to his passions.  And, because he is a narcissist, instead of controlling his passions, the Islamist seeks to control the threat:

Islam doesn’t attack sexuality in itself, but rather women’s potential for exercising total power over men. In Islam, sexuality is seen to have three main positive aspects: the human sexual drive ensures reproduction; it produces intellectual energy; and the sexual act itself provides the man with a foretaste of what he will experience in paradise – the eternal orgasm. On earth, however, man’s most important task is devotion to Allah. Therefore, love between man and wife is viewed as an enemy of Muslim society. Marital love can disturb the husband’s attachment to Allah.


In the view of the Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the notion of man as an almost notoriously sexual animal, a beast who will throw himself at any woman who is not “decently” covered in public, is essential to an understanding the stagnation of the Muslim world and of the immense problems with integrating Muslims in Europe. As Hirsi Ali points out, Islam places all sexual morality on the woman’s shoulders. From a very early age, she notes, girls are viewed with suspicion and learn that they are untrustworthy creatures who represent a potential danger to their extended families – for there is, in them, something that makes men lose their minds.


The most extreme form of biological sexual control of women is genital mutilation. Many people claim that genital mutilation has nothing to do with Islam. This is untrue. Muhammad issued a blanket prohibition against eating pork. But he did not forbid genital mutilation. Instead he encouraged his followers not to perform the most radical form of mutilation, telling them in his sunna not to “overdo it.” Thus we have the practice known as “sunna circumcision.” Today, Muhammad’s statements continue to be cited in support of the tradition. According to the shafi school of Islamic law, which is followed by Somalis (among others), it is an obligation to “circumcise” girls. This rule, naturally, has consequences for Muslim girls throughout the Western world today.

Whether one is talking about the individual wife-beating bully, who compensates for the emptiness in side by controlling and destroying those around him, or the entire extreme end of the Islamic faith, which compensates for its sense of inadequacy (since it is, after all, nothing more than a derivative, desert religion) by seeking to control and destroy the non-Muslim world (and all of the women in it), the patterns are identical, aren’t they?  Depressing too.

And what’s even more depressing is that, as with other personality disorders, narcissism is almost impossible to treat.  Because it’s a behavior that is comprised entirely of defensive protection (a defensiveness that often leads to aggressive acts), the narcissist cannot be convinced that change is necessary.  Every correction is met with a huge outburst of hostility and even more attempts at outer-directed control.  Only when the narcissist hits rock bottom, when all the defensive behaviors collapse (as happens when the substance-abusing narcissist is destroyed by his addictions), will the narcissist contemplate changed behaviors.

If we could take away the props that give the Islamic world the illusion of power through which it can exercise its need for control, we would have a much better ability to correct its most extreme and destructive behaviors.  And of course, the prop upon which it most relies, is oil money.  To allow drilling on American land would devastate the Islamist’s sense of and drive for dominance, since Saudi Arabia’s and Iran’s theocratic governments, which are almost entirely funded by the West, would collapse.

  • Charles Martel

    Nicely written, you evil destroyer of the rich, colorful tapestry of diversity that is so colorful and enteraining and quaint and colorful for all us affluent white folks who graduated from universities where we received quality educations! 

    That said, one of the most interesting things about Islam is the sinister face it presents to whomever is looking at it, regardless of that person’s ideology.

    I don’t think a Christian would feel out of bounds to say that if The Adversary were to create a bizarro religion designed to enslave man to all his vices and none of his virtues, it would be hard to surpass Islam in breadth and effect.

    If you were to find a Marxist who was not consumed by envy and the lust for power (good luck with that!), she would see Islam as a perfect example of the oppressiveness of religion, especially with regard to the status of women. In an unguarded moment, she would also see Islam as Marxism’s second supreme competitor and foe (the first being America).

    A libertarian would see a serious threat to American freedoms. Not only the external threat posed by semi-civilized immigrants who refuse to assimilate and who despise  liberty itself, but the threat from our own internal dismay as we wrestle with a difficult question: To counter Islam, will we have to change our understanding of the First Amendment? Will it ever be permissible to discourage a religion, such as the Germans have done with Scientology, to prevent it turning our country into another House of Savagery like Somalia or the Gaza Strip?

    This is first religion on American soil that is sinister (Aztec cannibalism excepted). In contrast, the Mormons are merely eccentrics and the Scientologists merely credulous dunderheads. Hindus and Buddhists do not demand special treatment or proselytize with sharp instruments. The Jews, despite their blindness when it comes to leftist politics, are one of the crown jewels of American society. The Jehovah’s Witnesses do great color printing and have excellent writers who create easy-to-understand text.

    It is only Islam that creates a shudder in people. That reaction should be manifested as loudly and publicly as possible at every opportunity.

