“Why do some people do evil things?”
That’s one of the questions we’ve all (at least, I believe we all did) asked ourselves at least once in our lives.
NOTE: I'm not a psychologist, a psychiatrist nor a student at any university or course about these topics, therefore, please, consider this article just as my personal opinion, for that's what it is.
Despite our so called “modern civilization”, it takes just a quick and detached gaze at the people who surround us to realize that we’re an instinctive race. Instincts are primal and ancient as the first living being our planet has seen. They’re extremely important for our survival, for they’re what keeps us alive. However, because of this very instincts, we’re predictable, and that’s where psychological studies are born.
Paradoxally, a “crazy man” seems unpredictable because of his behaviors and said instincts, but they’re just an illusion. Truth is (and here, I think that almost everyone who has studied traditional psychology will probably disagree with me), that either there’s no such thing as a crazy human, or every human is crazy (although some are better than others at hiding it). But pay attention, for I don’t mean that ill minds and brains do not exist.
I mean that “crazy/insane” are very restrictive, ridiculous and antiquated terms, just like saying that every smart man or woman is guilty of “witchcraft” and must burn to death.
Maybe this will sound a little confusing, but before speaking about one of the most complicated traits of the human mind, perhaps we should discuss about it’s opposite, which may seem obvious at first,
1. Why do some people do good deeds?
The answer is: instincts’ number one goal is personal gain.
Generosity is not a primal instinct, for giving away our food without expecting anything back means risking to starve to death. And if we did hunt and capture a pray adapt for our feeding, it would still mean risking our life or at least, wasting time that could’ve been used for other activities, such as getting more food or looking for a potential mate.
“But how can it be unnatural to be generous? Everything is nature, including generosity!” You might say, and my answer is “Indeed, that’s true. But since everything is nature, why shouldn’t we analyze the nature of this ‘natural generosity’ deeper?”
are there people who are truly generous without expecting anything back? Maybe (although they’re very rare), but only on a conscious level. On a subconscious level, they’re still expecting something. Another one of our instincts, is being social. We need one another to survive and to stimulate each other’s minds, who’s evolution into what we consider “a more intelligent state than the one other animals have”, is just a mechanism.
Nothing more than a weapon, just like a crocodile’s powerful mouth and teeths, or a spider’s ability to create twinge webs. And what do all these weapons have in common? Gains. They’re meant to give its owner the possibility of getting what he needs to survive, in other words: food.
Then again, returning to our lovely, generous, fellow human beings out there in the world, they do what they do because of a range of different reasons. They:
- Expect for the other humans they help to have better chances of surviving, increasing the numbers of the race and therefore increasing also the survival chances of the future generations.
- Expect to see the person they helped being happy. Emotions are like a virus, spreading across our minds because as I’ve already written, we’re social creatures and our minds are wired to understand each others feelings, so that if for example, somebody is scared, we’ll get scared too and we’ll both run away from the possible danger. Happiness is no exception. When it gets to our mind, it releases endorphines, which make us feel good. So good they can even become addicting (that’s why for example, there are so many people addicted to working out. Physical exercises release endorphines too, because they make us stronger, faster and more sexually appealing, again, improving in many ways our chances of survival). No wonder then, that when someone does something good, they want to do more of it.
- Not to mention that if you help someone who’s going through tough times, chances are that if you’ll ever go through tough times he’ll be more likely to help you get out of them. Of course, many people won’t do that, because from their minds’ point of view, it wouldn’t lead to any gain (minds’ logic can be tricked easily. They could think that even if they did help you, they wouldn’t gain anything out of it in the future). However, generous people’s mind is set to see more possibilities, including the positive chances.
- Last but not least, although this latter option doesn’t apply to all the generous minds, seeing you’ve helped someone can increasingly boost your ego, because it’d make you feel superior. An “alpha” member of the situation.
In other words, this logic can be easily compressed in just one famous saying…
No one gives you anything for free
So, if we trully must consider every side of generous people, it may seem like they’re much more greedy, but ultimately, everything is an illusion, including this very theory. It’s a paradox that will always exist, for technically they’re also giving up on something which could increase their own chances of survival, so, how can they be considered greedy? Well, nature is a perfect computer, programmed by its own self to function perfectly.
