By April 10, 2008 30 Comments Read More →

The paradox of psychopathy, non-psychopathy, and evil

The blogger, Sir William, has a post ”˜What is evil? which employs what is a very common way of talking about psychopathy and evil.

Psychopaths do exist but they are not fully human: they are animals who lack one of the qualities which defines our species.

This is a very comforting explanation for those who have been on the receiving end of psychopathy. It seems to answer the question how could someone do something like that? Answer, because they’re not really a ”˜someone’. They’re actually and animal, not a human being.

How does this line of thinking account for evil committed by non-psychopaths?

When an ordinary person does bad things to another person they must, on some level, believe they are acting for a greater good, because to hurt without that excuse is insane. The greatest source of evil is not therefore crazy people, but sane people driven insane by a belief. Whether that belief turns out to be true or false is immaterial, it is the belief itself that causes us to act without empathy. Any time we cause pain in search of a greater good – for safety, for God, for profit – we have temporarily lost the one quality that defines us, and we cease to be fully human.

So, when a regular person commits an evil act they are actually insane and not fully human. But even our courts excuse crimes committed on grounds of insanity when a person doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong. It still leaves the vast majority of crimes and other evil acts are not of that nature. Each one of us knows very well when we do something wrong; we might rationalise it away, but deep down we know that we did it because we preferred doing the bad thing to doing the good thing.

I can’t go along with this animal/insane line of thinking. First, it does not accurately describe either human beings or animals! The fact is that human beings are capable of being evil (and good), animals are not. As Chesterton said: human beings are always the exception – we are always better than or worse than animals, never the same. Second, it is tantamount to saying there is no such thing as evil by full human beings.

The terrifying reality is that psychopaths are human beings and that we all commit evil because we want to and choose to, all of which is not to say that there’s no difference between the regular person and psychopath. It’s mind-bending and paradoxical, I know.

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30 Comments on "The paradox of psychopathy, non-psychopathy, and evil"

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We could tell, RH. It’s the way you came online. People who are victims of S’s introduce themselves to the LF community in a fairly standard way. The way that you entered was much more in the manner of an S or N, than the victim of one.

I’m glad to hear you are questioning – that means that you care (hopefully). I hope you care about other people and how your behaviors impact them.

I remember my husband just one day out of the blue said “I am not evil.” He truly feels he is a good person. He will give you his last dime but he will also “stab” you later if he needs to.

But why would I think he would admit to being a horrible person. I remember asking him if his parents would be proud of him (they are both deceased) and he said yes they would be proud. He thinks they would be proud because he is working on his doctorate and making six figures. But yet he cheated on his wife, left his child, fathered a child during our marriage and he still thinks his parents would be proud.

All I can do is shake my head at him. There is no point of trying to reason with him. He will never seek treatment for his illness because he doesn’t have one. But that must seriously be hard to live that way constantly lying and manipulating people. I wouldn’t dare trade places with him for a million dollars.

It is scarey that he fits every criteria of a sociopath. I wish I would have found this site when I was dating him. My mom mentioned this disorder after he left me and that is how I discovered what it was. Maybe we need to get a public announcement out about sociopaths 🙂

Healing Heart, perhaps it’s just how you do things, but reducing my name/handle to two letters isn’t very welcoming. Is that because I didn’t introduce myself? Because I’m questioning if I am or am not a said sociopath? I’m just curious, honestly. It’s alright though. I hadn’t actually intended to continue any conversations here. It would be cruel of me in a way I guess. And I would be setting myself up, which I have no interest in. I’d forgotten i even sent in anything until someone googled me and mentioned it. I hope you all heal well. I’m not sure it applies to the sociopaths or not, but for myself. It’s all about action-reaction, so the best way to squash it, aside from leaving is to not feed into their prodding.

Nic: I’ve been sending suggestions in to Oprah. I intend to continue to do so until they take notice or ban me – LOL!

RemmyHun: whatever your circumstances, don’t get your knickers in a twist…

Healing Heart: I hope you don’t mind that I always shorten your ID to HH, apologies if so.


Hey pb – I don’t mind being shortened to HH at all, in fact, I kind of like it. It seems friendly and familiar!

