Brain tissue is very limited in its regenerative ability. If it is damaged and the change subsequently heals, a process of rehabilitation can take place wherein the neighboring healthy tissue takes over the function of the damaged portion. This substitution is never quite perfect; thus some deficits in skill and proper psychological processes can be detected in even cases of very small damage by using the appropriate tests. Specialists are aware of the variegated causes for the origin of such damage, including trauma and infections. We should point out here that the psychological results of such changes, as we can observe many years later, are more heavily dependent upon the location of the damage itself in the brain mass, whether on the surface or within, than they are upon the cause which brought them about. The quality of these consequences also depends upon when they occurred in the person's lifetime. Regarding pathological factors of ponerogenic processes, perinatal or early infant damages have more active results than damages which occurred later.
In societies with highly developed medical care, we find among the lower grades of elementary school (when tests can be applied), that 5 to 7 per cent of children have suffered brain tissue lesions which cause certain academic or behavioral difficulties. This percentage increases with age. Modern medical care has contributed to a quantitative decrease in such phenomena, but in certain relatively uncivilized countries and during historical times, indications of difficulties caused by such changes are and have been more frequent.
Epilepsy and its many variations constitute the oldest known results of such lesions; it is observed in a relatively small number of persons suffering such damage. Researchers in these matters are more or less unanimous in believing that Julius Caesar, and then later Napoleon Bonaparte, had epileptic seizures. Those were probably instances of vegetative epilepsy caused by lesions lying deep within the brain, near the vegetative centers. This variety does not cause subsequent dementia. The extent to which these hidden ailments had negative effects upon their characters and historical decision-making, or played a ponerogenic role, can be the subject of a separate study and evaluation of great interest. In most cases, however, epilepsy is an evident ailment, which limits its role as a ponerogenic factor.
In a much larger segment of the bearers of brain tissue damage, the negative deformation of their characters grows in the course of time. It takes on variegated mental pictures, depending upon the properties and localization of these changes, their time of origin, and also the life conditions of the individual after their occurrence. We will call such character disorders - characteropathies. Some characteropathies play an outstanding role as pathological agents in the processes of the genesis of evil. Let us thus characterize these most active ones.
Characteropathies reveal a certain similar quality, if the clinical picture is not dimmed by the coexistence of other mental anomalies (usually inherited), which sometimes occur in practice. Undamaged brain tissue retains our species' natural psychological properties. This is particularly evident in instinctive and affective responses, which are natural, albeit often insufficiently controlled. The experience of people with such anomalies grows in the medium of the normal human world to which they belong by nature. Thus their different way of thinking, their emotional violence, and their egotism find relatively easy entry into other people's minds and are perceived within the categories of the everyday world. Such behavior on the part of persons with such character disorders traumatizes the minds and feelings of normal people, gradually diminishing the ability of the normal person to use their common sense. In spite of their resistance, victims of the characteropath become used to the rigid habits of pathological thinking and experiencing. If the victims are young people, the result is that the personality suffers abnormal development leading to its malformation. Characteropaths and their victims thus represent pathological, ponerogenic factors which, by their covert activity, easily engender new phases in the eternal genesis of evil, opening the door to a later activation of other factors which thereupon take over the main role. ....
Many thoughtful persons keep asking the same anxious question: how could the German nation have chosen for a Fuehrer a clownish psychopath who made no bones about his pathological vision of superman rule? Under his leadership, Germany then unleashed a second criminal and politically absurd war. During the second half of this war, highly-trained army officers honorably performed inhuman orders, senseless from the political and military point of view, issued by a man whose psychological state corresponded to the routine criteria for being forcibly committed to a psychiatric hospital.
Any attempt to explain the things that occurred during the first half of our century by means of categories generally accepted in historical thought leaves behind a nagging feeling of inadequacy. Only a ponerological approach can compensate for this deficit in our comprehension, as it does justice to the role of various pathological factors in the genesis of evil at every social level.
The German nation, fed for a generation on pathologically altered psychological material, fell into a state comparable to what we see in certain individuals raised by persons who are both characteropathic and hysterical. Psychologists know from experience how often such people then let themselves commit acts which seriously hurt others. A psychotherapist needs a good deal of persistent work, skill, and prudence in order to enable such a person to regain his ability to comprehend psychological problems with more naturalistic realism and to utilize his healthy critical faculties in relation to his own behavior.
