I’m Trying To Make Sense Of Unremorseful Criminals…

In my line of work (law enforcement) I interface with a lot of cons who have committed heinous crimes, have zero remorse, yet they fabricate absurd fantasies for themselves about what actually happened. It seems to me that the fantasies are trying to downplay the immorality of what they’ve done, and yet why would they do that if they have no remorse? I was hoping you could shed some light on what’s happening in these situations for my own benefit. You seem very insistent that every human has a soul. Many of my colleagues believe that some people are simply born without one, which is why they are able to do such terrible things without any regret. I find it very disturbing to have a man look me in the eye and spin a completely false version of what he did, then stick to his delusion even when he is faced with hard evidence that clearly proves he is lying. How is this even possible if, as you say, the human soul cares so much about morality? I assume it’s not possible for a man to commit a crime without the soul being present and witnessing everything that happens, so how are these people able to react so inhumanely to their own behavior?

This is an excellent question, and I’m very glad you took the time to ask it. Law enforcement is one of those fields that tends to focus on the worst aspects of human nature, and this puts you at risk of becoming traumatised if you can’t find logical ways to explain the disturbing behaviour in front of you. It’s always better to seek answers than remain haunted by disturbing mysteries.

Now every human does have a soul, however I can certainly appreciate why your colleagues are assuming otherwise. It sounds like they are assuming that the presence of a soul must mean that soul will always adamantly protest when its partner mind does something horrible. This is a reasonable assumption to make, but it’s not correct. In real life, souls have a range of options when it comes to deciding how they are going to relate to their partner elements, and they don’t all choose the same path.

Since the soul is essentially trapped in the system that it was born into, it is highly motivated to try to get along with its partner subconscious. It does not want to have to spend a whole lifetime in a state of constant war if it doesn’t have to. But the human subconscious is a very formidable element, and when it becomes obsessed with a certain goal or idea, trying to get it to change course can be like trying to stop a tidal wave by holding up your hands. When they sense that they are about to get dragged into a nasty situation against their wills, most souls will react with panicked protests, but some will decide that their best defence is to try to support what the subconscious wants to do.

The subconscious is not designed to care about the issue of morality. Instead, it is designed to focus on protecting the system and making sure it gets its needs met. When the subconscious determines that someone is trying to block it from achieving one of these goals, it can very easily decide to respond with over-the-top violence. For example, when John’s wife Maria says he can’t buy the super expensive boat that he really wants, John responds by drowning her in their backyard pool. John’s subconscious will feel no regret over doing this if it viewed Maria very negatively. Since many murderers are in a state of severe psychological stress before they lash out, they are often being very guarded in their human relationships. Stressed minds find intimate connections to be very threatening, so they generally try to avoid them. Stressed minds are also very quick to see enemies where none exist. For John, his mind lost any interest in Maria quite a while ago and it has been viewing her as an antagonist ever since. When she shoots down the boat idea, John’s mind decides it is the last straw and it pushes John to eliminate her using the most convenient tool at hand: the backyard pool. The act is neither premeditated nor well executed. John was in such a state of rage when he was drowning his wife that he was clenching his hands tightly around her throat. The resulting finger marks and DNA samples clearly reveal what John did, however when questioned, he comes up with a ridiculous story of Maria slipping, falling into the pool all on her own, and hitting her head on her way in, so that she was knocked unconscious and drowned. It’s an absurd account that is quite easy to disprove, yet John adamantly sticks to his story, and the more often he tells it, the more true it feels to him.

So what’s going on here? When all this kicked off, John’s soul realized it couldn’t stop John’s mind from overriding his system and dragging Maria outside. The subconscious has far more influence over the body than the soul does, and this means it can quite literally force the body to do what it wants, even when the body and soul are protesting.

Now, as you say, John’s soul was present for the whole murder sequence, and it knows that it is now lying about what happened. But in a case like this, the goal of lying is not to avoid arrest or prison. That would seem like the only sensible motivation, however lies that are focused on dodging consequences are much better structured than John’s. John’s lie is utterly absurd, and when faced with the discrepancies in his story, he doesn’t attempt to correct them, he simply ignores them. What’s happening here is that John’s soul is focused on protecting itself from the stress of acknowledging that it is now stuck representing a man who it finds morally repulsive.

