A Science on The Nature of Evil adjusted for Political Purposes
Andrew M. Lobaczewski
with commentary and additional quoted material
by Laura Knight-Jadczyk
As regards pathological factors of ponerogenic processes, perinatal or early-infant damages have more active results than damages which occur later. In societies with highly developed medical care, we find among the lower grades of elementary schools that 5 to 7 percent of the children have suffered brain tissue lesions which cause certain academic or behavioral difficulties.[…]15
This is actually a frightening figure. If we realize that an even higher percentage of the previous generations have suffered brain tissue lesions during a time when there was no highly developed perinatal and neonatal medical care, not to mention the damage that may be suffered among those populations today where such care is still primitive, we can understand that much of our own culture has been shaped by people with brain damage and we are faced with dealing with a world in which brain damaged individuals have an important influence on the social constructs!
Keep in mind that if your grandfather suffered perinatal or neonatal brain damage, it affected how he raised one of your parents, which affects how that parent raised you!
Epilepsy constitutes the oldest known results of such lesions; it is observed in relatively small numbers of persons suffering such damage. Researchers in these matters are more or less unanimous in believing that Julius Caesar and then later Napoleon Bonaparte had epileptic seizures.
The extent to which these ailments had a negative effect upon their characters and historical decision making, or played a ponerogenic role, can be the subject of a separate study. In most cases, however, epilepsy is an evident ailment, which limits its role as a ponerogenic factor.16
In a much larger part of the bearers of brain tissue damage, the negative deformation of their characters grows in the course of time. It takes on various mental pictures depending on the properties and localizations of the damage, their time of origin, and also the life conditions of the individual after their occurrence. We will call character disorders resulting from such pathology “Characteropathies.”
Some characteropathies play an outstanding role as pathological agents in the processes of the genesis of evil on a large social scale. […]
A relatively well-documented example of such an influence of a characteropathic personality on a macro-social scale is the last German emperor, Wilhelm II. He was subjected to brain trauma at birth. During and after his entire reign, his physical and psychological handicap was hidden from public knowledge. The motor abilities of the upper left portion of his body were handicapped.
As a boy, he had difficulty learning grammar, geometry, and drawing, which constitutes the typical triad of academic difficulties caused by minor brain lesions. He developed a personality with infantilistic features and insufficient control over his emotions, and also a somewhat paranoid way of thinking which easily sidestepped the heart of some important issues in the process of dodging problems.
Militaristic poses and a general’s uniform overcompensated for his feelings of inferiority and effectively cloaked his shortcomings. Politically, his insufficient control of emotions and factors of personal rancor came into view.
The old Iron Chancellor had to go, that cunning and ruthless politician who had been loyal to the monarchy and built up Prussian power. After all, he was too knowledgeable about the prince’s defects and had worked against his coronation. A similar fate met other overly critical people, who were replaced by persons with lesser brains, more subservience, and sometimes, discreet psychological deviations. Negative selection took place.
Notice this last term: “negative selection took place.” That is to say, a defective head of state selected his staff, his government, based on his own pathologically damaged worldview. I’m sure the reader can perceive how dangerous such a situation can be to the people governed by such a “negatively selected” cabal. The important thing to consider here is what effect this had on the social constructs under the rule of such individuals.
Lobaczewski explains: The experience of people with such anomalies grows out of the normal human world to which they belong by nature. Thus, their different way of thinking, their emotional violence, and their egotism find relatively easy entry into other people’s minds and are perceived within the categories of the natural world-view.
Such behavior on the part of persons with such character disorders traumatizes the minds and feelings of normal people, gradually diminishing their ability to use their common sense. In spite of their resistance, people become used to the rigid habits of pathological thinking and experiencing. In young people, as a result, the personality suffers abnormal development leading to its malformation.
They thus represent pathological ponerogenic factors which, by their covert activity, easily engenders new phases in the eternal genesis of evil, opening the door to a later activation of other factors which thereupon take over the main role. […]
[In the case of the effect of Wilhelm II], many Germans were progressively deprived of their ability to use their common sense because of the impingement of psychological material of the characteropathic type, as the common people are prone to identify with the emperor…
A new generation grew up with deformities as regards feeling and understanding moral, psychological, social and political realities. It is extremely typical that in many German families containing a member who was psychologically not quite normal, it became a matter of honor (even excusing nefarious conduct) to hide this fact from public opinion – and even the awareness of close friends and relatives. Large portions of society ingested psychopathological material, together with that unrealistic way of thinking wherein slogans take on the power of arguments and real data are subjected to subconscious selection.
This occurred during a time when a wave of hysteria was growing throughout Europe, including a tendency for emotions to dominate and for human behavior to contain an element of histrionics. […] This progressively took over three empires and other countries on the mainland.
To what extent did Wilhelm II contribute to this, along with two other emperors whose minds also did not take in the actual facts of history and government? To what extent were they themselves influenced by an intensification of hysteria during their reigns? That would make an interesting topic of discussion among historians and ponerologists.
International tensions increased; Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo. However, neither the Kaiser nor any other governmental authority in his country possessed reason. (Due to the aforementioned negative selection process.)
