Lies, Evil and Narcissism (Download)

By Michael Knight

Friday 7 October 2011

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"Lying is the mother of all violence."
- Mahatma Gandhi

There sometimes comes a point in your life where you simply grow up, no matter what biological age you are. Well — keeping in mind some people never grow up.

By growing up I mean where you get to that point of being saturated and sick and tired of the bull**** that comes out of people's mouths, their deception and incongruent behaviour on a continual basis, possibly for many years, decades even. Where there is absolutely no care, concern or sincerity toward anyone but themselves, or maybe not even that, let alone the concept of trust and love being involved.

Your tolerance eventually wears ultra thin, non existent really. The denial you have been in, thinking this is somehow ok and tolerable seems to all of a sudden dry up in an instant. You find that you can't stomach or stand any more lies and disingenuousness from people you are having, or once had a relationship with. Whether it be a partner, family member/s, friends, work acquaintances or anybody really, including any form of deception to yourself!

The room for lies seems to be no longer vacant. It's somehow a cleansing of your mind, body and soul of any poison or impurities and don't want to be polluted by the filth from another. And I'm not wanting to sound like I'm mouthing off from the treetops like some sanctimonious preacher.

Although I am no saint and possibly never been one, I can honestly say I have not wanted to intentionally harm or wrong people, save any feelings or actions of self defense of course, it's just not who I am. Although unfortunately, indirectly and unintentionally I think we do aggrieve people in some way with our words and actions, and we should be sincerely remorseful for this, for which I am for one. Forgiving and letting go is a must for us all.

Also, as people work in businesses, this extends to businesses such as legal firms, banks and insurance brokers just to name a couple of recent experiences. In many respects, our society is built on lies and an aberration of the truth. I would like to think it's improving, however as much as it pains me to say so and naivety must step aside, I believe our moral standards overall are declining. This is laying the seeds for a shaky future unless we turn it all around, with each and everyone of us coming clean and owning up to our sins. An internal purification process of pure honesty must be adhered to by all, else no one will really gain anything.

Living should be made easier through a living of the truth, however it doesn't always seem to be the case for many, hence resorting to an obsessive compulsion for telling the lie. Why? Possibly the most obvious reason is to avoid punishment and loss. From there some come to enjoy the art of telling lies as they perceive to get multiple payoffs, like the devil rewarding them more and more for each act of wickedness.

First, they get what they want from the other person through the telling of the lie, an external reward, plus they get a second payoff. An internal reward through the fun and excitement of the game and risk from telling the lie, avoiding being caught and getting away with something. It's a powerful buzz even more effective than the high from taking drugs some may say.

A second external effect to them is through causing pain to another through their dishonesty. This maybe perceived as positive stimuli to them giving them a kick, alternatively it may give them some pain to which they feel they need for being so naughty, like a smack on the bum from a parent. However, this also gives them a further reward through the attention and love they really crave for deep down inside.

This now takes us back to the root of the problem, where they have perceived to have not gotten enough love, attention or emotional connection or bonding as a child from usually one or both parents. Or too much of something, say attention and being spoilt without consequences. Most likely, trust was lost along the way also creating trust issues for this person. Either way, the deprivation of natural development and emotional responses were interfered with. As a side point parenting is a tough gig, no doubt about it.

Anyway all in all, it's quite an elaborate racket, yet delicate web these people spin. Unfortunately, for them and others, these lies have consequences. The more they tell lies, the more they will come to believe their own tales and lose the reality of what is truthful. Their trust in themselves will diminish as will their view in others and the outside world. Their credibility in the eyes of others will also be retarded unless they take diligent steps to restore it.

Sadly, they will be isolating themselves from any real human connection to others until they make a conscious decision to reveal all their rackets, confess their sins and turn over a new leaf. As for the ramifications to others, this could be extremely damaging and go on for quite some time with the magnitude of these inflictions being regarded as intentional evil upon others. A sickness that must be cured some might say.

Whilst many may also believe it is easier and quicker to tell a 'white lie' here and there, the truth of the matter is it will gain far more trouble than telling the truth. Honesty is the best policy to yourself and others. Unfortunately, the process of telling fibs becomes a hard habit to break and there you have it — they are banished to a place of hell as are sometimes the people they affect.

Whilst there are many types of lies and reasons behind them with much to be written and learnt about these wonderful areas of interest, the below essay written by an unknown author certainly epitomises my thoughts and feelings on the subject, at least in part and will suffice for now. Hopefully you will relate to it too with a "Hmmm...".

Lies, Evil and Narcissism

Back in 1983, well known American psychiatrist Scott Peck (1936-2005) published a book that by his own admission; "I have written it with trepidation," was very difficult for him. That book was titled; People of the Lie. In this book he delves into the essence of human evil. Coming from a Christian perspective his tendency was to look at the subject through rose coloured glasses. Somewhat coloured by his religious beliefs, but his writing goes a long way to putting the question of evil into a perspective that we can all understand and relate to, and unfortunately sometimes see and even get caught up in, in everyday life.

