May the reader please imagine a very large hall in an old Gothic university building. Many of us gathered there early in our studies in order to listen to the lectures of outstanding philosophers and scientists. We were herded back there – under threat - the year before graduation in order to listen to the indoctrination lectures which recently had been introduced.

Someone nobody knew appeared behind the lectern and informed us that he would now be the professor. His speech was fluent, but there was nothing scientific about it: he failed to distinguish between scientific and ordinary concepts and treated borderline imaginings as though it were wisdom that could not be doubted. For ninety minutes each week, he flooded us with naive, presumptuous paralogistics and a pathological view of human reality. We were treated with contempt and poorly controlled hatred. Since fun-poking could entail dreadful consequences, we had to listen attentively and with the utmost gravity.

The grapevine soon discovered this person’s origins. He had come from a Cracow suburb and attended high school, although no one knew if he had graduated. Anyway, this was the first time he had crossed university portals, and as a professor, at that!

“You can’t convince anyone this way!” we whispered to each other.

“It’s actually propaganda directed against themselves.”

But after such mind-torture, it took a long time for someone to break the silence.

We studied ourselves, since we felt something strange had taken over our minds and something valuable was leaking away irretrievably. The world of psychological reality and moral values seemed suspended as if in a chilly fog. Our human feeling and student solidarity lost their meaning, as did patriotism and our old established criteria. So we asked each other, “are you going through this too”? Each of us experienced this worry about his own personality and future in his own way. Some of us answered the questions with silence. The depth of these experiences turned out to be different for each individual.

We thus wondered how to protect ourselves from the results of this “indoctrination”. Teresa D. made the first suggestion: Let’s spend a weekend in the mountains. It worked. Pleasant company, a bit of joking, then exhaustion followed by deep sleep in a shelter, and our human personalities returned, albeit with a certain remnant. Time also proved to create a kind of psychological immunity, although not with everyone. Analyzing the psychopathic characteristics of the “professor’s” personality proved another excellent way of protecting one’s own psychological hygiene.

You can just imagine our worry, disappointment, and surprise when some colleagues we knew well suddenly began to change their world view; their thought-patterns furthermore reminded us of the “professor’s” chatter. Their feelings, which had just recently been friendly, became noticeably cooler, although not yet hostile. Benevolent or critical student arguments bounced right of them. They gave the impression of possessing some secret knowledge; we were only their former colleagues, still believing what those “professors of old” had taught us. We had to be careful of what we said to them.


These former colleagues soon joined the Party.

  • Who were they, what social groups did they come from, what kind of students and people were they?

  • How and why did they change so much in less than a year?

  • Why did neither I nor a majority of my fellow students succumb to this phenomenon and process?

Many such questions fluttered through our heads then. It was in those times, from those questions, observations and attitudes that the idea was born that this phenomenon could be objectively studied and understood; an idea whose greater meaning crystallized with time.

Many of us newly graduated psychologists participated in the initial observations and reflections, but most crumbled away in the face of material or academic problems. Only a few of that group remained; so the author of this book may be the last of the Mohicans.

It was relatively easy to determine the environments and origins of the people who succumbed to this process, which I then called “transpersonification”. They came from all social groups, including aristocratic and fervently religious families, and caused a break in our student solidarity to the order of some 6 %. The remaining majority suffered varying degrees of personality disintegration which gave rise to individual searching for the values necessary to find ourselves again; the results were varied and sometimes creative.

Even then, we had no doubts as to the pathological nature of this “transpersonification” process, which ran similar but not identical in all cases. The duration of the results of this phenomenon also varied. Some of these people later became zealots. Others later took advantage of various circumstances to withdraw and re-establish their lost links to the society of normal people. They were replaced. The only constant value of the new social system was the magic number of 6 %.

We tried to evaluate the talent level of those colleagues who had succumbed to this personality-transformation process, and reached the conclusion that, on average, it was slightly lower than the average of the student population. Their lesser resistance obviously resided in other bio-psychological features which were most probably qualitatively heterogeneous.

I found that I had to study subjects bordering on psychology and psychopathology in order to answer the questions arising from our observations; scientific neglect in these areas proved an obstacle difficult to overcome. At the same time, someone guided by special knowledge apparently vacated the libraries of anything we could have found on the topic; books were indexed, but not physically present.

Analyzing these occurrences now in hindsight, we could say that the “professor” was dangling bait over our heads, based on specific psychological knowledge. He knew in advance that he would fish out amenable individuals, and even how to do it, but the limited numbers disappointed him. The transpersonification process generally took hold only when an individual’s instinctive substratum was marked by pallor or certain deficits. To a lesser extent, it also worked among people who manifested other deficiencies in which the state provoked within them was partially impermanent, being largely the result of psychopathological induction.

