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E…Evil Woman

Remember the Electric Light Orchestra? I couldn’t resist. But I really want to say something about an e”¦evil woman. Actually, not really. I just wanted an excuse to say e..evil woman. Okay, I’ve said it, again. Now I’ve got it out of my system. I’ll stop with that.

But I do want to talk about evil. Evil’s such a dicey word. Evil? What is evil? What really makes someone evil? Do evil people exist?

That is, can someone even be evil: Are people evil, or just their behaviors?

I remember a friend of mine, a close friend, years ago, once called me an “evil m*therf*cker,” and I laughed. Did I laugh because I’m evil, thereby validating his accusation? Or did I laugh because I was secure enough to know I’m not?

By the way, what prompted his accusation was a really cruel, funny practical joke I played on him. I’m afraid he found it much more cruel than funny, whereas I found it much funnier than cruel. (Maybe some other time I’ll describe the joke?)

Speaking of cruel, is there a relationship between evil and cruelty? Are they the same thing? When you’re being cruel, or committing a cruel act, are you being evil? Is the cruelty itself evil?

If you don’t have a headache by now, I do. But that’s okay”¦I’ll even make it worse by posing some more light questions, like: Are exploiters, by definition, evil? Is exploitation always evil? Or, must acts of exploitation reach a certain threshhold of heinousness to constitute evil?

And what about our favorite friends, the sociopaths? Are sociopaths, by definition, evil? Sometimes? Always?

And then, of course, the really ultimate question: Do you really think I’m going to answer these questions?

Do you really think I’m crazy, and grandiose, enough, to tackle these questions?

Maybe I am”¦but I can assure you, not adequately. Still, I will “man up” and offer some “takes” on these heady matters, if for no other purpose than to drum-up some good discussion!

I fully expect, incidentally, your feedback to change my mind on, and views of, these questions many times, exposing (you can be sure) the fickleness of my positions.

But, for the moment, here are my short answers:

I believe people can be evil, not just do evil; in other words, I believe some people are evil.

I believe that evil is always cruel, but that cruelty is not always evil.

I believe that evil is always exploitative, but that exploitation is not always evil.

I believe that evil is always destructive, but that destructiveness is not always evil.

Consistent with these views, I believe that some exploiters and, more specifically, some sociopaths—but not all—are evil.

Now, for my personal working definition of evil, in all its glaring limitations: Evil, as I see it, is the lust to express cruelty towards, and/or destructiveness of, others.

There it is. Note the boldfaced “lust to express;” I regard the “lust” as a central element of evil.

Let me dive right into an elaboration of some of my positions.

Evil is always cruel, but cruelty is not always evil. My view here is that evil, fortunately, is less commonplace than cruelty. Cruelty, however, is tragically commonplace.

Most of us are capable of cruelty, but most of us are not evil. This isn’t to diminish the impact of cruelty. In fact, because cruelty is so commonplace and destructive, it is arguably the worst part of human nature.

But not all cruelty is lust-driven. When cruelty is lust-driven, it is evil. When not, it is something less than evil—although I stress that even this debatable point doesn’t lessen cruelty’s impact one iota.

I think the same applies to “exploitation—”that is, exploitation is cruel, always, but not always evil. Valid or not, this assertion isn’t meant to minimize the potentially traumatic impact of exploitation.

Let me give a relatively benign example: A slick colleague convinces you to lend him $150 cash, promising to pay you back in a couple days. The next day, he’s gone. Has left the job. Quit. Never gave notice. The boss is bewildered, and you are too. You never hear from him again. You knew him well enough (so you thought) to lend him the money, but not, as it turns out, as well as you thought. The money probably bought his Amtrak ticket to Seattle.

You were fleeced. He knew he’d be gone, and he had no intention of honoring his debt. To him, you weren’t so much a nice guy whose generosity he appreciated, as much as, ultimately, a sucker. You were taken. He’s a sociopath.

But he needed the money, and put it to practical use. The problem is, he stole it from you. But he needed the money, and money is money, however he can get his hands on it. Not all sociopaths think like this, but some do.

This sociopath was thinking somewhat pragmatically; he needed the money and schemed to get it. But here’s the point: He didn’t lust for your suffering as much as he lusted for your money. Basically, he was greedy and sociopathically conniving, and so he took what he wanted, not per se to inflict pain or harm on you, but because he wanted it.

In this instance, he is exploitative, in my view, but not evil.

Is he cruel? Not in this example. I define cruel as having an intention to inflict harm or pain on someone. This could be mental, or physical pain. It is arguably cruel, for instance, to dismiss someone contemptuously, and yet it is not necessarily cruel, but is definitely exploitative, to con someone out of $150.

A former client of mine, around 1994, shot-up a bunch of kids at a swimming pool with a semi-automatic weapon. (For my own pathetic ego, I was grateful he waited until about two years after I last saw him.) He’d been dually diagnosed as a psychopath and paranoid schizophrenic. Was he evil? I don’t think so, although I appreciate that those kids, and their families, might have thought so.

In any case, I think he was more paranoid than evil, although he was certainly cruel. I also think that he believed that those kids were evil.

So, in this case, which is not hypothetical, I’d suggest that my ex-client was cruel, but not necessarily evil, or for that matter, even exploitative.

How about a Bernie Madoff? Is Bernie Madoff evil? I don’t think so. Yet he may very well be a sociopath and most certainly was heinously exploitative. Was he cruel? I don’t think so, again. I don’t think it was Madoff’s intention to inflict suffering on anyone. That wasn’t his primary motive to do what he did, despite the devastating impact of his greed and deception.

Regarding cruelty: for me, to be cruel implies, and requires, an intention to cruelty; it is a separate issue whether the consequences of your actions are experienced as cruel. I suspect that Madoff’s victims will describe him as cruel, if only for his indifference. However, I don’t see, from the little that is known about this case, that “cruelty” drove Madoff’s exploitation.

Now let’s tackle some big fish: How about Saddam Hussein and Adolph Hitler?

Hussein, in my view, was both cruel and exploitative, but I’m not sure I’d call him evil. Hussein’s lust was principally for power, less principally (one might argue) evil-driven. His cruelty was more a means to an end—the “end” being the consolidation and preservation of his power, by whatever ruthless means necessary. Was he a sociopath? Very possibly.

Hitler, I think, was cruel, exploitative, and evil. Hitler’s lust transcended his obsession with power; his was a lust to exterminate the Jews and other “non-desirables.” In other words, apart from his pathological lust for power, he also had a lust for cruelty and destruction. The latter meets the criteria of evil.

What do you think? Whatever it is, I’m betting it’ll change my mind?

(This article is copyrighted (c) 2009 by Steve Becker, LCSW.)


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143 Comments on "E…Evil Woman"

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Evil.

If you use that word outside of a joke, people think you’re nuts.

I’m a doodler. I sit in meetings and listen intently to everyone, doodling my heart out, and taking a few notes. Sad to say, my notes don’t make much sense to anyone but me. Any how, about Evil. About three years ago I was sitting in on a meeting to discuss the academic future of a 17 year old boy. His mother was there, the counselors, his teachers and a group of administrators. This was the third meeting. The meetings all seemed to end unproductively. “Why?” I l wondered. I scanned their faces, looked at their posture, their gestures, anything that could give me a hint. “Why could no one agree? Why was there so much hostility? Why were the antagonists so firmly entrenched in their positions? Why did I suspect there was deception on all sides?” It was one of those rare instances in life when I contemplated the presence of evil. Not educating the boy was evil. Deliberately letting him slip through the cracks, until all statutes relieved the school of the duty to educate, was evil. My pencil followed my thoughts in the margin of my notebook. “Evil?” I wrote. I listened and I watched, trying to determine the locus. “Who?” I wondered. “Why?”

