by Frank Herbert
"All governments suffer a
Power attracts pathological
It is not that power
corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible."
Text QIV (decto)
For as long as I can remember, I have
been trying to understand why our world is so replete with cruelty,
destructiveness, waste, neglect and injustice, often to the point of
As I grew from childhood toward
adulthood, I increasingly accepted that it was inevitable, and the fault of
nobody specific, that we encounter some of these harmful phenomena.
But, even after coming to terms with the fact that life could never be
completely pain-free, much of its suffering still seemed to me needless,
senseless and preventable.
Over the years, I came into contact with a variety of sources that each
helped shed light on the mysteries of apparently unnecessary harm and, thus,
improved my understanding of why our world is as it is.
Daniel Quinn's work ingeniously
explained how a great deal of the excessive harm in our world stems from the
rise of civilization and our associated rapacious culture, hell bent on
unsustainable levels of acquisition, dominance and expansion, which he
refers to as the culture of the Takers.
Derrick Jensen's work devastatingly
demonstrated the inextricable link between civilization and violence on all
Many other works taught me about how corruption and abuse emerge and play
relationships, family systems, workplaces, religious communities and
nations, as well as globally.
They taught me about how our
political system, with its
legalized bribery and
mathematically unfair voting system,
reflects and further reinforces that corruption.
They taught me about the profound contrast between dogmatically
problem-based thinking, which contributes so much to perpetuating harmful
activity, and constructive thinking, as embodied in various solution-focused
techniques and methods, such as,
profess the revolutionary ability to fundamentally shift detrimental
situations in the direction of peace, harmony and health.
As I became more educated about the theories, as well as the promising
change methodologies, discussed in this array of sources, I began to
increasingly engage in supporting and promoting policies aimed at
practically applying them.
Yet, even after many years of participating, along with many others, in such
study and activity, I felt disappointed. While the theories I had come
across to that point certainly explained a great deal, they still didn't
seem to sufficiently explain some of the core issues involved in the genesis
of harm. I continuously witnessed cruel behavior more extreme than could be
accounted for even by all that I had learned combined.
Defense mechanisms of certain types appeared to render many people
tragically and intractably committed to problem-based approaches and averse
to constructive thinking to such an extent that, despite the investment of
enormous energy in promoting the application of solution-focused methods in
a wide range of areas, they nonetheless succeeded only in some concrete
limited cases in certain contexts.
And meanwhile, many of the world's greatest ills
were not only not being addressed, but were, in numerous cases, getting
I believed that something important still had to be missing from my mental
A crucial door opened when I refocused more heavily on the role of certain
psychological issues. I came to understand that some people have particular
mental illnesses, especially
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), marked by deep, often
biological differences from others, that drive them to behave in harmful
ways that, in the absence of awareness of their disorder, make little sense
and that then contribute to the movement of society as a whole in those same
As I researched further along this path, I was led to consider the role of
perhaps the most extreme relevant psychological condition and trait -
psychopathy and sadism.
And, in the course of researching those topics,
I was led to the field of
ponerology - the scientific study of evil,
whose name is derived from poneros, the Greek word for evil - and the
book most associated with that field,
'Political Ponerology - A Science on the Nature of Evil
Adjusted for Political Purposes' by
Andrzej M. Lobaczewski
(sometimes Americanized as Andrew M. Lobaczewski).
Political Ponerology is one of the most important books I've ever
It describes the work and conclusions of
Lobaczewski, a Polish psychologist, on the topic of why humanity seems to be
caught in a perpetual cycle of oppression and harm.
Lobaczewski was a person who was almost destined
to take an interest in this subject and uniquely qualified to write on it.
He was intimately familiar with totalitarian governments, having lived
through and contributed to the resistance to both the Nazi occupation of his
country as well as the Soviet invasion, in which his family's estate was
confiscated. And he was a deeply thoughtful, scientifically-minded
professional intensely driven to objectively understand such phenomena.
Lobaczewski was in the midst of training as a psychologist during the period
when Poland's social system was being perverted by these events and he
observed indoctrination firsthand when a new professor suddenly and
suspiciously appeared and began delivering extremely manipulative
non-scientific lectures to his class.
This led Lobaczewski to become
especially interested in the consequences of psychopathic people being
involved in government.
He began to investigate the topic on his own before
being notified that there was a covert network of people already doing so.
He joined them and the studies continued in great secrecy and at great risk.
The undercover investigators' goal was to explain objectively, rather than
through other types of explanations, the evil that they felt was playing out
around them in the forms of Fascism and Soviet style Communism throughout
Europe at that difficult historical time.
Lobaczewski and his colleagues
found that they lacked not only a discipline to serve as a central platform
for studying this subject matter, but that they lacked even the nomenclature
and terminology necessary to accurately discuss it. So they had to develop
Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, many of which stem from the very
forces that they were striving to understand, their original research was
never fully completed.
But Political Ponerology is the best available recounting of the
findings that Lobaczewski and his colleagues did manage to make in the
course of their secret investigations. Its foreword also imparts the
incredible story of how Lobaczewski overcame tremendous challenges -
including losing two earlier versions of the book as a direct result of
oppression in his homeland, being driven to flee Europe only to later
return, and allegedly facing opposition, after initial offers of assistance,
Zbigniew Brzezinski, famed political scientist and former National
Security Advisor under President Jimmy Carter - as he struggled to publish
the foreword describes, Lobaczewski was only
finally able to successfully publish the book many years after his initial
attempts when he found related material by some likeminded thinkers online,
made contact with them, and they, having been suitably impressed with his
work, provided the necessary assistance to bring the book to fruition.
All of this is described in much greater detail in my
review of Political Ponerology.
Political Ponerology was tedious to read, it was worth struggling
through because it provided fascinating pieces that had, to that point, been
missing from my mental model and helped to crystallize ideas that had
previously remained nebulous to me about why our world is the way it is and
how we might best respond to it.
As indicated by the title of his book,
Lobaczewski chose the term ponerology as the name for the discipline
dedicated to the study of issues such as those covertly investigated by him
and his colleagues.
While their main focus was, and the focus of
Political Ponerology is, how these issues play out in political systems,
the field of ponerology as a whole is much broader.
It facilitates and promotes inquiries - and the
development of the necessary related working terminology and categories -
regarding the entire spectrum of evil, including:
What is evil?
How does evil arise? - Lobaczewski calls
the process by which evil originates ponerogenesis and ponerology
aims to precisely reveal its "general laws."
To what extent is evil man made or
Why does evil arise where it does?
What forms does evil take?
To what extent can we predict the times,
places and shapes in which evil will emerge?
Why do people vary in their responses to
evil as they do?
Is evil preventable and, if so, when and
Moreover, ponerology is committed to answering
these questions from a scientific, rather than from a purely philosophical,
theological, supernatural, artistic, emotional or moral perspective.
I describe the field of ponerology and its implications in great detail in
Despite the fact that evil presents in a variety of ways and to varying
degrees, and that ponerology, therefore, encompasses a breadth of material,
there is one concept that lies at the very heart of the field because it
describes what is likely the most damaging form in which evil can manifest.
It is the concept that finally helped Lobaczewski make sense of the
oppressive system under which he and his neighbors lived.
The concept is
that of pathocracy.
What is Pathocracy?
In order to understand the concept of pathocracy,
you must first understand one of the foundational findings that Lobaczewski
and his colleagues made in their research.
They discovered that there is a fundamental
distinction - a distinction that reflects one of the most profound divisions
in the human species - between what Lobaczewski calls normals and the
Normals are, basically, those humans that experience significant levels of
compassion, empathy and conscience and hold, to a significant degree, values
such as cooperation and peace.
The pathological are those affected by particular psychopathologies -
specifically, various forms of
psychopathy and certain personality disorders (or, as Lobaczewski calls
them, characteropathies) - that alter their perception and worldview in such
a way as to:
Greatly inhibit or even prevent the
development of their ability to experience compassion, empathy or
conscience, as well as certain emotions such as guilt or shame, as
normals do - Just as color blind people cannot see colors like
normally-sighted people, those with these psychopathologies,
especially in their more extreme forms, simply cannot access these
capacities or generate or appreciate these feelings in the same ways
Induce them to value domination and
excessive acquisition - In fact the pathological's values are so
counter to those of normals that those things of which normals dream
represent, to them, a nightmare.
Although great diversity exists in many aspects
within humanity, this difference between normals and the pathological could
be considered the "difference that makes a difference."
In exploring the nature of and relationship between these two fundamental
groups of humans, Lobaczewski and his colleagues made several further
discoveries that also help inform an understanding of pathocracy, including
The pathological possess special talent
traumatizing normals in a variety of ways, some of which are
quite insidious and devious, and they often learn very early in life
how to assert and exploit this ability.
The psychopathologies that afflict the
pathological are either inherited or acquired by means including
brain lesion formation, trauma, adverse pre-natal or natal incidents
or the influence of a pathological person during a critical window
Lobaczewski, like other authors on this subject, is adamant in
emphasizing that the differences between normals and the
pathological are not just superficial. The relevant
psychopathologies are actual medical disorders that deeply affect
everything from the genetics to the neurology, including the brain
anatomy, of the pathological. In fact, the resulting characteristics
that distinguish the pathological from normals are so deeply
embedded and so fundamental that, the pathological are viewed by some as a
Only a relatively small proportion of
any given human population will be pathological. Lobaczewski
estimates that proportion to be between 4% and 9% in most human
societies. However, even though this would mean that the
pathological comprise, by a large margin, a minority within human
systems, their numbers are, nonetheless, greater than many people
would expect. And, because of the traits associated with their
disorders, they are capable of exerting vastly disproportionate
When normals are in charge of a human system,
Lobaczewski calls it a "system of normal man."
Pathological people often feel outcast or that they are unable to succeed in
a system of normal man. So they dream of dominating and ruling the system
themselves and making their values the norm.
When the pathological succeed in fulfilling this
dream by taking over a system so that they, rather than normals, are in
charge of it, Lobaczewski describes this state or the system in such a state
with the term pathocracy.
In Political Ponerology, Lobaczewski defines it by saying:
"I shall accept the denomination of
pathocracy for a system of government thus created, wherein a small
pathological minority takes control over a society of normal people."
Lobaczewski explains that he chose this term to
concisely emphasize that, even though the leaders of such systems, whom
calls pathocrats, hide their true nature behind various cloaks and in
various guises, so that they may seem remarkably different from each other
in many respects, the common pathological quality of their leadership is
their systems' most salient aspect.
When he found out that another scientist had
independently selected the very same term to describe such systems, his
decision was finalized.
Lobaczewski says that a pathocracy is like a psychopathological person writ
large. And just as its underlying disorders can be framed as diseases - each
with its particular etiology, pathodynamics, diagnostic criteria and so on -
he considers pathocracy itself, in a sense, a disease.
He repeatedly describes and explores it in those
terms, metaphorically comparing it to infectious or cancerous processes and
discussing how to identify its risk factors, diagnose it and immunize people
and systems to confer resistance against it. He even refers to pathocracy as
"the great disease."
Within a pathocracy, despite comprising a relatively small numerical
minority, the pathological rule, controlling power structures to an
enormously disproportionate degree and aggressively, but deceptively,
imposing their values.
As Lobaczewski says:
"An objective observer might wish to compare
this state to one in which the inmates of an asylum take over the
running of the institution."
Although Lobaczewski's work examines many
aspects of evil, it really revolves around the phenomenon of pathocracy, as
reflected in several of Political Ponerology's aspects:
Part V of Political Ponerology is
Nearly all of the book's other parts
focus on exploring either the process by which pathocracy arises or
its relevance to various areas of society such as normal people's
lives, the fields of psychology and psychiatry or religion.
Lobaczewski, in the book, identifies
certain well-known systems that he views as examples of pathocracy
and considers the psychopathologies of their leaders.
own postscript paints the book primarily as an explication of
pathocracy, describing it as:
"The depiction of the ways and means
by which pathological figures take over and undermine the social
structures of normal people..."
While it was Lobaczewski's work that first
introduced me to the term pathocracy and I haven't yet come across any other
works independently using the actual term, many of them have touched
directly on the subject, including:
Occurs on All Levels of Human Systems
When pathocracy affects a very large or "macrosocial"
system, such as a nation or an empire, Lobaczewski refers to this as "macrosocial
And his own work focuses mainly on pathocracy at
the nation-state level. But he makes clear that pathocracy can develop in
any human system and also explores, to some
degree, how it plays out in smaller or "microsocial" human systems, such as
families, businesses, religious communities or social movements.
There are works that focus more extensively than Lobaczewski's on the
dynamics of pathocracy at some of these various levels.
For instance, many books delve into the problem
of pathological leadership in families, while
Snakes in Suits and
The Corporation detail how the
pathological rise to power in and shape corporate systems.
Other works elucidate how pathocracies at these various levels are
intertwined and support each other in spreading pathology and pathocracy
still further. For example, in
Evil Genes, Barbara Oakley
discusses pathology at the family level as a means of humanizing discussion
of its dominance at higher political levels throughout history.
Derrick Jensen demonstrates,
in his work, how pathology in families mirrors psychopathological
dominance within civilization as a whole, as well as on levels, such as the
global and ecological, even higher than those most deeply examined by
Works such as these confront us with the tragic
plight of those unfortunate souls who endure existence in reciprocally
reinforcing pathocracies at multiple levels - for instance, in their family
and their nation or in their religious community as well as in their
workplace - at the same time.
How Does a System Become a
According to Lobaczewski, much as a disease runs
a typical course, pathocracy, on all of these levels, arises through a
similar archetypal process consisting of several stages that occur in
somewhat predictable timeframes.
Everything involved in this process is described
in detail in
Here we will give a brief overview.
As mentioned, the pathological are often miserable living in a system of
normal man. They feel themselves to be in a constant power struggle with
normals and pine for the development of a new order in which their values
and views dominate.
