Four Assumptive Worlds of Psychopathy II: The World of Spiritual Aberrations
While these grotesque acts were purportedly authorized by the benevolent church on behalf of God’s desire that all human beings are sanctified before they die, most of us in contemporary times would probably assign responsibility to human beings and to the aforementioned interplay between anxiety and power. It does not seem to be accidental, that the hammer was applied more often and with greater force during times in European history when anxiety was particularly high—as the result of a plague, shifting political alliances, warfare, conflicts within the church, etc. If we believe in the intervention of cosmic forces in our lives and societies, then we might point not to God, but to the devil. Lucifer might be particularly empowered by a strong dose of fear that pervades the hearts, minds and souls of mere humans: this is paradigmatic.
There is the anxiety-filled need for discernment with all of this occurring in the lives of Europeans as they confronted the mystery of not only psychopathy but also even more pervasive mysteries of death, social injustice and man’s inhumanity to man, We must discern what in our life of sacred forces comes from God and what comes from the evil. How does one determine what is the source of the mysterious behavior of our fellow human beings? Are we still confronted in the 21st Century with the challenge of discernment? Have we really moved very far from this notion of spiritual aberration? Do our models (espoused theories) and, in particular, our daily practices (theories-in-use) diverge at all from this ancient paradigm and accompanying sources of anxiety. Is the devil still a worthy adversary? Can we trust a benevolent God to protect us (or our loved ones) from madness? Can we trust our leaders to protect us from madness at either an individual or institutional level? We conclude with a return to the wisdom offered by Gregory Zilboorg (1941, p. 106). “The question frequently arose: were the authorities dealing with a saint or a disciple of the devil?”
Lyth-Menzies, I. (1988) The functioning of social systems as a defense against anxiety. In Containing anxiety in institutions. London: Free Association Books, pp. 43-85.
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Zilboorg, G. (1941) A History of Medical Psychology. New York: Norton.