Political Ponerology 'The Book'

ggen

Jedi Master
I searched the title of the subject and came up with only references. I'm only half way through the book. Put quite simply, I'm appalled and angry. I'm only reading 10 or so pages at a time so I can fully absorb what Andrew is saying. On a positive note I'm forever thankful that such time and effort has gone into the study and publication of this ever present evil. On the flip side of that notion I knew that IT was bad...just not this bad... :mad:
 

mb

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Yes, from an ordinary perspective it looks pretty bad. (So ditch the ordinary perspective!) Other resources I have recently found helpful are George Simon's book Character Disturbance and the video Evidence of Revision. The latter kind of makes the situation come alive, although that may be because I was young when those things were happening and I believed the propaganda.
 

Laura

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
BrightLight11 said:
I searched the title of the subject and came up with only references. I'm only half way through the book. Put quite simply, I'm appalled and angry. I'm only reading 10 or so pages at a time so I can fully absorb what Andrew is saying. On a positive note I'm forever thankful that such time and effort has gone into the study and publication of this ever present evil. On the flip side of that notion I knew that IT was bad...just not this bad... :mad:
I had the same reaction when I read the MS for the first time. I could only read about that many pages at a time, too. It was dense and so disturbing that I felt both relieved that there was an explanation, and horrified that the explanation was what it was.

And you are right... there should be a thread on it.
 

anka

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
I was probably just as scared when reading the part of the Wave describing the Game Theory and its use during the last several decades. It fits with the PP book totally. No regrets, no respect, just a crazy scary functional tactics to win over everyone. Which seems to have no other ending then blood that will be also spilled between the psychopaths who assume it will be everybody else loosing it. They have no self-reflection in that way.

But no matter how hard the outcome of all that, the book helped me to calm down and loose a lot of non-sense thinking and getting involved in silly pub-politics talks. Distraction. Waste of time. What matters is The Work. And A.Lobaczewski suggested that we can and must start to prepare the ground for future without psychopaths in power now. He made me believe, with his strong commitment under unimaginable circumstances, that it can be done. Promotion of that book and information in it is one of the steps. The next ones will arise along the way.
 

Voyageur

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
[quote author=BrightLight11 ]
On a positive note I'm forever thankful that such time and effort has gone into the study and publication of this ever present evil. On the flip side of that notion I knew that IT was bad...just not this bad... :mad:
[/quote]

Yes, a book of extreme importance to understanding the causation's of our past and present humanity's ill's. Without background like this, it is difficult to grasp how we arrived at where we are and it is damn scary knowledge, yet it answers much, and am grateful for his effort bringing it out of Poland. As hard as it seems to acknowledge in the face of it, Lobaczewski gave the world a great gift of awareness which needs to spread.
 

InTheWind

A Disturbance in the Force
I read this book years ago and was comforted by the explanation. It made me feel better to know there were psychopaths but some were the secondary psychopaths and folks going along to get along. I passed it on to others who were equally disturbed at what we saw in the work place. Lots of crazy making, gas lighting and mobbing was the order of the day. Sadly I understand it continues. I hope awareness and books like this can bring about change for a healthier society.
 

Laura

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Ya'll be sure to leave reviews on amazon. What has been written here can be just copy/pasted with slight modification for a book review.
 

ggen

Jedi Master
I agree with Laura and have written my review. In light of the recent exposure of Thomas Sheridan, it would be beneficial to anyone new seeking accurate information, to find reviews of Political Ponerology. :cool2:
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
Political Ponerology Book Discussion

I am re-reading PP and looking into some supplementary material to get a better understanding of certain parts of the book. Though we mention ponerology a lot, it seems there is no dedicated thread for discussing the book. So thought I would start one here to share and get feedback and discussions going.

I am starting from Chapter 2 - Some Indispensable Concepts since I think it helps in setting a good launching pad for other chapters. So here goes.

Chapter 2

[quote author=PP]
Three principal heterogeneous items coincided in order to form our European civilization: Greek philosophy, Roman imperial and legal civilization, and Christianity, consolidated by time and effort of later generations. The culture of cognitive/spiritual heritage thus born was internally fuzzy wherever the language of concepts, being overly attached to matter and law, turned out to be too stiff to comprehend aspects of psychological and spiritual life.
.......................

A civilization thus arose hampered by a serious deficiency in an area which both can and does play a creative role, and which is supposed to protect societies from various kinds of evil. This civilization developed formulations in the area of law, whether national, civil, or finally canon, which were conceived for invented and simplified beings. These formulations gave short shrift to the total contents of the human personality and the great psychological differences between individual members of the species Homo sapiens.
[/quote]

Laura's work on history greatly modifies existing ideas on the Greek, Roman and Christian influences - so keeping aside Dr L's views on that. Let us look at the "invented and simplified beings" comment with some examples.

In the past, having a dry mouth was considered to be a sign of guilt when subjected to a saliva test through various means which included putting a red-hot poker on the accused person's tongue. The idea was that an innocent person would have a normal amount of saliva in his mouth because he was confident in the knowledge that he was not guilty while the person who committed the crime would have a dry mouth because he would be nervous. From the knowledge available today, we can appreciate the fact that if approached with a red hot poker, an innocent man is very likely to have a dry mouth. However, a psychopath who shows a distinctly different type of emotional reaction than common people when confronted with stressful situations would a likely have a wet mouth in a saliva test and would be considered not guilty.

Fast forward to modern times and we can see the vestiges of a God fearing confession oriented mindset in the ritual practice of taking oath in the court room. We also need to factor in the assumption that confidence and certainty in speech and action are signs of truthfulness while hesitation and nervousness indicate guilt and wrong-doing. Now imagine a normal God fearing person is asked to take the stand in a courtroom. He takes oath and is very careful not to violate its meaning. The opposition lawyer is smart and he soon corners our God fearing common man in some details about his testimony regarding his description of a past incident crucial to the case. Our man is aware he is under oath and starts to have a stress reaction. He starts doubting himself and his speech becomes uncertain. He is being truthful to the best of his ability. But the opposition lawyer smells his weakness and moves in swiftly. As stress chemicals start flooding our man's body and brain, his confidence level plummets. In the end, he leaves the stand a defeated man. The jury has sufficient reason to doubt his testimony. Now, a person belonging to the psychopathic spectrum marches onto the stand and takes oath with a show of solemnity suitable to the occasion though internally, he may be laughing at the ritual and the stupidity of the people who think it has any significance. He maintains eye contact with the jury as the lawyers fire difficult questions at him. He suffers from no doubts and is brazen in confidence. The jury is impressed. Yet he is lying through his teeth the entire time and only later, at considerable human cost, is the "truth" finally discovered.

The combined effect of the old art of legal rhetoric and the modern philosophy of relativism also deserves a mention here. Relativism holds that truth is relative while the art of rhetoric is concerned with persuading the audience of the validity of an argument. Consider the simple example where one person is speaking the truth and the other is lying. Relativism loosely implies that neither of the two parties is entirely right or entirely wrong. A "relativistic" mind is thus conditioned to look for a middle ground where neither party is completely right. This automatically favors the liar and puts the person speaking the truth at a disadvantage. Now when both parties argue their cases, in the absence of material proof it is the strength of the rhetoric that decides the final verdict. Thus the legal argument is created which is glibly exploited by the pathological members of the human population at considerable cost to truth and the health of normal society.


Psychology

[quote author=PP]
This civilization was insufficiently resistant to evil, which originates beyond the easily accessible areas of human consciousness and takes advantage of the overly great gap between formal or legal thought and psychological reality.
[/quote]

When psychology started in the 1870s as a secular movement to understand human nature based on biological and medical progress, many researchers envisioned an important role for this discipline in bringing peace and order to human affairs. Psychology is a discipline where the observer and the observed belong to the same species. In case of introspection, the observer and observed are the same person. In such a situation, it is easy for subjective error to affect the reasoning process of the person which affects the data obtained from observation. Behaviorists tried to avoid this error by limiting the field of observation. Instead of inquiring into inner mental processes, they focused on the study of externally measurable stimulus and response. This was in keeping with the model followed in studies performed on laboratory animals. Leaving out a significant portion of the complexity of what makes humans different from animals impoverished the content that was obtained from these observations regarding the essential nature of human beings. However, the behaviorists produced a profitable discipline of thought which followed the tenets of empirical science.

On the other side, there was the psychoanalytic school which focused on the inner mental processes of a human being. The concept of "unconscious" was introduced to indicate that there were internal mental processes in human beings of which we are not directly aware. However, the structure and method used to study the unconscious processes suffered from setbacks. Sigmund Freud, widely regarded as a pioneer of the psychoanalytic school, left a legacy which arguably hurt the development of this field especially with respect to ponerology.

First, Freud greatly impoverished the structure and content of the unconscious by putting a disproportionate amount of focus on repressed impulses especially of a sexual nature. In doing so, Freud ignored contemporary and earlier writings of other theorists who proposed that human beings possessed an "adaptive unconscious" which included among other things a tendency towards habitual, non-conscious ways of mental processing. Secondly, Freud thought that clinical observation rather than controlled experiments was the proper method to study the unconscious. This resulted in significant theorizing without reference to reality and held back the proper scientific development of the field along the cognitive path. ( Adaptive Unconscious link ).

By making neuroses arising out of repressed emotions the central tenet of psychoanalytic theory, Freud's legacy ensured that the majority of clinical practitioners in the field of mental health were unable to identify and properly deal with deliberate evil at the individual human level. Clinical psychologist George Simon has highlighted the differences between pathological and neurotic characters in his book "Character Disturbance: The Phenomenon of Our Age". A neurotic feels an excess of anxiety, guilt and shame, has a well-developed conscience and is overly sensitive to adverse consequences but suffers from adopting unproductive, self-defeating coping patterns. Since the neurotic's problems largely stem from faulty upbringing, he often responds well to insight offered in psychotherapy and counseling. A character disturbed individual on the other hand has an underdeveloped conscience, little anxiety, no guilt or shame, and has behavioral patterns that habitually and deliberately victimize others. Attributing neurotic characteristics and motives to the actions of a pathologically disturbed character can be regarded as a component of our "natural world view" and as such is a grave error which has caused great harm to the health and well-being of the society while strengthening the hand of the pathological deviants.


Need for Objective Language

Objectivity helps us see things as they are. Achieving complete objectivity in a field like psychology, where the observer and the observed belong to the same species, is difficult. Yet, it is possible to move towards a higher degree of psychological objectivity by following certain principles and methods which are used in other older areas of naturalistic studies. Following these principles while rejecting an overly materialistic interpretation of reality which imposes crippling restrictions on what phenomena can be studied in an objective manner helps us move forward to a wide horizon from which we can get glimpses of a multilevel reality and the causal forces that operate in it. A multilevel perception of reality would include sensory, intellectual, imaginative and intuitive faculties in combination. Discussion of such a reality would need an objective language which is grounded in empirical data and logical reasoning.

