Is it true that some people are born without a conscience? If it’s your soul that cares about morals, does that mean some people have no soul? Psychopaths, sociopaths, and serial killers all do horrible things without caring at all and without even experiencing guilt. Doesn’t that make them less than human?
The short answer is that every human has both a soul and a moral conscience. While the groups you mentioned can behave in some very disturbing ways, they are also misunderstood. The mainstream field of psychology–which is where we get labels like psychopath and schizophrenic–bases its theories on a very incorrect and incomplete view of how humans function. Instead of recognizing the mind, soul and body as the separate elements that they are, mainstream psychology essentially ignores the soul, then stirs mind and body together into a murky mess. Once you start ignoring the reality of the soul, you are going to be unable to understand something like psychopathy. Once you view the human mind (which is a non-physical entity) as being the same thing as the human brain (which is a physical component of the body), your diagnostic methods will become a mess.
The theory that some people are born without the ability to empathize with others or view their own behaviors as immoral is complete rubbish. All humans have this ability, yet some choose not to exercise it. It’s a very different thing to be able to do something versus choose to do it. And while sociopaths and psychopaths have the same soul abilities as you do when it comes to forming moral judgments and caring about the feelings of others, some of them simply see no value in doing so, while others only spend their empathy on a select group of individuals. Can this attitude change? Of course. While many view these conditions as “incurable,” in real life, people often make drastic changes to their personal priorities over the course of their lifetimes. But can you force someone to change their moral code or start putting effort into caring about the things you want them to care about? No, you can’t. God designed all humans with a degree of choice which cannot be taken away.
Now to really understand the mechanics at work in people who do not appear to have any moral conscience, we need to dig into the mechanics of how the soul and mind relate to each other. Since this is a very complex topic, I’m going to use a metaphor to simplify things…
Degrees of Compromise
Suppose that you and I are flatmates who just moved into an apartment that we’re sharing the cost of. Before moving in, we installed a high quality sound system that has the capacity to pipe music into every room of the house through a series of ceiling speakers. The only catch is that you can’t set different speakers to play different songs–instead, there is one setting for all.
Now in the process of getting settled into our new home, you and I quickly discover that we have very different tastes in music. While I like dramatic classical pieces, you prefer rock music with lots of screeching guitars and a booming bass line. Naturally we both want to use our brand new sound system to play our favorite music through, but because our preferences are so different, we both find it irritating to have to listen to the other person’s songs.
So what are our options here? We’ve both financially invested in this new set up, and neither of us are willing to move out. But we both dislike listening to music through headphones–we much prefer the stereo sound, and we’re not about to let an expensive sound system to go waste by not using it. Since playing any song through the system ends up piping that same music through the whole house, there’s no way to avoid being stuck listening to each other’s choices. Of course we want to avoid having constant fights about who is playing what, but we each find the other person’s preferences quite annoying. In this situation, the only way I’m going to feel less annoyed by your music if I could somehow learn to like rock music. The same is true for you: if you were to put effort into giving classical music a chance, then you might end up feeling less bothered when I take over the sound system.
Now in this analogy, I represent the soul while you represent the mind (specifically the subconscious). In real life, every soul/mind pairing has subjects that they disagree on. When disagreements arise, there is often no way to avoid a heated conflict unless one element is willing to compromise and let the other element have its way. In our metaphor, it would be like me trying to help keep the peace in our relationship by letting you use the sound system more than me. If I’m able to develop a tolerance for rock music, then I won’t feel as irritated by your songs, which means I won’t be so annoyed by you hogging the system. It would be even better for me if I could learn to genuinely like your music, because then I could actually enjoy your songs, not just endure them. Naturally I’d like you to compromise as well, but if you’re not willing to do so, then my only hope of helping myself feel better living in the house with you is by trying to do all of the adjusting.
Now in real life, your subconscious is far less willing to make compromises for the sake of keeping the peace. Because your subconscious is stubborn like this, your soul often ends up doing most of the compromising in the relationship.