This knowledge about the existence of susceptible individuals and how to work on them will continue being a tool for world conquest as long as it remains the secret of such “professors”. When it becomes skillfully popularized science, it will help nations to develop immunity. But none of us knew this at the time.
Nevertheless, we must admit that in demonstrating the properties of this process to us in such a way as to force us into in-depth experience, the professor helped us understand the nature of the phenomenon in a larger scope than many a true scientific researcher participating in this work in other less direct ways.

As a youth, I read a book about a naturalist wandering through the Amazon-basin wilderness. At some moment a small animal fell from a tree onto the nape of his neck, clawing his skin painfully and sucking his blood. The biologist cautiously removed it—without anger, since that was its form of feeding—and proceeded to study it carefully. This story stubbornly stuck in my mind during those very difficult times when a vampire fell onto our necks, sucking the blood of an unhappy nation.

Maintaining the attitude of a naturalist, while attempting to track the nature of macrosocial phenomenon in spite of all adversity, insures a certain intellectual distance and better psychological hygiene in the face of horrors that might otherwise be difficult to contemplate. Such an attitude also slightly increases the feeling of safety and furnishes an insight that this very method may help find a certain creative solution.


This requires strict control of the natural, moralizing reflexes of revulsion, and other painful emotions that the phenomenon provokes in any normal person when it deprives him of his joy of life and personal safety, ruining his own future and that of his nation. Scientific curiosity therefore becomes a loyal ally during such times.

Hopefully, my readers will forgive me for recounting here a youthful reminiscence that will lead us directly into the subject. My uncle, a very lonely man, would visit our house periodically. He had survived the great Soviet Revolution in the depths of Russia, where he had been shipped out by the Czarist police. For over a year he wandered from Siberia to Poland.


Whenever he met with an armed group during his travels, he quickly tried to determine which ideology they represented, white or red, and thereupon skillfully pretended to profess it. Had his ruse been unsuccessful, he would have had his head blown off as a suspected enemy sympathizer. It was safest to have a gun and belong to a gang. So he would wander and war alongside either group, usually only until he found an opportunity to desert westward toward his native Poland, a country which had just regained its freedom.

When he finally reached his beloved homeland again, he managed to finish his long-interrupted law studies, to become a decent person, and to achieve a responsible position. However, he was never able to liberate himself from his nightmarish memories. Women were frightened by his stories of the bad old days and thought it would make no sense to bring a new life into an uncertain future. Thus, he never started a family. Perhaps he would have been unable to relate to his loved ones properly.

This uncle of mine would recapture his past by telling the children in my family stories about what he had seen, experienced and taken part in; our young imaginations were unable to come to terms with any of it. Nightmarish terror shuddered in our bones. We would think of questions: why did people lose all their humanity, what was the reason for all this? Some sort of apprehensive premonition choked its way into our young minds; unfortunately, it was to come true in the future.

If a collection were to be made of all those books which describe the horrors of wars, the cruelties of revolutions, and the bloody deeds of political leaders and their systems, many readers would avoid such a library. Ancient works would be placed alongside books by contemporary historians and reporters. The documentary treatises on German extermination and concentration camps, and of the extermination of the Jewish Nation, furnish approximate statistical data and describe the well-organized “labor” of the destruction of human life, using a properly calm language, and providing a concrete basis for the acknowledgement of the nature of evil.

The autobiography of Rudolf Hoess, the commander of camps in Oswiecim (Auschwitz) and Brzezinka (Birkenau), is a classic example of how an intelligent psychopathic individual with a deficit of human emotion thinks and feels.

Foremost among these would be books written by witnesses to criminal insanity such as Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, from prewar Soviet life; Smoke over Birkenau the personal memories of Severina Szmaglewska 5 from the Oswiecim German concentration camp for women; The Other World, the Soviet memoires of Gustav Herling-Grudzinski 6; and the Solzhenitsyn volumes turgid with human suffering.

The collection would include works on the philosophy of history discussing the social and moral aspects of the genesis of evil, but they would also use the half-mysterious laws of history to partly justify the blood-stained solutions.

5 Szmaglewska, Seweryna, 1916-92, writer; 1942-45 prisoner in Nazi concentration camps; wrote Dymy nad Birkenau (Smoke over Birkenau, 1945); witness at Nuremberg Trial; stories and novels mainly concerned with war and occupation: Zapowiada sie piekny dzien (Looks Like a Beautiful Day, 1960), Niewinni w Norymberdze (The Innocent at Nuremberg, 1972); novels for young people; anthology of memoirs 1939-45: Wiezienna krata (Prison Bars, 1964). [Editor’s note.]
6 Herling-Grudzinski, Gustav: Polish writer who after WWII lived in Napoli, Italy. Married the daughter of well known Italian philosopher Benedetto Croce. He wrote an account of his time in a Soviet gulag: A World Apart. [Editor’s note.]

