Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Evil vs. Mental Illness

This paradox has to be confronted because it is, and has been, very controversial within the psychological community for - well, basically since Psychology was really developed (or being developed) in the 19th-Century:

Where does one draw the line between what is Evil and what is caused by mental illness?

There is no easy way, that I’ll grant, but I believe Evil to be an actual force, as I’ve set forth herein, and thus external. But that is not to say that someone has to be “possessed” to show signs of Evil; not at all. In fact, were it this simple, then everyone who commits an Evil act could simply be cleared or convicted by the matter in which the act was committed.

There is Dissociation, where the person committing the act is unaware of their action(s) - this is possible Evil influence, but most likely a matter of actual mental illness; there is Psychosis, where the victim knows what he is doing, but is so delusional as to believe that what he is doing is the right thing - what he has to do (as in the case of Andrea Yates); then there is the matter of Evil influence. Evil influence can take any number of forms, but it is rarely direct or evident. This is what I mean when I say that, if it were, the matter of innocence or guilt would be a simple matter; was Supernatural strength employed in this crime? Or knowledge which the person could not have known? If things like that were exhibited, we could easily say: “This was a crime perpetrated by external, Evil influence(s), and this one was not.”

So one Dr. Michael Stone has developed - and is consistently working on - what he calls a scale of Evil: a system of measuring Evil that goes form 1 to 22, with 22 being the Most Evil. Gary Heidnik is one of the few people who reaches the 22nd level of Evil. Of course, the problem with this is that Heidnik, who ran a charnel house in which he enslaved several women in his basement whom he raped on a daily basis, two of which he killed and one of those he forced the other women to eat (along with dogfood), sounds like almost anyone’s poster child for mental illness.

Dr. Stone argues that Heidnik was “organized” enough to have invested well, made over half a million dollars, and bought a Rolls Royce. Dr. Stone neglects to mention that this same guy taped dollar bills and pennies all along his walls and that the drain of his kitchen sink was stopped-up by flesh.

Were his actions Evil - beyond question - but is he, the man, Evil by nature, whether twisted by enironment or genetically-impaired? Highly debatable, especially since Heidnik claims he heard “the Voice of God” which told him something that led him down this terribly dark and twisted path.

Regardless of you religious convictions or beliefs, it seems that a reasonable person would know that God did not want them to enslave, kill, dismember, and cannibalize young women. Still, hearing an ethereal voice tell you anything would make an indelible impression on one’s psyche, so you would have to forgive them their mental incapacities insofar as reasoning and comprehension go. Hell, for as far as any of this goes, when is the last time you met a Baptist who got the right message from the Scripture?

Still, while I agree that Evil is a very real force, even palpable at times where it is active, and have not read Dr. Stone’s book, in which I assume he discusses his methodology and policies in-depth, I find what I have seen and heard of his methods highly suspect.

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