Understanding of human evil exposes us to phenomena which cannot be understood or described by our natural vocabulary. An objective language which can be used to understand the questions presented in this work and analyze the essence of such phenomena thus becomes an indispensable tool. Elaborating such a language is a step by step affair and needs contributions from many researchers by which it would mature to a point when it could be organized formally. We are towards the beginning of this process. As we train ourselves in this new mode of thinking when dealing with psychopathology by separating from the subjective perceptions of our natural world view and using objective concepts to the extent presently possible, we would be contributing towards strengthening the foundation of objective psychological knowledge.


Natural World View

In order to move towards higher degrees of psychological objectivity, it is important to identify the obstacles on the path coming from our natural world view. This everyday, ordinary, societal and moral world view is a product of our developmental process within a society under constant influence of our innate traits. Our natural world view, especially in the western world, tells us we are free thinkers while ignoring or denying the magnitude of the effect of the causal forces on our thinking and behavior. Scientific experiments in cognitive psychology clearly show that situational influences can be powerful and can determine behavior in a consistent, repeatable way. Moreover, parental, social, religious and cultural conditioning which every one of us is subject to since the day we are born shape the way we think and feel. And at the foundation of our existence lies the genetically inherited instinctive substratum. We can be as oblivious to this instinctive substratum and environmental conditioning with respect to the restrictions they impose on our abilities of comprehension and decision making as a fish is to the water in which it lives. Consequently, our natural world view of other humans can be neither sufficiently universal nor completely true.

We can undertake education and refinement of our natural world view based on literary values as well as philosophical and moral reflections. Armed with a humanistic education, we can believe that we have reached a state of wisdom. However, as Dr L says

[quote author=PP]
However, a conscientious psychologist must ask the following questions: Even if the natural world-view has been refined, does it mirror reality with sufficient reliability? Or does it only mirror our species’ perception? To what extent can we depend upon it as a basis for decision making in the individual, societal and political spheres of life?
[/quote]

In other words, we cannot really put too much blind trust in our own thinking.

Moralizing interpretation

Experience teaches us, first of all, that this natural world view has permanent and characteristic tendencies towards deforming primary reality (which is objective and undistorted) dictated by our instinctive and emotional features. The natural world view is characterized by an emotional tendency which colors our opinions and turns them into moral judgment which is often negative enough to represent outrage. This habit of passing moral judgment appeals to instinctive tendencies in human nature as well as societal customs. We indulge in this habit often enough when we see what we consider to be improper behavior. Though such behavior can be caused by minor psychological deficiencies, we tend to pass a negative judgment on the intent of the person instead of making an effort to understand the conditions driving such behavior and letting the person know that he indeed is behaving poorly. Such a moralizing interpretation of minor psychopathological phenomena is erroneous and leads to a number of unfortunate consequences.

In other words, we often strain at gnats while swallowing camels in this area.

Lack of universality
Another deficiency of the natural world view is its lack of universality. In any society, there are a percentage of people who have developed a world view which is a good deal different from that used by the majority. The causes behind these differences are varied both in quality and magnitude.

Cognitive Dissonance

Related to the above is the limited scope of applicability of the natural world view. Newtonian mechanics works well enough for everyday life encounters but down at the level of atoms, it ceases to provide right answers and quantum mechanics provides a theory which better matches the atomic reality. When we are faced with questions which are beyond the capacity of our natural world view to answer, we may experience cognitive dissonance for a short time suffering from anxiety, embarrassment, dread or other negative emotions. To get rid of this discomfort, very often we end up in a state denial which helps restore us to our comfort zone but fails to enhance our understanding of that disturbing aspect of reality that we encountered.
- We can end up repressing the incident and pretend as if it did not happen.
- We can reinterpret the event in a way that does not conform to reality but makes us feel good.
- We can also accept the incident and its objective interpretation on the surface but deny the implications that follow from it.

This third type of denial, called implicatory denial, is quite common among certain sections of the educated class.

Egotism of the natural world view

Among such educated people who have developed a natural world view refined by literary influences, religious deliberations and philosophical reflections, we also see a tendency to overrate the values of their world view. Such people may behave as if their incomplete and subjective world view was an objective basis for judging other people. Such an attitude of overestimating one's world view can be called "egotism of the natural world view".

Such egotism in conjunction with the mechanism of implicatory denial when applied to the phenomenon of macro-social psychopathology form a formidable barrier towards developing a more objective understanding of this phenomenon and adopting suitable counter measures. Anyone sincerely interested in ponerology needs to recognize this resistance arising out of egotism and denial and overcome it in order to build proper understanding of this phenomenon.
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
Re: Political Ponerology Book Discussion

Chapter 2 (contd.)

The Human Individual

The human individual is the basic object of observation in psychology. The same human individual is the basic unit of society. The objective knowledge gained about the individual through the discipline of psychology can then be used in the social sciences so that it can become a discipline which can accurately mirror the social reality with sufficient attention to detail to serve as a basis for practical action. A relevant analogy can be drawn from the field of medicine where the cell serves as the basic unit of observation. The varied structures and functions of different types of cells are studied in order to better understand the working of the human body.

In order to understand the humanity, we must gain a primary understanding of mankind's instinctive substratum and appreciate its salient role in the life of individuals as well as societies. This role easily escapes our notice since humanity's instinctive responses seem so self-evident and are so taken for granted that it arouses insufficient interest.

Instinctive Substratum

The instinctive substratum of a human being is the structural and functional foundation upon which psychological development takes place. A significant portion of the instinctive nature present in humans is shared with members of the animal kingdom - an assertion which is strongly supported by modern genetics research. However, man's instinctive substratum also has some significant points of difference compared to animals. It is more plastic in structure and more adaptive in function and has the potential to be responsive to the controls of reason in varying degrees.

To study the structure of man's instinctive substratum, we can refer to data obtained from research in neuroscience, specifically related to discoveries pertaining to the brain and the autonomic nervous system ( Polyvagal Theory ). In these systems, an evolutionary hierarchy can be discerned. The phylogenetically oldest components of the human nervous system correspond with reptiles and amphibians. In the brain, it approximately correlates to structures like the brain stem and hypothalamus which are involved with regulation of internal bodily states through autonomic control of viscera and blood vessels. The next broad division in the brain is the limbic system which corresponds with mammals and comprises of a variety of structures including the amygdala. The limbic system is considered to be the seat of emotions and is involved with the expression of internal visceral and affective states. The phylogenetically youngest division of the brain is the cortical area - particularly the frontal cortex which is the seat of the human attributes like will power, reason and selective attention. It is important to remember that these divisions and functions of the brain are interdependent rather than independent.

The autonomic nervous system is divided into sympathetic and parasympathetic components. The parasympathetic branch contains the phylogenetically older dorsal vagal complex and the unmyelinated vagus nerve which correspond to amphibians and is involved with immobilization or the freeze response, lowering of metabolic activity and shutdown of body systems not essential to life. The sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system corresponds to the reptiles and is involved with mobilization of bodily resources in the classic "fight or flight" response. The myelinated vagal complex of the parasympathetic nervous system corresponds to the mammals and mediates complex social and attachment behaviors through facial expression and vocalization.

An interesting empirical finding is that more primitive the phylogenetic system, greater is its power to take over the functioning of the organism by effectively inhibiting and overriding the more recent and refined neurological subsystems. When the immobilization system controlled by the unmyelinated vagal complex is activated, it shuts down the social engagement system controlled by the newer myelinated vagus. When a fight or flight response is initiated through the activation of the amygdala, the neocortical function of reason is inhibited.

The brain which is regarded as the seat of decision making in the human organism receives an image of the external world through the sense organs or the external receptors. Similarly, important organs like the gut, heart, liver etc. contain sensitive internal receptors (interoceptors) which convey an image of the internal state of body to the brain. The perception process in the latter case, called interoception, forms the foundation of the "self" feeling in humans. Significantly lowered activity in the interoception process indicates a dissociated state while overactivity leads to hyper-arousal. The overall internal neuroception process consists of sensory input from the external and internal receptors, processing of this input in the brain and consequent result of such processing expressed through thoughts, facial and verbal expressions, and other motor actions which constitute externally observable behavior.

Development

Psychological development of a man takes place on the foundation of his instinctive substratum. From the ponerology perspective, variations seen in psychological development as a result of social, cultural, educational or inter-generational factors are less striking compared to the variation that arises out of significant differences or defects in the instinctive substratum. For some people, reason can exert control over instinctive drives and become the dominant force influencing behavior. For others, a strong instinctive drive can rule over reason using the intellect for satisfying its desires. While psychological difference between different members of our species follows from the high level of psychological organization and complexity humans are endowed with, some specific qualitative differences in the instinctive area play a crucial role in the study of ponerology.

Over-excitability

Polish psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski, a pioneer in the field of developmental psychology, identified nervous over-excitability as a key factor in the developmental process. The term over-excitability is used to denote an intense and long-lasting mode of reacting to certain stimuli. Dabrowski identified five types of over-excitability (abbreviated as o.e) which he called sensual, psychomotor, imaginational, intellectual and emotional o.e. Sensual o.e is related to the experience of heightened sensory pleasures and can manifest in the higher than average appreciation of comfort, luxury, physical intimacy, fashion and esthetics. Psychomotor o.e is related to excess nervous energy and can manifest in restlessness, rapid talk, attraction to violent games and sports and a drive for action. Imaginational o.e manifests in strong, sharp visualization powers, use of image and metaphor in communication and a predilection for fantasy. Intellectual o.e manifests in the drive to solve theoretical problems, love of logical thinking, avidity for knowledge etc. Emotional o.e manifests in intense emotional relationships and attachments with people, other living beings or even places. In the developmental sense, it is not the intense expression of emotions by itself but the intense experience of relationship to others which indicate the presence of emotional o.e. Emotional o.e forms the nucleus of emotional development.

In present times, it is common to find people who have achieved cognitive development with age and training but are stuck at the emotional level appropriate for a little child. Intellectual development does not guarantee emotional development; nor does emotional development take place automatically with increasing age and life experiences. Defects in the instinctive substratum which affect emotional development carry the seeds of psychopathology especially if other o.e is present.

Multilevelness

Dabrowski also introduced the concept of multilevelness in the study of developmental phenomena. At the lowest level of development, called primary integration in Dabrowski's theory, a particular instinct or emotion or the behavior driven by them has a distinct but relatively simple underlying structure. Going up in the process of development would make the same factor more differentiated and sometimes subtle in appearance and richer in content. As development progresses, the function is taken through various levels of disintegration and subsequent reintegration at a higher level. Take the example of anger. At the lowest level of development of primary integration, anger is uncontrolled, instinctive and brutal in nature and is aroused easily whenever one's instinctive drive towards fulfilling some needs like owning property, power or sex is thwarted by others and often expresses itself in the form of aggression. Traversing the developmental hierarchy, expressions of anger in a brutal form is inhibited. Its manifestations become more controlled and subtle. As other human functions like empathy get stronger with higher levels of development, righteous anger at social, moral and ethical injustice finds creative outlets through intellectual and artistic channels.
( Multilevelness of Emotional and Instinctive Functions ).

