Fortress Press

The Depleted Self: Sin in a Narcissistic Age

The Depleted Self

Sin in a Narcissistic Age

Donald Capps (Author)


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Donald Capps argues that traditional theologies of guilt are unable to address those gripped by shame and calls for a different pastoral approach in counseling and ministry. He makes the case that a reformulation of the theology of sin is needed, explaining that "the time has come for us to recognize that taking care of our selves--this once-in-a-lifetime gift--is emphatically not a self-indulgence, but a moral imperative."
  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9780800625870
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 192
  • Publication Date January 1, 1993


"This is a boldly innovative and important book. Don Capps challenges the church, its theologian's and its pastors to address seriously -- and without moralist -- the malaise that afflicts us, the mood of 'wrongs' and incompleteness of self, of victimization, hunger, alienation, bitterness, the melancholic form that 'sin' takes so prevailingly in our day. He writes a sophisticated and poetic hymn to the human self. This book is an effective example of the 'positive mirroring' -- more 'empathy' or 'acceptance'-- that Capps recommends as the means of empowering the depleted self."
--James E. Dittes
Yale University

"At last a respected pastoral theologian blows the whistle on the theological community's tendency to make individualism the scapegoat for all our world's many woes! Capps's correction, based on some sound scriptural and psychological motifs, is indeed refreshing. A strong and reasoned statement of the principle that taking care of our selves -- contemporary bashers of individualism and narcissism to the contrary--is not a matter of self-indulgence but a moral imperative absolutely necessary to the building of authentic community. Good news for both therapeutic and religious communities."
--Orlo Strunk, Jr.
Professor Emeritus
Boston University

Table of Contents

1. Whatever Became of Sin?
2. The Narcissistic Self
3. The Deadliest Sins of Our Narcissistic Age
4. Sin in a Shame-Based Theology
5. Expressive Individualism as Scapegoat
6. The Making of the Depleted Self
7. Countering the Jonah Complex