BTW – just read one of your other posts about your ex “faking” being in a monogamous relationship with you. What a told *sshole move. My ex S did that, too, while having sex (unprotected) with numerous other people…all the while assuring me we were monogamous. I’m so lucky I came out of this with health intact. He, on the other hand, DID contract an STD. But he doesn’t care – he keeps having unprotected sex with women without telling them. It’s unbelievable.

I’m so glad you are away from your ex S now. He sounds like such a classic lying, cheating, raging, psychopath.

You know the saying “perception is reality”.

There is something that runs deeper with these people that is truly evil. They ARE NOT insane. They make choices to do what they do which are driven by motivations that we do not understand. There is a commonality with all of our S’s. It is just difficult to recognize because they have deceived us so badly in so many different ways. The worst being the pretentious love they professed. And that fog of deception clouds our judgement for a long time.

It’s in their perception of things, people, life, assumptions. I can think of so many little examples….. The XS convinced himself that I was cheating, flirting, sleeping with other men. I wasn’t but he HAD to believe this for a number of reasons.

1. to reject me as he will everyone in his life who gets close to the truth.
2. to justify HIS sleeping with other women so that when I found him he then started telling people this is what drove him to it.
3. BLAME: It was ALL my fault. Juvenille as it seems to you and me…..he believes it.
4. He then surrounded himself with people who would be his new audience.

And it was OK by the way, that I found him in bed with a trashy biker chick 18 years younger, because we had been broken up for two days. Not to mention the house we were building and wedding rings that were purchased. And he did all this to such an extent that he sent texts to my son (a teenager) justifying his bad behavior. He left explicit accusatory letters at my home so my kids would find them. He called my friends asking them to help ME.

He went to great lengths to convince himself and others of how awful I was and what better way to do that than to invite these people (who he was trying to convince….his new victims….. my x neighbors, the x con and his x con brothers and their trashy sister) into his home (the one i built with him) give them a place to stay in a neighborhood they would never have driven through in their lifetime let alone lived in. And treat them like family, convince them of everyone elses sins, use them for the attention he so desparately needs then ditch them too. Even when he d&d’d the trashy girlfriend he still had “ownership” of her brothers, one of which still lives with him.

It’s what they do. It’s their belief system and a perception they create and work so hard to create for others allowing them to be in CONTROL, TO OWN, TO DEVASTATE PEOPLE, and THAT pleasure gives them power. They make these choices to destroy.

I do believe their corrupt belief system and bad perseptions and assumptions will come back to haunt them, either in that they will end up in jail or they will end up as the XS, unemployed, with STD’s, in debt, and now looks like a jackass with the same x neighbors he was trying to impress. FINALLY, they see it through the company he keeps.

Healing Heart,

Way to not get suckered. You rock!

It was fun to read as an S deployed standard ploys from the S playbook against you and made no headway.

Thanks. I needed that.

Thanks Elizabeth! I’m learning. The S’s ploys in posts above actually seemed so transparent and pathetic and made me feel tired – so I swatted it away like an annoying gnat. Wasn’t hard at all – which shows progress…hanging out here and soaking up all the wisdom and shared experience has been really helpful. Thank you for the help and cheers!

HH – yup, I just did the “5 vials of blood, a complete physical, a pap, and a bottle of pee” day, and Boy Howdy! God help all eight of them if I have caught any sort of STD – anything. That’s one phone call none of them will want.

HH: if you haven’t seen the Drew Peterson interview thread, go look. He says at one point it got so that the joke was, “You had to lie to the girlfriend to go home to the wife” (or something like that). That’s exactly how it was with my N.
We split up for four months when I found out about the other women (he tried lying but that didn’t fly, so he finally said, “You don’t deserve the truth”).
I’m actually really happy that I went back as a bed-buddy. It wasn’t my intent to go investigator mode but when he said he still wanted me to not tell anyone, I got curious. Then when I heard he was supposedly afraid of me – well, that was it. I started paying real close attention.
If I hadn’t gone back, I’d probably be dead. I couldn’t stand not being able to get my normal head around his crazy one.
Within two weeks of figuring him out, I regained the 20 pounds I’d lost.

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