All that was required was that the parties agree on a reasonable plan. It didn’t have to be a perfect plan, just a cobbled together 80% solution would have been fine. They would not agree. I say “would not”, because the older I get the more reluctant I am to say “could not”. People use “could not” too much. It’s usually a lie. Where lies absolve people of personal responsibility, evil is generally present. The people in that room used “could not” and “can not” a lot. Never once were they being truthful. Where was the locus of the evil? In a person, the people or the situation? I dunno. There were a lot of lies though. Each of them were told in order to avoid taking responsibility.

My husband is a well educated, intelligent professional. He doesn’t ascribe to any superstitions. It surprised me greatly last week when he mourned his decision to avoid a particular person. “She doesn’t know she’s evil.” He stated flatly. There was no heat in his remark, and little grief. It was just an observation. She manipulated, she conned, she stole, she milked her mother dry financially and emotionally, she attacked, she belittled, she tore the family apart with her sly abuse, and she was always ready with an absolutely airtight, articulate justification for her behaviors and positions. She was 45. He’d long ago run out of excuses for her, and could no longer deny the problem.

In all her interactions with people, there were always rationales for why she “could not” or “should not” cooperate, respect boundaries, earn her way, do her part or treat others kindly. If she’d admitted, just to herself, that the truth was “will not” even once, she might not be evil.

So Dr. Peck called them “The People of the Lie”. I think he’s onto something here. Whether it’s group evil or individual evil, it’s the subtle lies that make people comfortable with doing the wrong thing. The lies are the spoonful of sugar that helps the poison go down.

I think here goog ol Catholic theology serves well..

Christian philosophy has, like the Hebrew, uniformly attributed moral and physical evil to the action of created free will. Man has himself brought about the evil from which he suffers by transgressing the law of God, on obedience to which his happiness depended. (Catholic New Advent Encyclopedia)

Good to see the origins of psychopathy discussed here.
I blog on evil because it so rarely addressed.
http://holywatersalt.blogspot.com/

Wonderful, thought provoking article.

I agree with most of it…however, *(you knew there would be THAT “however”) Saddam, I think IS EVIL. Yes, he was after power, control, etc. but he knowingly ordered the torture of his enemies. If he had ONLY ordered them killed, I might have gone along with your assertion that he was cruel but not necessarily EVIL.

His sons’ visciousness and cruelty, seeming to lust after hurting people, underscores to me the genetic link between the psychopathic father and his sons, as well as their sense of entitlement and lust for inflicting pain for joy.

As my analogy of Satan, as the first psychopath, in the garden of Eden showed, lying to bring down Eve for no real benefit of his own, but just to see her downfall, and to lust after her punishment, shows that EVIL is the enjoyment of the pain of another, even without “gain” on your own part.

I think “evil” is like “pornography”–we can’t define it necessarily, but we KNOW IT WHEN WE SEE IT. I also think that there are “levels” of the EFFECTS of evil but not to the evil itself. Is it more “evil” to kill six million people than to kill one? I don’t think so, but the “level” of the events caused by evil has just risen to the level that the evil person is capable of without being stopped.

I had a quarrel yesterday with a friend of long standing, and he broke a promise to me, and acted inappropriately when I confronted him about it….but was he “evil?” Of course not. It didn’t even FEEL like a quarrel with an EVIL PERSON, because even though he used some of the SAME “verbal defense mechanisims” (projection, blame placing, lack of acknowledgement of his breaking the promise, lack of remorse, justification, etc) that a psychopath (an evil person) would use, his intentions were not the same as the psychopath’s.

It was an unfortunate quarrel, and may have ended a relationship of several decades, but even the “feel” of the quarrel is not the same as one with a psychopath, because I don’t feel like I would have felt if I had been BETRAYED for “fun and games.” I was, and am, disappointed that my friend would break a promise to me. In no way do I feel BETRAYED or victimized, though. I simply set a boundary, which at this point he has responded to poorly, and when I set the boundary I was aware that the relationship might be at risk—it always is if you set a boundary and enforce it. I’m at a point now where I can take that risk.

Thanks, Steve, for bringing up this interesting question. I’ve thought about it a lot, since I’ve been on LoveFraud, because it’s a term that comes up here. So I’m going to throw in my two cents.

I was very impressed with Dante’s “Inferno,” in which the levels of hell were assigned to people who had lost sight of their relationship with God, because they’d become more involved in one of the seven deadly sins. That is, they’d made something more important than God. An early definition of addiction.

Likewise, having grown up Catholic, I had a vivid idea of the devil, as “someone” who showed up to offer us our fondest desires in exchange for our souls. Or just tempted us with things we weren’t supposed to do, according to the rather long and detailed list of Catholic proscriptions, and therefore seduced us into sin. Something we’d have to pay for later. Burning for a while in purgatory, if it was minor, or forever in hell, if it was a big deal.

Now, the devil for sure was the embodiment of “evil.” And hell was what happened as the result of evil, or maybe the temporary suffering of purgatory. As a kid, I was taught this stuff by rote, but when I grew up and started to study spiritual disciplines of all kinds, I made some effort to integrate these ideas into common threads.

And with evil, this is what I came up with. First, that evil is what separate us from our own spiritual centers, which in my personal Buddhist-ish cosmology, is the God-spark that we all have at our centers, the source of our life energy and the equivalent of the Catholic soul.

So for me, that’s a pretty broad range of stuff. All the internal drama that I discuss as post-traumatic emotions keep me from accessing my spiritual core. All the distracting desires for material possessions or power that may cause me to operate in ways that are not consistent with the “good” values that come from my spiritual core are evil, in that sense. And likewise, all the things from the outside world that cause me trauma or that persuade me that something is more important than the influence of my spiritual core are evil.

This is where it starts to apply to our situations here at LoveFraud. Because sociopaths do both. They traumatize us and therefore create a lot of emotional drama that distracts us from being the best we can be. And they also seduce us into beliefs and actions that, in my mind, are basically addictive responses to ease the pain of pre-existing old drama that keeps us from direct access to our spiritual core, and thus they layer the problems and challenges they create on ones that we were already dealing with. And magnify our challenges in terms of staying in touch with our best selves.

And so, for us, they are evil. Does this mean they are evil intrinsically? That is, could we judge them as evil, if their actions had nothing to do with us?

Well, “my” sociopath had an interesting take on this. Someone had once related him to the “terrible angels” described in Rilke’s poems in the “Duino Elegies.” And he thought that it matched his effect on people’s lives. People who got involved with him found him to be a huge force on their lives. A kind of massive psychic challenge to survive. In Rilke’s poems, he talks about the visitation of a terrible angel as something we may or may not survive, and if we survive we are changed. It is a visitation from something with power that is destructive or transformational. In an ironic take on that, my ex has a phrase in one of his online profiles about being more fun than a multi-car collision but easier to go to lunch with.

So where does this leave us in terms of whether he is evil or not? In his wake, he’s left breakdowns and shattered lives. But I am using the experience to transform myself (after nearly losing myself to suicide). If evil is about what it creates, what do we make of this?

I keep coming back to the personal. He was evil for some people. He was not evil for me. He forced me to do something I wouldn’t have done otherwise, but in retrospect I realize that it was what I wanted, not in the process but in the outcome. And I imagine him moving forward in the world and creating the same challenge for other people. I used to worry about them. I don’t anymore. People who get involved with him have their own reasons, as I did.

What he is, is a walking challenge to our belief structures. A seductive opportunity to get something we think we want, based on what we’ve been taught about love and the internal dramas we are trying to relieve, and then to learn what the cost of it is. Yes, we can have the perfect love if we are willing to be the perfect slave, to give ourselves away at every level to maintain the illusion of security or pay heavily for every shred of external validation we get. He is an extreme case in every way. Exactly what we want. At a cost that can literally come down to our lives. But in the end, this struggle is not between him and us, but between us and us. How much are we willing to pay for an illusion? How willing are we to make our happiness, our effectiveness in our lives, our connection with our true selves, all of it dependent on someone else’s rules and actions?

