Skip to main content

What Evil Looks Like

I've always had a sense of the supernatural around me. Long before I studied what that means from a Christian perspective and gained all the Christian vocabulary, I saw the forces of light and dark at work in the world, and in my own life. I've always had a sensitivity to these forces around me. When I was a child, I was fixated on understanding what "goodness" was. I read a lot of books about good people, and dwelled upon what aspects and qualities made them good. As much as I could, I focused on what the good people were doing, and how they were doing it. Perhaps I did this as a form of self-protection. Because, you see, I was raised by evil people.

Evil is not a word I use lightly. In People of the Lie, Scott Peck describes evil in psychological terms. According to Peck, an evil person:
  • Is consistently self-deceiving, with the intent of avoiding guilt and maintaining a self-image of perfection
  • Deceives others as a consequence of their own self-deception
  • Projects his or her evils and sins onto very specific targets (scapegoats) while being apparently normal with everyone else ("their insensitivity toward him was selective")
  • Commonly hates with the pretense of love, for the purposes of self-deception as much as deception of others
  • Abuses political (emotional) power ("the imposition of one's will upon others by overt or covert coercion" )
  • Maintains a high level of respectability, and lies incessantly in order to do so
  • Is consistent in his or her sins. Evil persons are characterized not so much by the magnitude of their sins, but by their consistency (of destructiveness)
  • Is unable to think from the viewpoint of their victim (scapegoat)
  • Has a covert intolerance to criticism and other forms of narcissistic injury
These traits can also be used to describe those with personality disorders, and while it is highly probable that my family has these disorders, there is also a common thread of supernatural darkness that is woven through all their actions and behaviors.

In my home growing up, evil was not obvious to the untrained eye. In my house, evil looked almost normal. Evil smiled. It had dinner on the table. It went to work and paid the bills. It looked like everyone else on the cul de sac, except for one key aspect. It could not, would not, under any circumstances, admit to wrongdoing of any kind, in any shape, or form.

All people at some time or another, are resistant to admitting their faults. For evil people, it is pathologically impossible. Their failure to do so creates an immense wake of blame, denial, scapegoating, projection, and flat out lies wherever they are. Because they can never be at fault, their innocent victims are the ones left carrying the bag. Multiply this process over the course of a lifetime, and the damage piles up. It's hard for a normal person to grasp why evil people cannot do this one little thing; admit fault. It causes an immense amount of pain and suffering for all who know and interact with them, and surely their egos are not worth all that pain. To an evil person, it doesn't matter how many casualties pile up. They will not be changed, because they've done no wrong.

The only way to combat evil is through love. An evil person will reject love in any form, so there's no use directing it there. However, there is a lot that one can do to love others, with the intention to heal the injuries caused by evil. As someone raised by evil people, I am learning more and more how to show myself the love and care I need. The more non-evil people are capable of giving and receiving love to one another, the less an evil person has room to cause harm. Love includes truth, goodness, and beauty. It is growth. It is transparent. It is life-giving. It allows one's faults to be seen, known, and forgiven. It allows strengths to develop. It means people are allowed to be exactly who they are. It is the full expression of self. It is what it means to be fully alive.


Popular posts from this blog

No, There Are Not Two Sides

I was in a meeting where a mediator was trying her best to stay impartial to a situation where a large volume of well-documented verbal and emotional abuse had occurred. She was a trained professional, but professionally speaking, she didn't want to be in a position to take sides on the issue. She offered the worn-out platitude, "Well, there are two sides to every story..." I let it slide the first time she said it, but when she said it again, I stopped her.

"Actually, when it comes to abuse, there are not two sides. There is abuse, and there is the recipient of abuse. The recipient of abuse is not at fault for the actions of the abuser."

Her jaw dropped a moment, then she nodded slowly. She knew I was right, and in this moment, a light went on. The situation she was mediating was not about two people having a disagreement. It was about a serial abuser attacking someone else who had done nothing to provoke the attack. She couldn't stay impartial. It was h…

The Difference Between Trauma and Anxiety

I've been living with the effects of complex trauma for a long time, but for many years I didn't know what it was. Off and on throughout my life, I've struggled with what I thought was anxiety and depression. Or rather, In addition to being traumatized, I was anxious and depressed. 

All mental health is a serious matter, and should never be minimized. If you are feeling anxious or depressed, it's important and urgent to find the right support for you. No one gets a prize for "worst" depression, anxiety, trauma or any other combination of terrible things to deal with, and no one should suffer alone. With that in mind, there is a difference between what someone who has CPTSD feels and what someone with generalized anxiety or mild to moderate depression feels.

For someone dealing with complex trauma, the anxiety they feel does not come from some mysterious unknown source or obsessing about what could happen. For many, the anxiety they feel is not rational. Gene…

Yes, They Meant To Hurt You

One of the best ways to spot a toxic person is to confront them about their behavior when you've been hurt. Toxic people will immediately act more hurt than you. They will almost always overreact and become extremely defensive at the slightest suggestion they did something wrong or malicious. They will feign shock  that you would ever suggest they do anything to hurt you. Not only will they minimize and deny any wrongdoing, they will twist the situation around to make you feel ashamed and guilty, hyper-focusing on a more "important" problem: their own bruised ego. How could you ever suspect them of doing such a horrible thing?! Bonus points if they need smelling salts after fainting from their perfectly executed melodrama. 
The histrionics and high drama are a deflection from the truth. Yes, they meant to hurt you. No, they won't ever admit it, and yes, they will make your life a living hell if you try to hold them accountable for their own bad behavior. 
A normal p…