Disintegration and Reintegration

The development of human personality proceeds through a process of disintegration of the existing structure and reintegration at a higher level ( Theory of Positive Disintegration ). The conditioning imposed by society and religion usually tends to oppose the process of positive disintegration. Higher levels of positive human development thus have to proceed under internal motivation overcoming forces of inertia and opposition which act both internally and externally. The highest levels of development can be reached only in the presence of strong emotional o.e in conjunction with intellectual and imaginational o.e. Psychomotor and sensory o.e by themselves limits development to lower levels.

At the highest level of positive integration, a strong emotional o.e gives rise to great universal sensitivity and empathy which provides primary direction in life and drives other functions. Emotional development points the way to what ought to be done for the betterment of humanity at large. The intellectual and imaginational functions support the emotional function. The imaginational function brings about a high level of creative drive which helps visualize new solutions to problems affecting humanity. The intellectual function evaluates and synthesizes objective data and figures out how to do what ought to be done through detailed practical plans. Psychomotor o.e, if present at this level of development, provides physical energy to carry out the dictates of the higher level creative intelligence represented by the developed combination of emotional-imaginative-intellectual functions.

Certain defects of the instinctive substratum which result in the absence or inhibition of the social attachment and relatedness component of emotion when combined with a strong psychomotor and/or sensory o.e, along with moderate intelligence can lead to psychopathological characters. Every society has such a small percentage of active individuals who are qualitatively and not just statistically different from the majority. Such individuals can be called negatively integrated. Armed with intelligence and imagination which are subordinated to strong uninhibited primitive instinctual drives, such characters often acquire important social positions and cause human suffering in a very large scale.

Successful large scale positive and negative integration within the developmental process apply to a statistically small percentage of the human population. In both these extreme cases, internal drive overcomes external situations. For the majority, the personality structure undergoes change and disintegration at smaller scales largely due to external situations which challenge existing ideas about life and reality and cause suffering.

If we are able to overcome such disintegrative states by correcting our errors and enriching our personalities, the previously unpleasant life situations that promoted the process become meaningful. Such an outcome usually leads to greater acceptance of life and its laws, enhanced understanding of the self and others and an overall increase in relatedness.

If however we are unable to master the problems which we encounter because the situation overpowered our capabilities or we lacked the requisite knowledge to deal with it, the result may be a neurotic condition or dissociation. If we are unable to overcome the disintegrative state because our reflexes were too quick to repress the uncomfortable material from our consciousness and substitute it due to cognitive dissonance and denial, our personality undergoes a kind of narcissistic withdrawal but it is not free of the sensation of failure. The results are devolutionary; the person becomes more difficult to get along with. In either case, the uncomfortable feelings arising out of the failure to address the original problem in a developmentally healthy manner lead to repression and projection of related content on other people. As Dr L writes

[quote author=PP]
Such low intensity pathological phenomena escapes notice and remain concealed but merge without much difficulty into the eternal process of the genesis of evil, which later affects families, and entire societies.
[/quote]

Society

There is not much supplementary material here. Pretty much Dr L.'s views paraphrased and summarized.

Man is designed to be social by nature through his instinctive substratum. Our minds and personalities develop through interaction with other people and we receive input from others consciously and unconsciously in a variety of ways through tradition, rules, imitation, identification, exchange of ideas etc. The material we obtain in these ways is processed by us in order to create a new human personality, one we call “our own”. However, our existence is contingent upon necessary links with others and is embedded in the social matrix of the past, present and future. It is man’s fate to actively cooperate in giving shape to the fate of society by two principal means: forming his individual and family life within it and becoming active in the sum total of social affairs based on his (hopefully sufficient) comprehension of what needs to be done, what ought to be done and whether or not he can do it. This requires an individual to develop two somewhat overlapping areas of knowledge about things; and his life depends on the quality of this development, as does his nation and humanity as a whole.

Social doctrines suffer from a dearth of psychological insight about the nature of the human being. Social doctrines operate based on an oversimplification of reality and the views contained can easily be adapted and used for political propaganda. When we apply psychological insights, we put the human individual in the foreground and gradually widen the perspective to include small groups like families, then society and humanity at large. While increasing the scope of our perspective, we gain a richer understanding of the causal forces acting at different levels and this improves statistical data collection and analysis methods. The quality and richness of psychological concepts and terminology mastered by an individual and society as well as the degree to which they approximate an objective world view condition the development of our social and moral attitudes. Such a view helps us understand a person in relation to his actual internal contents and not some substituted external label that is affixed on him and thus provide help to him along his path to proper adjustment to social life.

Social Inequity

A stable and creative society is possible only when people occupy social and professional positions appropriate to their abilities. In such a society, high social office would be granted only to people who demonstrate appropriate all round psychological development, sufficient talent and have gone through specific training to discharge the duties of their position appropriately and would be supported whole-heartedly by the collective intelligence of the masses. There is a sense of social justice when the talent and training of an individual correlate well with the demands of his profession. The individual achieves a position that provides personal, material and moral advantages to him as the society benefits from having the right people in the right positions.

Lack of objective psychological knowledge breeds social injustice. If a person is forced to perform functions that do not make good use of his talents, his productivity would likely be lower than someone whose talents are more commensurate with the same functions. The society suffers from reduced productivity. Such a downward social adjustment would breed resentment in the person and he may escape into fantasy to compensate for this. If such a person, under challenged in his practical duties, does not have a healthy critical faculty with which he can gauge the upper limits of his abilities, he could fall prey to grandiose ideas attempting to fix problems which in reality could be far beyond his capabilities. Such a situation provides fertile ground for revolutionary activities which if realized causes further suffering in society. A number of revolutions in history have resulted in exchanging one unjust system for an even more pathological replacement.

Another type of individual may occupy a position higher than what his talents and training would warrant through his belonging to powerful and privileged social groups. Such a person of insufficient talent would tend to avoid the more difficult and pressing challenges of his function while making a big show of attending to minor matters with valuable material and human resources. The stress of being asked to perform at a level beyond his capabilities and the accompanying fear of being discovered as incompetent leads such an individual to adopt a hostile and paranoid attitude towards those who have superior abilities. He may conspire to remove such capable people from their positions in a bid to secure his own position breeding the downward social adjustment previously described. Such upwardly adjusted individuals have an authoritarian mindset and prefer a totalitarian, whip cracking form of government which would ensure the security of their positions.

Upward and downward social adjustments as well as qualitatively improper ones, like selecting a famous movie actor for an important political post, result in a waste of society’s basic capital – the talent pool of its members. It leads to tensions among individuals and social groups and a general unrest. So any attempt to approach questions related to human talent and productivity as a private matter is dangerously naïve. Whether a society evolves or devolves in all areas of cultural, economic and political life depend on the extent to which the society’s talent pool is properly utilized. The majority members of the society who have average talents usually accept modest social position as long as that position fulfills an indispensable requirement for the population and ensures an equitable way of life. This average majority accepts and respects those whose talents and education are superior as long as the latter occupy appropriate positions in the social structure. The same average majority endowed with healthy instincts and common sense would react with criticism, disrespect or even contempt when someone belonging to the same average group compensates for his deficiencies by flaunting an upwardly adjusted social position.

Politics and Governance

Objective psychological knowledge about individual humanity and an understanding of group dynamics are essential components for generating a political system which is capable of just governance. Creation of a fair social structure is a responsibility of governance. While a politician cannot expect to assume that his constituents would understand the complexities in the areas of economics, defense or international policy, he must have some common ground with the average majority in terms of understanding of human matters and social relationships as dictated by their incomplete but basically healthy natural world view. The same politician should be conscious of the fact that society contains a certain minority percentage of people whose natural l world view and moral reasoning are particularly skewed either due to defects in their own instinctive substratum or due to having been influenced and raised by psychologically unhealthy people with such defects. Such individuals’ comprehension of social and moral matters are qualitatively different from both a healthy natural world view and the objective point of view and as such they constitute a destructive factor for the development of society’s psychological concepts, social structure and internal bonds. Such people often penetrate the social structure through a pathological network and participate in the genesis of evil that spares no nation. Relatively minor issues concerning differences in religious beliefs and moral convictions as well as racial, ethnic and cultural variations become targets of pathological infection through the energetic activity of this abnormal group expanding its tentacles into the social structure. This pathological substructure dreams of obtaining power and imposing its will on society and these dreams have consistently been realized since historical times continuing up to the present.

Countries spread over a large geographical area with large heterogeneous populations created as a result of past imperial conquests (which inevitably result in historical animosities between the different ethnic and racial groups ) are particularly susceptible to pathological penetration. The central governing structure is far away from the provinces which feel excluded from participating in important decision making processes. Governance is achieved through issuing of rules and regulations from the central governing structure which may have little significance and meaning outside the central areas but is then enforced by provincial authorities. The social structure gets weakened from the general doctrinaire approach of blind adherence to rules and regulations at the expense of a humane and rational sensitivity to specific local conditions in matters of governance. It would seem that best candidates for proper development and governance are smaller sized countries where personal bonds among citizens and between the citizens and the authorities safeguard natural relationships and correct psychological differentiation. Big countries suffering from macropathy (giant sickness) can be broken up into largely autonomous states with natural boundaries.

Individual vs Collective

Isolating an individual’s personal interests as if it were at war with collective interests is an oversimplification of the complexity of real conditions. Many apparently contradictory interests, like individual vs. collective or those of various social groups and substructures, can be reconciled with objective psychological knowledge of man and society. What comes in the way of finding a solution at a higher level which reconciles the opposing forces is usually emotion driven natural world view conditioned by doctrines of a questionable nature. At this higher level, difficult problems tend to invariably derive from some insidious psychopathological phenomena.

A colony of insects, no matter how well organized socially, is doomed to extinction when its collective instinct continues to operate in a fixed, predetermined way although the biological meaning behind that fixed action pattern has disappeared. If, for instance, a queen bee does not affect her nuptial flight in time because the weather has been particularly bad, she begins laying unfertilized eggs which will hatch nothing but drones. The bees continue to defend their queen, as required by their instinct; of course, when the worker bees die out the hive becomes extinct.

At that point, only a “higher authority” in the shape of a beekeeper can save such a hive. He must find and destroy the drone queen and insinuate a healthy fertilized queen into the hive along with a few of her young workers. A net is required for a few days to protect such a queen and her providers from being stung by those bees loyal to the old queen. Then the hive instinct accepts the new queen. A good apiarist generally suffers a few painful stings in the process.


Can humans save themselves?

The question arises: can the human hive inhabiting our globe achieve sufficient comprehension of that macrosocial pathological phenomenon which human nature finds so dangerous, abhorrent, and fascinating at the same time? Our individual and collective instincts and our natural psychological and moral world-view cannot furnish all the answers upon which to base skillful counteractive measures.

Religious people put their trust in the “great apiarist in heaven” to sort things out appropriately. The religious doctrines in their varied forms however tend to neglect or trivialize certain naturalistic truths. When afflicted by physiological disease, people usually look up to medicine based on scientific principles for a cure rather than rely on divine intervention. In order to heal physical disease, medicine needs to have an objective view regarding the cause, symptoms, mechanism of action of what caused the disease and then take appropriate countermeasures. While the current knowledge of medicine is not enough to cure all diseases, there is general agreement on the progress of the field based on objective principles.