  • Danny Lemieux

    “I’ve long suspected, having dealt with narcissists, that many of their control issues arise because of their own sense that they are out of control.  Because they have no inner sense of self, they have no strong internal guides to help them understand what to do or say in a given situation.
    That’s a very interesting insight, Book. I also have had considerable experience with narcissists, including with certain of my in-laws (it’s not pretty), and what I note especially is that under their behavioral veneer lies an incredible insecurity – one of the reasons that I really worry about Obama’s emotional maturity under stress, BTW.
    For Muslims, there is much about which to feel very insecure. Consider:
    1) Although their religion clearly states they should be dominant in every way on this earth, the fact is that Western Judeo-Christianity has long surpassed them leaving them trapped in backward societies that have evolved little since medieval times. From their traditional point of view, this could only be explained as having come about through the work of the Devil (hence, Big Satan, Little Satan, etc.). Otherwise, their whole religious existence becomes a lie.
    2) They live in fear and insecurity about women, precisely for the reasons you cite. However, all around them they see empowered women in business, politics and even the military that threaten the self-perceived masculine image of the Muslim male. Think about a U.S. woman GI gunning down a Mujahadeen. Bummer!
    3) Although not reported in the MSM, the Judeo-Christian world is expanding rapidly, despite the secular rot in Europe and North America. China is becoming Christian (by government dictat, believe it or not) while Africa’s Christians continually push back into the Muslim realms. In North Africa, Arabia and Persia, there are massive secret conversions of Muslims to Christianity…especially by the young… that the tribal elders can’t stop, even though apostates know that they have a sentence of death hanging over them if discovered. I have Iranian friends (Converts to Christianity) that tell me that the numbers of Iranians that are underground Christians already number in the millions and are fast growing. A Nigerian (Anglican) bishop told me that the same is happening in Nigeria.
    4) The advent of the internet and modern communications has opened the world at large to the world of Islam. No longer can Islamic clerics control what their people see or think or, for that matter, hide all the ugliness in their own societies. Women in mysogenistic societies now cannot help but see how other women the world over are empowered. This is very frightening to traditional Muslim males sense of control — they know they are losing their control over their own women.
    So, while militant Islam appears to us Westerners as a major (and very real) threat, especially when we see the inroads that Islam has made into a subservient, secular and majorly decadent Europe, the countervailing view from Dar-es-Salaam looks very, very bleak indeed. Traditional Islam is fighting a losing war for its survival. Problem is, it can and will exact a lot of damage in the process, even as it tears away the facades of our own societies and exposes the rot within…as, for example, the need of some of our leaders to prostate themselves before Arabian kings or make excuses for the vilest of Islamic behaviors. That being said, I do believe that Western society will eventually recover its Judeo-Christian roots, even though it may be at a very stiff price.


    Sometime ago, while on the subject of narcissim, the name Sam Vaknin came up (it was a matter of attributed his words vs the words used by someone else who was citing his work). Narcissim is only one side of the islamic coin – flip it and you also have sadism. Like many cancers that cannot be cured or treated, the oncologist seeks to destroy the cells that are killing the host. There is not an iota of difference between the jihadist cells and cancerous ones – they both seek to destroy. “Sadists are masters of abuse by proxy and ambient abuse. They terrorize and intimidate even their nearest and dearest into doing their bidding. They create an aura and atmosphere of unmitigated yet diffuse dread and consternation. This they achieve by promulgating complex “rules of the house” that restrict the autonomy of theirdependants (spouses, children, employees, patients, clients, etc.). They have the final word and are the ultimate law. They must be obeyed, no matter how arbitrary and senseless are their rulings and decisions”.
    Read more:

  • <B>And what’s even more depressing is that, as with other personality disorders, narcissism is almost impossible to treat. </b>
    I’ll tell you something that might not be so obvious, Book, in light of your perceptive analysis of Islam.
    Men who place high priority on devoting energy to self-control will almost always kill narcissists given a policy of extermination. Those that have devoted their energies to keeping people weak and abusing them, will lack the defenses required to destroy the highest potential threats.
    In the West right now, Islam exists because the full power of America is chained and prevented from being used, both military, economic, and spiritual.


    Nothing to analyze in Mecca-land … but everything to vaporize!

