From Narcissist Abuse Support/Sheri Heller, LCSW: “A therapist advises a woman who’s been stalked and harassed by her psychopathic ex-husband to meet him over coffee to address co-parenting. A young woman with severe somatization of trauma is told by her therapist that her psychopathic brother was engaging in sexual ‘play’ when he was raping her vaginally with objects as children. An abused young man avoids necessary treatment because his perpetrator, his father, is an iconic philanthropist. He legitimately fears being scrutinized by clinicians who question his sanity. Why is the burden of proof on the victim to establish a legitimate case for his or her suffering? Why aren’t these victims believed and why are facilitators of an empirical science denying the psychological reality of evil?
. . . prolonged exposure to [psychopathic] abuse and exploitation results in complex PTSD and, in the worst-case scenarios, DID. The victims of psychopaths are emotionally, psychologically, physically, financially and socially devastated. The visibility of their distress and symptoms makes them vulnerable to being stigmatized. Sociologist Erving Goffman defined stigma as, ‘a phenomenon whereby an individual which is deeply discredited by his/her society is rejected as a result of the attribute’. (Goffman, 2009:30) Goffman emphasizes the role stigma plays in psychiatric diagnosis and treatment by expounding on its insidious barrier to recovery and the dehumanization and de-personalization which stimulates further damage and marginalizes victims. Essentially stigma breeds contempt and contempt breeds blame. Following this line of reason, the stigmatized victim is ultimately blamed for the harm inflicted by the psychopath. This socially Darwinistic paradigm illustrates how the psychopath’s advantage over the victim supports a survival-of-the-fittest template. The fittest are elevated, irrespective of their character. Signs of weakness and fragility are subject to condemnation. Power and status are the relevant markers for what is valued and esteemed.
Along with what is collectively viewed as aberrant or hierarchically correct, and thereby conducive to stigmatization, there are other elemental collective biases we adhere to in spite of contrary evidence. For example, the need to believe that the world is fundamentally just contributes to the rationalization that egregious maltreatment must be somehow deserved by the victim. The need to assure ourselves that we are invulnerable to evil affords us a false locus of control, which again shifts the focus onto the victim’s culpability. What deviates from the norm creates conflict with our social reality. This generates uncertainty and threatens our world-view. To return to a state of perceived equilibrium we may limit the intrusion of new information or thinking about things in ways that contradict our pre-existing beliefs. We simply deny that which causes us distress. Given that evil calls into question our basic trust in the order and structure of our world, we are compelled by our instinct for self-preservation to deny evil’s existence and construct a reality that offers an illusory sense of safety and predictability.
. . . Psychiatrist Andrzej Łobaczewski studied what he termed ‘pathocracy’, institutional and government systems comprised of high ranking officials presenting with psychopathic traits. Łobaczewski attributed human ignorance and weakness to the propagation of macrosocial evil. Accordingly, in spite of the [Catholic] Church’s heinous history of aligning with Hitler and Mussolini, of implementing the Inquisition and Crusades and of supporting the Magdalene laundries, the witch-hunts and the democide and slavery in the Americas, Africa, and Australia, the persistence in upholding naïve, illusory ideas of spiritual infallibility and idealized notions of virtue trump accountability and objective reality. As Łobaczewski contends, evil motivations are masked by a humane ideology. When followers succumb to pathological influence they lose sight of their critical faculties and they lose the ability to distinguish normal human behavior from pathological. What results is a collusion with evil.
Those who are pathologically evil are ruthlessly driven to acquire power and control. They command compliance and obedience so as to actualize their agendas. Hence, they are encouraged by the absence of critical thought and the reliance on primitive psychological defenses intended to deny unacceptable truths. Psychologist Stanley Milgram’s experiment concerning personal conscience and obedience illuminated how susceptible we are to the influence of authority. The impetus for Milgram’s experiment was the Nuremberg war criminal trials. The defense of the Nazi genocide was blind obedience to following orders. Milgram investigated this explanation by testing whether study participants would comply with instructions to administer electric shocks to other participants. The findings revealed that authoritative pressure could usurp moral judgment. In fact, 65 percent of the participants fully complied with the commands to administer up to 450 volts of electricity. This study reinforces what psychopaths understand – that the innate inclination to uphold and obey authority is rooted in sundry factors such as fear, identification with the aggressor, the need to belong, etc. As long as there are no serious repercussions, orders dispensed by an authority figure are generally obeyed, irrespective of whether they oppose our morals. This predisposition offers the psychopath malleable and yielding victims ripe for exploitation and abuse.
Returning to the inquiries at the beginning of this article, we can acknowledge why evil is denied and why the burden is on the victim of human evil to legitimize his or her reality and his or her suffering. The masses, including clinicians, are blinded by the psychopath’s mask of normalcy. We stigmatize the symptomatic victims, denouncing them as inferior given their emotional instability, concomitant to lauding the capable and convincing psychopath. Our innate proclivity to maintain internal equilibrium and illusions of safety compels us to rely on elaborate psychological defenses to deny threatening information. We see evidence of this on a global scale in which objective reality is dwarfed by deceptive ideologies. None of us are immune to the intimidation of authority. The world is rife with leaders in high positions of power who are pathologically evil. For myriad reasons our innate inclinations to conform and obey eclipse our moral judgment. Unknowingly, ignorantly, carelessly and unintentionally we collude with evil more often than not.”
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