The relationship between narcissism and evil is often on the table for discussion in my field of work. We all have our own vision of what “evil” looks like; it is often imagined as a dark, scary looking, demonic looking individual or “non-person” who has the power to take human life, torture and hurt people without a conscience.
According to Scott Peck, author of “People of the Lie,” there is no psychological term for what he considers the “disease” of “evil.” Peck asks the question “ is evil a disease?” His only purpose for wanting to put “evil” in a disease category is so that science would study it. Peck talks about how “evil” is more the department of the church then psychology. The best psychological term Peck could come up with for “evil” was “Malignant Narcissism.”
Keep in mind the word “Narcissism” in itself includes a personality trait that we all have to some degree, and this includes children who typically pass through a narcissistic stage on their way to maturity. People can be narcissistic without being a malignant narcissist. Some of us need to develop more “narcissism,” which would include healthy self-love and confidence.
Malignant Narcissism is in a category of its own. It has nothing to do with healthy self-love or confidence. It is pure selfishness, complete lack of compassion and empathy, and deriving pleasure in seeing others suffer. These are qualities that cause an individual with malignant narcissism to be a destructive force in the lives of those who love them.
Peck concludes that evil is a destructive force in the Universe, where the opposite force, “love,” is a creative force. Evil spelled backwards is “live.” It lacks “liveliness.” There is death and destruction, if not actually, at least symbolically with the force of “evil.”
People who are close to those who are “evil” usually experience a depletion of their lifeforce. It is as if the malignant narcissistic force is also a highly vampiric force and plugs into the energy of others to sustain them. They also easily sacrifice others to maintain their own narcissistic self-image. Peck gives several examples in “People of the Lie” of clients who were either “Evil” or had “evil” parents or partners, or were bordering becoming evil as a way to avoid their own pain. It is a very enlightening book and a recommended read.
Evil is a strong term and many people are uncomfortable using it as a way of referring to a loved one. It can be very difficult to see someone close to us as being evil. It is difficult to realize we have been living with evil or have had our lifeforce hijacked by it. We often have images of a red horned devil or white eyed monster who want to kill us.
The majority of “evil” people don’t literally kill the physical body. They work to kill the soul, the essence of a person. Many of my clients who have been in relationships with narcissists describe themselves as a shell of the person they used to be. They have lost their energy, their soul, their creativity and passion for life. They even lose their will to live. It is not uncommon that people who commit suicide are victims of malignant narcissists. Not only do they lose their will to live, but there just isn’t enough knowledge in the Psychology profession of the depth of damage that is done by someone who has malignant narcissism. Psychology learns the definition of narcissistic personality disorder and even how to diagnose it in others, but they don’t learn the connection between narcissistic personality disorder and evil. There is a psychological/spiritual connection that is not often studied or understood. We often think that the person who is “suffering” a disorder is the one who is “suffering.” People with NPD don’t themselves suffer. They inflict suffering upon others and often gain a great deal of pleasure doing so. Now this is evil.
Your garden variety narcissist may be a little full of himself. Have a big ego, be on the selfish side and overly concerned with the image presented to others. He may do damage through his ignorance and through being oblivious, but he doesn’t gain any pleasure from inflicting pain on others. These kinds of people can do damage however, because there can still be a lack of empathy and ability to walk a mile in another’s shoes. Would I define a milder form of narcissism as evil? Well it depends.
One needs to evaluate evil in terms of the qualities of destructiveness, lack of ability to feel and give authentic love, and the damage a person does to the psyche of another.
Peck tells us that the primary quality behind evil is deception. Evil people present a false front to the world and hide behind the image they present. Often the image is of a hardworking, good looking, well dressed, clean, successful and even caring individual. We don’t often glimpse behind the façade to see the vacancy of the soul within the person. It is all smoke and mirrors, lies and false fronts. As I said earlier, a malignant narcissist will easily sacrifice a “loved one” in order to preserve the false front they are so vested in holding up. If that “front” is threatened to be exposed, they will throw the threat under a bus and walk away without conscience.
Peck tells us, from his research, that evil can be hard to spot, even by the person who is being affected by it. When evil walks around looking “normal” we never see it for what it is. If evil was easy to spot in others, it would have no power in the world. It is through the deception that evil has power.
