“…They say that horror comes from the uncanny. The evil things lurking in the backs of our minds. Those creatures seldom compare to the torments that insecurity and shyness impose upon their respective victims, do they?”
Hi Bad Nog,
Phew… quite a loaded question. Now we’re getting into the psychology of evil. Are their demons worse than the ones they inflict? Well to answer that, let’s take a look into what causes evil. What makes bad people tick? Well, I’ve touched on this a little in the past, but we can certainly delve into it a little more.
First, let’s take a look at the different types of bad guy…
The sociopath: This is one of the most common bad guys we know. The classic bad guy who is bad because… well why not? There is no rhyme or reason to his madness, he likes pain and he likes inflicting it on others. Not much else to it. Maybe there are a few screws loose, maybe not.
The philosophical bad guy: This is usually a more learned bad guy. We’ve seen this a couple of times more recently. This is the bad guy who has studied the human condition, psychology and philosophy, and is often extremely intelligent. Over time, after years of research or experience, he’s come to the conclusion that he has to be evil to maintain so preconceived notion of balance. It doesn’t really seem like this bad guy enjoys what he’s doing and may often regret it, but to him, the evil is a means to an end.
The bad guy of circumstance: So this is a bad guy who has a justified reason for it. Often, this is the bad guy that most sympathize with. They’re most of the time not rotten to the core. They’re doing what they’re doing to save someone or something they care about. People often gravitate towards this type of bad guy because they’re the most realistic and most people could see themselves in this circumstance if the situation was right.
Now there are some out there who would criticize such a bad guy. They’d say that there is always a choice and while that’s true, when someone you care about is suffering, or could be hurt or killed, and the devil is standing there offering a deal, it’s not so easy to turn it down.
The victimized villain: This is someone who was not always evil, probably wouldn’t be evil if their life had taken a different course (which brings up nature vs. nurture), but unfortunately has seen horrors throughout their existence that have conditioned them to this point. Perhaps they are driven by revenge, mad at the world for being tortured or watching a loved one die. Perhaps they’ve been psychologically tormented to the point where their mind is twisted.
The narrative villain: This is the bad guy I take the most issue with. Think Javert from Les Miserables or pretty much any law enforcement officer in a gangster movie. Essentially, he’s the villain for no other reason than the author has decided to make the bad guy the ‘moral right’ in the story. So basically it sucks to be the real good guy.
So let’s take into account all of the above and go back to your original question are their demons as bad as the ones they impose on their victims. Unfortunately, all I can say is maybe… because it really depends. You have to look at what kind of damage the villain is doing vs. the damage that has been done to them.
If we’re talking about one villain and one victim, then we need to look at the mental demons that the bad guy is suffering from and are they worse than the ones being inflicted?
Keep in mind, this is not to try to justify actions or let a villain off the hook. I’ve always been a proponent of holding people responsible for their actions. This is simply to explain the why.
Anyway, I hope that answers your questions Bad Nog. Good luck with your writing!
Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.
I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.
Catch you on the flip side!