Systems of normal man, however, maintain a sort of social immune system that
resists takeover by the pathological, much as the immune system in an
individual's body resists takeover by infectious agents or mutated cells.
But, just as various factors can weaken or compromise the body's immune
system, enabling certain diseases to more easily emerge, the social immune
system within a system of normal man can also become compromised and, when
it does, people within that system become less willing to resist and more
willing to go along with pathological activities. These conditions make it
possible for the pathological to begin the process of taking over that
There are a number of interrelated risk factors that can contribute to
rendering a system more vulnerable to hijacking by these "social pathogens."
Lobaczewski discusses the range of them which
Certain economic circumstances
Certain levels of equitability - or lack
thereof - of resource distribution
Certain characteristics of the
population in regards to education
Prevalence in the population of various
Prevalence amongst individuals in the
population of certain conditions that heighten susceptibility to
manipulation by the pathological
Public ignorance about or denial
Diminished value for psychological
knowledge and for those skilled in its application
A distracting level of focus on
divisions more superficial than that between normals and the
Widespread belief in philosophies that
are overly forgiving or pathologically optimistic
Prevalence of supernatural thinking,
especially in regards to the issue of evil
Prevalent tendencies for para-appropriate
responses - These are, according to Lobaczewski, emotionalistic or
moralistic responses - such as sadness, anger and feelings of
superiority - to perceived evils that are understandable and
sometimes cathartic, but that, in and of themselves, only distract
us from and prove fruitless in actually resisting evil. In practical
terms they are as ineffective as, and in many ways are forms of,
It is worth noting that some of the factors that
increase the risk of pathological takeover are features that would seem to
be beneficial to a system but that, nonetheless, counter-intuitively, only
help enable or even fuel ponerogenesis.
When a system is affected by enough of these risk factors, it is vulnerable
to hijacking by spellbinding pathological people and groups asserting
themselves via one of two main approaches:
Arising organically from within the
Infiltrating, like a contagious
infectious agent or carcinogenic substance, from another, external
pathological system - This method is especially likely when deviant,
frustrated, outcast or otherwise susceptible people in the target
system resonate with the messages emanating from the external
pathological system and view it as a beacon of hope for a system in
which they can belong.
In Political Ponerology, Lobaczewski also
describes the ultimate differences between pathocracies that emerge from
within as opposed to those imported or imposed from the outside.
It doesn't take a great number of pathological people to exploit a
vulnerable system. Just as a tiny infection or mutation, in the absence of
sufficient resistance, can give rise to a deadly illness, just a few
pathological people, if they are able to gain a foothold in a system, can
set in motion a process by which a group reflecting their characteristics
and values overtakes its crumbling barriers and achieves domination.
The breakdown of resistance to pathocracy can sometimes progress quite
rapidly by means of a vicious cycle whereby, as risk factors for
ponerization become more prevalent and the system becomes increasingly
pathological, it becomes easier and easier to generate subsequent
deterioration in the system's immunity.
In addition, just as some disease agents amplify
their impact by attacking the body's immune system itself, the pathological,
understanding very well the dynamics of social immune breakdown, may
exercise their remarkable talent for contagiously spreading their influence
to actively encourage the further development of specific risk factors and,
thus, the acceleration of that vicious cycle.
And some of the risk factors can spread
extensively as they are passed down through generations via parenting, as
Lobaczewski explains how, as the pathological gain influence, they begin to
have an increasingly traumatic - even if, in some cases, subtle and
difficult to detect or describe - effect on the rest of the system.
He details the various types of manipulative
tactics that they use to produce this effect in service of their pursuit of
greater power and the particular defenses in normals that these targeted
He especially focuses on their use of paralogisms and paramoralisms, means
of communication by which the illogical is made to seem logical and the
immoral is made to seem moral.
He illustrates how they begin to manipulatively employ ideology and/or
religion, whether self-created or hijacked and perverted, to facilitate
their rise in different ways at different times in the ponerogenic process,
Trojan horses or masks to fool people
within the system, as well as in other, more normal systems that
might otherwise intervene to impede their activities, by concealing
their actual self-serving motives and destructive aims behind
typically beneficial names and symbols
He informs us that the pathological will also
turn to demagoguery, exploiting real frustrations or injustices within a
system by fraudulently promising to alleviate them as a ploy to elicit
greater support and obtain additional authority.
Furthermore, Lobaczewski describes how vulnerable people become
indoctrinated into complicity with the pathological and drawn into the fold,
as well as how archetypal relationships form as pathological groups coalesce
or coopt existing groups.
As ponerogenesis progresses, the more seriously disordered and aggressive
psychopaths, especially those with
psychopathy's inherited forms - despite comprising only a small minority
even within the already small minority of the overall population that is
pathological - more strongly assert control and drive pathological groups'
activity more overtly away from their stated ideologies and often toward
With their sense of utter difference from
normals combined with an extreme lack of empathy, these psychopaths are
perfectly willing to direct forceful action against normals in order to
achieve their desired ends.
Anyone who stands in their way may be
neutralized, if not through rhetorical devices then, if necessary - and
sometimes even when unnecessary - through assault, torture or even murder.
On a broad scale, by means of what Lobaczewski refers to as
"anti-psychotherapeutic techniques," the pathological radiate through
systems an anti-psychological attitude, which we will explore at more length
They are also often generally anti-science and may attempt to pervert
science, as well - most commonly in the scientific area that, for various
reasons, pathocrats care deeply about: biology, especially genetics.
The entire ponerogenic process moves gradually, but steadily toward a
pivotal clash - a showdown between the two main groups within the emerging
pathocracy: true adherents to its stated ideology who joined the movement
believing that they would have influence and the increasingly assertive,
seriously pathological members who are only tactically using that ideology.
It can sometimes be difficult to identify the
precise moment at which it occurs, but, when the latter group wins out, the
system reaches a tipping point, a milestone at which it crosses over from
ponerogenic to fully pathocratic.
At that point, the paralogisms have succeeded. The paramoralisms'
morality-deforming influence is so pervasive as to justify Lobaczewski's
reference to pathocracies as "paramoralism factories."
Eventually, everything is backward. Normal is
perceived as abnormal. Pathological people are perceived as impressive,
respectable authorities by enamored admirers who fail to distinguish the
message from the messenger.
The pathological will go to great lengths to maintain such delusion in the
public's minds, even, if they perceive it as necessary, exercising
widespread censorship or controlling or infiltrating educational systems to
do so (as Lobaczewski experienced firsthand when the indoctrinating impostor
mentioned earlier infiltrated his psychological training class, spurring the
series of events that culminated in the publication of Political
Sadly, they often do not even have to go to such
lengths as the unconsciously traumatized public, like a victim of
Syndrome, internalizes their wishes, censors itself, enacts their
anti-psychological attitude, outcasts those that attempt to awaken it to
reality and defends the very pathological people who are oppressing and
What is the Psychological Makeup
of a Pathocracy's Power Structure?
In Political Ponerology, Lobaczewski says
that he and his colleagues found that within a pathocracy:
Only about 6% of the population is
actively part of the pathological ruling class
Another 12% have traits that lead to
them being drawn into complicity with the rulers. Since people in
this group are more involved with the leadership than the rest of
the population, yet more similar to normals than the actively
pathological leaders, they often serve as managers and go-betweens.
The rest of the population is not
involved in the pathocratic leadership and is likely opposed to it.
Many in this majority will never truly conform to the pathocrats'
wishes even at the cost of great poverty and suffering because it
would shatter them psychologically to do so.
So less than 20% of the population is really
involved in supporting a pathocracy.
And yet that minority can be so powerful that it
stifles the autonomy of the other over 80%.
What Does a Pathocracy Look and
One of the most important things to understand
about pathocracies is that they are deceptive in many ways.
I describe especially
in my psychopathy page how difficult it can be, in any case, to
distinguish individuals who are pathological from those who are not. Only
the unsuccessful pathological are easily identified because many
pathological people wear a
"mask of sanity" and may be respected figures, including leaders and
even mental health professionals.
Similarly, it can be difficult to identify
larger pathocratic systems because they too may wear "masks of sanity" and
be admired by observers both within and on the outside. And identifying the
pathological individuals and groups within a full-blown macrosocial
pathocracy can be even more challenging.
A key way that a pathocracy masks its true nature is through the use of
various deceptive forms of communication. For example:
A significant proportion of the
communications that emanate from a pathocracy are actually
propaganda aimed at infecting the system with toxic material and/or
metastasizing it in such a way as to stealthily deform people,
especially the youth.
A pathocracy may often convincingly
trumpet very pleasant or uplifting sounding ideologies or religious
views completely contrary to its controlling authorities' actual
beliefs or intentions. In fact, those pathological authorities
typically choose which ideologies or religious views to espouse
precisely on the basis of whether they sound beneficial enough to
falsely portray benevolence and believable enough to attract support
and hoodwink potential opponents within and outside of the system,
thus enhancing their ability to freely pursue their malicious goals.
This is why pathocrats' stated belief systems are often quite
idealistic. In Lobaczewski's case, for instance, pathocrats
viciously oppressed him and his countrymen, all the while claiming
to believe in a Communist ideology supposedly dedicated to helping
Pathocrats deliver many coded
communications possessing double meanings such that they sound
perfectly innocuous to normals, but covertly convey sinister
messages decipherable only by pathological people within their
system and around the world.
As mentioned, pathocrats employ
paralogisms and paramoralisms that completely twist logic and ethics
to make themselves and their actions appear sensible, admirable and
respectable and Lobaczewski specifically details how they do this.
Because pathocracies are characterized by this
variety of deceptive communications, it is rarely more imperative to bear in
mind the old adage about actions speaking louder than words than when
attempting to elucidate the nature and intentions of a system that may be
under pathological control.
Pathocracies can also be deceptive in that their apparent power structures
may not reflect their actual power structures. Those that seem to be leaders
may, in fact, be expendable figureheads or members of the vast normal
majority that have snuck into leadership circles in order to surreptitiously
undermine them. Meanwhile, many in the 6% of the population that actually
exert significant control may do so clandestinely from behind the scenes or
under a misleading guise.
It can take experience to break the habit of
assuming that socioeconomic or ideological stratifications so important in
other systems either matter or correlate with positions of power in the same
way in a pathocracy where the stratifications that are truly relevant and
indicative of power are those based on relationships to the pathocrats.
An additional layer of complexity complicating attempts to recognize
pathocracy arises from the fact that, even in their deceptions, pathocracies
can differ greatly. Not only do pathocracies not look or sound as they
really are, but they also don't necessarily look or sound like each other.
There is no one way that all pathocracies look
or sound on the surface. Instead, pathological leaders tailor their
ostensible ideology and/or religion, propaganda, paralogisms, paramoralisms
and various tactics to the particular character and culture of the system in
which they find themselves at the particular time in which they find
themselves there so as to minimize the likelihood that their malevolent
intentions will be detected and, thus, maximize the likelihood of achieving
People whose perception is deformed as a result of being in or affected by -
or having been within or affected by - a pathocracy and consequently
experiencing the aftereffects of exposure to the associated
traumas may not recognize these misleading aspects of pathocracy since
they have blind spots inflicted in precisely the alignments necessary to
prevent them from doing so.
Even for relatively healthy people, the
combination of various layers and forms of deception involved can make it
very difficult to peer through the veil of illusion and recognize
But, Lobaczewski tells us that, if we train
ourselves to consistently consider the possibility of deception and
carefully contemplate what lies under the surface, we will start to become
familiar with the common patterns and principles, which he describes, that
can indicate when we are observing a pathocracy.
And he implores us to change the way we talk and
think about systems in such a way as to better focus ourselves on
distinguishing pathological from non-pathological systems, rather than
preoccupying ourselves with their more superficial characteristics, both so
that we will recognize those systems that pose threats and so that we won't
unnecessarily forsake ideologies that may actually be beneficial just
because we associate them with pathocrats who have, at some point,
manipulatively exploited them.
How Does a Pathocracy Function?
Lobaczewski explains in great detail how, at
different stages in a pathocracy's life cycle, different types of
pathological people, as well as complicit normals, play various interacting
and complementary roles that reflect the particular skill sets associated
with their conditions.
This includes the special and sometimes hidden
role played by the essential psychopath.
Pathocrats want desperately to avoid returning to a system of normal man.
Not only do they dread the misery that they typically experience when forced
to respect healthy boundaries in such a system.
But, now that they have
risen to power and participated in so many harmful activities, they fear
that if they lose that power they will be targeted for punishment and
revenge by their normal successors. So a great deal of what pathocrats do is
driven by a desire to control conditions so as to maintain the pathocracy
and their position in it.
We have just discussed the deceptive qualities of pathocratic power
structures. And one of the ways that some pathocrats seek to protect the
status quo is by preferentially filling positions that interface with the
outside world with those who can better conceal their pathology.
way, they present the public with a relatively palatable face of leadership
which serves as a façade, obscuring the ugly truth - that extremely
pathological people actually run the system - from their own people, from
those who might otherwise consider intervention and from those with whom
they wish to deceitfully maintain relations.
If they perceive it as necessary, pathocrats will also, as we have seen,
take vicious action to maintain power.
War plays numerous important roles in the functioning of a pathocracy.
Lobaczewski explores the many real, as opposed to the ostensible, reasons
that pathocrats wage war, including to:
Gin up exploitable patriotism at home
Distract their citizens from recognizing
their own exploitation
Eliminate normals in their own society
through having them killed in war
Weaken outside challengers who could
Expand their reach to other places from
which they can usurp resources
Crush the morale of normals in their own
system that hope for a return to normality by signaling to them that
normal systems will, as a matter of course, be destroyed
Thus, pathocracy may help explain why our
globalized world is characterized by a long history of and the constant
threat of imperialism.