We assert that psychopathology is a disease afflicting the social body of humanity and an objective understanding of social and sociopathological phenomena, overcoming emotionalism and egotism of the natural world view would pave the way for finding the right treatment of this disease. Armed with increasing knowledge and awareness of the phenomenon of psychopathology at the individual and social level, we can discover the antidotes needed to address the disease in its different manifestations. Such acquisition of knowledge and awareness is a continuous process; and given the present situation of the world, we must collectively undertake this process with utmost urgency.
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
Re: Political Ponerology Book Discussion

Chapter 3
The Hysteroidal Cycle

The word hysteroidal is used in psychology to mean something that resembles hysteria. In common parlance, hysteria refers to a state where an individual is overly emotional and out of control. In psychology, the term hysteria is used to denote a condition where an individual acts in ways that imitate a physical or psychological disease. Hysteria can be accompanied by lying, out of proportion reactions to situations and events, and a primitive form of suggestibility. It can be said that hysteria is a radical case of distortion of reality. Despite efforts to find some distinctive organic and neurological condition as the cause of hysteria, there has not been much success. Consequently, present day psychiatry no longer uses the term hysteria in its parlance. In place of hysteria it now recognizes dissociative disorders characterized by a loss of self identity and conversion disorders characterized by impaired functioning of sensory or motor functions without any identifiable underlying organic disease.

From the personality development perspective discussed in chapter 2, hysteria can be described as a lower level personality disintegration state. The ego or self feeling, which represents the cohesiveness of the personality structure is weakened so that partial disintegration takes place. The weakening of the ego gives rise to a state of suggestibility where ideas, especially of an emotionally charged nature, can be injected from outside and accepted without critical evaluation. In hysteria, there is also a component of nervous excitation which provides physical energy to act in the service of primitive instincts and emotions without intellectual deliberation.

From the perspective of the instinctive substratum discussed in chapter2, it can be said that in the hysterical state, the phylogenetically older parts of the brain (the reptilian and limbic brains) and the autonomous nervous system (unmyelinated vagal system and the sympathetic nervous system) seize control of the individual pushing the more "human" components, the neo-cortex and the myelinated vagus system, into the background. Consequently, both the higher functions of purposeful intellectual deliberation and higher empathy based social relatedness are seriously impaired.

In the social context, such a hysteric state when seen in mass scale is called mass hysteria. The additional component at play here is contagion where the state of hysteria gets passed on to others through cognitive and unconscious emotional channels. Suppressed or impaired critical reasoning while accepting authoritarian propaganda and views of other people is the main component of cognitive contagion. The likely mechanism involved in unconscious emotional contagion phenomenon is limbic resonance where the neural circuits of the limbic portion of the brains (mentioned in chapter 2) communicate with each other possibly through the agency of mirror neurons. Neuroscientists have called this phenomenon “primal empathy" ( link ). This limbic route in the brain is referred to as the "low road" which operates fast and without conscious awareness. Through this low road we can unconsciously get influenced by the emotional state of other people. In the case of mass hysteria, the result of contagion is similar to the spread of an infectious disease. A large group of people under mass hysteria can act as a cohesive unit driven by primitive instincts and low level negative emotions.

Having a basic understanding of how hysteria operates at the individual and group level, let us now put this phenomenon into a historical and macro social context.


Good times and bad times

Normal man dreams of having a happy, peaceful life where he is free to enjoy the company of family and friends and to indulge in the pleasure of his senses through the utilization of natural resources by technological means. Through the last 2-3 thousand years of human history, the reality has been that when one group of men have had a happy, prosperous life, it has come at the cost of other men who have been conquered or subjugated through military and economic power to serve the needs of the victors. Thus in good times for some group of men, the seeds of bad times are already sown because of the unbalanced power dynamics.

During good times, people progressively lose sight of the need for profound reflection, introspection, knowledge of others, and an understanding of life's complicated laws. Is it worth pondering the properties of human nature and man's flawed personality, whether one's own or someone else's? Can we understand the creative meaning of suffering we have not undergone ourselves, instead of taking the easy way out and blaming the victim? Any excess mental effort seems like pointless labor if life's joys appear to be available for the taking. A clever, liberal, and merry individual is a good sport; a more farsighted person predicting dire results becomes a wet-blanket killjoy. Our instinctive nature works against us in this respect. Nature likes to operate by burning the minimum amount of energy that is needed to get things done - this is an observation from empirical sciences. As deliberate reflection and study of complex subjects burns a lot of energy, unless a pressing need to indulge in such energy intensive activity is recognized (as it is in today's world), there is in man an internal resistance to such activities along with the socially mediated opposition. The result is a significant degradation of knowledge of psychological reality. The members of the country or civilization in power create an imaginary construct of reality where their superiority is sacrosanct and the inferiority of others is justifiable on some made-up pseudo-moral grounds. This is a repeating syndrome in human history and can be observed since the time of the Roman Empire to the American hegemony at present. The Romans considered themselves to be civilized while the world outside were barbarians. Today, most Americans look upon their country as the bastion of democracy, freedom and technological superiority that others either try to imitate or turn against due to envy. "They hate us for our freedom" can serve as an illustration of such a world view.

During “good” times, the search for truth becomes uncomfortable and it reveals inconvenient factors. It is better to think about easier and more pleasant things. Unconscious elimination of data which are or appear to be inexpedient gradually turns to habit, then becomes a custom accepted by society at large. It is easier to think that "they hate us for our freedom" than to ponder whether we are really free or perhaps "they" hate us because we act like bullies. The mechanisms of cognitive dissonance and the forms of denial and information substitution discussed earlier come into play in full force when some inconvenient truth still manages to surface. At the societal level, the hysteroidal symptoms are thus evident. Dissociative imagination and lying, ostentation and out of proportion reaction to situations and events, ever greater susceptibility to propaganda - all point towards that psychopathological state.

We already know that every society contains a certain percentage of people carrying psychological deviations caused by various inherited or acquired factors which produce anomalies in perception, thought, and character. Many such people attempt to impart meaning to their deviant lives by means of social hyperactivity. They create their own myths and ideologies of overcompensation and have the tendency to egotistically insinuate to others their own deviant perceptions and the resulting goals and ideas.

When a few generations’ worth of “good-time” indifference results in significant societal deficit regarding psychological skill and moral criticism, this paves the way for pathological plotters, snake-charmers, and even more primitive impostors to act and merge into the processes of the origination of evil. Some examples of such elements at work in present day US are the right wing religious fundamentalists and the neoconservatives who try to impose their deviant world view on the population. When communities lose the capacity for psychological reason and moral criticism, the processes of the generation of evil are intensified at every social scale, whether individual or macro social, until they revert to “bad” times.

When bad times arrive and people are overwhelmed by an excess of evil, they must gather all their physical and mental strength to fight for existence and protect human reason. The search for some way out of the difficulties and dangers rekindles long-buried powers of discretion. . If the initial tendency to rely on force in order to counteract the threat can be overcome, they discover the advantages conferred by mental effort; improved understanding of the psychological situation in particular, better differentiation of human characters and personalities, and, finally, comprehension of one’s adversaries.

The succinct and accurate analysis of phenomena, made possible thanks to the conquest of the expendable emotions and egotism characterizing the natural world view, opens the door to causative behavior, particularly in the areas of philosophical, psychological, and moral reflection.

Unfortunately, such knowledge and understanding do not have any precedence of being incorporated fully into the society so that future errors of a similar nature can be avoided. The cycle of happy, peaceful times favors a narrowing of the world-view and an increase in egotism; societies become subject to progressive hysteria and to that final stage, descriptively known to historians, which finally produces times of despondency and confusion, which have lasted for millennia and continue to do so. The recession of mind and personality which is a feature of ostensibly happy times varies from one nation to another; thus some countries manage to survive the results of such crises with minor losses, whereas others lose nations and empires.


The Authoritarians


A group of people who come from all walks of life and have certain characteristics are of particular interest in this context. Canadian psychologist Dr Bob Altmeyer’s research ( link ). on the authoritarian personality helps us understand the current social trends in North America, which appears to be going through the progressive hystericization phenomenon in the present, as well as reflect on past trends seen in Europe around the period of the two world wars.

Altmeyer identifies the authoritarians as those who blindly support the established authorities in their society, such as government officials and traditional religious leaders, while exhibiting the following psychological characteristics:
- a high degree of submission to the established authorities in their society
- high levels of aggression in the name of the authorities
- a high level of conventionalism.

Though Altmeyer uses the term right wing authoritarian (RWA) in his designation, he points out that the characteristics belong to the personality, and is not necessarily related to the political views. It just so happens that at present, in North America where the bulk of the research has taken place, the authoritarian personality happens to hold conservative right wing views more often. There are left-wing authoritarian followers as well, who support a revolutionary leader who wants to overthrow the establishment, and such characters are encountered in the history of other countries, but they do not exist in sufficient numbers in North America today. Altmeyer cites some research conducted while the cold war was still ongoing. He writes: “experiments done with the RWA scale on both sides of the iron curtain revealed authoritarians on both sides who believed their government’s version of the Cold War more than most people did. Their officials wore the white hats, the authoritarian followers believed, and the other guys were dirty rotten warmongers. And that’s most interesting, because it means the most cock-sure belligerents in the populations on each side of the Cold War, the ones who hated and blamed each other the most, were in fact the same people, psychologically. If they had grown up on the other side of the Iron Curtain, they probably would have believed the leaders they presently despised, and despised the leaders they now trusted.” If we extrapolate this data to speculate in a historical context, we could say that the authoritarian Nazis exterminating Jews during the World War II and the authoritarian Jews targeting Palestinians at present psychologically represent the same people.


Authoritarian aggression and submission


Authoritarian aggression has a particular flavor which distinguishes it from other forms of psychopathological violence. Authoritarians aggress in the name of the authorities; they are convinced that they are “right” which to them means that the action is sanctioned by the authorities. They also tend to make sure that they have “might” on their side, which could mean anything from physical size or strength in numbers to more advanced weaponry, which reduces chances of significant retaliation on the part of the victim. They are self-righteous and feel morally superior when assaulting others.

Experiments conducted by social psychologist Stanley Milgram and duplicated later in different variations by other researchers provide data in the area of submission to authority figures in a laboratory setting as well as punishing others with authoritative sanction. Authoritarian types tended to punish others more harshly in a fake learning experiment by choosing higher intensity electric shocks every time the “student” made a mistake in answering the question that was asked.

Also, when asked to express their views on situations involving victimization of others, authoritarians are more likely to blame the victim and exonerate the authority figures from their share of the responsibility. One can see such a dynamic where the role of political figures heading a regime under whom gross humanitarian abuses takes place are defended with arguments like “ he did not know; he only acted on the information his subordinates gave him”.

Thinking Problems

In the area of thinking, authoritarians share some deficiencies affecting most people but they tend to have such deficiencies in greater degrees.

Authoritarians tend to have problems with critical thinking and are more likely to accept a conclusion that they like even if the reasoning used to arrive at that conclusion is logically flawed. Critical thinking dictates that reasoning support conclusions. For authoritarians, the conclusions support the reasoning. Thus authoritarian reasoning has a paralogistic flavor.