The primary relationship in my life, and I believe this is true for everyone, whether or not they acknowledge it, is with my spiritual core. I want that line open. I believe I’m dealing with something that is part of me, but that is also part of something larger than me. The better I can keep my conscious mind connected with that “source,” the better my relationship is with myself and everything else.

If he was evil, the thing that made me involve myself with him was the “evil” in me, unfinished business that was keeping me from being whole and open to my best self.

I realize this may not be a popular perspective with everyone, especially those of us who feel victimized by outside forces. It would not have been popular with me through most of my life, because I felt victimized and warped by the damage of my history. Feeling victimized, I think, is a stage of healing. It’s an important stage, but ultimately it ends, when we realize that the “outside force” is not us, and that something happened to us, but it was not us. We are something else, something that experiences things and learns from our experiences, but our fundamental strength and goodness of character doesn’t change.

And then, we ultimately get past it. We let go of what we lost, and discover what is beyond it.

In letting go, we are ending a type of addiction, a requirement that life be what we want it to be or we will be miserable. We get out of Dante’s hell, and reconnect with a larger world of potentials. More options for joy, for action, for creating our lives and our impact on the world. “Evil” challenges us to do that. In offering us seduction, it is also threatening us with loss. The end of the story is always loss, and our struggle with it. But when we stop struggling and give up, we discover we have released an obstacle to our happiness and our full potential.

In the end, there are two responses that I see to evil. One is to get involved and learn what we can do without. The other is, when we get to it, laughter as we pass on it, saying this is not my drama, I’ve already done this one. And bizarre as that may seem to the people here who are still engaged in suffering through their recovery, it makes sense if you understand that the challenge is transformational, and that’s what we’re doing here.

And if all of that sounds irrelevant to things like Saddam, Hitler and Madoff, I would disagree. I think those people exist and acquire power over other people because those other people agree to give away their power in response to unprocessed traumas in their own psyches. I think that this is cultural as well as personal. And I think that part of what we are doing here — and this is not the only place that it’s happening — is creating a new generation of human beings who are taking back our power, clearing our own internal dramas and getting ready to exert a new kind influence on the world, based on the compassion we gain as whole human beings.

That, at least, is my belief and the dream that fuels my work.

STEVE – Im only on your opening paragraph…so no evil comment from me yet — but maybe forthcoming — I have to pick myself up off the floor – because i just LEARNED its E-EVIL WOMAN…. NOT MIDEVIL WOMAN!! Think I was 10 or 11 when it was released… and it was always MIDEVIL WOMAN to me!!!!!!!!!!ROTFLMAO —

I should add that laughter doesn’t mean that we don’t get involved at some level. In thinking about the Tibetan situation, I think this is an example of holding on to how we want it to come out. A direct confrontation with the Chinese is not going to accomplish anything. But the campaign to save Tibet has been characterized by this focus on how we want it to come out.

The best possible outcome is always a moving target. We can never rebuild the monasteries to be what they were. But we can save the cultural heritage embodied in the Tibetan Buddhist practice. When we decide what is important, what is valuable, and most of all how we want it to come out as best we can see it right now, we have the internal mindset and tools to attack the problem.

Which is what is happening today. Bad publicity. Political sanctions. Refuge for communities of Tibetans in other countries. Support of the continuance of these traditions in every way possible.

Is the Chinese intention “evil.” Who knows? Tibet is rich in natural resources, which is why China wants to incorporate it. From at least one perspective, the resources of Tibet provides China with an opportunity to improve the lives of an entire nation of people. A “greater good.” And from their philosophic perspective, the spiritual and social hierarchies of the Tibetan culture do not equate with the social and economic culture their communist theories promote (with no comment here on the actual fidelity of the Chinese government to those theories or their success in China or anywhere else).

But whether or not the Chinese intention is evil, the results are evil for the Tibetan culture. If we care about that, if we have compassion for the people who are being traumatized by change and feel that the change is wrong-headed, we judge this as evil for them and for us.

As always, this is about our beliefs, our values, and how they interact with the circumstances. I personally want the Tibetan spiritual culture and the social culture that goes with it to survive. The values of that culture are valuable to me, and I want them in my world. So I support work to influence the Chinese to stop meddling in their culture.

I also recognize that the Tibetan collaborators who have aligned themselves with the Chinese have their own issues. Are they sociopaths because they go against me, or against my objectives. It doesn’t matter. We are working toward different ends. They might as well be sociopaths. I could call them that. I could call them evil. They are, as far as their impact on how I want it to come out.

But this comes down to where we stand, what we want, our values, what we’re willing to take action on.

Calling people names — whether it’s evil or sociopath — is also part of the healing process. It’s when we’re in that stage where we’re saying this is not me, this is not about me, but something else, something outside of me. It’s an important part of become whole and empowered.

Eventually, the names don’t matter. What matters is what we believe in and what we do.

The greater (supposed) GOOD does not justify evil means. Evil negates the good.

Steve – some definitions, and my own thoughts….

Evil is the forces/behaviors that are the opposite or enemy of good. Evil generally seeks own benefit at the expense of others and is based on general malevolence… any particular individual which may follow these forces or behaviors is evil in my book. Traits of evil .. cruelty, exploitative, intending to harm; malevolent; morally corrupt….

Evil is the actively and consciously denied right to appeal a decision on the part of another person that is unbearable for you as its victim.

Evil was never ever invented. It only spreads through contagion.

“Unappealability“ is a trait that can only be exhibited by persons who have suffered evil themselves and who consciously or subconsciously want to perpetuate it…

“Most of us are capable of cruelty, but most of us are not evil.” Steve…

My view is

Most of us are capable of evil, but most of choose not to exhibit any of the traits of Evil…..being cruel, exploitative, morally corrupt, destructiveness toward others….etc.

It doesnt matter the motive behind CHOOSING TO BE EVIL – OR what drove the choice… if it exploits someone in anyway – being evil is a choice – whether or not it knowingly or unknowingly causes harm to others through gain/pain/mental illness. Whether or not the person making the choice to be Evil…took the time to take note of the consequence – beyond the choice – is not relevent to me. Evil comes to be through the choice – choice to be cruel, destructive, exploitative, corrupt ,neglectful etc.

There is EVIL and all the traits…..

There is Good and all the traits…

There is Mental Illness and all the traits… etc…

REALLY WONDERFUL THOUGHT PROVOKING QUESTIONS…

Kathy,

You bring out a good point, which Dr. Viktor Frankl did in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” after his years-long stay in the Nazi prison camp, we CAN take something that is “evil” (by whatever name you want to call it) and FIND MEANING in it and use it to strengthen our souls, OR, we can become perpetual “victims” by feeling like we have been abused by some force outside our control (which actually may be true) but how we USE and PERCEIVE that event, rather than what the purpose of the event, or even how destructive it was/is, can still be a “benefit” to us in the long run, in our own spiritual growth.

I can’t always control what happens to me, but I CAN control my reaction to it, my thinking about the event, and how it effects my thinking, my meaning, my being. I think the most hurtful part of evil acts is when we perceive them as intentional from people we love/d and trust/ed. Random acts of evil (a mugging for example) that is not “personal” or from a “person we love” may break your bones and anger you, but not “devestate” you like being slapped by someone you love.

I think, like Dr. Frankl, finding MEANING out of the chaos and pain, is the core to recovery, and learning about ourselves, and using that painfully gotten knowledge to make us better individuals, more caring.

I also think that we are not only capable of evil, but do it all the time, if we regard evil (as I do) as creating challenges for other people.

I eat meat. Due to the current system of providing meat, I don’t have to go through the process of killing the animal and it’s easy enough to forget about it. But I don’t assume the that animal volunteered to be my dinner. And I know that, by extension, I am its killer.

I win contracts against other providers of the same services. When I win, they lose. And what that means to them is significant. It could mean the difference between employment and being let go for someone who works for them. And all the drama in that person’s life that creates. I would say that I’m creating evil in this situation, and I do it despite my knowledge of what might happen. The business environment is competitive, and I live with the fact that there are losers for every winner.

