by Andrew M. Lobaczewski
PONEROLOGY - THE STUDY OF EVIL
"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 light of
objective naturalistic language, it studies the causal components and
processes of the genesis of evil, regardless of the latter’s social
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."
With very few exceptions down the ages,
discussions in moral philosophy - the study of right conduct - have failed
to systematically investigate the origin, nature, and course of evil in a
manner free from supernatural imaginings.
Evil was often considered
something to be endured rather than something that could be understood and
eliminated by rational measures.
And - as Lobaczewski demonstrates - the origin
of evil actually lies outside the boundaries of the conventional worldview
within which the earlier moral inquiries and literary explorations were
conducted. Evil requires a truly modern and scientific approach to lay bare
This approach is called "ponerology",
the study of evil, from the Greek "poneros" = evil.
The original manuscript of this book went into the furnace minutes before a
secret police raid in Communist Poland. The second copy, painfully
reassembled by scientists working under impossible conditions of violence
and repression, was sent via courier to
Its receipt was never
acknowledged - the manuscript and all valuable data lost.
In 1984, the third and final copy was written
from memory by the last survivor of the original researchers: Andrew
Zbigniew Brzezinski blocked its
After half a century of suppression, this book is finally
Political Ponerology is shocking in its clinically spare descriptions
of the true nature of evil. It is poignant in its more literary passages
revealing the immense suffering experienced by the researchers contaminated
or destroyed by the disease they were studying.
Political Ponerology is a study of the founders and supporters of
oppressive political regimes. Lobaczewski’s approach analyzes the common
factors that lead to the propagation of man’s inhumanity to man.
and humanism cannot long withstand the predations of this evil.
Knowledge of its nature - and its insidious
effect on both individuals and groups - is the only antidote.
- ALMOST HUMAN -
"Experience has taught the author that evil
is similar to disease in nature, although possibly more complex and
elusive to our understanding.
Its genesis reveals many factors,
pathological, especially psychopathological, in character, whose essence
medicine and psychology have already studied…
[A] comprehension of the
essence and genesis of evil generally makes use of data from [biology,
medicine, and psychology]. Philosophical reflection alone is
Like a color blind man incapable of
distinguishing red from green, a small minority of the human population
cannot experience or fully comprehend the normal range of human emotions.
And like those color blind who may conceal their condition by using the
correct words while not understanding their meaning (e.g., the top traffic
light is "red", the bottom is "green") - so does this minority conceal their
condition by playacting an emotion's exterior signs (facial expressions,
exclamations, body language).
However, they do no actually experience the
emotion in question.
Their deception is revealed in the laboratory,
where they respond to words like DEATH, CANCER, DISEASE, as if they were
DAY, CREAM, or PAPER. They lack the ability to comprehend the emotional
"punch" that certain words contain. They use others’ emotional reactions as
cues, and they adjust their behavior to portray the correct ‘emotional’
behavior. (Hare, 129-30)
These individuals are
known as psychopaths.
Not only can they not feel the
pain of others, they often seem to deliberately cause others pain. Lobaczewski refers to this disorder as an
"essential psychopathy" to
distinguish them from others with deficits in their genetic/instinctual
endowment, essential psychopathy being the most severe and disturbing.
Many so-called "antisocial individuals" acquire similar characteristics in
their life-time, whether caused by brain damage to certain areas of the
brain, or functionally, because of close contact with and influence by such
individuals. Lobaczewski terms such individuals characteropaths. The vast
majority of both these groups cannot change.
The acts that we call evil (especially on a
macrosocial level) can be traced back to this deviant minority of human
beings and the effects of their actions on their family, friends, and
BRAIN TISSUE LESIONS
AND ACQUIRED DEVIATIONS
A. Paranoid Characteropathy
B. Frontal Characteropathy
C. Drug-induced Characteropathy
"Regarding pathological factors of ponerogenic processes, perinatal
or early infant [brain] damages have more active results than damages
which occur later [in life]."
"This [character anomalies developing as
a result of brain-tissue damage] opens the door to the influence of
other pathological characters who most frequently carry some
inherited psychological deviations; they then push the characteropathic individuals into the shadows and proceed with their
That is why various types of characteropathy
participate during the initial periods of the genesis of evil, both
on the macrosocial scale and on the individual scale of human
Certain brain lesions and their effects on
personality play an important role in the genesis of evil.
results of such lesions, like epilepsy, are easily observed early in life,
many brain lesions only affect their bearers’ personalities over time. The
effects of these lesions will vary depending on the location of the brain
damage, the time of its origin, and the lifestyle of the bearer after the
Lobaczewski calls these character
or personality disorders "characteropathies".
Undamaged brain matter retains our species’ natural instinctive and
emotional responses. These include, for example, the ability to form
emotional bonds with others and to empathize (what Lobaczewski calls
intuiting a psychological situation).
However, characteropathic thought
processes differ, and are characterized by heightened emotional violence and
pathological egotism. Their narcissistic self-importance and deviant
psychology have a traumatizing effect on normal people, greatly diminishing
their victims’ common sense to the point where they become infected by
The younger or more naïve the individual, the
more readily these traits can be transmitted.
PARANOID CHARACTER DISORDERS
"It is characteristic of paranoid behavior
for people to be capable of relatively correct reasoning and discussion
as long as the discussion involves minor differences of opinion.
stops abruptly when the partner’s arguments begin to undermine their
overvalued ideas, crush their long-held stereotypes of reasoning, or
forces them to accept a conclusion they had subconsciously rejected
Such a stimulus unleashes upon the partner a torrent of pseudological, largely paramoralistic,
often insulting utterances which always contain some degree of
Spellbinding: While cultured and logical people
tend to avoid paranoid individuals because of their vulgar and violent
language, paranoids have a remarkable capacity for enslaving less critical
minds. Among those susceptible are young people, the psychologically
deficient, and those who have been victimized by pathological egotists.
For example, those reared by characteropaths
will have some degree of psychological damage preventing them from
critically analyzing the paranoid’s ideology and false logic. Such a victim
finds himself agreeing with a skewed worldview, and any disagreement is
limited to minor points.
This pattern of thinking affirms that the skewed
premises and corresponding paranoid ideology are ‘correct’ even though they
may be seriously flawed. Paranoid individuals are well aware of their
ability to enslave others, and take full advantage of this early in life.