To function perfectly, it programmed some minds to think and react in certain ways and other minds to think and react in other ways. Which minds in which ways? Science still doesn’t know, but what I’m saying will, in my personal opinion, be proved in the future, once the potential of the human DNA will be fully decoded.
Exactly, “decoded”, for it is just a code. A series of numbers. And after every amount of numbers, something will change in the generation holding that number. That’s why some people say that in every family there’s always a “black sheep” (I honestly find this term racist and unjust. I think the term “different sheep” or in some cases “evil sheep” would be much more appropriate), and that’s why sometimes, out of families that are considered to be “bad” or “evil” or “stupid”, good hearted people and/or geniuses are born.
Now that we’ve covered this side up, let’s move the main question…
2. Why do some people do evil things?
For the very same reason: gains.
But there’s a reason they’re more complicated than their opposite’s, which is the “lack of gains”.
In some people, the lack of past gains (for example a poor childhood), brings out the humbleness and the adequate respect/gratitude for what they own now. In other people however, this lack plays the opposite role. Let’s say there’s a corpse and two men.
- One is extremely rich, has a beautiful and loving family and great health.
- The other is extremely poor, has a horrible family who ruined his life and has a very bad health.
Who do you think would be more prone to do something bad, such as a murder? Again, the answer is an uncertain paradox.
- The rich man could either be afraid of loosing everything he has or be secure that even if he did murder someone, he wouldn’t loose much, for he’d pay for great lawyers and maybe even corrupt the judge and the court.
- The poor man could either take the bad events of his life as letions, making him want to be the opposite of what he has seen, therefore a “good person”, or he could want for others to suffer and feel as destroyed as he feels (I could say “feeled”, for most of the bad events could be part of his past, but as long as a person thinks and feels its past, it is still partially living it). He wouldn’t be afraid of loosing anything, because he’d think he got nothing to lose, or at least, nothing worth keeping (that’s why some people gave up on life by killing themselves or by giving up on the things they care the most about).
So, how could we guess who’s the most prone? We can’t. Unless… we analyze every trauma those two person had in their lives up to that point, and how they reacted to it. That’s exactly why psychologists and psychiatrists ask so many questions about the past of their patients.
But what is a trauma? It doesn’t have to be something extremely tragic. A trauma is an event that changed the life of a living being. It could be even something little and apparently insignificant, that summed up to many other little traumas could lead to a person being ready to give up on holding back its primal instincts, ending up with killing (or trying to kill) someone.
- Some people are morphed by traumatic events into feeling pleasure watching other people suffering.
- Some feel pleasure coming through their own sufferences. If it’s from the past sufferences, it could be because they understand (or think they do) how those events changed them in a better form (or those events inspire them to make a work of art of any kind, in case they’re creative minds), while if they take pleasure from the present sufferences either by creating new ones or simulating the old ones, they’re masochists, and that’s a whole another topic.
- Some develop a deep hate for a certain group of humans or for all humans in general.
- Some lock their emotions up or face them, and then try to move on with their life.
- And others, simply don’t know what to do. They could feel a random impulse to kill the person near them without having a reason that may seem logic, but ultimately, as said by Michael Caine in the role of Alfred Pennyworth (Batman’s butler) in the movie Batman The Dark Knight:
some people just want to see the world burn.
Their morality is teared down to the point all they want is to make others feel as miserable as them, not because it brings them pleasure, like sadists do, but because they want for someone, for everyone, to understand them (again, because of the social instincts). But most humans don’t even understand their very own minds, how could they possibly understand others?
Give a man a weapon, and you’ll have a soldier.
Give him someone or something to love and protect, and you’ll have a warrior.
Take that away from him, and you’ll have a monster. But truth speaking, although you can make him think he’s the monster, ultimately, all you must do to see the true monster, is just look at yourself in a mirror.
Call it as you want. “Morality”. “Karma”. “Einstein’s Theory of Relativity”. It doesn’t matter, the meaning stays the same: what you give is what you get and everything is relative.
