The Real Problem of Evil is Thinking Evil's a Real Problem

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.

People who grew up emotionally neglected tend to carry some false beliefs about emotions in relationships. (By Jonice Webb)

Here’s a good, but not exhaustive, sampling:

1. Sharing your feelings or troubles with others will make them feel burdened.

2. Sharing your feelings or troubles with others will chase them away.

3. If you let other people see how you feel, they will use it against you.

4. Sharing your feelings with others will make you look weak.

5. Letting others see your weaknesses puts you at a disadvantage.

6. It’s best not to fight if you want to have a good relationship.

7. Talking about a problem isn’t helpful. Only action solves a problem.

Fortunately, not one of these beliefs is true. In fact, they are each and every one dead wrong. (The only exception is if you share your feelings with another emotionally neglected person, who may not have any idea how to respond). When you grow up receiving consistent direct or indirect messages that you should keep your feelings to yourself, it is natural to assume that those feelings are burdensome and undesirable to others.