What came into play was Wilhelm’s emotional attitude and the stereotypes of thought and action inherited from the past. War broke out. General war plans prepared earlier, which had lost their topicality under the new conditions, unfolded more like military maneuvers. Even those historians familiar with the genesis and character of the Prussian state, including its ideological tradition of bloody expansionism, intuit that these situations contained some activity of an uncomprehended fatality which eludes an analysis in terms of historical causality.
Many thoughtful persons keep asking the same anxious question: how could the German nation have chosen for a Fuehrer a clownish psychopath who made no bones about his pathological vision of superman rule? Under his leadership, Germany then unleashed a second war, criminal and politically absurd.
During the second half of this war, highly trained army officers honorably performed the inhuman orders, senseless from the political and military point of view, issued by a man whose psychological state corresponded to the routine criteria for being forcibly committed to psychiatric hospitalization.
Any attempt to explain the things that occurred during the first half of our century by means of categories generally accepted in historical thought leaves behind 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.
Fed for generations on pathologically altered psychological material, the German nation fell into a state comparable to what we see in certain individuals raised by persons who are both characteropathic and hysterical. Psychologists know from experience how often such people then let themselves commit acts which seriously hurt others. […]
The Germans inflicted and suffered enormous pain during the first World War; they thus felt no substantial guilt and even thought they had been wronged, as they were behaving in accordance with their customary habit without being aware of its pathological causes. The need for this state to be clothed in heroic garb after a war in order to avoid bitter disintegration became all too common. A mysterious craving arose, as if the social organism had … become addicted to some drug.
That was the hunger of pathologically modified psychological material, a phenomenon known to psychotherapeutic experience. This hunger could only be satisfied by another personality and system of government, both similarly pathological.
A characteropathic personality opened the door for leadership by a psychopathic individual.
What is interesting at this point in Lobaczewski’s discourse is his indication that this pattern repeats itself again and again in history: a pathologically brain-damaged individual creates circumstances that condition the public in a certain way, and this, then, opens the door for the psychopath to come to power.
As I read this, I thought back to the last 45 or 50 years of history in America and realized that the “cold war,” the nuclear threat, the assassination of JFK, the antics of Nixon, Johnson, Reagan, Clinton, the manipulation of Americans via the media, were just such characteropathic conditionings that opened the door for the Neocons and their nominal puppet, George W. Bush, who can certainly be described as “a clownish psychopath who makes no bones about his pathological vision of super-American rule.” We can even see in the cabal that is assembled around George W. Bush, the same “negative selection” of advisors and cabinet officials as Lobaczewski described were assembled around Kaiser Wilhelm.
So, we begin to understand just how important this “science of evil adjusted for political purposes” may be and how much understanding we, as a society, lack. In order to understand exactly how an entire society, even an entire nation, can become a Pathocracy, we need to understand a little bit about the types of individuals that make up the core of such a “conspiracy.” Lobaczewski discusses the most frequent characteropathies and their relation to brain lesions giving examples.
Paranoidal character disorders: It is characteristic of paranoid behavior for people to be capable of relatively correct reasoning and discussion as long as the conversation involves minor differences of opinions.
This stops abruptly when the partner’s arguments begin to undermine their overvalued ideas, crush their long-held stereotypes of reasoning, or force them to accept a conclusion they had subconsciously rejected before. Such a stimulus unleashes upon the partner a torrent of pseudo-logical, largely para-moralistic, often insulting utterances which always contain some degree of suggestion.
Utterances like these inspire aversion among cultivated and logical people, but they enslave less critical minds, e.g. people with other kinds of psychological deficiencies, who were earlier the objects of the egotistical influence of individuals with character disorders, and in particular a large part of the young. […]
We know today that the psychological mechanism of paranoid phenomena is twofold: one is caused by damage to the brain tissue, the other is functional or behavioral.[…]
In persons free of brain-tissue lesions, such phenomena most frequently occur as a result of being reared by people with paranoidal characteropathia, along with the psychological terror of their childhood. Such psychological material is then assimilated creating the rigid stereotypes of abnormal experiencing. This makes it difficult for thought and world-view to develop normally, and the terror-blocked contents become transformed into permanent functional congestive centers.[…]
Frontal characteropathy: The frontal areas of the cerebral cortex (10A and B acc. to the Brodmann division) are virtually present in no creature except man; they are composed of the phylogenetically youngest nervous tissue. Their cyto-architecture is similar to the much older visual projection areas on the opposite pole of the brain. This suggests some functional similarity. […] As described by researchers (Luria et al.), the functions of these areas – thought-process acceleration and coordination – seem to result from this basic function.
Damage to this area … has been significantly reduced due to improved medical care for pregnant women and newborns. The spectacular ponerogenic role which results from character disorders caused by this can thus be considered somewhat characteristic of past generations and primitive cultures.
Brain cortex damage in these areas selectively impairs the above mentioned function without impairing memory, associative capacity, or in particular such instinct-based feelings and functions as for instance the ability to intuit a psychological situation. The general intelligence of an individual is thus not greatly reduced. […]
The pathological character of such people, generally containing a component of hysteria, develops through the years. The non-damaged psychological functions become overdeveloped to compensate, which means that instinctive and affective reactions predominate.