Rigidity of Beliefs: Paranoid
individuals are similar to psychopaths in that they are incapable of
feeling self-doubt, or of seriously questioning their beliefs. Any such
inner conflict occurs without self-control, self-awareness, or a hierarchy
of values. In short, while they may encounter moments of inner tension
caused by some confrontation of their own beliefs with contradictory
data, in their own minds, they are never wrong
Physiological Cause: Lobaczewski
traces the cause of this characteropathy to brain tissue damage, usually
in the diencephalon region of the brain. Their paranoid view of reality
can range from relatively naive to violently revolutionary, as was the
case with the Russian revolutionary, Vladimir Lenin.
Behavioral/Functional Cause: Those
without brain tissue damage often develop paranoid characteristics as a
result of psychological induction by a paranoid characteropath. A
terror-filled upbringing gives rise to rigid and stereotyped thinking,
and makes it hard for such an individual to develop a healthy
"The pathological character of such people,
generally containing a component of hysteria, develops through the
The non-damaged psychological
functions become overdeveloped to compensate, which means that
instinctive and [emotional] reactions predominate. Relatively vital
people become belligerent, risk-happy, and brutal in both word and
Damage to the frontal cortex at or near
childbirth (especially among premature infants) has been the most common
cause for this characteropathy.
As a result of modern advances in medical
care for pregnant women and newborns, the spectacular role this disorder
plays in ponerogenesis is more characteristic of past generations.
individuals are impulsive, irritable and aggressive, have a low frustration
tolerance, shallow emotions, and demonstrate socially inappropriate
Inhibited Thought Processes: This type of brain damage does not impair
memory, intelligence, or the ability to accurately intuit a psychological
situation. It does, however, inhibit the ability to mentally visualize and
manipulate pieces of information in the characteropath’s field of
consciousness, or working memory. This inhibits the so-called "executive
system" which manages thought processes. As such, frontal characteropaths are
characterized by abnormal levels of reactive aggression (as opposed to the
instrumental aggression which characterizes essential psychopaths).
Impulsivity and Poor Long-Term Planning:
Because of this inability to manipulate information in short-term
memory, individuals with frontal brain damage must develop mental short
cuts. This results in split-second decision-making, and hasty actions
and words that are deemed absolute and irrevocable. They even view their
‘spontaneity’ (really just poor decision-making) as a sign of their
superiority over normal people, when, in fact, these oversimplified
decisions are ultimately self-destructive.
Spellbinding: Such ruthless and
egotistic beliefs traumatize and spellbind normal people, diminishing
their ability for common sense. Some even come to view frontal
characteropaths as having special powers. If a parent possesses this
disorder, all their children will usually show evidence of this fact in
their personalities. Lobaczewski characterizes Joseph Stalin as
typifying such a characteropath.
Confusion with Psychopathy: An
individual with frontal brain damage shows some behavioral similarities
with essential psychopathy, which has led to the erroneous conclusion
that psychopathy is caused by frontal brain damage.
A typical description of an extreme case
may include the following: brutal, charismatic, snake-charming,
issuing of irrevocable decisions, inhuman ruthlessness, pathological
revengefulness, an egotistical belief in their own genius.
"Character anomalies developing as a result
of brain-tissue damage [from medications] behave like insidious ponerogenic factors... their influence easily anchors in human minds,
traumatizing our psyches, impoverishing and deforming our thoughts and
feelings, and limiting individuals’ and societies’ ability to use common
sense and to read a psychological or moral situation accurately.
This opens the door to the
influence of other pathological characters who most frequently carry
some inherited psychological deviations."
With the rise of modern medicine came the use of
little-understood drugs which leave permanent damage to the nervous system.
Some tumor treatments (i.e., cytostatic drugs) often attack the more
primitive portions of the brain, leaving such individuals emotionally dull,
unable to empathize. While retaining their intelligence, they become
vengeful and praise-craving egocentrics, indifferent to the pain they cause
Certain viruses (e.g., mumps, diphtheria, polio) and toxins like heavy
metals, pesticides, food additives and household chemicals can have similar
effects. Such individuals are usually psychologically naive and unable to
comprehend the crux of a matter.
A. Schizoidal Psychopathy
B. Essential Psychopathy
C. Other Psychopathies
"The tragic role played by hereditary hemophilia among
royalty is well known. Responsible people in countries where the
system of monarchy still survives are anxious not to allow a carrier
of such a gene to become queen.
Any society exercising so much
concern over individuals with blood-coagulation insufficiency or
other serious and life-threatening pathology would protest if a man
afflicted with such a condition were appointed to a high office
bearing responsibility for many people.
This behavior model
should be extended to many pathologies, including inherited
The early appearance of psychopathic behavior in
children, and the similarity with some forms of brain damage, are evidence
of the genetic and biological basis for psychopathy.
Certain inherited, and
thus irreversible, psychopathies play an important role in the genesis evil
on the macrosocial level, while others play lesser roles. These include many
commonly known personality disorders.
According to Lobaczewski, the study of psychopathology was further
advanced in Eastern European than in current Western psychiatry.
current personality inventories may be useful in accurate diagnosis, they
are not useful in differentiating between various personality disorders.
such, using Western terminology, a schizoid may be diagnosed as schizoid
and/or paranoid personality disorder.
An essential psychopath may be
diagnosed as narcissistic and antisocial personality disorder.
Keeping this in mind, we here present Lobaczewski's descriptions of the various psychopathies, along with the
closest Western diagnosis.
"[Schizoids] are hypersensitive and
distrustful, while, at the same time, pay little attention to the
feelings of others. They tend to assume extreme positions, and are
eager to retaliate for minor offenses.
Sometimes they are eccentric
and odd. Their poor sense of psychological situation and reality
leads them to superimpose erroneous, pejorative interpretations upon
other people’s intentions. They easily become involved in activities
which are ostensibly moral, but which actually inflict damage upon
themselves and others.
psychological worldview makes them typically pessimistic regarding human
Emotional Unreality: The main
features of schizoidia (or schizoid personality disorder) are dull
emotions and a lack of feeling for psychological realities, and it is
probably inherited autosomally. Their lack of emotion allows them to
develop their speculative reasoning, which is useful in non-humanistic
disciplines (e.g., economics and political theory).
Psychotic States: Under experiences
of extreme stress, schizoids collapse into a state closely resembling
schizophrenia, stifling their capacity for thought.