Authoritarians have problems with consistency in thought. Their mind appears to be compartmentalized into distinct sections with little communication between them. Thus, they can hold on to several incompatible and inconsistent beliefs at the same time without being aware of them. They have relatively lower levels of self-awareness.

Such problems with thinking give rise to double standards and hypocrisy. Authoritarians tend to be strongly ethnocentric. They have black and white attitude about those who belong to their group and those who are outside of their group. Statements like “ you are either with us or you are against us” illustrate this attitude.

Thinking problems also result in strong dogmatism in the authoritarian mind. On the one hand, lack of critical thinking and compartmentalization of their mind result in authoritarians being highly gullible to propaganda coming from authoritative sources. Once they have imbued these ideas, they defend them with great conviction. They have little insight about why they believe what they believe. So when their beliefs are questioned through reasoning and data, they defend those beliefs by insisting that they are right.

Fear

Fear plays an important role in the authoritarian mindset and often drives their paralogistic reasoning. Generally, authoritarians have a strong fear of a dangerous, lawless world and they support strong authority who promises to make things safe for them. Authoritarians tend to be afraid of outsiders and this fear can easily trigger hostile action. And it is this fear that is exploited by the pathological people in power to induce a hysteroidal state which is a precursor for war and other forms of aggressive persecution that has plagued human civilization for centuries. In recent times, fear mongering through dubious acts of terror paving the way to either war on foreign land or more draconian measures aimed at increasing domestic “security” can be observed in North America.


Discoveries from neuroscience


Thinking problems and lack of self awareness exhibited by authoritarians point to issues with the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is the seat of reasoning, purposeful attention and self-reflection.

In his paper “How Mental Systems Believe” ( original paper pdf link ), Daniel Gilbert proposed that understanding any statement starts with an attempt to believe it. This first phase which usually takes place outside conscious awareness is termed mental representation. After this initial acceptance, we utilize critical thinking, logical reasoning and comparison with existing data in the memory to cast doubt on the incoming data and make the final decision whether to accept the new data or discard it. This is the assessment phase which is more conscious. The prefrontal cortex (PFC) plays a central role in the effortful assessment process of analysis and decision making.

Neuroscientists have identified a specific area within the pfc called the ventromdeial area (or vmPFC) which plays a role in processing emotional input like fear from the amygdala in limbic brain and the process of decision making. Damage to the vmPFC have correlated with suppression of doubt and greater gullibility in humans (
A neuropsychological test of belief and doubt: damage to ventromedial prefrontal cortex increases credulity for misleading advertising
).

Also, focal damage in the vmPFC has been implicated in religious fundamentalism and authoritarianism (
Authoritarianism, religious fundamentalism, and the human prefrontal cortex
).
The study reports that vmPFC patients have acquired deficits in empathy and guilt, tend to manifest punitive behavior, and often endorse moral violations. Reflecting their decreased empathy, healthy authoritarians are also profoundly egocentric as most prominently illustrated by their blindness to their own faults and vices; likewise, vmPFC patients are notable for being egocentric and having poor insight into their own deficits. In sum, the behavioral and personality profile of patients with damage to the vmPFC is strongly reminiscent of authoritarian individuals, consistent with the interpretation that prefrontal damage increases authoritarianism and fundamentalism. This profile arises in the absence of deficits in general intelligence or working memory, consistent with the finding that healthy authoritarians have intact general intelligence. General intelligence tests usually do not question fundamental beliefs or lead to emotional arousal; so it is conceivable that the authoritarian’s performance in this condition does not reveal any serious deficiencies.


Transpersonification

The authoritarian mindset characterized by fear, self-righteousness and impaired thinking skills appears to be the right candidate for the transpersonification phenomenon mentioned in chapter1.
[quote author=Dr L]
You can just imagine our worry, disappointment, and surprise when some colleagues we knew well suddenly began to change their world-view; their thought-patterns furthermore reminded us of the “professor’s” chatter. Their feelings, which had just recently been friendly, became noticeably cooler, although not yet hostile. Benevolent or critical student arguments bounced right of them. They gave the impression of possessing some secret knowledge; we were only their former colleagues, still believing what those professors of old had taught us. We had to be careful of what we said to them.

Our former colleagues soon joined the Party. Who were they, what social groups did they come from, what kind of students and people were they? How and why did they change so much in less than a year? Why did neither I nor a majority of my fellow students succumb to this phenomenon and process? Many such questions fluttered through our heads then.
..........................
It was relatively easy to determine the environments and origin of the people who succumbed to this process, which I then called “transpersonification”. They came from all social groups, including aristocratic and fervently religious families, and caused a break in our student solidarity to the order of some 6 %. The remaining majority suffered varying degrees of personality disintegration which gave rise to individual efforts in searching for the values necessary to find ourselves again; the results were varied and sometimes creative.

Even then, we had no doubts as to the pathological nature of this “transpersonification” process, which ran similar but not identical in all cases. The duration of the results of this phenomenon also varied. Some of these people later became zealots. Others later took advantage of various circumstances to withdraw and re-establish their lost links to the society of normal people. They were replaced. The only constant value of the new social system was the magic number of 6 %.

We tried to evaluate the talent level of those colleagues who had succumbed to this personality-transformation process, and reached the conclusion that on average, it was slightly lower than the average of the student population. Their lesser resistance obviously resided in other bio-psychological features which were most probably qualitatively heterogeneous
[/quote]

Evidence gathered from neuroscience regarding correlation between damages to the pre frontal cortex, gullibility, and authoritarianism coheres with the observation that people more susceptible to the transpersonification process were characterized by some deficits of the instinctive substratum without any significant deficit in the area of general intelligence.

Macro social role

Studies of identical and fraternal twins have revealed some evidence that authoritarianism has hereditary roots. Also, growing up with families where fear of outsiders, religious fundamentalism and unquestioned submission to authority are encouraged while questioning of beliefs is discouraged creates an environment where the authoritarian mind can take root. Public education can encourage authoritarian submission tendencies as well. People who do not have any inherited or organically acquired brain injury related damage in the prefrontal cortex could still suffer from deficiencies in critical reasoning due to environmental conditioning. When the social instinct and desire to belong to a group that is present in most humans is taken into account, it is quite conceivable that a society at large under pathological rule which creates an environment conducive to the authoritarian mindset submits unquestioningly to those in power. This mindset is in evidence even in scientific circles in present times where maintaining the status quo is given more importance than unbiased investigation of reality. This leads to impoverishment in critical areas of scientific, psychological and social knowledge which plays an important role in the intensification and maintenance of psychopathology at the macro social level.

The authoritarians are the people who unwittingly help protect the psychological deviants who often form a core group which runs the affairs of a country from behind the scenes. Authoritarians at various levels thus become the visible face of pathocracy and the instruments through which governance is conducted. Understanding the authoritarian mindset is thus crucial in the study of ponerology.
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
Re: Political Ponerology Book Discussion

Some comments

First, going forward, I would like to ask for help with this ponerology study project. The goal would be to create a new version of "Political Ponerology" which would be more accessible and understandable in the present context.. I am not sure if "Ponerology for Dummies" would be an appropriate title but that can be discussed. Some forum members had earlier expressed the desire to help with such a project; whoever is willing, please volunteer. What I have been finding while re-reading the book and researching is that it is a very useful exercise in training my thinking. The book is not easy to read and understand at a deeper level. Summarizing sections and adding relevant supplementary material based on research findings helps in getting a deeper understanding of this process of ponerization.

Regarding Chapter 3, I proposed addition of the section of authoritarians as I felt that the information resonated well with current situation. Also I think that the transpersonification phenomenon that Dr L talked about could be related to gullibility and the authoritarian mind. The number he reported (6%) is probably much lower than what Altmeyer's criteria would report if support for bush is an index. Is that due to the situation being much worse at present in North America? One important difference is that in Dr L's case, there was a big change of authority when totalitarian regime was established. In North America, the change to the bush administration was less drastic and it has been a steadily worsening process. Some things to think about.

If authoritarians are important as I currently think, then it would be useful to reflect on the internal and external differences between an authoritarian and a normal law abiding person who is hampered by his "egotism of the natural world view". The authoritarian - especially with inherited or acquired PFC damage through physical injury - merge into the lower range of more serious psychopathologies which the book delves into next. It would take effort to suss out the differences between the various categories at a practically useful level.
 

Approaching Infinity

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Re: Political Ponerology Book Discussion

obyvatel said:
Regarding Chapter 3, I proposed addition of the section of authoritarians as I felt that the information resonated well with current situation. Also I think that the transpersonification phenomenon that Dr L talked about could be related to gullibility and the authoritarian mind. The number he reported (6%) is probably much lower than what Altmeyer's criteria would report if support for bush is an index. Is that due to the situation being much worse at present in North America? One important difference is that in Dr L's case, there was a big change of authority when totalitarian regime was established. In North America, the change to the bush administration was less drastic and it has been a steadily worsening process. Some things to think about.
Another possibility is that RWAs fit into the 'middle group' that L discusses. I don't have the reference handy, but he talks about the 6% plus another group (12%?) that tends to follow the 6%. There's also a sentence where he mentions that the 6% group can reach the double digits in certain countries. So the numbers are flexible (possibly by a factor of at least 2 or more). When things get bad enough, I think it's possible that even RWAs (or a group of them) start to resent the government.
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
Re: Political Ponerology Book Discussion

Chapter 4
Ponerology Part I- General Concepts

Since ancient times, sincere philosophers and religious thinkers have focused their efforts on questions regarding what constitutes good moral values and the virtues of human character worth striving for in order to improve individual and social conditions. In spite of the obvious differences among attitudes, the similarity or complimentary nature of the conclusions reached by famous ancients is striking, even though they worked in widely divergent times and places.

It is equally thought-provoking, however, to see how relatively little has been said about the opposite side of the coin - which is the nature, causes, and genesis of evil. These matters are usually cloaked behind the generalized conclusions about moral values and good character with a certain amount of secrecy. Individual and societal evil has been described in expressive, emotional language by playwrights and authors, but such literary efforts do not investigate the roots of such phenomena. Philosophical generalizations do not do justice to the burning questions regarding the nature, causes and genesis of evil; nor does putting emphasis on the virtues of human character and following the proverbial dictum of "see no evil - hear no evil - speak no evil" eliminate evil from human life.

We can look at the field of medicine to draw a comparison by analogy. If physicians behaved like ethicists, and decided that they were primarily interested in studying questions of physical and mental hygiene, there would be no such thing as modern medicine. Even the roots of this health-maintenance science would be hidden in shadows. In spite of the fact that the theory of hygiene has been linked to medicine since its ancient beginnings, physicians were correct in their emphasis upon studying disease above all. They risked their own health and suffered sacrifices in order to discover the causes and biological properties of illnesses and, afterwards, to understand how the disease process progresses in the courses of these illnesses. A comprehension of the nature of a disease, and the course it runs, after all, enables one to develop remedies. Studying evil in a similar manner as disease suggests itself as a potentially productive path to be followed specially with the advances made in the fields of biology, medicine and psychology.

A systematic study of evil using data obtained from these fields is termed PONEROLOGY, derived from the Greek "poneros" meaning evil. Study of psychopathology forms the foundation of ponerology.