Now if we were to take a large, random sample of humans from all over the world and examine the current relationship between their souls and minds, what we would find is a wide variety of dynamics occurring. In some cases, we’d see the soul dominating the relationship, and acting like a very forceful personality which the subconscious is often agreeing to go along with. On the outside, people who have this kind of soul/mind dynamic come across as super moral, extra conscientious types who the majority of us can’t relate to. Mother Teresa would be an example here. The woman’s lifestyle of slumming it in impoverished areas and constantly sacrificing her own physical comfort for the sake of pleasing her God was a great demonstration of soul domination. In such a situation, Teresa’s subconscious would be very displeased with her choices. As a general rule, your subconscious does not want you hanging out with a bunch of people who are physically ill and emotionally taxing. Your subconscious wants to protect you from all kinds of harm, keep you well provided for, and avoid emotional stress and social conflict as much as possible. Your subconscious has no use whatsoever for “ministry” unless that kind of work results in you having a comfy life and lots of social clout. Yet according to Teresa:
“I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them. It was an order. To fail would have been to break the faith.”
This is soul talk. That bit about moving in with the poor and spending a bunch of time trying to help a bunch of strangers feel better in their own lives is where the subconscious gets off the train. Teresa’s subconscious would have considered protecting Teresa to be its top priority, and it would not have any qualms about harming others for the sake of achieving that goal. But in Teresa’s case, we find her soul taking an alpha position in the soul/mind relationship, and insisting that the mind submit to its agenda. What resulted was a lifetime of Teresa doing what many would consider to be miserable charity work, and yet we all admired her as a person of high moral character.
Now soul dominance is not the norm, which is why folks with this kind of dynamic tend to attract a lot of attention and admiration from others. In some cases soul dominance is present from the beginning of life, which is when we notice those rare kids who demonstrate remarkable moral character from a very young age and refuse to waver from it no matter how much flack their peers give them. In other cases soul dominance kicks in later in life, and an adult who once acted “normal” or even “bad” suddenly “finds religion” and starts drastically changing his behaviors to fit a new moral code that he’s adopted. Dramatic changes in soul/mind dynamics always cause problems for established relationships as friends and family members struggle to adjust to their person’s sudden shift in priorities.
Now if we jump to the other end of the spectrum, we find cases of mind dominance. These are situations in which the soul is voluntarily aligning with what the mind wants to do. In these cases, people’s behaviors and priorities will reflect the values of the subconscious. Since the subconscious does not care about morality, members of this group can appear to have a shocking lack of ethics. The popular stereotype of a psychopath would fit in with this group. But what’s interesting here is that folks in a state of extreme mind dominance can come across as quite pleasant and charming due to the subconscious’ excellent manipulation skills. So don’t link immorality with some knife clutching monster with a crazed look in his eye. The subconscious is very good at analyzing social dynamics, and since social rank and safety are such high priorities to the subconscious, it can often develop a very attractive personality package which it then uses as a tool to schmooze its way up the social ladder while craftily eliminating potential threats.
Now it’s important to remember that having one element strongly dominating the mind/soul dynamic doesn’t cause the other element to disappear. Folks who are operating in a state of strong mind dominance still have souls which are very much in tact and quite active. In cases where the soul is willingly capitulating with the mind, the soul actually helps the mind achieve its agenda.
Emphasizing the soul’s concern with morality is a good way to help people learn to start differentiating between soul and mind agendas. But an interest in morality is not the only contribution that the soul makes. A deep desire for your life to have significant meaning and purpose also comes from the soul. While your mind does base some of its strategies on possible longterm consequences, it’s mainly concerned with the past and the present. It is your soul that is very future focused, and it is your soul that gives you a sense that your life is worth living. Take the soul entirely out of the picture and you’d find yourself going through an endless cycle of bodily maintenance and social routines that don’t seem to have any real value. Without your soul’s influence, life would feel like you were driving in an endless, pointless circle. But with your soul involved, life feels like you’re driving down a road that’s potentially leading to a meaningful destination. So in cases of mind dominance, people still feel like their life has meaning thanks to the input of their souls.