However, while pathocrats are commonly skilled at temporarily maintaining
their image and power, they are often quite inadequate at actually running a
system's key institutions.
As a result, they frequently have no choice but
to rely on at least some less pathological or even normal people that are
And this conflict between pathocrats' desire to limit
power to their loyal fellow pathocrats and the need to involve others in day
to day functions is a key factor in the life cycle of a pathocracy.
What is Life Like Within a
Those within a pathocracy live under the
constant threat of - if not amidst actually constant - psychological, as
well as often physical, warfare.
We have seen how desperate pathocrats are to avoid returning to a system of
normal man and the extreme lengths to which they are willing to go to
maintain their power.
And we have explored the fact that, since they view normals as foolish members of a likely inferior class of being - a view that
they consider only further validated by their own rise to power - they have
few qualms about inflicting great mental, emotional and physical harm upon
So it should come as no surprise that pathocrats, when they believe it
serves them, may engage in activities as brutal as condemning their own
people to hardship and poverty in order to render them more submissive or,
as previously discussed, employing violent measures, up to and including
torture and murder, on a vast scale.
And, since they are hypersensitive to
anything that they perceive - or misperceive - as a threat to their control, pathocrats are prone to impulsively and aggressively cracking down through
such measures at the slightest hint of potential subversion.
In addition, the pathological often harbor a strong desire to change these
apparently misguided creatures that we call normals into people like
themselves. They may try ardently to accomplish this through means ranging
from disinformation to terrorism. But these efforts inevitably fail because
normals are simply fundamentally different from them.
The pathological, however, cannot grasp the solidity of this fundamental
difference and, thus, become quite upset when their transformational efforts
Unwilling or unable to accept the basic futility of their quest,
they may try to silence anyone who dares to point it out or allude to the
biological nature of normals as the actual impediment and to scapegoat
anyone or anything that they can falsely blame for the predictable failure.
Lobaczewski cleverly compares this absurd situation to a hypothetical one in
which color blind people, having taken over a system, outlaw the act of
accurately seeing colors and patrol the land, enforcing the prohibition by
moving against anyone observed successfully selecting objects based on color
- all while simultaneously outlawing acknowledgement of or discussion about
the fact that any of this is taking place.
Given pathocrats' harshness, as well as their incompetence, normals may wish
to simply avoid any interaction with them. However, pathocrats control so
many of the resources within a pathocracy that those within it are forced to
"walk on eggshells," engaging and communicating with - and even assisting -
the pathological so as to get their needs met while taking delicate care not
to upset them.
Every day, therefore, is an exercise in, as Lobaczewski
describes it, "instructing deviants while avoiding their wrath."
Ultimately, the stresses of negotiating conditions like this wear on most of
the population. Lobaczewski describes the psychophysiological shock,
neurosis and immense suffering experienced by normals, and even by some of
the pathological, struggling to survive within such a corrupt, delinquent,
dangerous and absurd system whether in their family, business, community,
nation or in several of these overlapping levels at once.
Since most normals
cannot become pathological or even easily adapt to the influence of those
who are, contact with so much "pathological material" can damage them and
they may require special forms of therapy to heal.
This damage can be even more severe in the face of extreme levels of
unconsciousness and/or consciousness about what is really happening. For
instance, on one hand, harm can be exacerbated when, as is so common during
much of the pathocracy's life cycle, many people within the system lack
comprehension, or harbor misunderstandings, about what is being experienced.
On the other hand, the consequences can be profoundly tragic for the
and talented, who, due to their exceptional sensitivity, are more likely
to have some level of intuition about the reality of what is taking place,
even as they are surrounded by others who deny or invalidate their
perception or even blame the events on them.
This leads many such people to
back away from most others and attempt to spend time only with those who
share their understanding.
Meanwhile, none of this is even to mention the devastation experienced by
nonhumans and the rest of our ecosystem under the influence of pathocracy.
Suppression and Manipulation of
Psychology and Psychiatry in Pathocracies
There is what Lobaczewski calls a,
between the pathological system and those areas of science which describe
psychological and psychopathological phenomena."
Though many may not recognize the crucial links between politics and mental
health systems, the suppression and manipulation of psychological and
psychiatric knowledge are so core to the rise of pathocracy that Lobaczewski
includes an entire chapter in
Political Ponerology - Chapter VII, entitled "Psychology and
Psychiatry Under Pathocratic Rule" - in which to explore them.
In a relatively healthy system, psychology and psychiatry are promoted as
highly esteemed fields that discover and contribute valuable information and
tools that can assist people and groups in becoming even healthier and
maintaining that health.
In a pathocratic system, in contrast, these fields are viewed by authorities
and others as existential threats.
Leaders try to prevent authentic
knowledge about them from being recognized or disseminated and authentic
practitioners from applying it since such activities could ultimately expose
the truth about the nature of these leaders and what they have done by
fostering a more sophisticated public suspicious of, and willing and
equipped to explore what lies behind, their Trojan horse ideologies.
Furthermore, pathocratic leaders may themselves try to harness available
psychological and psychiatric knowledge and resources to use as weapons
against the population.
Pathocrats carry out
this self-serving distortion and abuse of psychology and psychiatry by, for
Intimidating, blackmailing, censoring or
buying off researchers
Even eliminating researchers, as
demonstrated in a story Lobaczewski tells about a German professor
who, after writing an analysis of Hitler's psychopathology warning
of the dangers of his rise to leadership, was killed in a
Dispatching fellow pathocrats wielding
sham credentials to infiltrate the mental health profession
Manipulating diagnoses or concocting
bogus disorders and then labeling dissidents with them in order to
discredit or justify locking up those dissidents - Pathocrats can do
this with little cognitive dissonance since, as we have seen, they
already believe themselves to be superior creatures and their normal
opponents to be deviant fools.
Actually driving people to madness
Lobaczewski himself experienced the
repercussions of a number of these methods.
They are why he encountered an
impostor indoctrinating his psychology training class. They are why much of
the early 20th century European work on psychopathologies was suppressed and
unavailable to him when he began to inquire into ponerologic issues.
are why he and his colleagues had to carry out their investigations in
secret and why many of them had to sacrifice greatly for doing so. They are
why he lost much of the data generated by those investigations, as well as
the first two versions of what only finally became Political Ponerology.
All of this degradation and misuse of mental health systems' capacities is
ultimately part of a more general attempt to stifle and discourage dissent
within the pathological system as a whole. It reveals how very conscious
pathocrats are of the enormous role that psychology and psychiatry,
appropriately utilized, play in maintaining health and of how undermining
and abusing them can enable pathology to flourish.
When much of the population is affected by pathocrats' suppression and
manipulation of psychology and psychiatry, the aforementioned
anti-psychological attitude can spread, rendering the population apathetic
or even hostile to psychological and psychiatric wisdom and those who
This then serves as an enormous risk factor for yet further pathologization of the system, contributing to a vicious cycle.
Suppression and Manipulation of
Other Science in Pathocracies
Lobaczewski explains how different pathocratic
regimes, in attempts to rationalize their particular programs, promote
distorted science in varying, and sometimes even opposite, ways that reflect
and support their specific underlying worldviews.
For instance, the Soviets opposed the study of
genetics while the Nazis advocated the idea that everything important is
Pathocrats will manipulate science, the realm
dedicated to seeking knowledge through unbiased means and, thus, an inherent
threat to oppressive control, in whatever manner they feel is necessary to
maintain power in the system in which they find themselves.
What is a Pathocracy's Fate?
Lobaczewski is clear that a pathocracy cannot be
It can last for some time and it can expand and
infect or metastasize to other systems. And even at its height few people
may realize what is really happening. But eventually, just as severe
infections or cancers kill their hosts, a pathocracy will go too far,
striving to extend its power without wise limits, and sow the seeds of its
The pathocracy's downfall really begins when pathocrats become greedy and,
in choosing personnel to carry out various roles within the system, begin to
prioritize loyalty to their pathological values above competence to too
great a degree.
This culminates in an attempt to place only pathological
people in all leadership positions. And this, in turn, leads to a few
First, the system becomes stifled and paralyzed. The pathological, as noted,
cannot transform normals into pathological people or even lure most of them
into complicity. And there simply are not enough pathological people of
superior technical skill.
So, as more and more pathological people are
placed into key positions, many of them prove incapable of adequately
operating the institutions and coordinating the functions necessary to
support the system. The system's energy and potential are increasingly
wasted, especially since it is its most talented, intelligent people who
find it most difficult to genuinely contribute.
In addition, as the system is directly dominated by even more pathological
people, its operations become more extreme and its activities begin to
deviate ever further from the pathocrats' Trojan horse ideology. The mask
that hides their true intentions begins to crumble.
Meanwhile, it requires more and more effort to negotiate with the system's
increasing extremism while avoiding being damaged by paralogisms and
Spurred by the exertions of surviving in such a
morass, people begin to sharpen their abilities to apply intellect to
understanding the pathocrats and to regain their interest in and value for
psychological matters, those with psychological skills and their own
creativity. They start looking to history for precedents and guidance on how
to respond to their situation.
They develop a shared language of oppression
spiced by an irreverent sense of humor.
Eventually, with the system deteriorating, the true face of the pathocracy
increasingly exposed and the population progressively regaining its
pathology detection skill and spirit of resistance, people wake up to the
fact that the pathocrats are not impressive admirable people, but malicious
incompetents and they refuse to accept such an order any longer.
They begin to discover the weak spots in the
pathocracy and exploit them. At this point, the pathocracy is on its last
Tragically, however, even though the pathocracy will soon fall, it will do
so only after inflicting tremendous levels of unnecessary damage,
destruction and suffering.
The pathological can never learn to truly
But certain normals - especially those that were
subject to pathological people, sometimes within their families, during
their upbringing and are therefore familiar with pathology and with the
pathocrats' language - can become quite skilled at recognizing and
explaining the pathological.
These particular normals are often the first to
notice the pathological pattern playing out in a system - since they
perceive its similarity to the one that played out on a smaller scale in
their past - and to help awaken people to this reality.
These whistleblowers are often tragic heroes. They acquired the talents that
they employ to help so many others at the cost of having to suffer multiply
from living in pathocracies at more than one level in life.
And despite their sacrifices and importance in
assisting their fellow man and advocating for normals as a group, they are
often ostracized and not valued until the late stages in the process of
pathocracy, if at all.
But whether or not they are sufficiently appreciated by those around them
for their contributions, they nonetheless play key roles in sparking or
catalyzing the downfall of a pathocracy.
The Historical Cycle
Sadly, the downfall of a pathocracy does not
represent its complete and eternal end.
Rather, Lobaczewski claims, there is a cycle
whereby pathocracy rises and falls repeatedly. And, according to him, this
rise and fall is tied to the rise and fall within a system of standards of
It is during prosperous periods, he explains, that people become complacent,
ease into denial about the dark underbelly of their system, devalue
psychology and allow pathology detection skill to deteriorate - all of the
sorts of occurrences that, as discussed, render a system vulnerable to the
pathological. And it is only after the pathological rise to significant
levels of dominance and standards of living widely decline that, as also
discussed, many people wake up, rebel and bring down the existing power
This ushers in a new era of prosperity. However, Lobaczewski
laments, people commonly react to this return of good fortune as
irresponsibly as they did during the previous prosperous period, enabling
the pathological to rise once more and the cycle to yet again repeat.
It may not be easy to recognize the archetypal nature of this cycle because
pathocracies in different times and cultures wear different superficial
guises. It takes a trained eye to notice the threads that they all share.
But once we learn to see them, we become aware of the painful pattern
playing out throughout history right up to the present day. And, Lobaczewski
warns, until we make some necessary changes, we are doomed to repetitively
experience it into what may be an unnecessarily abbreviated future.
My Responses to Learning about
The concept of pathocracy and descriptions of
the process by which it arises hit home with me deeply.
Like a growing number of people, I had long been affected by and thought
often about the many aspects of life that pathocracy and ponerogenesis
relate with and help explain including the facts that:
Certain psychopathologies have
tremendous impact on systems at many levels - Even before reading
Political Ponerology, I had recognized the importance of and
Borderline Personality Disorder and
Narcissistic Personality Disorder, even referring to them as the
core disorders of our culture. And after just my first perusal of
Political Ponerology, I was moved by events to write
"Publicizing The Threat of Personality Disorders Among Those in
Positions of Power".
The influence of people with such
conditions cannot be ignored, yet, despite all attempts at treatment
or rehabilitation, many cases prove intractable
Corrupt people, even when relatively
incompetent, often seem to rise more successfully in hierarchical
systems than do more ethical competent people - As an
INTJ, the issue of unmerited authority was always of concern to
Supposedly beneficial, well-intentioned
systems, including religious and political ones, can apparently be
hijacked and exploited for extremely destructive ends
Some victims of pathological systems
bear the scars for a long time, if not permanently, require special
care and are often misdiagnosed and mistreated as pathological
While some people, such as myself, seem
deeply moved to respond to and oppose injustice and to promote
justice and empathy, a surprising number of others seem unaffected
by and apathetic to - or even driven to support - injustice,
possibly reflecting some fundamental difference between those in the
former versus the latter group
Many workable potential solutions,
presented in good faith by wise, caring people, are simply ignored
or sabotaged for irrational reasons - As an activist, I learned from
experience that even when a proposed measure can be demonstrated as
mathematically superior to a system's current policy - as in the
case, for example, of
Instant Runoff Voting
(IRV) as compared with most of our present
voting methods - many will bend over backwards to find reasons to
oppose it, likely indicating the involvement of deeper psychological
motives perhaps shaped through manipulation.
In light of all of these data, I increasingly
grew to suspect, in spite of my considerable skepticism of such
conspiratorial explanations, that there were, in fact, significant sinister
forces actively working against the common good.
This suspicion was validated when I encountered books by highly credible
authors, such as
Snakes in Suits and
The Sociopath Next Door, asserting very similar ideas.