Relatively vital people become belligerent, risk-happy, and brutal in both word and deed. Persons with an innate talent for intuiting psychological situations tend to take advantage of this gift in an egotistical and ruthless fashion. In the thought process of such people, a short cut way develops which bypasses the handicapped function, thus leading from associations directly to words, deeds, and decisions which are not subject to any dissuasion.
Such individuals interpret their talent for intuiting situations and making split-second oversimplified decisions as a sign of their superiority compared to normal people, who need to think for a long time, experiencing self-doubt and conflicting motivations. The fate of such creatures does not deserve to be pondered long.
Such “Stalinistic characters” traumatize and actively spellbind others, and their influence finds it exceptionally easy to bypass the controls of common sense. A large proportion of people tend to credit such individuals with special powers, thereby succumbing to their egotistic beliefs. If a parent manifests such a defect, no matter how minimal, all the children in the family evidence anomalies in personality development.
The author studied an entire generation of older, educated, people wherein the source of such influence was the eldest sister who suffered perinatal damage of frontal centers. From early childhood, her four younger brothers assimilated pathologically altered psychological material, including their sister’s growing component of hysteria. They retained well into their sixties the deformities of personality and world-view, as well as hysterical features thus caused, whose intensity diminished in proportion to the greater difference in age. Subconscious selection of information made it impossible for them to apprehend any critical comments regarding their sister’s character, also these were capable of offending family honor.
The brothers accepted as real their sister’s pathological delusions and complaints about her “bad” husband (who was actually a decent person) and her son, in whom she found a scapegoat to avenge her failures. They thereby participated in a world of vengeful emotions, considering their sister a completely normal person whom they were prepared to defend – by the most unsavory methods, if need be – against any suggestions of her abnormality. They thought normal women were insipid and naive, good for nothing but sexual conquest. Not one among the brothers ever created a healthy family or developed even average wisdom of life.
The character development of these people also included many other factors dependent upon the time and place in which they were reared: the turn of the century, with a patriotic Polish father and German mother who obeyed contemporary custom by formally accepting her husband’s nationality, but who still remained an advocate of the militarism and accepting of the intensified hysteria which covered Europe at the time.
That was the Europe of the three Emperors: The concept of “honor” sanctified triumph. Staring at someone too long was sufficient pretext for a duel. These brothers were thus raised to be valiant duelists full of saber-scars; however, the slashes they inflicted upon their opponents were more frequent and much worse.[…]
[All other considerations of time and place aside] if the sister had not suffered brain damage and the pathological factors had not existed the evil [these men] sowed too liberally during their lives would either not have existed at all, or else been reduced to a scope conditioned by more remote pathological factors. […]
Comparative considerations also led the author to conclude that Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, also known as Stalin, should be included in the list of this particular ponerogenic characteropathy, which developed against the backdrop of perinatal damage to his brain’s prefrontal fields. Literature and news about him abounds in indications: brutal, charismatic snake-charming; issuing of irrevocable decisions; inhuman ruthlessness, pathologic vengefulness directed at anyone who got in his way; and egotistical belief in his own genius on the part of a person whose mind was, in fact, average. This state explains as well his psychological dependence on a psychopath like Beria.
Some photographs reveal the typical deformation of his forehead which appears in people who suffered very early damage to the areas mentioned above. […]
Drug induced characteropathies: During the last few decades, medicine has begun using a series of drugs with serious side effects: they attack the nervous system, leaving permanent damage behind. These generally discreet handicaps sometimes give rise to personality changes which are often very harmful socially. Streptomycin proved a very dangerous drug; as a result, some countries have limited its use, whereas others have taken it off the list of drugs whose use is permitted.
The cytostatic [cancer treatment] drugs used in treating neoplastic diseases often attack the phylogenetically oldest brain tissue, the primary carrier of our instinctive substratum and basic feelings. Persons treated with such drugs progressively tend to lose their emotional color and their ability to intuit a psychological situation.
They retain their intellectual functions but become praise-craving egocentrics, easily ruled by people who know how to take advantage of this. They become indifferent to other people’s feelings and the harm they are inflicting upon them; any criticism of their own person or behavior is repaid with a vengeance. Such a change of character in a person who until recently enjoyed respect on the part of his environment or community, which perseveres in human minds, becomes a pathological phenomenon causing often tragic results.[…]
Similar to the above in psychological picture, such results may be caused by endogenous toxins or viruses. When sometimes the mumps proceeds with a brain reaction, it leaves in its wake a discrete pallor or flatness of feelings and a slight decrease in mental efficiency. Similar phenomena are witnessed after a difficult bout with diphtheria. Finally polio also attacks the brain [..]
People with leg paresis rarely manifest these effects, but those with paresis of the neck and/or shoulders must count themselves lucky if they do not. In addition to affective pallor, persons manifesting these effects usually evidence an inability to comprehend the crux of a matter and naïveté. […]
Character anomalies developing as a result of brain-tissue damage behave like insidious ponerogenic factors. As a result of the above-described features, [ponerogenic influences] easily anchor in human minds, traumatizing our psyches, impoverishing and deforming our thoughts and feelings, and limiting individuals’ and societies’ ability to use common sense and recognize a psychological or moral situation.
This opens the door to other pathological characters who most frequently carry some inherited psychological deviations.
They then push the characteropathic individuals into the shadows and proceed with their ponerogenic work. That is why various types of characteropathies participate in the initial periods of the genesis of evil, both on the macro-social scale and on the individual scale of human families.
