by Harrison Koehli
January 18, 2024
from Ponerology Website


The Wild Hunt of Odin,

 by Peter Nicolai Arbo

A pathological pantheon,

and how pathology

shapes culture and religion...

The annoying thing about stereotypes is that they exist for a reason.


I may not think of myself often as a typical Canuck, but every once in a while I will say or do something that is undeniably "Canadian," to the amusement of my not-Canadian friends.


Whether it's the compulsion to say "sowrry" at almost entirely random times or to share old YouTube clips of Wayne Gretzky during some down-time (the gravitational pull of hockey is strong), some things aboot one's culture just go deep.

And they're not always flattering.


It's not just language, or climate, or shared pastimes, either.


It's entire complexes of ideas, feelings, and behaviors.

Andrew M. Lobaczewski highlights one such contributor to what we might call national character, cultural quirks, or even flaws:

the "quantitative and qualitative composition" of the fraction of any given population who are personality disordered.

Every country will be slightly different.

Some might have a lot of psychopaths, another might have more schizoids, another more anankastics.


Some might have a relatively large proportion of such individuals, while another might have relatively few.

Lobaczewski wrote (Political Ponerology - The Science of Evil, Psychopathy, and the Origins of Totalitarianism):

This [fraction] may be represented by a single-digit percentage in some nations, in the teens in others.

(Poland had a relatively low burden, but this share has grown alarmingly; Scandinavian countries, especially Norway, have the lowest burden in Europe; in the U.S., a nation built on the immigration of difficult people, this share is relatively high.)

Said quantitative and qualitative structure influences the entire psychological and moral climate of the country in question.

(pp. 138)

So the next time you say,

"Typical [descriptor of person from country x]!", you may just be picking up on something important, ponerologically speaking.

Put simply, your culture just may be more psychopathic than others, more schizoidal, more anankastic, more paranoid, more antisocial, or more histrionic.


Whatever it may be, it will be a unique blend, a potpourri of pathology that, while not necessarily approaching anywhere near the level of personality disorder in any given member of your people, will still color your basic psychology.

This got me thinking.

How might this affect the expression of religion in various contexts...?

As Lobaczewski writes in a later chapter on Pathocracy and Religion, there are at least two major ways in which religion goes wrong:

  • when it is corrupted from the beginning with pathological ideas

  • when it becomes corrupted over time

Since religion is an essential part of the "psychological and moral climate" of any given country, there's no doubt that this psychopathological fraction will shape religious expression over time.

Kazimierz Dabrowski thought something like this.


For him,

religion manifests differently according to the developmental level of each individual. A person's religious expression reflects their own psychology.

To give some examples, summarized from his magnum opus, Multilevelness of Emotional and Instinctive Functions, an individual,

at level 1 (primary integration, which includes psychopathy) may conceive of the forces of good and evil in an overly anthropomorphic way (bearded dude in the sky, horned Pan/faerie as the devil) and one's interaction with them as purely transactional:

provide me with food, help me win this battle.

Success may stoke a belief in one's superhuman nature or demigod status.


The religion of survival and supremacy.

At level 2 (unilevel disintegration, where there is "no way out"), one may cycle between belief and disbelief, personify one's conflicting states as warring gods, or,

"there may be a feeling of an exclusive contact with the divinity symbolized by a ritual of betrothal to a divine personage, often followed by a feeling of letdown, or lack of favor (grace)."

Ups and downs, highs and lows, but with no stable resolution.

Level 3 (spontaneous multilevel disintegration) shows the appearance of an inner hierarchy of religious values, the differentiation of a personal conception of the divine (immanence) and God as external and higher (transcendence).

"The search for grace is experienced as coming from two directions at once:

from the subject and from higher reality.

Sometimes one observes deviant forms of devotion of the divinity characterized by artificiality, excessive self-criticism and self-abasement or spiritual narcissism."

At level 4 (organized multilevel disintegration) we find efforts to make the transcendent a concrete reality, to search for the objectivity of higher realms, the need for,

"faith in the uniqueness of God and his personal attributes," and "valuing divinity as an embodiment of love",

...all associated with systematic contemplation and work at self-perfection.

And at level 5 (secondary integration), such qualities as an,

"all-encompassing empathy and universal love," and "an intuitive synthesis of one's personal relationship with the divinity."


"In this level religious attitude is marked by clarity and simplicity which is nourished by great depth and complexity of religious experience.


It is also characterized by an effort to make the relation between immanence and transcendence understandable, to make God a concrete experience, to carry with him a dialog in place of his monolog."


Every religion, and the body of its practitioners, will show the influence of all these levels, whether in the inspiration provided by its saints and mystics,

  • those working towards their own development and self-perfection

  • those struggling and falling away

  • those deluded about their own special status

  • those limited to cloaking basic drives and instincts, with no real conception of higher realities

Every religion has its con artists and its exemplars, and everyone in between. And all contribute to the overall worldview and practice of the religion in question.

With this overall framework in mind, I want to do something slightly more granular and look at the hypothetical religions of some of the chief personality disorders discussed by Lobaczewski, in order of their ponerogenic virulence.

What follows is my first draft of a taxonomy of religion under the influence of "the pathologic god."




The Anankastic God

The anankastic god has created a complex world of arbitrary order, and his injunctions on his creatures are just as complex and arbitrary.

His world is structured like a giant puzzle box.


Perform the correct movements and gestures, in the proper order at the right time, and access is granted to the next box.

The complexity and arbitrariness is not simply because the anankastic god is having fun - he is a joyless god, driven by compulsion.

Every action performed by one of his creatures is a part of the puzzle, and nothing less than perfection is required to solve the puzzle. It is not his concern what becomes of those who fail.