Schizoidal Declaration: Schizoids
often betray their characteristic view of human nature in their
statements and writings.
normal people, under the influence of schizoids and their twisted view
of reality, will tend to fulfill such a view of human nature. Such open schizoidal declarations are
apparent in the works of Marx and Engels, Hobbes, and various leading
ROLE IN THE ORIGIN OF EVIL
In Relationships: Schizoids often
cause their families much trouble and are often poor parents. They are
easily manipulated for the benefit of more clever individuals, often
playing the role of quo-at-quo. Their simplistic "black or white"
view of human reality often turns their good intentions into bad
On Humanity: If schizoidal views are
published and widely distributed (like the writings of Marx, or of
Strauss), they can play a large role in the origin of evil on a mass
scale. When normal people read the work of a schizoid, they are often
unaware of the true nature of the author they are reading. Due to their
richer psychological worldview, they tend towards a ‘corrective
interpretation’ of writing which is, in fact, pathological.
In this way, the deviant psychology can also
be accepted by naïve individuals. Only with a proper understanding of
the pathological nature of this material can one effectively read
through it and immunize oneself against infection.
"Psychopaths are social predators who charm,
manipulate, and ruthlessly plow their way through life, leaving a broad
trail of broken hearts, shattered expectations, and empty wallets.
Completely lacking in conscience and in feelings for others, the
selfishly take what they want and do as they please, violating social
norms and expectations without the slightest sense of guilt or regret.
Their bewildered victims
desperately ask, ‘Who are these people?’ ‘What makes them they way they
are?’ ‘How can we protect ourselves?’ "
"Psychopaths have what it takes to defraud and bilk others: They are
fast-talking, charming, self-assured, at ease in social situations, cool
under pressure, unfazed by the possibility of being found out, and
A typical description of a psychopath, from an
article on Canada’s most notorious criminal, Clifford Olson:
"He was a violent man with a hair trigger
temper. But he could also be charming and smooth-tongued when trying to
impress people … Olson was a compulsive talker… He’s a real smooth
talker, he has the gift of gab… He was always telling whoppers…
man was just an out-and-out liar… He always wanted to test you to the
limits. He wanted to see how far he could go before you had to step on
him… He was a manipulator … Olson was a blabbermouth…
We learned after a while not
to believe anything he said because he told so many lies… He has never
shown any guilt or remorse for his depredations; on the contrary, he
continually complains about his treatment by the press, the prison
system, and society"
(Quoted by Hare, 133)
During his trial he dramatically posed for the
cameras and while in jail, even wrote to numerous criminology departments
offering to help start a course devoted to studying him.
Essential psychopathy ranges from barely noticeable ("subclinical psychopathy") to recognizably diagnosable by professionals ("full clinical
The former play the greatest role in macrosocial phenomena,
while the latter (about whom Cleckley wrote his book
The Mask of
of which Charlie Carewe in Mary Astor's novel
The Incredible Charlie Carewe
is an example) do not manage to avoid frequent periods in prisons or mental
institutions, often rotating between the two.
Those who manage to keep their masks of sanity
more consistent in their quest for power, and who are thus more successful
in their endeavors, are dealt with in Paul Babiak and Robert Hare’s
"Psychopaths are generally well
satisfied with themselves and with their inner landscape, bleak as
it may seem to outside observers. They see nothing wrong with
themselves, experience little personal distress, and find their
behavior rational, rewarding, and satisfying; they never look back
with regret or forward with concern.
They perceive themselves as
superior beings in a hostile, dog-eat-dog world in which others are
competitors for power and resources.
Psychopaths feel it is
legitimate to manipulate and deceive others in order to obtain their
"rights," and their social interactions are planned to outmaneuver
the malevolence they see in others."
The most noticeable feature of essential
psychopathy is a talkative stream, easily blending truth and fiction.
Not feeling any guilt, they will effortlessly deflect attention away
from previous lies with more lies.
They can talk for hours on end and
appear extremely knowledgeable regarding any number of subjects.
However, they tend to ignore what most consider as important issues, and
will avoid speaking of abstract values and feelings unknown to them.
When one does speak of such things, anomalies arise.
At one moment a
psychopath may speak of his profound love for his mother; the next, how
a woman he once knew as a child was the woman he loved the most, even
more so than his mother!
Under careful analysis, these displays of emotion are shown to lack any
actual understanding of the emotions in question.
It is almost as if
they believe that the weak impulse or base emotion they feel is
representative of the true emotion felt by a normal human being.
Similarly, their streams of thought are ostensibly logical, but again,
careful analysis shows them to have suggestive paralogisms.
when confronted about his lack of empathy a psychopath may evade the
issue and say,
No sense of guilt:
The life of the normal people they hurt is
incomprehensible to them.
Conscience, to a psychopath, is merely
"intellectual awareness of the rules other people make up", and nothing
more (Hare, 132). For essential psychopaths, life is the pursuit of
immediate attractions, moments of pleasure and temporary feelings of
power. They often act on a whim and achieve their goals at the expense
of others, with complete disregard for their victims.
As an analogy, imagine having a slight urge for a snack. However, the
door to the kitchen door is locked and hooked up to an alarm system.
Seeing that the door is locked, you pick up an axe to knock down the
door (you were going to replace it soon anyway). As you chop the door,
the alarm annoyingly rings until you destroy it, too. After demolishing
the door, you enter the kitchen and eat your snack. Now imagine you are
a psychopath and the door was a human being, the annoying alarm its
cries of pain and agony.
After slaughtering the human, stifling its
annoying and petty cries, you can sit down to enjoy your snack!
Inability to love:
Essential psychopaths view ‘love’ with a
partner as a fairytale from the ‘other’ world of normal humans.
Similarly, religious or moral concepts like ‘love for one’s neighbor’
are seen as childish naiveties.
For them, love is merely an ephemeral
phenomenon aimed at sexual adventure. While they may convincingly
profess to love in the most romantic and meaningful of ways, these
displays are soon replaced with selfishness, arrogance and hedonism.
"Natural human reactions…
strike the psychopath as strange, interesting, and even comical. They
therefore observe us… They become experts in our weaknesses and
sometimes effect heartless experiments."
Non-psychotic: Psychopaths are not
emotionally disturbed, delusional, or out of touch with reality. They
are completely rational and aware of what they are doing. As such, they
are judged sane by current legal and psychiatric standards (Hare, 22-3).
