An article from Ovi magazine by Alexandra Pereira
I know that I can be crucified for this article. But I don’t really care. It is my opinion, I have been thinking like that (and about that) for a long time. I think we should all consider it seriously and try to develop serious efforts in this sense. This is really about our balance as societies and individuals, and the prevalence of constructive and positive bonds over deception and global destruction.
We human beings know instinctively and through our life experiences that there are human beings among us who have moral holes, a moral vacuum, lack of empathy, extreme and destructive hate inside them, very cunning manipulative skills – all these characteristics harm both other individuals and the society, mining its long-term goals, destroying solidarity, spreading unseen or not witnessed crime and persecution, destroying bonds, potentials, dreams and lives. We cannot live deluded in wonderland saying to ourselves that such humans don’t exist. On the other hand, once we admit that such humans do exist, our knowledge brings responsibility with it: we have to recognize how harmful are the consequences of their actions and take serious measures to prevent those from happening.
Anybody who studied a bit of psychology or the functioning of the human mind knows that we can differentiate clearly several types of human personalities, and while many are constructive or innocuous, a few of them are extremely toxic, destructive by nature, cruel, unchangeable, extremely manipulative and harming to others. We know this is true, and the harm and pain that these personalities provoke in others, the destruction they leave behind them as well as their impunity, cannot be collectively ignored. It would be extremely irresponsible to do so.
Most people commit mistakes, are occasionally selfish, have flaws, have feelings, have guilt, have reparation needs, have dreams, have doubts, have occasional conflicts (and not extremely unsurpassable ones, as they also have a sense of negotiation, flexibility and empathy), mostly try to build positive relationships and bonds, they can lie occasionally about minor things with no greatly harming consequences, above all they love truth and its priceless outcomes for their lives, they have empathy, have feelings, have a sense of the right and wrong, have affective resonance and sensibility, have problems and dilemmas, suffer, have sense of humor, have creativity, have a sense of fidelity, a sense of community and a sense of responsibility, and a need to trust and bond in spite of anything.
We do know that the level of negative impact of the most harming personalities is profoundly and qualitatively different: they don’t feel guilt (but are experts in taking advantage of guilty feelings of others), they don’t have a sense of right and wrong (which allows any behaviour to be “legitimate”), they don’t feel or hardly feel anything (but can mimic human emotions masterfully), don’t have empathy and can’t feel true sadness, are unscrupulous, they hurt compulsively, emotionally blood-suck others, and have a deep love for lies and deception, a fatal attraction to power, they attack other humans’ self-esteem, self-confidence and reality perception in several ways, are sadistic, manipulate and cheat, and are driven by destruction impulses and death desires. They represent the dark side of humanity, where we don’t want to look in. And we know all those things about them also scientifically – it is not hard to understand, as it is part of everyone’s common experience.
Most people are in fact qualitatively different from psychopaths, sociopaths and narcissists – and that is what allows the latter to so drastically harm, manipulate and influence others, because they know it too (and are masters of using it for their own purposes, which logics often escapes most humans). We know scientifically that common people have relatively few defences against this. This is proven and felt by many. And this is something we can’t ignore once we know it. It is extremely urgent that we develop clear diagnosis methods for such personalities.
We have personality tests but we know that such individuals usually lie/deceive during both interviews and tests. We have polygraphs (which are expensive, not easily accessible instruments and not 100% reliable) based on merely physiological signs, but we know that especially these harming individuals can cheat the polygraphs. We know that we just have to try a little bit harder, and such instruments can be available… if we want to! The answer will probably come from both genetics and neurosciences’ research. We have detected the structures in our brain responsible for empathy and morality that took us a little bit closer. We also know the typical brain patterns of common people when they are depressed, and we know that the most harmful personalities can’t get depressed (although they can mimic cry at times, specially to manipulate others into doing, feeling or thinking something “useful” for them).