I say no to all kinds of things that would significantly help other people. I manage my resources according to my own objectives and limitations. In some of these cases, those people invest a lot of time and energy, and sometimes money, in convincing me to say yes. So I am saying no, after they have reduced their resources to get me to say yes. I’ve cost them something, and for them that is an evil.

I could go on and on, but the net of all this is that every time we use our power to do one thing, we are probably also creating some kind of negative result somewhere else. If I get this book published, it will be at the cost of someone else’s book that was bumped off the publisher’s list this year. If I drive my car to the grocery store, I am taking that much weartime off the road. If I spray my roses, I am interrupting the life cycle of the Japanese beetles. If I choose to buy winter fruit from Chile, I am contributing to global warming.

I’ve recommended the book “Thick Face Black Heart” here before. It’s about ruthlessness, and the necessary valuations we make of the cost of getting what we want. Forward movement costs something. We are not expected by God or any other rule to stop acting in our lives. But it is a good thing to consider whether the costs are worth the outcome. Not just in practical terms, but in ethical ones.

This is one of the reasons we are so offended by sociopaths. Their outcomes are private, selfish, and their costs are not private. What they gain comes out of other lives. It is essentially a one-way transfer of resources that we would never agree to, if we understood that it was not a two-way thing. They are thieves in that sense. And their ruthless is the lowest kind, accepting cost on other people’s lives for a good that doesn’t go beyond their own selfish gain.

When we act, and consider the costs or “evil” associated with our actions, we make our own decisions about whether the cost is worth the gain. If we organize a grass roots action against a real estate development, we balance the gains offered by the development in jobs and housing against the preservation of a beautiful place. We decide that the beauty of our environment is more important, and we bear the burden of something lost by our actions to pursue an outcome that serves the “greater good.” We have to judge our own intentions and ethics in this, and decide whether our “ruthlessness” is justified.

This is the work of a consciously lived existence. There are no easy answers here. The more empowered we become to act, the more questions we face about what is the right thing to do. In my life, until now, the choices I’ve made have been to be a facilitator. I help people negotiate their competing wants, or I help individuals or companies to articulate their wants betters. Because I have been completely unable to come to decisions about actions for myself.

Since the sociopath, that has changed. Recovery has meant, for me, learning more about what I want. I’m clearer now about where I want to take action and why. I’m also clearer about my values and ethics, which makes it easier for me to decide what costs are worth the outcomes. As well as making me more resourceful about finding strategies with lower costs.

But it doesn’t change my knowledge that any action has its costs. And that the simplest elements of physical survival have their impact on the environment. Before the sociopath, I had this knowledge, but it was just another piece of the general overload I lived with, something I couldn’t afford to give attention to. Now I can. Now I can give attention to everything at least for a moment, while I decide where I want to exert effort and what creates the most good.

In practical terms, it’s probably not a lot different than what I was doing before. But inside me, it’s hugely different. Because I’m moving toward completion of things I think are important, instead of managing stress and being reactive to threats. Over time, this is recreating my life and changing what I leave behind me.

But from an outsider perspective, I may be looking more and more like a sociopath. Because I am more and more able to think, if not say, that your loss is unfortunate and I’m sorry you have to go through it, but not sorry enough that I’m going to change my direction or my actions. And I do care. I really do. But I’m taking responsibility for deciding what is important, or what is more important. When we say “yes I want that,” we also say no to something else.

This is not new. This is what we’ve been living with all our lives. But when we realize it, our triumphs acquire a different flavor. Everything is related. We are part of a great tapestry of cause and effect. For me, the larger the good I incorporate into own objectives, the more I feel like the costs are worth the gain.

Dear Kathy,

While you eat meat, and are therefore the “killer by proxy” of an animal that did not volunteer for your dinner, I am the actual killer of the animal for my own meat. I raise the animal, care for it well, then “humanely” execute the animal, clean and cook it.

At the same time, I raise plants which I eat (or purchase others) that have been harvested.

Life takes energy and food is energy. I do this with a clean conscience because I know if I do not “kill and eat” (either by my own hand or proxy) I will not have energy for life. I will die.

Humans are predators, animals are our prey, just as the lion selects an antelope or a rabbit to eat, we select our “domesticated” prey as food. It is easier than hunting deer or rabbits which might be in short supply in an area or a time. But we survive by preying on the animals one way or another.

We do “compete” with others for all resources. I eat plenty at night before I go to bed, more than enough, and I am aware that there are children in this country who go to bed hungry.

Also, if all the available food in the world were shared out equally, ALL of us would go to bed hungry. I know this and I still eat more than my “fair share.” Does that mean I am “evil” because I do this? Does that mean that the lion who kills two antelope and can only eat one doesn’t share with the vultures, foxes, and black-backed jackals “evil” because even though he can’t eat it all he guards it untiil it rots?

Life is NOT fair. All resources are not divided fairly among the lions or the humans. The young healthy lion deprives the older, sicker, weaker lion of food until it starves. Is he “evil” for doing so?

I have a 4 bedroom, 3 bath home, does that mean I am evil because I have “unused” space in my home and don’t offer to share it with a homeless man I see on the street who has no shelter? Am I evil because of that?

I own more than one vehicle, am I evil because I don’t donate one to someone who has none? I have a little bit of money in the bank. Am I evil because I don’t donate some or all of it to those that lost everthing to Bernie Madoff?

There are those people who would answer “yes, you are evil” to all those questions above. There are those that would answer “No, you worked for those things and they are yours.”

I too am profoundly different “inside” since I pulled my emotionally bleeding and battered psyche up onto the “Road to Healing” and have been making my way on it’s uneven surface toward Healing. There’s also not much apparent outside that most people would notice is “different” about me, though my sons, who know me so well, are still AMAZED at how “different” I am from who/what I was “before” all this.

I have a self confidence now that I have never had before, though I “faked it” pretty well at my jobs and in my relationships with others….now it is becoming REAL not “faked.” I am no longer feeling like an “imposter” when I behave in a stronger way, in a more self-loving way. I am no longer burdened down and bowed down by the FOG–Fear, Obligation and Guilt–I don’t wake up afraid of what the day will bring, I don’t feel obligated to do whatever someone else requests or demands of me, and I have no guilt over saying “No” to any request (or demand) I don’t want to fulfill.

Actually, I think I am at a point in my life that I am finally coming to be an INDEPENDENT PERSON who can make decisions based on my own needs, wants and desires, rather than REACTING to others needs, wants, demands and desires. It is a good feeling, a feeling of freedom and independence. My choices, my consequences.

Exactly, Oxy. Your choices, your consequences.

I never meant to imply that you were evil. Or that I am.

But that every action had its repercussions somewhere. What I do in the interests of good for me or good for some larger group or world that I feel part of, that is likely to have repercussions that are not good on some other part.

So our “good” action may be experienced as evil elsewhere.

As you put it, this is just the way life works.

Kathryn,

Your choices have inadvertent outcomes for other people, everything does. Evil is intentional malice- in you rexample your end isn’t to be evil.

Of course, an act , say murder (which is always evil) is never justified even though someone younger, nicer, kinder and/or smarter may need their heart.

holywatersalt,

You know, I’m not certain of the line here. Is “intentional malice” someone who is willing to let us suffer as long as s/he gets what s/he wants?

Kathy

Evil is intentional malice

I agree but I also think it is more. Huge amounts of evil have can caused by those who have done nothing. Huge amounts of evil have been caused by those that proclaim to be doing good and believe they are doing good. The old saying The road to hell is paved with good intentions” is right.

BloggerT,

So I’m passing the hot potato to you. How do you define evil?

Kathy

Before I log off and/or get kicked off — Ill tell ya

Its Devil without the D!!!! 🙂 BloggerT ….catch….