Prey on weakness: They can easily
perceive deficiencies in normal people’s knowledge of psychological and
moral concepts, and exploit these weaknesses for their own use.
Low intelligence: Psychopaths are
slightly below average in intelligence, with no instances of the highest
intelligence or creativity. While they can be skilled in certain
sciences not requiring a humanistic world-view, according to Lobaczewski,
they lack technical or craftsmanship skills. They also test low for
"social wisdom" and "socio-moral imagination". Academic or business
success is often the result of fraud, coercion, or the use of others’
Psychopaths have an inability to learn from experience and lack skills
for realistic planning for the future. James Weiss, quoted by Hare,
describes possibly psychopathic
The ability to feel emotional responses like
fear and anxiety is directly related to conscience and the ability to
control one’s behavior. The fear or threat of punishment means nothing
to a psychopath. While they can vaguely picture what will happen to
them, this contains no emotional content. The desire for immediate
self-gratification outweighs any ‘fear’ of getting caught.
Stimulus transformation deficit: Just
as the normal world of color is incomprehensible to a color-blind man
(i.e. there is a deficit in sensory stimulus transformation), the normal
world of human instinctive reactions (e.g. emotional-bonding, pro-social
responses), concepts, feelings, and values strike essential psychopaths
as incomprehensible and with no obvious justification.
These are viewed as foreign conventions
invented by some external power. Ted Bundy called guilt "an illusion… a
kind of social-control mechanism." They are incapable of treating other
humans as thinking, feeling beings.
Thought Fragments: Psychopaths’
contradictory statements seem to be related to their inability to
accurately combine ideas into a coherent whole. For example, one
psychopath, when asked if he’d ever committed a violent offense, said,
Psychopaths frequently change topics, go on
tangents, and refuse give direct answers to questions. Dramatic and
distracting hand movements, "close-talking," and intensive eye contact,
all of which tend to confuse the listener, often accompany their
long-winded speech. Most of their victims are taken in not by what they
say, but how they say it.
Genetic nature: The presence in
psychopathy in a much larger percentage of men than women suggests an
X-chromosome-linked heredity. The scope of essential psychopathy ranges
from barely noticeable (even to experienced observers) to obviously
Special knowledge: Essential
psychopaths possess an ability to recognize each other in a crowd. They
are conscious of being different and view normal people as ‘other’. A
camouflage-like ‘mask of sanity’ accompanies this knowledge.
Mask of sanity: As essential
psychopaths are physiologically incapable of incorporating a normal
person’s world-view, they can only copy or ape normal human behavior.
Normal humans, unaware of the psychological differences between
psychopaths and themselves, assume that these displays of emotion are
evidence of the actual emotion.
Cleckley hypothesizes that psychopaths
cannot distinguish between their pseudo-intentions, pseudo-feelings,
and their normal human counterparts. Instead of thinking that normal
humans have something that psychopaths do not (i.e. conscience), they
perceive normal humans’ reactions as strange and childish reactions.
They are like a color-blind man who thinks everyone else is crazy for
responding differently to so many shades of the same color.
Their pathological egotism prohibits them
from finding fault in themselves, thus projecting all blame to an
MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT PSYCHOPATHY
Antisocial Personality Disorder: The
American Psychiatric Association equates antisocial personality disorder
(ASPD) with psychopathy. However, ASPD refers specifically to a cluster
of antisocial behaviors. As such, many criminals are labeled as ASPD who
are not, in fact, psychopaths. Conversely, many psychopaths are never
labeled as ASPD
Bad Childhoods: While many believe
psychopaths become the way they are from abusive childhood experiences,
there is no evidence to suggest this is true. Most children who suffer
abusive childhoods do not become psychopaths, and many psychopaths grow
up in healthy families. Some attachment difficulties in infancy are a
symptom of psychopathy, not a cause.
(Hare, 170, 172, 175)
"He can change!": Psychopaths cannot
change, nor do they want to. One violent offender was forced to take
group therapy. While he dominated the group, the therapist eventually
said he saw improvement and regret in the subject. Later, when
interviewed by one of Hare’s staff, the patient revealed,
On the subject of mandatory prison therapy, one psychopath
Serial Killers: A negligible number
of psychopaths are also serial killers. While there are perhaps only 100
serial killers in America, Hare calculates that for every psychopathic
serial killer, there are 20 to 30 thousand psychopaths who do not commit
serial murder. His estimate of the total number of psychopaths in
America (2 to 3 million) is a conservative projection.
A Nature/Nurture Model of Psychopath:
"The position I favor is that psychopathy
emerges from a complex - and poorly understood - interplay between
biological factors and social forces.
It is based on evidence that
genetic factors contribute to the biological bases of brain function and
to the basic personality structure, which in turn influence the way the
individual responds to, and interacts with life experiences and the
social environment. In effect, the elements needed for the development
of psychopathy - including a profound inability to experience empathy
and the complete range of emotions, including fear - are provided in
part by nature and possibly by some unknown biological influences on the
developing fetus and neonate.
As a result, the capacity for developing
internal controls and conscience and for making emotional "connections"
with others is greatly reduced.
"This doesn’t mean that psychopaths are destined to develop along a
fixed track, born to play a socially deviant role in life. But it does
mean that their biological endowment - the raw material that
environmental, social, and learning experiences fashion into a unique
individual - provides a poor basis for socialization and conscience
formation. To use a simple analogy, the potter is instrumental in
molding pottery from clay (nurture), but the characteristics of the
pottery also depend on the sort of clay available (nature).
"Although psychopathy is not primarily the result of poor parenting or
adverse childhood experiences, I think they play an important role in
shaping what nature has provided. Social factors and parenting practices
influence the way the disorder develops and is expressed in behavior.
"Thus, an individual with a mix of psychopathic personality traits who
grows up in a stable family and has access to positive social and
educational resources might become a con artist or white-collar
criminal, or perhaps a somewhat shady entrepreneur, politician, or
professional. Another individual, with much the same personality traits
but from a deprived and disturbed background, might become a drifter,
mercenary, or violent criminal.