Psychopathology

Psychopathology is the study of disease of the mind. Professionals from neuroscience, medicine (psychiatrists) and psychology (clinical psychologists) participate in the study of psychopathology. Dr Lobaczewski was a clinical psychologist and medical worker by profession.

Psychopathology is not to be confused with the term psychopathy which is used loosely in our language. There are various types of pathology of the psyche and as we shall see later, the term psychopathy is used in ponerology as a particular special case of a predatory form of psychopathology.

Components of psychopathology

The study of mental disorders is grouped into certain categories. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) uses a multiaxial model for this purpose, with each axis representing certain information about the disorder. The goal of using such a description is to move towards a better understanding of the functioning of the human being in a wholistic sense.

Axis 1 consists of clinical syndromes and many times (though not always) it is what brings a person in for a diagnosis and treatment. Axis 1 is hierarchical in organization. Anxiety disorders for example can include panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, social phobia, post traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder etc. Mood disorders include depression, bipolar disorder.

Axis 2 represents personality disorders which may play a role in the axis 1 disorder by shaping the individual response to the clinical condition and includes developmental problems and learning disabilities. For example, someone with a rigid personality structure which shows tendencies towards paranoia can suffer from a mood or anxiety related disorder when confronted with certain types of life situation.

Axis 3 represents general physiological and medical conditions which are relevant to the understanding of the disorder afflicting the person. The influence of such conditions can be dramatic - like in the case of head injuries, drug abuse, genetically inherited peculiarities which severely affect the functioning of major body systems; or subtle - like hormonal imbalances, inherited temperament etc.

Axis 4 represents social and environmental factors which affect psychological functioning. Family problems like death or separation, occupational problems like job related stress, general economic conditions etc. contribute a situational component which can play a role in the disorder under study and provides the context in which it is expressed.

Axis 5 functions as an overall index of psychological health and functioning. It translates the observations made from diagnostic information to a measured number in a scale that indicates overall functioning in psychological, social and occupational areas, called Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scale.

Information from axes 2, 3 and 4 represent psychological, biological and social causal factors in the development of psychopathology. Different amounts of emphasis have been placed on these factors in the past - especially psychological and social factors - with incomplete or inadequate data which has led to erroneous conclusions. These factors are often intertwined and we fall into error if we let the emotionality of our natural world view or the intellectual drive to discover a neat, cut and dried explanation hold sway to describe what is in reality a complex, interconnected phenomenon. We must use discretion when evaluating popular ideas regarding psychopathology as well as research findings that attempt to draw generalized conclusions based on data obtained from investigating a particular aspect of the phenomena under study.

Let us look at some examples to illustrate this important point. Freudian psychology was based on the assumption that psychopathological behavior is mental in its origin and is shaped by early childhood experience involving the resolution of sexual conflicts and tensions. Human beings were viewed as neurotic, with a functioning conscious ego identity but tormented by unconscious guilt feelings, which result in developing defensive coping mechanisms. These coping mechanisms were not adaptive to the situation at hand and this resulted in external conflicts exhibiting psychopathological symptoms. When these conflicts were too strong, the ego identity got ruptured and the result was psychosis. Subsequent research has shown that this narrow perspective which characterized the field of psychoanalyses for a significant time was inadequate in explaining the basic psychological condition of the average human population. Freud's psychoanalytic theory is especially misleading in the context of ponerology and the condition of the small psychologically deviant percentage of the human population. Current research and clinical observation data show that this section of the human population does not belong to the universal neurotic category and are not tormented by inner guilt arising out of sexual tensions. Rather, their pathology is characterized by a lack of guilt and an instinctive drive towards domination over others.

The importance of interpersonal experiences in childhood regarding personality development and learning has been studied extensively as part of the "nurture" theory. Due to its relevance and applicability in a relatively wide range of situations, attempts are made to explain psychopathology as a consequence of dysfunctional or traumatic childhood experiences. Yet research data showed that in many cases, there were no substantial differences in the childhood experiences between normal and psychopathological cases. Adults who face devastating childhood experiences not only survive but become well-adjusted members of the society while others who experience far more idealistic and nurturing environments in childhood show significantly pathological characteristics through out their life. Consequently, using childhood experience as necessary (as in these experiences must be present in the personal history for pathology to be exhibited later in life) or sufficient (as in these experiences by themselves cause pathological behavior) cause for psychopathology proved to be erroneous in general terms, especially with regard to the small psychologically deviant percentage of the human population.

While acknowledging the complex interplay between various factors in the genesis of psychopathology, a general statement can be made that axis 3 factors contributing to defects in the instinctive substratum constitute arguably the strongest causal force in the genesis of pathological deviants comprising that small portion of the human population who play a central role in ponerology. The environmental and social factors coming from axis 2 and 4 continue to play an important role in the development of pathological characteristics in those people who do not develop significant defects from axis 3 factors, but are subject to the influence of people who do suffer from axis 3 defects.

Personality, Character and Temperament

It is useful to distinguish between personality, character and temperament as these terms are often used interchangeably without adequate distinction in our common language.

The word personality comes from the Latin "persona" used to represent the masks worn by actors when giving a theatrical performance in old times. Today, the term personality has taken the meaning of including hidden traits along with the more obvious characteristics that are discernible from the outside. Psychological theorist and researcher Theodore Millon defines personality as "a complex pattern of deeply embedded psychological characteristics that are expressed automatically in almost every area of psychological functioning" [1]. Personality, in this view, is not treated like a false pretense or mask, but as a set of traits, preferred thinking and behavioral patterns that define a unique style of relating with the world.

The word character comes from Old French and Greek words which mean to engrave or furrow a distinctive mark. The word character has been used to denote the most distinguished marks of an individual as a social being. Psychologist George Simon defines character as "those distinct aspects of personality that reflect the presence and strength of a person's virtues, personal ethics, social conscientiousness and depth of commitment to respect-worthy and meritorious social conduct" [2].

The word temperament comes from Latin words which mean a mixture of different elements. In psychology, the word temperament is used to denote innate biological traits which dispose a person towards certain behaviors. Every child is born with a certain temperament which is unique to the individual and continues to play a role in shaping the personality through patterning of the social influences that the child is exposed to.

Pathological Factors in Ponerology

Many scholars in the field of ethics believe that evil in this world represents a kind of web or continuum of mutual conditioning. Within this interlocking structure, one kind of evil feeds and opens doors for others. This may happen even without the conscious intention of the individual who sets off a chain reaction through his actions and writings often acting in a different place and a different time. The role of pathological factors in a process of the origin of evil can be played by any known, or not yet sufficiently researched, psychopathological phenomenon, and also by some pathological matters medical practice does not include within psychopathology. However, their activity in a ponerogenic process is dependent on features other than the obviousness or intensity of the condition. If someone displays obvious psychopathological factors at an intensity that is disruptive to social life, it could be relatively easier to recognize and deal with. In most cases where evil goes unnoticed and spreads through the previously mentioned web of mutual conditioning, the psychopathology remains hidden from public notice and escapes the social safety net which operates on emotion-laden moralistic interpretations constituting our natural world view. Such pathological factors could potentially be discerned through more objective clinical methods if they were employed at the time but the fact is pathological deviants do not submit themselves to psychological evaluations unless their family or society force them to it.

While studying the pathological factors that play a key role in the genesis of evil (ponerogenesis), we should arm ourselves with knowledge that helps us make positive identification of such factors so that we can take precautionary measures to psychologically protect ourselves and our environment from their effects. At the same time, we should be careful to not make hasty judgments which lead to false-positive identification where we mistake a relatively benign or a psychological problem of a different nature to be ponerogenic in origin. The latter error is termed “false positive paradox” which tends to occur when the incidence rate of a condition is relatively low, which is the case for primary pathological deviance in the human population. So we must take care not to mistake either a normal condition as an infected one, or consider an infected condition to be the primary infecting agent.

One example of the first kind of error is similar to what is experienced by beginner medical students who often feel that they are having the symptoms of the disease they are studying. In the context of psychopathology, one may wonder when reading about paranoid disorders whether they are a little paranoid themselves. Being cautious and vigilant in an uncertain environment is an evolutionarily adaptive trait and sometimes can appear as paranoia, but as we shall see later, paranoid processes as they pertain to ponerology have distinctively different features.

The second kind of error of mistaking the infected as the primary infecting agent needs more subtle discrimination. Certain disorders exhibit psychopathological traits (e.g. Schizophrenia) but do not usually play a major role in ponerogenesis. The schizophrenic paranoia, though psychopathological, is often an expression of developmental challenges and is different in dynamics from the ponerogenic paranoid process.
Authoritarian followers described in the previous chapter on the other hand do have maladaptive behavioral traits and may carry in some cases defects of the instinctive substratum (axis 3 problems) and often play a role supporting and spreading ponerogenic processes. However, their role in ponerogenesis is usually secondary in nature.


Thus, we must make efforts to distinguish between the normal and the psychopathological, as well as identify what is psychopathological and ponerogenic. This is necessary for us to ensure that our energy and efforts towards increasing personal and social immunity to this disease of evil is channeled productively without causing undue harm. As awareness of ponerology increases in the society, we can expect that increasing efforts would be made to obscure the origins of this phenomenon. Setting up false positive identifications is one of the most expedient methods of distracting researchers and investigators who are investigating a phenomenon but do not have enough knowledge about what they are studying as yet.

Before moving on to the description of some specific pathological factors that play a key role in ponerology, let us consider a few general features which constitute the same pathological factors, contrasting them with their normal and non-ponerogenic variations.

Normal, psychoneurotic and ponerogenic characteristics

We mentioned in Chapter 2 that the human personality develops through a process of disintegration and reintegration. The disintegration or the extinction phase involves weakening and breaking down of previously established response patterns to life situations. The integration phase involves formation of new or stronger characteristic ways of responding to life situations. One starts from a state in childhood where more self-centric, rigid, primitive, instinctive response patterns govern the behavior.

Development is positive in direction when there is an increase in social relatedness and adaptability along with acquisition and strengthening of character (which was defined earlier in the chapter). During this process which is driven by a combination of external circumstances and internal motivation, an individual passes through states where he questions himself feeling dissatisfied with the way he is, sometimes feeling astonished and ashamed at some of his thoughts and action patterns. The process of positive development thus involves phases where an individual is more vulnerable and sensitive in experiencing and responding to life situations. Successful resolution of the inner conflicts results in the adoption of more flexible thinking and behavioral patterns which are socially adaptive and show more consideration for others. This is the new level of integration for the personality.