An improved social system of the future should thus protect individuals and societies by preventing persons with the above deviations, or the characteristics to be discussed below, from any social functions wherein the fate of other people would depend upon their behavior.
This of course applies primarily to top governmental positions. Such questions should be decided by an appropriate institution composed of people with a reputation for wisdom and with medical and psychological training.
The features of brain-tissue lesions and their character disorder results are much easier to detect than some inherited anomalies. Thus, stifling ponerogenic process by removing these factors from the process of the synthesis of evil is effective during the early phases of such genesis, and much easier in practice.
Science already protects societies from the results of some physiological anomalies which are accompanied by certain psychological weaknesses. The tragic role played by hereditary hemophilia among European royalty is well known. Responsible people nowadays are anxious not to allow a carrier of such a gene to become queen.
Any society lavishing so much care upon individuals with blood-coagulation insufficiency would protest if a man with this anomaly were appointed to a high office. This behavior model should be extended to many other inherited anomalies.
Daltonists, men with an impaired ability to distinguish red and green colors from grey are now barred from professions in which this impairment might cause a catastrophe. We also know that this anomaly is accompanied by a decrease in esthetic experience, emotions, and the feeling of being linked to a society of people who can see colors normally. Industrial psychologists are thus cautious whether such a person should be entrusted with work involving a dependence upon man’s autonomic sense of responsibility, as workers’ safety is contingent upon this sense.
It was discovered long ago that this anomaly is inherited by means of a gene located on the X chromosome and tracking the transmission through many generations does not meet with difficulty. Genetics have similarly studied inheritance of many other features of human organisms, but they paid scant attention to the anomalies interesting us. Many features of human character have a hereditary basis in genes located in the same X chromosome; although it is not a rule. Something similar could apply to the majority of psychological anomalies discussed below. […]
Severe problems are caused by the XYY karyotype which produces men who are tall, strong, and emotionally violent… but their number and role in ponerogenic processes is very small.
Much more numerous are those psychological deviations which play a correspondingly greater role as pathological factors involving ponerological processes; they are most probably transmitted through normal hereditary ways. However, this realm of genetics is faced with manifold biological and psychological difficulties.
Lobaczewski next describes a number of inherited psychological pathologies such as Schizoidal psychopathy – now referred to as “schizotypal personality disorder” – about which he says:
Carriers of this anomaly are hypersensitive and distrustful, but they pay little attention to the feelings of others, 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.
Their impoverished psychological world-view makes them typically pessimistic. […] When they become wrapped up in situations of serious stress, their failings cause them to collapse easily. …The schizoids frequently fall into reactive psychotic states so similar in appearance to schizophrenia that they lead to misdiagnoses.
If the emotional pressure on them is minimized, they are able to develop proper speculative reasoning, but they tend to consider themselves intellectually superior to “ordinary” people.
The quantitative frequency of this anomaly varies among races. It is low among Blacks, and highest among Jews. Observation suggests that it is autosomally hereditary.
A schizoid’s ponerological activity should be evaluated in two aspects. On the small scale, such people cause their families trouble, easily turn into tools of intrigue in the hands of clever individuals, and generally do a poor job of raising the younger generation. […]
However, their ponerogenic role can take on macro-social proportions if their attitude toward human reality and their tendency to invent great doctrines are put to paper and duplicated in large editions.
In spite of their typical deficits, or even an openly Schizoidal declaration, their readers do not realize what the authors’ characters are like, and tend to interpret such works in a way that corresponds to their own nature. The minds of normal people tend toward corrective interpretation thanks to the participation of their own richer psychological world-view. However, many readers reject such works with moral disgust but without being aware of the specific cause. An analysis of the role played by Karl Marx’s works easily reveals all the above mentioned types of apperception and the social reactions which engendered separations among people.
We now come to the most important pathology: psychopathy. Psychopathy is not, as many people think, so easy to recognize. The problem is that the term “psychopath” has come to be usually applied by the public (due to the influence of the media) to overtly and obviously mad-dog murderers. There is also some confusion regarding psychopathy vis a vis “antisocial personality disorder.”
Nice words, aren’t they? They sound so clean and clinical; just a person who is “anti-social.” It almost suggests a hermit who never bothers anybody. But nothing could be further from the truth. Robert Hare, the current American guru on psychopathy writes about this problem of terminology as follows:
Traditionally, affective and interpersonal traits such as egocentricity, deceit, shallow affect, manipulativeness, selfishness, and lack of empathy, guilt or remorse, have played a central role in the conceptualization and diagnosis of psychopathy (Cleckley; Hare 1993; in press); Widiger and Corbitt). In 1980 this tradition was broken with the publication of DSM-III. Psychopathy- renamed antisocial personality disorder- was now defined by persistent violations of social norms, including lying, stealing, truancy, inconsistent work behavior and traffic arrests.