For your soul to feel calm, it needs to view you as morally decent, according to its own definition of that term. When people do bad things, their souls will often try to revise their moral codes in a way that lets them label those bad things as “acceptable” or even “good.” For example, when Nara nicks money out of her friend’s purse, Nara’s soul is very distressed by the idea that Nara is now a thief. Rather than face this reality head on, Nara’s soul quickly revises its definition of stealing to create an exception in Nara’s case. When Nara tells herself, “I’m not stealing it, I’m just borrowing it, and I’ll repay it later,” that’s her soul trying to put a different spin on her behaviour to make it less morally offensive. Her soul knows that Nara has no intention of returning the money, but it tries to ignore that fact for now and just focus on reframing the actual theft.

Emergency revisions are a very common soul defence, but they don’t always work. In John’s case, his soul can’t come up with a way to justify John intentionally choking and drowning his wife. When reframing the situation doesn’t work, souls will often go for an all out lie. The goal here is to come up with a way of explaining the end result (Maria floating dead in a pool) that does not cause any moral discomfort. Here is where John’s soul comes up with the story of an accidental fall which John had nothing to do with. There’s nothing morally offensive about Maria having some tragic accident, and since such a story can adequately explain her floating in the pool, John’s soul locks onto it. As for the details that don’t fit–such as the bruising around her throat–John’s soul resorts to blatant denial.

Denial is a powerful and effective defence that both minds and souls use quite a bit to protect themselves from overwhelming stress. Denial works best in the short term. As time wears on, it becomes more and more difficult to keep convincing yourself that you actually believe your own lies. Yet when the stakes are high enough, minds and souls will put enormous effort into this kind of defence, especially when it feels like their last option.

So what is John’s mind doing while his soul is telling its tall tales? Well, John’s subconscious really does have zero remorse over killing Maria. It felt very threatened by her when she was alive, so now it is happy she is gone. Here’s the thing about subconsciouses: they can be very present focused. This can cause them to do really foolish things without bothering to consider the future consequences. Once John starts realizing he is going to go to prison, his subconscious will become very stressed again. But right now, it is enjoying the relief of knowing Maria is gone forever and it really doesn’t care what lies the soul is telling itself. If playing denial games means the soul isn’t trying to attack the mind with a bunch of moral lectures, the mind is just fine with the soul embracing its own delusions.

Speaking of prison, how threatened a mind is by jail time depends on how it views the experience of prison versus the experience of being free. Some prisoners have such traumatic backgrounds that they actually find prison to be a bit of a safe haven. For these minds, leaving prison and trying to reintegrate into society is extremely threatening, so they will intentionally commit a crime shortly after their release in order to get sent back in. Of course this isn’t the case with all repeat offenders, but it does happen for some. When the purpose of a crime is to get caught so that you will be sent back to a prison that you view as less dangerous than the outside world, that is a subconscious strategy at work. Notice the focus on reducing danger. When self-protection is someone’s main focus, that tells you the subconscious is taking the lead.

Now in John’s case, he tells his ridiculous story with such conviction that it seems like he isn’t bothered at all about what he actually did. Yet the very fact that there even is a cover story being invented tells you that his soul is actually feeling very threatened by what John did. Lying is always a strategic move for the element (mind or soul) which is telling the fib. If John’s soul was truly unbothered by what John did, it wouldn’t be inventing a cover story. Instead, it would be acting more like Jason…

When police ask 16-year-old Jason why he brutally stabbed his classmate in front of her school locker, Jason locks eyes with them and calmly states, “She was bothering me.” That’s it. There is no panic, no angst, and no remorse. Despite their best efforts, police simply can’t stir up any evidence that Jason is genuinely upset by what he did. Naturally they find this disturbing because it is extremely disturbing when a human soul essentially abandons its post and entirely sides with its partner mind.

