PSYCHOPATHS: ALMOST HUMAN
PONEROLOGY: EVIL IS A DISEASE
Psychopathy: The Cause of Evil
Ponerology: A New Science
Susceptibility: The Natural World View
The Genesis of Evil
Signs and Symptoms of Evil
Causes of Evil
Communicability or Ponerization
Many factors contribute to the development of our personality. Our natural world view and our behavior are conditioned by our society and family upbringing, and by our individual and collective genetic endowment: our instinctive substratum. While the emotionally active instinctive substratum of animals is the main dictator of their behavior, ours is more receptive to the control of reasoning. Its emotional basis forms the foundation for our feelings and social bonds which allow us to perceive psychological states, human customs and morals. In short, it is designed to support social cooperation and the survival of the group, sometimes in contrast to the equally strong instinct of self-preservation.
Differences between individuals and between nations are thus similarly influenced, giving rise to the rich and varied cultures of the world. Significantly, similarities among cultures show certain universal characteristics which obviously derive from the genetic nature of our species. Interracial differences in the instinctive substratum are much less striking than the difference between normal humans and carriers of certain defects of the instinctive substratum of the same race.
While objectivity is possible in tracking the causes of our personality, using the same logical and methodological principles as in other sciences, we have a natural tendency to affirm that we freely choose our own intentions and behaviors. We reject the external conditions that influence our actions and form our personalities. Thus, our natural world view is not perfect. It does not always mirror objective reality, and we are often illlogical in our beliefs and decision-making as a result. Luckily, the better our understanding of human causation, the better we can liberate ourselves from the conditioning the hinders our comprehension and decision-making.
Emotional Reactions: As a result of our instinct and errors in our upbringing, our emotional reactions (some of which are explained below) are rarely appropriate to the situations that spark them. A common example would be taking offence to objective criticism, and making a rash decision based on a temporary emotional reaction.
Moralizing Interpretation: Humans naturally and instinctively fail to distinguish between moral evil and biological evil. We often endow our opinions with moral judgment, as if our way of thinking were best simply because it is our own. We then apply this mode of thinking to others whose behavior we see as improper. Thus we deem such individuals "bad", inferring that they have negative intentions, rather than attempting to understand the psychological conditions that are driving them and which convince them that they are doing what is right. Often these conditions include brain damage or hereditary psychopathologies. The common 'moralizing' approach can be summarized as follows: "Unless one is simply incapable of making moral choices, evil consists of making evil choices."
Psychopaths have little to no real choice in how they act as they cannot empathize or sympathize; they cannot view other humans as anything other but objects to be used for their advantage – they “lack the hardware,” so to speak. We should offer token sympathy, because they literally have no choice in the matter. Their very genetic code predisposes them toward predatory behavior. They are, as Robert Hare terms them, an intraspecies predator.
A moralizing interpretation often leads to erroneous behavior, such as a desire for revenge, which itself opens the door for further ponerogenic factors. Often, exaggerated displays of such emotionally loaded interpretations (such as those of Bill O'Reilly or Glen Beck, for example) are themselves indications of pathological egotism. "Nothing poisons the soul and deprives us of our capacity to understand reality more objectively than this very obedience to that common human tendency to take a moralistic view of human behaviour." (Lobaczewski, 149)
Critically Corrective Interpretation: As opposed to a pathological acceptance by one psychological deviant of the work of another, normal humans often apply a critically corrective interpretation to such material. Because of their richer psychological worldview, normal people will often trivialize glaring errors and project their own understanding onto the work of someone who lacks such abilities. This can cause an individual to accept material that is actually contrary to their morals or beliefs, e.g. to the work of Marx or even Adolph Hitler.
Self-Protection Reflex: Our near-reflex quickness at controlling anyone that poses as a threat to our group is encoded at the instinctual level. This reflex is accompanied by a moralizing interpretation to human behavior.
Normal Psychological Types: Among normal humans, the dynamism of the instinctive substratum differs. For some, reason easily overpowers the emotional instinct; for others, the instincts overpower the intellect. Some seem to have a richer and more developed substratum than others. These differences must be taken into account when attempting to achieve an objective look at reality.
