Thursday, November 09, 2006

Is There Good in Everyone?

You've been psychologically tortured and abused by a narcissist/sociopath/psychopath family member. You finally tell another family member what you've experienced. What you get back from this person is a "sermon" on how there is good in everyone. You haven't looked hard enough for it. Everyone has redeeming features; if you haven't found them then you are just not looking.

Implied in this sermon is that the deficiency is in you. Also inherent in these comments is the belief, perpetuated by humanistic psychology, that everyone is basically "good". There is no room in this anthropological theory for the concept of evil. Bad people don't exist. Malevolence is a figment of your imagination.

The person who says things like this to you has something to gain. Perhaps they are trying to keep you from "rocking the boat". Maybe this land of denial they live in is how they keep from having to deal with anything difficult. Fear of confrontation. Fear of standing on principle. Lots of people are afraid of principle if by having one it'll cause them some discomfort. So they become unprincipled which allows the evil people to flourish.

So, let's get back to the idea that you just need to look harder and find the "good" in the person who makes a living by sucking your life from you. First of all, if you have to hunt that hard to find some good in someone it simply isn't there. Another thing is this: there are many deeds a person can do that can appear to be "good" but are not. Look closely and you'll see the "good" done by a consistently evil person is self-serving. They try to appear good in certain situations (i.e. when others are looking) so as to get away with being evil! It is a ruse. A guise. An occasional "good" deed does not weigh the balances against a consistent life of bad deeds.

Let's look at a historical figure. I think most reasonable people can agree that Hitler was an evil man. His complete obsession with wiping the Jews, gypsies, people of Slavic origin, mental deficients and the physically impaired off the face of the planet seems to be sufficient evidence to decent people that this man was an evil psychopath. What good deed could he do that would be adequate to the task of mitigating his evil? Again, reasonable minds could probably agree that nothing he could do would be good enough to outweigh the vast evil of his homocidal hatred of certain classes of people. Some people have actually tried to find the "human side" of Hitler. He loved animals. He was vegetarian. He was able to unite Germany. These are some of the things brought up by apologists for Hitler who try to minimize his evil. He wasn't evil, he was misunderstood. He was a little misguided in some respects, but he was a great leader. Okay, if that works for you then you can go surf off somewhere else because I can't say anything that you will agree with. The truth is that there was no "good" in Hitler that could outweigh his evil deeds. It is rare for a malevolent, evil person to have no qualities that can be construed to be "good". For the naive, the ridiculously stupid, or other evil people, those "good" qualities can outweigh a life of consistent evil. For the sane and principled those "good" qualities are seen for what they are...a mask. An aberration. Yes, for the evil person a "good" deed is an aberration!

So what if you can find some "good" in an abusive person. If you have to hunt around, stretch your imagination or wrack your brain to find the "good", then, honey, it just tain't there. Face facts. Don't let yourself be confused by the silly idea out there that if you can find ONE good thing in someone then you have proof positive that person is not evil after all. It is that kind of thinking that will keep you enslaved. You are allowed to call evil by its right name. You are allowed to distance yourself from it. It is called self-preservation. Self-defense is a fundamental right of all living creatures. Exert your right to live. Shrug off the small-minded thinking out there that puts on such a pretense of bigness and righteousness by pretending that evil people aren't evil. In my mind, these mental midgets are just as dangerous because they do nothing to stop evil. Their stupid philosophy perpetuates evil. Distance yourself from the evil people in your life...and that includes the idiot who tells you to hunt for the good in an abuser.


  1. It is sad to let go of the idea of people not being evil. It was definitely hard for me to stop fooling myself. Lol I think that I am best at lying to myself.

    I do have a question though, what if this "evil" person in your life is good much of the time?

    Also I feel severely tempted to talk to someone anyone even a complete stranger about my mother since I found out about narcissism. Sick of people thinking my mother is great and always so charitable.
    She is absolutely stingy with her family but spends a lot of money on everyone else.

    I have a hard time realizing how bad my mother really is. If only she could be all bad then there would not be any problem. I do realize though that the moment I make her upset she does the act again. Very annoying.

  2. I just had a verbal confrontation with my mother, whom I *saw* and *heard* deliberately try to hurt my younger brother today...even after promising me she wouldn't try to hurt him (a heart patient) again 2 weeks ago. She whimpers and asks "forgiveness"...but never changes. People in my city, because she teaches Sunday School, think she's a saint. Although my brothers and I are adults, it grieves and stuns me to see a mother act this way toward her own offspring. Note to the wise: evil people usually stay evil. My mother is 79. *Thanks* for these articles and "The Mask of Evil." It helps me know what I'm dealing with; knowing I'm dealing with evil masked as good is a great help. SBB

  3. This article is spot ON.

    I remember one particular encounter where I accidently hurt my mother by being honest about how I felt about my sister. (To this day I'm still driven by trying to be a perfect daughter for my parents -- as though I could somehow make up for how my sister behaves. It's hard to learn that's NOT my burden to carry.) Mom just couldn't face the truth that some people aren't good people.

    The particular conversation had a bit like this:

    Mom: You know, your sister really does love you.

    [In retrospect, I'm assuming she was telling mom that, even though she's never said a kind word to me that I can ever recall. Actions speak louder than words, but in this case both her actions and lack of kind words spoke the same thing. If I can't think of one nice thing you said or did for me over the course of my entire life time then odds are it didn't happen.]

    Me: No, mom, she doesn't. She never has, never will. She has no empathy, she doesn't care how what she does hurts other people. She's not a nice person. She has NO REDEEMING QUALITIES.

    It was the caps words that really upset mom. She couldn't accept that maybe that was the truth. That no matter how 'peaches and creme' someone may act in public, it doesn't redeem them from their behavior. It takes honest, sincere, apology and remorse combined with CHANGE to redeem someone from their past behaviors.

    I agree that if you have to go looking for the good in a person it isn't there. It's like assuming that somewhere in the dark there must be a light. Never mind the fact that in the dark you would be able to see the light easily, so if you don't see it, it doesn't exist.

  4. Thanks for writing this. It really is true, if you have to look really hard to find something good in a person, this person is an abuser and you are abusing yourself by trying to find the good. You'll have to walk away in the end to preserve yourself.

    I am happy to read your insightful posts here!

    Best wishes, J.

  5. I did tell my brother, and he said that mother just likes negativity, that's it. She slanders him whenever she can. And my sister and they keep taking it.

    When our oldest brother died mom was smirking. At the funeral, she was trying to hide her smirking. I told my brother that and he said that was just the way she was dealing with our brothers death. She doesn't cry, I told him she can't feel empathy. He said she just likes to hide it, because she had pride.

    So I guess he was rationalizing that MN mother was trying to hide her pain at her own son's funeral. Why would any rational person try to do that?