"In each case, social factors and parenting practices help to shape the
behavioral expression of the disorder, but have less effect on the
individual’s inability to feel empathy or to develop a conscience. No
amount of social conditioning will by itself generate a capacity for
caring about others or a powerful sense of right and wrong. To extend my
earlier analogy, psychopathic "clay" is much less malleable than is the
clay society’s potters usually have to work with.
implication of this view for the criminal justice system is that
the quality of family life has much less influence on the
antisocial behaviors of psychopaths than it does on the behavior
of most people."
ROBERT HARE’S PSYCHOPATHY CHECKLIST
"He will choose you, disarm you with his
words, and control you with his presence. He will delight you with
his wit and his plans. He will show you a good time, but you will
always get the bill. He will smile and deceive you, and he will
scare you with his eyes.
And when he is through with you, and he
will be through with you, he will desert you and take with him your
innocence and your pride. You will be left much sadder but not a lot
wiser, and for a long time you will wonder what happened and what
you did wrong.
And if another of his kind
comes knocking at your door, will you open it?"
(quoted by Hare, Without Conscience,
"When I’m on the job the
first thing I do is I size you up. I look for an angle, an edge, figure
out what you need and give it to you. Then it’s pay-back time, with
interest. I tighten the screws."
(quoted by Hare, 147)
Glib and Superficial: Psychopaths are
often articulate and charming conversationalists. They expertly tell
"unlikely but convincing" stories about themselves, and often attempt to
appear well versed in any number of subjects, using technical language
that will fool most laymen (but not an expert). To experienced
observers, the psychopath’s dramatic displays seem too slick and
superficial, as if the psychopath were simply reading lines from a
Eccentric and Grandiose: Hare writes,
"Psychopaths have a
narcissistic and grossly inflated view of their self-worth and
importance, a truly astounding egocentricity and sense of
entitlement, and see themselves as the center of the universe,
as superior beings who are justified in living according to
their own rules… Psychopaths come across as arrogant, shameless
braggarts - self-assured, opinionated, domineering, and cocky.
They love to have power and control over others and seem unable
to believe that other people have valid opinions different from
theirs. They appear charismatic or ‘electrifying’ to some
One psychopath, when asked to rate himself
on a 10-point scale rated himself,
He also said his only weakness was that he cared too much!
Lack of Remorse or Guilt: Psychopaths
have a complete lack of guilt for the immense harm they do to others.
When it suits there needs, they may proclaim to feel remorse, but
unknowingly contradict themselves in words and actions.
They may say,
They are also extremely skilled at
rationalizing their behavior, often seeing themselves as the victims
(and blaming their real victims). One psychopath said that a man he
murdered had benefited from this, learning a hard lesson about life.
One woman psychopath who had murdered her
children complained that no one cared about she felt having lost both
Lack of Empathy: Psychopaths are
unable to construct a "mental and emotional facsimile" of another
person. They view other people as objects for their self-gratification.
A violent psychopath can, as Hare puts it,
Deceitful and Manipulative: Lying is
as easy as breathing for psychopaths, and they are proud of this ability
to put one over on others. Not only can they lie effortlessly, they are
completely unfazed when caught in a lie. They will simply rework their
story with more lies, to the shock and amazement of those who know
better. Psychopaths view themselves as predators and their victims as
prey, and their ability to lie allows them to cheat, con, and manipulate
without the slightest inhibition. (Hare, 46-9) This allows them to
easily fool traditional ‘lie detector’ tests.
Shallow Emotions: While psychopaths
will often use highly expressive and emotional language, further
observation shows that they do not, in fact, understand what these
emotions really entail. They know the words, but have no understanding
of the emotional content behind the words. Even their violent outbursts
of "rage" are carefully controlled displays. The psychopath has no
emotions to be in control of; any display of emotion is an act.
One psychopath revealed,
"There are emotions -
a whole spectrum of them - that I know only through words,
through reading and in my immature imagination. I can imagine I
feel these emotions (know, therefore, what they are), but I do
Impulsive: In the pursuit of
self-gratification, psychopaths make impulsive decisions with minimal
foresight and planning. They often live day-to-day with no serious
thought for the future. (Hare, 58-9) However, they are also capable of
Poor Behavior Controls: Psychopaths
have a hair-trigger response to perceived insults or the slightest of
provocations. They respond to frustration, failure, discipline and
criticism with violence, threats, and verbal abuse. However, these
displays lack the emotional arousal that normal people feel in such
situations; they are in full control of "getting angry". In other words,
their aggression is ‘instrumental’.
Need for Excitement:
One psychopath, when asked if he ever felt
physical effects of certain emotions responded,
Otherwise, psychopaths are easily bored.
They cannot tolerate dull or repetitive activities, or anything
requiring extended periods of concentration.
(Hare, 54, 61-2)
Lack of Responsibility:
While claiming to love their children, they
see them as an inconvenience. One psychopath showed more anger when her
car was impounded than when her children were taken by the authorities
for child negligence.
Early Behavior Problems: By the age
of 10 or 12, most psychopaths exhibit serious behavioral problems. For
example: persistent lying, cheating, theft, fire setting, truancy, class
disruption, substance abuse, vandalism, violence, bullying, running
away, precocious sexuality, cruelty to animals. One psychopath smiled
when he reminisced about tying puppies to a rail to use their heads for
baseball-batting practice. They are also often cruel to other children,
Adult Antisocial Behavior:
While an estimated 20% of North American
prison populations (and 25% of young male offenders) are psychopaths,
these psychopaths are responsible for more than 50% of crime.
In Their Own Words:
A PSYCHOPATH RESPONDS TO THE HARE CHECKLIST
Glib and Superficial:
"What is negative about
Egocentric and Grandiose:
"How can I attain
something if I don’t reach high?"
Lack of empathy:
"Empathy toward an enemy
is a sign of weakness."
Deceitful and Manipulative:
"Why be truthful to the
enemy? All of us are manipulative to some degree. Isn’t positive
"Anger can lead to being
labeled a psychopath."
"Can be associated with
creativity, living in the now, being spontaneous and free."
Poor behavioral controls:
"Violent and aggressive
outbursts may be a defensive mechanism, a false front, a tool for
survival in the jungle."
Need for excitement:
"Courage to reject the
routine, monotonous, or uninteresting. Living on the edge, doing
things that are risky, exciting, challenging, living life to its
fullest, being alive rather than dull, boring, and almost dead."
Lack of responsibility:
"Shouldn’t focus on human
weaknesses that are common."