However, an alert reader would be able to detect a certain degree of evolution in the authors’ attitudes, from an ancient affirmation of primitive enslavement and murder of vanquished peoples, to the present-day moralizing condemnation of such methods of behavior.

Such a library would nevertheless be missing a single work offering a sufficient explanation of the causes and processes whereby such historical dramas originate, of how and why human frailties and ambitions degenerate into bloodthirsty madness. Upon reading the present volume, the reader will realize that writing such a book was scientifically impossible until recently.

The old questions would remain unanswered: what made this happen? Does everyone carry the seeds of crime within, or is it only some of us?


No matter how faithful and psychologically true, no literary description of occurrences, such as those narrated by the above-mentioned authors, can answer these questions, nor can they fully explain the origins of evil.


They are thus incapable of furnishing sufficiently effective principles for counter-acting evil. The best literary description of a disease cannot produce an understanding of its essential etiology, and thus furnishes no principles for treatment. In the same way, such descriptions of historical tragedies are unable to elaborate effective measures for counteracting the genesis, existence, or spread of evil.

In using natural7 language to circumscribe psychological, social, and moral concepts which cannot properly be described within its sphere of utility, we produce a sort of surrogate comprehension leading to a nagging suspicion of helplessness. Our natural system of concepts and imaginings is not equipped with the necessary factual content to permit reasoned comprehension of the quality of the factors (particularly the psychological ones) which were active before the birth of, and during, such inhumanly cruel times

7 Ordinary, everyday words which have various meanings, generally benign, and often do not embrace a specific, scientific meaning. [Editor’s note.]

We must nevertheless point out that the authors of such literary descriptions sensed that their language was insufficient and therefore attempted to infuse their words with the proper scope of precision, almost as though they foresaw that someone – at some point in time - might use their works in order to explain what cannot be explained, not even in the best literary language. Had these writers not been so precise and descriptive in their language, this author would have been unable to use their works for his own scientific purposes.

In general, most people are horrified by such literature; in hedonistic societies particularly, people have the tendency to escape into ignorance or naive doctrines. Some people even feel contempt for suffering persons. The influence of such books can thus be partially harmful; we should counteract that influence by indicating what the authors had to leave out because our ordinary world of concepts and imaginings cannot contain it.

The reader will therefore find herein no bloodcurdling descriptions of criminal behavior or human suffering. It is not the author’s job to present a graphic return of material adduced by people who saw and suffered more than he did, and whose literary talents are greater. Introducing such descriptions into this work would run counter to its purpose: it would not only focus attention on some occurrences to the exclusion of many others, but would also distract the mind from the real heart of the matter, namely, the general laws of the origin of evil.

In tracking the behavioral mechanisms of the genesis of evil, one must keep both abhorrence and fear under control, submit to a passion for epistemological science, and develop the calm outlook needed in natural history. We must never lose sight of the objective: to trace the processes of ponerogenesis; where they can lead and what threat they can pose to us in the future.

This book therefore aims to take the reader by the hand into a world beyond the concepts and imaginings he has relied on to describe his world since childhood, in an overly egotistic way, probably because his parents, surroundings, and the community of his country used concepts similar to his own. Thereafter, we must show him an appropriate selection from the world of factual concepts which have given birth to recent scientific thinking and which will allow him an understanding of what has remained irrational in his everyday system of concepts.

However, this tour of another reality will not be a psychological experiment conducted upon readers’ minds for the sole purpose of exposing the weak points and gaps in their natural world view. Rather, it an urgent necessity due to our contemporary world’s pressing problems, which we can ignore only at our peril.

It is important to realize that we cannot possibly distinguish the path to nuclear catastrophe from the path to creative dedication unless we step beyond this world of natural egotism and well known concepts. Then we can come to the understanding that the path was chosen for us by powerful forces, against which our nostalgia for homey, familiar human concepts can be no match. We must step beyond this world of everyday, illusory thinking for our own good and for the good of our loved ones.

The social sciences have already elaborated their own conventional language which mediates between the ordinary man’s view and a fully objective naturalistic view. It is useful to scientists in terms of communication and cooperation, but it is still not the kind of conceptual structure which can fully take into account the biological, psychological, and pathological premises at issue in the second and fourth chapters of this book. In the social sciences, the conventional terminology eliminates critical standards and puts ethics on ice; in the political sciences, it leads to an underrated evaluation of factors which describe the essence of political situations when evil is at the core.

This social science language left the author and other investigators feeling helpless and scientifically stranded early in our research on the mysterious nature of this inhuman historical phenomenon which engulfed our nation, and still fires his attempts to reach an objective understanding of it. Ultimately, I had no choice but to resort to objective biological, psychological, and psychopathological terminology in order to bring into focus the true nature of the phenomenon, the heart of matter.

