Is Evil Real?

Evil is not a word commonly used in modern discourse. We are fully prepared to say someone is “good,” but we seldom we say someone is “evil.” Does evil exist? Are some people evil? History provides answers.  Count the groans of suffering, the wailing of loved ones, and the number of bodies. Or, look into homes and see the emotional and physical abuse.

Evil and the DSM-5

The fifth edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [DSM-5] of course avoids reference to the word “evil.” Using “evil” as a diagnostic code will not get your insurance billing paid. Besides, the term “evil” has the heavy baggage of religion and superstition associated with it. The psychopath therefore is categorized in the broad rubric of “anti-social personality disorder.”

The overlap of personality disorder traits can make it difficult to differentiate among the narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths.  The common core of these three categories is a lack of care for other people.  Each category is a deeper descent into the circles of hell.

The Narcissist

The narcissist is not just occasionally selfish, but is consistently self-centered.  She will manipulate her victim with a complete focus on using the other for some personal gain. The smiles, charm, and flattery have nothing to do with caring for the other person. The result is that the narcissist feeds upon the victim, leaving the victim depleted and feeling “taken.”

The Sociopath

The sociopath is a higher order narcissist, and more dangerous. His goal is to hurt you in order that he may feel good. This is malice in action, dressed as an angel. Psychologists will describe this evil as a type of “personality disorder.” The disorder displays itself as inflated self-importance. The sociopath will initially show signs of being intimate. But he lacks a capacity for empathy or genuine care. He is authoritarian, secretive, and operates on hidden agendas. If you are in a close relationship with a sociopath, you will feel the constricting bands of control tightening on your life as the charm falls away and the abuse increases.

The Psychopath

The DSM-5 identifies overlapping traits of the sociopath and psychopath, but the psychopath is completely devoid of care for other people. The psychopath feels no empathy, has no regard for the truth, but prefers in almost all cases to lie. The psychopath has no emotions, but mimics feelings to function in society. They are manipulative in all circumstances because they enjoy being manipulative.

The psychopath is often well educated and intelligent. He will use this intelligence to deceive and use other people. Psychopaths are so good as con-artists that they may sustain long term family or employment relationships without other persons understanding the source of the toxicity.

Sucking the life out of a person or organization, the psychopath inevitably leaves people feeling weakened, degraded, confused, or used after the encounter. Of course, the psychopath is at first charming and gracious, even generous, but in the end, brings death and destruction. The psychopath is dangerous because she feels no moral restraint, and is often meticulous and tactical in executing a crime of the heart or of law.

The final driving force of the psychopath is the compulsion to repeatedly injure and destroy. The psychopath is compelled to repeat acts of cruelty to feel any sense of power or satisfaction. These destructive acts may be as a husband or wife daily undermining a spouse, a manager abusing her employees, or in extreme cases, as a serial killer or as dictator inflicting genocide on his own people.

A Final Warning

But do not make the mistake of thinking that all psychopaths are serial killers. Many will never violate a law, but still leave destruction of heart, mind and soul wherever they roost. They will often be ultimately exposed by their violent outbursts, and total lack of genuine remorse. Whether you call this personality type evil or disordered, you must identify it early, and remove yourself from the danger.