Early behavior problems and adult
"Is a criminal record
reflective of badness or nonconformity?"
Lack of remorse of guilt: No response.
(Quoted by Hare, 69-70)
A VIEW OF LOVE
"After shooting her children [Diane Downs]
had an affair with Jason Redding, and wrote, "But Bert was in the past,
and Jason was in the present. True, I was writing letters to Bert
telling him how much I loved him, that he was the only man on earth for
When he began to refuse the letters, I started saving them in a
notebook, making an entry each night, most of them a paragraph of two, a
page at most.
They entries were the same, just with
different wording: ‘I love you Bert, why aren’t you here, I need you,
you’re the only man for me.’ … I mixed a drink and wrote my hollow words
of love to Bert as I sank into a hot bubble bath. … I thought about
Minutes later Jason knocked at the door, and as I flew down the
stairs to meet him, my thoughts of Bert flew as well." Diane’s "hollow
words of love" were a source of pride for her, as if their use was
entirely intentional, designed for a particular purpose."
There is a group of psychopathies occurring two to three times that of
essential psychopathy (which Lobaczewski calculated as 0.6% in Poland), at
approximately 2-3% of the general population.
These individuals also attempt
to mask their different world of experience, although they may attempt to
play a role in the world of normal people; this is not a typical "Cleckley
The less extreme cases manage to adjust to
social life, often taking advantage of normal people’s appreciation of the
arts with their deviant and often sadistic literary creations.
to insinuate that their world of ideas and experiences is self-evident, thus
enslaving less critical minds. The most frequent of these psychopathies is
Other psychopathies which play a lesser role in macrosocial ponerogenesis
include anankastic (obsessive-compulsive), hysterical (histrionic), and
While dependent personality disorder may have
arisen from the older classification of asthenic personality disorder, as
noted above the diagnoses may have drifted far enough apart that they no
longer apply to the same specific disorder.
Like essential psychopathy, asthenic psychopathy presents at every possible
level of intensity.
Such individuals lack vigor and are hypersensitive. They
typically emote a shallow nostalgia and can show superficial pangs of
conscience after faulty behavior, showing that they do have some ability to
judge a psychological situation.
They are usually less intelligent than normal
people, and demonstrate inconsistent and inaccurate reasoning abilities. The
most severe cases are very anti-psychological and contemptuous of normal
people, and are more active on a large scale (e.g., the literary world, or
the political arena) than in personal relationships.
As a result of their falsified world view, their opinions of others can
rarely be trusted. A mask of sanity covers their deviant personal
aspirations and capabilities, and while friendly to those who do not notice
their fault, they are hostile to those with accurate psychological
These individuals are less sexually vital than essential psychopaths, often
repulsed by normal human sexuality. As a result, they can easily accept
celibacy as a way of life (perhaps inspiring the viciously
anti-psychological attitude of the Catholic church).
Accompanying their shallow affect, asthenic psychopaths have idealistic
dreams of reforming the world. However, they cannot see the results or
implications of their plans. For example, they may become staunch communists
(like Dzerzhinsky), and in their wish for a better world, kill millions.
More naive individuals may see poor social conditions as a justification for
such a radicalized worldview.
"If that were the case [i.e. that
skirtoidism is a biodynamic phenomenon resulting from crossing widely
separated ethnic groups], North America should be full of skirtoids, a
hypothesis that deserves observation."
Skirtotymic deviants, in contrast to asthenics,
are vital, egotistical, and thick-skinned individuals.
As such, they make
good soldiers. They possess high endurance and psychological resistance to
turbulent times, making them more at home in the battlefield than with a
These individuals are still a mystery.
How do we classify these hired
mercenaries and professional killers who are quick to take up arms and
perform a duty as directed? No feelings inhibit their performance, and yet
none of the descriptions of psychopathies or characteropathies apply to
them. They lack the talkativeness and impulsiveness of essential psychopaths
or the false idealism of the asthenic.
They are possibly hybrids of the other
psychopathologies (e.g., schizoidia and essential psychopath or skirtoidism).
- EVIL IS A DISEASE -
ON EVIL - BATTLING
A. Psychopathy: The Cause of Evil
B. Ponerology: A New Science
"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...
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
In literature and film, evil is romanticized; portrayed as mysterious, yet
beautiful; dark, yet conflicted. There is always a heart of gold beneath a
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
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.
More so, 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.
PSYCHOPATHY - THE CAUSE OF EVIL
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
behavior 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 behavior.
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
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.
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."
PONEROLOGY - A NEW SCIENCE
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
When humanity manages to incorporate this
knowledge into its natural worldview, it will have defensive potential as
NATURAL WORLD VIEW
1. Reality-Deforming Tendencies
2. Life Conditions
3. Unconscious Processes
4. Good Times, Bad Times: The Hysteroidal Cycle
Many factors contribute to the development of
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
illogical 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
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
A moralizing interpretation often leads to erroneous behavior, such as a
desire for revenge, which itself opens the door for further ponerogenic
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 behavior."
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
above. 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
Besides inner psychological processes, other conditions contribute to
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
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
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
"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.
necessarily leads to behavior errors which must be paid for by
others as well as themselves."
(Lobaczewski, 152, 3)
Blocking out conclusions:
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
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.
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
Nabka of 1948. Accepting this datum would lead to a correct, albeit
disturbing, conclusion regarding the morality of Israeli military
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.
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.
THE HYSTEROIDAL CYCLE
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.
The search for truth reveals
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.
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.
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.
The habit of avoiding morally embarrassing
facts is a contagious one. It becomes a socially accepted habit, the
"in" thing to do.
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.
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.
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.
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.
THE GENESIS OF EVIL
The ultimate cause of evil lies in the
interaction of two human factors:
normal human ignorance and weakness
the existence and action of a
statistically small (4-8% of the general population) but extremely
active group of psychologically deviant individuals.
The ignorance of the existence of such
psychological differences is the first criterion of ponerogenesis.
such ignorance creates an opening whereby such individuals can act
The presence of such "disease" on the individual level is described in the
Almost Human section
above. However, depending on the type of
activity of psychopathic and characteropathic individuals, evil can manifest
on any societal level. The greater the scope of the psychopath’s influence,
the greater harm done.
Thus any group of humans can be infected or
"ponerized" by their influence. From families, clubs, churches, businesses,
and corporations, to entire nations.