Among the reasons given for this dramatic shift away from the use of clinical inferences were that personality traits are difficult to measure reliably, and that it is easier to agree on the behaviors that typify a disorder than on the reasons why they occur. The result was a diagnostic category with good reliability but dubious validity, a category that lacked congruence with other, well-established conceptions of psychopathy. […]
The problems with DSM-III and its 1987 revision (DSM-III-R) were widely discussed in the clinical and research literature (Widiger and Corbitt). Much of the debate concerned the absence of personality traits in the diagnosis of ASPD, an omission that allowed antisocial individuals with completely different personalities, attitudes and motivations to share the same diagnosis. At the same time, there was mounting evidence that the criteria for ASPD defined a disorder that was more artifactual than “real” (Livesley and Schroeder). […]
Most psychopaths (with the exception of those who somehow manage to plow their way through life without coming into formal or prolonged contact with the criminal justice system) meet the criteria for ASPD, but most individuals with ASPD are not psychopaths. […]
The differences between psychopathy and ASPD are further highlighted by recent laboratory research involving the processing and use of linguistic and emotional information. Psychopaths differ dramatically from non-psychopaths in their performance of a variety of cognitive and affective tasks. Compared with normal individuals, for example, psychopaths are less able to process or use the deep semantic meanings of language and to appreciate the emotional significance of events or experiences (Larbig and others; Patrick; Williamson and others). […]
Things become even more problematic when we consider that the DSM-IV text description of ASPD (which it says is also known as psychopathy) contains many references to traditional features of psychopathy. […]
The failure to differentiate between psychopathy and ASPD can have serious consequences for clinicians and for society. For example, most jurisdictions consider psychopathy to be an aggravating rather than a mitigating factor in determining criminal responsibility.
In some states an offender convicted of first-degree murder and diagnosed as a psychopath is likely to receive the death penalty on the grounds that psychopaths are cold-blooded, remorseless, untreatable and almost certain to re-offend. But many of the killers on death row were, and continue to be, mistakenly referred to as psychopaths on the basis of DSM-III, DSM-III-R or DSM-IV criteria for ASPD (Meloy).
We don’t know how many of these inhabitants of death row actually exhibit the personality structure of the psychopath, or how many merely meet the criteria for ASPD, a disorder that applies to the majority of criminals and that has only tenuous implications for treatability and the likelihood of violent reoffending. If a diagnosis of psychopathy has consequences for the death penalty- or for any other severe disposition, such as an indeterminate sentence or a civil commitment- clinicians making the diagnosis should make certain they do not confuse ASPD with psychopathy. […]
Diagnostic confusion about the two disorders has the potential for harming psychiatric patients and society as well.
In my book, Without Conscience, I argued that we live in a “camouflage society,” a society in which some psychopathic traits- egocentricity, lack of concern for others, superficiality, style over substance, being “cool,” manipulativeness, and so forth- increasingly are tolerated and even valued. With respect to the topic of this article, it is easy to see how both psychopaths and those with ASPD could blend in readily with groups holding antisocial or criminal values.
It is more difficult to envisage how those with ASPD could hide out among more prosocial segments of society. Yet psychopaths have little difficulty infiltrating the domains of business, politics, law enforcement, government, academia and other social structures (Babiak). It is the egocentric, cold-blooded and remorseless psychopaths who blend into all aspects of society and have such devastating impacts on people around them who send chills down the spines of law enforcement officers. [Hare, Robert D. Psychopathy and Antisocial Personality Disorder: A Case of Diagnostic Confusion, Psychiatric Times, February 1996: Vol. XIII Issue 2]
Regarding essential psychopathy, Lobaczewski tells us:
Let us characterise another heredity-transmitted anomaly whose role in ponerogenic processes on any social scale appears exceptionally great. We should underscore that the need to isolate this phenomenon and examine it in detail became most evident to those researchers who were interested in the macro social scale of genesis of evil because they have witnessed it. I acknowledge my debt to Kasimir Dabrowski in doing this and calling this anomaly an “essential psychopathy.”
Biologically speaking, the phenomenon is similar to color-blindness and occurs with similar frequency,(slightly above .5 percent) except that, unlike color-blindness, it affects both sexes.
Here, Lobaczewski suggests a particular low frequency of occurrence of essential psychopathy. However, in his book, he also mentions a 1.15 percent of his total population of 5000 subjects that did not demonstrate any overtly identifiable pathology except that they performed actions that bring harm to other people for no explainable reason.
If we consider what Dr. Hare has written above, that psychopaths have little difficulty infiltrating the domains of business, politics, law enforcement, government, academia and other social structures and can blend into all aspects of society, we must ask the question: is it possible that Lobaczewski’s 1.15 percent of unidentified “evildoers” were this type of psychopath? As he points out, it could very well have been the diagnostic criteria that was lacking, and had he utilized Hare’s psychopathy check-list, this group might very well have been identified as psychopaths.
The point I wish to make is the number of psychopathic individuals likely to be found in any given cross-section sampling of society may be much higher than we suspect. Lobaczewski suggests that the occurrence of psychopathy is about the same as color-blindness: .5 percent. But if you add that figure to the 1.15 percent that he couldn’t identify, the actual number in his population may be closer to 1.65 percent.
Let’s recall that Harvard psychologist Martha Stout claims that 4 percent of “ordinary people” (one in 25) often have an “undetected mental disorder, the chief symptom of which is that the person possesses no conscience. He or she has no ability whatsoever to feel shame, guilt, or remorse… They can do literally anything at all and feel absolutely no guilt.”
