When we speak about ponerology and consider, from a scientific perspective, the conditions that underlie acts of commission or omission that some might term “evil,” it’s easy to get caught up in the one that dominates discussion in this area – psychopathy. We might even focus on psychopathy so much that we forget that other conditions and disorders can also be involved in these harmful situations.
In Political Ponerology, Andrew M. Lobaczewski details an entire process, which he calls ponerogenesis, by which “evil” emerges in human systems. While it’s true, in his model, that various kinds of psychopaths play a central role in that process, he also elucidates how others, including those with what he calls characteropathies – which we would refer to as personality disorders – are essential for it to play out to its destructive potential.
Most commonly, when it comes to this process, those with the Cluster B personality disorders, especially Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder, all of which profoundly impact the capacity for empathy, would be expected to be involved to some extent.
But as disproportionate an impact as people with these disorders can have on their surroundings, they still make up too small a proportion of the population by themselves to bring about a system dominated by the pathological. Thus, Lobaczewski details how a certain percentage of non-pathological people must also be coopted to participate in ponerogenesis if such a system, which he calls a pathocracy, is ever to come about.
Every now and then, however, we are reminded that there are still other conditions – beyond psychopathy and the personality disorders – that can play a role in unnecessary harmful events.
Schizophrenia, for instance, was likely involved in motivating Jared Loughner to open fire at a 2011 constituent event for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, killing six and injuring thirteen, including the congresswoman. A review of research published in 2009 found that “a man with schizophrenia was four to five times as likely to commit a violent act as a man in the general population.” The risks are especially high when a schizophrenic is also abusing substances.
A more recent news event brought to the forefront a less commonly discussed disorder that can also be associated with harmful activity.
Raulie Casteel is accused of shooting at people and motorists, apparently randomly, in metropolitan Detroit and nearby areas over the course of several days in October 2012. Communities in the vicinity remained in a constant state of anxiety and fear until the suspect was finally captured. He is now awaiting arraignment.
Last week, it was reported that Casteel has been diagnosed not with psychopathy or a personality disorder or even schizophrenia. Rather, he has been diagnosed with delusional disorder. A psychology professor quoted in the article explains that someone with this disorder would seem completely normal unless the subject about which they are deluded arises. That would seem to make them potentially difficult for those in their lives to detect as possibly dangerous.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether Casteel’s diagnosis is confirmed as being accurate or if he is found guilty. But regardless, delusional disorder is an existing condition. And it is easy to see how someone suffering from it could, while under sway of certain delusions, do things that cause significant harm.
It’s just another reminder that ponerology is not all about psychopathy. In fact, it isn’t even just about mental illness, as people without mental illness can also be drawn to do things we might consider “evil.” But, even when it does focus on mental illness, ponerology must take into account a range of conditions and disorders.
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Tags: andrew m. lobaczewski, antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, cluster b personality disorders, delusional disorder, empathy, evil, gabrielle giffords, jared loughner, mental illness, narcissistic personality disorder, pathocracy, personality disorders, political ponerology, ponerogenesis, psychopathy, raulie casteel, schizophrenia, substance abuse
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