And btw… Steve is slotted for a second performance at the LF Convention…after his Groucho performance w/Kathy — He will take the stage solo to sing E Evil Woman (or MidEvil Woman)…

Kathleen,

Gee thanks 🙂 That is a hard question to answer fully. There are many aspects of evil and it is hard to list them all outside of specific incidents. Not to mention it is often subjective to various people. I am not sure we can ever fully define evil yet we can define evil acts.

I’ve got to run off to a meeting, but I just looked up the etymology. Turns out the word started out being “uppity” or thinking that you’re better than everyone else.

Sounds like my ex.

I wrote a “novel” on how “good and evil,” etc are SUBJECTIVE depending on a lot of things, and it went off into cyber space…sheesh.

But what WE perceive as good or evil is dependent on lots of things, including our culture. We would perceive (most of us anyway) that a man with two wives (in our culture) was “evil” to them, but in Saudi it would not be perceived as bad at all.

We perceive that treating someone badly because of race, religion, cluture etc. is “evil” but in many of the areas of the world it is Standard Operating Procedure and accepted and expected, not “evil” to do so.

There are lots of things perceived differently here in our own culture. Abortion. Stem Cell research. Divorce. Female circumcision. Spanking children. Sex between adults and children. Prostitution. Gambling. Legal sales of drugs. Assisted suicide for terminally ill people.

I could go on, but you get the idea. What I might perceive as an Evil act, you might think is perfectly a good act and be for. sometimes laws are passed to prevent an “evil” act, but in the end the act/law has an evil result. The slaughter of horses for food was an “evil” thing some groups believed and got an act passed to prevent this in the US. As a result, old or injured or bad tempered horses are now left to starve, turned out on the highways to get hit by cars, or taken to various places and abandoned. The result was an evil thing (from the horse’s position) starvation vs a quick death. I don’t think there is a bit of difference eating cow than horse, or duck or dog. After it is dead it is meat. Period.

I don’t think it is wrong to take a human life to protect my own, but there are people who do think it is evil to kill under any circumstances.

Essentially, I think definitions of “good” vs “evil” are pretty subjective and different cultures and groups have different definitions of the terms. Each of us must come to a decision on what constitutes evil for themselves. How we behave is somewhat governed by laws, but how we think is governed by ourselves. We must each for our selves come to a moral decision. Discussing it is a good thing, as long as we all keep our minds open to new ideas and new ways of looking at things. I think LF is GREAT about this and I have been provoked into thinking many times here. Thinking about deep subects, important subjects to me because they effect how I live, how I think, and what I want to BE.

When I was 15-16 I knew all the answers to all the black and white questions in the world. Now that I am 62, I realize I not only don’t know ANY of the answers in black and white, I don’t even know ALL OF THE QUESTIONS. The older I get and the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know “Jack.”

By the time I learn “how to live” (if I ever do) it will be over! LOL

I see evil like a kind of side effect of narcissistic/psychopathic/sociopathic behavior. I would risk to say that it’s not the aim of the narcissist (or even psychopath) to do evil for the sake of it, but rather to make another person feel helpless and him/her powerful. Techniques to do it are called abuse.
Those techniques specifically target the locus of control of another person. The results of earlier mentioned techniques is what we call evil.

At the same time, I view psychopaths and narcissist as having revolving door for evil. Whenever evil wants to come out to this world, psychopaths and narcissist provide a permanently open gate for it. On the opposite, normal, good human beings guard those door carefully.

Regards
Peter

Oxy – LOL – your post made me laugh! I thought the same thing… and then you and Kathleen and Steve and others come along and the depth of the knowledge and thought provoking/inducing comments/questions.

I was beginning to think Steve was evil with the way he wrote this one! LOL… my head was spinning, I was never so caught up in good and evil ever before then in the above article!! and then I realized CLEVER, CLEVER, CLEVER…

And then Kathys response, I was nearly afraid to drive my car down the road for fear of creating another layer of impact forming a pothole down the road causing all kinds of evil traffic delays tomorrow…..lol….

I didnt know if would be evil not to respond or to respond… so I got some definitions of Evil posted em and got the heck outta here! LOL

Dont worry by the time its over… its all heavenly days thereafter, unless Kathy and Steve are on your wingtails whispering wonderful thought provoking ideas and questions in your ears on your way up there!!!!

Honestly, I made a light, airy joking funny (prolly only to me again lol) post about something that momentarily scared me and overwhelmed me in a great way — when I thought all the thoughts I did – and went far and deep beyond my deepest understanding of what life is truly all about and how Evil and Goodness are PERCEIVED/MISPERCEIVED….

I would have never thought this article would have catapulted me to such a place in my mind. So thanks Steve…and ELO… for such an awesome song MidEvil Woman…. 🙂

Steve, which sociopaths do you think are not evil?

I honestly don’t think it is the intention of my exSP to inflict harm on anyone. I think he just goes with what he wants in the moment and will tell any lie to get it. In his twisted sick mind, it’s not a big deal to promise someone he’ll call and then not call. And he fully expects to be treated this way himself. Because he is missing some chemical in his brain, he doesn’t understand the consequences of lying and deceiving others. I think he is honestly confounded when people react with rage to his lies. He doesn’t see what the big deal is. In all the time I knew him, he never did anything that seemed intentionally cruel. I honestly believe he never received any kind of pleasure from hurting me. I think he just doesn’t understand about emotional hurt. He is just cut from a different cloth. I have come to believe that sociopaths are just built differently than we are. They way they function makes perfect sense in their world, but doesn’t work in ours. It’s very pathetic to me, and I have to watch feeling sorry for him. In the aftermath of our relationship, he has not once tried to hurt me or smear me (to my knowledge). In fact, he was always very kind and generous with me. And yet about 95% of the stuff that came out of his mouth was a lie. I really think there is just something seriously missing in his brain. I don’t know if he was born like that, or if something happened to him in Iraq. But it’s the creepiest behavior problem I’ve ever seen. Evil? I don’t really know.

I really do believe there is a difference between people like this and those who intentionally inflict harm on others for fun. I have known people who deliberately screw with others’ feelings to hurt them, and then sit back laughing about it. Did anyone ever see the movie House of Games? It’s a must see for this site. Mine is not one of those types. But definitely a dangerous person because of all of the lies.

I have to add one cool thing I found when I was trying to find the etymology of the word.

This is from http://www.tentmaker.org/Dew/Dew7/D7-EtymologyOfTheWordEvil.html, which talks about the origins of the word as “haughty” or “uppity.”

Referencing Ezekiel Chapter 16 verse 49.

“Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abominations before Me; therefore, I took them away as I saw fit.”

So in one little piece, we have pride, gluttony, sloth, and greed. But haughty gets it own special mention, as well was not equalizing things for the poor and needy.

Star – Do you think maybe he was a pathological liar with a personality disorder?

From Andrea Broadbent “The Truth about Truman”: To begin, the definition of pathological actually means abnormal or grossly atypical. Therefore, a pathological liar prevaricates more frequently than the average person or tells more abnormal lies. In most cases, pathological liars tell lies that are “unplanned and impulsive” (Hausman). These lies are usually very emotional stories that tend to serve no purpose except to impress people (Ford 133). As of now, psychiatrists are unsure whether or not pathological liars are fully capable of realizing if and when they are lying, so detecting whether or not a person is a pathological liar is a very difficult task (Hausman). By looking at the list of conditions commonly connected with people considered to be pathological liars, psychiatrists are better able to determine whether or not a person might actually have the disorder. Some main qualities linked with pathological liars include dysfunctional family origin, family lying patterns, anomalies of sexual life, frequent substance abuse, and a great capacity for language.

From Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. “Psychological Honesty”: Even a pathological liar carries deep in his heart a desire for goodness and honesty and yet, because of painful emotional wounds, believes that the world never has, and never will, recognize his pain. And so, to hide that pain from himself, he uses all the lies he can concoct to hurl at the world as he runs in fear from his own goodness.

They lie about even the smallest things.
For example, saying “I brushed my teeth today,” when they didn’t.
They add exaggerations to every sentence.
They change their story all the time.
They act very defensively when you question their statements.
They believe what they say is true, when everyone else knows it isn’t.

