The idea that people can be completely evil and have no redeeming qualities, extenuating circumstances, or core humanity at all … That is the only place where true evil lies. The belief that some people are “evil” makes it easier for us to write them off, dehumanize them, destroy them, cease helping them. The idea of evil makes misbegotten moral righteousness possible, and justifies all manner of aggressive and hateful acts.
Sociopathy and antisocial personality disorder are just a repackaging of the age-old concept of pure unredeemable evil. It’s morality-driven dehumanization dressed in a clinical psychologist’s coat.
It is comforting to believe that people commit heinous acts because they are henious monsterous people. Such thinking protects us from wondering if we are capable of committing evil acts, if we are hateful and destructive. It also implies that ending suffering in the world is not a matter of slowly and constant reforming all our hearts and minds; it’s simply a matter of finding all the bad eggs and scrambling them.
The concept of sociopathic evil absolves us from doing the hard work of reforming criminals, remedying the precursors to crime, and examining the morality of our own actions. It is much easier to cast off the malicious as evil, disordered, defective, inhuman, exceptional, than it is to turn such a critical gaze upon ourselves.
By accepting the idea that “some people are just evil”, we resign ourselves to an overly simplified worldview where wrongs cannot be prevented, only punished, and where there is no broader societal responsibility for the sins of society’s children.