That just happens to fit right in with Hare’s description of psychopathy, though we are obviously dealing with an entire spectrum of manifestation, as Dr. Stout emphasizes, not to mention the difference between pathologies that are mechanical, i.e. brain damage, and pathologies that are inherited. If we add Stout’s figure of 4 percent of undetected, “ordinary” people, to Lobaczewski’s .5 percent, and include the 1.5 percent of people who had done harm to others with no evident pathology, we then have a figure of 5.65 percent – almost 6 percent of the population.
My math may be off, but I am reminded of what Lobaczewski wrote about the influence of “indoctrination” on his peers.
It was relatively easy to determine the environments and origin 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 in the order of some 6 %. […]
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 reestablish 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 %.
This is an interesting thing, this number. I have no explanation for it because we are certainly talking about many factors and not a single pathology. Perhaps there is more to the problem than anyone has yet discovered?
Continuing with Lobaczewski’s ponerological view of psychopathy:
Its intensity also varies in scope from a level barely perceptive to an experienced observer to obvious pathological deficiency. Like color-blindness, this anomaly also appears to represent a deficit in stimulus transformation, albeit occurring not on the sensory but on instinctive level. Psychiatrists of the old school used to call such individuals “Daltonists of human feelings and socio-moral values.”
The psychological picture shows clear deficits among men only; among women it is generally toned down, as by the effect of the second normal allele. This suggests that the anomaly is also inherited via the X chromosome but through a semi-dominating gene. However, the author was unable to confirm this by excluding inheritance from father to son.
Here, it is interesting to speculate that George Bush inherited his psychopathy from his mother, Barbara.
Analysis of the different experiential manner demonstrated by these individuals caused us to conclude that their instinctive substratum is also defective, containing certain gaps and lacking the natural syntonic responses commonly evidenced by members of the species Homo sapiens. […]
Our natural world of concepts then strikes such persons as a nearly incomprehensible convention with no justification in their own psychological experience. They think that normal human customs and principles of decency are a foreign convention invented and imposed by someone else (“probably by priests”) silly, onerous, sometimes even ridiculous.
At the same time, however, they easily perceive the deficiencies and weaknesses of our natural language of psychological and moral concepts in a manner somewhat reminiscent of the attitude of a contemporary psychologist – except in caricature.
The average intelligence of individuals with the above mentioned deviation, especially if measured via commonly used tests, is somewhat lower than that of normal people, albeit similarly variegated. However, this group does not contain instances of the highest intelligence, nor do we find technical or craftsmanship talents among them. The most gifted members of this kind may thus achieve accomplishments in those sciences which do not require humanistic worldview or practical skills. Whenever we attempt to construct special tests to measure “life wisdom” or “socio-moral imagination”, even if the difficulties of psychometric evaluation are taken into account, individuals of this type indicate a deficit disproportionate to their personal IQ.
In spite of their deficiencies as regards normal psychological and moral knowledge, they develop and then have at their disposal a knowledge of their own, something lacked by people with a natural worldview.
They learn to recognize each other in a crowd as early as childhood, and they develop an awareness of the existence of other individuals similar to them.
They also become conscious of being different from the world of those other people surrounding them. They view us from a certain distance, take a paraspecific variety.
Natural human reactions – which often fail to elicit interest because they are considered self-evident – strike psychopaths as strange and therefore interesting, even comical. They therefore observe us, deriving conclusions, forming their different world of concepts.
They become experts in our weaknesses and sometimes effect heartless experiments upon us. … Neither a normal person nor our natural worldview can perceive or properly evaluate the existence of this world of different concepts.
A researcher into such phenomena can glean a similar deviant knowledge through long-term studies of the personalities of such people, using it with some difficulty, like a foreign language. … [The psychopath] will never be able to incorporate the worldview of a normal person, although they often try to do so all their lives. The product of their efforts is only a role and a mask behind which they hide their deviant reality.
Another myth and role – albeit containing a grain of truth – would be the psychopath’s brilliant mind or psychological genius; some of them actually believe in this and attempt to insinuate this belief to others. In speaking of the mask of psychological normality worn by such individuals (and by similar deviants to a lesser extent), we should mention the book The Mask of Sanity; the author, Hervey Cleckley, made this very phenomenon the crux of his reflections:
Let us remember that his typical behavior defeats what appear to be his own aims. Is it not he himself who is most deeply deceived by his apparent normality? Although he deliberately cheats others and is quite conscious of his lies, he appears unable to distinguish adequately between his own pseudointentions, pseudoremorse, pseudolove, and the genuine responses of a normal person. His monumental lack of insight indicates how little he appreciates the nature of his disorder. When others fail to accept immediately his “word of honor as a gentleman,” his amazement, I believe, is often genuine. The term genuine is used here not to qualify the psychopath’s intentions but to qualify his amazement. His subjective experience is so bleached of deep emotion that he is invincibly ignorant of what life means to others.
His awareness of hypocrisy’s opposite is so insubstantially theoretical that it becomes questionable if what we chiefly mean by hypocrisy should be attributed to him. Having no major values himself, can he be said to realize adequately the nature and quality of the outrages his conduct inflicts upon others?
A young child who has no impressive memory of severe pain may have been told by his mother it is wrong to cut off the dog’s tail. Knowing it is wrong he may proceed with the operation. We need not totally absolve him of responsibility if we say he realized less what he did than an adult who, in full appreciation of physical agony, so uses a knife.