The most extreme form of such macrosocial evil
is called "pathocracy".
"In any society in this world, psychopathic
individuals and some of the other deviant types create a ponerogenically
active network of common collusions, partially estranged from the
community of normal people...
Their sense of honor bids them to cheat
and revile that ‘other’ human world and its values at every
"We could list various names ascribed to such organizations… gangs,
criminal mobs, mafias… which cunningly avoid collision with the law
while seeking to gain their own advantage.
Such unions frequently aspire
to political power in order to impose their expedient legislation upon
societies in the name of a suitably prepared ideology, deriving
advantages in the form of disproportionate prosperity and the
satisfaction for their craving of power."
(Lobaczewski, 158, emphasis added)
"Gangs have always provided great opportunities for young psychopaths.
Their impulsive, selfish, callous, egocentric, and aggressive tendencies
easily blend in with - and may even se the tone for - many of the gang's
activities. Indeed, there cannot be many other activities that produce
so many rewards for violent psychopaths, with such impunity."
Living in a world whose morals and customs are
meaningless to them and even seen as oppressive, psychopaths dream of a
"happy" and "just" world where their depraved worldview is accepted as
They seek, by any means necessary, to achieve
positions in government where their dreams can be brought to fruition. If
injustice does exist in a society, their statements regarding the
'unfairness' of their situation can resonate with those who actually do
experience such injustice. Thus, revolutionary doctrines can be accepted by
both groups for diametrically opposed reasons.
Ponerogenic groups are those with a statistically high number of
pathological individuals, to the point that the group as a whole exercises
egotistical and pathological behavior. Deviants function as leaders and
ideological spellbinders, and while normal people may act as members, they
have typically accumulated various psychological deficiencies.
susceptible to such influence are excluded from the group. These groups can
either infiltrate existing governments or exert their influence from "behind
Bribery, blackmail, murder and similar terror
tactics are used to achieve these ends.
Structure: The command structure of
ponerogenic associations is similar to that of normal groups: members
specialize and complement each other's strengths.
In this way different
individuals with varying psychological defects will fill roles in which
their particular ‘gift’ is applicable.
"The earlier phase of a ponerogenic
union’s activity is usually dominated by characteropathic,
particularly paranoid individuals, who often play an inspirational
or spellbinding role in the ponerization process. Recall here that
the power of the paranoid characteropath lies in that they easily
enslave less critical minds"
Trauma victims, individuals with
psychological deficiencies, and young people often fall into the
category of ‘less critical minds’.
Ideological Mask: The group's stated
goals are often at variance with its true nature. Colorful literature
and humanitarian values often mask its true motivations. Take, for
example, the disparity between the CIA's stated goals, such as,
special, multidisciplinary centers to address such high-priority issues
such as nonproliferation, counterterrorism, counterintelligence,
international organized crime and narcotics trafficking, environment,
and arms control intelligence", and its widespread use of terrorism,
torture, overthrowing democratically elected governments, installing
foreign dictators, drug trafficking, arms smuggling, etc.
the public humanitarian front of the Anti-Defamation League with its
sordid history of illegal domestic surveillance, character
assassination, and collaboration with foreign spy organizations.
First Criterion of Ponerogenesis:
"One phenomenon all ponerogenic groups
and associations have in common is the fact that their members
lose (or have already lost) the capacity to perceive
pathological individuals as such, interpreting their behavior in
fascinated, heroic, or melodramatic ways"
When a group has succumbed to pathological
influence its members soon lose the ability to distinguish normal human
behavior from pathological. This atrophy of critical faculties in
relation to such individuals becomes an opening to their activities. It
can also be used to identify potentially dangerous groups.
Characteropathy and Psychopathy:
Groups dominated by characteropaths engage in fairly primitive
activities, and are thus easily broken by normal society. Psychopathic
leaders, however, are often more clever, and use characteropathic
individuals as subservient tools.
When arrested, such individuals accept
the paramoral ideals of their leaders, acting as the group's scapegoat
and accepting the majority of the blame. Psychopathic leaders, when in
court, will correspondingly shift the blame to their underlings.
large-scale example of this dynamic is the scapegoating of low-ranking
military officers for war crimes condoned and/or ordered by
Primary and Secondary Ponerogenic Unions:
There are two types of ponerogenic associations.
associations are those that were originally formed and designed to
benefit its founding members using illicit (evil) means.
describes them as unions,
Such groups' antisocial activities and blatant disregard for
moral values naturally disgust normal people, and thus their influence
does not spread far before they lose their battle with society.
The secondary ponerogenic associations are groups founded with an
independent and attractive social ideal, but which later succumb to
This degeneration leaves an opening for,
Governments, ideologies, and
institutions founded by people whose lack of awareness of specific
psychological realities and other moral failings leave them open to
covert infection and subsequent take-over by those without conscience.
The fact that these institutions have been in existence and have a
long-standing tradition has allowed them to acquire a much greater
membership and notoriety.
When such an organization, working towards
some social or political goal, is already accepted by a large number of
normal people (e.g. American Republicanism or Evangelical Christianity),
ponerization of the group provides the widespread influence that primary ponerogenic unions lack.
After its takeover by psychopathic elements within (e.g. the
Neoconservative takeover of American Republicanism), the ponerogenic
group is protected by a "mask" of the group's traditional values. This
will happen in spite of the fact that these values are obviously
distorted and disregarded. For example, such a group will pass
legislation and behave solely to benefit those in control, often
becoming violent and starting wars of aggression.
Normal members of such a group naively
protect such deviant behavior, not realizing it is the work of deviants.
Its pathology remains hidden by those who do not wish to see it
objectively. Justifications and prepared ideologies are promulgated;
subconscious selection and substitution take place, and the pathology is
effectively cloaked behind a mask of sanity. Those who belong to ‘the
party’ will label the opposition as pacifists, socialists, liberals or
terrorists, or whichever label is most effective in order to invalidate
their criticism. Unfortunately the government will only become more
pathological in its behavior and egotistical toward other nations until
the deviant psychological aspects are either purged or destroy
The same dynamic plays out in interpersonal relations. Take, for
example, Ted Bundy, who had a reputation as a kind, intelligent,
respectable man. When he was first accused of murdering several young
women, his acquaintances staunchly defended his character. This
situation follows the same pattern as the macrosocial dynamic. Such
individuals will often denigrate the victims and accusers of such a
previously esteemed individual.
