Defining evil in this presidential election | Letter to the Editor

In a well-known book, "People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil" (1983), psychiatrist M. Scott Peck explored the nature of evil from his distinctly religious as well as psychological perspective.

  • Thursday, October 13, 2016 4:12pm
  • Opinion

In a well-known book, “People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil” (1983), psychiatrist M. Scott Peck explored the nature of evil from his distinctly religious as well as psychological perspective.

In his view, evil manifests as a malignant self-righteousness with an active refusal to tolerate imperfection. This syndrome results in a projection of evil (imperfection or incompetence) onto selected specific innocent victims.

Peck points out that “sin” in the Judeo-Christian sense leads one to “miss the mark” and fall short of perfection, and while most people are aware of this imperfection, those that are evil refuse to accept this awareness actively and adamantly (self-deception, not necessarily sociopathy).

Peck’s research determined that there are nine characteristics of an evil person:

1. Self deception in order to avoid guilt and maintain a self-image of perfection;

2. Self-deception leads to consistent deceiving of others;

3. Projects his sins onto specific targets (scapegoats), while behaving normally with everyone else;

4. Publicly “hates” while pretending love as his motivation (again, self-deceiving as much as deception of others);

5. Abuses emotional (political) power (“imposition of one’s will upon others by overt or covert coercion”);

6. Maintains strong image of respectability and lies incessantly to do so;

7. Consistent not in magnitude of his sins but in the level of destructiveness;

8. Unable to think from viewpoint of his target victim;

9. Has total intolerance to criticism or exposure of his defects.

Having read this far and, I hope, reflected upon our presidential election, do you see any of the candidates who seem to meet all or most of the characteristics?

Robert DuChaine


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