A historical example of someone displaying longterm mind dominance would be Adolf Hitler. His actions as a political leader and military commander line up nicely with a case of strong mind dominance. Hitler also showed glaring signs of severe personal trauma which remained unresolved his entire life. His obsession with purging the human gene pool, his attraction to physical torture and human degradation (as demonstrated through his gruesome concentration camps), his need to micromanage German society, and his obsession with conquering the globe are all classic psychological trauma coping methods. In other words, Hitler acted the way he did in an attempt to gain psychological peace. His passionate commitment to his unrealistic goals demonstrated how severe his mental anguish was. Desperate minds will go to extreme lengths to fix themselves, and they really don’t care how many lives are lost in the process.
Now it’s important to recognize that there are cases of mind dominance in which the soul is not happy about being dominated. On the outside, these people can behave the same as the folks I was just talking about, but internally they will be experiencing intense distress due to their souls constantly protesting what the mind is doing. In this second group, there is usually a breaking point that happens when the internal warring between mind and soul overwhelms the whole system to the point that it can no longer function.
The same is true for cases of soul dominance: the degree to which the mind is willing to go along with the soul determines how miserable the person is internally. A classic example here would be the devout monk who keeps abusing his own body because his soul believes that is what God wants him to do. The fact that the monk is harming his own body directly violates the priorities of his mind, which cares about keeping him physically safe. How long the monk will be able to press on in his lifestyle depends on how strongly his mind fights against his soul. If his mind really goes to war against his soul, then the monk will soon find himself having what many would call “a severe nervous breakdown” and he would be too ill to continue his usual routine. The point is that both the soul and the mind have the ability to sabotage each other’s agendas if they choose to do so, but the cost of launching “nukes” at each other is that the whole system becomes severely damaged. At the same time, both mind and soul have the ability to work in harmony with each other, but the best harmony is usually reached when the soul is the one doing the submitting. As I said earlier, the mind simply isn’t as willing to bend as much as the soul is, which is why states of extreme soul dominance are hard to maintain for long periods of time.
Now since you mentioned serial killers, it’s useful to note that murder is often a soul driven activity. The fact that an activity is generally classified as “immoral” does not mean it can’t be viewed as a moral action by many souls. For example, the fellow who goes around murdering known blackmailers thinks he is purging society of a bunch of creeps. Yes, he is a serial killer, but he also considers himself to be a moral hero.
When the soul is the element pushing for destructive behaviors, it can be quite difficult to get the offender to view his own behavior negatively. In cases where the soul has simply not formed any moral opinion about a certain behavior, it’s often much easier to persuade the soul to see the behavior negatively by using a logical argument. We do this all the time with our kids. You say to your son, “Taking Joey’s toy without his permission is wrong because you wouldn’t want him to take your toys away without asking you.” What you’re doing here is talking to your son’s soul, and trying to get it to form a belief that stealing is bad. Souls are often very receptive to revising their beliefs when they are given a logical reason to do so, and training souls is a big part of raising a child into a functional adult. Because your mind and soul both base their beliefs on your life experiences, the longer you live, the more cemented your beliefs can become. Early life experiences tend to have more impact than others, which is why beliefs that are formed in childhood can be very difficult to change.
In the case of sociopaths and psychopaths, how long they remain the way they are depends on what’s happening between their souls and minds, and what kinds of life experiences they collect. Externally, both of these conditions result from a state of mind dominance, but that doesn’t mean the soul is necessarily pleased with its submissive position. Should the soul decide to seize more power, there could be a drastic change in priorities and behaviors. Since it’s impossible to rule out sudden future changes in soul/mind dynamics, it is not valid to say that these conditions are “incurable.”
Now is it better for general society when the soul has more power? Yes, because when the soul completely submits to the mind, the mind’s lack of concern for morality can result in very destructive behaviors. But having the soul ruling the system can be just as bad, because that’s when we can get cases of cult leaders pushing for mass suicides and terrorists who feel they are earning points with God by murdering a bunch of innocent civilians. With humans, striking a balance between two extremes is often best, and functional behavior is the result of the mind and soul taking turns calling the shots. Both the mind and the soul bring unique skills and insights to the system that they are a part of, and both should be respected as essential components of the amazing human design.
This post was written in response to Lucas K.
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