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Arnold Williams (notebuyer) wrote,
Arnold Williams
notebuyer

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Evil

I am pleased to note that some psychiatrists have learned about the existence of evil.   Not that I expect most of them to learn that there is a moral basis for reasoning about behavior, and that there are ways to know about those who will always commit crimes because they can't see that they are wrong.

But there is another way to use lists like that: to say, "How have I slipped in my behaviour and attitudes to become more like that?"  Like the Southwell Litany, it challenges us to admit the darker side of our personality and repent of it, though the Southwell Litany is much more sophisticated.

Just to refresh your memory then, let's compare the two:

Psychopath expert Professor Robert Hare gives a comprehensive list of psychopathic personality traits that outline the major features of this disordered personality.

  • Glib and superficial charm
  • Callousness and lack of empathy
  • Grandiose sense of self worth
  • Parasitic lifestyle (lives off of other people)
  • Need for stimulation, prone to boredom
  • Poor behavioral controls
  • Pathological lying
  • Promiscuous sexual behavior
  • Conning and manipulativeness
  • Early behavior problems (temper tantrums and disobedience)
  • Lack of remorse or guilt
  • Failure to accept personal responsibility
  • Shallow affect (no deep feelings about anything or anyone)
  • Revocation of conditional release (put back in jail after failing at reform)
  • Lack of realistic, long-term goals
  • Many short-term marriages
  • Impulsivity
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Irresponsibility
  • Criminal versatility (good at a lot of different crimes)
Quite a list: and the Dummies book it comes from contains quite a bit more on it, and I recommend it for further study.  But here's the tool: Take each line and say, "How have I been like that?  What within me resonates to that? Let me know and limit this tendency."

For those who really want to do this right (and who come from a Christian tradition, and so accept sophistication), here's the Southwell Litany:

From moral weakness, from hesitation,
from fear of men and dread of responsibility; 
Strengthen us with courage to speak the truth in love and self-control;
And alike from the weakness of hasty violence
and from the weakness of moral cowardice:
          SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD
 
From weakness of judgment,
from the indecision that can make no choice
and from the irresolution that carries no choice into act;
Strengthen our eye to see
and our will to choose the right;
And from losing opportunities to serve you,
and from perplexing ourselves and others with uncertainties:
          SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD
 
From infirmity of purpose,
from want or earnest care and interest,
from  sluggish indolence and slack indifference,
and from all spiritual deadness of heart:
          SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD
 
From dullness of conscience, from feeble sense of duty
from thoughtless disregard of consequences to others,
from a low idea of the obligations of our calling,
and from half-heartedness in our service:   
          SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD
 
From weariness in continuing struggles,
from dependency in failure and disappointment,
from overburdened sense of unworthiness,
from morbid fancies of imaginary back-sliding
Raise us to a lively hope in mercy and in the power of faith;
And from all exaggerated fears and vexations:
          SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD
 
From self-conceit, vanity, and boasting,
from delight in supposed success and superiority;
Raise us to the modesty and humility
of true sense and taste and reality;
And from all the harms and hindrances
of offensive manners and self-assertion:
          SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD
 
From affectation and untruth, conscious or unconscious,
from pretence and hypocrisy,
from impulsive self-adaptation to the moment
to please persons or make circumstances easy;
Strengthen us to true simplicity;
and from all false appearances:
          SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD
 
From love of flattery, from over-ready belief in praise, from dislike of criticism,
and from the comfort of self-deception in persuading ourselves
that others think better of us than we are:
          SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD
 
From all love of display and sacrifice to popularity,
from thinking of ourselves and forgetting you in our worship:
Hold our minds in spiritual reverence;
and from self-glorification in all our words and works:
          SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD
 
From pride and self-will,
from the desire to have our way in all things,
from overweening love of our own ideas,
and blindness to the value of others,
from resentment against opposition
and contempt for the claims of others:
Enlarge the generosity of our hearts
and enlighten the fairness of our judgments;
and from all selfish arbitrariness of tempter:
          SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD
 
From jealousy, whether of equals or superiors,
from grudging others success,
from impatience of submission
and eagerness for authority:
Give us the spirit of common fellowship
to share loyally with fellow-workers in all true proportion;
and from all insubordination to just law and proper authority:
          SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD
 
From all hasty utterances of impatience,
from the retort of irritation and the taunt of sarcasm,
from all infirmity of temper in provoking or being provoked;
and from all idle words that may do hurt:
          SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD
 
In all times of temptation to follow pleasure,
to leave duty for amusement,
to indulge in distraction, dissipation, dishonesty, or debt,
or to degrade our high calling and forget our solemn vows;
And in all times of frailty in our flesh:
          SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD
 
In all itmes of ignorance and perplexity
as to what is right and best to do;
Direct us with wisdom to judge aright, and order our ways,
and overrule our circumstances by your good Providence,
and in all our mistakes and misunderstandings:
          SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD
 
From strife, partisanship, and division,
from magnifying our certainties to condemn all differences,
from building systems to exculde all challenges,
and from all arrogance in our dealings with others:
          SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD
 
Give us knowledge of ourselves:
our power and weaknesses, our spirit, our sympathy,
and imagination, our knowledge, our truth;
Teach us by the standard of your Word,
by the judgments of others,
by examinaton of ourselves;
Give us an earnest desire to strengthen ourselves continually
by study, dilligence, prayer, and meditation;
And from all fancies, delusions,
and prejudices of habit, or temper, or society:
          SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD
 
Give us true knowledge of others,
in their difference from us
and in their likeness to us,
that we may deal with their real selves
measuring their feelilngs by our own,
but patiently considering their varied lives and thoughts and circumestance;
 
And in all our dealings with them,
from false judgments of our own,
from misplaced trust and distrust,
from misplaced giving and refusing,
from misplaced praise and blame:
         SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD
 
Chiefly we pray that we may know you
and see you in all your works,
always feel your presence near,
hear you and know your call:
Let your Spirit be our will,
your Word, our word;
And in all our shortcomings and infirmities,
may we have sure faith in your mercy:
          SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD
 
Finally, we pray, blot out our past transgressions,
heal the evils of our past negligences and ignorances,
and help us to amend
our past mistakes and misunderstandings;
Uplift our hearts to new love, new energy, new devotion,
that we may be unburdended from the grief and shame of past unfaithfulness;
and go forth in your strength to persevere,
through success and failure,
through good report and evil report, even to the end;
And in all time of our tribulation
and in all time of our prosperity:
          SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD
The Litany may be too difficult, but either approach is worth a try.
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