Four marks of an Antagonist

In his helpful book, Antagonists in the Church, Kenneth C. Haugk wrote about people who are simply bent on antagonistic behavior.

He calls them “antagonists” and insists that these people must be identified and dealt with for the sake of church unity.

His book offers a personality profile on the person who “stirs up dissension among brothers.”

“Antagonists try to build themselves up by tearing others down. They express their inner struggles with a negative self-concept by attacking people, enjoying the failures and misfortunes of others while they project their own sense of worthlessness onto them.”

Four Descriptions of Antagonists:  Personality profile of dangerous people:

  1. Narcissism – “Narcissism is a personality pattern in which a person displays an excessive sense of self-importance and preoccupation with eliciting the admiration and attention of others … a narcissistic individual greedily fishes for and hungrily devours the praise and attention of others … Narcissistic individuals who are antagonists are extremely reluctant to admit wrongdoings. They cannot conceive of being in error, because ‘right’ is what meets their needs, and ‘wrong’ is what obstructs the meeting of those needs.”
  2. Aggression – “Antagonists also display patterns of aggressive behavior that permeate their entire personalities. Angry at self, the world, and any convenient situation or person, antagonists seem to wander through life seeking, inviting, and collecting injustices against themselves. Every perceived or actual wrong they experience is stored in their memories and periodically replayed to supply fuel for their anger.”
  3. Rigidity – “Rigidity is characterized by inflexibility of thought, usually coupled with excessive concern for precise and accurate procedure (as defined by the rigid individual). Someone with a rigid personality sees the world as totally static; his or her explanation of events is, by definition, the unquestionably correct interpretation. Rigid individuals ridicule or ignore differing opinions and skillfully overlook contrary evidence … Antagonists with rigid personality structures are especially jealous of leaders, because people in authority have the power to inject disturbing input. Therefore, rigid antagonists frequently employ their simplistic rules and regulations as weapons against leaders.”
  4. Paranoid personality syndrome – “Marks of a paranoid personality include persistent, unwarranted guardedness and mistrust of others; delusions of grandeur; lack of genuine emotions, and hypersensitivity.”

“Because they distrust others, paranoid persons try to find hidden meanings in words and actions, continually looking for ulterior motives behind what others say … they commonly experience difficulty in relating to others; disagreements and arguments are commonplace. Paranoid individuals find coworkers and authority figures most difficult to get along with.”

“A paranoid person often projects his or her own feelings onto others. If, in a social gathering, a leader accidentally forgets to shake a paranoid antagonist’s hand, the paranoid might blow the incident all out of proportion in his or her own mind. The wrath carried inside the antagonist will be attributed by mental sleight of hand to the leader, as if the leader were angry with the antagonist.”

“Antagonists initiate trouble; they do not wait for trouble to come to them. This often goes hand-in-hand with hypersensitivity on their part. They often take every word and action as a personal attack and respond aggressively. Something as seemingly minor as failing to say good morning to them can cause their antagonism to flare up. Their response to such an omission would most likely be to wonder what you had against them.”

“The attacks of antagonists are self-serving. Often they will seize on a slogan or pick some side of a valid issue and pretend that is what they are fighting for. It rarely is. An antagonist will quickly drop a particular slogan or issue once it no longer serves his or her ambitions.” (From Antagonists in the Church, Kenneth Haugk)

Steve Cornell

This entry was posted in Antagonists, Conflict, Confrontation, Difficult people and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Four marks of an Antagonist

  1. Ben Bush Jr. says:

    In this book, did the author contemplate the possibility of many ministry leaders fitting this exact description of an antagonist?

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