The Germans inflicted and suffered enormous damage and pain during the first World War; they thus felt no substantial guilt and even thought that they were the ones who had been wronged. This is not surprising as they were behaving in accordance with their customary habit, without being aware of its pathological causes. The need for this pathological state to be concealed in heroic garb after a war in order to avoid bitter disintegration became all too common. A mysterious craving arose, as if the social organism had managed to become addicted to some drug. The hunger was for more pathologically modified psychological material, a phenomenon known to psychotherapeutic experience. This hunger could only be satisfied by another similarly pathological personality and system of government. A characteropathic personality opened the door for leadership by a psychopathic individual. We shall return later in our deliberations to this pathological personality sequence, as it appears a general regularity in ponerogenic processes.
A ponerological approach facilitates our understanding of a person who succumbs to the influence of a characteropathic personality, as well as comprehension of macrosocial phenomena caused by the contribution of such factors. Unfortunately, relatively few such individuals can be served by appropriate psychotherapy. Such behavior cannot be ascribed to nations proudly defending their sovereignty without extreme reactions. However, we may consider the solution of such problems by means of the proper knowledge as a vision for the future.
Paranoid character disorders: It is characteristic of paranoid behavior for people to be capable of relatively correct reasoning and discussion as long as the conversation involves minor differences of opinion. This stops abruptly when the partner's arguments begin to undermine their overvalued ideas, crush their long-held stereotypes of reasoning, or forces them to accept a conclusion they had subconsciously rejected before. Such a stimulus unleashes upon the partner a torrent of pseudo-logical, largely paramoralistic, often insulting utterances which always contain some degree of suggestion.
Utterances like these inspire aversion among cultivated and logical people, who then tend to avoid the paranoid types. However, the power of the paranoid lies in the fact that they easily enslave less critical minds, e.g. people with other kinds of psychological deficiencies, who have been victims of the egotistical influence of individuals with character disorders, and, in particular, a large segment of young people.
A proletarian may perceive this power to enslave to be a kind of victory over higher-class people and thus take the paranoid person's side. However, this is not the normal reaction among the common people, where perception of psychological reality occurs no less often than among intellectuals.
In sum then, the response of accepting paranoid argumentation is qualitatively more frequent in reverse proportion to the civilization level of the community in question, although it never approaches the majority. Nevertheless, paranoid individuals become aware of their enslaving influence through experience and attempt to take advantage of it in a pathologically egotistic manner.
We know today that the psychological mechanism of paranoid phenomena is twofold: one is caused by damage to the brain tissue, the other is functional or behavioral. Within the above-mentioned process of rehabilitation, any brain-tissue lesion causes a certain slackening of accurate thinking and, as a consequence, of the personality structure. Most typical are those cases caused by an aggression in the diencephalon by various pathological factors, resulting in its permanently decreased tonal ability, and similarly of the tonus of inhibition in the brain cortex. Particularly during sleepless nights, runaway thoughts give rise to a paranoid changed view of human reality, as well as to ideas which can be either gently naive or violently revolutionary. Let us call this kind paranoid characteropathy.
In persons free of brain tissue lesions, such phenomena most frequently occur as a result of being reared by people with paranoid characteropathia, along with the psychological terror of their childhood. Such psychological material is then assimilated creating the rigid stereotypes of abnormal experiencing. This makes it difficult for thought and world view to develop normally, and the terror-blocked contents become transformed into permanent, functional, congestive centers.
Ivan Pavlov comprehended all kinds of paranoid states in a manner similar to this functional model without being aware of this basic and primary cause. He nevertheless provided a vivid description of paranoid characters and the above-mentioned ease with which paranoid individuals suddenly tear away from factual discipline and proper thought-processes. ...
Lenin should nevertheless be included with the first and most characteristic kind of paranoid personality, i.e. most probably due to diencephalic brain damage. ...
Frontal characteropathy: The frontal areas of the cerebral cortex (10A and B acc. to the Brodmann division) are virtually present in no creature except man; they are composed of the phylogenetically youngest nervous tissue. Their cyto-architecture is similar to the much older visual projection areas on the opposite pole of the brain. This suggests some functional similarity. The author has found a relatively easy way to test this psychological function, which enables us to grasp a certain number of imaginary elements in our field of consciousness and subject them to internal contemplation. The capacity of this act of internal projection varies greatly from one person to another, manifesting a statistical correlation with similar variegation in the anatomical extent of such areas. The correlation between this capacity and general intelligence is much lower. As described by researchers (Luria et al.), the functions of these areas, thought-process acceleration and coordination, seem to result from this basic function.
Damage to this area occurred rather frequently: at or near birth, especially for premature infants, and later in life as a result of various causes. The number of such perinatal brain tissue lesions has been significantly reduced due to improved medical care for pregnant women and newborns. The spectacular ponerogenic role which results from character disorders caused by this can thus be considered somewhat characteristic of past generations and primitive cultures.