The nature of the phenomena under investigation as well as the needs of readers, particularly those unfamiliar with psycho-pathology, dictate the descriptive manner which must first introduce the data and concepts necessary for further comprehension of psychologically and morally pathological occurrences.


We shall thus begin with human personality questions, intentionally formulated in such a way as to coincide largely with the experience of a practicing psychologist, passing then to selected questions of societal psychology. In the “ponerology” chapter, we shall familiarize ourselves with how evil is born with regard to each social scale, emphasizing the actual role of some psychopathological phenomena in the process of ponero-genesis.


This will facilitate the transition from natural language to the necessary objective language of naturalistic, psychological, and statistical science to the extent that is necessary and sufficient. Hopefully, it will not be irksome for readers to discuss these matters in clinical terms.

In the author’s opinion, Ponerology reveals itself to be a new branch of science born out of historical need and the most recent accomplishments of medicine and psychology. In the light of objective naturalistic language, it studies the causal components and processes of the genesis of evil, regardless of the latter’s social scope. We may attempt to analyze these ponerogenic processes which have given rise to human injustice, armed with proper knowledge, particularly in the area of psychopathology. Again and again, as the reader will discover, in such a study, we meet with the effects of pathological factors whose carriers are people characterized by some degree of various psychological deviations or defects.

Moral evil and psychobiological evil are, in effect, interlinked via so many causal relationships and mutual influences that they can only be separated by means of abstraction. However, the ability to distinguish them qualitatively can help us to avoid a moralizing interpretation of the pathological factors, an error to which we are all prone, and which poisons the human mind in an insidious way, whenever social and moral affairs are at issue.

The ponerogenesis of macrosocial phenomena - large scale evil - which constitutes the most important object of this book, appears to be subject to the same laws of nature that operate within human questions on an individual or small-group level. The role of persons with various psychological defects and anomalies of a clinically low level appears to be a perennial characteristic of such phenomena. In the macrosocial phenomenon we shall later call “pathocracy”, a certain hereditary anomaly isolated as “essential psychopathy” is catalytically and causatively essential for the genesis and survival of large scale social evil.

Our natural human world view actually creates a barrier to our understanding of such questions, thus, it is necessary to be familiar with psychopathological phenomena, such as those encountered in this field, in order to breach that barrier. May then the readers please forgive the author’s occasional lapses along this innovative path and fearlessly follow his lead, familiarizing themselves rather systematically with the data adduced in the first few chapters. Thus, we shall be able to accept the truth of the nature of evil without reflex protests on the part of our natural egotism.

Specialists familiar with psychopathology will find the road less novel. They will, however, notice some differences in interpreting several well known phenomena, resulting in part from the anomalous situations under which the research was done, but mostly from the more intensive penetration needed to achieve the primary purpose. That is why this aspect of our work contains certain theoretical values useful for psychopathology. Hopefully, non-specialists will depend upon the author’s long experience in distinguishing individual psychological anomalies found among people and factored into the process of the genesis of evil.

It should be pointed out that considerable moral, intellectual, and practical advantages can be gleaned from an understanding of the ponerogenic processes thanks to the naturalistic objectivity required. The long-term heritage of ethical questions is thereby not destroyed; quite the contrary, it is reinforced, since modern scientific methods confirm the basic values of moral teachings. However, ponerology forces some corrections upon many details.

Understanding the nature of macrosocial pathological phenomena permits us to find a healthy attitude and perspective toward them, thus assisting us in protecting our minds from being poisoned by their diseased contents and the influence of their propaganda. The unceasing counter-propaganda resorted to by some countries with a normal human system could easily be superseded by straightforward information of a scientific and popular scientific nature on the subject.


The bottom line is that we can only conquer this huge, contagious social cancer if we comprehend its essence and its etiological causes. This would eliminate the mystery of this phenomenon as its primary survival asset. Ignota nulla curatio morbid *


* Do not attempt to cure what you do not understand.

Such an understanding of the nature of the phenomena that this study brings forward leads to the logical conclusion that the measures for healing and reordering the world today should be completely different from the ones heretofore used for solving international conflicts. Solutions to such conflicts should function more like modern antibiotics, or, even better, psychotherapy properly handled, rather than taking the approach of old-style weapons such as clubs, swords, tanks or nuclear missiles.


Healing social problems should be the objective, not destroying society. An analogy can be drawn between the archaic method of bleeding a patient as opposed to the modern method of strengthening and restoring the ill one in order to effect the cure.

With reference to phenomena of a ponerogenic nature, mere proper knowledge alone can begin healing individual humans and helping their minds regain harmony.


Toward the end of this book, we shall be discussing how to use this knowledge in order to arrive at the correct political decisions and apply it to an overall therapy of the world.


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