We know that we will be able to find at least specific brain functioning patterns (areas of brain activation, electrical patterns) in given situations, specific of these individuals, and the genetic characteristics of these personalities (genetic proof would probably be found faster and more unmistakably). We’re just this close, and we just need a push! Above all, we need will! Once we can do it, it will have profound effects on the way we see ourselves and the ones surrounding us. Once we can do it, there’s no return – thank God – to the illusory innocence of perverse masks and deceiving realities, but there will be abundant space and protection for the kind at heart, and for goodness and solidarity and constructive goals to grow both socially and inside our homes.
The key seems to be not in “perfecting” human races’ phenotype through genetics, like the Nazis wanted to, but in identifying the genotype of the most harmful human beings. We have to have objective ways of identifying the most harming and deceiving personalities. It is a matter of protecting citizens, but also a matter of survival of our societies at large. These individuals can commit personal crimes, social crimes and crimes against humanity. More than that: it would lead to deep social changes. That is why it demands political courage and determination, not only research, to do this. We wouldn’t have paradise on earth, but we would surely have more pleasant and safe societies. States would save billions in expenses. Nonetheless, some State members wouldn’t feel safe, as they could be subjected to such instruments too. This can be one of the obstacles to the development of these instruments.
Let’s be clear. I am not talking here about many teenager delinquents who act out. I’m not even referring to people who live in extremely poor social conditions and are forced to steal food or do something which is not completely legal because otherwise they won’t survive. I am not talking about them simply because many of these people don’t have such personalities. I am talking about deeply democratic and truthful instruments. These instruments do not serve law and political control; they serve humans and the goals and dreams of our collective societies (making them more liveable) and our individuals.
Because I am talking about the most harming, dangerous and deceiving personalities among us – the ones justice cannot prove or does not find enough evidence of their crimes, and personality tests cannot clarify while interviews don’t work because of manipulation and incredible acting skills by these individuals. Because they are qualitatively different and unchangeable, I truly believe there is a genetic basis for these personalities. Brain patterns and functioning (especially when asked certain questions) would prove the activity of such genetic traits, its characteristics and answers to the surrounding environment. Human justice is based on facts. Facts always demand a more or less high level of concreteness or scientific certainty. There’s no way around it.
Of course we could always turn to God’s mercy and justice. But this not only isn’t satisfactory, as it allows fellow humans to keep suffering at the hands of other humans. Giving a recent example: I’m sure that many people asked God to have mercy (and apply divine justice) of all the Nazis, including Mengele. Human justice was not applied. The results we are starting to uncover reveal that Mengele, for example, continued to harm other human beings at least 20-35 years after the Holocaust – this included medical and genetic crimes against others, with consequences at all human levels, at least for the inhabitants of an entire city, the city of Cândido Godoi, in Brazil. And certainly his actions included more details we don’t even know about yet.
Mengele was one of these personalities, as was Hitler, but we can find them in everyday bastards who harm and lie compulsively, serial killers, domestic abusers, white-collar criminals, paedophiles, rapists, extremely manipulative personalities, harmful narcissists and many people who… did not commit their crimes yet. We should think about it and demand something – something fair which we can achieve scientifically, which can avoid a great slice of human suffering, spiritual hindering and the jeopardizing of social well-being at all levels. If we can identify such individuals, our justice can be much more effective, our prevention capabilities can be much more efficient, first of all.
The priority should be identifying the ones who seem healthy but are extremely poisonous. Many traditionally considered “mentally hill” people hardly represent any serious danger for others or the society – we keep them away because we don’t want to see them. But the most harmful personalities are often among us and apparently “over-adapted”, while surreptitiously or progressively provoking depression, anger, anxiety, pain, devastation, grief and desperation in others. And only after identifying them should we start thinking if science can bring empathy to individuals who don’t have empathy and remorse to someone who has no remorse. I have no doubts that this is much more pressing than finding a cure for schizophrenia.