Lies when it is very easy to tell the truth.
Lies to get sympathy, to look beter, to save their butt, etc.
Fools people at first but once they get to know him, no one believes anything they ever say.
May have a personality disorder.
Extremely manipulative.
Has been caught in lies repeatedly.
Never fesses up to the lies.
Is a legend in their own mind.

I have looked up several words that I had read in the Bible that I really didn’t know what exactly they meant, and found some “intersting” information…like the definition of a “raler” which is a nasty mouthed screaming angry person, a gossip, the definition of “wrath” (vengeful bitter anger) etc. which “sins” are listed with murderers etc. as very harmful and an abomination to God. (Makes Him want to PUKE).

I may sound a little nuts here, but I think it is possible to FEEL the presence of evil. You may not know WHY you are feeling it, because on the surface it seems you have no reason to, but you get that really dark ominous feeling when in the presence of an evil person (even if they are not doing anything you’d consider evil at the moment).

I know I have read on the board that alot of people are totally bamboozled (is that a word?) with the charm of the sociopath or psychopath when they first meet them, then later on see signs of their evil. I had the opposite experience.

The first two times I met my P was sort of at a distance–talked to him once out in the yard with him about 30 feet away. Second time also a brief chat of about 20 – 30 feet away. BOTH times, from that distance he made the hair on my neck stand up and I got a very dark, ominous feel about him. I didn’t like the “feel” of him at all, he just felt “different” to me, like a dark thunder cloud with electricity in it–like a bad storm brewiing. I didn’t like him at all. It was only upon meeting him up close and person, standing face to face, with his brilliant smile and chatty personality and all the bells and whistles blah blah blah…..that I overrode that initial impression and feeling of evil energy, and started seeing him.

Now, like I said, maybe I’m nuts……..but I do think I was feeling the presence of evil energy when I first met the psychopath. Has anyone else had the experience of not intellectually seeing something and thinking it is evil, but of just “feeling” the energy of it? Hope this post even makes sense. –Jen

Well Steve , I feel ,that indeed you have a can of worms here worth consideration. I agree with your short answers , however I DO believe that all sociopaths are evil. I say this only because I have not met one yet, that I could say , ” Now theres a nice person “, I have met many pretending to be nice people , in fact too nice . A domesticated sociopath is just a nasty waiting for a moment to strike . They are worse than wild animals in this regard . You can take a wild animal from birth and domesticate it and it will even have genuine feelings , I believe, for its human friend . a psychopath on the other hand will plan and plot your downfall right from day one . From what I know Of psychopaths , I prefer the word psychopath to sociopath if you don’t mind , there is something weird going on in their heads that most of us may never understand . So what is going on in their heads . They seem to be as conscious as any of us, however at the same time for most of us a friend is a friend , for a psychopath a friend is a victim . Something to be toyed with , manipulated , tormented , ridiculed , and finally destroyed physially or mentally when the boredom sets in or when a new victim happens to pass by and fall into that seductive web .
Steve you say that if someone cons you out of $150 they are not being cruel . How about if you are 80 years old and someone cons you out of $1,000,000 . The only one million that you have and which was keeping you reasonable comfortable in your old age . Now isn’t that cruel . That reminds me of a joke . An old guy approaches a young beautiful woman in a bar and asks if she would have sex with him for $1,000,000 . The woman ponders the offer and says yes . The old man then asks , “how about for $100 “. The woman looks disgusted and replies ” what do you think I am, a whore ” . To that the old man replies ,” honey , I allready know what you are , we are just dickering over the price .
OK , on to the guy who shot up the kids in the swimming pool . Is it possible for someone to be both psychopath and schitzophrenic . I am not an expert but I have met both types and so am a little familiar with both . I would bet that he was a psychopath pretending to be a schitzophrenic . Not only that I would say that the doctors who diagnosed him were fools and had a poor understanding of the two conditions . Psychopaths are always in control and aware of their actions .
Schitzophrenics are out of control and seem not to really be aware of what they are doing . Schitzophrenics are usually of more danger to themselves than to other people , in my opinion .
Now for the big fish . Lets talk about Saddam Hussein. The trouble with history is, that it is the victor that gets to write history . Was George Bush any better than Saddam or are they cut from the same cloth . Saddam Hussein was able to keep the peace in Iraq for many years . Yes he killed alot of people . Look at the number of innocent people who died because of Bushes invasion of the country . Why not invade Saudi Arabia , they are just a ruthless as anything Saddam did. Was he a psychopath I doubt it . Hitler , well ok I will give you that one . What about Napoleon and Ghengis Khan . History would have us believe that many of histories powerful men were psychopaths . I suspect that the truth may be nearer to the possibilty that these leaders had an awarenes of psychopathic evil and knew that it had to be put down no matter what the cost and I suspect that they were right . Psychopaths are time bombs waiting to go off . In todays society domesticated psychopaths go about their daily endeavours and for the most part we are totally oblivious to their situation . For my part I will always be aware of what they are capable of, domesticated or not and hope that we do not , given the present economic situation , slide into a state of social and economic upheaval that causes the psychopaths to reveal their true nature in all its gory detail .

What about the religious zealot who gets into an aircraft and plows it into the twin towers because he believes it is the will of his god? Is he EVIL? Were the men who caused 9/11 “evil”? By our definition, yes, by the definition of their peers and their culture and their religion, they were heroes.

It all depends on WHOSE OX IS GORED what the definition of “evil” is.

I am with Jen that sometimes I can almost intuitively “feel the evil” in someone, yet, I don’t think it is so much “evil,” as I realize (at least on a subconscious level), that person intends me or someone else harm, maybe the same way a rabbit “feels” the presence of the fox.

I see the effects of evil, I read about the effects of evil in the world today. Darfur for example, and many areas of the world where people are suffering.

The person with AIDS who knowingly has unprotected sex with someone else—are they evil? If they pass on the disease it is of course and EVIL RESULT for the person who gets it.

We all use resources that are divided unequally on the face of the earth—we eat more food than is our “share” and consume more fossil fuels than our “share”—and any pollutes the planet, so by our lifestyles we are condemning future generations to want. Is that evil?

Again, evil is like pornography, it is undefinable, but you will know it WHEN YOU SEE IT….at least from YOUR point of view. Someone on here was blogging the other night about a woman who divorced her husband because he was a “pervert” and wanted oral sex, and told everyone he was an evil pervert. Yet is many areas of our society, oral sex is not only acceptable but EXPECTED. That woman perceived her husband as evil and perverted. Many people would not perceive him as perverted at all.

For me, the definition of “evil” or even of “good” is relative to the situation, the culture, the amont of damage, and the perceptions of us all. But I do think it is worth examining for EACH OF US.

Quest, a “domesticated” psychopath is like a “domesticated” tiger (or any other wild predator species, especially cats) and they are time bombs waiting to go off at the MOST unexpected time.

Learnthelesson,
At very least, the guy I dated was a pathological liar. But he had a few other things, like the confidence and charm and the no-holds-barred come-on with promises to love me and take care of me early on in our friendship. He did not strike me as someone who was insecure and had to lie to get attention. (The charm and sincerity was absolutely remarkable.) My friends all thought he was a very sweet man, and so did I. However, I found out later he was involved in a very longterm scam of the army by faking elaborate medical symptoms over the period of a year or two. That’s the icing on the cake that made me think “sociopath”.

I wondered a lot after the break-up whether he may have wanted deep down to be a good person, and whether he was trying because he really had feelings for me. Up until the week we split, he was very consistent in telling me he wanted me and was in love with me. I used to tell him (before I knew about the lies) that he was a good man. He would say in a very humble way, “no, I’m really not.” I thought he was just being humble. Maybe he knew he was a bad person, because others had told him so. Probably other women he lied to. I think he knew that by society’s standards what he was doing with the army was “wrong”. But sociopaths (or whatever his label is) don’t have a real emotional connection to what is right or wrong.

