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The Depleted Self [Paperback]

By Donald Capps (Author)
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Item description for The Depleted Self by Donald Capps...

Although narcissism may appear dormant in the 1990s, clinical research on narcissism shows that behind a grandiose, exhibitionistic side lies a shame-ridden half of self-loathing, unworthiness, and depression. Capps says that traditional theologies of guilt are unable to address those gripped by shame and makes a case for a different pastoral approach in counseling and ministry.

Citations And Professional Reviews
The Depleted Self by Donald Capps has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Booklist - 01/15/1993 page 854

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Fortress Press
Pages   196
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.51" Width: 5.53" Height: 0.5"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 1993
Publisher   Augsburg Fortress Publishers
Edition  New  
ISBN  0800625870  
ISBN13  9780800625870  

Availability  0 units.

More About Donald Capps

Donald Capps Donald Capps is Princeton Theological Seminary's William Harte Felmeth Professor of Pastoral Theology and an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He is the author of numerous books, including Jesus: A Psychological Biography, Fragile Connections, and Giving Counsel from Chalice Press.

Donald Capps currently resides in Princeton, in the state of New Jersey. Donald Capps has an academic affiliation as follows - Princeton Theological Seminary Princeton Theological Seminary, USA Pri.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy > Church Administration

Christian Product Categories
Books > Christian Living > Practical Life > Contemporary Issues

Reviews - What do customers think about The Depleted Self?

Not much of a Christian perspective  Dec 7, 2004
In writing this book, Dr. Capps hoped to enlighten the "theological community" about narcissism (4). He starts out by discussing sin and suggests a "reformulation" of the theology of sin because the emotion that is felt is often shame rather than guilt (3). Modern society is so accustomed to narcissism that ministers are sometimes rewarded for their narcissistic behavior (9), which is characterized by an "exaggerated or grandiose sense of self" (14). Although one may not be clinically diagnosed with narcissism as a personality disorder, Dr. Capps believes everyone is a narcissist to some degree (36).

The first six chapters of Dr. Capps book details the formation of the "self" (by examining the works of Kohut, Erikson, and Tillich), and how the "self" experiences shame, becomes defensive, or turns to isolation. Dr. Capps used the story of Jonah to illustrate that he was not a "true self" but the "defensive" self- characterized as a "self that has its own center of initiative, that knows and follows its own course" (161). The dreaded reality of the book is that everyone experiences one or more of the characteristics mentioned, which only proves that "everyone is a sinner."

I found the first few chapters of Dr. Capps' book very informational, in a secular sense; but it was evident in the last chapter that he misinterprets the Bible. For instance, in the story of the woman with the alabaster flask, Dr. Capps believes the act of worship was an act of "self-trust" and "self-affirmation," and Jesus' pronouncement, "Your faith has saved you" means "have faith in yourself" (163). He understands the story's key issue to be "the self and its fight for survival"(163). He believes that Jesus carried shame because He was born "illegitimately" (163), and that in Luke 2:46-47 Jesus needed the affirmations of others in order to "affirm his faith in himself" (164). Dr. Capps states, "The chance to have one's faith in oneself confirmed is a rare opportunity, and Jesus-for his own self's sake-could not afford to miss it (referring to the incident when Jesus was having a dialogue with teachers in the temple at the age of twelve). His faith had saved him, and he could go in peace (164)."

I agree that everyone suffers from narcissistic traits, but perhaps this is because all humans are sinners. Whenever I think of narcissism, I picture people who are self-absorbed, self-seeking and just plain selfish; in fact, the word "narcissism" is defined as, "Excessive love or admiration of oneself" (http://dictionary. The truth is, narcissism is when a person places God second to him or herself. If there was one important thing I got from Dr. Capps' book, it is that people struggle with self-centeredness. Even his "cure" for the "depleted self" is centered on uplifting the "self." Instead of seeing others as an image of God, he is fascinated by the Hindu greeting in which people say to each other, "I recognized the God in you" (168).

This book started out with a basic truth (that we are sinners who are damaged by sin) but ends with fallacy. I think I would have appreciated the book more if it never mentioned the Bible, which would have been preferable considering Dr. Capps took the Bible out of context and warped it to fit his own personal presupposition. Reading his work made me realize that many people have not reconciled psychology with Biblical theology-his was more pronounced than others I have seen. Dr. Capps' book clearly epitomizes Paul's observation that man's wisdom is nothing but "foolishness."

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