Psychopathy and Religion

atheistPsychopaths are individuals and, as such, are probably represented in every religion. But, because we are more rational than most people, we are probably represented most prominently among atheists. I live in a heavily Christian country where atheism is so heavily stigmatized, no atheist has ever been elected to a very prominent position in government. A number of folks actually think atheism is “evil” (since believing in Christ is the paramount virtue). Psychopaths are also considered “evil” by a great number of people. Satanism is kind of an anti-religion although it now enjoys status as a religion which enables satanists to have chaplains in the army and such. Needless to say, Satanism is also considered “evil,” perhaps even more evil than atheism or psychopathy.

michelleI have long been aware of “satanism’s” existence in the world. I thought different things about it at different times. During the “satanic panic,” I read Michelle Remembers, a chilling tale of ritual abuse that turned out to be the product of a false memory. The media and I really wanted to believe these horrors went on if only for their sensationally scary value. Of course, we abhorred it but we secretly wanted it to exist so we could enjoy abhorring it with shudders and chills. But the sensational stories all proved to be false. The only real Satanism turned out to be a few legitimate, above-ground organizations that didn’t even worship the devil, much less perform sacrifices. Still Christianity made Satanism seem pretty verboten anyway. Christianity was “good” so Satanism must be “evil.”

styxI recently saw some videos by Satanists that have gotten me thinking. The one shown below is by a really cool, rational and intelligent guy named styxhexenhammer666. His views are an exact mirror of my own. That made me wonder if I was a satanist without knowing it. Styx was raised as a Christian but he managed to free himself from that insanity. He has, he says, always been drawn to the darkness (which is not the same thing as “evil”). I, who was raised without religion, have always been drawn to the “darkness.” Whatever seems morbid or somehow averse has always fascinated me. I attribute my proclivities to psychopathy. Styx does not. In this particular video, Styx explains why the god of Christianity, Judaism and Islam is evil. He is not alone in this belief. Many of the early Gnostics believed the same thing. It’s really not hard to prove. An infinite, all-powerful deity creates us, finite in power and understanding but with a soul that will exist forever. Then he judges us and either rewards or tortures us for all eternity for what our limited, finite intelligence led us to do.

Styx is a Satanist, but an independent one. He is a member of neither the Church of Satan nor the Temple of Set. However, he holds both organizations in high esteem. Nicholas Schreck, who married Zeena Lavey, daughter of Anton Lavey, founder of Church of Satan, was (or still is) a member of Temple of Set and The Werewolf Order. In some videos, he comes across as super-grandiose, to the extent of being downright cartoonish. Yet in other videos, he shows himself very intelligent and reasonable. Zeena Schreck is now a Buddhist, albeit of the dark variety, Tibetan, of course. She has given a class in the Kali Yuga, the age of Kali, a Hindu goddess who represents the awesome and terrible aspects of nature.

zeenanicholasStyx and Schreck seem to agree that Satanism is libertarian in it’s political direction. As such, we can see another similarity between Satanists and Psychopaths. Although we’re not all libertarians by any means, libertarianism seems to fit psychopathy particularly well. The lack of empathy and individual quest for pleasure and other good things make it a good match. James Fallon is a libertarian, one who is honest enough to admit that the policies of libertarianism can lead to real hardship of people who presently depend on government benefits in order to get along. Nicholas Schreck has stated that Satanism is not for the masses. It is elitist. He disavowed any concern for the well-being of anyone who is “weak.” He only cares about the strong, among which he apparently numbers himself. Libertarianism isn’t identical to Social Darwinism but it is close. Schreck’s views are so socially Darwinist as to remind me of Ayn Rand. She called her philosophy Objectivism. laveyLots of labels distinguishing fine points of a philosophy that is pretty much all about survival of the fittest. Schreck’s fundamental principle is that Nature is the guide to what furthers survival of our species. This basis of “the good” led him to some singular views. He also is down on homosexuality (not for moralistic reasons but it’s “not natural”) and rock music (it leads to self-destruction). As such, he gave the impression of a rather tight-assed, haughty individual. In reifying nature, Schreck aligns himself with Anton Lavey (although Lavey didn’t diss homosexuality and he embraced rocker, Marilyn Manson). Michael Aquino, of the Temple of Set, was more focused on the individual separating himself from the Universe. “The Black Magician … rejects both the desirability of union with the Universe and any self-deceptive antics deigned to create such an illusion.”

Styx, who regards Nicholas Schreck as a “mentor,” seems much more down-to-earth and reasonable. He clearly believes in ethics based on a sense of everyone having the right to be free of arbitrary harm. It isn’t clear whether Schreck’s disdain for “equality” would include disregard of the rights of the “weak.” Probably, he wouldn’t harm them but just wouldn’t hurt them either. In this respect, his views are a lot like those of Ayn Rand.

noreligion.jpgComparing myself to the Satanists, I find I am freer than they are. They still need to justify themselves by following a system of ethics that they can defend. To harm another without good reason is “wrong,” according to Styx. I agree it is wrong. But I have done so and don’t feel guilty about it. I realize I don’t want any religion because even one that isn’t burdened by irrational traditions feels like a straight jacket. Setians worship individualism. I already have it. Yet, my own form of mysticism would probably clash with the Temple of Set’s goal of being an “isolate intelligence.” I believe we are all one in a metaphysical sense. But, if we are all one, doesn’t that come to the same thing as being “isolate?” If all is one, there is no other. Rather a tricky point but I think it resonates.

thelemamemeStyx sees Satanism as aligned with Universal values. Although he doesn’t use those words, he actually preaches the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” That is compatible with the law of Thelema, “Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.” What misleads people about the wording of this law is that one’s true will is aligned with the Universal will.

All these labels. All these meanings. What we are left with in the end is individualism. The phrase that resonates with me is still “I am alone. There is no god where I am.”



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