It’s a bit of a generalization to group psychopaths into one or two categories when in reality there are probably lots of different factors that leads to the creation of a psychopath. However, the title is just there as a conversation starter about what makes a psychopath and also about whether psychopaths are deliberately evil, or whether they are the result of a mental illness or “faulty wiring in the brain” or even a troubled upbringing.
This question came to my mind after watching a documentary in which Piers Morgan interviewed Paris Bennett, a convicted killer and certified psychopath. They had committed an unspeakable crime that had caused devastation. First of all its worth pointing out that I don’t believe they should ever be released into the public for fear of a similar crime being committed again. Having said that, as well as the crime and its victims making for an extremely sad scenario, the entire thing is very sad. If you consider that a psychopath, at least in some cases, is someone who has a mental illness then it is also very sad for the person as they are effectively “broken” and are having to live with themselves and the crime(s) they have committed. Watching this particular documentary it also struck me that often a psychopath wont know that there is anything wrong with them and this brought about a great sadness inside of me. It really is quite sad to see someone who has no idea how broken they are and as a result that makes the road to any sort of recovery seem almost impossible.
Further more, it seems that as a society we treat psychopaths in the same way; as if they cannot ever be “cured” or as if they are deliberately evil people whom we should give up on. That thought makes the scenario even more sad – someone who is potentially very ill, isn’t even aware they are ill, and is not going to receive any help from anyone around them. That may or may not be accurate, but if it is accurate, and you think about it abstractly, then in a way, that evil is almost created, or at least nurtured by society itself. Lets assume in theory someone like that could be cured, by those around them, but in general we do not want to try and cure these people, then are we, as a society, not also at least part of the problem?
That is all hypothetical anyway, as we don’t really know why people become psychopaths, but in this article I just want to explore a few of the possible reasons. These are not reasons why specific people become psychopaths but more generalizations on how psychopaths come about, what it means to be a psychopath and what might be the cure.
First of all, in general terms, there might be a few reasons why people become psychopaths – perhaps it comes from a mental illness, for example perhaps they can sometimes be born with brain defects or similar physical issues that result in psychopathic tendencies – effectively meaning they are broken, their brains are broken much like someone might be born with a deformed limb. Secondly, a psychopath might be the byproduct of a traumatic upbringing. An example comes to mind here of a man called Richard Kuklinski. If you are familiar with the story of Richards life you will know he had a very traumatic upbringing and he had to witness his brother being murdered when he was not much more than a baby himself. This is no excuse for becoming a serial killer of course, but the point is this: it is quite feasible that having such a traumatic upbringing might result in you becoming a psychopath, especially if you have been brought up with extremely warped values, or a warped view of what life is about.
Anyway, those are some of the obvious reasons why someone might become a psychopath. I am certainly not suggesting these are excuses, or justifications but simply that they might be the reasons behind why people become, or end up as, psychopaths.
The question that I really want to get to though, is this: are psychopaths deliberately evil, or are they simply the result of some form of mental illness or warped mindset? To put the question another way, is it possible for evil to be a logical choice that can be made by a sane person?
To make my personal question easier to understand, and to make it easier to discuss, I would like to presuppose that as humans we have a soul that is separate from our body. This is something that I believe in anyway, but it is also something that makes it easier for me to ask the question that I have in mind. Assuming this is true, then we can say that a psychopath could result from one of two scenarios.
A Body with Psychopathic Tendencies
In the first scenario, lets assume that the body, and the brain, have psychopathic tendencies. In effect, this assumes that the body is actually broken. Assuming that it is self destructive, in a sense, to commit murder or other meaningless crimes, then we can say the brain would have to be broken in some way to make anyone think this was OK, and for anyone to come to these acts as a logical choice.
A schizophrenic might be a good example here – schizophrenics often have fears and paranoia resulting from incorrect assumptions about different situations. When believed, these assumptions can cause the person to commit acts of violence that they think are justified when it reality they are not. In these cases, the “facts” that have been used to justify horrific crimes are actually false. It is quite understandable to believe that these people are mentally ill and in their right mind would not have committed those crimes.
If we apply our presupposition here and say that these schizophrenics have a broken body, and a broken brain, and that they are mentally ill, then we could assume that there is a sane soul trapped within that body and that they have no choice but to live with that mentally ill body. As such, it also, potentially, means that if you or I were to find ourselves (Ourselves being our soul) trapped in that same body, then we would also commit those same acts and although we can’t possibly imagine how we could do that, if we had that persons body and that persons “broken” brain then we would take the same path as they took.
A Soul with Psychopathic Tendencies
The other possibility in the scenario that I am creating is that, still with humans being made up of two parts – body and soul – perhaps we have souls with psychopathic tendencies. To say this, what I mean is, we have a body and a mind that are fully in tact, nothing is broken and there is no mental illness as such, but we have a soul – the actual consciousness behind the person, that is actually evil and wants to commit those evil acts. This is quite a scary thought, it is in alignment with what some people believe about psychopaths – that they are sane and deliberately evil. If that were the case, then it would mean that evil can be a logical choice and it would mean that evil people do exist. It would mean that we really do have a legitimate source of evil in the sense that some people will deliberately try to commit evil acts and effectively eradicate good from this earth. To me this doesn’t seem likely as I don’t believe evil can be a logical choice. I am a great believer in treating others how you wish to be treated, I also believe that we are at least in some respect all one (think of humans to Earth like cells are to our own bodies) and as such I believe that killing and harming others is akin to self-destruction which most definitely cannot be a logical choice. However, despite the fact that I believe that, I also appreciate it may not be true and that perhaps there are truly evil people out there – perhaps even truly evil souls.
Is Evil something that exists as a within us as a species?
I personally do not believe someone can be intentionally evil. I feel like as humans we always make logical choices. As such I believe that someone who commits atrocious crimes seemingly without reason is either broken or does so with warped reasoning and a warped view of the world.
I also believe that evil is something that exists within its own right – a non-tangible but none the less very real thing. I also believe that, as with other crimes, murderers and psychopaths somehow result from our own short-comings as a society, or as a species. This is easier to understand if you imagine that we are all one – we are all part of one organism that is the Earth. As such, the psychopath is actually part of you and I, a way of understanding this is to think that we will each come back as every person who has ever existed on the planet – by definition that means that one day we will all come back as a psychopath. That being the case, we are all partly responsible for psychopaths and in fact it is almost like a disease within our species and one that has a cause. I don’t know how to describe the root cause, I don’t know what it might be, but that is my theory. Similar to the way that the unbalanced distribution of wealth may be something that causes crime in poor communities, I believe that psychopaths and murderers are somehow the result or, or the manifestation of, some other unfairness in the world. How that manifestation comes about, I don’t know. But what I do think, is that the only way we will ever cure these psychopaths is to accept that they are ill, to accept that if we had their brains, their minds, we would act in the same way, and that we should try to learn and understand what creates a psychopath – without taking the route of condemning them as evil, but rather taking the stance that it could just as easily have been one of us, and if it were us, how could we cure ourselves?