Lack of Universality: The natural worldview only applies to the vast majority of humanity. There is, however, a statistically small segment of the human population who have quite a different worldview. These individuals are discussed in the Psychopaths: Almost Human section of this website. As such, the natural worldview has limited applicability. We manage to live our lives with only our emotional thinking and the pursuit of happiness, but these are insufficient tools when dealing with psychopathology.
Egotism of the Natural World View: Some people with a highly developed natural worldview of psychological, societal, moral aspects tend to overvalue their own worldview, seeing it as an objective basis for judging others. While this is the least pernicious form of egotism, being based in humanistic principles, the refusal to admit to the possibility of error can have a stifling effect on counteractive measures against macrosocial disease. For example, a strong belief that all humans are born equal and created in God's image can lead to an "egalitarian" acceptance of pathological individuals and their distorted world view. Similar dynamics occur with strong beliefs in freedom of speech, freedom to pursue happiness, the "goodness" of humankind, etc. An objective world view must be practical and rooted in biological realities. However, it must adequately explain what biology does not. It must take into account the "reading errors" of the natural worldview.
Besides inner psychological processes, other conditions contribute to ponerogenesis. For example, intellectual deficits, whether as a result of age, education, or natural endowment, and moral failings contribute substantially to ponerogenesis. These can include ignorance of psychological differences, an inability to recognize manipulation, and the tendency to realize one's own desires without consideration for the well-being of others.
Socioeconomic Conditions: Regardless of the quality of such conditions, psychopaths, as a rule, reach the conclusion that society is forceful and oppressive. However, if such conditions actually exist, these pathological feelings of unfairness can resonate with those who have actually been treated unfairly.
Psychopathic Trauma: Subordination to a psychopathic individual has severe effects on a normal person. It engenders both trauma and neurosis, depriving one of autonomy and capacity for common sense. Emotions become chilled and a sense of psychological reality is stifled. This leads to a feeling of helplessness and intense depression.
"Unconscious psychological processes outstrip conscious reasoning, both in time and in scope, which makes many psychological phenomena possible.… Those people who use conversive operations too often for the purpose of finding convenient conclusions, or constructing some cunning paralogistic or paramoralistic statements, eventually begin to undertake such behavior for ever more trivial reasons, losing the capacity for conscious control over their thought process altogether. This necessarily leads to behavior errors which must be paid for by others as well as themselves." (Lobaczewski, 152, 3)
i) Blocking out conclusions: “We speak of blocking out conclusions if the inferential process was proper in principle … but becomes stymied by a preceding directive from the subconscious which considers [the conclusion] inexpedient or disturbing.” (Lobaczewski, 152)
A normal person has all the necessary tools and data to solve a problem or to logically reach a conclusion, but if the solution holds ideas contradictory to firmly held beliefs it is ‘blocked’ from conscious awareness. This type of denial can be extremely harmful, leading to intense feelings of tension and bitterness. For example, a wife may reject the conclusion that her husband is cheating on her, even when all the evidence logically points to this being the case (e.g., friends' testimony, strange phone calls from an unknown woman, lipstick on the collar). When a supporter of the current war in Iraq is confronted with the fact that nearly a million Iraqis have been killed as a result of his support, this fact may be subconsciously blocked.
ii) Selection of premises: Rather than affecting the acceptance of a disturbing conclusion, this process blocks out the piece or pieces of data that lead to the formation of a conclusion. When determining the morality of the occupation of Palestine, many reject that the Palestinians were ethnically cleansed in the Nabka of 1948. Accepting this datum would lead to a correct, albeit disturbing, conclusion regarding the morality of Israeli military occupation.
iii) Substitution of premises: This is the most complex process and consists of substituting other data for those already rejected, making for a more comfortable conclusion. This process is often effected collectively, usually in verbal communication. In the case of Palestine, some groups have convinced themselves that there is no such thing as a Palestinian: Palestine was empty when the Jews found it, they say. This could also be called a “self-lie”, or a lie that we consciously tell ourselves, and then come to believe as true.