When I read this book so very long ago I came to better understand generally why people lie, and why they manipulate or otherwise wreak havoc with their own, as well as other people's lives.

However the book became particularly disturbing for me when I began to read about a particularly dangerous TYPE of liar and on more than one occasion I had to stop, and take a step back before I was able to return and continue again. It wasn't so much because of what I was reading, well actually it was but it was also because I recognized people who had come through my life that fit into Scott Peck's definition of this type of liar and by extension this form of evil!

The experience of them was traumatizing to say the least.

Before going any further I should make the point that it is important to understand that not everyone who lies is evil but most certainly, everyone who is evil lies!

There has been much written about your 'run-of-the-mill' liar if I can put it that way, so I do not have to spend any particular amount of time just regurgitating what probably most of you know already. Suffice to say and truth be told—..most every one of us reasonably normal, reasonably well adjusted individuals lies from time to time.

But why do we lie? There are some fundamental reasons for this:

Fear of harm: I think the easiest reason to understand why we lie is for self protection, including self deception, to prevent harm to ourselves. This harm can be either physical or mental.

Fear of punishment: When growing up, how often did we lie about how well we did in school or who started a fight to our parents? How often do we cover up our mistakes and transgressions because of this fear?

Fear of conflict: To some degree, we all fear having to deal with confrontation.

Fear of rejection: Sometimes, a fragile level of self-esteem is the basis for why we lie to each other, because we want to be and remain popular in our relationships. Typically, it is harmless boasting to make ourselves appear more admirable to other people.

Fear of loss: This is usually the loss of personal objects, such as money or expensive valuables. Greed is the foundation for this reason and can be found in each of us. We often lie to make ourselves more desirable to other people too. Most common, people lie for fear of losing an opportunity to have sex. Other times, when our self esteem starts to decline, we even lie to ourselves as a means to prevent loss of morale.

Altruistic Reasons: We often lie to help our friends and loved ones. How often do we flatter someone just to make them feel better? This is the only selfless reason why we lie.

Despite all the technical reasons why people lie, it all boils down to this:

The fundamental reason why people lie is because it mostly works. At least for a while!

And because lying has become more understood in today's society, it unfortunately has become more acceptable. It has sometimes even become an admirable and useful social skill.

"Lies of omission are every bit as bad as lies of commission."

Now please do not misunderstand, these reasons for why so called normal people lie can have very serious, devastating consequences for those being lied to and for those lying but as stated they are not the subject of this essay. Believe it or not although I do not condone lying, lying for these reasons is not nearly as dangerous as those who lie because they are evil.

The Subject of Evil

According to Scott Peck; "evil is that force, residing either inside or outside of human beings, that seeks to kill life or liveliness. And goodness is its opposite. Goodness is that which promotes life and liveliness." He goes on to say that some of us are very good and some of us very evil, and most of us are somewhere in between. We might therefore think of human good and evil as a kind of continuum. As individuals we can move ourselves one way or another along the continuum. Just as there is a tendency for the rich to get richer, however, and the poor to get poorer, so there seems to be a tendency for the good to get better and the bad to get worse.

For us to be able to get a better understanding and appreciation for the forces that act on people who are evil, Scott Peck suggests that we look at the phenomenon of narcissism.

Now it can be said that we are all of us self-centered to a lesser or greater degree and although we have a tendency to judge a situation or a plan according to our own advantage, most of us quite naturally, or as a result of our socialization are able to see things from another person's perspective that is, from a viewpoint different from our own. In other words we can empathize with another and act accordingly.

The people whom Dr. Peck refers to as "evil" are those who lack this capacity for empathy, altogether. If you have been around for any length of time, you should be able to think of persons you know or who have come through your life as well, who emulate this type of behaviouor!

It can be said that each of us is not only a unique entity but we do also have clearly marked boundaries which need to be recognized and respected if we are to live in peace with each other. A mentally healthy person is able to both, see and appreciate his/her own boundaries and those of others. "We must know where we end and others begin."; Narcissistic people lack this ability to distinguish between boundaries.

A prestigious manual published by the American Psychiatric Association identifies 10 distinct personality disorders, narcissism being one of them. I read somewhere that 1 in 5 people could be diagnosed with some form of personality disorder.

The character of a person will always show through his/her personality by the way they think, feel and behave. When the behaviour is consistently pervasive, inflexible, maladaptive and antisocial over a period of time, then that individual is diagnosed with a personality disorder. Scott Peck would say that by virtue of their unwillingness to tolerate the sense of personal sin and the denial of their imperfection, an evil person would easily fit into this broad diagnostic category.