However, the anankastic god is not completely impassive when it comes to humanity.

The rules must be followed, and that requires subjects to follow them.

The perfect follower of the anankastic god is perfectly obedient.

He obeys all of the several thousand rules governing all facets of life ordained by his god, to the letter - rules for the days of the week, the hours of the day, and the activities of the hour.


He does this conscientiously, with single-mindedness and an air of unflagging self-sacrifice.

While the puzzle box is of ultimate value, all that is not covered under these rules is of little importance, to be ignored and repressed, or even approached via loopholes and exceptions to the rule, as when the rule becomes too onerous or even impossible to obey.


There is no spirit to the law, only its letter.



the perfect follower is not necessarily wise, insightful, understanding, or kind.


Those traits are secondary, and perhaps even obstacles on the path to perfection.

The anankastic apostle makes it his mission to evangelize the divine instruction manual, enforce its rules, and impose them on others.

To those who do not follow the rules, he may come across as stubborn, mean, obsessive, and over-meticulous when it comes to matters of lesser importance.

But for the anankastic god, the devil is to be found in the most mundane details.

It is the unbeliever's hierarchy of value that is inverted, placing value on things unrelated to the arcane procedures.

The anankastic god's chief delusion is that his complex order has real meaning.

His chief fear is that he is deluding himself - a fraudulent god...

But having invested so much of himself in this order, and lacking in any self-awareness, he paradoxically believes ever more strongly in his abstract vision, doubling and tripling down on it, devising ever more baroque rules and enforcing them ever more cruelly.


His final vision is one of perfect order, every state transition of reality contributing to a picture only he can see and appreciate:

cold, perfect, and devoid of any life...



The Schizoid God

The schizoid god is a hyper-rational god with no room for sentiment.


His order is precise, but he has created an abortion. (Even he is not quite sure if this was on purpose.) Most of his creatures are irredeemably corrupt, weak, and dirty.


Thus, the divine order can only be maintained by a small group of hyper-rational minds in the name of the schizoid god - a small group chosen to keep the hopelessly flawed in check or to eliminate them as the case may be.

The schizoid god sees in only two colors:

black and white...

One is either one of the chosen, or he isn't. Because these others are hopeless, they are fair game, of little value.


Controlled by their emotions, their emotions are free to be manipulated, even to their destruction. The schizoid god is not an inclusive god, satisfied to maintain an exclusive group of his own agents in a world hostile to them and to him.

The perfect follower of the schizoid god knows that,

he is superior to all the unbelieving drones and emotionally weak followers beneath him.


He is hypersensitive to perceived slights from the others and distrustful of them - as they are hostile and untrustworthy by their very nature.

These others may find him odd, but their opinion is of no value and only a sign of their lower status.


As with his god, his positions are extreme and black-and-white.

He is eager to retaliate for minor offenses.


His superior understanding of reality (which the others would call emotionally dull, arrogant, and disdainful) leads him to superimpose pejorative interpretations upon other people's intentions.

This frequently leads to difficulties in relations with these hostile others.

The schizoid apostle merely extols the virtues of his people and his god, without concern for the inferior. He is not overly concerned with gaining converts (what hope is there for the hopeless?), merely with following the will of his god.


The good opinion of the others is often helpful to him and his god, if not to the others themselves.

The schizoid god's chief delusion is his detachment from his creation. A god of inner contradiction, he is superior, and yet his creation is flawed. He is hyper-rational, and yet fundamentally detached from reality and thus fundamentally irrational.


His vision applies universally, and yet he sees only a fraction of reality; one in which his rule is accepted, and yet everything he does alienates those who might come to accept it.




The Psychopathic God

The psychopathic god claims to be the creator...!

In the moment, he may believe that to be true. In the next, he may deny having done so. He speaks contradictory words with equal conviction. He speaks a lot.

In a moment of candor sparked by flattery, he may boast that he merely took credit for the work of another, a sucker. For he cannot truly create, only ape. He is the god of a thousand faces and ten thousand lies.

And yet everything he says is true, even the things that are not...


If one of his creatures doubts him in any of his guises, this is an insult to his majesty, and that being will be slated for destruction.


Inspired to believe fully in his contradictory proclamations, his creatures devote their lives to discovering the hidden threads that hold the contradictions together, making them not contradictory at all.


Those who cannot see that the contradictions are not in fact contradictions are also slated for destruction.

He enjoys watching the struggle to achieve this absurdity, which for some is impossible.

He is the center of all creation, and all creation must remember that.

A special fate awaits any who deviate from his rule. For his creatures are his bride, and he their groom.


Yet on the wedding night, he reveals that his virtue was a mere pretense. She is designed only to serve him, nothing more. And he is a jealous god. If he can't have her, no one will.

This god is utterly without remorse or love.

He plays cruel games with his creatures, amusing himself at their ridiculous weaknesses, their alien fairy tales of honor and love and justice, and holding a secret disdain for those foolish enough to fall for his lies.


In one guise he will puff up one group of his creatures and set them at war with another, enjoying the sight of their complete slaughter, just has he has puffed up that other group in another of his guises.


They offer him heartfelt worship and he privately laughs at their pitiful abasement.

There are no true followers of the psychopathic god, only slaves. To truly live by the law of this god is to be him.

He is his own apostle...

Those speaking in his name and bringing others under his domain are simple tools, holding no special place in his heart, which is desolate.

The psychopathic god's chief delusion is his own centrality.


He is simply one of many, each a pretender. He is the most deluded of the pathologic pantheon, imagining himself the greatest when he is in fact the least.


His ultimate vision is one in which he is served by all, an impossibility, but which taken its logical fulfillment will lead him to being the center of nothing, and thus nothing himself:

'Nihilum ex creatione'...


'Creation from nothing'...