What’s happening in Jason’s case is that his soul is deciding to back up his mind 100%. To do this, his soul is working very hard to keep its own moral code perfectly synchronized with the code Jason’s mind is using. Human minds do have their own definitions of right vs. wrong, but those definitions are quite different from what people think of when they talk about moral codes. Instead of looking at the big picture and trying to come up with a whole slew of guiding principles, such as “It’s always wrong to take a life” or “You should treat others the way you’d want to be treated,” minds keep their focus on how their own systems are being directly affected. This means that the statement, “Murder is bad,” means nothing to a mind, because it is vague and non-specific. Minds don’t have any use for being philosophical and musing about scenarios that don’t directly affect them. Minds couldn’t care less if there are starving children somewhere in the world, or downtrodden ethnicities, or terrorists on the loose. Your mind only cares about things that directly affect you, and it is only when something directly affects you that your mind will form an assessment of whether that thing is good or bad.

Now in Jason’s case, his mind doesn’t give a toss about the idea that murder is bad. Jason’s mind will only form an assessment about some murderous act when that act directly affects Jason. What happened at school is that Jason’s mind felt extremely threatened when one of the campus bullies got in his face and started threatening to make his life a misery. After determining that the girl was bigger and stronger than Jason, Jason’s mind decided that a swift, violent response was the best way to eliminate her as a threat to Jason’s safety. Jason had a pocketknife on him at the time, so he used it. Problem solved.

Now a soul would say that Jason committed murder and that’s a terrible thing because murders are always bad. But Jason’s mind doesn’t have any use for these kinds of broad, sweeping statements. Jason’s mind feels entirely justified in what it did. It’s job is to protect Jason. Jason was in danger. His mind eliminated the threat. As far as his mind is concerned, it deserves kudos for a job well done.

What makes humans seem human is the influence of their souls. Souls are designed to care very much about general moral principles. Rather than wait until they are being personally affected by something to form an opinion about it, souls construct elaborate moral codes that contain guiding principles and assessments of a whole range of experiences that they’ve never personally had. The fact that souls “run ahead” like this is what causes people to be immediately horrified by their actions when they do something they’ve never done before. If Jason’s soul was acting the way most souls do, it would be horrified by Jason stabbing his classmate because it would have already formed a very strong belief that murder was wrong long before Jason actually did the deed. But because Jason’s soul is making a concerted effort to keep its moral code aligned with Jason’s mind, it has not formed a strong belief about murder, therefore there is no framework already in place to trigger a horrified reaction. Instead, Jason’s soul waits to see how Jason’s mind interprets Jason’s actions, then it immediately agrees with that conclusion. When Jason is being questioned, police are only hearing his mind’s assessment of the situation, which is devoid of any remorse because human minds often feel quite justified in doing what they do. What police are used to hearing are minds and souls disagreeing with each other. What’s creeping them out is the absence of that debate in Jason’s case. Instead of alternating between trying to justify his actions and expressing horror over what he did, Jason remains calm and entirely self-affirming.

Your soul plays a vital role in balancing and tempering your subconscious. Without your soul constantly protesting and interfering, your subconscious would attempt to eliminate anyone and anything that got in its way. The only time it would regret its actions would be when it felt it made a poor judgment call and lost access to some important benefits by trashing someone. But minds don’t regret their actions for moral reasons; only for practical ones.

So why do some souls behave the way Jason’s did? There are no “one size fits all” answers here. It’s useful to realize that it is extremely difficult for souls to pull off complete alignment with their partner minds because these two elements are very different in their core designs. The method we saw John’s soul using is far more common: the classic combination of reframing plus denial. By contrast, total alignment is a pretty desperate move, and a soul would have to feel this kind of strategy is critical to its own survival before it’s going to be willing to put so much effort into suppressing its own instincts. But that said, some souls do go down this road, and when they do, the resulting changes to the person’s personality and behaviours are extremely disturbing. Can a soul be talked into abandoning this strategy? Theoretically yes, but it would have to be convinced that it is worth its while to do so. Once souls and minds commit to extreme defence strategies, they are often very resistant to drop them for fear of being blindsided by some terrible threat.

This post was written in response to Alec.