Can a person experience the deeper levels of sorrow without considerable knowledge of happiness? Can he achieve evil intention in the full sense without real awareness of evil’s opposite? I have no final answer to these questions. [Cleckley]
All researchers into psychopathy underline three qualities primarily with regard to this most typical variety: The absence of a sense of guilt for antisocial actions, the inability to love truly, and the tendency to be garrulous in a way which easily deviates from reality.
A neurotic patient is generally taciturn and has trouble explaining what hurts him most. […] These patients are capable of decent and enduring love, although they have difficulty expressing it or achieving their dreams. A psychopath’s behavior constitutes the antipode of such phenomena and difficulties.
Our first contact [with the psychopath] is characterized by a talkative stream which flows with ease and avoids truly important matters with equal ease if they are uncomfortable for the talker. His train of thought also avoids those matters of human feelings and values whose representation is absent in the psychopathic world view. […] From the logical point of view, the flow of thought is ostensibly correct…
[Psychopaths] are virtually unfamiliar with the enduring emotions of love for another person… it constitutes a fairy-tale from that “other” human world. [For the psychopath] love is an ephemeral phenomenon aimed at sexual adventure. However [the psychopath] is able to play the lover’s role well enough for their partners to accept it in good faith. [Moral teachings] also strike them as a similar fairy-tale good only for children and those different “others.”[…]
The world of normal people whom they hurt is incomprehensible and hostile to them. […] [Life to the psychopath] is the pursuit of its immediate attractions, pleasure and power. They meet with failure along this road, along with force and condemnation from the society of those other incomprehensible people.
It should be emphasized that psychopaths are quite often interesting – even exciting! They exude a captivating energy that keeps their listeners on the edge of their seats. Even if some part of the normal person is shocked or repelled by what the psychopath says, they are like the mouse hypnotized by the torturing cat. Even if they have the chance to run away, they don’t.
Many Psychopaths “make their living” by using charm, deceit, and manipulation to gain the confidence of their victims. Many of them can be found in white collar professions where they are aided in their evil by the fact that most people expect certain classes of people to be trustworthy because of their social or professional credentials.
Lawyers, doctors, teachers, politicians, psychiatrists and psychologists, generally do not have to earn our trust because they have it by virtue of their positions. But the fact is: psychopaths are found in such lofty spheres also!
At the same time, psychopaths are good impostors. They have absolutely no hesitation about forging and brazenly using impressive credentials to adopt professional roles that bring prestige and power. They pick professions in which the requisite skills are easy to fake, the jargon is easy to learn, and the credentials are unlikely to be thoroughly checked. Psychopaths find it extremely easy to pose as financial consultants, ministers, psychological counselors and psychologists. And that’s a scary thought.
Psychopaths make their way by conning people into doing things for them; obtaining money for them, prestige, power, or even standing up for them when others try to expose them. But that is their claim to fame. That’s what they do. And they do it very well. What’s more, the job is very easy because most people are gullible with an unshakable belief in the inherent goodness of man which, I should add, has been programmed into normal people by psychopaths.
Returning to the work of Lobaczewski, he next gives us the most important clues as to how and why a truly global conspiracy can and does exist on our planet though it certainly isn’t a conspiracy in the normally accepted sense of the word. You could even say that such conspiracies arise simply as a natural result of the un-bridgeable divide between normal people and deviants.
In a certain sense, understanding the view the psychopath has of “normal people,” that they are “other” and even “foreign,” helps us to realize how such conspiracies can be so “secret” – though that is not the precise word we would like to use.
Even if different ponerological groups are opposed to each other, they will still exclude “normal people” from their confidences. It is only the “normal” people who have been induced into their webs that provide the “leaks.” Lobaczewski describes it in the following way:
In any society in this world, psychopathic individuals and some of the other deviants create a ponerogenically active network of common collusions, partially estranged from the community of normal people. Some inspirational role of the essential psychopathy in this network also appears to be a common phenomenon.
They are aware of being different as they obtain their life experience and become familiar with different ways of fighting for their goals. Their world is forever divided into “us and them” – their world with its own laws and customs and that other foreign world full of presumptuous ideas and customs in light of which they are condemned morally.
Their “sense of honor” bids them cheat and revile that other human world and its values. In contradiction to the customs of normal people, they feel non-fulfillment of their promises or obligations is customary behavior.
They also learn how their personalities can have traumatizing effects on the personalities of those normal people, and how to take advantage of this root of terror for purposes of reaching their goals.
This dichotomy of worlds is permanent and does not disappear even if they succeed in realizing their dreams of gaining power over the society of normal people. This proves that the separation is biologically conditioned.
In such people a dream emerges like some youthful Utopia of a “happy” world and a social system which would not reject them or force them to submit to laws and customs whose meaning is incomprehensible to them.
They dream of a world in which their simple and radical way of experiencing and perceiving reality [i.e. lying, cheating, destroying, using others, etc] would dominate, where they would, of course, be assured safety and prosperity. Those “others” – different, but also more technically skillful – should be put to work to achieve this goal. “We,” after all, will create a new government, one of justice [for psychopaths].
