q. Does Evil exist? For some this question is philosophical, But for those who’ve been victimized, there is no question at all.
A. Many people when they hear of crimes so grotesquely abnormal that the most obvious explanation is that the perpetrator must be mentally ill–helpless in the grip of a force beyond his or her control. But that very natural reaction has, inadvertently, created a special category of “blameless predators.”
The are specific criteria for sick and evil:
*Sickness is a condition. A psychotic/paranoid father who walks the streets with a gun hearing voices that tell him people are trying to kill his family is sick.
*Evil is a behavior. A father who hires someone to set the house on fire with his family in it, is evil.
Evil is always a matter of choice. Evil is not thought, it is conduct. And that conduct is always volitional.
And just as evil is always a choice, sickness is always the absence of choice. Sickness happens. Evil is inflicted.
Until we perceive the difference clearly, we will continue to give aid and comfort to our most pernicious enemies. We as a society, decide whether something is sick or evil. Either decision confers an obligation upon us. Sickness should be treated. Evil must be fought.
Our society distrusts the term “evil.” It has an almost biblical ring to it, something we believe in (or not) but never actually understand. We prefer scientific sounding terms, such as “sociopath.” But sociopath is not a mental condition, it is a specific cluster of behaviors.
Not every “evil” or :”sociopathic” person is Charles Manson. There are degrees of evil. Have you ever found yourself describing someone as mean, mean spirited, a bully?
In the book, “The Sociopath Next Door” the author states, One in 25 people meet the criteria for the diagnosis of a sociopath, AKA: an evil person.
So what do we do if we believe we are in the presence of an evil person? I will share the rules for survival in next weeks column.
(Some of the above information from Andrew Vachss, a lawyer whose only clients are children).