Typically, most personality disorders begin as problems in personal development and character which peak during adolescence or early adulthood and lead to distress or impairment ultimately being defined as a personality disorder.

Personality disorders are not illnesses in a strict sense as they do not disrupt emotional, intellectual or perceptual functioning. However, those with personality disorders suffer a life that is not positive, proactive or fulfilling. Not surprisingly, personality disorders are also associated with failures to reach potential.

Definition of a Narcissist

"People with a narcissistic personality have a sense of superiority, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. They have an exaggerated belief in their own value or importance, which is what therapists call grandiosity. They may be extremely sensitive to failure, defeat, or criticism. When confronted by a failure to fulfill their high opinion of themselves, they can easily become enraged or severely depressed. Because they believe themselves to be superior in their relationships with other people, they expect to be admired and often suspect that others envy them. They believe they are entitled to having their needs met without waiting, so they exploit others, whose needs or beliefs they deem to be less important. Their behaviour is usually offensive to others, who view them as being self-centered, arrogant, or selfish. This personality disorder typically occurs in high achievers, although it may also occur in people with few achievements." Excerpt from: Merck Manuals (Online Medical Library)

There is a particular pathologic variant that the psychologist Erich Fromm (1900-1980) called "malignant narcissism." Malignant narcissism is characterized by an unsubmitted will. All adults who are mentally healthy submit themselves one way or another to something higher than themselves, be it God or truth or love or some other ideal. They do what God wants them to do rather than what they would desire. "Thy will, not mine, be done," the God-submitted person says. They believe in what is true rather than what they would like to be true.

Subject of Evil (PART II)

A predominant characteristic of the behaviour of the evil is scapegoating. Because in their hearts they consider themselves above reproach, they must lash out at anyone who does reproach them. Definition: Scapegoat - an innocent accused and forced to take blame. And more significant, one who is the object of irrational hostility.

Scapegoating works through a mechanism which psychiatrists call projection. Since the evil, deep down, feel themselves to be faultless, it is inevitable that while they are in conflict with the world, they will invariably perceive the conflict as the world's fault. Since they must deny their own badness, they must perceive others as bad. They project their own evil onto the world. They never think of themselves as evil; on the other hand, they consequently see much evil in others.

The essential psychological problem of human evil is a particular variety of narcissism. Narcissism, or self-absorption, takes many forms. Some are normal. Some are normal in childhood but not in adulthood. Some are more distinctly pathological than others. If the central defect of the evil is not one of conscience, then where does it reside? The essential psychological problem of human evil is a particular variety of narcissism.

Surprisingly, except for their evil, evil people are most ordinary. They live down the street — on any street. They may be rich or poor, educated or uneducated. There is little that is dramatic about them. They are not designated criminals. More often than not they will be "solid citizens" — Sunday school teachers, policemen, or bankers, and active in the PTA.

We all know that the tendency of so-called evil people is to mostly evoke a feeling of repugnance in us and Dr. Peck feels that this is natural. However, while it is important to label a person's character or actions as evil, he feels that it is necessary for us to also see that evil is a sickness and that the only way to really heal it, is through compassion. On the surface people who are seen as evil might not appear to suffer, but under the surface, they are battling with tremendous currents of fear. It is precisely through the attempt to keep fear at bay and their lack of preparedness to face reality that an "evil" person develops the kind of personality they do, so as not to have to acknowledge their own suffering.

So then, in summary, to a greater or lesser degree, all mentally healthy individuals submit themselves to the demands of their own conscience. Not so the evil, or narcissist however. In the conflict between their guilt and their will, it is the guilt that must go and the will that must win.

* * * * * *

To all the run-of-the-mill liars out there who I mentioned earlier in this article who are not evil or narcissistic, I would ask you to take a close look at what appears below, there just might be something here of interest to you.


If you lie, I hope you will stop. People who lie are afraid to be judged and afraid to be rejected. Rejection is part of life and you are going to be rejected more or less depending on certain factors.

No one wants to be rejected, but no one wants to be lied to either. If you want to stop lying think about the other person. Think how hurt, betrayed he or she would feel if you she/or he found out the truth. It's better not to say anything than to lie. Don't lie by omission either, it hurts people too. Be an honest and caring person.

Caring about truth and honesty can be hard if you were treated badly. If you were lied to many times by many different people, you are more likely to give up on truth and become as one of them. If you were abused don't become an abuser.

The world has enough liars and cheaters already and you don't need to be one of them. Listen to your heart and your inner values. Know what matters to you. Somewhere inside you, there is a place where you want to be a good person, being loved and cared for, for your good qualities.

With love, kindness and peace

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    By: Jane Wilmott from New South Wales, Australia on October 9, 2011 @ 7:12 am
    Another great article Michael I really could relate it to my ex. I just never knew and thanks for your help recently, it really did work. Thank you heaps!!!
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