But it was
not until I learned about the concept of pathocracy and Lobaczewski's
scientific approach to investigating it that the suspicion was crystallized
and defined with a name.
Learning about pathocracy also made me realize
why Mike Judge, of all people, had induced in me long lingering
contemplation with his film
I had found his previous film,
Office Space, to be a brilliant and devastatingly subversive
satire of the modern world of work, a realm rife with painful absurdity and
injustice in which we are often effectively left at the mercy of clueless
and uncaring people and forces.
And I found it fascinating that he chose, in
his next film, named for and revolving around a concept obviously closely
related to pathocracy, to explore the broader question,
"What if stupid
people increasingly ran the entire world?"
The premise of Idiocracy
is that, since stupid people are breeding faster than smart people, in
several centuries humanity will be dumbed down to the point that Earth will
be ruled by idiots.
I felt there was something profound about the idea, but
that it didn't quite hit the nail on the head.
As I learned more about pathological systems -
including when, in reading Evil Genes, I encountered
data illustrating that those with certain psychopathologies have
historically mated more frequently than others and, thus, have more
prolifically spread their genes - I realized why I had experienced such
mixed emotions about Idiocracy.
Judge was keen enough to consider the
possibility and potential consequences of a dangerous incompetent category
of people rising to power in our systems. And he was even keen enough to
consider that an increasing prevalence of their genes within populations as
a result of relatively more frequent mating might be at least part of the
mechanism by which they achieve this rise.
But that dangerous category of people is not
those who are simply stupid. Rather, it consists of people with
psychopathological conditions that affect their values and ethics such that
they aggressively pursue malicious ends.
And while some of those people, like the leaders
in Judge's Idiocracy, may also be stupid, many, on the contrary,
actually exhibit striking savvy in pursuing their destructive goals.
Pathocracy, Civilization and
Yet another consequence of learning about
pathocracy was that I began to deliberate deeply about whether this
phenomenon could help explain the rise of our
destructive civilization itself and its seemingly intractable
Daniel Quinn's work in my early 20's had made the untenable nature of
modern social structures a primary issue for me.
But Quinn's proposals for
addressing the issue struck me as somewhat overly optimistic because I felt
that they failed to account for significantly influential factors, even
though I was not, as yet, able to identify what those unaddressed factors
Derrick Jensen's work helped clarify much of what I felt Quinn had
overlooked by exposing more of the irremediable psychological roots of
civilization's inherent violence that Quinn didn't seem to emphasize.
After a great deal of reading, writing and interaction with others concerned
about these issues, I began to ask the question:
What kind of humans would institute or even
tolerate and enable a model like civilization based on
growth and a refusal to accept limits?
Having studied personality disorders and having
seen their effects on lower level human systems, I began to wonder whether
it was possible that our culture as a whole is actually the creation of
psychopathological people. Ponerology and the concept of pathocracy put meat
on the bones of that speculation.
I read Lobaczewski stating that Western civilization is "insufficiently
resistant to evil" in the context of his belief that evil stems from the
And I found a clear connection between the thinking of Quinn and Jensen, who
so often wrote about civilization's mindset of conquest and expansion, and
that of Lobaczewski, who said about pathocracies:
"The ideology must, of course, furnish a
corresponding justification for this alleged right to conquer the world
and must therefore be properly elaborated. Expansionism is derived from
the very nature of pathocracy, not from ideology, but this fact must be
masked by ideology."
I was later able to frame a more specific
Is civilization itself the history of
stealthily flourishing pathocracy?
My inkling about this was only strengthened when
I read Evil Genes' thesis that civilization enabled powerful
pathological people to access so many more mates than they could ever
possibly access in another social structure that, throughout history, they
have spread their genes within the population to a degree likely sufficient
to markedly reduce the levels of empathy and conscience in civilized
When I read Snakes in Suits, which elucidates how the pathological
are particularly well suited to exploit extreme hierarchies, I instantly
recognized its relevance to the question of their role in civilization,
since extreme hierarchy is civilization's hallmark.
I later remembered that, years earlier, Jensen himself had compared living
within civilization to being "Locked in a Room with Psychopaths."
even included a track on his album,
Stand Up Tragedy, with that title. I had simply forgotten about
it until reading Lobaczewski's work reminded me that Jensen had, long ago,
without introducing the actual term pathocracy, made the connection between
psychopathy and that this connection was, in fact, one of the reasons he
believed civilization to be unsustainable.
To put it in a way I couldn't
have until reading Lobaczewski's work, Jensen believes that civilization is
irredeemable at least partly because it inevitably develops into and
perpetuates pathocracy on various levels.
Today, with the benefit of having studied Lobaczewski's writings, I can
phrase my core questions about how psychopathology and ponerology relate to
civilization and its unsustainability like this:
Could such a destructive civilization ever
have arisen if a ponerologic mindset were present in a substantial
proportion of people?
Is promoting a ponerologic mindset the best
action we can take to slow or reverse civilization's destructive and
Is Pathocracy Real?
Of course any speculation on how pathocracy may
have influenced or does influence our systems begs a more fundamental
question: Does pathocracy really exist?
This is a very valid question to ask because, depending on how it is framed,
the idea that a small minority of psychopathological people deceptively
takes over human systems and destructively controls them can sound like the
ultimate wacky conspiracy theory.
And Lobaczewski's word in Political
Ponerology is not sufficient, by itself, to override justified
skepticism about the idea, especially since the studies in which he and his
colleagues investigated it were never completed, much of the data from those
studies was lost and, thus, even Lobaczewski himself admits that
Political Ponerology is really an incomplete work.
In light of this, here are my current views regarding the question of
First and foremost, let it be said that
is a science and, therefore, we should continue to pursue investigation to
more objectively determine, based on the best available evidence, whether
and where pathocracy has existed or exists.
But, with that said, I think that, if we consider the topic from various
angles, most of us can agree that it is actually not that controversial,
after all, to claim that pathocracy does exist - that there are, in fact,
human systems ruled by psychopathological people.
I don't think that many would seriously doubt that, at the lower human
system levels, there are people with psychopathy and the personality
disorders that Lobaczewski discusses who have children and, thus, as
parents, run and dominate the family system, often leading to serious
I also don't think that many would seriously doubt that, at a slightly
higher level, there are organizations ranging all the way from obscure
fringe cults to well known successful mainstream businesses run by extreme
narcissists. In fact, the idea that such pathologically-led organizations
exist, far from being hotly debated, has almost become cliché and is
corroborated by respected researchers in books like Snakes in Suits.
And how many would deny that, at the highest levels, at least some of
history's ruthless leaders and dictators, who directed countries and
empires, like Hitler, Stalin or Gaddafi, may have been psychopathological?
I have seen Hitler described by George Victor, a
long-practicing psychotherapist educated at Columbia, Harvard and NYU, in
Hitler: The Pathology of Evil, as having
Borderline Personality Disorder, as well as being diagnosed with other
ponerogenic conditions by various authors.
In Political Ponerology, Lobaczewski talks specifically about his
diagnosis of Stalin.
Gaddafi was widely described as a madman.
While there may be disputes about exactly which psychopathology afflicted
each of these and similar murderous leaders, it doesn't seem much of a
stretch to accept that at least some of them provide examples of ponerogenic
There are those who will persistently insist that pathocracy does not exist.
Some will do so because they have not very directly perceived themselves as
having experienced it and cannot imagine such people as pathocrats existing,
much less exerting such extensive influence.
Others will do so as a result
of various other causes, ranging from our evolved instinct to naturally view
systems from a different angle to defenses, such as denial, induced by
trauma suffered due to contact with pathocratic systems themselves.
think that even many of these skeptics, when pathocracy is explained to them
in a certain way from a particular perspective, can come to agree that it is
not simply a far-fetched conspiracy theory, but a very realistic and likely
possibility, if not a downright certainty.
If we can accept the likely existence of pathocracy as our best educated
guess, with the caveat that further investigation should always be carried
out and is clearly merited, then a couple more relevant questions come to
How Common and How Consequential
These are two crucially important questions that
I think demand a great deal of research.
As with all ponerologic inquiries,
the determination of the answers to these questions should be made based on
rigorous investigation of the evidence. But I will venture to say that it is
reasonable to at least hypothesize that pathocracy is quite common and
To understand why this hypothesis merits much
further investigation, consider the following:
This disorder and related ones involved
in ponerogenesis are:
More prevalent than we realize
Represented in a diverse range of
areas in society, many of which we might not even suspect
So deceptive that well known
respected leaders can have them without people realizing it
Those with these disorders, especially
if they ascend to positions of power, are often significantly more
proficient at spreading their genes than others.
The ponerogenic disorders, by their
nature, render those with them:
Drawn to seeking power - as
implied by the Frank Herbert quote at the opening of this
Driven to use and adept at
employing devious tactics in order to attain that power
Especially adept at
exploiting extreme hierarchies
Specifically talented at
traumatizing and deceiving people in such a way that many
remain unconscious of or aggressively deny their impact
It only takes a small number of
pathological people in a vulnerable environment to set in motion a
process culminating in their takeover of a system.
Milgram experiments showed, many normals are surprisingly
compliant with anyone perceived as an authority figure, even when
that authority explicitly orders them to do things that they find
abhorrent. This leads one to conjecture that those normals would be
even more compliant when they are unaware of the destructive
consequences of the actions in which deceptive pathological people
in positions of perceived authority may, at certain times, urge them
While not all harmful events relate to
pathological people exercising control, we can see that many of the
most extreme tragedies in human history were born out of
circumstances in which people with many signs of pathology rose to
positions of authority. Even if we were to accept these cases as
rare exceptions, situations in which cruel, ruthless leaders have
gained significant power have often generated enormous suffering,
affecting millions. Just in the 20th century alone, the damage from
systems led by people suspect for psychopathologies to human beings,
nonhuman creatures and the environment as a whole was astounding,
and the reverberations will continue to be felt by numerous
generations to come. It certainly appears that pathocracy may
have been responsible for more of the man-made destruction than
From the most general perspective,
considering the state of today's world, it is very reasonable to
suspect that there may be something amiss that is too severe to
explain away as the result only of the actions of misguided people
The enormous damage of the recent past
brought about by systems with possibly pathological leaders was
facilitated greatly by their increased access to technology and
networks which they could leverage. As technological development
progresses and everything from communications to economic structures
becomes increasingly globalized, it takes an ever smaller number of
pathological people with access - or even simply a lone pathological
individual - to do tremendous damage.
Lobaczewski himself believed pathocracy was
common and consequential enough to call it "the great disease."
above, in combination, point to the strong possibility that he may well be
We must avoid becoming conspiracy theorists or jumping to conclusions. And I
cannot emphasize enough that ponerology is, by definition, a scientific
field and we must, therefore, look to further research to solidify our
But there is enough reason to believe that pathocracy is a very
common and tremendously consequential phenomenon to justify investing
heavily in that research.
Investigation of Pathocracy by Prioritizing Ponerology
Thus, we understand that we need to place a
strong priority on scientific investigations into the reality, overall
frequency and effects of pathocracy.
We must carry out studies to better
answer questions such as:
Do psychopathological people take over
If so, how often do psychopathological
people take over systems?
What are the consequences of pathocracy
on people within those pathocratic systems, in other systems that
relate to it and on nonhumans and the rest of our ecosystem?
And these are not the only relevant questions
that merit such investigation. There are many others such as:
How common is pathocracy at various
levels of systems?
What types and severity of pathology
exist among certain categories of leaders and how does this data
compare to a corresponding analysis of the general population?
Which psychopathologies or conditions -
medical or otherwise - are relevant?
What can we learn about the etiology,
physiology, pathodynamics, detection and diagnosis of, as well as
about the optimal prevention of and treatment strategies for, these
What are the potential side effects of
treating these conditions, when do the benefits of treatment
outweigh the costs of those side effects and, when necessary, how
can those side effects be best handled?
Still other important questions that deserve
investigation spur us to examine the issue of pathocracy much as an
infectious disease specialist or oncologist would consider their subjects of
expertise, such as:
What are the risk factors that leave a
human system vulnerable to pathocracy and how can we proactively
Are there ways that we can efficiently
screen asymptomatic systems, based on recognized criteria, to
proactively search for signs of risk factors for or lowered immunity
to pathocracy, thus allowing earlier intervention?
What are the stages and mechanisms
involved in the process of ponerogenesis? Is Lobaczewski correct
about the manner in which pathocracy arises?
How can we assess what stage a system is
at in ponerogenesis and in the historical cycle or predict what
stages are soon to come?
How do we recognize systems that are
already ponerized and unable to healthily self-govern?
What interventions can or cannot succeed
at particular stages in ponerogenesis to prevent, reduce or cure the
"disease" of pathocracy?
Additional relevant questions for investigation
How can we heal victims of pathological
Is there a predilection amongst certain
people to consciously or unconsciously deny the existence of
pathocracy for various self-serving reasons? What are the effects of
such denial on those people, victims they encounter and the systems
of which they are part?
Which stubbornly persistent problems
actually persist so stubbornly because they are symptoms of
destructive, cruel, wasteful or neglectful pathocracy that is going
unrecognized, perhaps due to its deceptiveness, and unaddressed?
How should problems existing because of
current pathocracy in a system be addressed strategically?
Are there certain types or scales of
governments or social structures that inevitably develop into
pathocracies and are therefore wholly untenable?
The field of
is the one dedicated to scientifically studying just these types of
Ponerology does not only study these questions.
As mentioned and as discussed in my ponerology page, it is also dedicated to
investigating an even wider
range of questions regarding all aspects of evil.
But pathocracy is
quite possibly the ultimate form of evil and, therefore, ponerology is
especially focused on these questions about it and about the ponerogenic
process from which it emerges.