Conversive thinking is highly contagious and acts a dangerous infection entry for truly pathological material. People who have lost their capacity for logical thought (and thus the ability to distinguish between truth and lies) are thus more prone to accepting the paralogic and paramorals of psychopaths and characteropaths. For example, observe the behavior of the "Christian Right" and their uncritical acceptance of war propaganda.
In the search for a good life, humanity first used the power of animals, then turned to exploiting their fellow humans. In such a way, the seeds of suffering and inequality can be found in our hedonistic pursuit of “happiness”. In this way good times give birth to bad times. The knowledge learned by the suffering in bad times leads to the creation of good times, and the cycle repeats.
When a society is hedonistic and the times are “good”, the perception of the truth about the real environment, and in particular, the understanding of what a healthy human personality is and how such personalities are nurtured, ceases first of all to be the highest social priority, then ceases to be generally understood, and finally ceases even to be remembered as a part of the inventory of human knowledge.
Understanding and accumulation of knowledge may seem to be a “done deal” (e.g., The “There’s nothing left to be discovered in physics” pronouncements at the end of the nineteenth century or “We are the end result and final goal of evolution”). The search for truth is then considered to be a pointless activity for the very reason that the times are good. This, unfortunately, is a confusion of the effect (the good times) with the cause (the dedicated effort to understand and the reality-matching social organizations created by that understanding which brought the good times into being). In-depth understanding may become “unfashionable” or even despised. For example, studious upper class Victorian youths were labeled “grinds”; today in America, such studious ones might be advised to “get a life.”
Having arrived at the very top of the wheel of fortune, many people forget that, without evolutionary transformation to another level, it is a wheel, and there’s nowhere to go but down. Here are the bare bones of the hysteroidal cycle with specific emphasis on the mental processes involved.
1. The search for truth reveals “inconvenient”, that is, morally embarrassing facts. For example, Christian slaveholders being reminded that holding slaves was not a very Christian activity; or otherwise unprejudiced Americans being informed that their tax dollars are being spent for racist goals, that is, to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians from the land coveted by Zionists. Hedonistic societies repress the fact that they profit on the suffering of others.
2. At first, when morally embarrassing facts are encountered, they are consciously avoided. For example, the subject is suddenly changed; or a discussion is tabled or concluded without going any further into the matter.
3. When the avoidance of morally embarrassing facts is done frequently enough, it ceases to be a conscious process and gets relegated to the subconscious; that is, it becomes a habit.
4. The habit of avoiding morally embarrassing facts is a contagious one. It becomes a socially accepted habit, the “in” thing to do. “The ‘very best people’ never discuss such things, and certainly not in public,” is a sentiment expressed innumerable times in the nineteenth century. Lobaczewski points out that Kaiser Wilhelm I had a brain trauma at birth, and numerous physical and psychological handicaps which were so completely concealed from the German people, that, for example, it is almost impossible to find a photograph of this emperor with his badly withered arm visible.
5. Reasoning to draw valid conclusions becomes impossible because of the gaps left by the suppressed “inconvenient” facts. The subconscious compensates by substituting morally less embarrassing “premises” so as to be able to continue to draw conclusions, although the conclusions now drawn are, necessarily, false. This is the chronic avoidance of the crux of the matter.
6. People grow perceptibly more egotistic, and the society as a whole more emotional and hysterical. There is a great deal of confusion about values and such societies grow to be seen as arrogant and hedonistic.
7. When the deviation from reality becomes great enough, the person or the society becomes pathological, and murder sprees or senseless world wars and bloody revolutions are in the offing.
In short, during good times, moral, intellectual and personality values devolve to the point where a society is ripe for manipulation by snake-charmers and con-men of Rasputin-like charisma. Individuals become emotionally volatile, egotistical, and intolerant of other cultures. The resulting suffering necessitate great mental and physical strength to fight for existence and human reason. Slowly, what has been lost is relearned. Difficult times give rise to the values necessary to conquer evil and produce better times.