What do you think of tragedies like the one that happened at a Pittsburgh Synagogue on Saturday morning?
How would you characterize evil? Do you feel the term is only relevant to movies?
For me, evil is relevant to the world we live in today. It is characterized by profoundly immoral behavior that is malevolent. It is supernatural and not always explained away by common terms found in our dictionary.
This article will discuss some of the actions and characteristics that can be very threatening (and downright evil) to others. I discuss part of my concept of what evil is.
Note: Please note this article is about individuals who are vindictive, harmful, and intentionally careless.
TRIGGER WARNING: The video and topic may be disturbing to some.
What do you know about the concept known as “group-think?”
Group-think is a concept applied to a large group of people who share some similarity. Individual characteristics fade into the background when these individuals become a collective group. It can be difficult to identify one’s own thoughts and even emotions within groups when group-think is occurring. Michael Bond, the author of The Power Of Others: Peer pressure, groupthink, and how the people around us shape everything we do, discusses the psychological power in-groups foster. Bond explains:
“Group dynamics have a transforming effect on the way we live, spurring us to high endeavor, dragging us to the moral low-ground. It’s time to consider the bigger picture: how do our group-oriented inclinations affect those who are not part of our cirlce, and society as a whole?…but noting is more likely to play havoc with social harmony than an over-wrought affection for the normas of our in-group. This is a particular danger during times of threat, when our in-group becomes like the conforting arms of a parent, and any out-group a scapegoat for our insecurities….” (p177, 2014).
Evil is often likely to be birthed out of the in-group experience motivated by political, social, and racial hate. Events such as the tragic event in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life Synagogue on 10/27/18 is a prime example of the in-group mentality altered by one-sided political banter.
Many of us would rather not see certain behaviors as “evil.”But the reality is that some people clearly are evil in their intentions (especially some diagnosed with sociopathy/psychopathy). These individuals derive sick gratification from their acts toward others. There is no better way, for me, to describe it than pure evil.
Below I have listed 10 behaviors/characteristics I believe can be categorized as evil. These include:
- Instilling fear and discomfort in others: Do you know anyone who gets a “rush” from instilling fear? Sociopaths and inconsiderate, heartless people are good examples. It’s sickening to think that there are humans in this world who feel good about causing others to fear them. But those who enjoy this are often wounded themselves in some fashion (spiritually, emotionally/psychologically, etc). But having compassion on these people can be a trap. It is often best to keep these individuals at a distance as many tend to lack empathy.
- Trying to control: Controlling individuals are not automatically “evil.” However, there are some controlling people who will go to extreme lengths to interrupt your life and peace of mind. They will become the agents of confusion and sometimes even intimidation all in an effort to gain some kind of control over you. Many domestic violence cases would apply here.
- Manipulating and calculating: The manipulative and calculating behaviors and mind-games of Charles Manson would characterize this kind of evil. His ability to use his charm, social intelligence, and mannerisms to convince, persuade, and then ultimately harm is frightening. It worked on thousands of people and sadly, he wasn’t caught until later in his life. Documentaries insinuate that his early childhood development may have been a contributing factor to his deep-rooted evil.
- Triangulating: I define triangulation as an individual creating confusion between one or more people unintentionally or intentionally which results in confusion, unresolved hurt feelings, and anger. You can read more about it in my previous article.
- Using emotions to dominate: Have you ever heard of Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy or factitious disorder? Both conditions (which are used interchangeably) involve a parental figure creating symptoms in the child in order to receive some kind of emotional or psychological accolades or support that they personally desire. it is conceptualized as child abuse/maltreatment as opposed to a mental health condition. A recent case puts this syndrome in perspective for you.
- Destroys anything that is pleasant: Do you know someone who seems to destroy every ounce of peace and joy you (or anyone else) has access to without a real cause? Growing up I had a “friend” who would cry out of nowhere and make up stories (pathological liar) for the simple purpose of garnering attention. It wasn’t until she created division in many relationships that I said goodbye.
- Seeking to humiliate you: We can all be humiliated by people who aren’t intentionally trying to embarrass us. We can also be humiliated by people who may not care what other people think. But someone who intends to ruin your reputation or “good name” is, in my opinion, evil. Natural human emotions such as envy or jealousy, competitiveness, or a need for attention can certainly become destructive forces in the lives of someone who possesses these feelings to an extreme degree. In other words, these normal human emotions are fleeting for most people but long-lasting for others. These people often have some form of sociopathic traits.
- Stealing your identity: As stated above, some people (primarily sociopaths) tend to engage in behaviors that are completely destructive to others. Someone who tries to steal your identity and displays no empathy or regret, can certainly (in my view) be characterized as evil. What other explanation would there be for someone who blatantly destroys another and cares nothing about what they have done? We can label this person a sociopath, but a sociopath is a nice way to describe a human who is simply evil.
- Minimizing your emotions: Minimization of your emotions without any consideration for how you feel is another form of evil. Sociopaths, pathological liars, people who triangulate and create confusion without remorse can also be considered evil agents.
- Seeking to destroy you: Destruction of someone else’s life, their reputation, their peace of mind, their achievements, etc. is simply evil. Remember the movie Fatal Attraction? There you have it.
It is important I mention that many of the above characteristics can be displayed in people who are not evil. They can be displayed in individuals who have other problems such as untreated or severe mental illness, someone with a trauma history, or someone with a personality disorder. However, in this article, I am simply referring to individuals who are born with characteristics that are complex, destructive, and uncaring.
What has been your experience with this topic?
Would you be able to identify someone who could be dangerous to you?
As always, I wish you well.
Note: This article was originally published on Dec 29, 2017 but has been updated to include comprehensiveness and accuracy. This article has also been updated with a new video.