So, if we can agree that it is reasonably likely that pathocracy exists and
reasonably likely that it is common and consequential, and that therefore
these hypotheses deserve testing and related questions demand examination,
our response should be to work to raise the profile and elevate the status
of ponerology as a discipline.
This will increase the likelihood that the
most important questions about pathocracy will receive serious scientific
focus and will provide a supportive foundation upon which researchers and
others from many backgrounds and disciplines who share interests and talent
in this area can come together and find the resources they need to provide
that focus today and into the future.
Even if one believes that pathocracy is a rare phenomenon or, though
doubtful of its likelihood, simply accepts its potential to occur, given
that it is a reasonably possible phenomenon capable of generating such
awesome damage, there is still little excuse not to support investment in
and promotion of a burgeoning field of ponerology to investigate.
of the enormity of the evils that may be linked to pathocracy, we would be
remiss not to deeply study that connection even if only to rule it out.
Implications of Pathocracy
If pathocracy does exist and has significant
impact, it would have tremendous implications for everything from:
How we understand the world - Indeed it
would be impossible to have a thorough understanding of the world
without understanding pathocracy and how it works
What our priorities should be in terms of research and activism
How we must strategize to try to solve problems
It would confirm that a great deal of what we
may term evil in our world is indeed man-made and unnecessary and that it is
thus no longer acceptable to simply say "that's life."
And, if this is so, many of us would find it unethical to simply go about
our days and do nothing about it.
Pathocracy's existence would also confirm that there is a biological and
medical component underlying much of this man-made cruelty, destruction,
waste and neglect which none of us who care about or are working for a
healthy world can afford to ignore.
Some who wish to do nothing and frame it as forgiveness will rightly point
out that, if this is the case, it calls into question in what way those who
carry out the behaviors that drive these phenomena are responsible. If their
actions are physiologically-based, then perhaps they cannot control them and
should be authentically forgiven.
There is something to be said for this
argument and, in fact, it can be internally helpful to forgive in that sense
However, at the very same time, that forgiveness comes with an
even greater, not lesser, responsibility, to take action to prevent further
abuses. Forgiving a person with such a deeply rooted condition that impairs
their conscience, if done in a manner that enables them to participate in
further harm, is something many would deem immoral.
Others will want to go to the other extreme, favoring strong responsive
action, but doing so based primarily on emotionalistic and moralistic para-appropriate
responses. This could be considered comparably unethical since responses so
motivated not only do not significantly improve pathological situations, but
can do more harm than good.
Neither forgiveness nor harsh revenge effectively reduces the consequences
of pathocracy and debates about their relative merits with each other or
ourselves only set us back. The pathological promote and encourage these
very types of thinking because they can prey on the distraction and
susceptibility that they generate.
Pathocracy's existence would mean that, although the topic of
psychopathology may be an uncomfortable one, it is impractical and possibly
immoral to avoid pragmatically confronting its harsh reality - especially
its biological aspects - as too many, including even professionals in
relevant fields specifically tasked with addressing it or its consequences,
We must detach emotionally at least enough to objectively examine and
explore the anatomical, genetic, physiological and other perspectives on
psychopathological conditions and how, when their influence penetrates power
structures, they affect us.
In fact, pathocracy's significant influence
would mean that the study of ponerogenic psychopathologies deserves to be
highly prioritized, much as the study of conditions like AIDS or depression
Such endeavors, motivated by a commitment to educating ourselves, are
more important than punitive efforts, a point Lobaczewski emphasizes when he
explains his view that humanity would have been better served, healing
better promoted and future tragedies better prevented had we carried out
objective scientific research after World War II to expose the
psychopathology animating the Nazis, rather than using the Nuremberg trials
mainly to punish them through imprisonment or death - measures that they
themselves preferred to being exposed.
Pathocracy's reality would mean that our typical layman's terminology is
insufficient for accurately communicating about myriad aspects of and events
in our world and that, due to the phenomenon's medical and other complicated
components, we need to employ more specialized technical language to even
make sense of it and related issues ourselves, much less to cogently
converse about these issues with each other.
It would mean that we must prioritize distinguishing normals from the
Even though, perhaps fortunately, normals cannot think exactly
like the pathological, we can, nonetheless, intellectually grasp their
characteristic styles of thought. This means that, when we are able to
recognize the pathological by their differences, we can then do something
else that it is crucial that we do - account for their particular ways of
thinking in developing optimal responses to them.
Some will be uncomfortable with the notion of making such distinctions
between people because it seems to them intolerant.
But, as many authors
discussed explain, the division between normals and the pathological is more
fundamental and momentous - is the inherent and inescapable source of more
conflicts and challenges - than others.
We simply can't afford not to
distinguish those with from those without significant levels of empathy
because, when we fail to recognize and comprehend this difference, we end up
attempting to understand the pathological in terms of normals or as if they
are normals behaving badly, which generates dangerous delusion, or treating
the pathological as if they are the same as normals, which can lead to
Some may also fall for the tricky idea, sometimes manipulatively perpetuated
by the pathological, that it is hypocritical to criticize the way that they
distinguish different types of people while at the same time distinguishing
them from normals. But there is no equivalency here since the pathological
divide people based on less consequential criteria for malicious motives,
whereas normals would, in this case, be making a crucial distinction whose
validity is well-established for the justifiable purpose of protection.
The distinction between normals and the pathological is so important that
not only must we make it, but we must ensure that it remains primary and
that we are not foolishly distracted by other categorizations that divide us
based on far less salient demographic labels or pet issues.
If pathocracy exists and if Lobaczewski's view of it is correct, then, in
making distinctions between and assessments about people and groups, we
cannot meaningfully judge them primarily on the basis of their stated
ideologies, since many are simply using these doctrines as misleading masks
or tools to hide their true intentions.
It would also mean that it is just
as misguided to judge an ideology based on the actions of any person or
group that claims or has claimed to believe in it without first determining
if that person or group is or was pathological or not.
If the person or
people espousing support for that creed are or were pathological, then their
actions may say very little about the actual merit of the ideology.
Pathocracy's existence and significant impact would mean that many who claim
to be working to improve the world may actually be enabling pathocracy and
evil by continuing to employ objectively ineffective methods.
Deception lies at the heart of pathocracy.
Many may understandably remain ignorant
about pathocracy's existence
There can be confusion about which
systems are pathocratic
Even many who suspect pathocracy exists
may nonetheless fail to account for some of its deceptive aspects
and pathological qualities.
Acting out of such incomplete insight, would-be
reformers may engage in misguided attempts to apply measures that make sense
in the context of systems of normal man to pathocracies in which they are
doomed to failure or even help the pathocrats or waste tremendous energy
attempting to rectify injustices via futile or counterproductive strategies
Appealing to ostensible pathocratic
leaders who may be figureheads and not actual leaders at all
Pursuing change by advocating the
election of different leaders to replace those apparent leaders who
aren't really even leaders
Appealing to pathological leaders using
logic or incentives designed to appeal to normals, oblivious that
they are Machiavellian creatures, fundamentally different from
normals, who do not respond to philosophizing or persuasion as
normals might. Taking rational approaches to irrational people is
imprudent enough. Using approaches tailored to normals to engage
with pathological people is even more so.
Assuming that those who seem to be
admirable and respectable are "good guys" and those who seem to be
troublemakers are "bad guys." Those admirable, respectable figures
might actually be pathocrats posing as men of the people and those
troublemakers, even if embedded within the pathocratic leadership,
Focusing on stratifications, such as
class, which are very meaningful in systems of normal man, but which
are far less meaningful in pathocracies where pathology vs.
normality is the true fault line of discrimination
Seriously or strangely ill patients may react
very differently to common interventions than healthier patients that such
interventions help and their care may require measures to which we would
never resort in treating those healthier patients.
For analogous reasons, recovery may require us
to engage in surprising or counterintuitive approaches to many situations
influenced by a system afflicted with a condition as historically abnormal
for our species and to which we are as poorly adapted as pathocracy.
Lobaczewski makes this point remarkably in
comparing the unnatural remedies required to heal pathocracy and the
devastating consequences of failing to apply them to the deliberate approach
required to heal an oddly dysfunctional beehive and the deadly consequences
of failing to use it.
In both a pathocracy and Lobaczewski's metaphorical
ill beehive, extremely critical thinking and a deep knowledge of the science
germane to the pathology in question are invaluable in optimally responding
to it and avoiding disaster.
Pathocracy's existence would mean that many fields, in order to remain
current and beneficial, would need to change and adapt their philosophies
It would mean that:
"Psychological matters are as important
to the future as grand politics or powerful weapons" and thus all
areas of society need to recognize psychological and psychiatric
knowledge as crucial and relevant to them.
Mental health and public health
professionals have a responsibility to focus on pathocracy as it
would constitute perhaps the greatest threat within the purview of
either field. They would be called to prioritize accurately
understanding, recognizing and responding appropriately to
pathological people and their victims, which too many are not
Typical systems of law are inadequate as
they are easily manipulated by pathological people and groups
striving to rise to power and even more easily manipulated by them
once they are in power. The types of laws prevalent today can
protect us in certain situations, but not sufficiently against
Those who study social issues need to
reinterpret the complaints of various groups in society in light of
the fact that many may actually be unconscious communications of
History takes on a new spin.
We need to interrupt our pattern of
focusing our application of science primarily on creating new
gadgets and focus rather more of it on the issue of evil which, if
left unchecked, can express itself through hijacking of those very
gadgets, as well as of science's methodology itself, for harmful
purposes, leading to science, in effect, backfiring on us.
The reality of pathocracy would elucidate
serious limits on the likely effectiveness of various change methodologies
and perspectives that sound beneficial in theory, but that, in fact, only
work within a certain range of circumstances.
Appreciative Inquiry is a fantastic method for generating healthy
outcomes when you are able to obtain buy in to the process from enough
people in a system or are focused on a project that does not challenge
pathological authorities. But, when these conditions are not met, the
process becomes far less effective.
The reality of pathocracy would also sound a virtual death knell for the
ability of the following classes of philosophies to truly, on their own,
change the world in a fundamental way because they fail to sufficiently
account for the impact of the normal/pathological divide:
Solution-oriented philosophies even less
substantial than Appreciative Inquiry, such as simple "positive
thinking" or "new age" approaches
Philosophies that rely on the notion
that people are all "good at heart"
Philosophies that rely on appealing to
the "better angels of people's nature"
The reason that these kinds of philosophies
alone are inadequate in a world with pathocracy is that any benefits brought
about through their application can, as explained by principles explicated
The Evolution of Cooperation by Robert Axelrod, almost instantly
be sabotaged by even a small number of committed pathological people if
measures are not taken to disincentivize and inhibit their malicious
Pathocracy could also help explain why techniques like
Nonviolent Communication, which leverage the normal human capacity for
empathy, eventually reach a point of diminishing returns when applied in the
service of healthy social change.
It could help explain, as well, why models like Harville Hendrix's
Imago Relationship Therapy, which focus on healing reversible repression
and suppression, cannot heal some systems in which the primary problems stem
not from remediable forms of these defenses, but, rather, from the fact that
the system is under the control of deeply psychopathological people whose
conditions are rooted in anatomical or genetic biological abnormalities or
the entrenched sequel of various forms of trauma.
People who use these methods need to more precisely assess situations to
decide when each method is feasible and when it will likely be ineffective
or even enabling to the pathological.
The existence of pathocracy as a significant force would mean that, while
religion or faith may intensify some people's desire to improve the world or
avoid or reduce evil, and can at times play a role in fulfilling that
desire, religious or supernatural perspectives cannot sustain campaigns
sufficient to successfully oppose harm and destruction in an enduring
Just as they alone cannot avert or ameliorate infections or cancers,
movements ignorant of science and of the true nature of pathocrats cannot
prevent or alleviate psychopathologically-based evil and the disease of
In fact, Lobaczewski describes a complex relationship that can exist between
religion and pathocracies.
While religious communities and others with supernatural beliefs may oppose
pathocracies that are anti-religious, some of which target them as enemies,
too often they actually support pathocracies that are pro-religious. They
fail to understand that pro-religious pathocrats are just using them and are
not actually on their side.
Religious communities can enable pathocracy when they promote too much
moralizing and emotionalizing, the very approaches that produce para-appropriate
Religions can contribute to enabling pathocracy by focusing people primarily
on their differences in terms of supernatural beliefs and encouraging them
to treat those differences as primary.
This can fragment potential
coalitions between people of conscience from different religions and of no
religion that might otherwise, through cooperation, more successfully carry
out the task of opposing damage by those with no or limited conscience - a
characteristic arguably more fundamental and consequential than one's
perspective on faith.
What's more, religious communities are some of the prime places where
ponerogenesis can take hold and are often pathocracies themselves. Sometimes
religious pathocracies are born when people with psychopathologies hijack
religious communities and philosophies and, other times, they are born when
people with psychopathologies found new religions themselves.
Of course, it
shouldn't surprise us that religion can contribute to social harm since we
have all seen it used to justify cruel or sadistic behavior.
Primary responsibility for addressing pathocracy and evil should fall to
scientists and institutions that implement policies based on science, not to
religious communities. And, if they wish to consistently contribute to
systematically improving the health of our world, religious communities must
incorporate and spread awareness of practical tactics based on that science.
Ultimately, if pathocracy is real, we must question everything:
Are governments really working in the
interests of their people?
Are schools teaching material based on
facts or a desire to carry out indoctrination?
In prosperous times, are we actually at
our most vulnerable?
A healthy level of mistrust becomes justified,
and, without allowing ourselves to become senselessly paranoid, we must
This vigilance is only becoming more important as increased
access to powerful technology, which, in malicious hands, enables more
extensive damage, makes pathocracy an even greater danger.
In fact, as has been alluded to, given the extraordinary potential
consequences, it may be wise to take heed of these implications even if we
believe pathocracy only exists to a moderate extent or are unsure whether it
exists but at least acknowledge that it has not yet been ruled out.
