Dr. Philip Zombardo who pioneered The Stanford Prison Experiment defines evil psychologically as “…the exercise of power. And that’s the key: it’s about power. To intentionally harm people psychologically, to hurt people physically, to destroy people mortally, or ideas, and to commit crimes against humanity.
Evil and malignant narcissism sees love as power – nothing but a way to feed off of and control another human being.
Love is the ultimate power we willingly hand to others to wield over us, trusting they are decent and good and will not use that power to destroy, destruct, or dehumanize us.
I fully understand that I will never, ever feel safe to love someone again. I’m also unable to hate, but now I’m unable to love as well. What is life without love anyway? I could never allow anyone that power over me again. I could never be so naked and vulnerable emotionally to let love flow through me, well up inside me, open myself up to being vulnerable under another’s power. I learned this from my mother, overcame it, then re-learned it from my children’s father, then overcame it, in order to freely love my children and always believed loving my children could never be something used to hurt me. Believed that could never be an unsafe place to love!
Ohhhhhh I was wrong…it is the sharpest sword, the most vile hammer of destruction – the unconditional and infinite love for a child is the most destructive weapon of all when placed in the controlling, sadistic hands of evil.
Dehumanize: to deprive of positive human qualities.
In the recent wake of an unexpected and unannounced visit from my oldest daughter, I’m shaken, shattered, and thoroughly discombobulated all over again. I use the term “visit” loosely here, as no visit was intended whatsoever. As per a few years ago, she “had a friend waiting outside” and thus declined my offer to share the lunch I’d just been preparing for myself. A visit, it was certainly not.
It wasn’t five minutes until she was using the word “fuck”, as though there could ever be a single thing I’m permitted to say, do, or feel at this point which would not be scoffed, belittled, twisted, or flipped.
I’d been watching the documentary The Stanford Prison Experiment. And it occurred to me quite painfully after she left, that dehumanization is the key to it all. Dehumanization is how mother abused me for years on end, sometimes without lifting a finger. Dehumanization is how my children’s father did the same.
“How we went about testing these questions and what we found may astound you. Our planned two-week investigation into the psychology of prison life had to be ended after only six days because of what the situation was doing to the college students who participated. In only a few days, our guards became sadistic and our prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress. Please read the story of what happened and what it tells us about the nature of human nature.”
“In only a few days, our guards became sadistic…and our prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress.” Likewise, their kind, thoughtful, healthy minded (all participants in the experiment were carefully interviewed prior to being chosen) peers – the one chosen to be the guards by a coin flip – became almost immediately “sadistic” toward the ones randomly chosen to be prisoners.
In fact, the cruelty and dehumanization the guards presented escalated so quickly under the established circumstances of being given power and the situation of encouragement to wield that power however they saw fit, that the two week experiment was shut down after only six days! Only one guard presented feelings of guilt while watching the sadistic mental cruelty grow more evil day by day and under the circumstances, he chose not to speak up and went passively along with the more assertively cruel guards – he never spoke up.
These people in the experiment were healthy, strong, college kids from good families and the prisoners weren’t physically abused at all, merely dehumanized and made to question reality and constantly put in no-win argumentative situations with people in power over them; these healthy, loved, psychologically normal young men only lasted 6 days before breaking under the stress.
I’ve been living it for over 5 years now, since childhood really if one starts counting there when it first began. I had about a 15 year break though in the middle when I was raising my children free from my mother or their father’s power over me.
Even when I saw it was she at the door, I instantly felt twisted in knots…the same way I feel when my mother is even mentioned, much less in my presence. The same way I feel when my mind flashes back to being raped, to being beaten, to those miserable, futile, desperate days jumping hoops living with her father just hoping for a crumb of kindness…the mind games… the utter helplessness of the unknown… would she be kind? Would I believe it if she was? Was she here to spy and run back to her fascist tyrant father with updates? Would she be cruel? Would she be conniving? Would she fling herself against the wall screaming OMG STOP CHOKING ME!!, as I politely offered her iced tea from the next room?
My own child fills me with terror.
She swore at me for no reason, so I swore back. She said she loved me “even if I didn’t believe that” and I said, I appreciate you saying those words so much but it’s really hard to believe that Lexi, when you treat me like less than an annoying dog begging for love for over 5 years straight now. That sure doesn’t feel like love to me. She didn’t reply to that.
I was determined not to present myself as the dog who’s been whipped for 5 years, huddling in the corner…flinching and waiting for the next random attack. After all, if I grovel for their love, I’m “pathetic and disgusting” and accused of trying to “manipulate and guilt” them into loving me.
Because, like the dog in this video, THIS is how I felt inside.
I tried not to beg. I tried not to be in the “victim” mindset, waiting for her to jump at me. I tried to smile. I tried to act naturally, as my stomach did flip-flops and my legs shook. I attempted to behave as a grown ass adult who has done nothing wrong except love this child apparently far, FAR too much… thus, giving this previously loving, kind, thoughtful child unlimited power over me with that love. So, I attempted to at least pretend I felt I was standing on solid ground and fake like I wasn’t afraid….or desperate…or clueless…or spineless…
My children have become experts in dehumanization. If I lack self esteem, I’m criticized for having low self-esteem. If I attempt to defend myself, no matter how righteously albeit humbly, I’m difficult and impossible. If I have human emotion, it’s wrong; it’s criticized. If I’m sad or cry, even unintentionally, I’m manipulating. If I’m angry, I’m abusive or hateful.
This is precisely the environment a malignant narcissist creates. Denying truth, denying fact, belittling feeling, ignoring to demean as worthless until the target is so confused, so desperate for acknowledgement, so pathetic for recognition of being a worthwhile human being, begging to witness a crumb of humanity, pleading for any tiny token of kindness; until the world just makes no sense anymore. Up is down and round is square; blue is orange and right is wrong; good is bad.
My children are now experts at this. Not only are they genius as dehumanizing, but they’ve been taught somehow that this is appropriate and acceptable.
She hugged me at one point and I tried with all my might not to cling to her or sob or shake, but I started to anyway. I enveloped her with my arms, closed my eyes and silently pleaded with God to let me see my child in there somewhere; to let me hold my daughter just one more time… Please? PLEASE???
She wasn’t there though; I could feel that this wasn’t my child at all. Even her hugs don’t have her in them anymore. She is a shell of a person, like my mother, like her father. She is an illusion of humanness, built on lies and betrayals, schemes and cruelty…power trips, judge and jury, and greed.
She wasn’t even there at all.
What is the dividing line of differentiation between those resistant to evil and those more likely to allow/follow/act on the power of evil?
Dr. Zombardo said of his experiment, “So my book, “The Lucifer Effect,” recently published, is about, how do you understand how good people turn evil? And it has a lot of detail about what I’m going to talk about today. So Dr. Z’s “Lucifer Effect,” although it focuses on evil, really is a celebration of the human mind’s infinite capacity to make any of us kind or cruel, caring or indifferent, creative or destructive, and it makes some of us villains. ”
Dr. Zombardo concluded that given the power and authority to dehumanize someone, being in a situation with power, along with encouragement and support that it’s okay to treat another human being cruelly, that nearly anyone can flip from good to evil.
Parental Alienation has made my children dehumanizing, cruel, heartless monsters. Their father is this way when it suits him and they’ve been expert pupils.
I haven’t been a mother for 5 years now, but now I realize and fully see that I no longer have any children at all. They no longer exist. They have been successfully eradicated and replaced with minions of their father, a pathological narcissist.