The Essence of Evil


a babe, by intercourse of touch

I held mute dialogues with my mother’s heart


A human being is something that evokes feelings in another human being. This fact can serve as our most basic definition of what a human being is. Research in psychology is showing how the mute emotional dialogues with our mothers’ and fathers’ hearts, which Wordsworth describes in his epic poem Prelude, are the very process that moulds the tone and structure of our minds. From our earliest days, to perceive others’ feelings is to react with feelings of our own. Infants only a few weeks old react to joy in their mother’s face with increased joy of their own; they react to sadness in their mother’s face by becoming sad and subdued themselves; they react to anger with anger of their own. These emotional dialogues mean that, as infants, we quickly learn that the difference between people and things is that things do not engage with us in emotional communication.

However for some people the vital distinction between the world of people and the world of things fails to develop. Such people, those with psychopathic personalities, are not capable of reacting to other people’s feelings with feelings of their own. As a result, psychopaths have a terrifying ability to treat people without conscience. And what happens when human beings act towards others as if they were not people but things? The disturbing answer lies in the mindlessly violent behaviour of psychopaths.

My book Imperfect Design concerns itself with three types of personality disorder, each of which carries a higher propensity for violence and greed. The first of these is the psychopathic personality described above. Psychopaths differ from normal people in that they lack the ability to relate emotionally to others. As a consequence, they have a terrifying ability to treat others not as human beings but as things to be exploited, tortured or killed, as they see fit.

A second dangerous personality disorder is narcissistic personality disorder. People with this disorder are psychologically incapable of seeing others as their equal. Their personality structure is such that in every encounter they have to assert their self-perceived superiority.

A third dangerous personality disorder is paranoid personality disorder. Just as narcissists are only capable of perceiving others as inferior, people with paranoid personality disorder are only capable of seeing others as a threat. People with this disorder live in a constant state of hyper-attentiveness, searching for crises at every turn. And if such crises do not materialise, they are masters at creating them.

People with these disorders make up around five per cent of the population. Their ruthlessness, self-assurance, and often charm, mean that they more readily acquire positions of authority than people with normal psychologies. In abnormal conditions, such as social unrest and violence, their personalities become an asset that enables them to seize power over organisations, communities and nations.

Read excerpts from Chapter 2 here.


3 thoughts on “The Essence of Evil

  1. You are completely right. And such people are, in effect, the “alpha” males we also see in the animal kingdom. The biggest trouble is that their mindset is contagious, encouraging others to become ruthless accomplices or fanatical followers.

  2. Your book seems like a godsend. My own experience with a person afflicted by NPD nearly killed me. To make things worse he is also a hypnotherapist and has incredible power over his clients minds. I shudder to think how many people have been damaged by his evil manipulations over the past 25 years he’s been at it. He steals from people, make them donate large sums of money to phoney charity schemes, which all goes into his private bank account. He is an extremely charming and physically attractive man, who concentrates his efforts on older women, recently divorced or widowed, women who seek his help to overcome emotional trauma and instead find themselves robbed of their life’s savings. He has an insidious ability to isolate you from your own friends and family, so when he dumps his victims after he’s bled them dry, there is nobody there to pick up the pieces. This happened to me and even years after I left him, his destructive influence over me seems undiminished. He programmed my brain as if it was a computer. He made me make out a will to his benefit and then convinced me that I would die a horrible death unless I committed suicide at precisely set date. That date has now passed and I am still alive, but he managed to get every cent out of my retirement fund before he left and I can’t even remember how he did it. I will never be the same person I once was, my family and friends look upon me with pity, The worst thing is, no one believes this actually happened to me – after all he is such a charming and nice man, a respected artist and a professional therapist. He would never do such a thing to anybody, would he. I must be imagining things. Not even other therapists believe my story, let alone any of my former friends and colleagues in academia. It’s like living a nightmare that never ends. Thank you for writing this book, I look forward to reading it.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience Lili-Ann and for your encouraging words regarding my book. I think the world will become a lot safer and more humane when the knowledge of how prevalent people with dangerous personality disorders are in every society is more widely known. I appreciate your post.

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