This not only has a negative effect on the
victim, but encourages further deviant behavior on behalf of the
Macrosocial Disease: Social disease
may be called macrosocial under either of two conditions:
ponerogenic processes encompass a
society’s entire ruling class
opposition from normal people is
stifled, via the mass use of spellbinding, censorship, and physical
Two general stages of macrosocial disease
seem to apply to all its forms and variations: hysteria and pathocracy.
The first step in the ponerization of a group often appears as a moral
distortion of the group’s original ideology.
The existence of simplistic
concepts (e.g., whether moral or legal) blocks any ability for critical
thought in relation to the existence of psychopaths or their possible
influence on the initial warping of the group’s ideology. Such doctrinaire
concepts are prevalent in the neoconservative ideology.
"You’re either with us or against us (in the
War on Terror)" and the completely arbitrary use of the labels
"terrorist," "terrorist sympathizer", and "suspected terrorist."
Just as it is normal in the life of any human to
experience a decline in psychological or physiological resistance (thus
leading to moral failings or bacteriological infection), groups experience
The pressure leading to such crises may be caused by the
influence of other groups, a heightened hysterical condition, or a general
spiritual crisis in the environment.
The resulting weakness in proper reasoning and critical thinking skills
leaves an opening for the activity of psychopaths and characteropaths. Their
influence then results in a further decline in moral and intellectual
The absurdity of such a dynamic can be seen in the fact that
Richard "Dick" Cheney,
an obvious psychopath, is allowed to hold the position of
Even when he shoots a hunting partner in the face, the media
and public will studiously rationalize his coarse and psychopathic behavior.
Dave McGowan's analysis of the incident in question.)
When such individuals are treated as normal, more perceptive individuals
will leave the group. When the group has become sufficiently pathological,
members will either perceive its new direction in moral terms (e.g., "We
must kill them all on the principle of justice and democracy"), or as a form
of psychological terror.
As more healthy people leave the group, taking
on more counter-revolutionary positions, individuals with psychological
anomalies join, removing their masks of sanity ever more often.
adequate knowledge, normal individuals who have been ejected from such a
group will suffer immensely, cut off from their original ideological reason
for joining. Infected with unhealthy emotions and pathological material,
they can assume positions opposite to those which they formerly followed.
New members are psychologically screened. No one with too much independence
or psychological normality is allowed in the group. (Such screening should
have taken place to root out psychological deviants in the first place.)
Detractors are treated with paramoral condemnation.
In short, the patients
have overtaken the asylum.
Stages of Ponerization: When it is
first infected by psychological deviants, the group maintains most of
its original character. But eventually, the more normal members are
pushed into fringe functions and are excluded from organizational
secrets; some of them thereupon leave the group.
"Individuals with inherited deviations
then progressively take over the inspirational and leadership
positions. The role of essential psychopaths gradually grows,
although they like to remain ostensibly in the shadows… In
ponerogenic unions on the largest social scale, the
leadership role is generally played by a different kind of
individual, one more easily digestible and representative.
Examples include frontal characteropathy, or some more discreet
complex of lesser traits."
The initial stage of ponerization, where
membership is increasingly pathological, requires specific psychological
and factual knowledge in order to recognize. The second, more stable and
overtly pathological stage, is readily apparent to most normal people,
but is interpreted in moral or sociological terms (i.e., without
knowledge of psychological differences).
Over time, as the group becomes more heavily ponerized, the spellbinders
who originally led such a group are relegated to the task of repackaging
the ideology for propaganda purposes. The leadership roles become
saturated with more psychopathic individuals, while the "normal" group
acquires more characteropathic individuals.
As is the case with the
Neoconservative ponerogenic union's ostensible
George W. Bush, group propaganda maintains the
erroneous overestimation of the ‘leader's’ real power.
"is dependent upon the interests of the
union, especially the elite initiates, to an extent greater than he
himself knows. He wages a constant position-jockeying battle; he is
an actor with a director. In macrosocial unions, this position is
generally occupied by a more representative individual not deprived
of certain critical faculties; initiating him into all those plans
and criminal calculations would be counterproductive. In conjunction
with part of the elite, a group of psychopathic individuals hiding
behind the scenes steers the leader, the way Borman and his clique
steered Hitler. If the leader does not fulfill his assigned role, he
generally knows that the clique representing the elite of the union
is in a position to kill or otherwise remove him."
In such a manner, George W. Bush is
steered and controlled by a group of psychopathic advisors: Richard
Perle to name but one.
The first phase of macrosocial disease, i.e. social hysterization, is the
which pathocracy manifests.
Such a period of societal
spiritual crisis is associated with the exhausting of the ideational, moral,
and religious values heretofore nourishing the society in question.
Individuals and groups grow increasingly self-serving, and the links of
moral duty and social networks loosen.
People become concerned with trifling things,
ignoring more important issues such as commitment to the future, or
involvement in public matters.
The most characteristic feature of such a period is widespread hysteria,
like that of the quarter century in Europe preceding WWI. "Happy" times of
peace are necessarily dependant on social injustice, and children of the
privileged class learn early to repress ideas that they and their families
are benefiting from the injustice of others.
Such unconscious defense
mechanisms cause these individuals to disparage the values of those whose
work they exploit. These processes lead to an hysterical state of inhibited
logic and reasoning.
This rigidity of thought then gets passed on to the
next generation to an even greater degree.
The hysterical patterns finally get passed from the ruling class to the less
privileged classes. This characteristic contempt for factual criticism, for
normal thought patterns and nations, obviates the need for media censorship.
A pathologically hypersensitive censor lives
within each citizen.
This has been repeatedly demonstrated by the
American media in relation to the omissions and distortions of:
Kean-Zelikow 911 Commission Report
The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions And
the propaganda leading to the Iraq
the death toll of Iraqi citizens
the reality in Palestine
"When three "egos" govern - egoism,
and egocentrism - the feeling of social links and responsibility toward
others disappear, and the society in question splinters into groups ever
more hostile to each other.
When a hysterical environment
stops differentiating the opinions of limited, not-quite-normal people
from those of normal, reasonable persons, this opens the door for
activation of the pathological factors of a various nature to enter in."
This hysteroidal phase is often followed by a
period of war, revolution, genocide, and the fall of empires: pathocracy.