If evil itself has an intention, what would it be? I imagine it would be to get loving hearts to hate, to be angry, to be confused, and to get sidetracked from any kind of positive mission they may have previously been aligned with.
In my experience with narcissistic abuse, most people who are forced to go “no contact” or “limited contact” with a narcissist are very angry, hateful, confused and lost. Not only have they lost most of their lifeforce energy, they have separated from their own “goodness.” This is done when the victim of evil becomes lost in darkness as a result of the vampirism and deception. I help my clients to come to terms with their feelings, because suppressing our “dark emotions” prevents us from healing. We have to find healthy ways to express our pain, our rage, our anger and feelings of injustice and eventually get back to the “love.”
When we love someone who is “evil” we often put our hearts in the hands of someone who will not only break them, but continue to trample on them over and over again. The more “evil” can torture a once loving heart, the less its ability to love. Mission accomplished.
In some ways, I suppose my mission in life is to be a warrior for the heart, to help people remember their own ability to love, beginning with loving the Self. If we can start with offering ourselves kindness, compassion, care and support, we can rebuild our life force and our hearts. We don’t want to let evil “win” by separating us from our own ability to love and be kind to others.
As a counselor for narcissistic abuse victims, I have seen some pretty angry and hostile victims who, because they are hurting, feel justified in hurting others. They often avoid responsibility and because they see themselves as “victims” they feel justified in their careless behavior.
We have to ask ourselves, at what point does a victim of evil begin to cross the line to becoming evil themselves? At what point do victims of malignant narcissism become narcissistic themselves? It is entirely possible. Children of narcissists will usually become either Co-dependent or narcissistic. One child may model their parent’s narcissism where another sibling will oppose it and Co-dependently try to extract love where there is none. The sibling who becomes narcissistic, gives up on ever getting love and settles for power instead.
If you were to evaluate the war of good versus evil happening on our planet, wouldn’t it make sense that if evil people were successful at creating more evil people, evil would grow in the world and the mission of evil would gain power?
What if evil was actually a force that possessed people who were vulnerable in some way? What if evil were a force that separated people from their own goodness?
If we truly wanted to heal, and bring more love to the world, we have to start by not only bringing more love to ourselves, but learn how to approach the abuse we have suffered with love rather than fear.
It is fear that takes root in the hearts and minds of man, that gives the evil force an “in.” Fear of
annihilation may cause one to try and annihilate others. Fear of not being “good enough” may cause a person to try and make others feel inferior. Fear of being hurt may cause a person to hurt others. Fear of being exposed may cause one to paint others in a bad light. Fear of losing control over one’s environment may cause him/her to manipulate and control others.
The opposite of love is not hate, it is fear! So when you have two choices, love or fear, make the conscious choice to align with love rather than fear. It is a lot of work to bring love to a dark situation.
Peck tells us that the antidote for evil is not hatred, or war, but love. We need to learn to love thy enemy. That doesn’t mean to live with or have that person in our lives, but to cut the psychic cords of attachment to the evil doer by loving oneself enough to break away, and find a way to love the other, from a distance. Instead of wishing for the demise of our enemy, we could pray for their healing; that they see the light. We don’t have to be attached to what actually happens with this person. We are not praying for their healing so that we can have a great partner, or great parents. We pray as a way of releasing ourselves from our own hatred and anger towards that person. When we hold on to hatred and anger towards another person, it becomes a psychic cord, keeping us tied to that person.
Loving in the face of the worse cruelty and carelessness at the hands of our enemy is to set us free, not the enemy. Our enemies must suffer the karmic consequences of their own behavior. What we put out into the world will come back to us tenfold. This is why we don’t want to put more hatred into the world. It doesn’t mean that initially we won’t feel hatred. We very well may, and this is okay. It is not the feeling itself that is the problem. It is the holding on of the feeling that causes long term issues. Suppressing our feelings is even worse because we end up acting out subconsciously that which we are harboring within. We must be willing to allow those painful emotions to come to the surface, deal with them, and release them. The ultimate goal is to return to love.