Depending on the circumstances, when some developmental challenges cannot be met successfully, a disintegrative state can persist for longer periods, characterized by anxiety, hypersensitivity or depression. Such states can seem pathological when viewed from outside but a careful analysis and study reveals the true nature of such phenomena. Polish psychologist Dr Dabrowski refers to such disintegrative states characterized by feelings of shame and inferiority towards oneself, internal conflicts between a hierarchy of higher and lower values as psychoneuroses [3]. Once the challenges are identified, the person stuck in a disintegrative state for longer than usual time periods can be helped to overcome the cognitive or behavioral blocks which are preventing the completion of the needed developmental tasks. If the individual is overwhelmed by the challenges facing him and does not receive the assistance needed to overcome this state, then development is stalled and the personality structure can either disintegrate to pathological forms of psychoses or reintegrate at a lower developmental level which is characterized by more rigid response patterns. The first outcome of failed development leading to psychoses is easy to discern and such people often live greatly diminished lives under some level of medical supervision. The second outcome of reintegration at a lower developmental level is a little more difficult to distinguish. Such people suffer from a sense of failure and can develop elaborate defense mechanisms to compensate. In some cases, the result may be the diagnosis of some personality disorder.

While successful positive integration at a higher level than the starting point lies on one end of the spectrum of development, negative integration belongs at the other end. Negative integration is characterized by a primitive and inflexible structure of personality, with an intelligence which is driven by a set of instincts like ambition, pride, security, power, need to dominate others. Unlike normal positive development or the case of psychoneurosis, there is no internal conflict. There is only external conflict when the world at large acts to frustrate the instinctive drives from fulfilling their desires. In the course of conflict with the external world, it is the external world that is refashioned through suspicion, delusions, aggressiveness and even crime. There is no feeling of inferiority towards oneself; in contrast there are delusions of superiority of the self over others which may take up grandiose proportions in some cases. This sense of superiority of the self and perceived inferiority of others is not a result of a defense mechanism to protect a wounded or low self esteem – as can happen in cases of psychoneuroses – but is a result of a predatory aggressive instinct. There is no authentic shame or remorse when confronted over wrongdoings, though there could be a show of pseudo-emotion to manipulate and fool the gullible. Empathy and a sense of relatedness to other humans are absent. Relationship to others is more in the lines of objects to be used to satisfy one’s instinctive cravings. With some variations, what is described as the state of negative integration forms the core of the psychopath.

Paranoia arising out of a primitive or low level of integration is characterized by delusions of grandeur, delusions of persecution and feelings of superiority, which are expressive of strong primitive instincts on the one hand. On the other hand, there is suspiciousness expressed in the conviction that the environment has been organized to paralyze, fight and destroy the paranoid’s personal interests. A primitively integrated paranoid person has no counteracting mental forces within himself, so he does not suffer from inner conflict or self-questioning. A strongly paranoid person has no corrective powers with respect to his own impulsive behavior. Such a person can equip his house for safety to an exceptional degree. Paranoia can lead psychopaths in power to suddenly change their bodyguards or the whole security force and react on the least suspicion with persecution, aggression and cruelty.

Deviant individuals with an inherent tendency towards negative integration can show tendencies towards paranoid states based on environmental conditions. From generally available data, it could be said that leaders like Hitler and Stalin displayed paranoid characteristics in their childhood [3]. Paranoia as a low level negative disintegration process which when carried to an extreme – like when the pathological deviant is comprehensively thwarted in his efforts to fulfill the goals dictated by their instinctive drives - can lead to psychoses and a breakdown of the personality structure. However, in most cases of paranoia and paranoid like symptoms arising out of a low negative level of personality integration, there is no complete dissolution of personality structure. If endowed with enough intelligence, such a paranoid person can skillfully hide his delusional nature behind a thin veneer of acceptable behavior appropriate to the situation at hand. When such persons occupy positions of social and political power, they cause immense harm to normal society. Negatively integrated personalities with different levels of paranoid and delusional symptoms form the nucleus of ponerogenesis.


Having looked at the ponerogenic version of the paranoid character, let us look at the normal and psychoneurotic versions of the same. Millon describes the normal variant of the paranoid personality: “Oldham and Morris (1995) have proposed a “normal” variant of the paranoid: the vigilant style. Vigilant persons are highly independent, value their freedom, and are sensitive to issues of power, authority, and domination. They are cautious and reserved in dealing with others and enter relationships only after careful consideration. According to these authors, they not only listen to what others say but also pick up subtle meanings and expectations at multiple levels. When under attack, they quickly defend themselves and are not shy about doing so. Further, they are touchy where criticism is concerned but not easily intimidated, and they readily defend what they see as inalienable rights. Fidelity and loyalty are among their highest values, and they thrive when communication is direct and nonthreatening. Many such individuals find a valued niche somewhere in society “ [1].

Dabrowski contrasts schizophrenic paranoia as a psychoneurotic characteristic with the ponerogenic version of paranoia. A schizophrenic feels persecuted by others as well. However, schizophrenics are hypersensitive in terms of injury to their psyche and have a constitutional difficulty in adapting to the world. When going through painful and profound experiences, schizophrenics guard themselves against contact with people in various ways, principally by way of external unconcern and negativity. The internal struggle between the need for contact and the dread of it can give rise to impulsive or violent behavior. They can also guard themselves by passivity and catatonic attitude, by running away from the environment, and especially the doctor, and by absurd and grotesque behavior, if there are no other ways of covering themselves. Schizophrenics have a considerably lower resistance to external stimuli, higher fragility, greater infantilism, and a weaker instinctive structure. It should be noted that light dissociative processes characterize, as a rule, hypersensitive individuals and also individuals with a tendency for extended periods of development. Schizophrenics are predisposed to disintegration. When the influence of the environment is abnormal, when instead of long periods, short periods of development are imposed, then with a weak constitution, the patient may not withstand the developmental tensions and fall into pathological dissolution and reactive psychosis [4]. In essence, it can be said that psychoneurotic version of paranoia as experienced by the schizophrenic personality is primarily a defense mechanism which protects a hypersensitive psyche.


References

[1] Millon T, Millon C, Meagher S, Grossman S, Ramnath R. (2004). Personality Disorders In Modern Life .Wiley.

[2] Simon, George K. (2011). Character Disturbance: the phenomenon of our age. Parkhurst Brothers Publishers Inc.

[3] Dabrowski, Kazimierz. (1973). The Dynamics Of Concepts. Gryf Publications Ltd. London.

[4] Dabrowski, Kazimierz. (1972). Psychoneuroses Is Not An Illness. Gryf Publications Ltd. London.
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
Re: Political Ponerology Book Discussion

Acquired Deviations

Let us take a look at some specific cases of pathological factors that play a key role in ponerology. Axis 3 defects caused by brain injury related to physical trauma or action of toxins, viruses or bacteria, as well as drugs (some cytostatic drugs used to treat abnormal cell growth or neoplasia is one example) can give rise to acquired deviations which affect the instinctive substratum. The location of the damage inside the brain and the time of life when such damage occurred are important factors which affect the progression and effect of such problems. Regarding pathological factors of ponerogenic processes, perinatal or early infant damages have more active results than damages which occurred later. Brain tissue lesions can often go undetected in the absence of significant physiological symptoms. The negative deformation of character that happen due to brain tissue damage grows with time and the specific form it takes is depenedent on the social and environmental conditions the person is exposed to. Let us call such deformations of character characteropathies. Some characteropathies play an outstanding role as pathological agents in the processes of the genesis of evil. Let us characterize the most active ones.

Characteropathy

Characteropathies reveal a certain similar quality, if the clinical picture is not mixed up by the coexistence of other mental anomalies (usually inherited), which sometimes occur in practice. Undamaged brain tissue retains our characteristic natural psychological properties. This is particularly evident in instinctive and emotional responses, which are natural, though often insufficiently controlled. The control of instinctive and emotional impulses happens through the frontal cortex, which is evolutionarily the youngest part of the brain. Damage to the frontal cortex often give rise to characteropathies. The experience of people with such anomalies grows out of the normal human world to which they belong by nature. Thus their different way of thinking, their emotional violence, and their egotism find relatively easy entry into other people’s minds and are perceived within the categories of the natural world-view. Such behavior on the part of persons with such character disorders traumatizes the minds and feelings of normal people, gradually diminishing their ability to use their common sense. In spite of their resistance, people become used to the rigid habits of pathological thinking and experiencing. In young people, as a result, the personality suffers abnormal development leading to its malformation. They thus represent pathological, ponerogenic factors which, by their covert activity, easily engender new phases in the eternal genesis of evil, opening the door to a later activation of other factors which thereupon take over the main role.

A relatively well-documented example of such an influence of a characteropathic personality on a macro-social scale is the last German emperor, Wilhelm II. He was subjected to brain trauma at birth. During and after his entire reign, his physical and psychological handicap was hidden from public knowledge. The motor abilities of the upper left portion of his body were handicapped. As a boy, he had difficulty learning grammar, geometry, and drawing, which constitutes the typical triad of academic difficulties caused by minor brain lesions. He developed a personality with infantile features and insufficient control over his emotions, and also a somewhat paranoid way of thinking which easily sidestepped the heart of some important issues in the process of dodging problems.

Militaristic poses and a general’s uniform overcompensated for his feelings of inferiority and effectively cloaked his shortcomings. Politically, his insufficient control of emotions and factors of personal rancor came into view. The old Iron Chancellor, that cunning and ruthless politician who had been loyal to the monarchy and had built up Prussian power, was removed from his position. After all, he was too knowledgeable about the prince’s defects and had worked against his coronation. A similar fate met other overly critical people, who were replaced by persons with lesser brains, more subservience, and, sometimes, discreet psychological deviations. Negative selection took place.

Many Germans were progressively deprived of their ability to use their common sense because of impingement of psychological material of the characteropathic type. Common people are prone to idolize and identify with the emperor, and by such, with a system of government. Without a knowledge of the emperor and the government’s pathology, common people uncritically accepted their way of thinking. As a consequence, a new generation grew up with deformities regarding feeling and understanding moral, psychological, social and political realities. It became commonplace in many German families containing a member who was psychologically not quite normal, to hide this fact from public opinion, and even from the awareness of close friends and relatives, as a matter of honor. Even criminal conduct was covered up. Large portions of society ingested psychopathological material, together with that unrealistic way of thinking wherein slogans take on the power of rational arguments and real data is processed through a distorted filter thus distorting reality.

This occurred during a time when a wave of hysteria was growing throughout Europe, including a tendency for emotions to dominate and for human behavior to contain an element of histrionics. This progressively took over three empires and other countries on the mainland. To what extent did Wilhelm II contribute to this, along with two other emperors whose minds also did not take in the actual facts of history and government? To what extent were they themselves influenced by an intensification of hysteria during their reigns? That would make an interesting topic of discussion among historians and ponerologists.
International tensions increased; Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo. However, neither the Kaiser nor any other governmental authority in his country possessed reason. What came into play was Wilhelm’s emotional attitude and the stereotypes of thought and action inherited from the past. War broke out. General war plans prepared earlier, which had lost their relevance under the new conditions, unfolded more like military maneuvers. Even those historians familiar with the genesis and character of the Prussian state, including its ideological subjugation of individuals to the authority of king and emperor, and its tradition of bloody expansionism, intuit that these situations contained some activity of an unknown factor that eludes an analysis in terms of historical causality. Ponerological study provides clues towards the nature of this unknown factor.