Wisely Responding to the Threat
As Lobaczewski sees it, the implications of
pathocracy are so great and so far-reaching that they demand a substantial
Yet, he argues, ultimately, typical systems of normal man are
simply not equipped to consistently take the steps necessary to stop the
cycle of ponerogenesis. Many of our inappropriate reactions, or
non-reactions, to pathocracy stem from deeply ingrained,
maladapted evolved instincts.
And developing within or being affected by pathocracies, with their extensive confounding influence involving so much
deception, can twist our wiring in such a way as to reinforce those
misguided reflexes rooted in evolution or generate additional ones.
result, we have too many traditions and natural reactions that enable,
rather than prevent, the ponerogenic cycle from continuing.
As in the analogous strangely-dysfunctional beehive, in the absence of a
certain level of consciousness, informed by objective understanding of a
system's underlying pathology, habitual functioning continues long after it
has ceased to be beneficial and has instead become suicidal. To achieve
health and sustainability, we must make a significant change.
This change must ultimately restore or reinforce normals' authority in human
systems and ensure that it endures because normals are able to act with
compassion not only to protect their own ability to live a healthy,
satisfying life, but to optimally protect the ability of the pathological to
do so as well, while the opposite, due to the pathological's narrow
emotional sensitivity and lack of empathy, is not the case.
However, there is no simple direct path to this change in social structure.
Simply attacking a pathocracy can backfire since pathocrats do not value
most of their own people, whom they often don't even consider members of the
same species as themselves, and will gladly sacrifice them.
Instead we need to gain, spread and incorporate much more of the objective,
systematic understanding that modern science offers to help transcend our
miscalibrated emotionalistic and moralistic reactions.
responses don't necessarily all have to be completely thrown out. But, just
as it is crucial to complement prayers for healing from cancer or an
infectious disease with proper medical treatment, traditional responses to
the detrimental symptoms of pathocracy must also be complemented with more
targeted approaches based on modern insight.
For it is this modern insight -
especially regarding the psychological variation among humanity and its
impact - that can stimulate the proliferation within a system of antibodies
conferring resistance to the emergence of pathocracy and thus ensure that
normals remain in charge so that their autonomy, as well as the well-being
of the system as a whole and related systems, can be assured.
We have already seen that one integral step in the process of catalyzing
such changes is the establishment of ponerology as a more recognized,
respected and nurtured academic discipline. But this alone is not enough.
Pathocracy, as detailed, has implications for many areas. And, in order to
break the cycle of rising and falling pathocracy and all of the damage it
does - which is one of the most important things that humanity can possibly
do for ourselves and our ecosystem - we also need new policies regarding and
contributions from each of these areas to help support and translate into
action the realizations emerging from the work of ponerologists.
Very specifically, what are some of the measures that should be considered
in these different areas?
Apply Systems Thinking to the Dynamics of Pathocracy
Systems thinking is the perfect
discipline to help us analyze the ponerogenic process and its ultimate
Ponerogenesis and pathocracy often generate challenges that come to be
viewed as completely separate from and unrelated to each other or those
This is an example of the systems thinking principle
which states that cause and effect can be distant in space and time and,
thus, difficult to recognize as connected. And it is systems thinking's
tools that can help us better make those connections, successfully
tracing more ponerogenic symptoms back to their source.
As important as it is to trace these ponerogenic symptoms back to their
source, it is just as important that, rather than becoming distracted by
and spending our energy concentrating on symptoms - as often tends to
occur when considering ponerogenesis - we then prioritize focusing on
root causes and
leverage points within the ponerogenic process.
This is crucial if
we are to discover the most efficient methods for inhibiting, halting or
reversing ponerogenesis and apply them at the locations and times in the
process at which they can make the most beneficial impact.
thinking is also designed specifically to help us identify and focus in
on those root causes and leverage points.
Promote the Study of Patho-Semantics
Patho-semantics is a term mentioned by
Lobaczewski in Political Ponerology that refers to the use of
particular forms of communication via speech and writing - such as the
propaganda, paralogisms and paramoralisms that pathological people
employ as some of their most potent weapons - in the service of
Whether through the establishment of a new field or
the expansion of an existing one, we should promote study of this
phenomenon because it would improve our ability, even as we carefully
watch for signs of pathology in people's actions, to also recognize
attempted deception and indications of low conscience in their use of
Develop and Promote Precise Technical Terminology
Describing Aspects of Pathocracy
Whenever we wish to facilitate rigorously
accurate understanding of and communication about entities or phenomena
that we didn't consciously comprehend or directly face for an extended
period in our evolution and for which we, therefore, have not developed
a shared language or to which we have not adapted, we must purposefully
create and popularize new technical terminology.
We have had to do this
in many areas of science.
For example, for much of human history, we could not assume, when
discussing processes like cancer or infections, that others would
interpret what we said exactly as it was intended because such
conversations involved vague non-standard language.
In the recent past,
however, medical scientists have developed new words and symbols to
carefully distinguish and name different types of cancers and
infections, the risk factors for each of those conditions and the
archetypal stages in those disease processes at which a given patient
may find him or herself.
The establishment of these words and symbols as
standard has not only eliminated confusion and enabled more precise
communication. It has also helped raise awareness about the conditions,
helped us make distinctions crucial for effective strategizing and
facilitated mutual support between those affected by them.
Similar challenges to those presented by medical conditions spurred the
development and adoption of precise technical terminology in a variety
of technological realms that were not yet discovered, understood or
explored until very recently in our evolutionary history, such as in the
area of electronics, and the newfound capacity for more exact
communication in these domains brought about similar benefits.
In the same vein, the combination of pathological people and our modern
political, economic and technological apparatus has made pathocracy a
potential threat the kind and scale of which we have never before faced
in our evolution.
Thus, it too calls for the development of special
In fact, because of the particular mechanisms involved in the
development of pathocracy, it may be even more important in this case
than in the aforementioned medical and technological cases that we
replace our use of imprecise, emotionally charged or overly subjective
layman's terms with rigorous technical terminology. It is actually
dangerous not to do so.
This is because, unlike in those previous
examples, the pathogens involved in this process, namely the
pathological themselves, consciously and actively exploit, through the
use of patho-semantics, the confusion about language and terminology
that arises from and is reinforced by our reliance on layman's terms in
order to spread their values, manipulate people, gain and assert power,
and, ultimately, do harm.
Thus, a failure to use precise accurate
language plays right into the pathological's hands, further nourishing
the fertile ground on which their malevolent seeds depend for growth.
We need to develop specific, widely understood terms and labels to
accurately describe and communicate about all aspects of pathocracy,
The risk factors for it
The stages involved in its emergence
through ponerogenesis, in its downfall and in its historical
re-emergence, so that we can clearly express where exactly a
particular system is in the cycle
The people, ponerogenic groups,
processes and tactics involved in it
It is especially important that we specify
and name categories related to pathocracy in such a way that they
reflect the fact that:
The significance of an ideology or
religion's contents varies depending on its function in a
particular system - It is wise to recognize a distinction
between a case in which a belief, even if false, is sincerely
held by a misguided, but otherwise healthy person and one in
which that same belief is held by a person with a delusional
The distinction is important because in the first
case, the contents of the belief are extremely relevant and
deserve a substantial degree of focus, whereas, in the latter
case, a focus on the contents of the belief would most likely
only distract us from the far more important issue of the
underlying psychological disorder.
Similarly it is wise to
distinguish between an ideological or religious belief sincerely
held by normals and a similar ideological or religious belief
being used as a mask and/or abused by pathological people
pursuing or protecting their own power because, in the first
case, the contents of the belief are quite relevant and deserve
a substantial degree of focus, whereas, in the latter case, a
focus on the contents of the belief only distracts us from the
Stated positions within a
pathological power structure have very different meanings than
they do within a healthy system
When our categorical language reflects and
encourages recognition of these crucial distinctions, it contributes to
a larger understanding of how ideology, religion and social stations
function in normal vs. pathological contexts and assists us, when
appropriate, in looking beyond superficial features and more accurately,
and with less distortion, assessing ideologies, religions, people,
groups and systems.
Changing the terms of the conversation in these ways will help us take
back some of the control of the language that the pathological covet and
As we attempt to establish new, more effective means
of communicating about pathology and pathocracy, we will, not
surprisingly, see the pathological aim to disrupt our efforts in their
fervent desire to keep people confused and, thus, vulnerable.
reaction should only further reinforce the importance of and our
commitment to making these changes.
Ensure the Promotion of Accurate Education and Proper
Treatment to Foster Healing and Immunity
Over the years, there have been a number of
public health hazards that humanity has helped to reduce.
has required the widespread promotion and implementation of bold
measures, rigorously based on science, in order to increase
understanding, bolster health and spread immunity.
We need to take the
same approach to the disease of pathocracy. Rather than seeking revenge
against the pathological, we instead must view pathocracy as the
detrimental result of a process of ponerogenesis driven by underlying
medical conditions, and aim at pragmatically reducing its impact so that
normals can regain and maintain control of human systems.
We can begin to fulfill a commitment to reducing the likelihood of
systems being transformed into pathocracies simply by spreading basic
relevant knowledge so that more people in the world are conscious:
That, in spite of their current
divisions, based on differences in superficial characteristics,
ideologies and religions, all normals share deeply meaningful
common ground in their contrast with the pathological
That the pathologies that drive
ponerogenesis are, in fact, medical conditions
Of the optimal ways to respond to
pathology in order to protect oneself and each other
Promoting the value of objective
psychological knowledge and skills and of the people who possess that
knowledge and those skills, while breaking down defenses against
accepting their value, can also be key steps in reducing the threat of
And, in addition, working to reduce the prevalence and impact of the
ponerogenic psychopathologies themselves can make a fundamental
The mental health and public health systems will have to play primary
roles in much of this. People within these systems have a responsibility
to substantially participate in expanding our understanding of
ponerology and enhancing our potential to optimally respond to the
threat of pathocracy.
For too long, too many in these professions have
neglected these responsibilities.
Lobaczewski and his colleagues, having
taken on more than their fair share of this burden, even amidst
incredibly challenging and dangerous circumstances, can serve as role
Mental health professionals should work to:
Improve our insight into and ability
to diagnose and assess ponerogenic psychopathologies
Provide victims of the pathological
with the special care that they require.
As a clinician
himself, Lobaczewski has much to say in
Political Ponerology about how, specifically, to
educate and treat people traumatized in various ways by their
contact with pathological people or systems in order to help
Resolve unsupportive defense
Become conscious of what
happened to them - Lobaczewski describes how healing it can
be simply to recognize, in objective terms, that one's
condition is the result of contact with a deviant person
whose deviance has a biological basis.
Recognize the particular
psychopathologies exhibited by those who influenced them -
Lobaczewski says that such specific identification further
facilitates healing from abuse at the hands of pathological
authority figures, whether parents, caregivers or political
leaders, both on its own and by enabling the selection of
more precisely targeted therapies. He emphasizes that
victims of the pathological need such highly targeted
treatment, tailored to the classic wounds sustained as a
result of the brand of psychopathology that afflicted their
abusers, and often suffer when clinicians instead attempt to
treat them via more typical, generalized approaches.
Separate their own identities
and perspectives from those of their pathological abusers
Develop a sense of humor
Lobaczewski explains that, when
treating victims who are currently living in a pathocracy, it is
important to balance helping them heal with teaching them how to
survive the stresses and dangers of the still oppressive system,
all while possibly refraining from blatant reference to
information that may presently be unsafe for them to know.
Imbue mental health professional
trainees with a recognition of and ability to fulfill their
responsibility to play such anti-pathocracy roles
Public health professionals should:
Prioritize the study of ponerology
and pathocracy as highly as they do that of nearly any other
public health hazard
Analyze catastrophic ponerologic
phenomena as public health crises, as Lobaczewski felt should
have been done at Nuremberg, and disseminate the insights gained
Study the demographic and
epidemiological dynamics of the ponerogenic psychopathologies
Raise public awareness through
educational campaigns about these disorders, their seriousness,
the ponerogenic process that they fuel and how it gives rise to
pathocracies in many guises
Provide specific information and
counseling about how ponerogenic psychopathologies are passed
down through the generations genetically and as a result of
certain forms of caregiving so that people can make wise mating
and family planning decisions and adopt prenatal and natal care
and childrearing practices that reduce their prevalence and
Promote the value and skills of
pathology detection by encouraging critical thinking and
questioning, educating the public about logic and
fallacies and teaching how to recognize particular
pathological manipulations and deceptions
Help facilitate the provision of
support and treatment to victims of the pathological and
encourage those victims to take advantage of such care
Members of both the mental health and public
health professions should continuously research and experiment to
discover new, more effective preventative and rehabilitative techniques
for use with the pathological and their victims.
This research will
often depend on the assistance and participation of victims, who,
despite being the bearers of invaluable information, are too often
outcast and ignored because they raise painful issues and who, we can
hope - perhaps with the aid of advocacy by these professionals - will
come to be recognized and appreciated for their role.
Scientists in general also have some responsibility to focus on
ponerology as a priority and should be trained, at least to some extent,
in that area. They can support opposition to ponerogenesis simply by
strategically promoting the values of science and critical thinking.
Those involved in the education system can play a role, too, in staving
off pathocracy perhaps by teaching ponerologic material to the young in
age appropriate ways.
In order to be carried out optimally, many of the tasks above require
communication involving proper technical terminology, which is just one
more reason why, as discussed earlier, it is so important that such
language be developed.
All of these educational and treatment measures, as well as other
supplementary measures, complement each other to contribute, together,
to increased awareness about ponerology, which, in turn, generates
greater support for all of the other necessary responses to the threat
of pathocracy that we will discuss.
