One of the problems (among many) with intellectual narcissism is that it can have a detrimental effect on faith and spirituality. From a latter-day saint perspective I can see at least two significant issues with this kind of narcissism interfacing with spirituality:
1) In the individual where it finds expression there is typically an arrogant focus on the intellect and reason alone for determining and confirming truth. Again, there is nothing wrong with the intellect or reason, even in matters of spirituality (D&C 88:78-80, 118; 90:15; 93:36; 130:18-19). In fact, we learn that knowledge and wisdom - and the ability to teach those attributes - are spiritual gifts (Moro. 10:9-10; D&C 46:17-18). Nevertheless, a hyper-focus on intellect alone tends to naturally alienate or dismiss thoughts and feelings that are whispered by the unseen Still, Small Voice to the "mind and heart". Intellectual reason encourages acceptance, among other criteria, of observable, repeatable, and quantifiable results to determine truth - appropriately so, I believe. But consequently, when taken alone, any other form of truth discovery, such as those thoughts and feelings mentioned above, is explained away with reductionistic physiological and psychological theories. So, something like the powerful conversion of a soul with accompanying changes of thought, feeling, and behavior, might be described in terms of firing neurotransmitters or attachment theory. As a result, promptings, revelations, miracles, faith, and other spiritual experiences are viewed with disdain, sympathy, or academic distance and either watered-down or rejected; even though the intellectual postulates fall flat in the face of the experience and results of something like a mighty change of heart in an individual life!
For the intellectual narcissist the discovery and recognition of great spiritual truth can thus be impaired, much like seeing the world through one eye. The impairment is often fueled by their perceived success at being a uniquely rational and objective person. Such perceptions tie into their fantasies of ideal intelligence and their need for admiration and acceptance by like-minded intellectuals.
2) Narcissism and pride are twins, who are always found in company together. With the paradigm described above, and the twin characteristics just noted lodged in the heart, there is a tendency for the intellectual narcissist to place him or herself above the word of God. They will not accept that "as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are [God's] ways higher than [our] ways, and [his] thoughts than [our] thoughts" (Isa 55:9). They go about ignoring, criticizing, and/or rejecting God's doctrine and His chosen servants, having - for some at least - forgotten sacred covenants.
There is a story in the Old Testament that at first glance appears rather brutal. The Philistines had captured the ark of the covenant and taken it away after a battle. After having been cursed with plagues they gave the ark back and King David retrieved it to bring it back to Jerusalem. As they traveled, the story goes, the oxen shook the ark so that it appeared it was about to fall. Uzzah "put forth his hand" to prevent the ark from falling and "took hold of it". Uzzah, despite good intentions, made a terrible mistake and "God smote him there for his error". (See 2 Sam. 6:1-11).
This may seem extreme, but a powerful lesson is being taught. The ark of the covenant was a symbol of God's presence. In the temple only the high priest could approach it in the Holy of Holies, and then only with very clear prerequisites. Uzzah's error was that he did not have stewardship or authority to touch the ark, and, most importantly, he doubted that God knew what He was doing and had all power to protect the workmanship of His hands. He presumptuously reached forth to "steady the ark" when it was not his place to do so and God (remember the symbolism here) did not need steadying from a mere mortal.
The ark-steadiers today are those who, even with good intentions, believe they know better than God and the prophets about how to direct His work. They are not those who may be struggling with a particular doctrine or practice and humbly working toward acceptance and testimony. They are, instead, those who may pridefully proclaim that doctrines and prophets are in error. They then seek to counsel the Lord instead of taking counsel from His hand, even though He counsels "in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all His works" (Jacob 4:10). This is where a sense of entitlement is especially evident. The intellectual narcissist ark-steadier - with his or her IQ, PhD, and worldly philosophy in hand - tells the church and its leaders by book and blog, by tweet and testimony, what they should and should not be doing. Their unsolicited opinion is rooted in personal preference and self-proclaimed learning. Tragically some get to the point where they eventually exalt themselves to be prophets unto themselves while they reject the oracles of God, and are left to "kick against the pricks". Like Elder Maxwell used to say, "There will always be some who leave the church but can never leave it alone."
President McKay, speaking of the story of Uzzah, stated, "He seemed justified, when the oxen stumbled, in putting forth his hand to steady that symbol of the covenant...[but] let us look around us and see how quickly men who attempt unauthoritatively to steady the ark die spiritually. Their souls become embittered, their minds distorted, their judgments faulty, and their spirits depressed. Such is the pitiable condition of men who, neglecting their own responsibilities, spend their time in finding fault with others." (McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 258).
No doubt about it, intellectual narcissism erodes, if not destroys, faith and spirituality. It leads to rejection of revelation and spiritual manifestation. It leads to rejection of the prophets and counseling the Lord.
Stay tuned for part III, dealing with prophecies and warnings.