8 months ago, this discussion would have torn me up wondering if he maybe wasn’t a true sociopath, and if, in fact, he did really have feelings for me. It doesn’t matter any more. Pathological lying is, in itself, enough reason to want him out of my life. It doesn’t matter what the cause or the reason, the label, or whatever revelations he may have in his life.

I still can go down the path in my mind if I want to and remember how he made me feel. I can still conjure up feelings for him if I want. But that ship has sailed, and I’m very cleared I don’t want to go there again. I have tender feelings for a few of my exes, but that doesn’t mean I want anything to do with them.

Star – You should have just boinked me with that question of mine…you are right …it doesnt matter…it doesnt matter…

These people are so interesting to me -on paper and at times from a distance – but not when interacting with them on any other level.

To tell you the truth, it would be easier to know he isn’t really a sociopath and does have some sort of heart. Then it would be tolerable to see him posting on my reptile site (I’m sure he’ll come back at some point). I could consider what we went through was just a break up and nothing I need to warn others about.

But I keep coming back to the pathological lying and the army scam contrasting with the fact that he is such a sweet and likable person. There’s just something creepy about it.

Wonder what happens when two Sociopaths find eachother….the dynamics there…

There was nothing to boink you for, learnthelesson (though I gave Oxy her skillet back anyway). I thought is was a very thought-provoking question and I appreciated it. I have re-evaluated a few of my past relationships and seen them in a totally different light a few times. That helped me to let go of anger more easily, when I saw them as basically suffering but not evil or mal-intended. This is really a great discussion. I think most of us hurt others unintentionally because of our own pain. I think we often attribute malicious motives when someone hurts us. Taken to an extreme, some people will think a cat is deliberately ignoring them or a snake is deliberately biting them, which is ridiculous. I think most of people’s bad behaviors are not personal. I am seeing this more and more, and it is freeing me from feeling attacked by them and the need to defend myself.

However, there are people who are genuinely mal-intended. They deliberately set others up to fail so they can get pleasure from others’ pain. Or they get some kind of perverse pleasure out of inflicting the pain. I think that’s a whole different thing. I am curious if people think all sociopaths are inherently like this, and maybe I’m just in denial.

I really don’t understand what went on with my ex. If I believed he loved me on some level and was just mixed up in the head, maybe from his various trips to fight in Iraq, I could probably have more closure and more peace with him. But I don’t think I will ever know what really happened.

Food for thought…. in my search for answers… I came across these responses…

“There is no good and evil in the physical sense. I.e., on a planet with no humans they don’t exist in any sense.

Their definitions are necessarily ‘with respect’ to certain conditions, and these conditions change in ways that affect the definitions. Example: how evil am I when I kill? How evil am I when I kill someone to save 100 lives? Save a billion? The words we use to describe morals are too imprecise.

Basically, good and evil are not absolutes, but rather concepts that act as guidelines to actions and to experiences. With this in mind any discussion of good and evil should concern itself (primarily) with ways in which people can think and act in ways that will lead to – at the system wide level of humanity (and various lower levels) – more preferable experiences (happiness etc).

If you reply: Killing even one person is always wrong, it doesn’t matter how many lives it saves, even a billion. I would say that I value the experience of myself and others more than an abstract concept, and the preservation of ‘it’.

As such I propose that the issue of good and evil should be conceptualised as a problem of systems analysis, and that all issues be discussed with respect to a decision, towards generally better courses of action.”

Another interesting idea. I come from a Buddhist background where there are no concepts of “good” and “evil”. However, there is a such thing as actions having consequences or karma. The karma always hurts the person performing the unskillful actions because we are really all connected to one another. Hurting someone else is like hurting ourselves. Anyone who develops empathy will feel remorse for causing harm to living beings. I honestly don’t know how to categorize those who lack empathy and don’t have the capacity to acquire it. Certainly, their actions have consequences. But there is never a connection made, never a circle completed. They may end up in prison, but never ponder the seriousness of what they did. Their actions seriously affect others, but the accountability never comes back to them, at least not in this lifetime.

Fantasizing sexually about under age girls = Sick.

Collecting pictures of under age girls = Sick and illegal.

Stalking and molesting under age girls = Sick and illegal and evil.
————
Evil is when sick people perpetrate illegal acts on innocent people.

Dear Learned,

Good points, all!

When “Eve” in the garden ate of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” she became fully “human” with choices. If we did NOT have a “knowledge of good and evil” (and therefore were unable to know the differences in our “good” behavior vs our “bad/evil” behavior) then we would not (in this country by LAW be held accountable for our acts, no matter how horrible they were.

The psychopaths are held accountable for their acts because they DO know the differences between “right” and “wrong” (i.e. good and evil) and CAN make the choice to NOT engage in evil behavior.

A two-year-old child might kill a one month old infant, but the child has NO concept that what s/he is doing is “wrong” and therefore is not a murderer. There is great debate in our system of “justice” today about AT WHAT AGE should a “child” be held accountable and “tried as an adult” or when should they be treated as a “child” who might not have a fully developed sense of “right and wrong” etc.

I know plenty of 14 year olds that I would “hold accountable” for a murder. I also know some 12 year olds that I would hold accountable. so, what if the kid is 11? or 10? etc. where do you draw the line on “age” ALONE. I am aware of lots of 10 year olds that are “very mature” and lots of 15 year olds that aren’t—should AGE ALONE be used to decide in court if a child is “accountable” (actually has the “knowledge of good and evil?”

We know the prefrontal cortex doesn’t fully develop until in the 20s, so I would infer from that that a 20 year old is more mature as far as his brain is concerned than a 12 year old would be, and so on. But there has to be a “cut off”point at some point, and who knows where it is “for sure?”

The Law of our land makes exceptions for “man killing” (any form of killing another human) from “self defense” to “capitol murder”—the guide used to be if it was “premeditated” but now it has been changed in some states, as well as the usual punishment for “first degree” (premeditated murder) is no longer usually “hanging.”

Even the question of “what are preferable experiences?” There are people on this earth (many of them) who firmly believe that if you do not ascribe and practice their version of “religion” that you should DIE. How many people have been burned at the stake for being “heretics” in the name of “doing the will of God?” Were those people who lit the pyres “evil” or were they acting in the “greater good” by weeding out these “evil” thinking people?

Slavery was the law of the land in many lands, for eons. Was slavery “Evil?” By our definition today it was/is but by the culture of the time it just “was” and was not considered evil.

The white people came to this continent and exterminated the native peoples and took their lands. Were those illustrious ancestors of ours evil? We honor them for being “pioneers” and discoverers. How about the men who deliberately gave small pox infected blankets to the natives?

The book “1491” which is an excellent historical look at the Americas before Columbus came detailed a quite nice look at the results of the contact by the whites and the natives. Between 1491 and 1591, about 90% of the native peoples had died out from diseases brought from Europe, the estimates range from 80 to 200 MILLION people died of European diseases, even people who had never seen a white man died of the diseases which were spreading like wildfire among people without resistence to these plagues.

Yet we celebrate Columbus for “discovering” America, when his voyage caused the single biggest loss of human life on the planet before or since. Is he evil, or a hero? And as someone pointed out earlier (CRS) the “winners” write the history books, so he is honored by our history books.

Many people like Columbus whose deeds result in great evil consequences, did not intentionally cause evil. Their motives may have been for the “greater good,” as in executing heretics. So I think the concept of “good” and “evil” is constantly changing, evolving, and even within one person in different stages of life.

learnthelesson. When two psychopaths find each other it is like two demons who find each other . They both know that the other is a demon . For the most part they will avoid each other , as they would rather find themselves a human victim . I have seen my X meet another psychopath . It was the weirdest thing I have ever seen . It was like a couple of narly tom cats circling each other wondering who was going to strike first . It was as if they had some kind of telepathic understanding , almost a universal consciousness of some kind . They seemed to agree to keep their distance from each other in a weird polite kind of way . Apparently it has happened that two psychopaths will get together and together you have a double problem . Whats missing from one will be in the other . Together they become a more powerfull one but are quite capable of stabing each other in the back if there be a need for it . Two psychopaths together is a dangerous combo

BloggerT-

The Church has the point covered…evil by not doing anything?
It’s called a sin of omission.