They are prepared to fight and suffer for the sake of such a brave new world, and also of course, to inflict suffering upon others. Such a vision justifies killing people whose suffering does not move them to compassion because “they” are not quite conspecific.
And there it is. Lobaczewski has said outright that psychopaths – from a certain perspective – are a different type of human being, a type that is aware of its difference from childhood. Put this together with his statement that such individuals recognize their own kind, and consider normal people as completely “other,” and we can begin to understand why and how conspiracies can and do exist among such individuals.
They collect together, with similar worldviews, like fat floating on a bowl of soup. When one of them begins to rant, others like them – or those with brain damage that makes them susceptible – “rally round the flag,” so to say. And what’s more, they know this and know how it works.
Speaking of networks, we need to take a closer look at how psychopaths affect other human beings whom they use to create the basis for their rule in macro-social dynamics. This highlights the fact that the lack of psychological knowledge among the general public, not to mention the general neurosis of most people, make them vulnerable to such predators.
Lobaczewski: Subordinating a normal person to psychologically abnormal individuals has a deforming effect on his personality: it engenders trauma and neurosis. This is accomplished in a manner which generally evades sufficient conscious controls. [Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing] Such a situation then deprives the person of his natural rights to practice his own mental hygiene, develop a sufficiently autonomous personality, and utilize his common sense. In the light of natural law, it thus constitutes a kind of illegality which can appear in any social scale although it is not mentioned in any code of law.
Psychologist George Simon, quoted above, discusses what he refers to as “Covert-aggressive personalities” which, upon reading his book, reveal themselves to be members of the psychopathy spectrum. He writes:
Aggressive personalities don’t like anyone pushing them to do what they don’t want to do or stopping them from doing what they want to do. “No” is never an answer they accept.
[In some cases], if they can see some benefit in self-restraint, they may internalize inhibitions [and become covertly aggressive].
By refraining from any overt acts of hostility towards others, they manage to convince themselves and others they’re not the ruthless people they are. They may observe the letter of a law but violate its spirit with ease.
They may exhibit behavioral constraint when it’s in their best interest, but they resist truly submitting themselves to any higher authority or set of principles. [They are] striving primarily to conceal their true intentions and aggressive agendas from others. They may behave with civility and propriety when they’re closely scrutinized or vulnerable. But when they believe they’re immune to detection, [they will do anything they want.]
Dealing with covert-aggressive personalities is like getting whiplash. Often, you really don’t know what’s hit you until long after the damage is done. …
Covert-aggressives are often so expert at exploiting the weaknesses and emotional insecurities of others that almost anyone can be duped…
Covert-aggressives exploit situations in which they are well aware of the vulnerability of their prey. They are often very selective about the kinds of people with whom they will associate or work. They are particularly adept at finding and keeping others in a one-down position. They relish being in positions of power over others. It’s my experience that how a person uses power is the most reliable test of their character… [Simon, op. cit.]
Now, just imagine that the almost 1 in 25 people mentioned by Martha stout: “The Sociopath Next Door,” being the very ones who seek and achieve positions of power and authority in just about any field of endeavour where power can be had, and you begin to understand how truly damaging this can be to an entire society. Imagine school teachers with power over your children who are “covert-aggressives.” Imagine doctors, psychologists, “ministers of the faith” and politicians in such positions.
With this understanding, we begin to get an even better idea of how psychopaths can conspire and actually pull it off: in a society where evil is not studied or understood, they easily “rise to the top” and proceed to condition normal people to accept their dominance, to accept their lies without question. As noted at the beginning of this section, Lobaczewski noted:
Long periods of preoccupation with the self and “accumulating benefits” for the self, diminish the ability to accurately read the environment and other people. […]
It is this feature, this hystericization of society, that enables pathological plotters, snake charmers, and other primitive deviants to act as essential factors in the processes of the origination of evil on a macro-social scale.
We see exactly this pattern of social development in the United States over the past 50 to 60 years or even more. The fact is, many people who may have been born “normal” have become what might be termed “secondary psychopaths” or characteropaths due to the influence of psychopathy on American culture from many fields – including science, medicine, psychology, law, etc – where they are conscious of what they are doing to “normal” people!
Lobaczewski: We have already discussed the nature of some pathological personalities – characteropathies – that may be “created” by an individual’s exposure to a person with a severe character deformation. Essential psychopathy has exceptionally intense effects in this manner. Something mysterious gnaws into the personality of an individual at the mercy of the psychopath, and it is fought like a demon. His emotions become chilled, his sense of psychological reality is stifled.
This leads to decriterialization of thought and a feeling of helplessness culminating in depressive reactions which can be so severe that psychiatrists sometimes misdiagnose them as a manic-depressive psychosis. Many people evidently also rebel much earlier and start searching for some way to liberate themselves from such an influence.
A social structure dominated by normal people and their conceptual world easily appears to the psychopath as a “system of force and oppression. If it happens that true injustice does, in fact, exist in that given society, pathological feelings of unfairness and suggestive statements can resonate among those who have truly been treated unfairly.
Revolutionary doctrines may then find approval among both groups although their motivations will actually be quite different.
The presence of pathogenic bacteria in our environment is a common phenomenon; however, it is not the single decisive factor as regards whether an individual or a society becomes ill. Similarly, psychopathological factors alone do not decide about the spread of evil. […]34
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