The only thing that trully differentiates bad people from good people is courage and fear. Courage and fear are both planted deep in the “good man’s” mind, while they’re less intense in the “bad man”. However, the “bad man”, is ironicly the most coward of all men, not because of his despicable deeds, but because of an escape mechanism he chose. Every person comes at a point in their life when they don’t know what to do and what will happen. The possible paths are only two: being positive or being negative. By being negative, the person’s ego, gets rotten and destroyed, but since it’ll make things go bad, they can have the mere consolation of thinking “I knew it. I’m always so unlucky, life is cruel and blah, blah, blah…” resulting in a light hit to their confidence, already below rock bottom, while to someone who’s optimist, facing a rejection can be a stronger hit.
Overall, the positive person pays the delusion in one shot, and then moves on to other projects and possible delusions, achieving great things in the end. It pushes further to success also those around him and makes them happier and more positive.
While, the pessimist person, even by not doing anything bad at all, subconsciously or consciously, depending on the subject, brings or tries to bring down those around him.
The pessimist person pays its delusions in rates, everyday, till the day it either dies or becomes optimist. The payments will never end because its constant disappointment will constantly bring other “delusional bills”.
So, if everything is an illusion, and everything is relative, what’s the point of existence?
Let’s suppose religions were right and there are superior beings controlling everything. Let’s suppose that everything is already written in time, including the future and everything we’ll do…
How could we possibly be able to have free will?
I could find a positive version to tell you this, for example saying that you’re those very beings you consciously or unconsciously worshipped and you just don’t know that. This way, you’d think you’re the one controlling your destiny. Or, I could tell you the pessimist outlook, saying that nothing of what you do matters to the universe. That “good” and “bad” don’t exist. That they’re just human concepts made to describe what’s socially acceptable and that you control absolutely nothing. That you’re nothing more than “a videogame’s character”. But you know what? Perhaps both versions are right. What matters if what you do means nothing to the universe? Your mind is another universe on its own (sounds cheesy but it’s true). What matters if you’re just a videogame’s character? The game developers worked to create everything, but ultimately the characters are the protagonists, even if unconsciously controlled by others, the universe is their to enjoy and explore. Everything is relative, therefore, even if we did live in a huge, magnificent illusions, mother of all lies, it wouldn’t matter, for it’d still be real from our point of view. For the developers it wouldn’t be more than a game, but for us it’d be our life, with our very own choices. We are in some way the gods of our own existence, for we have the choice (even if illusional, still realistic for us) to do what we want with our life. You could choose to read or not read this article. You can choose if you want to look for a partner or stay single (don’t look at things from the technical point of view called “instincts”, for you’d stop enjoying everything you could possibly enjoy), you can choose if you want to feed the poors or torture the innocents, and therefore, you’re the one controlling this game’s character, which is merely your body. So, if it’s a game, why not play it in peace without ruining other people’s experience?
What’s the point of destroying others? Although it may seem like you’d gain something, soon or late your actions would return at you like a boomerang and someone (not God/Gods. I mean actual, living humans, animals and natural catastrophes) would destroy you. You would gain much more by focusing on building your very own experience, and if you do that properly, you’ll be happy and in peace. Of course, problems will always happen sometimes, but the way you’ll face them will be much different, and healtier for you (it is prooven that pessimism leads to stress and that stress leads to earlier death and sometimes even cancer and other diseases).
So, please, if you want to be good, do good actions. It doesn’t take much to change the world, just a little, genuine action of courtesy a day changes more than you can possibly immagine. I’ll explore this latter concept in another article.
And if you want to be evil, you probably won’t care at all about my words and that’s fine. But I warn you, soon or late you’re gonna regret it, so, please, don’t do evil actions.
Not for the well being of others, but for your own.
That’s all I can tell you on this topic. That’s my opinion. Please, tell me your opinion in the comments down below and if you think I’m wrong on something, please describe clearly what makes you think that. I’m always ready to learn (except when I wake up early in the morning and haven’t drinked a single coffee yet, but that’s another story… 😀 ).