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
"Oversimplification of the causative picture as regards the genesis of evil, often to a single easily understood cause or one perpetrator, itself becomes a cause in this genesis. . . . Any attempt to explain the things that occurred during the first half of our [twentieth] century by means of categories generally accepted in historical thought leaves a nagging feeling of inadequacy. Only a ponerological approach can compensate for this deficit in our comprehension, as it does justice to the role of various pathological factors in the genesis of evil at every social level." (Lobaczewski, 144, 109)
Our modern Western culture lacks an adequate framework to understand the causes and processes of what we commonly refer to as evil in our history. The Third Reich, the Bolshevik Revolution, Stalinism… Our body of literature, social sciences, and our common sense of morality only scratch the surface of a true comprehension of the nature of evil. Thus, the very people who are, in fact, the initiators of the greatest ponerogenic activity pass undetected. Our lack of understanding will inevitably lead to the very problems that the majority of humanity seeks to prevent.
In literature and film, evil is romanticized; portrayed as mysterious, yet beautiful; dark, yet conflicted. There is always a heart of gold beneath a cold-blooded exterior. The Hollywood psychopath, rarely depicted accurately, evokes both our disgust and our sympathy; war heroes slaughter their enemies ruthlessly, yet live loving lives as husbands and fathers. If the villain did not have a rough childhood, or does not show any signs of a struggle of conscience, he is seen as "two-dimensional" and "unrealistic".
Leading social scientists and psychologists promote a similarly narrow view of evil, dealing only with its social and moral aspects. In other words, they study effects; not causes. One such researcher argues that "most evil is the product of rather ordinary people caught up in unusual circumstances that they are not equipped to cope with in the normal ways that have worked in the past to escape, avoid or challenge them, while they are being recruited, seduced, initiated into evil by persuasive authorities or compelling peer pressure." According to this researcher, the line of distinction between a sadistic torturer at Abu Ghraib, and a non-violent peace activist is simply one of chance.
These somewhat naive views on evil are not entirely wrong. Movies can accurately portray psychotic, or even psychopathic, serial murderers; the common view of evil can accept that human frailties and ambitions often degenerate into bloodthirsty madness. However, both of these views demonstrate a complete ignorance of the causal role of psychopathology (especially essential psychopathy) in the genesis of evil, or ponerogenesis. Film ignores an analysis of the psychopathic parent that creates the traumatized child; social sciences ignore the influence of psychopathy on the minds of normal humans and the specific processes that give rise to ignoring one's conscience.
Moreso, the common view of evil still partly justifies the blood-stained solutions of past, present, and future politicians. In such a way is the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the firebombing of Dresden, to the present day occupation of Iraq and Palestine justified. And without an understanding of the role of psychopathy, any attempt to objectively evaluate such symptoms of macrosocial evil, no matter how accurate, can be co-opted by spellbinders. In such a way, a partial truth can be used as justification and as a rallying point for further destruction.
Inherited and acquired psychological disorders and ignorance of their existence and nature are the primal causes of evil. The magic number of 6% seems to represent the number of humans who either carry the genes responsible for biological evil or who acquire such disorders in the course of their lifetime. This small percent is responsible for the vast majority of human misery and crime, and for infecting others with their flawed view of the world.
The scope of evil does not respect any boundaries of race, doctrine, or ideology. All races carry the genes, and all schools of thought are susceptible to their influence. These pathological factors that influence behaviour form a complex web. It is only in such a web that the "environmental evil" wherein circumstances can influence a normal person to commit harmful acts can be understood.
Of 5000 psychotic, neurotic and healthy patients, Lobaczewski identified 384 (7.7%) who caused serious harm (physical and/or emotional) to others. Some of these had been penalized for their actions and some had been protected by Communist government of the time. Contrary to the common moralistic interpretation of evil actions ("evil consists of making evil choices"), and also contrary to legal systems which views psychopaths as sane and thus responsible for their actions, the vast majority (85%) of these 384 individuals showed psychopathological factors influencing their behaviour. It is likely that, without these factors present, the harmful actions would not have taken place. These psychological factors limit the subject's ability to control their actions. In this sense, a moralistic interpretation to psychopathic behavior is fundamentally flawed.
While a moral sense (lacking in psychopaths) can be seen as necessary to be held morally responsible, that is not to say that psychopaths should have free rein to destroy lives. Psychopathic individuals can have a number of effects on normal people: they can fascinate, traumatize, cause pathological personality development, or inspire vindictive emotions (a result of viewing evil as simply a "choice"). An example of this variety can be seen in the host of groupies, pen pals, supporters, and love-struck fans that flocks towards dangerous serial killers like Richard Ramirez and Ted Bundy. One fan of Ramirez said, "When I look at him, I see a real handsome guy who just messed up his life because he never had anyone to guide him."
These effects and the confusion they engender can then lead to, and reinforce our collective ignorance of such individuals. We rarely hold responsible the individual who influences another to commit evil, but instead moralistically punish only the agent of an act. The true cause of 'evil' actions goes unpunished, much like an Army Private punished for the crimes of his superiors. In fact, the true source of 'evil' may be separated from a specific action by both vast stretches in time (i.e., in literature and tradition) and by large distances (i.e., by mass media).
"The practical value of our natural world view generally ends where psychopathology begins." (Lobaczewski, 145)
No matter how eloquently and accurately authors (novelists, dramatists, poets, historians) describe the occurrence of evil, a disease cannot be cured through description alone. Our natural language cannot adequately explain the concepts surrounding such phenomena. Only a scientific understanding drawing from psychological, social, and moral concepts can approach the understanding necessary to prevent the emergence of mass madness seen so many times in the history of our planet.
Ponerology describes the genesis, existence, and spread of the macrosocial disease called evil. Its causes are traceable and can be repeatedly observed and analyzed. When humanity manages to incorporate this knowledge into its natural worldview, it will have defensive potential as yet unrealizeds