All individuals have daily routines, religions, or beliefs to follow, along with morals to develop. Nearly everyone will identify himself/herself as a virtuous human being, asserting that civilized people are not inclined to nefarious activities.
According to students, someone who assisted Hitler and was responsible for the gas chambers in the concentration camps had to be brain damaged. Even the soldiers in the armed group during the Rwandan genocide attack had to be mentally ill. Many students have stated that humanized people will not live past those horrors, while others claimed that if placed in previously stated positions they would rather end their life before engaging in unspeakable acts. So how is it possible for millions of people to lose their ethics when facing terrifying situations? It begins with the founding elements that twist humans’ psychology into developing their evil self. People are told psychopaths bring danger and terror to society, possessing no ethics in their behavior, being considered madmen with moral insanity.
Nonetheless, it has been proven through countless experiments and studies that anybody can commit violent acts towards others, taking in mind it is not always intentional. Regardless of the arguments to defend humanity, various experiments have been completed which manifest a change in behavior when humans face a difficult, yet unpredictable situation. The change in behavior does not categorize humans as psychopaths, although it results with unethical actions. However, Louise Mushikiwabo, a minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Rwanda, found a solution years after the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Where he concluded that the “..
.antidote to hatred and conflict [is] the well-grounded belief that future offers progress and possibility” (Mushikiwabo, 2017). According to many, there exists a thin line that divides a sociopath from a psychopath; in fact, most people believe that these two terms are indistinguishable. Some common behavioral traits that create confusion among humans include “a disregard for laws and social mores, a disregard for rights of others, failure to feel remorse of guilt, and a tendency to display violent behavior” (Bonn). Nevertheless, these two disorders have less things in common thanpopular belief. The origin oflunatic behavior comes from two different origins,depending on how doctors categorize the human.
It is believed that psychopaths “are normally a result of genetics related to physiological defect that results in the underdevelopment of the part of the brain responsible for impulse control and emotions”(Bonn). On the other hand, sociopaths are “more likely the result of nurture environment … the product of childhood trauma and physical/emotional abuse”(Bonn). That is to say, that equally important distinctions between sociopaths and psychopaths are that sociopaths will easily be agitated and become nervous.
They are also volatile and prone to emotional outbursts, causing frequent fits of rage, however, some individuals can be capable of empathy in certain situations. Meanwhile, psychopaths are incapable of forming emotional bonds, attachments and feelings of empathy; thus, they tend to be manipulative while easily gaining trust from newcomers/strangers. Psychopaths also learn to imitate emotions and “will appear normal to unsuspected people”(Bonn). It might seem impossible to become a psychopath or sociopath but it’s not impossible to act like one. Having considered the causes for both antisocial disorders (sociopath and psychopath) as well as some of their characteristics, it is only reasonable to considerthe general backgrounds of people who belong to these groups and how each of them reacts depending on certain situations. Firstly, it is believed that sociopaths are likely uneducated and tend to live on the outskirts of society, whilst “psychopaths are often well educated and hold steady jobs”(Bonn).
Observations can be made by contrasting how people with both disorders act in situations based on their characteristics; for instance, by looking at a crime scene, it would be easy to identify if it was caused by a psychopath or a sociopath. “Any crimes committed by sociopaths including murder, will tend to be haphazard, disorganised and spontaneous rather than planned”(Bonn); while “psychopathic criminals are cool, calm and meticulous. Their crimes whether violent or non-violent, will be highly organized and generally offer few clues for authorities to pursue.”(Bonn) . Both disorders have helped humansunderstand what one is individually capable of. Developing malignant characteristics is not what parents wish for their children, nor what someone would look forward to developing throughout his/her lifetime.
In spite of that, psychopaths grow up learning how to be a human with no ethics in their behavior. The release of oxytocin is what causes the brain to receive positive social signals. In the experiment conducted by Paul J. Zak of thousands of people, 95% of them were believed to receive oxytocin, leading them to feel empathy for others and to behave morally. The other 5% of the people did not release oxytocin, influencing their actions and displaying traits seen in psychopaths.
Not only does oxytocin have an impact on psychopaths, but if one was abused in his/her childhood the nurturing of the brain is not properly developed, and the child will display immoral traits. These traits are displayed since psychopathic children have learned to be in survival mode all their lives and never had the chance to release or develop oxytocin (Zak, 2011). Humans struggling with high levels of stress have been studied, with results showing how stress inhibits oxytocin, and may cause a temporary lunatic. Paul J. Zak has proven through his experiment how oxytocin released to the blood causes virtuous behaviors, and how the amount released can be altered through time producing an alteration in comportment. It may last about an hour or a lifetime for a human to lose their moral identity.
C. S. Lewis stated, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” This encouraged Dr. Kaptein to discover 52 mind tricks used on good people in order for them to lose principles and fall into iniquity.