Brain cortex damage in these areas selectively impairs the above mentioned function without impairing memory, associative capacity, or, in particular, such instinct-based feelings and functions as, for instance, the ability to intuit a psychological situation. The general intelligence of an individual is thus not greatly reduced. Children with such a defect are almost normal students; difficulties emerge suddenly in upper grades and affect principally these parts of the curriculum which place burden on the above function.
The pathological character of such people, generally containing a component of hysteria, develops through the years. The non-damaged psychological functions become overdeveloped to compensate, which means that instinctive and affective reactions predominate. Relatively vital people become belligerent, risk-happy, and brutal in both word and deed.
Persons with an innate talent for intuiting psychological situations tend to take advantage of this gift in an egotistical and ruthless fashion. In the thought process of such people, a short cut way develops which bypasses the handicapped function, thus leading from associations directly to words, deeds, and decisions which are not subject to any dissuasion. Such individuals interpret their talent for intuiting situations and making split-second oversimplified decisions as a sign of their superiority compared to normal people, who need to think for long time, experiencing self-doubt and conflicting motivations. The fate of such creatures does not deserve to be pondered long.
Such "Stalinistic characters" traumatize and actively spellbind others, and their influence finds it exceptionally easy to bypass the controls of common sense. A large proportion of people tend to credit such individuals with special powers, thereby succumbing to their egotistic beliefs. If a parent manifests such a defect, no matter how minimal, all the children in the family evidence anomalies in personality development. ...
Comparative considerations also led the author to conclude that Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, also known as Stalin, should be included in the list of this particular ponerogenic characteropathy, which developed against the backdrop of perinatal damage to his brain's prefrontal fields. Literature and news about him abounds in indications: brutal, charismatic, snake-charming; issuing of irrevocable decisions; inhuman ruthlessness, pathologic revengefulness directed at anyone who got in his way; and egotistical belief in his own genius on the part of a person whose mind was, in fact, only average. This state explains as well his psychological dependence on a psychopath like Beria . Some photographs reveal the typical deformation of his forehead which appears in people who suffered very early damage to the areas mentioned above. ...
When we contemplate the scope of the evil Stalin helped to bring about, we should always take this most ponerogenic characteropathy into account and attribute the proper portion of the "blame" to it; unfortunately, it has not yet been sufficiently studied. We have to consider many other pathologic deviations as they played essential roles in this macrosocial phenomenon. Disregarding the pathologic aspects of those occurrences and limiting interpretation thereof by historiographic and moral considerations opens the door to an activity of further ponerogenic factors; such reasoning should be thus regarded as not only scientifically insufficient but immoral as well. ...
Drug-induced characteropathies: During the last few decades, medicine has begun using a series of drugs with serious side effects: they attack the nervous system, leaving permanent damage behind. These generally discreet handicaps sometimes give rise to personality changes which are often very harmful socially. Streptomycin proved a very dangerous drug; as a result, some countries have limited its use, whereas others have taken it off the list of drugs whose use is permitted.
The cytostatic drugs used in treating neoplastic diseases often attack the phylogenetically oldest brain tissue, the primary carrier of our instinctive substratum and basic feelings. Persons treated with such drugs progressively tend to lose their emotional color and their ability to intuit a psychological situation. They retain their intellectual functions but become praise-craving egocentrics, easily ruled by people who know how to take advantage of this. They become indifferent to other people's feelings and the harm they are inflicting upon them; any criticism of their own person or behavior is repaid with a vengeance. Such a change of character in a person who until recently enjoyed respect on the part of his environment or community, which perseveres in human minds, becomes a pathological phenomenon causing often tragic results.
Could this have been a factor in the case of the Shah of Iran? Again, diagnosing dead people is problematic, and the author lacks detailed data. However, this possibility should be accepted as a probability. The genesis of that county's present tragedy also doubtless contains pathological factors which play ponerologically active roles.
Results similar to the above in the psychological picture may be caused by endogenous toxins or viruses. When, on occasion, the mumps proceeds with a brain reaction, it leaves in its wake a discrete pallor or dullness of feelings and a slight decrease in mental efficiency. Similar phenomena are witnessed after a difficult bout with diphtheria. Finally, polio attacks the brain, more often the higher part of the anterior horns, which was affected by the process. People with leg paresis rarely manifest these effects, but those with paresis of the neck and/or shoulders must count themselves lucky if they do not. In addition to affective pallor, persons manifesting these effects usually evidence naivet