Many thoughtful persons keep asking the same anxious question: how could the German nation have chosen for a Fuehrer a clownish psychopath like Hitler who made no bones about his pathological vision of superman rule? Under his leadership, Germany then unleashed a second criminal and politically absurd war. During the second half of this war, highly-trained army officers honorably performed inhuman orders, senseless from the political and military point of view, issued by a man whose psychological state corresponded to the routine criteria for being forcibly committed to psychiatric hospitalization.
Any attempt to explain the things that occurred during the first half of the twentieth century by means of categories generally accepted in historical thought leaves behind a nagging feeling of inadequacy. Only a ponerological approach can compensate for this deficit in our comprehension, as it does justice to the role of various pathological factors in the genesis of evil at every social level.

Fed for a generation on pathologically altered psychological material, the German nation fell into a state comparable to what we see in certain individuals raised by persons who are both characteropathic and hysterical. Psychologists know from experience how often such people then let themselves commit acts which seriously hurt others. A psychotherapist needs a good deal of persistent work, skill, and prudence in order to enable such a person to regain his ability to comprehend psychological problems with more naturalistic realism and to utilize his healthy critical faculties in relation to his own behavior.
The Germans inflicted and suffered enormous pain during the first World War; they thus felt no substantial guilt and even thought they had been wronged, as they were behaving in accordance with their customary habit, without being aware of its pathological causes. The need for this state to be clothed in heroic garb after a war in order to avoid bitter disintegration became all too common. A mysterious craving arose, as if the social organism had managed to become addicted to some drug. That was the hunger for pathologically modified psychological material, a phenomenon known to psychotherapeutic experience. This hunger could only be satisfied by another similarly pathological personality and system of government. A characteropathic personality like Wilhelm II opened the door for leadership by a psychopathic individual like Hitler. We shall return later in our deliberations to this pathological personality sequence, as it appears a general regularity in ponerogenic processes. Astute readers can find similar parallels in the present day political context.

A ponerological approach helps our understanding of a person who succumbed to the influence of a characteropathic personality, as well as comprehending the macro-social infection that takes place from the contribution of such factors.


Paranoid Characteropathy

Paranoid character disorders may be caused by some brain tissue damage or from being raised in an environment of psychological terror by people who have some degree of brain tissue damage.

In the case of brain tissue damage, typical examples would be problems in the diencephalon which includes the hypothalamus and thalamus. The hypothalamus forms part of a complex control pathway which communicates with the endocrine system as well as the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system. In the case of paranoid character disorders from damage to the diencephalon, there is reduced neural inhibition. We have two types of neural activity - excitatory and inhibitory. Simplistically speaking, the excitatory mechanism ensures that neurons fire and propagate electrical signals over large areas of the brain. The inhibitory mechanism regulates this activation response by stabilizing the excitation by subtracting from the excitatory pathways through negative feedback. At a higher level, inhibitory mechanisms segregate the areas of neural activation and helps in directing the activation response through restricted pathways. When brain imaging is done, certain areas of the brain “light up” or show activation depending on the type of stimulus presented. This is made possible by the combined action of excitatory and inhibitory mechanisms within the brain. In the case of paranoid characteropathy, the reduced inhibition may result in runaway thoughts during sleepless nights which give rise to a paranoid changed view of human reality, as well as to ideas which can be either gently naive or violently revolutionary.

In the case of people who are free from brain lesions, the psychological terror of childhood cause abnormal development. Rigid thinking and compartmentalization like what is seen in authoritarian followers can be observed as the terror of childhood experiences blocks certain psychological contents from coming up to consciousness and being processed rationally. Such people would easily belong in a group of authoritarians.

It is characteristic of paranoid behavior for people to be capable of relatively correct reasoning and discussion as long as the conversation involves minor differences of opinion. This stops abruptly when the partner’s arguments begin to undermine their overvalued ideas, crush their long-held stereotypes of reasoning, or force them to accept a conclusion they had subconsciously rejected before. Such a situation unleashes upon the partner a torrent of pseudo-logical, largely paramoralistic, often insulting utterances which always contain some degree of suggestion. Utterances like these inspire aversion among cultivated and logical people, but they enslave less critical minds, e.g. people with other kinds of psychological deficiencies, who were earlier the objects of the egotistical influence of individuals with character disorders. Such people fall prey to the paranoid’s world view which often gives the appearance of being internally consistent but is flawed at the source since it is based on a deformed view of the world and human beings. Paranoid individuals become aware of their enslaving influence through experience and attempt to take advantage of it in a pathologically egotistic manner.


The revolutionary leader Lenin could be included with the first and most characteristic kind of paranoid personality, i.e. most probably due to diencephalic brain damage. Arthur Grossman describes him more or less as follows:

Lenin was always tactful, gentle, and polite, but simultaneously characterized by an excessively sharp, ruthless, and brutal attitude to political opponents. He never allowed any possibility that they might be even minimally right, nor that he might be even minimally wrong – a manifestation of pathological egotism. He would often call his opponents hucksters, lackeys, servant-boys, mercenaries, agents, or Judases bribed for thirty pieces of silver – which are examples of the use of paramoralisms and suggestive phrases. He made no attempt to persuade his opponents during a dispute. He communicated not with them, but rather with those witnessing the dispute, in order to ridicule and compromise his adversaries. Sometimes such witnesses were just a few people, sometimes thousands of delegates to a congress, sometimes millions worth throngs of newspaper readers. The method of communication was designed to enslave the mind of the listeners through suggestion and manipulation.

Frontal Characteropathy

The frontal areas of the cerebral cortex (area 10 according to the Brodmann division) are virtually present in no creature except man and they are composed of the phylogenetically youngest nervous tissue. Brodmann area 10 is referred to as being part of the rostral prefrontal cortex. It is comparatively large in size within the human brain and it terms of development, it is among the last areas where the neurons get their protective covering of the myelin sheath. This area has been identified as playing an important role in thinking in terms of analogies [5] which is instrumental in abstract and creative thinking. This area is also implicated in prospective memory tasks which involve forming a mental map of the future enabling us to act in an organized manner [6]. The capacity for this ability of holding a number of imaginary elements (sensory stimulus independent thought in scientific terms) and subjecting them to contemplation and planning varies among different people.

Brain cortex damage in these areas selectively impairs the above mentioned function without impairing retrospective memory (memory of past events, words, people etc.) , associative capacity, or, in particular, such instinct-based feelings and functions as, for instance, the ability to intuit a psychological situation. The general intelligence of an individual is thus not greatly reduced. Children with such a defect are almost normal students; difficulties emerge suddenly in upper grades only in those affect parts of the curriculum which place burden on abstract thinking capacity. The non-damaged functions overdevelop and try to compensate for the defect in the cognitive area resulting in more emphasis on instinctive and emotional processing. Relatively energetic people can become aggressive and confrontational, risk-happy and brutal in both word and deed. Those with frontal cortex damage do not suffer from the natural doubt and self-questioning that normal human beings struggle with. They become adept at using mental short-cuts to cover the deficiency in thinking ability and tend to provide quick oversimplified judgments on complex matters. They tend to view themselves as being superior to other people who usually suffer from internal conflict and go through effortful deliberation in their decision making processes. Certain types of instinctive functions may get over-developed to compensate for intellectual defects and result in an enhanced ability to intuit a psychological situation. Such intuition is however stuck at a lower level of development without the enriching input from higher level intellectual functions like abstract thinking and higher emotional functions like empathy. But this low level intuitive ability coupled with confident, oversimplified decision making style have a spell-binding influence on people who have insufficient knowledge of psychological reality, bypassing their common sense with ease. A large proportion of people tend to credit such individuals with special powers, thereby succumbing to their egotistic beliefs.

Dr Lobaczewski considered Stalin as an exemplar of frontal characteropathy, brought about by perinatal damage to his brain’s prefrontal fields. Literature and news about Stalin described him as brutal and charismatic, given to issuing irrevocable decisions characterized by inhuman ruthlessness and pathological revengefulness directed against anyone who got in his way. Stalin suffered from pathological egotism, considering himself as brilliant whereas from all available evidence, his intelligence appears to be average. This also explains his dependence on a psychopath like Beria who became the head of the secret police and later, minister of internal affairs. Stalin’s daughter recounts her father’s irrevocable decisions as follows:
“Whenever he threw out of his heart someone whom he had known for a long time, classifying him among his “enemies” in his soul, it was impossible to talk to him about that person. The reverse process became impossible for him, namely persuasion that he was not his enemy, and any attempts in that direction made him fly into a rage. Redens, Uncle Pavlusha, and A.S. Svanidze were incapable of doing anything about it; all they accomplished was to have my father break off contacts and withdraw his trust. After seeing any of them for the last time, he said goodbye as if to a potential foe, one of his “enemies”

One knows what being “thrown out of the heart” of Stalin meant in practical terms. When we contemplate the scope of the evil Stalin helped to bring about, we should always take this most ponerogenic characteropathy into account and attribute the proper portion of the “blame” to it; unfortunately, it has not yet been sufficiently studied. We have to consider many other pathologic deviations as they played essential roles in this macro-social phenomenon. Without a ponerological study of the history of Russia under Stalin, we are not going to get an accurate picture of the factors that played a major role in shaping the horrendous events which characterized those times.

On a lesser scale, frontal characteropathy can play a big role in shaping the development of members in a family where one member with such a defect has an insidious influence on others. Dr Lobaczewski recounts his experience of studying a generation of members of a Polish family where the elder sister suffered from perinatal damage to her frontal centers. Her four younger brothers came assimilated her influence especially the hysterical component of her behavior. This seriously affected their development and they had an unhealthy view of the world and relationships. They were ready to defend their sister against any legitimate critical comments using unsavory methods, treating such criticism as an attack on their family honor. The brothers accepted as real their sister’s pathological delusions about her husband, who happened to be a decent man, as well as her son, whom she made a scapegoat to avenge her failures. None of the brothers ever created a healthy family of their own.

Character disorders arising out of brain tissue damage behave like insidious factors in the genesis of evil. Carriers of such disorders exert an unhealthy influence over the minds of others who progressively lose their ability to evaluate reality in a psychologically healthy way. This becomes possible as the defects from characteropathy usually does not seriously impair basic instinctive and emotional abilities which strike a common chord with normal people.. But as their influence infects and weakens the psychological immune system of a social group, the door is opened for the entry of other ponerogenic agents who carry inherited psychological deviations and are far more different than normal people at a fundamental level. In order to protect society from such a state, it becomes important to identify people with characteropathies early on and prevent them from acquiring positions of social power especially in the government where their behavior and actions can influence large number of people. Such identification and evaluation should be carried out by professionals with medical and psychological training and a reputation for mature wisdom. Characteropaths suffering from brain tissue damage are easier to identify based on medical tests and psychological evaluations than carriers of inherited deviations like essential psychopaths. Thus, identifying and limiting the role of characteropaths in social life effectively halts the ponerogenic process in its early stages and prevents the spread of infection of evil at a larger systemic level.

References

[5] Volle E, Gilbert S, Benoit R, Burgess P. (2010). Specialization of the Rostral Prefrontal Cortex for Distinct Analogy Processes. Cereb Cortex. 2010 November; 20(11): 2647–2659. Online doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhq012

[6] Burgess et.al (2003). The role of the rostral frontal cortex (area 10) in prospective memory. Neuropsychologia. 2003;41(8):906-18.
 
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