Thus, Lobaczewski urges us to apply
such methods not only with individuals and smaller systems, but, as
exemplified in the chapter of Political Ponerology entitled
"Therapy for the World," on a global level, as well.
In addition, these measures enhance our understanding and application of
the principles of immunity as they relate to pathocracy. This is a topic
Lobaczewski affords a great deal of focus in Political Ponerology.
In my ponerology page, I review in great detail
his views of the immunization process - which reduces the shock and
paralysis normals experience when contacting the pathological and, thus,
allows us to more wisely respond to their influence and resist
ponerogenesis - and of the different types of immunity.
In short, Lobaczewski identifies two types of immunity to ponerogenesis:
natural immunity and scientific immunity.
He asserts that scientific immunity, which
is achieved through the intentional promotion of objective and conscious
understanding of ponerogenesis, is superior to natural immunity, which
is achieved when those exposed to pathological influence arbitrarily
happen, in any of various ways, to gain a certain level of familiarity
with its workings, because scientific immunity:
Is longer lasting
Entails resistance to pathocracies
in general, even if they differ in ideology or other features,
rather than simply to the type of pathocracy one has personally
Is more widely transferrable, since
it can be spread not only to those who have experienced
pathocracy of the same type, as is the case with natural
immunity, but to those who have experienced different types of
pathocracy or have never experienced pathocracy at all
Our goal should be to best reduce the
vulnerability of systems to pathological deception by spreading
scientific immunity where no immunity yet exists and enhancing natural
immunity, where it is already present, with scientific immunity.
If the pathological can be considered pathogens in human systems, then
perhaps the most apt example of their opposite, the agents of
nourishment to those systems, are activists who effectively work on
issues that relate to optimizing human systems for health and
However, as we have seen, too often activists working on
such issues, however well-intentioned, waste energy and even counterintuitively aid pathocrats when they undermine their own work by
failing to account for the dynamics of ponerogenesis and pathocracy,
basing their decisions on false assumptions and implementing strategies
that are doomed to fail.
They may make these common mistakes out of
ignorance or as a result of defenses that they have developed in
response to traumas experienced.
We can all reap especially powerful benefits from investing in
educating, treating and fostering immunity amongst this group because,
when knowledgeable, healthy and effective in their work regarding
pathological people and systems and their victims, they can catalyze a
ripple effect of awareness, insight and resistance.
This is especially
true in the case of activists who are either whistleblowers or who have
unique and specific talents for strategizing about, interacting with or
responding to the pathological.
However, for any of these benefits to be achieved and sustained, the
various systems that contribute to bringing them about must, themselves,
be protected from pathological influence and manipulation.
Mental health and public health systems must maintain high standards of
integrity to remain independent of political manipulation - even when it
requires fighting back against pathological attempts to control them -
and to recognize and address conflicts of interest.
Educational systems must remain free to mobilize personnel and select
material for curricula without pressure based on pathological agendas.
And the autonomy to exercise unbiased critical thinking, which is
eternally under attack by the pathological, must be protected within all
fields of science.
Revisit History and
Consider Current Events from a Ponerologic Perspective
Historians and others should reevaluate
history through this lens to learn more about the patterns of various
Scholars from a variety of fields that study
today's events should consider them through this lens, as well, to
discover what explanations and solutions it suggests.
Update Laws to
Reflect a Modern Scientific Understanding of the Pathological
As we have seen, many types of laws are
easily exploited by the pathological.
Thus, while the law can serve us well in
some cases, it too often fails to adequately or appropriately protect us
in situations involving them or compensate us for their sometimes
We need to educate those who work in or
influence legal systems about ponerology so that they can reform our
laws in such a way that they incorporate and are based on the latest
objective scientific knowledge about the pathological, including:
Their fundamental difference from
The manipulative tactics they employ
How they inspire complicity from
Such an updated legal system must be neither
too lenient, nor too vengeful. It cannot simply consist of a series of
punishments for specific acts. Rather it must be cleverly devised and
targeted to interfere with and prevent the execution of the
pathological's deceptive strategies.
Communities about Ponerology and the Struggle to Resist Pathocracy
It is extremely important to educate those
in religious communities that:
Evil has a biological and medical
aspect to it that must be understood scientifically and cannot
be addressed through theology
If they are not vigilant, their
communities themselves can be at risk of hijacking by the
In pathocracies, ideology and
religion are used as fronts to conceal the more important
underlying pathology and, therefore, they should not be fooled
into complicity by pathocracies espousing a pro-religious
ideology any more than they would be by ones proclaiming
If they incorporate modern
scientific knowledge to complement their traditional appeals for
morality, they can be part of the solution to pathocracy
They, just like other activists, can
best contribute to healthy systems by transcending their
religious views to bond with those of other religions and no
religion around the struggle between those of significant
conscience and those without it
Those in religious communities may also find
it interesting to consider their sacred texts and scriptures in light of
ponerologic knowledge. Lobaczewski offers an example of this in
Political Ponerology where he analyzes the Bible through ponerologic
in Influential Positions to Apply Ponerologic Knowledge
We have repeatedly discussed the importance
of educating people in a range of social areas about ponerology.
education is not enough.
We must also work to develop structures that
incentivize these influential people - whether they are parents or
professionals, political or business leaders - to move beyond their
early wiring and the strictures of tradition to apply their knowledge of ponerology in the course of carrying out their duties.
Create or Expand
Fields that Complement Ponerology as Necessary
Lobaczewski and his colleagues, in studying
the dynamics of their region's oppressive governments, recognized that
the requirements for resisting the threat of pathocracy demanded the
creation of a new academic field, ponerology, which Lobaczewski went on
As we continue our quest to minimize the risks of pathocracy,
we may discover additional challenges that call for the creation of
still more new disciplines or the expansion of existing ones to work in
conjunction with ponerology to sustain the health of our systems and we
should take action to create or expand those fields as needed.
Formation of Networks of Normals
When normal people and systems realize that
the division between them and pathological people and systems is the
most important one, some will be moved to band together to mutually
resist the emergence of pathocracy and defend the autonomy and authority
Some will be activists who, upon learning about the
pathological threat, will recognize the need to put aside their
divisions based on other pet issues or identity politics and come
together around this crucial common cause.
Others, hopefully, will be
people moved by this new perspective to get involved for the first time.
These networks of normals and their work both are supported by and
themselves support the adoption of more accurate ponerologic language to
communicate, the fostering of healing and immunity and greater
understanding of how to wisely respond to the pathological.
helping to usher in the changes necessary to thwart ponerogenesis, their
formation simultaneously builds momentum and prepares the system for
those changes, thus reducing the intensity of backlash.
Their role is so
important, in fact, that Lobaczewski says attempts to beneficially
intervene in a pathological system will be futile until it reaches the
stage at which these networks of normals form.
Handling Potential Obstacles to
Despite our best efforts, it will likely prove
quite challenging to implement these changes.
Any tool or method devised to help counteract pathocrats could ultimately be
used against us. And, we may encounter
resistance to these measures from various types of people.
Much of the resistance will originate with the pathological themselves. As
Lobaczewski experienced, they will go to great lengths to oppose anyone
working to reveal, provoke dissent on the basis of or act upon scientific
information - especially about pathology and pathocracy - that is
unsupportive of their cause.
This opposition may involve a range of tactics
that includes campaigns to intimidate or discredit researchers, scholars,
educators and activists - sometimes by painting them as the pathological
ones - or to undermine the institutions and processes of science itself.
This is why, again, it is so important that those fields involved in
studying ponerologic issues be protected from pathological influence.
But there are many normals who will also resist. As discussed, since we are
simply not wired for these types of changes, they can feel unnatural. And it
can be very shattering to realize that the systems of which one is part are
corrupt and pathological.
In addition, many of the catch-22's that we
discover when opposing pathocracy stem from the fact that, in the course of
such opposition, we must appeal to a population replete with people
traumatized by, and often traumatically bonded with, that very
So we may be most viciously countered by the very victims in
whose name we are working. Indeed, this dynamic is part of the reason that pathocracy is so successful at doing what it does.
Resistant normals may include:
Those who do not perceive themselves as
having been directly affected by evil and, thus, doubt its
Those uncomfortable with or who have
defense mechanisms against an awareness of evil
Those victimized by the pathological and
unwilling to become more fully conscious
Those who are or have been, for various
reasons, complicit with the pathological, including:
People with conflicts of interest
whereby meaningful jobs or relationships, for example, may be
threatened if they become conscious or accepting of pathocracy's
reality and implications
Activists that consistently ignore
the implications of pathocracy and/or focus on non-leverage
points and rebel against becoming aware that their efforts are
wasted or even enabling pathocrats
Parents who play a role in enabling
pathocracy by encouraging overly submissive loyalty and
obedience to authority figures in their children
Those who believe it is too risky to
engage in the level of contact with evil necessary to usefully study
Those that wish for harsher approaches
toward the pathological than just rational study and pragmatic
Traditional moral leaders that do not
want to cede authority to scientists on questions of right and wrong
or good and evil
Even those who, despite its damage,
simply find evil a poetic, romantic force that they wish to remain
alive in the world
Luckily, there are potential solutions to all of
these potential obstacles.
It is true that the pathological can hijack technologies and methodologies
that were originally intended for use in opposing them and put them to use
in the service of advancing their agendas.
But, with improved awareness of
their existence and tactics, we can more carefully direct advances in these
areas, employing designs that support us in resisting injustice by
facilitating our abilities to organize, communicate and spread information
in previously unfathomable ways - as we have increasingly seen in recent
years - and allowing us to set up and operate the institutions and entities
required for working systems, all while specifically accounting for
pathological deception and preventing cooption.
As for those that resist pathocracy-opposing changes, Lobaczewski explains
that we should not let them stop us. It is too important that people wake up
to and adapt to the truth, whatever it may be. And some people will
experience uncomfortable reactions even to the healthiest of immunizations.
Instead, we should educate ourselves about the risks of and likely responses
to these measures so that we can preempt, proactively address and minimize
undesired side effects as much as possible and, where we cannot do so and it
is merited, work through defenses, face whatever surfaces and metabolize the
unpleasant, yet ultimately catalytic, energy of the backlash through a
positive disintegration process that is sometimes required in order to
achieve greater health and sustainability.
In addition, it helps to remember that there will also be many who favor and
support these suggested changes.
Normals remain by far the majority of the
population and many will experience a revitalization of the common inborn
drive to resist evil when they see others taking the issue seriously and
acting. Victims of the pathological who have remained conscious or who value
consciousness and justice more than denial will also be supportive.
We probably can't, and it is likely unwise to
try to, completely pathology-proof systems.
Psychopathology will probably
always exist and even Lobaczewski says that the pathological have a right to
exist. Therefore, normals must devise and actualize some arrangement in
which they and the pathological can coexist in a way that does not
perpetuate massive destruction, waste and neglect.
Obviously a pathocracy is not such an arrangement. And typical systems of
normal man are too often vulnerable to being hijacked and transformed into
pathocracies, and, thus, cannot reliably ensure healthy coexistence either.
Ultimately, what is required is the evolution of a new type of system that
combines many of the features of typical systems of normal man with one
fundamental adaptation that changes everything: a commitment to move beyond
reacting based on our outdated
evolved wiring and
defense mechanisms to reacting based on a more updated and validated
rational analysis of how people and groups really work.
Such an analysis
brings with it an understanding of human psychological diversity,
This is the type of system that could enduringly support healthy
normal-pathological coexistence. It would be much harder to corrupt than
previous human arrangements and, thus, more pathocracy-proof. It would not
be a utopia. It would have problems.
But it would be founded upon a
pragmatic, wise and constructive perspective and, therefore, be more likely
to facilitate resolution of those problems in the best interest of humanity,
other creatures and the ecosystem, than, like other human social structures,
to enable exploitation of those problems by those practicing sabotage and
Lobaczewski refers to such a system as a "logocracy."
Of logocracy he says:
"A system thus envisaged would be superior
to all its predecessors, being based upon an understanding of the laws
of nature operating within individuals and societies, with objective
knowledge progressively superceding opinions based upon natural
responses to phenomena,"
"Due to their properties and conformity to
the laws of nature and evolution, logocratic systems could guarantee
social and international order on a long-term basis. In keeping with
their nature, they would then become transformed into more perfect
forms, a vague and faraway vision of which may beckon to us in the
Lobaczewski makes clear that logocracies must
emerge organically from existing systems in the places they develop.
So, while all logocracies would share a
commitment to respecting natural and evolutionary laws, they would not all
look the same. Successful logocracies could have different structures and be
supported by different processes.
In fact, as advocated by Daniel Quinn,
who, on the title page of
Beyond Civilization: Humanity's Next Great Adventure, references
John Briggs and F. David Peat wondering,
"What would happen if we
intentionally forged our social solutions in the fires of creative chaos?",
...we should experiment with various forms of logocracy to discover which work
best in various locations.
But there are some features that would or may be common to all logocracies
that would allow them, even within a world that includes evil, and even when
evil exists within the logocracies themselves, to resist ponerization and
avoid being overtaken by it, thus remaining healthy and sustainable.
It is likely that any logocracy would:
Prioritize the good of the whole system
Be led by normals, ideally normals that
understand and can apply ponerology - Within a logocracy, most
people would understand that just as a certain quality of vision is
required to be a safe and competent pilot, certain capacities for
psychological insight, empathy and conscience, as well as a
willingness to support
positive disintegration when necessary, are required to be a
trustworthy, healthy leader. Leaders with such capacities, unlike
pathological leaders, are able to prioritize the good of the whole
system, as well as promote the other common features of logocracy
that we will be exploring, and thus, best maintain the tenuous
balance necessary for peace between normals and the pathological. It
is because such leaders only exist amongst normals, and not amongst
the pathological, that it is justifiable to favor normals and
discriminate against the pathological in choosing and supporting
Promote a cycle whereby increasing
appreciation for the value of science and its function of unbiased
questioning fuels constant learning, thus enabling us to more
effectively protect science from manipulation by authorities with
ulterior agendas and, in turn, fostering still further increased
appreciation, unbiased questioning and learning.
