What causes evil?
This is an eternal question. Why do people inflict pain on others?
At the dawn of the 20th century and after one bloody decade after another and the discovery that serial killing was not isolated degeneracy mankind thought that finally civilization would triumph and wars would cease. Then came WWI, and WWII, and nuclear MADD, and genocides by Nazis, Ugandans, Rwandans, Cambodians and on and on and on.
What is going on?
Where is science? Where is justice? Where is God?
Luckily we who follow horror are well aware of what awful things man does to man, and writers, filmmakers, and other artists are the first on cutting edge understanding.
It is all about the brain and hormones and genetics.
There are areas of the brain that can malfunction through injury, because of chemical imbalance, or just a lack of genetic markers. The consequences, however, are deadly.
Sociopaths tend to lack what we commonly call a conscience, or empathy. They are not necessarily malicious, but it sure appears that way to us. They are 100% self-absorbed and that can cause a wave of confusion, mistrust, and misuse. We tend to be reciprocal as “normal” people. You help me, and I help you. That never happens with sociopathic personalities. Therefore when a sociopath becomes self-aware, they quickly use their edge to prey upon normal people who are their opposites.
We call this criminal. They call it opportunism. So after a disaster, sociopaths sweep through and fleece the elderly, the traumatized, or the confused. Thieves come into your office or your car and swipe things. They fully understand YOUR behavior, but we are clueless. They think of us as sheep or patsies – when they think of us at all.
For individuals whose childhood trauma has burned out their emotional receptors, or for those who were born psychopathic, they do not feel love, and do not recognize people or animals as anything other than objects of gratification. Worse, they can have cross-wiring that incites sexuality, sleeplessness, or other stresses and impulsively create horrific violence. We want to believe it is a choice and they are evil. They believe they have no more control over their urges than a robin eating a worm.
And it could never happen to you?
Watch when people get behind a car wheel. Police officers know that a different part of the brain, the peripheral vision activation area, takes over. A sweet, mild-mannered, little old lady can become a demon. This individual speeds at 55 through a school zone. They mow down construction workers. Turn signals are not for them. They cross 5 lanes at high speed to get to their interstate exit. They commit road rage. They leave their babies in 110 degree cars. Yes, be afraid. It could easily be YOU.
And isn’t that the real horror, and the real evil? That you could lose your control of your body, or your neighbor can become a killer? And we want to place blame because our brains tell us to place blame. There is no blame, there is only IS. And we who are left in the trauma of victimization: We bleed, suffer, cry, and fear, while those who commit the “crime” care nothing for us. Luckily there is more of “us” than there is of “them”.
And thank goodness for horror writers. They give us that psychic relief we need. Support your favorite independent horror writer or media artist, and buy their books, art, or DVDs.