Bradberry summarized Kapteins’ research in 14 basic fundamentals, which push people away from their morals (Bradberry, 2017). Some key principles include the compensation effect used to justify ones’ sin. Once a bad deed is committed, some people go on completing good acts in order for their sins to be obliterated. Using playful names in challenging situations is a powerful tool; it takes away the reality of the situation, and makes the situation look like a game or a practice; making the unethical behavior seem as if no real-world consequences will be given. The broken window theory is another great strategy causing a person to change their mindset completely. When society is able to see chaos and disorder, they feel authority is inadequate; therefore, more likely to carry out unethical behavior.
However, if someone is being treated as a criminal or being punished unnecessarily, they can act as they are being treated as they fall into the Pygmalion effect. Switching morals from virtuous to negligent happens often when prioritizing a single goal, this is known as the tunnel vision. When doing everything possible to achieve a single vision, people forget what they believe and have no compassion or ethics in their behavior as they do everything possible to accomplish their ambition. This is similar to conspicuous consumption, since it talks about how personal needs are prioritized before morals (Kaptein, 2012). The following discoveries of Dr. Kaptein all pointed out a similar idea and can be connected back to a situation.
Everyone in these situations knows their values and is aware of the moral deeds that need to be done. Despite that, humans decide to be unscrupulous when facing difficult or different situations in order to benefit themselves. Stanley Milgram was an inquisitive psychology professor at Yale University, who always puzzled over the justifications of war criminals. Prior to conducting the experiment, Milgram invariably asked himself; “Were Nazis evil and cold-hearted, or was this a phenomenon that could happen to anyone in certain circumstances?” This guided Stanly into conducting a research with disturbing results. The experiment consisted of volunteers who were asked to play the role of a teacher in a learning experiment, and of Mr.
Wallace who was an unknown actor playing the role of a learner. Every mistake composed by the learner would result in a higher electric shock composed by the teacher. The teacher believed she/he was actually giving electric shocks to the learner; he/she would just be acting as if they were receiving shocks, when in reality they would not be harmed. Both, the teacher and learner would be placed in different rooms, where they could not see each other but their reactions could be heard through the walls. As the learner pleaded for the experiment to stop, claiming his heart condition could not take the pain anymore, many teachers followed through the harsher electric shocks if he answered wrongfully. All the psychiatrists and doctors Stanley had consulted before the experiment took place would claim only 1% of the people would kill the person as they pushed 450 volts.
The results were shocking, as65% of the people were fully obedient, arriving to the 450 volts switch (Milgram, 1963). People were not blindly following orders, they knew about the harm since they had experienced a 40 volts shock at the beginning of the experiment. It was believed that the participant is caught between two different situations: the experimenter with the compulsion to go on and push a higher volt range, and the learner begging to stop the experiment. People during the experiment were not ignorant, they were aware of the inflicted harm towards the student. However, they followed through the commands of the leader, believing in the nobility of the scientific enterprise and actually thinking overall, they were causing more right than wrong.Dr.
Kaptein, as mentioned before, had the obedience to authority as one of the dominant key players to wrongdoings (Kaptein, 2012). Acting unethical due to a supervisor causes guilt to be less intense, since the responsibility does not lie entirely on one person. Evil acts are preserved through wrong circumstances. Anyone is competent of inflicting heinous harm on fellow human beings. The power of the situation usually ends up overwhelming personal power. To conclude, what this essay meant to inform individuals of was the founding elements that cause humans to turn into their evil self, and if anyone is capable of committing evil deeds, or displaying evil behavior.
Evidently, everyone can commit both good or evil deeds, although some might be more capable to do so based on childhood events (sociopaths) or the genes that they were born with (psychopaths). Therefore, we can draw to a close that the founding element that cause humans to become their evil selves can be caused due to lack of oxytocin, childhood (trauma, education,physical/mental abuse etc.), as well as being born with genes that can not let you feel empathy for others nor make connections. Works Cited Bonn, Scott A. “How to Tell a Sociopath from a Psychopath.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 22 Jan.
2014. Bradberry, Dr. Travis. “14 Psychological Forces That Make Good People Do Bad Things.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 7 Dec.
2017. Kaptein, M., Why Do Good People Sometimes Do Bad Things?: 52 Reflections on Ethics at Work (July 25, 2012). McLeod, Saul A. “The Milgram Experiment.” Simply Psychology, Simply Psychology, 2007.
Mushikiwabo, Louise. “Opinion: Rwanda Is Reborn Following Genocide Past.” Newsela, Project Syndicate, 16 May 2017 “Philip Zimbardo: The Psychology of Evil.” TED, TED Summaries, 16 Nov. 2014.
Reicher, Stephen, and Alex Haslam. “Stanley Milgram Taught Us We Have More to Fear from Zealots than Zombies.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 1 Sept. 2011. Zak, Paul J. “Why Some People Are Evil.
” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 8 Sept. 2011. Zak, Paul. “Trust, Morality — and Oxytocin?” TED: Ideas Worth Spreading, TEDGlobal 2011, July 2011.