Quest,

Sandra Brown’s article the other day called “Gasoline and Fire” about relationships –I started to say “love” relationships but that sure wouldn’t do it, LOL—where TWO personality disordered individuals get together in this relationship, and they are like gasoline and fire. Great Analogy. I know one going on right now, a Borderline PD woman is hooked up with a male PPD. IT IS “gasoline and fire” with them taking turns abusing and being the victim, and it is pretty hard core with her being beaten with beer bottles til the blood runs, then him being sent to jail, then her tying him up while he is passed out from drugs and beating the crap out of him…..and so it goes. Of course there are small children watching all this “drama.”

Quest-

IMO schizophrenics are an equal danger to both themselves and others…and at times depending on the situations…moreso to others. If medicated, can alleviate psychotic state — but there can be any number of personality disorders on still on board and “active”

My curiosity with two Ps in a relationship – is its one that clearly is different for them than being in a relationship w/an empathetic person – in the sense that they dont get the same kind or reactions, responses from their partner…but what they get is satisfaction one upping eachother – or stuck in the circle of chaos – and always wanting to “win”

Oxy – I read and reread your thought provoking post last night. I wrote my responses to you, such a Columbus simply steered his ship, he didnt create the disease which caused their deaths – So Id say he was a hero with evil luck 🙂 for discovering America … and has the myth about the blankets ever been proven? And I had varying thoughts on the greater good outweighing the intentional evil concocting individuals.. and everything I wrote – I could basically find reason to debate or argue to differ with my own answers — really an evil article Steve… but for the better good of all to stop and give pause to so much…so I deleted my response to you because perhaps even the best of best conclusions still leave room for debate and altering changes and circumstances century after century…perhaps Evil is something that is implied as well as perceived both by individual choice.

also evil results from a choice of free will – maybe an abuse of free will…

Again, I ended up debating myself…and thats a red flag for me!!! So, Ive concluded Evil clearly is not my thing 🙂 or a good topic for me 🙂

Have a good day all!

Dear Learned,

I was simply trying to provoke more THOUGHT on the subject, and to illustrate that what is “good or evil” is to some extent SUBJECTIVE depending on culture, time, place, and also the individual’s perspective.

The blanket thing has been proven up to and as late as the Revolutionary war when the British did this to American prisoners confined in the harbor in Charleston on the prison hulks. (I did a research paper on this for a history book and in both primary and secondary sources)

A “conscience” must be “trained” into a child. No one is born with it fully developed. WHAT is trained into the child that is “bad” for them to do depends on culture etc. The Ps may have had their “training” but they don’t ACCEPT that training internally. Other children do.

The men who bombed on 9/11 WERE doing what their consciences said was GOOD, but WE perceived it as EVIL or bad. Our country generally has a DIFFERENT value system than they were raised with. (or at least we tell ourselves our country does, that our people do) There was a time when I thought wars were fought for “mom, apple pie, and truth” but now I see that none of those things are what prompts war, or what keeps it going.

I also realize that sometimes wars are “necessary” but I also know that most wars are not necessary, and they are NEVER GOOD. They cause untold suffering to untold millions (billions?) of people all in the name of “something noble.” Men on both sides do horrible things all in the name of a “good cause” but the results are always “evil.” BUT–since evil is relative, subjective, to “whose ox is gored” the winner writes the history books and paints wars as “helping free the world.”

I wish I could have a definition of “evil” and what “evil” is that was NOT subjective, not skewed from MY OWN point of view.

I believe that my P-son is EVIL, I believe my P-sperm donor was EVIL, because they enjoyed hurting others in their quest for control, for power, for greed, for glee and just for the hell of it. That’s as close as I can come to a “definition” of “evil” and like I said, it is like “pornography, you can’t define it, but you can know it when you see it.” (I think one of the supreme court justices said that line but cant remember who. CRS)

Hey Oxy, I knew you were just trying to provoke more “THOUGHT” on the subject – and shamwow!! can you successfully do that! I just ended up countering every thought or view I had when I delved further into my ideas comments I was typing late last night. It was kind of funny seeing myself well after midnight typing and deleting, typing and searching — I just finally said to myself – Im being evil/ torturing myself and laughed so!!!

Really were a lot of profound responses with this article -I value the insights here at LF — and I actually had fun with this article too.. it was good to find myself laughing at myself! Thanks guys

Learned said:

“It doesnt matter the motive behind CHOOSING TO BE EVIL – OR what drove the choice” if it exploits someone in anyway – being evil is a choice – whether or not it knowingly or unknowingly causes harm to others through gain/pain/mental illness. Whether or not the person making the choice to be Evil”took the time to take note of the consequence – beyond the choice – is not relevent to me. Evil comes to be through the choice – choice to be cruel, destructive, exploitative, corrupt ,neglectful etc. ”

IMHO….. Evil is not intentional malice and has nothing to do with laws or legalities. What is intentional? If someone commits some act that violates another person, for the purpose of benefitting themself in some way, regardless of the consequences to themselves or others…..THAT is evil. They may not INTEND to hurt someone. Maybe their only intention is to benefit themself……. (they can’t intentionally hurt and violate if they don’t care what you feel and can’t see past their own greed and lust for power, attention, sex, influence, intimidation….it doesn’t matter) Their intention is about THEM.

Sociopaths, Narcissists, Psychopaths, whatever we call them……don’t care about consequences to others. They are selfish human beings who sometimes get caught doing things that are called illegal, just because they know no boundaries and simply “lust” for something for themselves. They disguise themselves as something else in order to get what they want. Deceit is evil. Who cares what they intended? Their belief systems are messed up. Some pedofiles believe their love for children drive them to molestation, and that makes it OK in their mind…..they don’t think they have bad intentions. The XS disguised everythin ghe did and said as “good intentions”. My grandmother used to say “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. Actions and consequences speak louder.

Evil is when someone DOESN’T consider the consequences of their actions and they hurt others, physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually. When someone is in pain, due to the behavior of another it is EVIL.

Evil is what the victim experiences, because of the actions, beliefs and behaviors of another. It has nothing to do with what the perpetrator intended.

What was satan’s intention in the garden? I think his intention was to get someone to do something they were not supposed to do.

Take it further…..his intention was to get pleasure from watching someone do something they were not supposed to do.

Was his intention to see Eve and Adam suffer? did he care? What if Eve was killed? whould that have made his intention any more serious? it would have ade the consequences more serious.

Was his intention was to piss off God? I don’t think so.

I think he wanted to exert control/power to “appear” in a position of power and authority and he used a particular situation/person without regard.

Does satan even know what his intention was? Or does he lust for something in a way that makes him not even care why? Like an addict.

In order to understand or have intention should there not be an expected result?

All of the people Steve mentions above, were decitful and lusted for some kind of power/authority. They pused their lust to the point of doing things that are considered illegal, but they are all sociopaths and are all evil in my mind. Bernie Madoff didn’t kill people but that doesn’t make his intentions a whole lot different.

This goes back to Liane’s article about tall and short. ALl sociopaths are sociopaths. Sometimes we want to “judge” their crimes simply by how disgusted we are by them…..obviously murder, theft, arson, pysical violence and things covered under “the law” being more serious.

Anyone who can pathalogiacally lie and decive people (short sociopaths) in a way that benefits themselves can also have the potential to kill or steal (taller sociopaths).

Whether they DID something illegal or never got caught….. they are STILL evil if they hurt others.

Bernie Madoff’s entire family is benefitting from his deceit and the fortunes of others. He knew what he was doing. He didn’t care about the consequences. He too is evil.

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