Prioritize the application of science's
naturalistic rational approach not only to improving material life,
Especially prioritize and protect the
specific science of ponerology, recognizing its core role in
maintaining health and sustainability. In other words, within a
logocracy, ponerology would be elevated and protected for the very
reason that it is suppressed in a pathocracy.
Infused with an understanding of the
nature of the pathological and their tactics, have developed the
adaptations and checks and balances necessary to impede the
progression of ponerogenesis and prevent being taken over by them
and transformed into a pathocracy, such as:
Monitoring itself and related
systems for risks factors for and signs of ponerogenesis,
perhaps through institutions dedicated to that task
Being well prepared, in its
monitoring, to detect deception, as well as to continue evolving
its deception detection capacities to keep up with the evolution
of new tactics by the deceivers
Educating its population in such a
way as to close the perceptual loopholes left in us by
evolution, and sometimes reinforced by traumas, that are
exploited by the pathological in their attempts to gain power
Putting in place and enforcing the
limits and boundaries on pathological people and systems
necessary to protect the health of the logocracy's normal
members, as well as of the logocracy as a whole - There are
times, within an otherwise relatively healthy environment with a
vulnerable population, that an internally-based person or system
with a highly contagious infection, for which we have no
immediately effective treatment, is discovered. In such
situations, it is often not only reasonable to, but possibly
unethical not to, quarantine the ill person or system. Strict
limits may be placed on that person or system's movement and
activities for some length of time, not to vilify or punish
them, but simply to minimize the risk of other people catching
the illness or of it escalating into an epidemic that threatens
the population at large.
There are also times when an externally-based person or system
is recognized as suffering from a highly contagious infectious
disease for which we have no immediately effective treatment. In
these cases, a relatively healthy system with a vulnerable
population may, for some time, either institute especially
strict restrictions regulating the entry of that ill person or
of those originating in that ill system or, if necessary, ban
entry by that ill person or by those originating in that ill
system entirely. Again, as long as these responses are based on
credible and reliable medical data, they are not only reasonable
to carry out, but may be unethical not to carry out and their
purpose is not to vilify or punish the ill person or system, but
simply to protect the relatively healthy system and its
While these scenarios, in which a person or system with a highly
communicable infectious disease poses a threat to public health,
are faced by most systems periodically and often temporarily,
logocracies - in which a normal majority constantly coexists
with a certain number of people and amidst a certain number of
other systems with potentially dangerously influential
ponerologic psychopathologies - find themselves in a similar
scenario at all times.
In fact, the logocracy's challenge may be even more daunting
because, unlike in most situations involving contagious
infectious diseases, those people and systems suffering from
ponerologic psychopathologies not only could, but desperately
wish to and take aggressive steps to, spread their pathological
influence as extensively as possible.
Therefore, maintaining health and sustainability in such a
system requires that certain limits and boundaries on the
pathological, representing a virtual quarantine and/or travel
restriction or ban, be put in place and enforced.
There may be no more important goal than preventing pathological
people from accessing excessive power. So this approach may
primarily involve measures restricting them from certain social
or leadership positions that would avail them of too much or of
dangerous types of influence and assist them in imposing their
highly destructive views and values on the population. In that
case, an alliance of normals, united around the objective
presence and importance of conscience itself, would consciously
work to keep the pathological, whether they originate inside or
outside of the logocracy, out of such positions.
Or, depending upon what we learn about pathology and its
spreading mechanisms through our study of ponerology, we may
determine that our anti-pathocracy strategy must involve certain
physical restrictions on the pathological, as well. (This would
especially be the case if we discover, as is possible, that
ponerogenesis itself involves a significant, actually infectious
Just as is true in the typical case of protecting a population
from an infectious threat, the limits and boundaries imposed on
the pathological to protect a system against a ponerologic
threat should never be used as a form of vilification or
punishment of the pathological. We understand, due to our
growing insight into the nature of psychopathology, that there
is rarely a benefit, and, in fact, there is usually harm, in
seeking vengeance against or demonizing them. The necessary
limits and boundaries should be set up and enforced in a mindset
of defensiveness, not aggressiveness.
Furthermore, we have seen how ineffectively we resist
ponerogenesis when we swing back and forth between leniency and
harsh punishment. Thus, in creating and maintaining limits and
boundaries on the pathological, we should aim for a sweet spot
in which we are consistently strong and assertive, but healthily
There may be times when force and/or mandatory treatment of the
pathological are authentically required and, in those cases,
they may be used. But, when this is necessary, it is even more
crucial than usual that such actions always be taken in a
mindset focused on protecting the good of the whole system and
never in a mindset of revenge or punishment.
Promise and prioritize delivering to its
pathological members the best life possible within the limits
necessary to prevent their rise to power - One way that a logocracy
can manifest prioritizing the good of the whole is by aiming to
offer everyone living in it the best life possible. This includes
It is not enough to simply avoid vengeance and vilification when
placing limits and boundaries on the pathological.
As long as those
limits and boundaries are in place, protecting the rest of the
population and the system from any threats they may pose, a logocracy should actually make clear to its pathological members
that its goal is to allow and even help them to live the best life
they possibly can and then go out of its way to demonstrate and
deliver on that commitment.
Lobaczewski suggests that logocracies
should even consider going so far in fulfilling that commitment as
to guarantee their pathological members tolerable living conditions,
a policy that people with some traditional values may view as
absurd, outrageous or even offensive, but which may,
counterintuitively, pay off in the long run by reducing some of the
incentive for the pathological to foster conflict and attempt to
take over systems and ultimately saving us more than it costs.
It will require much study to determine whether
such features are compatible with large nation-states or civilizations.
If not, then, eventually, we may need even more
radical change than we often acknowledge. In the short run, if we do
maintain governments and global structures that make possible and prop up
enormously powerful positions, from which a small minority can significantly
impact many thousands or millions of people, it is imperative that we
cultivate an educated public and establish political processes and
procedures that support wise non-pathological, ponerologically-conscious
leadership, rather than pathological leaders or leaders that still view evil
through an outdated primarily supernatural prism.
But, whatever shape it takes, a system like this - a logocracy with the
types of features described - is probably as close to a truce in the long,
often unrecognized and unnamed battle between normals and the pathological
as we can forge.
A system like this is, in many ways, a very high-level example of Peter
Senge's concept of a
learning organization - a system that applies and promotes
thinking's perspective and techniques to constantly find and hit
leverage points to foster development.
Only in this system, unlike in
most, the crucial leverage points in the ponerologic process, at which we
have the ability to impede its progress, are also consistently hit.
In a system like this, modernized ways of thinking about the roots of
ethical behavior begin to complement and achieve greater parity with
traditional ways that too often dominate today.
A system like this, in which so many measures, validated as effective
through rigorous study, are being proactively and consistently taken to
maintain optimal relations, is less reliant on brute force. Force will be
used when necessary, but may be necessary less often.
In a system like this, people of empathy, conscience and talent, rather than
just those skilled in Machiavellian machinations, will have a better chance
Logocracy could be viewed not only as the next stage - but as a milestone -
in human evolution: a system of normal man whose additional adaptation
Consciousness of the wide range of both
normal and pathological psychological variation within humanity
The capability to recognize its own
normalcy and its distinction from pathocracy
Built in resistances to pathocracy
And this additional adaptation, and all of its
consequences, having been developed as a result of scientific inquiries
earnestly engaged in by mankind itself.
It may also represent the emergence of an evolutionary form - a
defensive-minded, sustainable model of normal-pathological coexistence,
based on the steady application of an
evolutionarily stable strategy - that we simply must embrace if we wish
Survive the threat of pathocracy
Maintain our species' ability to
continue evolving indefinitely
Maintain our ecosystem's ability to
support us and enough other members of the community of life to
allow evolution to flow through us into the future
Returning to Daniel Quinn's work, in
Ishmael, he points out that our current way of life is
unsustainable largely because of the nature of our modern social structures
and implores us to be inventive in developing new ones.
If we don't, he warns, whoever is left to
remember us in the future will look back at us with disdain. But if we do,
he persuades, we will be honored for being the first creatures forced to
confront the challenges that come with having the power to do substantial,
lasting ecological damage and heroically rising to those challenges by,
instead, progressively discovering and implementing practices that support
the continued flourishing of our ecosystem.
Logocracy may be the invention needed and
ponerology may be the science needed to enable this latter, inspirational
story to fill the pages of humanity's next chapter.
We have already seen that, as we take the steps necessary to bring about
logocracy, there may be some blowback from the pathological, as well as, and
perhaps even more so, from others.
And it may sound utopian to even believe that logocracy is possible.
But the stakes are high and, if the evidence shows that Lobaczewski is right
and systems of normal man are perpetually vulnerable to pathocracy, we have
no excuse not to experiment. It would be better to test new approaches than
to just continue to accept or drive a likely suicidal cycle.
In addition, the seeds of logocracy are already present within some normals
in every system, the majority of whom will never fully conform to pathocrats'
wishes, and some of whom will always forcefully resist.
If we succeed in handling the obstacles and implementing wise responses to
the threat of pathocracy, the cumulative effect, the evolution of logocracy,
will, according to Lobaczewski, bring an "end of the era" feeling and
provide a solid foundation for our future endeavors.
The hypothesis that many problems in our world
stem not, for example, from the misguided choices of people acting out of
ignorance or on impulses generated by reversible defense mechanisms, but
from the activities of deeply psychopathological people, whose disorders are
entrenched at the biological level, running many of the systems on our
planet, could help explain a great deal that cannot be easily explained any
It is a feasible hypothesis and one that Lobaczewski and his
colleagues' research, according to him, supported. And it is also
corroborated, to various extents, by work described by many other authors
For a range of different reasons, many may fail to give the idea proper
consideration. Some may simply not consider it at all because it involves
phenomena that we are not wired to instinctively pay attention to or
Others may actively reject the hypothesis without really
objectively studying it to discover the truth. Still others will at least
consider it, but only from any of a variety of non-scientific perspectives.
Perhaps, on some level, they feel that, by taking these approaches, they can
avoid risking the shattering experience of becoming conscious of such a
But the influence of psychopathological people on power structures is one of
the most significant systemic problems humans can face. It may even be the
single most serious threat we do face. The consequences can be dire
and, as systems become more powerful and those leading them more
influential, they can become even more so.
And, for all that we still do not
know about what underlies harm in our world, thanks to the sacrifices of
countless victims and scientists like Lobaczewski and his colleagues, we do
know enough to render it inexcusable for us to take no responsive action or
to continue responding, as we usually do, in ways that have perpetually
failed to substantially reduce the threat.
At the very least, pathocracy deserves serious focused consideration and
study, not just from a literary or journalistic perspective, but from
rigorous scientific and systems
thinking perspectives, to determine if this phenomenon has happened, if
it is happening now, what the risk factors are for it, how to prevent it or
respond to it and so on.
As Lobaczewski says, ignorance is our greatest
Good intentions and noble sounding goals alone potentially leave
us at the mercy of the pathological and will not resolve our humanitarian or
ecological challenges. Instead, we must cultivate and rely on evidence-based
So, we should follow in the footsteps of Lobaczewski and his colleagues, as
well as others who investigated this crucial topic, and build on the
groundwork they have laid. We should study biological evil and develop more
modernized responses to it that complement whatever traditional approaches
to it we wish to keep.
Ultimately, what may be called for most of all
is a great movement in support of an elevation in status and exposure of the
As mentioned, ponerology is a field that broadly studies all
aspects of evil to shed light on the dynamics of harmful, neglectful,
wasteful, destructive behavior. Its scope encompasses much more than
pathocracy alone. But understanding and preventing pathocracy is really
ponerology's core mission and main priority.
Not only can that field serve as a hub through which experts from a variety
of directly and indirectly related fields are empowered to find and work
with each other to discover and spread objective knowledge about
ponerogenesis and pathocracy. And not only can it serve as a practical home
base, supplying necessary resources to those investigators.
But its very
existence makes a strong statement about our commitment to peering through
surface appearances and digging deep to make necessary distinctions and
sends a signal that we stand with those doing that work. Moreover, a
flourishing discipline of ponerology would make it much harder for
pathocrats to sidestep challenges to their power or stealthily suppress
information unfriendly to their agendas.
Now is the time to promote ponerology. The world is ready for this field. It
is a young field that is still fragile and just beginning to get off the
ground. So it needs our active support. But we can hope that, in time,
future generations will be exposed to it earlier in life and more strongly
Lobaczewski says that when we do commit to the study of ponerology, we will
discover useful information that inspires critical thinking and discussion,
helps lay bare how the pathological operate and how they generate the
central forces that drive the mechanisms of evil, and leads us toward
practical solutions and healing.
A growing number of works, related -
whether their creators realize it or not - to
Political Ponerology, are bearing this out, including:
As we advocate raising the profile of ponerology,
we can hope to see the release of even more works like this by an even wider
range of people.
And we can hope that the growth of ponerology and the spread of its findings
will help promote pro-psychology, pro-science, pro-critical thinking
attitudes and skills, along with the terminology they require, which could,
in turn, help foster the more accurate, pragmatic perspective that we need
in order to address problems that have stubbornly persisted and cyclically
repeated for millennia.
The more we understand about the manageable factors underlying detrimental
events, the more compelled we should be to take action.
Doing so will not be
easy. It will take courage to challenge millennia of
evolved responses, surface painful
traumas and resolve stubborn, miscalibrated
defenses as we take our early steps on a new course.
But these sometimes
unpleasant activities are part of a
disintegration that is both positive and likely necessary as we develop
more effective, modern defenses against the threats from within humanity -
while still maintaining our humanity - and pursue the most sustainable and
healthy life possible.