When a Social Justice Warrior is a Communal Narcissist

Identifying when malevolence is cloaked in philanthropy

Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW, RSW
7 min readMar 24, 2021

cePhoto by Duncan Sanchez on Unsplash

When I was a kid I was enamored with topical folk songwriter and political activist Phil Ochs. The abysmal circumstances I was born into was assuaged by his activism, brilliant lyricism and melodic voice. He inspired me and gave me hope. Ochs was emblematic of what the ideology of liberalism was meant to stand for; maximizing individual freedom and civil liberties, protected by free trade and free markets.

Yet Ochs also mocked liberalism as a hypocritical badge of superiority worn by aging progressives. He saw through the false narratives. I resonated with his idealism and his cynicism and I aspired to live by these sentiments Ochs expressed;

Even though you can’t expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That’s morality, that’s religion. That’s art. That’s life.”

His words epitomized humanity and passion and they stuck with me when I pursued a career in social work. I was deeply crushed by his suicide in 1976.

Yet as much as I continue to revere activism, it’s clear that key concerns, such as pandemic starvation, ecological collapse, the threat of nuclear war and the ubiquitous exploitation of vulnerable populations have not been sufficiently addressed or altered. Perhaps this is so because in large part lofty notions of activism are often touted, not by those who are sincerely invested in deep-seated ideological beliefs to better society, but by those who are driven to procure clout and recognition. Likewise, it’s important to consider the intractable control the elite have over all major political processes and policies.

However, in an effort to steer clear of righteous posturing my intent is simply to elucidate the psychological machinations of the variety of Social Justice Warriors who are less concerned with the sort of comprehensive transformation brought about by grassroots organizing, and are instead motivated by an insatiable quest for power, superiority and adulation.

As a trauma and addiction therapist with over thirty years of experience in the public and private sectors of NYC, the treatment of narcissistic abuse syndrome has by necessity…

Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW, RSW

Therapist, Coach & Author. Complex Trauma & Addiction. Dual citizen. Survivor, World traveler, love art and nature. I appreciate the absurd. Sheritherapist.com