  • Mike Devx

    I read with great interest Book’s insightful writing, and the comments #1, #2, and #3 by Charles, Danny and Sadie, all highlighting different aspects of the problem, some comments encouraging, some discouraging.
    Especially I noted Charles’ comment that Islam challenges our notions of First Amendment freedom of religion.
    I think that any notion of freedom of religion means that we must *actively* discourage any religion’s attempts to IMPOSE itself upon others outside of its religion.  Else, freedom of religion has no meaning.
    We all know the severe, outrageous constraints on Christianity, and on other religions, in Saudi Arabia and many other Islamic countries. But have you considered how such constraints are playing out in Islamic communities here in America?  Or worse, God forbid, in Europe?
    Because we refuse to confront the oppressors within Islamic communities, the vast majority of Muslims are hostage within their own communities.  They are not free.  They are under worse threat than the rest of us are.  And we refuse to come to their aid.  I continue to believe that most Muslims are, in fact, like most Christians.  Just as most of you live your Christian lives, they live their Islamic lives.  Nothing more and nothing less.  Yet they have no religious power in their communities.  Saudi Arabia continues to funnel millions of dollars into their communities, fueling hard-line jihadist, fundamentalist imams, preaching hatred, divisiveness, power, and triumph.  Red violence tinges everything they say.  They are religious oppressors.  In the past we’d have had no probleh shutting them up, and shutting them down.  But we’ve lost our self-respect due to the endless brainwashing over the last forty years, teaching ourselves to hate and despise our own culture, and now we lack the resolve to protect ourselves – and likewise, to assist and free up the Muslim communities from their Saudi-Arabian imposed oppressors.  We could do it, if we wanted to.


    We could do it, if we wanted to.
    We, which includes the EU ‘we’, certainly had an opportunity this past summer in Iran to support the protestors, which probably reflects the ‘brainwashing’. Iran would be a bad example of the Saudi sphere of influence, but it could have been a good start. What is more disturbing than the political silence (capitulation) is the none-voice of churches and related organizations,  who preach care, concern and mercy for the need, not withstanding some lunatic fringe religious organizations that insist that Israel is an apartheid state. We’re well beyond the 40 year mark – the silence was loud and clear when arab countries threw the Jews out, burned down their homes and synagogues and murdered enough to set the ‘tone’ for those that remained.

  • kali

    I’ve thought for some time that radical Islam is the poster child for what happens when a state takes over a religion–which to my mind is really what the First Amendment is all about, protecting religion from the corruption of the state. Authoritarian states love puritanical, controlling religions, and work to stamp out more genuine, populist movements. Because I’m still an optimist (it does take some work) I see a future where the Saudis run out of money, and all the hate preachers, Middle Eastern Studies professors, and retired diplomats have to work at a real job for a living. Without all that Wahhabist pressure, it will be interesting to see the direction Islam takes. Maybe in this direction:

  • Gringo

    Perhaps you should send this posting to Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs. From his recent posting on Why I Parted Ways With The Right:
    9. Anti-Islamic bigotry that goes far beyond simply criticizing radical Islam, into support for fascism, violence, and genocide (see: Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, etc.)
    What I have read of Robert Spencer has been very well documented.

    (Disclaimer: I no longer read LGF. This came from a link.)


    We both caught the link (ditto disclaimer).  Why he felt compelled to justify his stupidity explains his moronic reasoning. I’ve been reading Geller and Spencer long before I was directed to this site. He belongs to the band of merry men, who coinded the words  ‘moderate Taliban’ … they also subscribe to being a little pregnant.


    In a follow up to my post #7 … silence is an accompolice to murder.

  • Sadie and Gringo, I didn’t want to mention LGF before but since it is raised here, I’ll say my piece.
    This fanatic blames Sarah Palin for ‘creationism’, so to make up for that, he joins a real cult, Global Warming.
    You see, these people aren’t against us because they want us to be better. They’re against us because they hate competition. It is not that they don’t like anti-science or cults or violence or fascism, it is that they don’t like competition.

  • D Cripps

    Thanks for this. Two obvious problems within Islamic belief are that the conception of Allah is of a narcissistic psycho-/sociopath but, however such a belief arose, rather than concerns for ‘Allah’s rehabilitation’, it has resulted in worship, in “Islam”, i.e submission. From the later days of Muhammad’s life Islam was spread by violent jihad which, together with the threat of excruciating eternal hell for non-believers, introduces the phenomenon of “capture-bonding” (Stockholm syndrome, battered wife syndrome, etc) into the unpretty mix that is Islam. The sharia-law injunction to kill apostates, and punish anyone who questions, both expresses this thinking and intends to reinforce it, which goes against the spirit of internal honesty and enquiry. Someone who intends non-ill-will and non-harm toward themselves does not need narcissism, because they do not succumb to the projected/direct self-directed vindictive judgementalism that, unfortunately, Islam expresses and encourages. Islam rewards male psychopathy, so these people get the kudos and are role models.

    These links have some interesting points…

    • Charles Martel

      D Cripps, you’ve packed much useful insight and analysis into your comment. Very nicely done. May I hope we see more of you in Bookworm Room?

      • D Cripps

        Thank you, Charles. I may ‘pass through’ again 🙂

  • ymarsakar

    Humans have two general choices when facing a challenge, based upon two questions:

    Do you wish to change yourself?

    Do you wish to change the world?